Sunday, January 31, 2010

Days Inn, Days Out: Cairo, IL

Here's me in Cairo, IL. Halfway between homes, mired in a ghost town at the behest of a broken transmission. The dirty snow melts to dirty water freezes to dirty ice, slick under my worn work boots as I chase stray cats and cigarette smoke in the motel parking lot. Days Inn, days out. No outside company save the short Middle Eastern man who watches the front desk and eyes me suspiciously while I dope-stagger to the Coke machine.

Long naked days with a heater that only heats, no compromise, and we leave towels heaped on the floor and fill styrofoam cups with bad coffee. The TV rattles and wheezes from its perch like a clockwork owl, no wisdom behind its slick glass eyes.

Factories loom beyond trees beyond railroad tracks, glowing with spook-lights and stretching towards Heaven. The rivers run by, collide and spin like rutting snakes, send muddy ejaculate tumbling towards Memphis and Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. The rivers have forgotten that Cairo still squats here, grinning with sharp soot teeth through thin lips, charcoal against pink receding gums. Cairo glowers and waits, champions its public library as an historical site, and falls asleep with its eyes open sometime between 7 and 9.

There are no sequential memories of Cairo, doomed little piss-hole. I can arrange no concrete diorama. It all was to be a dream. The week prior, drowning in liquor and getting my wool socks soaked. Highway 60 carried me east, belched towards Paducah on a wave of nausea, oh sweet drunk Missouri and her parting lips, ripe with flowers and stale whiskey, they glisten in the moon's reflection on the snow. Shea in the captain's chair, Matt in the back drinking tallboys of Old Style.

We will live on pork rinds and sex, and if need be I'll smash these chairs and this table and this nightstand with its Gideon Bible, and we'll build a roaring fire in the drained swimming pool, and we will roast stray cats and toast with warm Diet Coke, two dollars for a six-pack at the Dollar General.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

early January, Kirbyville, snow

01-06-10, 3 am

I wish I had a stenographer for my thoughts, a sexy little stereotype who could crawl into my brains and set up her tiny green typewriter. And let's say I get the transcript like ticker tape out of my dick when I come. What?

"Wandering around outside at night real high and wearing earmuffs is confusing and too scary". Dizzying. Komodo dragons. Fucking out of sight.

books what caught my eye at Books a Million tonight: Ginsberg poems with accompanying illustrations by some artist who does New Yorker covers, 50th anniversary of Howl (a reproduction of the original manuscript), some little book: The History of Girly Magazines (1900-1969) yes, collected works of Gibran: a nice edition with a gold tongue marker and good paper kinda like my Emerson book.

I've been living on deer meat, without complaint. Bloody gamey lean juicy. I think, if prepared properly, my own flesh would probably taste like deer meat.

The sky was big as ever tonight, betraying its graceful awful curve around our little marble. The moon was frozen under blue ice, like mushroom cloud snowdrifts across the electric sky. The snow glowed radioactive, a crust of spent ozone under my boots.

I begin my voyage home tomorrow, gods willing, at least away from Kirbyville. I won't survive another extended stay in Springfield, so best to just stop through. Let my momentum carry me to the bootheel, at least. Or Memphis. I don't really want to leave. I never want to leave. Or maybe I always want to leave, but forget.


(Forgive me if I whisper you awake. Nostalgia's got her saccharine grip on me. Memories flooding, so sweet and so rich, and they're keeping me from getting any sleep.)

Forgive me if I whisper you awake. I really don't want to feel alone tonight, even laying beside you and your soft skin and your hair that smells like flowers and shampoo and cigarette smoke and exactly how it should smell and exactly how I want it to smell. I won't tell you about the sobs caught at their moment of exhalation, strangled, a mercy killing, and I won't tell you that sometimes I need to drop to my knees when I realize that I can't freeze a moment, that we are all changing and aging and moving on and on and on forward; and that the weight, the fucking weight of I-don't-know-what squeezes so heavy on my chest and my back, no matter how I sleep next to you. No, I won't tell you any of that. Just forgive me if I whisper you awake.

I don't want watch my nephew grow up. I want him to be three years old forever.

