NAUSEA

I felt dizzy today. I never get dizzy, I get nauseous, quite often, in fact. It comes from a place beyond my body, I won’t say my spirit but in that vicinity, and it travels inward and out at the same time. It tells me I might not be living, that part of me, a large part of me, is dead. And I walk around as this semi-corpse as if nothing is wrong and I say all the appropriate things and do all the necessary things even as I feel the need to vomit out disgust, (not despair) closer to rarefied revulsion, on my fellow passengers in our postcard voyage toward doomsday. And then I say why bother, it would just be a waste of fluids. Then I might eat a peach or tickle myself, or get to bed and steel myself against the impending darkness. I don’t have actual nightmares, but instead the dullest dreams imaginable that make me believe hell must be elongated boredom, an eternity of waste, a state of  neither pain nor pleasure nor feelings, and I must in the dream scream to get me out of this place. Of course, nobody hears me, mainly because everyone else is screaming the same thing, all silently in an orchestra of futility. The bars in my dreams are made of paper, yet I can’t leave, for some reason, I cannot relieve my sickness, my nausea. It is as if I were born to it, and I must survive. And always coiled in an anger that I do not discharge. I should have been…I think…I always thought I should have been a killer, maybe for profit, a gangster. a hitman that everyone admired for his smooth delivery. I imagine there must be a sweet cessation of pain at the point of murder for the giver as well as the getter and I could have taken either side enthusiastically. Kill or be killed. I would be comfortable in. Alas, it is too late for that! I am too old to whack anyone. And what follows in this confession? (It is bad form, after all, to inform that one hides a killer’s heart.) Let me add that I could blow away the human race in one breath if incited. I am a human atomic bomb. I should not be trusted with the Nuclear Code. As for this prevailing spiritual desolation, it is apt to inquire into a remedy, no? Is there one? People live with incurable illness all the time and do not resort to violence. It is perhaps a test of machismo that makes me think I can do the same. All manner of disturbance can be regulated to the degree that it is bearable. Most of us inhabit a frontier space between sickness and health. anyway. I might just be entertaining a mild cold as far as spiritual sickness is concerned. I might just get over it, in some future life, perhaps. Suck it up. As they admonish in the military. Am I that weak that I can’t take a spell of spiritual desolation?  Do I have the right to whine as a civilian? Yes, the questions, yes, the recriminations that go on, that never end, that latch onto each other like train cars, with no answers, no solutions, no sense. Until I realize the absurdity, that nothing is answerable, that our lives are made up of only question marks, not even periods, other than death, and the realization makes me laugh and laugh and laugh, and I am still laughing when I have my fatal heart attack.

CHARLIE ROSE INTERVIEWS JULIAN SCHNABEL AND DAVID BOWIE

https://charlierose.com/videos/12092

A man appears at a round table. He is long and wears a jacket tie and shirt. The collar is not the same color as the rest of his shirt, which makes him seem somewhat special. His face reminds one of a horse. He could be a supreme recluse. Another man sits facing him with a bushy head and beard. He is wearing a white shirt open at the neck, revealing a profusion of chest hair. It seems like there is a sad beginning between the two men. It could be dead time because neither of them shows emotion on their face. The man with the bushy chest says that he lives in a pink stable in Manhattan. He tells the other man that he is a painter and filmmaker and just finished a movie about a dead painter. They engage eye to eye seriously. A lot of information seems to pass between them. Their mouths move all the time. Who knows if they like each other or love each other. They don’t seem to be of the same tribe. Next a pop tart appears on the scene. He has hair the color of a carot that sticks up straight as if he is angry. He is very thin and would make a woman worry about him. He smokes a cigarette , but we never know where the ashes are going to land. Nobody seems to worry about it. Everybody takes on happy faces now and chatter abounds. Some important things are said by the thin man, which makes the burly fellow want to fight him. We wonder if burly man will sit on carrot boy and squash him. We don’t want him to because that would stop their conversation, and everybody would become unhappy. It doesn’t happen. Phew! I don’t know if I like these humans or I don’t. Does that make me bad, I wonder.  Will I have to go away and pray. It is not as if I should be called bad. They appeared like a vision on my screen and I looked. Will my eyes be taken from me? Everything went black at the end and disappeared.  I was left shaking my head.

