Hope pervades in all things. There is hope that things will work out the way we want, hope that things will be different. There is hope in the satiating of addiction and hope that the cravings will end.
Sometime overnight a black van parked on the side of the road outside of work.
With the hood up they stumble in and out of the side door. A vacuum of silence howling from within. They sit in the front seats under phone glow and frosted windows.
Before the morning’s light a man scrambles under and around the front bumper, back and forth, then back into the van. A battery charger lies on the ground under the van. Inside the cab of the van a lighter flickers.
In a few days time you’ll show up for work and the van is gone, in its place scattered needles and trash. Off to continue the search.
—If hope is an ever available commodity, why then is it so valued?
The most unusual cries are reverberating into the atmosphere,
bouncing from concrete walls to traffic sounds. Part loon, part howl; indistinct, yet through it a thought pierces the surface. . . people are. And it wasn’t exactly a thought thought in words as much as a collage of images, maybe a montage of sorts. In a nanosecond; people are. Here we exist together in this, whatever it is. This life we’ve made for ourselves. We are a part of this nature. We are to commerce as the crow is to songbird. And now I’m thinking that these cries are thoughts too. And I’m having a hard time distinguishing the inside
from the out.
Could be a stagnant, sunny day; could be soaked and drizzling. Along a row of dumpsters the crows hang out on the truss-work just above. Behind them, in the broad-leafed maple (leaves white with fungus, and crispy-brown singed edges) dozens of crows fly in and out, back and forth. Of the crows that have taken an interest in the trash, one will fly in, or on, a dumpster and poke around. Usually within a matter of seconds another decides to hop down, then three and four, and soon, the whole bunch of them are scared off as the fifth flies too close to the group for comfort. They all scatter to the chain-link fencing, or the cinder containing wall. Up in the trusses, one brave newcomer, tempted soul that he is, will decide to hop down and try his luck —and the pattern begins all over again. When a seagull takes an interest, he becomes king of the dumpster, and has his way with the trash of his choosing. The crows move around, cautiously, waiting their turn. Some, in a fit of aggression, peck and haw, but it is clearly an attempt to get out their frustration at the seagull, still having his way. It is certainly a feast, but the crows don’t seem to know this. To them it is always in the balance, always on the verge of being taken away. Somewhere— between the margins— there is a poem; O industrious crow, has it always been that we humans make such a heap of waste? Where then would you feast?
He’s walking along the sidewalk -headed up the hill- carrying his backpack on both shoulders. His springy hair, like the willow tree across the street, hangs over his face. His face hangs over his phone.
In plump raindrops, the construction worker, with his hard hat and faded denim jeans, dirty-orange safety vest, pulls taut a white string that comes from a manhole in the lane nearest the sidewalk. He labors slowly, like a man pulling a semi; like a centaur. With the rope over his shoulder each step is deliberate as he steps, one by one, away from the manhole. Each step a strain and burden. The object, which he pulls is never seen, always out of sight -much like the ones that are paying him. He puts the rope down, puts his hands on his waist, and stretches his neck. Students walk by, some chatting, some not. The sound of cars driving over the wet pavement rise and fall. Now the man begins to descend into the manhole. After not too long, when he comes back up, he has the other end of the string.
I’m alive, am I alive. a(lye) ive. I’m alive. a(lie) ive. am I alive. a(lye) ive. I’m alive. a(lie) ive, so a live. I’m alive, am I alive.
I sit here waiting for good things to happen, and when they finally do I don’t even think for a second that they might be because of my good actions, it’s just something good that happens to me. Instead of something that I created on the merit of my effort. I don’t give myself any credit, but for the bad, I always take credit for the bad things. Always take credit for the bad.
As it happens to me I sit here and I can’t believe, am I doing this, am I watching the blood flow right out of me, could this be how it happens. It happens. And I lie there on the floor spleen spilling out, carpet soaked. I’ve lost all filters, my stomach on the floor. Here I think, this is it, this is really happening. It happens. When you spend your whole life watching, you never live. You’ll never live again. And I think how stupid I look, laying on the floor dying, how stupid. How embarrassed am I. I didn’t hug her, like I meant. I didn’t tell him, with a look in the eyes. As it happens, I’m already dead.
Her Face a Song
She came to me. Like she knew that her pain and my guilt were forces meant to be joined together. A magnet, she walked right up to the window and locked eyes with me. She knew the guilt, the shame, that my humanity and hers would conjure up. Years of smokestain in the cracks and folds of her skin, sunken mouth and a pair of lonely brown eyes like the mouth of a tunnel. She was silent but her face sang me a song.
On the return, a moth fluttering in the back-light of a streetlamp, between the fingers of needles, then just over my head. A happen chance glance that changed the entire course of my fluttering mind.
I’m having dreams again, or rather I’m remembering them. Hold my breath, don’t dare tell anyone, in case they disappear. Up in a puff of smoke. Who’s that Italian broad, ran around with Andy Warhol? she was there. Sophia Loren? nah, fashion designer or something. While adjusting her garter she told me, work. work. work. All the great ones put in the work.
Sometimes I think about wrapping my arms around everyone I see. Give the world a great big hug. Tell you all I’m sorry for not being there, for leaving you stranded, so all alone. But, dad’s here now. I got a little caught up in all that I smote, then I tried to keep you from seeing your mom. I shouldn’t have, she needs you. Sometimes I think about giving everyone I see a big hug. I’m here now; I’ll even be here while you sleep, and when you wake. Hold my hand, we’re crossing the street, the street filled with buzz bombs whirring, but don’t worry, we’ll get through it, we’ll make it to the other side. Sometimes I think, I could be the world’s dad, I’d embrace you with soft eyes, to let you know that you’re accepted. I’m a modern man now, and a modern dad. We all have it in us to give; that could be the power we seek, that could be our value we speak.
After reading SIT ON MY LAP, I’LL SHOW YOU HAPPILY EVER AFTER
While driving a co-worker asks, if you could live for a thousand years, would you? No, I say, after a pause to make a right hand turn, I don’t learn lessons well enough to do it all over again, for that long… I would live in one moment of contentment, forever, though.