Saturday, August 28, 2010

Travels 8..............

Out past the end of the world, past the last broken iron and smashed concrete footprints of civilization. We went out into the impenetrable dark canopy of living wild and woven tree thickets and gravel dust chaos. Out past the confusion of living, past the always talking and always distracting…out into the simplicity of roaring engine that turns wheels and road to fire and melts rubber and thought together. Out into the single-mindedness of running. Paranoia. Fear. We heard the sirens everywhere and with each peep or squall of whining sound, we went deeper and deeper in the backlands. Around here this is how folks escape trouble…any kind of trouble…they ran hog wild into the backlands of hills and creeks and cousins. We run past the lights of town and back around again doubling up on ourselves.
“Fuck Mitchell, what did you do?” Doug’s voice is slight and being carried away by the blowing wind coming through the open window like a hurricane.
“I don’t know.”
“He fuckin’ set the lake on fire.” Jeff’s word came out flat and fell straight down towards the ground…no reverb…no going loft…the word did not float…they fell and died. The car still burning through the atmosphere like a piece of clattering space junk falling back to Earth with a spectacular crash in mind. Something felt like it was coming. We drove past the last the railroad crossing with working lights…now we were in the backwoods.
The house got less tidy. The cars parked in front got older or not at all. The sounds got quieter for a few minutes and then got louder again…but I different kind of loud. Loud out here is a special kind of loud…a loud tolerable…a loud a person can hear through. A loud made for human ears and to be enjoyed by human ears, believe me it was a sound that could soothe, soothe or shake...a shake a person down to their barest core but even that could be a soothing experience. There is magic in places like this...untamed untapped human magic. We drove even faster out here…because out here there are no laws…no laws at all…only madness prevailed out here and a person was only bound by the limits of their imagination.
The half rolled down window next to me rattled in the door and slipped a bit further down. An empty glass bottle rolled around my feet in the floorboard. I picked it up and tossed it out the window. It crashed on the road behind. I watched the tiny little bits of glass shoot up and down falling back down like shards of ice. The little bits caught the red and white light of the taillights and sparkled.
“I cannot believe you did that man.” Doug shook his head.
“It looked fuckin’ cool” Dan said as he watched the breaking glass with me. He turned back around and returned to reading his magazine.
“Yeah, It did look cool, but fuck we are going to get in some much shit.”
‘What? No, we are not. Don‘t be a fuckin‘ twat dude…nobody is going to know it was us” Dan’s voice had a higher pitch and northern lilt that the rest of us lacked.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Exploding


I am exploding like the dark night,
The dark-Extinguishing-the- light
Only them and us starry night
The covered up dark lonely night spread out like a blanket
Spread out
Across the sky.
And you write your name in the sky in the everything
The star ink
To make bright
The lightless
Cold night
Across the sky,
I spread out before you.
I am illuminated
I am the illuminated.
I am the stubble covered chin
The stubbled chin in my hand
My knuckle tattooed hand.
The blocked off
Half blind
Black eyes, sunglass-dark eyes
The dirty blonde sweat
The dirty hair
The dirty hair hanging down
In strings
The dirty greasy tresses
Across the sky
The moon light faded from neon sign light
Across the sky
The star inked arms, bulky
Knuckles not dragging
The ground
Held up
Fingers spread open
Across the sky.
I am all the light coming in through the cracks above
I am the breeze coming in from under the door
The busted tired little poor ol me
By the busted broken old radiator
The dirty hair
The stubbled covered chin
Exploding into bits
Little bits of dusty light
Dusty light
Coming in through the crack in the roof
Under the spread out sky
The spread out in star inked night
Across the sky.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

this same dream

I have this recurring dream. a stranger or say, some alien visitor comes upon a wrecked earth long after all mankind has gone extinct and the only thing left intact that he can find is a recording of a live performance of "Once in the lifetime" by Talking Heads. I have this dream often. I have it and I smile because I like the impression it would give.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Travels 7............

