I kept a calendar at my desk, and I had binders of papers and a collection of pens, and a bobble-head that reminded me of saying Yes. I sat in the air-conditioning all summer, and got to stay home when it snowed. I had responsibilities and people who looked up to me for answers to their issues. I had a computer, two computers technically, and two computer screens, and I spent my days leaning back in a big comfy chair. I had a digital hub. Published articles and interviews and edited videos for the web. People ran around under me. I ran a website. I was the master of the fucking intraweb. For Poly Corp. I don’t understand what they did. But everyday when I walked in the squirrels would chirp hello from their nests tucked into corners of their gray cubicle walls. They’d tell me stories about their kids and their kids and what they did with their kids on the weekends. They played on the lawn. And I’d push past towards my office down the hall. Everyday for three years, the same eight-thousand square feet of office space on the fourth floor of a single wing in a single office building. Fourth floor — they couldn’t even give me a patch of ground. The window in the office offered such a little view, of a corner of the parking-lot and the office building across. That is what I had all day — the same drab gray patchwork of ultra-low-pile carpeting, and I’d piss the same urinal, and I’d walk back to my desk. And outside I’d see the sunlight I couldn’t feel through the window’s tint, and I’d know that that sunlight was the same solar beam that spread its gold across half the planet’s face. I’d pace in my office and I’d pace in the stalls and I’d scowl at the squirrels who passed me by in the halls. When man was the master race! When he had muscles in his legs and hair on his arms, an upright posture that saw the forests in the distance and the coyotes on the hills. What is this we were made for? To cower in our cubbies and strut the same lengths of floor? Moles that hide in burrows, sleepy weekends in suburban corners. Man-caves! Dust-motes in the stagnant sunbeams through the window; hide in our little corners of comfort oblivious to the gilded hills at dawn. Never to see the mountains purple with the distance, to feel the breadth of a continent pass beneath our feet. The city streets are there to be explored; the open passages of time and the highways that lie in the sun — they should be mine! To be conscious of the Redwood forests and the beauty of the Badlands, the cafes in San Francisco and the poetry of the pouring rain. We were meant to witness the way the Earth curves from the Carolines to the Blue Mountains to the red rocks in the desert, not to hide ourselves from this beautiful expansiveness of time. The faces we’ll never see! The millions of moments we all miss. The trees should weep for the people who no longer lay in their shade, and the poets should put down their pens: we have abandoned them. I will not disappear from the years by sitting at my desk. I am driving a rented Cadillac right through this building’s gate, blasting bluegrass and jumping in my seat, collecting my final paycheck. Give me the revolver, give me back my booze. I am taking back my liberty and with it to spread my virility ‘cross the face of this beautiful Earth. I won’t sit kindly in society’s pocket anymore. The Universe, it should know that I exist.
We saw ourselves marching down the parkway at dawn, head-long into traffic, carrying signs and beatnik anthologies – at night while the city slumbered we remembered what the next day would bring: Defiance on the turnpike. Sitting on the footbridge drinking bum wine and trying to rap, at night, to pass the time; feet hung over the slab of concrete, toy cars sliding by down the highway beneath and we saw what the morning would bring: Revolt on the outer-belt. We dropped beer bottles into commuter traffic at dawn, would light sticks on fire for the commute home. And it all seemed so spectacular and raw to be spurning the throngs of traffic we said were traveling in the wrong direction; but we knew it was the better guess to assume, though we could never admit it, that there was only so much in us to fight against the friction.
When flesh is water-logged it swells and pushes oils out the pores of taut skin. Greasy, wet with a hint of green –
eat your lunch at the office.
When bones corrode the marrow sours. Rust holes eaten through –
your desires at the ends of their demands.
When time decays it leaves behind the taste of pennies, pine for youth to try again –
you didn’t have to be this way.