https://charlierose.com/videos/12092

MY T-SHIRTS DON’T LIKE ME

RON’S WISDOM SALON: A fictional advice column

Dear Ron,
I am happy to hear that you have become a fashion consultant. I didn’t think you had it in you. Let me tell you a problem I have with my clothes. I like to wear crew-neck t-shirts. Okay, who doesn’t, right? But I am finding that  when I wear the kind I like, which are the high ones (my curse!) the neckband  eventually begins to curl down, causing me no end of aggravation, and I am always nervous that people are going to judge me for it. Is there any way to keep this from happening? – I mean about the t-shirts.
Too High For Comfort

Dear THFC,

First of all, where do you get off thinking I didn’t have it in me to pass on good fashion advice? I happen to be as natty as they come. if you happen to come from Uzbekistan.
This t-shirt business, though, has got under my skin as well.  Can’t they make a t-shirt that won’t curl down? I mean we have put men on the moon. I have to tell you that if you are a high-neck, t-shirt aficionados, you will have to learn to keep your chin up, because that is what is making this nasty down-curling  come about. Your chin is causing it to fold. You might try using a brace around your neck to prevent this from happening, but I am guessing that you would stick out like a sore thumb if you do, which may make people think you are feeling sorry for yourself. You could always  turn into (if you aren’t one already) a snob and keep your nose up in the air at all times. Good luck.

THINKING ON BUKOWSKI

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski

I’m not as bad as I think I am, and

I’m not as good as I want to be.

I don’t think you’re that good either,

Actually,

Though people love you

 Even as you scorn them,

Revere your sickness

And you secretly don’t believe

They do.

And I keep coming back

To your poetry

Wondering what all the fuss is about,

Wanting to appreciate the magic

I think I’m missing,

And see sleight of hand instead.

Shaking my head, I put the book down

And I say to myself that

A drunk 10 year- old could have written that,

And I feel jealous of this 10 year-old.

Your words don’t touch me, old man.

I can appreciate your naked cynicism,

I’m a cynic too,

But I get hate for being one and

You get accolades for it.

I’ll keep going my own way

Hoping maybe something will turn over.

And I guess, if I’m being honest, believe

We will meet in a bad dream one night

And have it out.

ORDINARY GERMANS

Why ordinary Germans became killers

During the Holocaust is something

I have thought about.

There are books on the subject.

There are a number of reasons.

There are probably as many reasons

 as there were killers.

What is certain is it takes a certain mindset

To be capable of murdering indiscriminately

Humans you don’t know, have never seen,

Have nothing personal against.

Yes, there was a process of brainwashing,

But one does not brainwash an adult quite

That easily.

One does not excise the emotions and conscience

Of adults to this degree in such a short time.

Everyone knows one must demonize

The victims,

It happens in all wars, always has.

Except that the ordinary German killers managed to murder

Large numbers of humans up close, often face to face, often

mothers and fathers holding their infants, any of whom were

Never a threat to them personally.

That requires a true lapse of empathy.

What could they have been thinking, feeling, seeing

When they looked later at their own children?

It has been shown that empathy is inborn, those who

Lose it become aliens, sociopaths.

Are we to believe that ordinary Germans were either of these?

Are we to believe they were robots?

Are we to believe that we would not be capable of these same acts?

TO ANTHONY BOURDAIN

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Bourdain

He made us laugh

He drew us in

He left his imprint

On our screen

And then he was gone

One day

By his own hand

One early summer day

In a French hotel

Anthony Tony

Chef and seeker

Bringing love

And food

From disparate

Locations

Into our lives

We miss those CNN

Evenings

Those recipes

For brotherhood

With cultures

Around the globe

Those sparkling dishes

And easy conversations

You had a rare talent

For empathy that

Broadcast to viewers

What tragedy

That you end this way

Who might have

 Seen it coming

We hope you are in

A better place Anthony

Rest in peace

Friend

THE TRUTH ABOUT AGE

This is a sign of old age:

It is a sense that you have

Seen it all before. There is

Nothing new under the sun.