The dark red amphitheatre stands teetering on the tall side of a dead grass, treeless hill. Gravel and slick black shards of broken asphalt is scattered all along the sun-bleached sidewalk. The entire scene is painted bright in purples and creams and blues, the breeze off the lake is cool. The world spins too fast here and the ground moves too quick. The car ride has confused my head. I am shaking. The sweat on my brow chills me as the briney scented air surrounds and chokes me. We all line up and look over the side of the hill, straight down into the white capping waves. Long grey rocks shoot up at us until off to the left a bit a short narrow beach appears.
“What in the fuck are we even doing here?”
“Ah, Dover likes to hang around the amphitheatre here sometimes.”
“Well, he aint here…lets go.”
Jeff is chewing on the end of a cheap cigar that he stole from some convenience store pillaged along our way. He chews and chews on it and finally pulls out a lighter and a sparks the gutted and restuffed cigar. The smell of crime fills the crisp sweet atmosphere. The scent of sin…of bored.
“Hey.” Jeff suddenly blurts out.
“Why don’t we burn it?”
“Burn what? The amphitheatre?”
“Yeah, it would look fuckin cool, right.”
“We would get caught.”
“Bullshit! Come on.”
Jeff walks back to the car and grabs a half-filled gas can and Styrofoam cooler and a deep empty metal jar. He sits them down in front of me. I grab it up and help him lug it down to the small beach. Doug will have no part of this and Dan is busy just watching the madness unfold. Jeff pours the gasoline into the jar. He holds the gas can up in the air and the golden liquid pours though the breeze, leaving a greasy rainbow of fumes trailing behind it. He throws the Styrofoam cooler on the ground and stomps it into little bits…little flakes and bits of white foam flying around like a diseased plastic winter snowstorm. The wind blows cool off the lake and it smells like dead fish and slimy rocks. To the left a little bit down from where we stand on the narrow beach is a clump of dead trees standing solemnly in the green and blue bubbling water. The water bubbles and rushes because just past the trees is the spillway of the dam. It is a long way down…the spillway is extremely steep. Jeff piles up all the mad crushed pieces of cooler, tosses them in the air like a lunatic and then gathers them back up, and one by one places them into the jar with the thick smelly liquid gas. We all stand around and watch the foam disappear into the mixture.
“Man, we cannot really burn down this amphitheatre.”
“Oh, sure we can.”
“No man…fuck this is way too fuckin’ illegal…even for us.”
“It will be cool. Fuck it.”
We all stand there watching for what seems to be forever….waiting for someone to do something…no one does. No one does anything at all in fact…fate does it all for us. A long neglected ash off the “cigar” burning in Jeff’s mouth falls slowly, like a feather; down down down…it looks like the breeze is going to carry it off into the lake. I watch it going along gingerly and then suddenly it falls straight down…straight down into the homemade napalm…right into the jar. All at once, a bright orange light illuminates our shocked faces. Hairs are singed. Flesh is burned. Eyes are widened. In a flash I do the only thing I think possible…I kick the jar. The jar, flaming, flies far out in front of us and lands in a dramatic splash. The fire does not go out. The fire burns brighter and higher and spreads wildly across the water. A flamey froth of fire and watery foam…it spreads as far as our eyes can see. It climbs up the dead trees and begins to consume them in an eager rush. The flames bounce and writhe about…they reach the spillway and dance along the horizon for several seconds before the whole fiery display throws itself down the dam in a giant curtain. As soon as we witness the fall, we all break into a simultaneous run back to the car. Jeff already with the jangling keys in his fire blackened hand.
“Run away!”
We all scrambled back into the grey rusty car and exited the scene, rising flames behind us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Travels 6.......