(Nights lying in a muggy sweat, and the humid summer wind blowing through window screens. The shitty old boxfan humming on the floor never seemed to do much of anything.)

Oh, it was so hot and humid at night. The old window screens were chewed by weird locusts, and we had to replace most of 'em with new metal screens that they wouldn't feel compelled to eat.

(Those hot summer days, working in the garden. Dirt baked so hot it burned bare feet. Slicing tender hands on sharp limestone. Retreating to the shade tree for a drink.)

The words must've been there for years. It's an obsession. Can it be an obsession? Your own childhood, the reluctance to admit that it's gone, the reluctance to completely open my chest cavity for the free exchange of pollen and blood and time and sunlight? Nobody knows me.

(Now I'm falling asleep in a room of my own in some dried out, filthy, storm-broken town. And I pretend I've got it all figured out but

and I can't even finish that. I feel shredded. Stuff me under the kindling and use me as tinder. I'm dry as a bone.

I don't recognize my own handiwork. handwriting. words. prose. passions. Who was in bed with me? Where am I? What storm? What room of my own? Who was fucking with me who was I fucking with?

What did this mean: "Why do we equate growing up with being old/And we equate growing old with being dead."

->Becoming childlike and regaining a sense of wonder and joy.

Ghost hints? How many years ago did I write this? Was it only tonight? Could I be offering myself some solace? Was it only me fucking with me? all along? I need to open a dialogue with myself, or I'll never get this shit sorted. There has to be a thread, the silver thread. I'm missing something. I'm always missing something. I miss you and you and you. I don't even know you yet and I miss you so bad.

Campfires and Crickets.

1-5-10, 1:30 am

Single-digit temperatures tonight, threatening to drop below zero. I fear I'll never get back to Tennessee and her promised warmth, but only mildly so. Mild fear, mild promises.

Went down with my two younger brothers to the camp today, to see what havoc the snowstorm wrecked, and to idly burn some old dry cedar and a large hardwood log that was in a state just prior to rot, and that came apart in great gray slabs, like toboggans or coffin lids. It burned as if that were its intended purpose, from spore to sapling to sylvan titan to splintered gray log. We carefully excised a portion of the lumber that had a knot-growth resembling an oversized human ear.

And we built a roaring fire in the midst of the silent snow, and we ate smoked oysters out of an oily tin, and when we threw the tin in the fire it smoked and smelled pleasantly funky, like burnt fish eyes. My two brothers tromped off towards the lake as I cut more firewood with that shitty dull folding handsaw (have to get my Pa a new one of these, if only for my own selfish use when I return) and silently stoked the fire and smoked cigarettes. My brothers returned from their expedition with dubious claims of frostbite, lugging a ten-pound chunk of ice that looked like a giant molar. We lounged by the fire until dark, heads resting on shoulders, little cowboy boots gingerly resting on their silent brother's bundled chest, all in a state somewhere between snoozing and heavy-lidded reflection, a state such as only a snow-choked Ozarks holler and a smoldering cedar campfire can provide. Simplify, simplify. My brothers took turns hooting at an owl across the holler, and he felt obliged to reply.

Tonight in the shower, as I rinsed my hair, the smoke from the fire was suddenly fresh in my senses. It streamed down my shoulders, and I felt nearly compelled to stop then, lest I wash all the residue off my scalp. But there will be more campfires, and someday there will be The Campfire, one whose smell I would feign to never shampoo away.

What the fuck does that even mean? Do I mean it? Is it allegory for allegory sake, empty imagery with some vague nostalgic and prosaic importance attached? Maybe. Or maybe it's just my guts, reminding me that I'm not an android. Do Andrews dream of electric sheep?

Also in the shower: I watched a tiny cricket, a straggler of the season, march clumsily and pathetically into the falling water. He tried feebly to clamber up to safety, but the slick tub walls offered no footing and no quarter. Finally, after watching his legs become splayed in bad angles, wrong angles, flattened by the rain, I scooped him up and tossed him behind the water heater.

I left the room to bring back a dictionary, but returned with a thick guide to Missouri flora. Tonight I shall sleep with a dictionary and a thesaurus on either side of my head. Is there a surer catalyst to madness, strapping your skull and all its screaming dreams between these two sizzling battery terminals? I want to exist in the arclite.

