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Notes on Crawling Through Modernity

First Friday Art Crawl
It was Friday night, 8 PM, and I hadn't had one drink. A few loris, a couple rips, and out we stumbled on wobbly knees in search of some peace, or light, a kind of movement. I can't be sure what had me convinced. Some slow subtle decline of soft tissue regeneration, something common like a concrete slab on your back. I had to get out of my place. Even a hermit wonders from time to time. He has to give a little peek out, if only to reinforce whatever crippling prejudice delivered him to isolation.

I parked the car a mile out. Almost immediately the error was apparent: other people, lots of them, had come up with the same idea. The night was good. But something about the people was not. Besides, crowds triggered a particular agitation in Charley. Without provocation Charley took on a defensive state around others, walked around all puffed up with quarrel and drink.

In all truth, it could have been that editor. Mr. Brown. I sent him three short stories a week. They all came back with little notes attached, short and long, saying no fifty different ways. I knew he would be in attendance. My latest manuscript was bent and stuffed into the back pocket of my pants. I would hand deliver this one. I had to see his face close-up.

I followed Charley towards the swirling lights. We walked right into the middle of it: BRADY ARTS DISTRICT. The street shrieked like some large screaming thing. The buildings had us all cornered. Charley was the one who drug us down there. The girls, he said. And there were girls. But they seemed impossibly far away. They moved and behaved with such care, dressed to a certain perfection of progress. And I couldn't really give a shit about anything in particular. They smelled it on me, so we both unconsciously eliminated the other without saying a word.

The first stop had Charley and I outside in the dark peeking through large windows like neglected dogs. Charley took little nips from a pint in his jacket. The people moved from room to room in the light. They looked very serious and interested, concentrating to aplomb. Naturally they wore appropriate dress and accessory. Every detail down to the underwear was carefully considered and constructed. It would produce an ugly juxtaposition, I thought, making our own shabby and miserly clothing stand out as all the more ridiculous.

Charley had his leather jacket lent to him by a Chicago drifter. A big cigarette burn in front, the right pocket hanging down through constant tampering. The jacket covered a white shirt - more yellow than white - pockmarked with wine-stains and improper handling of food. Pants two sizes too long, ending in unsightly crumples around a pair of black boots broken in the heel. The nose on his face, already noticeable through sheer size, reddened with drink and excitability. He needed a shave and was slovenly unkempt in general appearance. It was a failure of execution rather than effort.

I wasn't much better. It was only through lack of wear that I outpaced my counterpart. In my early twenties I shacked with a female adept in the art of appearance. She taught me many things over that three year period. Things like how to match a belt to a shoe, the proper composition for a Fall day, when and how to wear a scarf, that I wasn't good enough, that there is a loneliness in this world you can't prepare for, and that women, when they catch a man just right, can be a danger to the organism itself. But she was a good looker, and her fashion advice made it easier to pass among others without drawing any unwanted notice.

Charley took another drink while the two of us watched the patrons stride through the two story building. Instinct signaled retreat. My insides were aflame with a desire to return underground. Where a man could continue to think the whole thing through. The problem, as I saw it, was that the world never stopped; existence itself is quite rude. It kept going, with or without our consideration. It rolled everyone up equally - thinker or no, criminal or ....Somehow it all didn't fit.



...On Neurosis and Starting Again...


"I just love seeing it," she said
"the grin ear-to-ear. Young love.
It just reminds me. Don't you notice it?" cupping
a right hand over her chest.
she reaches down
for my atrophy,
her hand over mine
working the fingers in

i don't know what's wrong with me
why i can't consider things thus...
something deep and bitter
a healthy detachment, or subtle
skewing learned by experience,
it is possible that i remember too clearly,
while others forget quickly
i'm told,
that this is a failing.

but when i consider the naive embrace of young love, all i think are
police cars, broken windows,
no more sleep.
the apex and fall of infatuation
new men, strange women
the confusion of people telling you
to stay away, to let go.
that young women change their minds often, and
that old women change their minds finally

or late nights
the light burnt out, the woman gone
sitting upright in dark closets and empty showers

the bottle runs right through
the pills, the pot, the people, the others - everything
sticks to the shallows

and even
your dreams offer little reprieve
filled with chase and
the fading miracle and
no where to go

she squeezes my arm,
gives me a little smile
 the Sun is falling down
and I can't bare to
tell her


....on starting over

why not once more? just one more crack at it. the truth is that a man can only make so many blunders before he's cornered for good. it is this 'for good' which brought me back to the page.

that things - spirits and life - get taken away forever should turn us all mad. no, we aren't quite mad; but it is this distinction itself which may be a type of neurosis. for even our empathy is a claimed feeling.