Xmas Entry

Whatever has caused stars to cross and align
Is rewriting the sky as she’s falling through time
When old had been done and was all but divine
Comes a reckoning force as she’s falling through time

Written on Christmas Eve, 11 P.M:

I’d like to say that I’ve been filled with an incredible insight appropriate for a toast. Standing before the watchtower as the clock strikes midnight, my fingers would clasp around massive scissors and slice through the crimson ribbon, smiling for tomorrow’s cover story on the arrival of America’s favorite holiday. I’d squint through the camera flashes and say some crap about our wonderful savior and goodwill so that everyone could tear up and tell me how beautiful the speech was, and just where it touched them and how. Cut the church bell clamor, freeze that bogus illusion and wait for it to crack under its lies. If the mistletoe and overplayed crooner-carols are hitting all the wrong notes with you, don’t attack the carolers outside just yet.

You’ve got to look into it before you see through it. And you have to see through it, or you’ll never get over it.

Pierce the pockets of that designer jacket and look at the fat roll of folding money they’ve been carrying up and down the streets – watch it turn into plastic sacks with handles and craziness of want lists and to-do’s. Disappointed? Go deeper. Right through the man, to the boy keeping up beside him. His son is asking if Santa stops his sleigh for the homeless.

When Daddy can’t give a straight answer, the boy, concerned and unsatisfied, lets go of his father’s coat and starts to approach an old bum, unafraid. Obviously, he is retrieved immediately by his father and escorted along and away…but the kid looks back, a few blocks on down. Briefly enough so as to not lose step with his father, two brown eyes peek out above a bright scarf…the only proof in an otherwise shameful scene, that all is not lost.

Father and son pass me by in a dream. And so is the view from here, at the watchtower. There isn’t a herd of media. There are no microphones. The ghost of Christmas past is sitting on the concrete stairs beside me, with arms folded under his chin. A donkey rests in the dark with us, nosing my sleeve. I figure the animal’s in my imagination because I was dressed like one in my youth group’s Christmas Story, years years and years ago. One of those claymation California raisins from the classic holiday tv special is out here, too. He isn’t as serious-looking as the other spirits and religious figures gathered, though. The santa hat probably helps him look playful like that.

I couldn’t tell you what they’re all doing in this passage, tonight. None of them are talking and I feel like I’ve come by a drug-tripper’s backstage pass by happenstance, permitted to be having such a vision. What are they all guarding, perched like festive gargoyles in my head? Is that what happens to sugarplums as we get older? Did that little girl across the street just wave at that misfit toy? God, it’s cold. I’m always cold at night.

*** *** *** *** ***

“That’s fucking shit,” I decided on Christmas Eve, and flipped down the laptop. If I had no clue what it was, I wasn’t going to throw it out at 400 eyeballs (assuming my registered onlookers all have both eyes) to see what would happen. Lacking the center, I had no idea where I was or what was going on – I couldn’t find the words for everyone out there who hates this time of year and prays for it to be over soon. It might not have been too bad to have pulled a Britney, abandoned all responsibility and driven anyone who read the words to their proverbial cliff… I guess I could have admitted at the time, that on a night of importance I was without the first clue. Telling my pet cat who kept jumping up on the back of my chair with her fat ass pulling us over backwards, to get the fuck away from me. Feverishly tipping back Diet Pepsi cans, cursing each one for ruining my taste for Coke with their acquired voodoo they pulled after I drank one too many. Now, it’s all sour plastic caramel water. Thanks a lot, you tin sons of bitches.

Well, I’m standing upright. That’s a plus. I write my heart out late at night when no one’s looking and still fall into bed covered in Marvel X-men. I’m no kind of voice. If this was the last day on Earth, I’d just shrug and think, “Ain’t that a motherfucker.” Ah, the poet’s message. My great American novel’s last sentence, I tell you.

Ain’t that a motherfucker.

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Xmas Eve 03, 11:00 P.M.

Whatever has caused stars to cross and align
Is rewriting the sky as she’s falling through time
When old had been done and was all but divine
Comes a reckoning force as she’s falling through time

I would love to announce that I’ve been filled with an incredible insight appropriate for a toast. Standing in front of the watchtower as it strikes midnight, my fingers would clasp around massive scissors and slice through the crimson ribbon, smiling for tomorrow’s cover story on the arrival of America’s sacred holiday. I’d squint through camera flashes and say some crap about our wonderful savior or goodwill so that all might tear up and exclaim how beautiful the speech was and just where it touched them.

Cut the church bell clamor. Freeze the asinine illusion. Wait for it to crack under its atrocious lies.

If the mistletoe and overplayed songs are hitting all the wrong notes, don’t attack the carolers outside just yet. You’ve got to look into it before you see through it. And you have to see through it, or you’ll never get over it.

