Saturday, October 29, 2011

a clear midnight

  • *

  • This is thy hour O soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
    Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
    Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
    Night, sleep, death and the stars.

  • *

  • ~ Walt Whitman

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    badge 714

    This is the city.
    A densely packed metropolis teeters delicately between those that keep their noses clean, and the honkers out to cheat, steal, and spit out mucused mayhem. And sometimes it boils down to plain old murder. When it gets serious that's where I come in.
    I carry a badge.
    It was overcast. We were working the day watch out of Homicide. My partner is Frank Smith. The Captain, Mort Welch.
    My name is Friday.

    Captain Welch strode up to the desk opposite where Frank had one bite of a pink cream donut and was about to take another but stopped when he saw the pale, hollow-eyed stare of our commander. I knew it was bad. A call came in about a woman found dead in the Sandstone Tower Apartments, and smothering my cigarette out into the pink donut in my ashtray, we headed out.

    The death scene was on the seventh floor. The coroner was just departing as we got off the drafty elevator.
    'Charlie. What'ya got'?
    'Hour. Maybe hour and a quarter'.
    'Thanks. You done'?
    I lit a cigarette. We halved the floor and started pounding doors. All deaf and blind except when eying the peep holes. Typical. At the end of the hall I looked down from the window near the fire escape and saw the silent ambulance roll sadly away. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turning faced an inebriated man, whiskey-glass eyed, blinking close nose to nose, then back peddling away into the dark. Top heavy, he staggered close again.
    'Silv silver 4 Door'.
    'Down alley see', he pointed.
    'What about it, sir'?
    'Scratchy scratchy', as he pantomimed clawing to the face. 'That be his'. Charlie did mention to Frank the corpse had messy fingernails, most likely battling death with swipes at the attacker.
    'Are you implying the man that owns that 1974 Ford Sedan has scratches on his face'?
    'Ding ding ding youse can have anything from the top row'.

    Frank yawned in our fourth hour watching the suspect vehicle. He was doing pretty good up to then, but those donut stomach rumblings can be the start of something bad. Then, in our sixth hungry hour, events hurled in slow motion. A man in a red hooded sweatshirt jumped into the Ford and was off. We had the advantage since narrow alleyways permeate all twelve buildings of Sandstone place, leaving little clearance. The chase was on. Topping speeds of eight miles an hour, we rode the Ford's bumper, slowing to maybe four but not quite five on sharp-edge turn after turn, the Ford sparking sideview mirrors against trash bins, parked cars, a fire escape landing pole, nudging a screeching bag lady who fisted off a souvenir sideview mirror for her collection, and finally ramming into a black and white with red silent lights with visibility of maybe fifteen yards on a clear day.
    The suspect bolted from his dual side-scratched car and sidled in between a brick wall and the police cruiser trying to run away, but Frank managed to squeeze off one 38 special round nose, all 158 grains of it, boring into red hood's calf going a heck of a lot faster than eight miles an hour.

    photo: Lee Friedlander
    from America by Car

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    he's resting

    Is Colonel Gaddafi really dead?
    Or is he just resting?

    world ended today

    Day of reckoning
    Waited, watched, phonies alarm
    Great Pumpkin, tell me

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011


    Enjoy Trick or Treat, from 1952
    in place of my awful poem.

    Saturday, October 15, 2011

    the little folk

    I figured something was off-kilter when I saw two presentable rows of mice standing with silver swords raised along the side of the fridge. The side displaying a prized miniature magnet resembling a shopping cart holding this weeks grocery list.
    "Those are silver toothpicks".
    "Oh. You're a mind reader".
    "No, I followed you eyes," he nodded.
    "Suppose I push your belly. Will you giggle too?"
    "I, Sir, will have your head clean lopped off."
    "Yeah". I was the one that giggled.
    "Sir, do not try me."
    I straightened up in my chair like a faithful servant.
    "I, too, My Lord, have a special talent."
    "Oh?" The tubby visitor seemed mockingly perplexed.
    "Stand still. With a clean jerk of the morning news you shall, My Lord, remain standing. But preferrable, Dear King, arch safely across the moat into the garbage disposal."
    "Off with your head!"
    I laughed as my head rolled off the table, traversing across the linoleum, halting in an upright position against the wooden cabinet where I store green trash bags, and a nighttime home to a family of mice. Look at that mote.

