Body On the Tracks

Howling into a dog’s ear,

the wasted days          unraveling spirals into the curls atop a head of hair.

The only curls to hold their shape for the duration of infinity.

Time s t r e t c h e d                thin                  across              the salty plains,

dotted with coarse hairs,                                             rained on by sweat,

licked clean by soap afterwards.

 

The mountains and valleys detail horizons of the body,

immaculate,                                                                                        immersing,

drowning desire in a pool filled with liquid conquest.

Yet under the porous soil is nothing interesting.

The surface is too alluring.

No one is interested in looking deep.

 

Train wheels               r ic o chet        off the tracks,

slipping on wet planks

                                    pulverized by gravity’s

sick                                          heavy                                       tug.

Amongst interruptions by the sweeping sands of Saharan homicide

the train rumbles through the deluge.

The brainwashed trailer is leaning                                                      on its side

trapping the unaware,

                                    inducing involuntary segues into ragtime.

 

The piano immolates and sets the pianist       alight   with pumpkins and telephone boxes,

melting plastic reeking of Thanksgiving.

The call cannot be made

when all you have in your pocket is

a paper clip                                                     3 pennies                                             and applause.

 

The diva croons in the lounge car,

whiskey           slo shes out its tumbler

onto formica while the water trickles

down the window pane, changing course

with every       jump   in the track.

 

Scratching the surface makes you bleed.

Exposes vulnerable corpuscles to outer elements of deception.

Take your heart out;                                                    it will shrivel and dissolve,

A beating raisin

({({(suffocated)})})

by the smog.

The black market specializes in naïve hearts.

The more helpless

the better paired with steamed broccoli

and a gallon of vodka.

 

We drink from our arteries the thick wine of life,

forcing us to experience sensation, feeling.

When the artery runs dry……                                    ….we continue to feel.

We are gliding into the cement park,

surrounded by a dingy moat

dotted with body parts colliding.

The clapping drowns out the rain.

 

Intense burning melts the skin,

                                                dripping off muscles

onto the concrete road map

chasing us in manmade circles.

A trail is formed that you can follow……………………………………………………………….                                                             .……..back to your former lives.

Soon that will decay, too.

It will join the grandfathers,

            the Nazis,

and the sense of community at the bottom of the bin.

 

There will come a day

when each of us are at the bottom.

There will come a day

 when we tumble out.

On another day

we will bind atomic forces together,

forming a new existence, another chance.

 

Another full moon shining insanity down from up there.

Did everybody forget to listen?

Two tiny words manage to pass through trembling lips

only to be replaced by another voice.

one reason why I don’t talk much

 

Shouldn’t we know better by now?

Are these mistakes somehow more heinous than others?

Stable stances are being swept                                                                                   to the side

by the scraping sparks of the plow

coming to clear me away.

I’m standing in the way of self-destruction.

Don’t mind me. I’ll move.

 

The storm just had to come on the one day I felt valiant enough

to leave the past behind.

The city council robbed me of my integrity.

The state impounded my heart,

charging storage fees for the past 5 years

ever since that flooded evening

when I trapped it under a tennis racket

and walked away.

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Sunset Kaleidoscope

This image is an overlay. I created a geometric kaleidoscope shape from squares and circles and filled in some of the spaces with solid color. Other spaces allow the picture underneath to shine through. The picture underneath is of clouds at sunset.

Sunset Kaleidoscope

Suburban Power Outage

An oldie but a goodie. From 2005, this piece is made with acrylic, outlet covers, the plug from an old coffee maker, and hundreds of words and phrases cut out from the newspaper. It speaks to the overloading of our energy grids and the bland and beige cookie-cutter appearance of the suburbs.

Suburban Power Outage

Some Thoughts On the 4th from Bob Collins

Bob Collins was the legendary morning host on WGN Radio in Chicago for many years before his untimely death in 2000. The week of Independence Day 1996, Bob shared some thoughts about the holiday and what it means for America. These words are still extremely poignant and relevant today as they were 20 years ago. It feels very appropriate to share what Bob said today. Some words have been changed to fit the times, and any italics have been added for emphasis.

