Bonnie and Clyde: Five Dialogues
BONNIE(the lady is knittting together her fingers
nefarious and many-colored strings)
"my stomach hurts" i said "must be intestinal" these
she says words unclotting them
the lady's fingers are wailing as
(CLYDE)she reaches in me saying i can
touch them i can (BONNIE)look
BONNIEdeftly we took refuge in each others necks
out hands trying and trying to ignore
the other people in the next room how they wallow
into obsolescence but subside
jus take it now my hand is
small you'll forget
it clyde barrow but you can mark my neck there'll
always be someone
in that next room
CLYDEyep in that chamber where the money is
men collapse each
other collapsed and stole
my heart hon is worth nothing
it is hardly a timepiece or
you must wind it and if you remain insolent and
spin and if you
wont spin it
wont gallop or
waltz and honey lets leave
or tornado well on out of here to smithereeeeee
CLYDE*[IS WATCHING HIMSELF ON FILM]Never telling what you're going to do or say or if I'll be caught with my pants down, gun-shy, in front of everyone's damned checkerboard glances. I've frequently had problems being out in public with you. Now I can't see you save for, peripherally, a little blue glow on your cheekbone and patch on the nose, from the screen-glare. Double-jump and it's me or both of us.
Faye Dunaway you are gorgeous. You comment on it, sitting here, watching this, with me and my arms tied, and I wish to tell you you are more beautiful, yes you, my Helen, my Juliette, my Brigitte Bardot, but all that would be unfair to Bonnie. You can't compare movies to real life, it would be ludicrous people
just don't rob banks like that.
BONNIE(he spoke imprecise it
was his tongue running round
on wool and here's us trying to have and escape exper-
ience both i said to him you
can't stick a fork in
the machine it's both of us
he said youre still on that aren't
you i said "Sweaty hands, you could drop the gun and it'd be me and you both."
and he said as if out to woods GET MY POINT, YA DAMN CAR bonnie parker
precisely there is no
ne so i skipped town
CLYDEhoney it's over now i
can't find any them any-
more than the cows sing to the stars
and the evening's a saddle to take us
["You know what, when we started out, I thought we was really goin' somewhere. This is it. We're just goin', huh?"]
"come i'm lost now bonnie"
"that is not my concern"
"i need a hat to keep goin"
"thats not mine either"
"good luck finding one well have --"
"to steal it and each -- "
"others hearts fuck keep -- "
"looking out for the turn -- "
"pike there was one second--"
"'s-soon's awai- --"
Fourth from End -- ZYXW
that which hold door
open even when no reply, wedge
water wheel turns and turns
for energy antagonisms generated, guilt
dirtied excesses of the heart
called wanton use of self
whack of thin hammer on ice
distributes unevenly broken fingers
language of Nootka, Wakashan, one of many
tribes to communicate sounds of understanding
aroma caused potion to turn into bitterness
something words do every day, wormwood
another name for closure, womb, which in time
causes need to break out with cry of freedom
wadi, a desert in puddle of water galoshes
splash yellow with green slicker reflection
misalignment of scale between us, whiplash
the strain of delirious vibrations to the nerves
wicker used to hold heart and song
the one carried well, the other
weaseled out of trap taking love
and leaving only frame to try again
twisted wood wrung into beautiful spindle
ventures writhing through wonderland
the whoosh of wind created flurries of stars
vibrating chords and dazzling poets
Not Piecing Together the Little Parts
The clouds looked like smoke signals
Without intention of conveying a message
To have interpreter.
The evening's conflagration, spots of illusory fires,
On the white sand shore's driftwood,
That was wet, dark, and cracked. The fires
Went out as the sun sunk,
Leaving only strands of red hair on the horizon.
Now only a tip of red hair,
The head, the body has disappeared.
I am alone,
Except for the apparition
Of a tip of red hair.
She is probably standing among umbrella pines
Where a path curves through trees in Fregene.
There is a voice without a body within me
That tells me I'm extremely happy
In my melancholy among sea oats
On this white winding shore line.
A man is walking down your street pushing his sleeping offspring in a stroller. Coming toward him is a pretty girl with dark hair and headphones on both ears. The sidewalk is not wide enough to accommodate both. At the penultimate moment, in a paroxysm of helpfulness, the man swings the stroller off course toward the street. He misjudges the distance and one wheel goes over the lip of the curve.
