"But first, baby, as you climb and count the stairs (and they total the same), did you, sometime or somewhere, have a different idea?
Is this, baby, what you were born to feel, and do, and be?"

-Kenneth Fearing

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Long Ride in the Dark


I won’t say I didn’t look, down the slow train that pulled me,

or that at each stop I didn’t watch the doors for your entrance.

I was a child, and children don’t believe in death or mercy,

and absence doesn’t harm belief, as much as circumstance.

So I, without flowers, watched  vanishing town by town

And I, without hope, was certainly not disappointed.

There were others, asleep where they had fallen down,

I dreamed of a sword in a stone, of the hidden anointed.

And did I, cry out? Not once, as I had not learned to expect.

They moaned sweet curses in their sleep, the passengers nearby

As if they had found the same pain, and this was the affect.

And what could I do but carry this, or close my own eyes?

I don’t recall the stepping down, just the station the lights, the frames.

I watched the doors slide so many times, and you never came.

                             -Brent Allard

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Same Conversation


The lone man downplayed it in his head, but the over earnest guy at the next table disgusted him. He tried to ignore his pathetic chatting up of the waitress. But they all disgusted him, the earnest man, his friend and the waitress. He couldn’t stand to even think of them by name, they each played into types so completely.

The man he thought of as “Beer Commercial” said
"I've had too many beers already. Hell, I had too many before I got here!"
He really tried to sell it, but it didn't even matter. His conversation partners had agreed to suspend their disbelief years ago.

"So I guess you'll need another one quick then!" the waitress said, with an almost laugh at the end of her sentence. Beer Commercial didn't need to answer, as his friend was quick to jump in.

"I've known this guy since we were five years old, and I can tell you he’ll definitely need another beer!"

Beer Commercial's friend was "Mr. Intellect" He was a master of cutting in and trying to appear as if he'd been vital all along. Beer Commercial never knew the difference.

The observer sat at his own table nursing a beer. He didn't need to endure this for long, just until the work was done. His aloofness made the waitress hesitant to check his drink. 

At another nearby table, he overheard an older married couple discussing their check.

"Hard to believe that lunch costs that much." said the husband,

"But it’s worth it once in a while." the wife answered.

"Oh, I don't mind what it costs, it's just the idea, you know. We could do the same thing at home for next to nothing."
The observer rolled his eyes knowing that they had this conversation at least once a week. Years ago she had been annoyed, but now she used her husband’s lines herself when out with friends. Mercifully the husband didn't add anything about how little food costs restaurants this time.

He tried to imagine white noise. He couldn't help his revulsion. This wasn't a dislike of stupidity, a condition which couldn't be helped. It was the laziness and the sincerity of it. Regurgitation as conversation, yet they were as pleased as if they were clever.
He got up, pretending to need the restroom. On his way past Beer Commercial's table he simulated stumbling, knocking a beer onto the man’s lap. Beer Commercial reached out to keep him from falling. Mr. Intellect came to life pretty quickly, saying,

"Big mistake man. You fucked with the wrong table."

The lone man didn't look at Mr. Intellect, leaving him undisturbed to think up a witticism. He looked Beer Commercial in the eyes.

"I'm sorry about that. I feel terrible. Let me get you another beer."

Beer Commercial seemed fine with that, even offering a chair. Mr. Intellect glowered. The observer waved to the waitress and ordered a round, saying,

"Again, I'm sorry about that."

"No worries bra. I always say, Don’t sweat the small stuff, you know?"

He cringed. He'd have to do this quickly or his anger would get the better of him.

"Ok. Great. So tell me, how old are you?"

"Thirty four man. Why?"

"You've had thirty four years to come up with your own words, and you haven’t done so even once since you left elementary school."

"You've got a lot of balls..."

"Where'd you hear that?"

"Huh? Look man. I don't know who the fuck..."

"You'd be more threatening if you weren't imitating how tough guys talk. I can see your mind search for the most intimidating phrase you've heard. You think you’re thinking, although you’re only remembering"

Mr. Intellect spoke up.

"Teach him a lesson Curt. Fucking guy thinks he’s smart."

He looked at Curt, while pointing at Mr. Intellect.

"That’s part of the problem right there. Why would you hang around with him? I know you think of him as your friend but on some level you know he despises you."

Beer Commercial was clearly shaken, but clung to his bravado.

"You don’t know me man. You don’t know anything about me."

"I know all about you, but let's get to the point. When I leave, I don’t want you to forget I was here. I'll come back to check on you sometime. You won’t see me. Maybe in your house, maybe at a bar like this one, who knows? If I don’t hear you speaking for yourself, you really won’t have to worry about thinking anymore."

The man got up. He laid a hand on Mr. Intellect’s shoulder and watched him fall, instantly dead, to the floor.

He turned to Curt before walking out and said,

"Don’t worry. He was hopeless anyway."