[241] years ago this week, representatives from thirteen colonies spent a sweltering summer considering, discussing, debating, and acting upon, what had become an intolerable situation with the mother country. After much deliberation, this august body forged a masterful document that even now, in the [dawn] of the 21st century, defines us as Americans. These men risked their lives, their fortunes, and their personal liberty to create this cornerstone of our American democracy. “When in the course of human events…” The Declaration of Independence. [Today] we’ll all go out and spend time with our friends, and attend parades and watch fireworks to commemorate this event. We’ll all stand with our hats off and our hands over our hearts for the passing of the American flag and we’ll feel duly patriotic. We may think about our family roots and rejoice or bemoan our place in the American Dream. Then it will all be over for another year. And most of us won’t even bother to vote in an election. We’ve all heard the old saying, “You can be anything you want to be.” Perhaps you’ve also thought of it as the embodiment of the American Dream. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. A bald-faced lie. You can’t be anything, have anything, or do anything simply because you want to. What we have as Americans is the framework to make our dreams come true if we are willing to do what is necessary to make it happen. If Patrick Henry, John Hancock and their compatriots had merely wrung their hands and complained about the situation they faced, we might be still a colony of England, instead of citizens to the greatest nation on Earth. Through hard work, determination, and sacrifice, they and all the patriots of our 200+ years have shown us that we can be whatever we are willing to be. This is the American Dream.

 

New Song: The Factory Gardens

I’m finally making an attempt at putting a beat into my music. Pretty much everything I have made up to now lacks some form of percussion or rhythm. Time to change that. There are still the drones and noises synonymous with my w.x name, but now you can almost dance to it.

Enjoy and share with those you think will like it, and stay tuned for new music soon!

A Liquid Balance (For Jack Collom)

This post is dedicated to the memory of the great poet Jack Collom, who sadly past away yesterday morning at the age of 85. He was a fantastic writer and a profound teacher. I was lucky enough to be in one of the last of his famous Eco Lit classes he taught at Naropa University in Boulder. To honor him, here is a poem that I wrote in that class.

A LIQUID BALANCE

Whirlpools swirl over rock.

Minerals suffocate underwater,

fish drowning on the shore.

Water, the clearest elixir,

source of life, both good and bad,

cleanse me, replenish me,

inundate me in your liquid sinews

Too much of anything can kill.

Too much fire can burn.

Water can extinguish my burns,

but too much and I wash away.

Spring to stream, snow to sewage,

water, you are shaping me.

I can float away with you

I can ride your waves, crash with them.

Take me where I need to be.

Wet rivulet coursing down

to the creek, to the river,

expanding greater and greater

towards the unfolding ocean.

Heavy liquid weighing me down,

droplets carry me to

the blackness below

my own body of water

returns to where it all began.

Rest in peace and poetry, Jack. You were a shining light in this dark world, and though I only spent a little time learning from and working with you, you have left a great mark on my life. Thank you, sir.

Murder at Zero Degrees

There always seems to be a drink in my hand. Why that is, I’m not quite sure. Every time I look down my fingers are clutched around a rocks glass or daintily hoisting a champagne flute. It’s like my hands have a mind of their own. They are always raising up the contents of some glass up to my lips, and then against my will I swallow the tasty burning liquid. Then things get wobbly. I don’t have any control over what my hands do to me.

            I swear I am not a drunk. I used to be a drunk, but I don’t think I am anymore. Though maybe I still am. I’m not sure. Moments ago, there was whiskey in this tumbler I am holding. It has since been replaced with melting ice and air. I’m not sure what happened to the whiskey. Maybe it sloshed onto my boots and ran down the grimy barstool to the floor. But I think, judging from my clouded vision and this wavering motion of mine at the moment, it probably went inside me. Now I just have air to drink from this glass. I get drunk on air from time to time. I can get drunk on just about anything if I put my mind to it. I suppose I am a drunk.

            I used to get drunk on murder. Still do, now that I think of it.

            Not committing murder, per se. Not your typical guns, poisons, bloody fingerprints on a dead body kind of murder. No. I get drunk on murdering other people’s chances of getting away with murder. That’s my livelihood. Detective Liam Parsons-Doyle, at your service. I solve murders. And I always get the job done.

            Interestingly enough, I always seem to do this job with a drink in my hand. I can remember what drink was in my hand with every murder I have solved. Sparkling brut champagne at Binley Hall the night I caught Nigel Everett, killer of the Hinkley twins. A half-empty pint of lager when I figured out Marie Shipton was the Boscombe Park Butcher (even I didn’t see that one coming). Gin and tonic that fateful evening five spoiled socialites each snuffed out their worst enemy at a dinner party in Bishop’s Stortford. Thank God I had no enemies before that night.

            There is one murder, though, now that I’m thinking of it, that I couldn’t solve. Strangely enough, I don’t even remember the drink I had the night of that murder. I was nearby. Very nearby, in fact. There was an early winter snow cascading down and covering the city in white. Just barely freezing out. Zero degrees Celsius at Zero degrees Longitude. How curious. A young girl was found dead in the alley just behind this pub. I was here, on my normal barstool. No one heard her scream or anything.