Equal parts fire and gasoline, water and dust, mud, sparkling ash, bent lights, impatience and blood. Equal parts half-deserted passions and overly indulged appetites, forgotten, lost and burning bored like blue fire…yellow lighting streaks, the scent of oil. This is the time of night when the moon really shines its brightest, when it really shows its teeth. Hanging high up there in the middle of sky, casting long pale lunar shadows behind our feet and trailing behind the red red taillights of our speeding car. The blond head we had witnessed turned out not to be the one we sought but just another tired kid, turning corners and banging around blindly. Not our lost friend back there in the in-between dirty alley behind an out of business liquor store and the family services center. It is in fact quite likely that Dover could have left town on foot and could be as far south now as the National Forest, hanging around by the lake.
Traveling, chunky, loud, riotous, the dirt peeling off the sides of the road as we swerve and scrape the guard rails outside of town. Big open pits in the Earth, filled up with wildly bright blue water (unnatural), polluted breezes blow off the polluted ground, water, piles, dead equipment, weed trees like Box elder, cottonwood and red cedars growing up in thick clumps between the gob piles, we drive through these awful foul deserted valleys. We drive through them to get through them…to get away from them…like everyone else does. All of it lying open and blank…coal ripped from the yielding Earth still waiting in stacks. The whole place has the look of a black and white, grainy, depressing documentary…like a film student’s final project (hoping for an A). The pilot light in the blast furnace of Middle American working class industry, a pilot light now gone out and what replaced the flame…coldness…despair…acholoism reigns supreme here in these hills. Alcoholism, drug abuse, broken homes, forgotten talents, worthless dreams….coldness…despair. An alkanet basin, a dug out pit, filled with brackish filth and 20th century rust.
We run along the guardrail, sparks flying as we randomly hit and bounce, we run parallel to an old creaking railroad track. We drive over it at times, back and forth over the same line of track…we pop and jumble each and every time, heading our heads on the roof. The roof over our heads is covered with drawings and words all scribbled up there in fits of madness in red ink…some things stand out more than other…some things fade. Each time we hit the metal railing or jump roughly over the tracks, I find myself staring up at a big red Buddha head drawn in the almost middle of the roof. It shakes when we shake and it appears to grin. It always catches my eye.
By now the dark green tops of tree begin to whiz past the window and the smell of real things, the smell of breathing trees, the smell of moist warm natural air…air worth smelling…worth breathing, smells start to make it their way to my nose. My face feels clean out here in this air. The trees grow their grasping hands up to the dark dotted sky and hold up all of our thoughts. Some things fade.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Red Honda by Ben Simon (common obscura guest)

The Red Honda

I never paddled across the Higuera in that red Honda alone
That off-red Edsel, without radio, without air conditioning
But there were times when I’d envision myself in that skimpily-painted vehicle
Though I’d constantly be growing dissatisfied with the lazy windshield wipers
Who often napped while making lousy wages biting off North County hail
And I’d be dragging the Honda into Monterey Street repair shops
After each and every Hummer, Cadillac, or Prius rider threatened to shoot my car
My father decided to donate the Edsel after 21 years
Having outlived enemy automakers, we jumped on the bandwagon
But our friends are bound for glory on that newly guava wagon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Travels 5............