Thesaurus Rex

Just finished O. S. Card's Seventh Son, just began The Shining, and I'm eagerly halfway through it in just two days. Locked by inclement weather in the hills as I am, bound to the quiet, warm house by snowdrifts and plummeting mercury, I consider my finally reading this book to be as well-timed as I could've hoped. Interesting: I hardly ever read contemporary fiction, least of all fantasy or horror, but these last two books I've read I've truly enjoyed, and both deal with a young boy and his "knack", both boys born with a caul. I didn't even know of this term and the associated folklore a week ago. There are no coincedences, eh? I think it prudently safe, though, to chalk up the mundane to nothing more.

I suppose I should go to bed soon. I'll read more of The Shining until it scares the hell out of me again and I have to turn on some lights and avoid looking out of windows or into the bath tub. I need to see Kubrick's movie.

". . . on getting away from social conventions and coming closer to nature, we cannot help becoming children: all the things that have been acquired are shed by the soul, and it becomes again as it was once, and as it is surely to be again someday." - Lermontov, from A Hero of Our Time

Just now, in his sleep, Tony said something about "shitting on kids".

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh, save me Jesus.


"'. . . when for the first time I held her in my lap and kissed her black curls, I- fool that I was- imagined she was an angel sent me by compassionate fate... [sic] I was wrong again. The love of a wild girl was little better than that of a lady of rank; the ignorance and the naivete of one pall on you as much as the coquetry of the other. I still like her, I suppose; I am grateful to her for several rather sweet moments; I am ready to die for her- only I find her company dull. Whether I am a fool or a villain, I don't know; but of one thing I'm sure, that I also deserve pity, even more perhaps than she. My soul has been impaired by the fashionable world, I have a restless fancy, and insatiable heart; whatever I get is not enough; I become used as easily to sorrow as to delight, and my life becomes more empty day by day; there is only one remedy left for me: to travel. As soon as I can, I shall set out. . . perchance I may die somewhere, on the way! At least, I am sure that this last consolation will not soon be exhausted with the help of storms and bad roads.'" - Lermontov (as Pechorin)

Goddammit oh goddammit. Oh desperate and passionate and prideful wanderlust. Shit jeezus, Pechorin. Don't wait up for me indeed. I've been feeling these words under my skin since I was 18, and behind my eyes and creeping up my spine, a begrudging shared residence with that other Thing, the real bastard, with spider legs and suicide blood.

I was born sorry.

*Pushkin ("Eugene Onegin")

Camp Guthrie

4:13 am, 1-3-10

I'll carry you over the greenbriars
And make a crown of 'em for my head
And I'll find the soft green cedar boughs
Come time to make your bed

I've been working on Camp Guthrie, clearing brush and tending a little fire. I like to think, as I work in reverent silence, that someday, after the Collapse, when money means nothing and we start anew, learning more about ourselves and each other and the world and Gawd and how it all fits together than we ever even imagined we could know... I'd like to think sometime after that, there'll be a real settlement in this same blessed little spot. Not likely. It sits just this side of a low-lying levee on Army Corps land, a cool Northern slope hugging the purgatorial little swale where the steep glade and woody bluffs slope sharply and finally into the coarse and oft-flooded bottomlands. It's lowland, and it'll be flooded again come Spring, especially now that they've fucked up the White River Valley watershed with the dams and their infantile lakes. But maybe that says something about me, my dedication to this doomed little camp. I take such joy in building bridges, but I feel incomplete until I can sit on the shore and watch them burn.

The moon's always waning, the snow makes it seem so much brighter than it actually is, and my heart is such a wheel. But fuck all that noise. I'm building an altar at Camp Guthrie, and I mounted upon it that armadillo carcass, his shell and his skull and his tail, and they're held in place with barbed wire and twine. Soon I'll bring down more string, and some nails and a little jar of black paint.

And Spring's coming soon, baby. We got plenty of firewood to burn; I've been cutting it by hand with a busted little folding saw. Camp Guthrie's gonna be underwater come June, so let's just stand in front of that little altar and get married. Some old ghost will officiate, and the cedar will bear witness, and we'll honeymoon in the bottomlands and just law down under the creek rocks and cedar boughs and wait for that dirty old lake to come a-hissin' across our fire pit. If I don't wash away with you, I'll probably wash away alone. Either way, I'm washing away, and I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer, if just to watch it burn.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hand-Rolled, 2:30 am.

