Tag Archives: humanity

Corporate Melancholy

Oh, but to button up your salmon shade shirt
as first light suffuses the sky
to grab your leather case
to head out into the utilitarian
concrete venues
the slow murder of the freeway
the stone faces behind desks
the clerks the admins the accountants
the space between eyes like
air between walls
the cubicles lashed together
under fluorescent strips of lights.

The unsettling labyrinth of hidden voices
hitting their sales targets.

It can skew your sanity
itch at your primordial mind
that this isn’t and never
was intended to be
the way for us so long
hidden under rocks and leaves
our soul.

This isn’t really you
beneath this artificial skin
thin as paper on a desk
but the children require cellphones
and your wife a new look.

As slowly your face
moulds into that shit-eating grin while
thanking your next client
your blood wants blood
your past cannot forgive you.

You measure yourself
with false advertisements

and spend all night
locked in dreams
mocking your life.

Built To Last

Humans are predominantly fragile creatures. You cannot deny the invariable condition of the species. People collide into all sorts of things including each other. They get scratched, bruised, and sometimes broken.

Then there was Henry. ‘Built to last!’ was his slogan after he shattered his elbow and fractured his femur.

You couldn’t tell Henry that he wasn’t superman no matter how many times he came home with another fall or fail, another fracture or broken bone, another gratuitous scar. His attitude was firmly stoic despite all the operations, the orthopedic implants, the sheer amount of titanium introduced into his body over time.

Some people would just quit. Stay inside. Hire security. Weep before an ever-loving God with complete resignation and devotion. Not Henry. He would book an extreme parasailing adventure or unsuccessfully take on the Bangkok underground fighting circuit. And he would always come back with a new injury and an incredible story that’s validity was questionable at best.

Henry’s singular drive towards putting himself in harm’s way was exhausting and seemed to be his only talent. Some people were just built a certain way that confounded the rest of us. Perhaps it was life laughing at itself.

When a building finally came down on Henry, he should have been absolutely crushed but miraculously had managed to only break his leg (again). How or why no longer applied in his dimension. I didn’t even get the full story except that he had stumbled onto a pending demolition site looking for a lost puppy. At this point in his life, I was the only person left in the world that would pick Henry up from the hospital.

Henry snickered as he hobbled over. “Built to last!” He gleamed.

“Shut-up, Henry. Get in the car.”

HER LOVE IS WAR

Her love is a
crowbar into
the stomach.

It’s a gun fight
in a closet.

It’s a black hole
in a paper cup.

Her love is a
grenade in a
gumball machine.

An electric chair
in a summer dress.

It’s a Third Reich parade.

Now i drive fast
with my eyes closed.

Scream into bottles
of Chardonnay.

Pick fights with
ghosts in long ago
basements

while looking
for reasons
in a cereal box
and empty parking lots.

THE PROBLEM WITH US

The problem is that
people have to have more
and more
in order to fill in the holes
in themselves
in each other
in the hours
in the empty spaces.

And so we dig
and gouge
and scrape
and burn until
there is nothing left
with no regard
or respect.

We don’t want to know
how things work
as long as it
works for us.

We don’t understand
how to appreciate
a world
that we do not
live in fear of.

We have made
things far too
easy
for and on
ourselves.

We have forgotten
the lion
the bayonet
the plague
the hunger
the fire the scars
the blood dripping from
a thousand crosses
the terrors the deaths
the darkness
at the end of every street.

But these things
don’t just
go away they are
still there
so far back and
just around the corner
sharpening their
knives
their teeth
their resolve
they are honing in and
approaching like a
thick blanket
a moonless night
a killer in a crowd.

They’re coming
-it’s coming.
-It’s here.

And it’s about time.

BECAUSE YOU ONCE SAID YOU LOVED ME

Maybe I’ll blow
my brains out
in a car on a
crowded American freeway
to Mozart
with the taste of steak
still in my mouth
as a fly searches
the windshield
because all meaning
has become
a handful
of paper confetti.

Because the obviousness
of everything has
murdered all emotion.

Because all the wells
have been poisoned
and everyone wants a drink.

Because the
existential emptiness
underlying all
conversations about
the weather
haunts the soul.