The baby is bounced against the side carriage, awakened rudely. She stretches her petal pink face and begins to scream. She will grow up to trust no one. The girl with the Walkman, meanwhile, having jumped lightly up off the sidewalk onto the low wall running alongside, continues without looking back.
The man looks back, once, ruefully, before tending to the squalling baby. On the way home he passes a sidewalk cafe. There a young man and an older woman are having coffee together. They pause to watch the father and his child pass. The woman is smoking, leaning back in her chair with leonine grace and assurance. The man is hunched over his cup considering what she had just told him.
"I hope your new boyfriend gets cancer in his dick," he says finally, and her composure cracks just long enough to knock her spoon off the table.
The small sound of it hitting the pavement is lost in a swell of Peter Tosh from a car rounding the corner. Inside, four people, each monstrously obese, are each smoking a joint. The driver pauses at the stop sign then peels away leaving a patch of steaming rubber on the road.
A man from the neighborhood walks over to inspect it. He holds his hands behind his back and moves deliberately, with the gravity of a gentleman surveying his property. When the 409 bus drives by, he looks up and runs after it, screaming "Wait! Wait!" One passenger after another spots him and alerts the driver. When the bus stops, the man turns on his heel and resumes his survey of the gutter and its contents.
In the tree above the bus stop a hawk is ripping the insides out of a small brown bird. The air fills briefly with a shower of feathers, more than you'd expect, which covers the ground like a carpet. Soon afterwards you pass underneath without looking up and a feather is stirred from the sidewalk. It flies up and sticks to the back of your head. When you get home you find it there, maybe while you're sitting on the steps taking off your boots. You absentmindedly stick it in your pocket. Your bare feet make a soft friendly sound on the linoleum that I know even without being there.
Head of the Class
The noggins of the heady
ride spin cycles, to the
crowning of last rites
in a chaos that is upside
down all over again. An
inevitable blur assumes
credits best left to fate
and her little sisters. The
balancing of acts in the
play on words never to
be spoken in haste makes
waste the standard by
which broken men are
called to serve.
The Vestige of a Nostalgic Inferno
"But, do allow yourself the inward stare of that eye which is exterior to you," the man stated, looking at the shoes of people who passed by in the distance. The other man, whose appearance could only be described as something awkward, or of a nature tangled, at first did not respond but as he readjusted his grimy spectacles and looked at the train in the distance, he allowed himself to utter something. "My perturbation with this 'act', which I shall commit regardless, is merely a part of life, a segment in which I shall always find myself attached. I must be bound to something besides this irrelevant skin."
Smoked drifted into the stagnant air, no one seemed distracted at all by the occurrence, it was long ago accepted, people went about on their way, into boulevards and designated streets, disappearing at disjointed intervals, and in those few minutes the clock tower was entirely shrouded by black train smoke.
Both men grew in apprehension of something, apparently unperceived even by their cognizance.
"You realize that I can not exist any longer, once you relinquish the composition of your very nature!" The awkward man did not seem to pay any diligence to the other man, who was by that time, uncontrollably nervous. "Why is it that you shall even be upon that train, you yourself said that you did not believe in destiny, or anything similar to human fortune, you, filled with a thick set of lies, an utter nihilist!"
Crowds emerged and embraced both men, consuming them and then relinquishing them once again to the proper solitude found in that city.
"To me, you never existed, I myself could not exist within this barren framework, all life is regurgitated."
"No, not at all, it is of course set upon by limits, but each new configuration arises to reclaim that part of emptiness and make it into something else."
"You are nothing to me, you, a mere mirage of my conscience, you are not even a man, look at you, you are the idea of some rigorous student, you have existence only within the limitations of my own mind!"
The awkward man moved towards the station, not even looking back at the other man, who was slowly beginning to decompose, his clothes crumpled like a dusty leaf, then his skin fell to the ground and eventually his skeletal framework was obliterated by the passing steps of people and while surging towards an immanent crowd, the awkward man activated the mechanism of that crude bomb attached to his body, he did not even resolve to smile or look at anyone, he was by then already consumed by another configuration of some lingering discourse within his isolated memory with a man who did not exist.
Because the World Needs Us Now
Lance told me my dreams were like the Himalayas, tall and irrelevant. I figured this was a warning or something. I got extremely disfigured when he talked. He'd say dreams were so obfuscated you ought not remember them. Just forget them, he'd say, the way you try to forget your last girl. It was like listening to a preacher on a Sunday, trying my best, reaching out and shit. I'd pass myself around the room, caressing egos and touching girl hair.
