Imbolc 2020, Brigid’s Day, New Orleans

Screenshot 2020-02-12 03.42.46
St Brigid

Inside the cathedral
at the redolent crux
of the busiest
tourist district
of New Orleans

fetally curled right
in the center
of the narthex
lies a man
in mixed clothing

he is quite still
he has the stillness of
those unlit candles
stacked close by
some lit, some not
a Saints cap with
fuzzy fleur-de-lis
has clung in the fall
to his greyish head

keep moving, tourists that way
medics have been called
nobody worry, keep moving

is he dead

who saw him fall

the painted ceiling
with scenes of saints
and martyrs and mothers
draws all camera eyes upward

straight-up noon but chilly inside
this gigantic religious cave where
visitors can willfully mill

photograph the scenes
sit meditatively

Medics have been called

in one of the burnished pews

siren in the distance

O look, honey,
there’s St. Blaise,
patron saint of throat ailments.
We just missed his day…darn…

a man wearing a backwards baseball cap
walks up to the still man
shines a beam of light
straight down at his eyes
walks away

leaving, I see a woman
with two small children
and I want to say Wait

don’t go in there

there’s a there’s a there’s a
guy on the floor
dude on the floor
in there,
might scare the children
but then I realize it won’t
scare the children at all

outside on the steps
of the cathedral
two street comedians
do dance steps before
an enthralled crowd

© 2020 Thomas N. Dennis

IMG_0209
St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans LA

Solitude Lessons (1-10)

reclusehouse

1 Don’t be jangled by ever-present fake-happy examples of pair bonds

2 Let silence unfrighten you

3 Marshall waves of love against inner primate howls

4 Fear not the absence of human touch

5 Admire the solitary bird on the wire where nearby sit ten others together

6 Go your own way and don’t look back unless you feel you are being followed

7 Not all mammals are social creatures

8 Imagine being born alone

9 Imagine dying alone

10 Listen to your breath
© 2020 TND

Dialogues on Beauty Dying

This makes me want to sigh. I need to be working on other things and I am caught talking about this.

What?

About my lack of having any relationship at all with the person I live with.

Oh. Well you say, you know, that you don’t mind being alone.

Yeah I say a lot of things, some of them untrue. I don’t mind being alone, just not too much of the time.

Are you drinking again?

No. Lord no. What makes you think that?

I don’t know. An—I dunno. Sorry to ask.

I never dream.

Never?

Nope. Occasionally I wake up with a really huge hard-on, and once I thought I was climbing a tree and it was—

Ah. The my-dick-is-as-big-as-a-tree dream — every dude I guess has had that one.

[generalized laughter]

Do you think we should call down for room service?

What do we need?

Not a damn thing. What was I saying again, oh yeah, shamanism, climbing the tree being as Mircea Eliade woulda tole ya one of the key segments of a shaman’s biography…

No, wait, you mentioned a schism between you and your spouse.

Yeah, yeah I did. How did it happen, I dunno. Tragedies have a way of making people draw inward, and even though we both depend on each other sometimes to make it through, we have both tilted inward of late… [slumping]

I am not sure what you—

Well, look. One of us goes off in one direction (even though we are in the same fairly large house) and does one thing. The other goes off in another direction or else has been left wherever they are by the other’s movement—can you visualize this?

I sorta can.

So, it’s been decades of loveless years, no making love. We scarcely touch except in unsentimental, asexual ways, like brushing hands while exchanging cutlery. So rare.

Not that rare: so how do you live? How does–?

Wait. There is no great enmity between us, you know that right — we would neither of us hurt the other on purpose.

That I know.

Or will admit to? Even if you just desired someone you couldn’t have, slapped inwardly at the hand—

—the inward hand.

–that almost reaches out to touch another person?

Well that does happen. Yeah. Desire is left unenacted. You walk away disembarrassed, knowing you’re too old, too ugly, too this or that—an inappropriate mate.

Ever examine what you desire?

Now wait — .

I know, you didn’t think it would go this way did you? Hah.

So wait. What do I do, then, about the deep lack of touch in my life? Human touch?

[pause] Perhaps you should go out and start touching people more. Or touching more people.

Get you put in jail, that stuff.

I know women who adore men twice their age. I know men who adore women twice their age.

Agh, half my age makes for a fairly mature person.

Does the lack of touch bother you?

What do you mean bother me?

I mean, does it get to you? Does it rankle? Do you more often than not wish it could be different, this sexual status quo?

Well. I dunno. My mate is pretty dead-eyed these days. She just doesn’t get excited about anything outside of, say, reality television and spends much of her day (I am here in the back room working) watching the televised ministrations of various doctors.

Oh yeah?

Yeah. When I walk up to her—you know sometimes I think I have a good idea for where my Muladhara prequel to the memoir is going, and I just want to bounce it off someone—she’ll make a point of putting the Tube on mute and may even exhale slightly in exasperation as she waits for me to speak what now seems like an inanity.