These hand-rolled cigarettes are good. Hand-rolled every step of the way. Hand-rolled into the ground as a tiny sprout, never touched with pesticide or herbicide or any of that nonsense, caressed and coaxed to grow taller than a man. Hand-harvested with hand-made tools, hand-rolled onto the bed of a beat-up pick-up. Hand-rolled into the barn rafters to dry. And tonight I hand-rolled the leaves to dust, and hand-rolled the dust into a cigarette. No added chemicals, no plastic or cyanide. Sure, you still have to pick out the odd grey-brown cat hair (Stinky can't be blamed for where she chooses to sleep) and silky mass of spider eggs, but that's all you need fear, unless inhalation of blood and perspiration and pride and the muscled toil of love give you any reason to hesitate before the inhalation of dried plant matter, nicotine and its wiry and persistent embrace, the obsession we justify and the chemical addiction we blame.

Tobacco's been important in my life, but I have no idea what this means. Memories of that thick black tar that you could nearly carve off of your palms at the end of the day. Those hot fucking miserable days. Why do I miss it all so bad? I was trying to decipher these visions and memories and feelings when I came home this last month, but I feel no closer to any answers. I'm looking at it all wrong, maybe. My perspective is skewed, maybe. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing my mind. I'm losing my mind, maybe. I don't want to go back to Tennessee, but for some reason I can't stay here. Why can't I? I need to talk to my mother. It's too late, and I'm tired. The snow never sleeps.

When I bought my acoustic guitar in Florida: it wasn't until well after it first caught my eye that I noticed the "color" label on the little display tag. Style? Dreadnought. Color? Tobacco. Hah!

To think there was a time when I didn't even know what 2:30 am looked like, or that it even existed. Now I live for it. I'd never sleep if- No, that's stupid. Nights are awful, long and lonely. I lose my grip, and only after I've buried my head in my pillow and pry my eyes open, letting in some semblance of day, hours later, do I feel the marks on any ruler to be properly spaced, balanced, balanced, demarcated. An illusion, maybe. Best not to consider these iniquities of personal behavior, impurities in mental health, inconsistencies of rational thought... not at this time of night anyway. I always feel so desperate in the late night, so weighted. And yet I watch the clock spin every time. 2:30 am. 3 am. With friends like these... We're all here together, blinking back the exhaustion, choking on confusing tears, and we are all so alone together.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Blues, for now.

1-3-10, 1:22 am

Boy did it snow. Spent the latter part of this evening breaking up tobacco into an old cigar box, using my cramping thumbs and fingertips to crumble the bitter brown leaf into rollable shake. Also opened a plug of cured tobacco, sealed up in brown paper for almost a year now, maybe longer, that Shea and I prepared with honey and Jim Beam. Mixed both tobaccos together in the cigar box, added an apple core for moistness. Listened to Blood on the Tracks.

Working on a blues song: original idea came from the folkloric habit of carrying buckeyes for luck, and then some apocalyptic hallucination, heat stroke, regarding droughts and ragweed. Now it's turning into some sort of lustful Faust story...

Mad drought, everything is dry and dusty. Skeletons and whistles, hard luck for most of us rural laborers. A burnt July and a burnt August. No grass to cut, the crops get boiled in their own juice, there are no clouds to even ephemerally offer us some shady solace from the sun's cruelty. The man keeps picking up buckeyes, and praying for rain, but still only the ragweed grows. So he goes mad, maybe. Just a little. Those mad-dog days of summer. . . . but that's another story. He goes a little mad and maybe starts eating dust and ragweed, and he wears his buckeyes around his neck, strung like little human skulls. And he sells his soul, maybe. Or just gives up some of it. Wallows in the dust like a mite-covered hen. Chews on ragweed until he shits blood and his skin crawls away. But he gets his wish, and it storms wherever he goes. Can't get away from drizzle and little crackling lightning storms, or from big fat raindrops that fall from giant demon thunderheads with all the rolling basso profondo accompaniment of that devil choir of electric discharge. It rains and rains, and no matter where he wanders, it follows and rains. So in the end he just resigns, accepts his new role as some reluctant and resentful rainman, and thinks about some sexy little thing in some dry little town, and sets off for her. Not without warning, but not hesitant to stop for the lack of candle in her window. You'd better be alone, he says. Cuz I don't wanna be. And I'm bringin' this here rain storm with me. Reckon I'd rather drown wish-fulfilled than burn up and blow away.