--Your hair smells so good.
They'd believe me, flip it a bit, grin, party on. We never got along, me and hair. It was so fickle and condescending. To think, hair could be condescending. I hated it and took ibuprofen more frequently because thinking about it made my head hurt. Hair in front of eyes was, like, enticing. I remember that. I was always enticed by something, or forgiven. I was always between segments, just strapping myself into the current requisite.
Lance was wearing suede shoes and talking with his left hand a lot because his right hand was a giant party foul. He spilled and gestured, spilled and gestured. I ate it up, a well trained mime. We bantered about politics for a moment and I sat down on the couch. I needed to cross my legs.
--Ever seen that one movie with Kevin Spacey about life and shit? That one is crazy as fuck.
Crazy as all fuck. Crazy as a hypnotist with an agenda. Crazy crazy like those dolphins that can smell fear or bombs or something. We lay on the sound, carry it upward into the maestro's nostrils. Who can smell the noise? No one takes our pithy comments as commands or suggestions anymore.We are rock stars without voices. Lance hit me for thinking too much.
--Too many big words and shit shouldn't be thy nature, you know?
We like to crowd around the coffee tables at parties and watch people play cards. Sometimes Lance bets money, but I always like watching what cards people have in their hands. Tonight no one had a good hand. Tonight we all found ourselves shrouded by lonely thoughts and slow music.
--Todd, you want another beer?
I nodded and started peeling the label off my empty. It's something I do. Someone came in and started yelling about his girlfriend and how he just caught her with someone else. He was crying and half drunk. We started pouring him shots and letting him vent. I had the deepest sympathy for him I'd ever had for someone before.
--We know man, I said.
Lance just sat back in his chair and glanced around the room before he gave the order:
--Let's go break her.
So we were off, out to break her. None of us were sober, so we walked. We were responsible young people. We came to the elementary school where Lance and I grew up and played kickball and got in fights and where Lance's mom came to pick him up when his dad killed himself, and before I could stop him, Lance was dashing at the fence, then climbing it, then falling over the other side. I chased after him and ripped my pants on the fence. I yelled for him to stop but there is no stopping a rock star. He did stop when he got to the front office. He was cupping his hands around his face and looking in the window. He took off his jacket, put it on his right hand, nodding and grinning.
--Fuckin' A, he said, Fuckin' A.
Then he slammed his fist through the glass and tried to reach around to grab the doorknob like you see in movies, but he was so drunk that he didn't realize there was no way he was going to reach the doorknob. His knuckles were swollen and probably broken, and the glass cut his arm. I stopped him, which is something I never do.
--You're going to hurt yourself man. Let's go before the cops get here.
And Lance cried because he didn't reach the doorknob, because he didn't open the door. He hunched over while I wrapped his arm in his jacket and we went on through the relentless myriads of broken streetlamps and brick alleyways with steam vents. We skipped town the next day and decided to learn how to put our fingers on fretboards.
Practitioners of psychiatry
and the parlor tricks laid open for inspection
On the dark square platform an exercise machine
pale into the metallic-tasting room
In the ten or so single-
chambered hearts of the worm
plasticity and the burning
Reports that the deeply disturbed
are now in charge
Qui suis-je? Qui etes-vous?
shock of prices
brandishing their stitches
like a merry new mother
A slowed-down world.
Borrowed Horoscope: San Juan
I spend a week on a houseboat as if
my truths are all burned, and I'm free
to lie. My journal says Romans were
our first tourists, that souvenirs were
the only proof that they didn't spend
their last years in prisons. I write just
to look at the splendor of my penmanship,
the Caribbean waves crashing inside comfort
rented by the week. It has only stormed
one night here and the shore became a blur,
a blind man's deathbed attended by dozens
of dark crows. Then calm returns, remains.
It is not what I expected, this smooth cheek
of a day never to wear a beard, never to host
my dead days. Poor Noah, sailor never to know
one small sea, water without interpreter. At night
I dream of priests carrying lost letters from home
on backs of sharks as black as the crows.
Lost in thoughts by the Lincoln Park Zoo,
I startle pigeons feasting on bread crumbs.
They scatter in four or more directions.