There is blackness shattered in the cracks of the small bare-wall room. Puke on the throw rug bought at Target left sitting for three days straight. The wracking of the nerves leaves shuddering on the bed the infant who tried to escape their fate by running for his god damned life, halfway across the continent to a city raw with beggars and transient thieves in the night. There is no woman here; there is no mother. There is nothing here but an empty desk and a waste-basket filled with ashes of a life of peace disregarded – contentment discarded, illusory harmony torn at the seams of the suit jacket and college degree: there are no Bachelor’s here, no dreams of vacations in Caribbean seas or the totalitarian pistons that deliver by degrees, the consumer success your privilege had blessed as something you could accomplish with ease.
Here there is darkness.
Synthetic Chinese amphetamines. Craigslist sex-list swapping fluids through a spectrum of genders, leaving you a hollow waste huddled on the mattress on the floor. Luckily, the internet has movies for free. What were your dreams? What did you sever the cords of the safety-net for? The map laid it all out: degree, career, marriage, a new TV and couch and color splotches to match the walls and you decided to get out. The map was well-defined. Skunked beer mixes with the spunk on your bedsheets. It’s been three days. Cold winter sunlight barely touches the floor and you’ve waned to a pallor of jaundice or piss. The hope that your parents miss you fearfully plunged down the toilet. The strange city, you immigrant; the cafes are filled with echoes and the shadows on the corner see you as the ghost. Weep out the window for the touch of a familiar hand.
Here there is darkness.
On the floor the bundle of books you backpacked ‘cross eight states, left untouched for six whole days. The paragraph you typed still up on the screen (great promise here, you tried to say), minimized behind the scenes of comedic relief that let you freeze, however momentarily, the blackness that rots through the cracks in the wall. You had peace on the map; follow the dotted-line they’ve defined as contentment. But here the darkness is allowed to seep and the oblivion of it crushes you to weep – you fool! There is nothing here past the boundary but the infinity of what you can dream and daily swallow. Fill yourself with the possibilities, you haven’t to be so hollow: These are the constellations of oblivion and they dance beyond the boundaries of their maps.
The boxes beneath the tree tremor with soft scraping sounds etching into the cardboard from the inside-out. The tree is dry and I haven’t watered it since you dragged it into the house, put it up yourself and strangled it with lights. The strands flicker electrical shortages. I am in the armchair across the room, alone and in the dark – the dark broken across the room by the white and green lights sparking in and out, and behind the tree in the lousy bay window (bay window stuck to the front of our drowsy rental by a landlord finding a reason to charge more) are the outside lights hanging from the gutter and these lights too sputter in and out, a madhouse effect of lights’ electrical shorting and the rats in the fucking boxes wrapped in cheery Ho Ho Ho! are finally scratching through the cardboard.
I am in the armchair and I am wracked. My hair is at odd angles from hands that tried to hold the itching, the itching inside my skull, from cracking out, greasy and clammy from three days’ sitting here to remember what this was all about. I don’t how I arrived here to live in this house, with you. I can’t remember why I went to college, or why I dropped out, or why I stopped going to work last week. I don’t know how it is that you can cry, or what it is I’ve done.
I can’t rationalize why I should feel pleased that you – or anybody else – thought to buy me a sweater or a DVD or a god damned mouse for my laptop. ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE WAFFLE IRON? I want to crack my teeth on the concrete steps that maybe the pain will be sincere enough to let me enjoy a moment of quiet television-watching so I can tell your parents how glad I am for the 12 months of Hulu they gave us.
There is something wrong here that I cannot understand. But maybe it’s me. I never remembered to buy you a gift, and to be honest it was far down my list of important life goals to accomplish. I sit here now, in this armchair, with a shuttering heart of regret as I watch, with a head that feels the pressure of a thousand leagues down, the sparking lights set fire to your tree.
I do not flinch, I do not think twice about the presents or your dreams or the life we’ve dumped into our little house, I can only sit here and stare as the flames reach the ceiling and I am drowning in a feeling I may someday call remorse. Remorse that I could never tell you how much I cared for us, because I could never put together what I wanted for myself.
