Monday, January 20, 2003

This from several years ago. Still online, and more than I would care to know about myself. As was its ultimate purpose, I suppose. Damn recurring hosting bills, I suppose, You don't even notice 9.95 a month.

september4 1998

I walked down the night street with a hollow feeling in my chest. It had been fiercely hot for over a week and the city was a tomb. Parking spaces, usually a rarity, were everywhere and the waiters went about their few tasks with a set determination to see the night through and get it the hell over with.

I had been drinking, and maybe that accounted for my emptiness. It felt like my soul had been sucked out. Maybe it had. I had met many people I considered soulless, and perhaps now I was becoming one of them. I'm dead but I won't lie down.

I went to Higgins' and sat down at the bar. There was an overstuffed blonde holding court at the far end of the bar, talking ceaselessly about fiction or history or something. She wouldn't shut up, and her pallid attempts at listening were merely pauses while she waited for her friend to finish talking so she could continue. I understand that, the talking. I used to be that way too, using my arsenal of trivia and invective to impress and thwart my company. Good at a party, but a godawful bore at the dinner table.

The barman came by and took my order, making a fast weak drink and gliding by, setting it down noiselessly. "Cheers," he said with downturned mouth. Hilarious since I looked like I'd been at a funeral marathon. I looked at my face in the polished mirror. It seemed ashen, eyes hollow and crazy. I glared at myself and sucked down the drink, setting the glass and the money down with a silent speed that rivaled the barman's. Out the door, into the street.

I passed two long-haired hippy-types. From a distance they looked like pans, but as I got closer I saw one of them had an extra-big coffee cup. They were roadies bitching about work outside the stage door. "Toni Braxton was the worst. One time I..."

I walked past.

There were fireworks going off over the ballfield as the final game of the summer ended. The sound of the explosions bounced off the buildings, back and forth until it sounded like machinegun fire. I thought of all the combat men that would have to override their war instincts to avoid ducking down the street, running for cover.

At the Brasserie the bar was full, all men and all staring straight ahead as though standing at the urinals after a long movie. The drink was much stronger this time, and I spent my time gazing at a tall blonde sitting by the pillar. Her boyfriend was sitting next to her, but I couldn't see him. I thought about how people pair off, how in the beginning there was mystery and romance, passion and discovery. Then things settled down, routines were established and they each had a side of the bed. Then they fought, made up and fought again. It seemed like a lot of work. The blonde had a colossal body, but I wondered if he even saw it anymore. You get used to anything, I supposed.I paid and left, the barman never leaving the far end of the bar the entire time of my stay.

As I walked uptown I felt like crying. I was taking a subtle beating this night, like fighting an opponent two weight classes down from you. Lots of little hits you barely even feel until you're on the canvas. I didn't have far to go.

I turned up Washington and made my way back to Cassidy's. It's right across from the Überhaus, so I go there a lot. I used to work there once, and in a way it felt like my parents' house. I knew what to expect, and it wasn't much.

Typically, it was slow. I sat between a man I've known for years, a wild-haired stunted genius who has held the exact routine for over fifteen years. An interesting talker, and just as content to sit silent. I used to wonder what went on in his head as he sat there for hours, so one day I asked him. He was thinking about a Pink Floyd concert he'd been to years before. Another time he was recalling Jack Johnson. I never knew what to expect from him, yet it was always the same.

After a while, Case popped down next to me, finished with his shift. He's a guy who is endlessly cool and steady, a natural soldier. "Dude, got any pot?"

No, I said. Two weeks there'll be so many buds in Portland that we'll be wiping with them, but the last weeks of August are notoriously dry times.

"It happens every year," said Paul from behind the bar. "People ought to stock up."

I could tell from his calm demeanor that he had taken this precaution; he possessed none of the frantic, jonesy look that so many wore at the summers' end.

I should've too, I suppose, but my mind doesn't work that way.
reaon, aways friendly
presents itself always
a majority voice, though the bombs rain
down and death is a crucilble among
other functions

easy to question the faltering
sable words curdle faced with bullets and blood
and so as all will
the majority rules

but what private guardian
sits and waits for such time
that unguarded, the bones of the castle
laid bare in the late
will reinvent gospel and retell bedrock truth

watches any cocked arm
poised to wreak passioned destruction
of fire wrought in gasoline and glass
for any pause

look to it, the old may say
look to it for
regret will never be conquered
so easily as this

headed off in some firey passage
of truth or retelling
of it