This sounds stupid on paper. I'll trust my guts, and my guts want to write a blues song about buckeyes, droughts, ragweed, rainstorms, pacts with the Devil, and sex. Stupid.

I worry that I'm not able to honestly be what I need to be right now, as far as companionship is concerned. No matter my best intentions. Sometimes the timing's so so wrong, and though none are to blame, there will still be guilt and remorse
There's plenty that I don't know.
and resentment and Consequences. For now, I shall sit by, idly content and gracious and guiltfree and live a life inconsequential. No life is without cause/effect for too long, and to expect this would make me a fool. But for now. You know? For. Now. Only I know what this emphasis means, and I have already forgotten. Only I accept the true burden of consequence. But there is a Time and a Place for Everything.

For now, I will not pretend that I am not happy. That's as honest as I can be.

"Come in," she said
"I'll give you shelter from the storm"

(Some sort of wordplay about the Three Wise Men and their Camel Lights.)

1-3-10, 7:01 pm, getting ready to watch Oliver Stone's The Doors. Drinking spicy tea.

Laying in the snow with my twelve-year-old brother; "It's so quiet out here," he says. "People in the city don't get it, do they?" Pause. "I feel kinda bad for them." Pause. Double-pause. "'Course, it's their own fault that they live in the city." "Yup".

A long walk in the twilight snow, hand-in-hand. Three brothers, sweetly oblivious, reverent in the silent fall of snow. Smoking cigarettes in the dark, dry barn, huddled in the manger like the Magi, curling tobacco smoke our incense. Snow angels, wet and cold down your neck and your aching back. It's all a peaceful lunar landscape, with the house backlit in iridescent blues and whites.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I know that it's a fall, though some may call it Autumn
I know that it's a fall, cuz winter's always at the bottom


(Is this correct? What day is-was it?)

It was a long fall, and sometimes I felt I was losing my mind. I travelled for a month, got spun around, lost my center of gravity. The gallows trapdoor dropped and I just floated through the ceiling. I was obsessed with coincedence, with ghost hints, reincarnation, Hinduism, and Robert Oppenheimer, and Martin Ramirez.

It was dreary and dismal behind my eyes, ice on the slate. And misplaced guilt, or something like it, some worthless emotion rooted in pain and selfishness and abstraction, came disguised as nostalgia, resentment disguised as anger and self-pity, a whole chain reaction of frustration and loathing panting at my feet like a sick dog, nipping bits of flesh from my ever-thinning carcass.

But still I dream, and maybe dreams are an escape, or maybe they're a suggestion. Maybe we are so open to possibilities in our sleep that occasionally, if we make the "correct" choices, and follow the river to its source, naturally, and we find ourselves eating the silver thread that winds among the disease and rust and takes us exactly where it promised. The potential is all there, the possibilities are all there, and we have all the mathematically unquantifiable proofs we need in the gossamer of our winged minds.

Dreams do come true, though obviously not always, and perhaps never for some unlucky fools. (I re-read what I had just wrote, and I had accidentally scribbled "Dreams do control". After amendment, still I wonder at this early-morning slip of the pen and the hand by which it is guided). Anyway, they do come true, but only if our own actions permit. Or not. Maybe we're still just sawdust in Gawd's eye, our every action as uncontrollable and incidental as the tiny little embers that soar from a bonfire into the stars, fading to a speck of ash before even clearing the treetops.

All I know is that this past Fall, when things were their worst, I'd dream of ice and snow in Kirbyville. Ice on the creek, snow on the fields. And in the past few weeks I've spent at home, reflecting, recuperating, I've seen plenty of both, and not a single moment of chill, not a single grain of ice, nor a single ashy snowflake, goes uncherished.