    illustration ~ The Little King
    by Michael Sowa

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    late for the ball

    We arrived by train to that Midwestern town somewhere in line with the Autumnal Equinox and the loveless Harvest Moon, to be enthralled by the kindness of the lady dressed like a well kept grave. On cue, always ready like all the other stops along our way, we were shoved off the train by a bull with a splintered stick, two vagabonds, the girl deserving of a hot shower and a warm meal. A hot meal sounded pretty good to me too. A man in a ill fitting coat living under the crumbling town bridge gave us directions to the Manor, telling us of the Gracious Lady, and to knock four times at the back door.
    We peeked in a window of the dining room before going around back. It looked like something out of a 1940's sound stage and we saw her sitting at the head of the table by herself sipping from a tiny cup with a look of absolute chore-less joy on her face. The girl guessed we were just in time, after all, as muffled dance music washed around every room we peeked in. In the square light shining out into the dark from one room we surveyed, where we stood in some flowers, I could see the girl was crying she was so happy watching a fairy tale. It was always hard to tell since her long hair usually fell over her eyes and she was constantly pushing it back. I brushed it back once and she hit me with all her might with a solid left fist, but she was playing. She has a beautiful mane, but she sure could use a shower.
    We knocked four times, she opened the door unhesitatingly, we could hear yelling in a foreign tongue behind her, probably too many cooks in the kitchen like the old saying goes. She looked down at both of us standing three steps up in a fluffy red feather gown, the girl scared, burying her face in my chest shivering, said wait just a minute she'd be back, and before you knowed it she came back with two plates full of the best food we ever ate. Everything was as soft and good and warm as poached eggs we had once two weeks ago at a lunch trailer. Only better. I showed the girl how to make a sandwich with two biscuits and she copied me, seeing how she always followed my example.
    Then something strange happened. We saw that feathered lady watching us out the back door window twice, and she would disappear and show again. Then she opened the door, sorrowful looking, and took the girl by the hand before she was done eating and slammed the door. I didn't know if maybe she was going to make her clean up the dishes or what and I got nervous. So I ate some more. But you know what? She came back about forty-five minutes later, it was getting cold out, about the time I'd finished up some tasty chocolate swirly goo, and that lady in red had given the girl the prettiest egg-colored gown to wear and her mane was shiny and flowed like a waterfall and she turned all the way around shy like for me, twice I asked, and I swear I tried not to cry she was so beautiful.
    Later, as the Sun was rising and we hopped a slow moving freighter, she said she saw a dish on fire and that's what all the yelling was about.

    Willow Manor Balls past:
    2008 2009 2010

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    small talk

    She poured his coffee and he sipped it, holding the hot green-swirled porcelain in both hands.
    She could not see his eyes under his dipped flat black fedora as he raised the cup, both elbows on the Eat Here! lunch counter. But he nodded, and she thought all was well.
    Her back was turned, busy wiping the back counter, and he looked up and said, "good." She looked over her left shoulder, smiled just a bit, and she mouthed the word, "good."
    A man in a business suit walked in and sat at the opposite end of the counter and she waited on him, pencil at the pad ready. He sipped more coffee and thought he heard her laugh, but looking at her didn't think she looked too happy at a distance just the same as close up with those hunched shoulders. Melancholy, he surmised. He lit a cigarette. She may be drowning in it, he feared.
    The business man was deep in french fries and studying the Wall Street Journal when she came back around again to an emptied coffee cup.
    "Yes," she replied, pouring coffee from a steaming carafe.
    She was quiet for about twenty minutes and he thought she appeared more hunched than humanly possible. And he thought maybe she had been weeping, her eyes shining. It was getting dark and the yellow street lights topped with black iron points began to glow bright.
    "I worry about the little birds," she said just above a whisper as she wiped the dry counter in front of him with a clean white rag.
    "Oh." He paused, took off his fedora and set it in the seat next to him. "Well, I wouldn't worry. After all, the elephants are flying south."
    She smiled, and he thought maybe he'd saved her just as she was being washed out to sea. "No," she pondered, playing along, "I think more to the northwest."
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