Really? No matter what it is?

Really. At that point, standing there, I twig to the deal: I could say almost anything, it doesn’t matter, she’s just waiting for me to stop being an interruption in her televised programming day.

What does she look like these days? I remember her as a curly-haired person willing to do just about anything, often smiling but with her philosophical side…

That’s her. The hair’s a bit less curly, fried by conditioners, much longer and grayer. She has lost so much weight that I am about to get worried about her.

Did she need to lose weight?

No.

Hm.

I know what you’re about to ask me.

Hah! What? This is hilarious.

You’re about to say, “So, do you still desire her?”

No, you’re wrong.

Oh.

I was going to ask if she still had her original crush on you.

Ah, I guess so, if you mean she doesn’t confer with lawyers about dis-marrying me. If by crush you mean, she puts up with me and refrains (at times) from being as nasty as she feels (on alpha-bitch occasion) like being.

Strong words, man.

Resignation…who was it that wrote of resignation…

Don’t be resigned. You don’t look like a man who’s given up!

I have not given up. Desire has not forgotten about me. Anything can happen, though being beyond a certain age in life narrows the time for anything happening. There’s plenty of time — once a useful phrase, begins to look less useful. However. Let me go as far as to say this: my age has left me far less bewitched by the beauty of youth than, apparently, is normal.

Nothing about you smacks of normality, dude.

Well thankee kindly, I take that as high praise. I am not saying there have not been times in my life when I really felt whacked by love – oh man I could tell tales.

Not now though.

Not now, no. It just doesn’t work on me anymore, like movies and advertising, as though their efficacy as drugs has worn off and I too easily see through the weird mediated patina they spread about . . . it’s like the old stories about love, romance, all that, they don’t work on me anymore, either. I shall live alone in the end, certainly.

You think? A forbidding prospect ahead, eh?

I think so. Sometimes as I drive around aimlessly, as I often do, I see a rundown sort of home, some wooden thing half-fallen down, and I think: My House! For it is there I will end up, almost certainly, babbling on paper if not aloud, unnoticed, unknown, unloved and untouched nor touching another. Yeah, forbidding is probably the right word.

Does it have to be that way? What makes you think it…?

Listen. For some folks, it’s not too late to begin again. Love Again (title of a fine book by Doris Lessing). For me, it’s too late. I’ll live with the losses, it’s okay.

You don’t sound so much like it’s okay.

Fuck.

[snickers]

 

© 2020 TND

Echoland!

ECHOLAND! 

panoramio-35243600

[fiction work in progress]

[twosome, late-model slate SUV with windows down near a rural park]

“Okay, listen, this is what I want you, us, to do….”

“You are so bossy for a dude, did anybody ever tell you that?”

“You’re a pretty bossy chick.”

“I hate to be called a chick.”

“Listen. You want to get that motherfucker, don’t you? The asshole?”

“I do.”

“Okay, so this is what we do. You get him in a compromised pose — haha, get it, a pose — ”

“Unfunny, dude, you are so unfunny sometimes.”

” — and we easily get pictures using our very own self-filming deal which we have set up in your bedroom, or did, and still do, right?”

“Right.”

“Are you sure? I took a long time setting that up for us.”

“I’m sure. So I have to get close to the asshole again and pretend to — uck — I dunno — ”
“You can do it!”

“I can’t do it. He’s so-o-oo repulsive.” [shivering]

“Maymay, you can too! Did you not say he just bragged about what his net worth would be when it all goes through? Disgusting one-percenting fatherfuckers. [absentmindedly] Workingman ain’t gotta goddam chance.”

“So we tell him, ‘We’ll tell your wife’?”

” ‘We will show the pictures or videos to your wife proving your connection, unless you give us X amount of dollars once a week, every week‘ — or something like that.”

“From what I can tell, she doesn’t care two rat anuses for him. Nobody does. He’s lost all the friends he ever had. His wife doesn’t even live with him and his kids don’t visit. He wouldn’t care. So it wouldn’t work.”

“Are you sure? No other relatives?”

“Twin brother in Florida, ill with COPD. Poor I’m sure.”

[long spell of no talk — sounds only of smoking with some male and female coughing jags, bottles a-clink. Sighs]

“Are you sure it won’t work?”

“He has no reputation to tarnish, is what he says.”

“Oh and when did you talk to Mister Repulsive last?”

“I told him his aftershave smelled like something named Repulsion by Calvin Klein.”

 

Δ

[from a Holiday Inn near Marion, Illinois — raging snowstorm pecking at the windows]

“Okay now what smart guy?”

“Go over there and talk to him.”

“What are you my fucking pimp?”

“I’m not asking you to fuck him, I just want you to tell him how it is now that he’s so goddam rich he can’t help but shit silver and gold. He’s gotta come off some of that money.”

“A-a-a-and what exactly is the threat you wish me to deliver?”

“That we-we-we — will — ”

“You have no idea.”