Because lawyers are
expensive
but bullets are
almost free.

Because you once said you loved me.

Ice Cream Truck Goes To Mars

When you’re high
or drunk
or both
it fucks up your piss
you think you’re done
or don’t
are you?
You’re not sure
but how long are you going to
just stand there
with your dick hanging out
waiting to be seen
maybe you want to be seen
you dirty fuck
so on that
you put it away
and walk a half block
further into darkness
only to have to piss again
and the dance continues
but it’s not a dance
perhaps people throughout
the centuries have struggled
with this maddeningly human
scenario of
pulling it out
only to put it away again and…

Do you hate me?
Do you love me?
Am I feeble
livid
reckless?

What am I after all
but just another
mad animal
rampaging through
the technology driven
wilderness?

And you consider
how you never calculate
into your day
the pisses
the shits
the eats
you never have as much time
as you think
ever
because you eat too much
you’re far too comfortable
without predators
you shit too much piss
way too much
and you don’t fuck at all
anymore
you might as well
be quarantined.

You’re a lost cause
aren’t you?

I really don’t know…
fuck it.

Ice cream truck goes to Mars.

COVID-19 SOCIETY: LIFE IS A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER

As the pandemic was unfolding on social media people were scattered in the frozen produce section of Costco staring down at their smartphones as if waiting for instructions. A lady was fixated on her screen beside a batch of tomatoes when her face scrunched up and she started to turn. They all did, not into zombies or vampires or werewolves. Instead, they all turned toward the aisle containing the bathroom tissue.

“Oh no, she has it!” A man said to his daughter.
“What, Dad? The virus?”
“No, Stacey, the hearing about the virus, virus.”

In one single motion typically reserved for geese taking flight, the people began to rush alongside and at times over each other in a desperate bid, not to grab the last remaining rations of ass-fleece, but to get it all, grossly more bog roll than they would ever use in their entire lifetimes. Fuck everybody else.

As can be seen on any given Black Friday: wrangling, scuffling and outright brawling overtook the immediate area in an implosion of bodies interacting in the most primordially deprived fashion possible. Yes, it was social-distancing at it’s best in aisle seven where humanity had rapidly devolved into a raging pile of limbs, gnashing teeth, pulling hair -and in the midst of the chaos freshly-ejected spittle freely soared, danced and coalesced to form a fine blanket of mist that soon settled upon everything (sleep well).

“See Honey,” Father said as her brought his daughter close to witness the spectacle, “this is why we aren’t going to make it as a race –because when under duress we lack the ability to think about the common good and instead become dominated by our own self-interests in immediate and irrational ways. What you see here? This is a true reflection of our society. What you have to understand is that everybody’s nice until you start messing with their livelihood and after that…there’s this.”

The final bulk pack of toilet roll was won over by a lady the size of a Whirlpool fridge who manhandled a millennial.

“Dad, I’m scared!”

The father smiled warmly, “You should be, especially when you consider how quickly we all can be reduced to little more than contagious self-serving vermin controlled by an increasingly authoritarian government.”

“I don’t understand!”

“Well, after a lifetime of being sold your own self-image while following the trivial pursuit of achieving Instagram-worthy selfies it must be very difficult -if not downright impossible- to suddenly wake up one day and realize that it’s not all about you.” He gave her shoulder a light squeeze. “I get it. Your whole generation’s going to be living in a dumpster-fire cause of climate change anyway.”

As callous hordes of people ran by waving around over-sized loads of scrumptious, fluffy toilet rolls with blank stares in their eyes he said: “Don’t worry, we can always wipe our ass with Scruffles.”

“Not my cat!”

“Oh yes, and that’s just for starters.” Father gave her a look that made Stacey worried about what would happen after that resource was exhausted.

As another horde charged through with what looked to be the last remaining stock of rice, pasta, eggs and flour (because everyone was going to suddenly take up baking) Father said, “Who knows? We might have to eat her too.”

Stacey began to cry as her dad nodded to an old lady and gave her a tender look that would make anybody feel at home right before clothes-lining her as she was walking by for the six-pack of hand sanitizer held against her chest that he was going to dilute and sell online at an absurdly marked-up price.

”Welcome to the new world!”

