one more cup of coffee ‘fore i go

Halloween came and went, as if often does, inconsequential and uninspiring. I put on a cheap blue wig and went to a show that was formidable in its unentertaining chaos, affording me only the inspiration to drink until I stumbled out into a parking lot I hadn’t parked in, bumming cigarettes to keep me from picking an odd scab I had on my bottom lip that kept returning.

My mind flowed around the taste of the blood that settled there, that wept and seeped onto my tongue, graced my top lip and contrasted the pale white of the cigarette upon its touch like a smear of lipstick. Had I taken a clumsy bite of my burrito at Iguana’s? Had I bitten it while engrossed in some melody?

I didn’t have the answer, but the music excuse didn’t seem all that likely. There is much music out and about here, but not much that catches my interest these days, and certainly none that evening. I have recently been going to more shows, attempting to find a separate reason to be in the company of barflies, something to make me feel and think and want to get back to playing myself. To weakly attempt to network.

I was lying on a car, an older model of a Mercedes Benz, laughing at my luck, singing the Janis Joplin song. ‘Oh Lord, won’tcha buy me a Mercedes Benz…’ It was then that my luck changed, at the sight of Johnny and the pink girl again, dressed in unsurprising costumes… John McCain and Sarah Palin. Her hair had gotten longer, but her cheeks were still that rosy, hectic color. Girl Scout cookies flooded my brain. Thin Mints.

They sounded good just then. I thought they would make an interesting flavor combination with the blood I still tasted.

“Are you okay?” He seemed genuinely concerned.

“Don’t I look okay?”

He didn’t laugh. The pink girl kind of chuckled into her palm. I couldn’t see her teeth.

“Is this yours?” He gestured toward the car I had gotten friendly with.

I burst into laughter. “Do you think I could afford it?”

He said nothing but helped me off of the car. I could tell my wig was becoming crooked, and I lifted my hands to remedy the problem, but by the look of Pinky, it must have only gotten worse.

“I’m sure you remember Alexis.” He motioned to her, but he was mistaken. We had never met. I had only seen her in the bar and this particular moment, and now there was finally a name to the pudgy face.

I said her name out loud, to the night, my arms flailing. It wasn’t interesting, as I knew it wouldn’t be. I didn’t introduce myself, but I was sure she had known who I was.

Suddenly, I was in the back of Johnny’s Bronco, being jostled up and down over speedbumps, with ‘Dead Man’s Party’ blasting, Alexis’ voice trying to be small. “What are we going to do with her?”

“We’re going to take her home like a decent person would.”

“But we have PLANS! Can’t we just leave her in the car?”

He scoffed. “We can come back.”

Lying on those familiar beige seats, feeling the folds of her white peacoat beneath me, I smiled. I remembered rescuing Vincent on a night very much like this one all those years ago, but I had forgotten the feeling of being rescued myself. And it wasn’t like he couldn’t have called me a cab; it wasn’t like I couldn’t have done it myself. But I didn’t even have to. It wasn’t even up for debate. And I didn’t have Drew’s feeble sensibilities or Rabbit’s awkward opposition to confrontation to compromise with—it was just blood, booze, Johnny and me. Alexis was there too, but only by circumstance.

I was in bed before 12. I thanked Johnny and wished him the best of luck for the rest of the evening. By then, I’m sure, she was stomping out by the car, picking blue hairs from her jacket. I could only imagine the color of her face then.

I woke up alone and hungover, a myriad of missed telephone calls. Halloween often seemed like a pseudo New Year’s Eve, the night where the exes call, regardless of having dates for costume parties; they want to know where you are, what you’re doing, if you’re single. Halloween was a night for people like me, and I had missed it. I had cradled it in my arms last year and dropped it carelessly this one.

I kicked myself for not becoming more of a wedge between Johnny and Alexis, forcing my way through their evening, becoming part of their plans and ruining them simultaneously. I wondered in what way Alexis was beautiful to Johnny, if her pale freckly body with neon pink lips and nipples was erotic under a blacklight, if the hair on her cunt frosted the area like the thorns on Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

My thoughts traveled to a silk green dress that had, with the aid of an acoustic guitar, inched up Meredith Edgar’s thigh a week previously. I had never seen the woman before that night but she had enchanted me with her haunting voice and comfort in her own skin. She had been all alone on that stage, room dark save for the light that shone on her; and yet, she wasn’t fidgeting or seemingly nervous. But she didn’t have that jaded quality, that ‘been doing this for years’ kind of arrogance or ambivalence. She was charming without any sign of effort, and that was probably one of the hardest things to do as a musician, as a woman, as a human being.

Alexis did not carry this quality and neither did I. I have been called beautiful before and sure I will be again, but there has always been an awkward, uncomfortable presence; a bitten nail here, an ill-advised comment there. Sharp tongue, short nails. I didn’t care what most people thought, but for those I did, I cared exquisitely so. It didn’t seem that way with the singer.

Distortion must always be considered, however. My good friend Dixon had been working the bar that evening, slipping me secret elixirs now and then. I hadn’t seen him much since the City days, where we would drink absinthe and stumble through the streets. I wasn’t even of drinking age then, but he would bring me around, taking me to his local haunts, swearing I had lost my license.

I wished he could have been sitting with me. The place seemed lonely, and every man that came up to me oozed of the smell of beer and desperation. There were lots of fedora-styled hats and shiny shirts. I noticed a couple of women in business-fetish attire, flaunting short, mannish hairstyles and smart plaids, dancing together, dancing with other women that seemed to think their image was something to be admired.

The drinks helped neutralize my disappointment with humanity. I felt desperately alive in that bar, regardless of the clientele. I didn’t know if I wanted to work with her or kiss her, but I watched the woman for the rest of the evening, on and off stage. I never said one word to her.

But I had finally been inspired.

There are no poets anymore; that’s what everyone says. Everyone is a cynic and everyone is an asshole. I say that’s bullshit. I say that’s blasphemy. Everything comes back around, even the vilest things, like disco, like potpourri, like folk music.

And I love folk music. The vile things are what we need to implement the new generation of poetry. Assassinate the disbelievers. Disassemble the appropriation. I wanted to sleep with everyone, absorb their knowledge. I wanted to sleep with myself and regain my humility.

I felt like a crook, a shambles, a fraud in my own skin. This pale body longed to belong, if that makes any sense. I wanted to feel important, I wanted to make things right. I wanted to walk alongside our newfound President, but not sing his praises. People were only people; it should be our thoughts alone that make us different.

I found a lizard in my apartment the other night. Man Ray did not kill it, only played with it, stirred it into frenzy. And now, the damned thing sort of shows up everywhere; this morning I found it wrapped around my coffeemaker, taunting me, daring me to finish it off. I decided to name it, because I do not have the urge to kill it nor the desire to cast it out of my small apartment. I called it Mary, because beautiful things are often called that, with or without Biblical connotation.

I do my best to accept chaos. I can only hope it accepts me.

(Yes that is a Bob Dylan reference.)


1 Response to “one more cup of coffee ‘fore i go”

  1. November 9, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    The poetry is still around. It’s in blogs. It’s being written on the edge of the electronic frontiers, and nobody can find it. Perhaps, it’s time for the NeoRenaissance of the 21st Century. Maybe you and I can push for it, and lead it, and be the first. Or maybe, there really are no poets left in mankind.

    I refuse to believe that, just as I refuse to believe I could lead myself out of a paper bag, much less lead a changing of the thought police.

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