Doolittle by the Pixies playing constantly in the background…a chorus of “Heys” and “La las”…sprinkling in and out of the din of noise of fiery traffic squalling by….lights flashing on and off…drunks yelling…noise. The air around smelled like burnt sugar, melted plastic, singed cloth…heavy and thick…sick and it barely stirred, except in gusts and then would wildly toss our long hair into our eyes. We sat on the side of the road next to Turley Park on the far east side of town. We watched the passing people for any sign of our missing friend. Doug battered and bruised stood outside the car, leaning against it, smoking, his arms folded. His black Dragon Ball Z t-shirt torn in the middle, right though the face of Goku. He watched as the perfectly clean dirty blonde SIU students walk by and stare…stare at us…Doug flicks his ash down at their feet.
“Nice day.”
Silence. They just walk right by us.
“Read a Clockwork Orange…fuckers.”
“Doug, leave those Dickholes alone. Look for Dover.”
“What the fuck do you think I’m doing?”
The sky above looks too blue to me as I struggle to write lines down in my composition book/notebook. I try to discover meter…rhythm…construction. Every word I write worse than the last. Black ink smudged up my hand, up the side up to the brown-burnt thumbnail (from trying to relight a very small roach). A small book with a big red star (“Spark of revoltion. Selections from Iskra”) on the cover keeps slipping out of my grasp and falling on the floor of the car. I put it back behind the notebook to steady my writing. I barely look up at the others. The sky waves with heat lines, making everything look like a mirage. Everything an illusion. Dark bruised black, inky, with a thick blue stain around the edges, street lights interuppting the flow of the void from one shadow to the next. Yellow streaks of fake light illuminating cracks in the concrete and brown dying sidewalk grass. Jeff is looking hard in the other direction. Dan is still reading the articles in the old “Wizard” magazine repeatedly.
“Hey Doug, go ask those kids over there by the benches if they have any weed.”
“yeah right.”
“Come on.”
“Fuck you, man. They are probably cops.”
“Yeah, 15 year old cops…with fuckin’ skateboards.”
“Yeah, well they probably work for the cops.”
“Oh yeah, a whole fuckin’ team of 15 year old skateboard riding undercover cops…like 21 jump street…sure.”
“Well fuck it dude, I ain’t goin’. Beside, Dover has our weed.”
“We lost Dover.”
“I have our weed. Dover doesn’t have our weed.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am fuckin’ sure. It is right here in my pocket, I can feel it. Dover doesn’t have it, we are good.”
“Then why did I think he had it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because he was talking about it earlier.”
“Oh yeah, he said he was going to get acid didn’t he?”
“Yeah, well…he said his cousin or something was gonna start making it, I think but I mean, if you want some acid that his cousins made…well that is up to you.”
“No thanks, hey what is that up there? Is that him?”
“Where?” Jeff’s head turns quickly around and looks hard in front. He fiddles with the keys getting ready to start the car.
“Up there, that blonde head going into that alley looking thing…right up there.”
Dan looks up from his magazine and Looks between the figures moving around the car.
“Either it’s him or someone going to give BJ for some crack…could be both, I guess.”
“No, Dover doesn’t smoke crack anymore.”
“Dover, never smoked crack, dammit. Let’s go check it out.”
“Doug, all this talk about BJ makes me remember, where is that BJ you owe me, bitch.”
“Fuck you Dan.”
“Get the fuck in the car, man…lets go.”

Iberia, IL

Iberia, IL
Jesse Mitchell

Some days are lightening bolts. Some days filled with super powered sparks, electric fire. Some days are the blizzard, snow white, blinding. The lights always above us, blazing bright as camera flash or dim and steady, subtle like candle flame…flicker flicker and fanning in the breeze. Today burning my neck and squinting up my eyes are the artificial long bulbs of fluorescent gas in the ever-widening supermarket aisle. I try in vain to quickly find the certain baby formula and escape out of this mercantile madness…the dreary death…the itching dearth…the dying breaths. I cannot say how I got to this place as I wring my hands together. I cannot know the paths that led me here out of the wilds of my life. But I have begun my song, my angel story, and now I must sang it…of the wild men and monsters in the memory forests of my mind.
My cart rattles as I push it down the aisle. Filled to the brim with ice cream, sponge bob band-aids, vitamins…I shake myself into mischief and daydream. Moving displays around…misplacing sign cards in their placards…anything to disturb. It makes me sigh.
Once I was wild as you America, once I was with you all…when we were all young…I was with you, together. You and I burning blood and oil, running like water, gasoline, breathing fire, tattoos in each and every town…the smell of smoke and noise and fresh ink, eating gravel, spitting asphalt. You and I, America, big booming Gypsy rain clouds filled with thunder and ice, spilling our rain around…making storm wherever we did wander. I was with you. And I imagine I still am. We are here together too.
My head hurts. My heart races. I have not slept in nights, not completely. The cries of an infant keeping my eyes peeled open. I move so slow now. I am no dead spirit however, like so many others, I still live. I am no ghost in denial. I am still every bit a part of the growth, the surging tide, the power of beauty. I am still live. A spark of fire, a hot coal, a moment of life, a warm breath.