THE PARTY DRUG

Tom lost his fiancé at a party. He didn’t like being without her in an apartment crowded with people. He didn’t like people. He didn’t know what to say to them. Stacy was the only one he could talk to. And now she was gone.

That’s when he saw the boy standing in the living room with an open Ziploc bag handing out pills like it was Halloween candy. He looked so nicely cooked that you just wanted to be him.

“This is Eddie’s shit, Man. Best in town. Y’all know Eddie, right? We’re just around the corner so hit us up. Nice chill buzz. It’ll get your girl in the mood. Spread the word that I’ve got free samples cause I’m only here ‘til it’s gone. Only got fragments left, Man, fragments.”

Largest reason why Tom didn’t like being around people was that he easily saw into them and mostly didn’t like what he saw. The boy with the bag didn’t add up at all. Beneath his entrepreneurial bravado he looked scared. Of what? It was a party, Man, not even a particularly exciting one.

People were snatching pills up as word circulated around the apartment. When the boy gave out the last one and noticed that Tom was watching him he took the empty sandwich bag in both of his hands, blew into it and then popped it with his fist. He mouthed a word slowly to Tom and made for the door, fumbling the knob on the way out. Tom couldn’t make out what he had said but he barely tried.

Fuck, where was Stacy? She knew better than this. Tom didn’t want to seem desperate enough to go looking for her either. It was one of those situations that exemplified exactly why he was dragged here by his balls and Tom was just going to sit there and wait a few more minutes like a good dog.

That’s when the laughter in the kitchen started.

Everybody was laughing in there. What a riot. Good times. They kept on and on. They didn’t stop. After a while Tom could tell by the way that people in the living room had stopped talking with eyes nervously darting back and forth that it scared them too. A couple of them started laughing themselves. It was catching on, whatever it was. Something was happening.

The laughter became louder until it was all anyone could hear and it wasn’t only coming from the kitchen now. People were bent over here and there having a fit. It didn’t look fun; it looked forced. Tom realized that he was gripping the sofa he sat on with white knuckles.

Tom wasn’t sure what was going on but it was strange enough to potentially send him over the ledge and all the way down. His short bursts of breath were signaling a coming panic attack and Tom wasn’t about to have one here because there was nowhere to hide. Stacy would be disappointed, even if she didn’t show it.

A skinny blonde girl stumbled out of the kitchen cackling like a rabid hyena. The people that weren’t laughing started screaming –her face; her fucking face. Tom sprang from the sofa and sped to the back of the apartment calling Stacy’s name and going into every room until he found her.

“We’ve got to go, now!” Stacy saw enough to not protest and held Tom close as they made their way back down the hall towards the front door. Stacy looked into the next room they passed and screamed as Tom pulled her away.

Uncontrollable laughter was only a symptom of becoming something far worse. What they saw now were no longer people. Their faces and bodies had disfigured into some morbid curiosity. It made you sick to look at them but you didn’t want to look away as everything was happening so fast.

Tom knew that it wouldn’t stop there and that this was the beginning of an event that was beyond his comprehension. What he did comprehend was that they weren’t going to make it past the living room. Not with what he saw happening up ahead. Nothing should make a person look like that and do those things. Rage wouldn’t describe it.

Passing by the bathroom Tom saw that it was empty, pulled Stacy inside and locked the door. Not satisfied, he held the doorknob with both hands. Tom now felt shut in and trapped but at least he didn’t have to see what was going on out there. Screams filled the apartment. Screams and laughter. It was pandemonium. It was a living Hell.

It was only then that Tom thought back to what the boy had said to him and realized it was, ‘I’m sorry.’ If it didn’t make much sense then it was much clearer now. But what in God’s name had he done?

“Call 911!” Tom shouted, but Stacy wasn’t moving, until she lifted up her face. Her mouth had already frozen into an sickening grin that almost met her yellow bulbous eyes trapped in a blank mad stare that was both haunted and haunting. It was a face that would have been comic had it not been terrifyingly so.

“Oh no, Baby. NO BABY! No no no no…not you too…” Tom reached for her and began to cry.

Stacy began to laugh.