There is something eating away just beneath my scalp, the frantic nail-breaking appeal of a damaged mind just trying to get out of hell. And I am sorry I dragged you in without properly marking the door.
I don’t know what it is I wanted with you, if I just can’t remember or if from the beginning I never knew, what it was. But the problem remains, every day; I am still completely in love with you.
I just want to one day be able to wish you a merry Christmas.
Here are ten years spent searching for the antithesis of a life uselessly lent to Keurig machines brewing, daily traffic migrations idling, flat-screen TV’s streaming: Here are the screams of the mad-eyed peeling their scalps to let out the vacancies eating away at their brains. Here are the years spent shifting desks in dormitories where your youth went for a degree in death management: You found yourself crawling naked hysterical on the sidewalk well past sun-rise. You took the plunge and scrapped gum from the sidewalk, making yourself a lunch to carry downtown for a day staring listlessly at trees in the park, where you found, on a pedestal, a mirror looking down at you. Here are your dreams above the obscurity of the crowds – a PhD in philosophy, Mr. Little Camus you could change the world.
Here are the scars on your forehead the time you realized the ceramic-tile wall-corner could set free the termites tunneling hollow through your head. The termites hurt worse: unconsciousness was blissful. Then: three years later dragging your guts pornographically through the bars you realized the misfortune well-spent on bathsalts in a single boarded-up bedroom – the obscurity you feared was waiting right here beneath your piss-stained mattress. In a dumpster you found a desk and picked up reading the Existentialists where last you had left off – Mr. Little Camus you could change the world.
Here are the months you spent hitchhiking both coasts because the idea of getting lost beat finding your way through the mainstream maze that still makes no sense. Remember the time you cried, head to your mother’s chest, about the nihilism of this and that? It thundered true then and it thunders true now, with your shoestrings dangling through the holes in your soles. Is there lunch left in your pockets? Did you manage the time to find the ticket for your shuttle-ride to the stars. You are 35 and still longing for your home with your child and wife, and they are there, and they are waiting – for you to find they are the meaning.
Mr. Little Camus you would’ve changed the world.
America, I no longer wish to heal your wounds. I see your wounded nursing bruises from swift kicks received on the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and a few times every Valentines’. I would like you to know I do not approve. But you see I might have to go to work tomorrow, I might just have to attend my class, my crying baby might wake me earlier than noon – you see, America, I have much to do. As much as I’d love to help, the butchers won’t stop purchasing luxury SUV’s to chauffeur their Ivy Leagues back and forth from Princeton to Livingston, and I’ll never live to meet the rubble grousers when they quit collecting scattered pounds of flesh from dusty villages seen from the sky. America, it isn’t that I’m bored so much as relieved that I already have a roof and as far as I can see the pantry will always be at least filled partially. America you see as much as I fume and burst the odd incredulous fuse staring at war memorials mostly used for the good patriotic fervor that bids me to consume grocery apps and live-stream TV for my bedroom, America you see I eagerly anticipate the release of BioShock3 and the alternate realities I disappear into for days. America don’t get me wrong, I am Cure for Cancer strong, but my cock is daily slammed up in my laptop in a silencing embrace of willful castration. You see America, as much as I rage it wears me out it wears me thin I’m over it plenty swift. Suffice to say, America, I can no longer give you a fuck. What I have here is warm and placental as long as I work my mandatory sentence I’ll be fine and remain encased in my womb of creature comforts.
America, most days I let my rage dissipate into a vapor I can vaguely recognize as sane. But that’s just it – America suicidal, I’ve embraced this ineffectual malaise.
The mothers again have taken to baking their babies into walls around their Gucci gardens, and the fathers are found soliciting sex dolls to drive their careers far from town. The zeppelin overhead shines the face of democracy, and the bureaucrats have barred my door with towers of papers to be filed. Skeletons stalk the streets looking for doctors to eat, and the alley behind Burger King is where the Velez family sleeps on cardboard pads from the dumpsters. Continue reading