            She was found by some drunken bum who came bursting through the door, screaming, “Murderer! Murderer!” He was pointing a finger wildly at just about everyone in the pub. We all thought he did it at first, but careful deduction from yours truly proved he was too distraught upon finding the poor girl in a pool of her own blood that he couldn’t have done it.

            I wish I could solve that one. I wish I could remember what I was drinking, too. Perhaps the barman might remember what I had consumed that night.

            “Oh, barkeep.”

            “Yes, sir, detective?” There was a sigh in there. Interesting.

            “Remember the night that beautiful girl was found dead behind the pub?”

            “Of course, sir. How could anyone forget a night like that?”

            “Quite. Do you by any chance remember what I was drinking that night?”

            “Yes, I certainly do, sir. You were drinking Singapore Slings. I remember it distinctly as I thought it was such an odd drink for you to be having. Very out of the ordinary.”

            “Singapore Sling, eh? That sounds very good right now. Could you make me one now?”

            “Uh, certainly, sir.”

            What a magnificent drink, the Singapore Sling. Delicious London gin, cherry brandy, fruit juices. It’s simply tantalizing on the taste buds. Sipping on one right now might help me solve this baffling and all too familiar case. Maybe because it’s a drink I don’t normally have is the reason why I am clueless about this whole thing. There were very few clues, except some staggering footprints in the snow leading into the back door of the pub. Everyone inside was questioned but they were all either too drunk or too inside themselves to have noticed or recalled anything suspicious. I couldn’t even locate a home or family for the poor thing.

            “I thank you kindly, barman.”

            “Sir, you are in here every night, and I keep telling you to call me Colin. That is my name, you know. A little decency toward your fellow man would do you some good.”

            “Quite right, barkeep. Colin. Sorry. You know how formal I am.”

            “I know, sir. It takes away from your courtesy.”

            “I have no time for courtesy tonight. I am trying to solve this murder. What do you remember from that night?”

            Colin the barkeep has always been sort of a grimace, especially since that night. His typical frump of a frown has now turned into a scowl. He’s gone awfully silent. He knows something about that night. I can feel it.

            “Are you sure you want to know, sir? Wouldn’t you rather take a sip of your drink? You know how miraculous your deducing skills can be when soused.”

            “Quite right! You know me all too well!” A smile and a compliment can always make a barman more cordial to you. Most of them, anyways.

            A few quick glugs of the fruity elixir have already gone past my lips. My hands were forcing the drink down my throat leaving me unawares yet again. Those tricky devils.

            “You know something, I had quite a few of these that night. Candy in liquid form as I recall. My, my, several of these can certainly spell danger, wouldn’t you say?”

            “That’s all they can spell, sir.” Colin always had such a dry sort of humorless jest about him. He could so be capable of murder with that sort of demeanor.

            My glass is suddenly empty. “Well, look at that. I didn’t even realize. Kindly make me another, please, Colin?”

            “I don’t think so, sir. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”

            “Oh quite. Uh, what do you mean, last time?”

            “Are you starting to remember more of that evening, sir?” Colin’s face is twisting into a sinister grin. You never saw his teeth, but now he is smiling so wide I swear I can almost see tiny fangs in there. More importantly, the fog in my memory is starting to lift.

            “Yes, I do remember something now. I was outside in the snow. I was holding hands with a beautiful woman whose acquaintance I just met here at the bar. Then…then I staggered back in here and sat back down. Then that poor, crazed bum burst in here with the cold and the snow and all that shrieking.”

            “Is that all you can remember, sir?” A toothy grin, now. My, Colin, those definitely are some fangs.

            “Uh…yes I suppose that’s it. I wonder what happened to that woman. I must have her telephone number around here somewhere.”

            “It wouldn’t do you much good, sir.”

            “Why not, Colin? Has she been disconnected?”

            “She’s dead, sir.”

            “Dead? Surely you joke. She can’t possibly be dead. Unless she was—“

            Colin, you evil demon. What else was in this Singapore Sling besides my beloved alcohol? There must be some fabrication agent or something in here. Or maybe, that’s truly what happened. I do remember a knife in my hand, dripping blood onto the snow. I slipped it into the storm grate and heard it clatter in the sewers below where no one would find it. I killed that girl. Yes, it’s clear to me now. I suppose I must turn myself in, now. Let it be known that no matter how much of a scoundrel I could be, I have always done things by the book.

            A fog is falling over me again. I’m feeling a bit ill. Colin is just staring at me now with fire in his eyes and flames are jutting out of his face. This can’t be good. The fruit juices must not be agreeing with me. Suppose I should go to hospital. The legs don’t want to work. I need help, Colin. Why aren’t you helping me? I finally remember your name you bastard and you go ahead and poison me? You must have known all along. You’re the devil, Colin. If I ever open my eyes and make it off this floor again, you’ll be sorry!