Pierce the pockets of that designer jacket and observe the fat roll of folding money they’ve been carrying up and down the streets. Watch it turn into plastic sacks with handles and busy checklists. Go deeper, right through the man to the boy struggling to keep up beside him. He is asking if Santa stops his sleigh for the homeless.

When Daddy can’t give a straight answer, the boy lets go of his father’s coat and walks up to an old bum, fearless. It goes without saying that he is retrieved immediately by his father and escorted along and away. But the kid will look back, a few blocks down, briefly enough so as to not lose step with his father. Two brown eyes will peek out above a bright scarf and that is where you’ll see the first sign of hope… that all is not lost.

Father and son pass me by on a dream’s sidewalk, below. And so is the view from here, at the watchtower. There isn’t a herd of media nor are there microphones. The Ghost of Christmas Past is sitting on the concrete stairs beside me, with arms folded under his chin. A donkey rests in the dark with us, nosing my arm. I figure the animal is eating my sleeve because I was dressed like one in my youth group’s Christmas Story, years and years ago. One of those claymation California Raisins from a television special is out here, too. He isn’t as serious-looking as the other spirits and religious figures gathered; the Santa hat probably helps him look playful like that.

I couldn’t tell you what they’re all doing in this passage, tonight. None of them are talking and I wonder if I’ve come by a tripper’s backstage pass by happenstance, permitted to be seeing anything at all. What are they all guarding, perched like festive soldiers in my head? Is it what happens to sugar plums over time? Did the little girl across the street just wave at that misfit toy? Fuck, it’s freezing.

***

I don’t have anything, understand? What do you want from me? To write my heart out late at night when no one’s looking? Newsflash: I can’t help you.

So it’s almost here with the new year approaching, and I’m alive instead of dead. Some of the things I held the closest to me burst forth from the capsules I’d carefully preserved their memory in and began to show gratitude by snapping at my insides, tearing down every random organ and heart string they found.

Merry Christmas.

Getting Banned From Subway

Their phone rings in a location on the far side of town and an unsuspecting employee grabs the pen.

“Okay, so you wanted lettuce, tomatoes, on…ions…”
“And yellow peppers. Oh shoot, did you make that first footlong on wheat bread? He hates white.”
“Yes, ma’am, will that be it?”
“Sure will! How long will that take you?”
“I can have it done in 5 minutes. I just need your name and number, please?”
“Debbie Heath, H-e-a-t-h. 555-2878.”
“Ok. How long are you looking to-
“I’m setting out right now.”

Earlier today, I was in Subway. Right? So I’m standing there, ordering my meal. And this old guy next to me demands to see the Subway stamp card I’m holding. Weary and agitated, I can see the boy behind the counter giving arm and facial expressions like “just. ignore. him. don’t listen.” and I assume he’s some Nutcase. Dressed down and a little off-cemetry like he might have had a stroke, I didn’t want to pretend he wasn’t addressing me. I handed him my yellow and green card with the 8 little stamps all licked and sitch’iated.

He eyeballed the name Autumn May in blue pen and looked at me. Put his arm on the counter, tipped his head up and did it again, like he had some super-human scanning capability.

“You know what I’m gonna ask, don’t you?”

No, you can’t use my card. “Hmmm?”
“Where’d these come from? I don’t recognize these.”

He continues to talk, slurred, quite uncomfortably for me, as I’m trying to tell the boy what I want. He’s pushing my wheat bun along and I hear something about “These…I’m not accepting these anymore after this year.” I begin to realize he’s talking about the origin of the stamps, and I’m thinking, “Fuck, I don’t remember every single Subway and which stamp they all came from – pick on the guys next to me.”

Instead of realizing he was the manager, I blankly threw musing questions like, “Why not?” He said, “Cause they all come outta my pocket! I lose eighty-thousand dollars a year on the free subs cause everyone’s getting stamps and showing up here.” (for every 8 stamps, you get a free 6 inch sub with purchase of a drink, see.)

I start to ignore him after mentioning, “Well, I don’t think your career’s exactly going under when you’re charging this much for bread and meat.” I imagined the slave labor my father has done to bring home a paycheck, and compared it to someone who was bitching to his customer about not making enough from assholishly harrassing the people who come in. So what if he was actually the boss? Like he didn’t know he was at the top of the pyramid in this picture.

“Well, you can always have another stroke. Maybe you’ll get more SSI.”

I know I said some things that weren’t very nice, but I can’t remember them. They were blunt. They were snide and let him know I thought he could cry me the Siawassee. I’d spent at least 4 dollars a stamp and I just wanted my free one, now. Hassle free. And out we all go.