The Hard Lines

I stand outside in the snow, imagining that I can tell the future. Outside the house, I watch the small white flakes fall around…on the black wool of my long coat…it looks like space, starry space. I am standing ankle deep in the drifts beside the white vinyl covered (it is made to look like clap board) house, hairs curling up for under my sock cap…I am smoking a cigarette and pretending to be a mystic…a seer. As the pale yellow sun sheds its egg yolk almost dead light all over me and everything else out here…all lined. Inside I can hear my brother moving about in the house, cleaning, adjusting, assisting. I am no help. The sounds of dementia and frustration waft out. The ropinirole has stopped my hands from trembling but not the sick cold shaking inside…so, I drink from this big convenience store plastic cup filled with Mountain Dew and a few shots of the cheapest Vodka available at eight in the morning. I take sip after sip…no numbness…just tired. The smoke burns my eyes. I lean against the side of the house. It leaves a long off white streak down my coat. I try to brush it off. On the left side of me a crumbling, dry rotted, sun bleached carport barely stands up, covering a blue tarp mound. Under the mound is a very old lump of metal and clear shiny glass…my grandfather’s old Chevelle. 1966 blue SS 427 Chevelle; it sits here buried…and has ever since he, my grandfather, was buried. I can almost see a corner of it poking out…I can almost see a bit of the bright blue fender getting all covered over my this thick blowing snow. I look though the window, curtains cracked, the window of the house next door and watch everyone inside run back and forth doing their morning things. I do not try to pry…to spy…just bored.
My brother coming out the back door, still talking to our grandmother over his shoulder as he closes the door behind him and makes his way down the back steps…they are crumbling concrete (once long ago they were painted a bright ridiculous red…now with fading and breaking, they look all mottled). He looks at me once he makes it to the bottom and makes a disgusted face at me.
“How was she today?”
“Not good, man. She is never good anymore.”
We get into his car. Close the door. I wait for him to talk to me. I just sit in the passenger seat looking over every now and again.
“So, am I just taking you home now?”
“I don’t know. I mean, I don’t have anything else to do.” I stare down at my pants, wide eyed, and feeling uncomfortable.
“Okay…” He rubs his forehead with his hand.
“Well I guess you can hang out with me for awhile. How much have you drank already?”
“Ummm, I I…what?”
‘I asked how much have you drank already fucker. I know you have been, so how much?”
“Just a little…just a little.” I brush some of the snow off my legs.
I feel like I am the very next step in human evolution. Few people share that belief. I think my thoughts as the car rolls down the icy road. We weave our way through the open streets of residential areas. Big tall white boxes, blue boxes, grey boxes, surrounded by trees and children’s toys littered about…tall trees swaying in the snowy breeze. I think my thoughts. I imagine myself a new kind of man, strong, smart, beautiful, oddly in touch with the emotional life around me. I imagine myself better than everyone at everything.
“Maybe if I could get Grandpa’s car out.”
“Fuckin’ leave that car alone.”
“I just wanted to get it out and drive it around…maybe make fuckin’ Willis jealous.”
“No, never gonna happen man. Fuckin’ leave the car alone.”
Willis is my next-door neighbor. I hate him. He is an idiot. He is a thoroughbred fool ambling around this world taking up space from others…more worthy people. I have known him my entire life.
“Yeah, really get his goat, man.”
“Willis, doesn’t even notice you man, okay. You are not going to make him jealous. He has a job, Robby, okay. He has his own car…his car…that is allowed to drive. Hell man, he even has a girlfriend. Just leave that dude alone. It is embarrassing.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sheridan Road

Sheridan Road

I stand almost upright
And nearly lost
Halfway a prisoner
Roughly between Emerson and Sheridan Road
Frozen in the explosion,
The sound drops out,
Things fly around my eyes
I stand in the middle of the passing-out-calm,
The quiet echoing melting-down-tunnel vision
I stand still and Looking up,
Naked souled and with a reckless restless spirit
And not yet blind…blind…blind.
I stand right here, silent and never moving
I will stand right here between Earth and Heaven
Between hearth and battlefield
Bloody bloody hero but well fed.
I will stand here, grass growing around my feet
And moon light pooled around my head
A halo, a burn…
I will stay right here
Let the Zunis keep their war gods
Let Aztecs keep their water gods
Let the Christians keep their words of peace
I will stand here
Nude souled
Right here between Heaven and Earth
Never moving.
I will begin to breathe
Breathe it all in as
It collides behind me
As it blows to dust in star powered explosions
I will begin to breathe standing here
As it, all turns to air.
Never moving.