"Bird scarer," an old woman hisses at me.
I feel cursed for the year. She sits to wait for
the return of those who count on her blessings,
gray rats with wings, citified albatrosses.
I can't go home (I'm a bird scarer). Better to
hit a dance club, that loud denial of reality.
Carol's Speakeasy or the club down
the street that changes its name weekly?
Yes, that one, This week it is Pegasus
and not The Bat Cave. The bouncer nods
as if a Pope-in-training, and I enter a world
without clocks or bill collectors (but for
the bartender). I'm here, wherever that is,
where everyone dresses in black like vampires.
For seven days I seek that old lady, but she is
gone, vanished in a city that wears ambulances
like costume jewelry. Her pigeons remain,
sure of the bread that will be theirs--sooner
or less sooner. This bird scarer leaves
the park to the scattering feathers that grip the light
and own the joy of movement that human
architecture, even at its best, will never know.
I intend to scare myself. I begin writing again.
I would like to write a story about my father.
However, when I was two years old, my father left my mother and moved to Arizona with an older Japanese woman.
So I do not have any stories about my father. Like the rest of his belongings, he packed my early memories of him into a cardboard banana box, peeling them off my windowsill, the back porch, our swingset.
He explained everything to my mother the day he left. "I met Sakura at the local farmer's market. She helped me find healthy eggs. In turn, I helped her choose ripe zucchini. I am truly sorry. These things are sometimes like gravity." He ate a green apple and washed some dirty silverware in the kitchen sink. Then he kissed my mother goodbye, promising that he would always love her, just not as much as his Japanese girlfriend.
For years my mother collected butterfly wings in a thick glass jar she kept above our kitchen cupboards. The wings were crisp and colorful, like dead leaves. Although I never saw her put wings into the jar, they rose steadily toward the rim, while life peeled years from her skin, until the jar was nearly full.
One night in early summer as man wearing a red ski mask broke into our basement through a loose window. My mother, who was drinking a warm mug of tea at the kitchen table, watched breathlessly as the burglar crept into the kitchen. The burglar did not turn on the lights. Instead, without hesitating, the burglar tiptoed to the kitchen cupboards, climbed onto the counter, and slide the jar of butterfly wings into his arms. He swung a green duffel bag from his shoulder onto the counter. The burglar was wearing dark gloves. He set the glass jar next to the duffel bag and, still standing on the counter, began shoveling fistfuls of crisp wings into the bag.
My mother says she wanted to scream, or to run upstairs and hide my sleeping seven year old body in the broom closer. But she was frozen, lifeless, like a bumblebee in a snowstorm. She sat silently and watched the strange man stuff butterfly wings into his duffel bag. She could hear the wings crunching against the green fabric, and she could feel the tea steaming underneath her chin.
When the jar was empty, every last paper wing, the burglar climbed off the counter. He fumbled around in his pockets and tossed some loose change into my mother's jar. He carefully zipped his bag, buttoned his coat, and tiptoed out the back door.
Wobbling to her feet, my mother stumbled out onto the back porch. The burglar was creeping across our lawn towards the woods.
My mother opened her mouth to speak. But the air inside her wheezed, like an accordion with moth holes in the bellows. So she said nothing.
The burglar disappeared into the trees.
I do not believe this incident had anything to do with my father.
Where I Am Going
I want to become a better person of the instant variety, a grand oaken spiral with alcoves for one night stands; somebody could give me a lot of money and say how they wished they were me. Unlikely. And it would only work if I admired the people who wished to be me, otherwise creepy.
When I was about to die, age six, my mother took the rooster down to the local parish and sacrificed it for chicken soup. The rooster had yaw disease and it was done for; my mother wasn't into waste. The cure wasn't instant but a miracle over 12 months. The priest smoked a cigar while he blessed me. He was English. A few years later there was another coup d'etat and I got a waterborne disease that left me with a weak digestion. This time my mother didn't bother with the fowls of the earth; she and dad packed up and went back to fur coats and barley soups and less sun and serotonin.
Actually, I'm afraid of being a better person because of the immense responsibility. Nothing happens. Except that John calls me up to say I am a blemish on his life. He doesn't use that word but I know what he means. Also, I make some absolutely delicious apple cake. It has three kilos of apples in it. And a gap-toothed man stops me in the street and says hi, where're you going? Hey, he calls after me, I know where you're from.