He looked over at the boy and said, “Alright. Don’t honor her card, today.” Happy with his powers, he said to me, “If you don’t like that, go someplace else next time.”

So I did. I went to his other location, got my card honored, and delivered him a note that explained he DID honor my out-of-town stamps today and that hopefully, combined with the humungous prank order going to waste, I took just one more big bite out of his slice of the cheese. Using the best doodling skills I could muster in split-seconds, I scribbled a little Christmas tree and mentioned how this might teach him that it isn’t cool to play Scrooge’s favorites when you’re a registered participating restaurant. “Happy Holidays! P.S! I notified the mayor and the corporation! Happy new year, too.”

Sometimes righteousness deserves a penalty no matter what kind of miracles it performed for Jared. No, it wasn’t exactly a giant leap for justice, but hey.

You know I pissed that mean bastard off.

This is what it has taken, lately, for me to sleep soundly at night. I want to be soft and happy. Someone elbows me too hard and I go Killer Panda on their ass.

When did I become so fucking pathetic?

Unimpressed and a little numb.

Coke fizzes in a can beside my chair, accompanied by the hum of a video game DVD player on the ground in my bedroom. Robin Williams is stopped not even a third into his show, paused and appearing distraught. A string of long-since stolen orange and purple icicle lights hangs across the closet area, visible from the street and warming the place with a peach glow. The door is closed, because it needs to be right now. I try hard to think myself out of the scenario, but cannot deny the truth that an episode has occurred here and still hangs on in the connected rooms of this house.

When we came in through the front, all seemed well. Typically and in good spirits, a bag of chips crunched. Refrigerator door opened and closed. The microwave heated left over taco salad and my company joined me at the kitchen table for upbeat conversation with appropriate punch lines. I can remember pulling the lid from the Lite Cool Whip and not even bothering to grab a spoon as I sampled it with my finger and recalled earlier in the day when I’d pulled a similar stunt, licking the mustard tip before setting it back. A little disappointed in myself, I scolded, “How primal.”

That’s when Christopher jetted out from his corner and threw the knife’s cover to the floor. The fact he dramatically unsnapped it in front of me registered an estimation of intended emphasis and performance, lacking any shock or surprise. It’s hard to believe your little brother is psychotic when there are so many hints that at the actual core is little more than an adolescent’s show. If he really wanted to stab me, he’d have been less flashy about it. I’d hope.

Unfortunately, being unafraid and challenged to teach punks a lesson is one of the worst ways to behave in front of Christopher, because he can’t stand it when you don’t tremble. He doesn’t know what to do, so he goes nuts. I haven’t learned to bow down to this demand for dominance and I doubt I ever will. With one hand on the refrigerator door and the other gripping a little sai-styled blade, the sibling began rummaging through the shelves after a psych-lurch, which forced me to step back and away in order to avoid being poked by his toy. Or, “pierced by his knife”. However you want to word it.

He was taking inventory, you see. He decided there wasn’t enough leftovers to meet his approval, and while I gathered that this thought process was actually going on, my eyes surveyed my guest at their corners, noting one fearful friend at the opposite end of the room spooning the sacred food into his mouth. We officially had a problem and my attempt to shake Chris from his spell didn’t work. He didn’t want anyone to touch “his” food supply, and had trouble locating all of the salad ingredients because my father had polished off the tomatoes earlier on. Blaming my company for his pain and suffering, he said to me as I followed my guest into the bedroom, “He won’t get out alive.”

Mom remained unmoving underneath her blanket on the couch throughout my report of the erratic and eccentric mood swing. She said something like, “Then stop eating the food”, went back to her movie, and I briefly went into shock. Was this a dream? Did she not hear that I just said her son was standing in the kitchen, staring into the refrigerator with a knife in his hand? Was I crazy? Why is no one doing anything?

Robin Williams was being hilarious, but I couldn’t take my mind off the unavoidable bangs and knocks I heard throughout the house. I’d pretended nothing was wrong and hidden in my room, treating it as a shelter. Always worked before. No one knew Chris was flushing all of his medications down the toilet, getting worse by the minute. Having slept the entire day and gone without drugs to please his mother, he was irate and hyping himself up to no end. I would not have a day without chaos, I knew, as I began to hear plastic and carbonation sound effects from Chris’ attack on the gallon of milk and other defenseless groceries around him.

So here I am, my guest, escorted out. I hung briefly in the shadows with folded arms, standing beside Dad and helplessly observing Mom in Chris’ doorway, speaking of hospitals and ends of the line. She started to cry. Then I was back behind my door, not listening but hearing the depressing decline of muffled conversation. It has me wondering about tomorrow.

Another 24 hour waiting game to see if anyone gets hurt.