“We will ruin his life.”

“He has no life to ruin, dude, don’t you see, didn’t I tell you? Do you not listen? He spent a shitload coming up here. He said his wife gets it all because of something in the whatever clause. He barely has enough for the train ride back. This is all so pointless. Both of you are such asswipes.”

“The whatever clause. A technical legal term, I’m sure.”

“No point in us arguing, is there? How will that help?”

“How do you know he’s not lying?”

“I don’t.”

“In any event, it’s a fucking blizzard and he’s stuck over there and we’re stuck here but at least we have enough edibles to get us through the night, right? Does he . . .?”

“Oh yeah.”

Δ

[at the cheapest, shoe-sticks-to-the-foot room in the dreary Drury Inn of nearby Marion, Illinois]

Holy Titty-fucking Jesus, am I high. I write that not as a rhetorical question, and of course I’m reading into my phone recorder not writing, to tell the truth. And to tell the truth, that is what I am doing right now. I am telling the truth.

Here’s how it started. Let me get my 3 by 5 cards. [sounds of stumbling]

Wa-a-a-a-ay too many of those milk ‘n’ cereal bars. But it’s still a nice buzz. Cerebral.

I’m not horny.

Cerebral. I don’t think about lost things. Like my keys. Like my love. Where’s my guitar? O fuck I didn’t bring it. I think about terrible true things — that’s the name of one of the songs, it was a killer song in E minor which tells, in roundabout fashion, the story of a man with, essentially, three loves in his life — one for a woman named Lavinia, one for cannabis and one for the Oxford comma — no, really. Except the Oxford comma isn’t in that sentence. So I must be a writer and I must love writing. Yet I’ve published exactly jack shit. I should title all the accumulated miscellany in one big tome and call it “Jack Shit.”

[hours of recorded snoring, a few taps at the motel door that go unheeded]

Allright allright okay okay I’m awake now; the storm is over here in, in, in wherethefuckever I am, looks like northern Iowa or the blue-and-white pocket of a baaaad Peruvian marching powder addict.

I do remember this: a hiss is just a hiss: she said she was coming over with an ultimatum in a while. I hope she doesn’t bring simpatico malicioso with her, ’cause I’m thinking I can talk her into leaving him, see, yeah and coming with me back to New Orleans (the Carbondale train, just a few miles west of here) to live because that’s where I want to live.

Online I see where it’s 42F in that town and minus 14 here. I suddenly feel very cold like a baby that a mother’s thrust aside (for whatever reason, mothers have their reasons, it might not be that she’s a self-centered mother tired of holding the baby, you, me, the baby’s weight growing so intense that she just has to leave it there on the bed for awhile, waa, waa, so what).

Yes.

I did have the same bowl of THC cereal for breakfast. What of it? Who’s objecting? Who was that goddess of the grain again? Demeter? Lotsa cornfields in — unh — Spillertown! Look over there! Medical dispensary! Good place to get some cereal, man! I’m a Headshead. I play them loud.

I’m running out of money and my next stipend check doesn’t arrive for oh shit —

I just need a few bucks. I might go out and panhandle my books on the sidewalk but it’s too cold to do it in this burg.

I’m lost. I am so lost. Look at that mirror person, trying to look like me.

[abrupt chain-rattling patterned knock at the door: three sharp WHACKWHACKWHACKs — a pause — one long hard WHONK, then the three WHACKWHACKWHACKs]

I’ll just let them kill me. There is no money. They can whine to Barbara all they want, she’ll laugh in their face like in that movie with Danny DeVito. I’m not kidnapped, after all, I met them here of my own volition. Ex-banker Slain in Weird Triadic Twist. Page 2.

[. . .]

 

TANGLE KARMA DITTY

Audio version of “Tangle Karma Ditty”

Careful who you tangle

your karma with my friend

it might seem unlikely or a

thing that should not have been

Careful who you tangle

up your karma with my friend

we rub off on one another and

that ain’t just hands & wind

Tangle karma, tangled up

Watch out who you touch

Tangle karma, action figure

Watch out who you touch

(it can make you sick

it can be your crutch

it can break you down

it can break you up)

tangle karma ties you, right?

bonds you into somebody else’s night

you follow & feel a tight

unlocked stasis

going against the grain

of every thing you’ve loved

wake up wrong & wake up late

wake up before you can’t escape

tangle karma bought the bones

fixed the dice, polished the stones

your fate is locked up in a greasy fist:

tangle your karmas at your own risk

 

© 2020 Thomas N. Dennis

For a Poet

She sings
the magic
I could never grasp
(no matter if I cleaned all
nits from my poems daily)
Her words
rip duality
into an
unquivering one
She’s so much
to so many
— how does she
divide herself up
into discrete lovable
and loving bits for them?
Miracle woman
arcing, sparking
unpacking
the deep . . .
We stare
awed at
you.

© 2019 Thomas N. Dennis