Part 2 of 2. Catch part 1 here: THE DEALER

The War Veteran

Johnny had his face in his iPhone.
He didn’t see the crippled old war veteran
lying like litter on the sidewalk
in a beaten parka begging for change.

“Get out of my way, you filthy bum!”
Johnny was disgusted. The city should do a better job
of keeping this scum out of his sight.

As Johnny went to kick the man’s legs
to teach him a lesson
the old man’s hand reached out
and seized Johnny by the ankle
for while this particular veteran had lost everything
along the way he had obtained a very special gift
and today it would be Johnny who was the one
receiving the lesson
of a lifetime.

Everything went dark and quiet but for only a moment.
Johnny opened his eyes but didn’t remember closing them.

He wasn’t downtown anymore.
Instead Johnny was in a rice field and his ankles were all wet
the air was stifling hot with no breeze
large insects buzzed all around him and he could
smell his own sweat along with cow shit
but he didn’t have time to feel disgusted again.

A large boom displaced the air all around him as
further up the way
the entire tree line disappeared beneath
a wall of mushrooming fire
as jets roared past overhead.

Johnny’s eyes widened as the heat hit him and as
dozens of men came running out towards him screaming
all completely covered in crawling flames.

Johnny could smell their skin burning
when the barrage of endless bullets began
whipping right past his head and
cutting down the men Johnny realized
where all around him
scared just like him –men that
he went to basic training with
that he played cards with
men that were like his brothers.

The way that his best friend’s body
twitched as it was riddled with bullets
made him look like a dancing puppet
and it might have been funny as Hell
if it didn’t break Johnny’s heart.

Bombs exploded dirt high into the sky
that came raining back down all around him.
Then another hit…and another
closer and closer each time.

Johnny turned his head to look behind him.
A boy, must have been only seventeen
a new recruit that Johnny knew well
was seated on the ground trying to hold his guts in
screaming for his momma.

Men in straw hats came running out of the forest
fire spouted in rapid succession from the barrels of their guns.
They were all around him coming in fast.
Johnny was paralyzed with fear
his bladder let go inside of his pants when
the sergeant –a large shirtless man wearing a cowboy hat
calmly smoking a cigar
came up to Johnny and slapped him:

“Don’t you dare wet yourself on my field, soldier. You worthless piece of wet chicken shit I’ll hand you over to Charlie myself and you’ll get ass-banged all the way to Goddamn China if you don’t get a grip on your gun and DO WHAT YOU”RE TRAINED TO DO!! We’ve got to take this damned village or we’ll all be sucking bamboo dicks for the next ten years so get your Sally-ass shit together and make yourself GOD-DAMN USEFUL! GET TO KILL’N SOME COMMUNISTS! YOU WANT TO MAKE IT HOME SOME DAY THEN START MOVING! THE ONLY WAY OUT IS FORWARD AND THROUGH THESE SHITBAGS!”

The sergeant was the scariest person Johnny had ever seen
he was obviously completely insane
and made Johnny want to run into the fire just to escape his presence.
Instead the sergeant pushed Johnny forward and at that moment
Johnny somehow knew that he had spent over a year
in this Hell and there was no respite from it
not day or night
it would just continue on and on.

Johnny’s Mom wasn’t going to be able to
bail him out of this there was no one
there was nothing but him and his gun and
he was going to die or go mad in this man-made Hell
where everything was burning and filthy and all covered in
grease and blood and where everyone wanted you dead
and the only thing worse than the insects was the heat
and the constant endless stream of enemies.

This was a reality that he had never had to feel
or know was real and Johnny just couldn’t handle it.
Johnny just wanted to go home and hide under his bed.

Johnny leaned over and vomited
then vomited some more
as the sounds of passing cars and people
laughing returned and Johnny opened his eyes
realizing that he was in the middle of the sidewalk
crying, having wet his pants and now
retching his insides out in front of a
group of Japanese tourists.

Johnny ducked into a nearby alley
and leaned back against the cold brick wall
shivering and still crying.

The last thig he remembered before all this was
the man…the old man…
The war veteran.

The old man climbed up into his wheelchair and
quietly rolled himself down towards the harbor.

He had found some bread to feed the gulls with.

It was getting late and the view of the water
at sunset always made him feel at peace.