No matter what.

I should have known better than to have worried that silence from Mandi (crymson_st4r ) was an indication of staleness. I was spot on, however, to be concerned with an assumption of danger (as staleness is, for her spirit). It seems that while I figured she was taking a break, she was actually breaking the record…for adventures after sunset.

Because I have known her and been included for so long, the jumbled paragraphs and single-breath speech in her journaling jumped out at me as though I had been there while it happened. The situation of being with questionable people and putting a part of yourself in their hands was so familiar it was as comforting as an aroma that suddenly reminds you of a good thing you haven’t thought of in forever. I don’t know how to explain so that it doesn’t sound like I’m encouraging you to ride at 60-100 mph with a tipsy driver who flipped their Bronco over into the ditch. But…

I saw her there, consciousness rushing back like invincibility given by God. I felt the gummy bottoms of her tennis shoes on the pavement in the middle of nowhere as she stood with (possibly even without) only a coat on for weathering the season, her face exposed to the winter cold at having made a humungous mistake. Hearing the drunk driver make them swear they wouldn’t go to the hospital and get her into trouble as one of them bled…the incredible agreement to lie to police and tell them a story about how they were crippled. Mandi’s breath white in the air as it burned with her commenting back to everyone, trying to express her side of what was best and what they ought to do.

I’ve been there with her, before. With nothin. Completely. Fucked.

I miss it, sometimes.

She went on to explain the grueling confessions and parental scoldings in tradition of how a fair fraction of our messes worked out. This wasn’t a particular force I went along with her on, as she chased, promising a Way Out. “Something Awarded Across the Lines If You Overstep Them”. No, this wasn’t my memory to have – but I dashed after the story after the fact, my eyes running left to right just as attracted and curious as she got me not too long ago, in the flesh of it.

You see, that trouble and that high stake gamble…that is her. When you’ve got oppositte sides fighting against each other for what they claim is right and you don’t know what to think anymore…she comes, blazing a trail sideways, offering something passionate and exciting to believe in. Indians and cowboys on the banks of a river and she’s cannonballing into the water. Sticks, stones, cruel names from people like me who have repeatedly sworn to wipe her from the picture… Nothing kills this bitch. So what is the point, in telling her not to do something or that she shouldn’t have done what she has? You know she’s being herself – why get upset because she isn’t someone else?

Yeah, she loses more than she wins. But in a fight where no one’s trying anymore, she’s going insane, screaming the battle cry. It takes more than a lunatic to rattle loose my stiff bones; it takes an overlooked hero willing to travel by humility and make sure you never forget her, whether you like it or not.

Dan Says I Never Write About Him

Whenever Dan’s getting fucked by the boys he lets inside his parents’ house, the Precious Moments collection doesn’t know what to do. On their shelves, they sit, wide-eyed from all of the noise and reality of it all, and the little nativity boys and girls pull their cloaks over their eyes and turn around until it’s over. That’s not bedpost thumping you’re hearing; if you listen more closely, you’ll come to realize that it’s more of a clattering, from all of those ceramics, shaking and clanking together.

Standing in the kitchen, hearing a radio blaring from the bathroom, I hesitate to announce my arrival because I can tell something has happened. His voice is following along to the lyrics, no doubt as he’s gelling his hair before the mirror. I greet the breakables in another room and their faces are straining to hold those permanent positions.

In the portrait of his parents hanging in the living room, a single tear rolls down the massive cheek of his smiling mother, just under the glass. Despite Victorian woodwork and various mismatching refrigerator magnets holding up images of the happy family, their boy is going to hell and only the walls know.
—–

There ya go, Danny boy. Print it out, make a paper airplane, and stick it up your ass.

An old bone to throw – both secret and prophecy. 1999.

Lives turned to cold arrogance
the older they became
while I stayed strong remembering
what happens in the game –
With every battle, love comes back
just like it did before
the flower girls are calling…
and they need a voice once more

You scoffed at thoughts of liberty
at grave mistaken charge
boasting of delusions and
intolerance at large
You see me with my head hung down
but can’t understand my shame-
the flower girls are calling out…
asking for me by name

Tongues shaven into sharpened blades
with anarchy pursued
use hate to drown out any hope
for lenient attitude.
So I’m nothing in your eyes tonight
as blindness will condemn-
the flower girls are calling me…

because I’m one of them.

You ever get people’s sentences stuck in your head, even when they aren’t that significant? I have a tendency to pick up and record a lot of useless things like that. Back when I was in high school, someone mocked, “What are you, a tree huggin’ hippie?!” and I remember thinking, “Why is that term such an insult, anyway? What does it really mean?”

But back then, I didn’t argue or pay much of my own mind. I just giggled back at him.