The repetition freezes you.

But, of course, this is all bullshit.

You know this to be true. Yet

You may cling to that false message.

What you need is adventure,

Which may be had even sitting

In one place. Each moment is actually

Brand new and there is no such thing

As age.

My Problem Is No Problems

RON’S WISDOM SALON: A fictional advice column

Dear  Ron,

Do you think having no problems is a problem in itself?  I have no problems today and it bothers me.

Dunno

Dear Dunno,

You are right on the money that having no problems is a problem in itself, and sometimes it can make you take your own life. Look at the Scandinavians. They have everything handed to them. They screw like sizzling rodents, they are all tall blonde and beautiful. They drink like fish. All they have to do in life is ponder the universe,  like that Ingemar Bergman guy, and make depressing movies.

Problems make people happy. You got a problem, you are focussed on it, and you try to solve it. It narrows you down so that you are not thinking, “Well, I’m gonna die and nobody will come to my funeral, and I won’t ever be back to shave my pet monkey again.”  Now that is a problem we can never resolve, so the more problems the better, and besides, where would I be if people didn’t have problems?  It would be a problem for me that I would not want to have.

I hope this helped.

HATE CRIMES

Hate is

Love is

Many hate hate

Many love to hate

Many more love

Is hate an absence?

Perhaps it is a force

Equal to love,

Or greater.

It elevates those who hate,

It consolidates them.

Their muscular spirits

Laser in over a target

And act.

It matters not who or what

But that it be destroyed,

And to no end

Other than the act,

The one.

And what results

Is cried over

But not understood.

Do we hate the hater?

We do,

Which causes more hate.

Hate is as old as the earth

Itself. It is survival,

Dominace,

No one will destroy it

No one will change it.

It is

Everything man stands for.

HUNGER INDICATES LACK

Hunger indicates lack.

Hunger for anything, really,

Tells us we are incomplete,

 

 Our anxiety requires some state

 In order to be at ease.

 

This constant

Unease is the root of invention,

The cause of civilization.

 

 But humans hunger

 For what result?

 

Temporary satisfaction

And then on to the next

Quest.

 

And so it goes in constant

momentary aspiration-frustration.

 

Religion assuages some

Love can too.

Yet the heart of this matter

Is even more mysterious:

 

We hunger to cast off

Our human form,

To become

Someone else, something else.

 

Transformation is the end game.

We are sick of being human,

We have exhausted our possibilities.

WHAT HAPPENS AT NIGHT

What comes up from the depths Is not invited.

The cold hard facts from the ocean’s floor arrive

as a host of information

like gate crashers at a  wedding

to remind the bride and groom

that sores fester beneath their fine clothes,

 

and secrets linger in dusty hallways,

bones  decomposed  in some forgotten room

undisturbed by sunlight.

 

This pale hand of guilt operates to tweak the

functioning machinery of day

so that

We are laid bare and picked apart,

 subjected to voices speaking in bewildering tongues.

 

The faces of night reflect in mirrors manipulated by

an insane projectionist, a sort of god of randomness

 

And

If there once was a whole man he has been  splintered into shards

swirling in flux under our lids.

We have slipped from brave front to the helplessness

of the dead.

 

The night examines  wounds,

 packages of grief  pulled from corners and dragged to centre stage

 that may set hearts thudding and terror to spring.

 

There is no armour strong enough to protect us

from ourselves .

THE FIRST DRINK OF THE EVENING

Margarita,

Your 4 syllables thrill, they chill me.

You are a celebration,

 a marching band down my throat.

Your lips, satisfyingly salty,

Then comes the squash of lime

Joined by a sweet liqueur.

They dance deliciously

To the overall

Tune of the agave,

Oh, agave!

Blue agave

Desert notes that brace.

I can finally breathe.

Margarita,

You are always fidele,

I am never put off.

You settle me

I need more, more of your cold love,

My dear.

I must trick out fresh cubes.

Second rounds, please.

THEN WHAT?

The grim spring of my old age

April May is a time to be born and

I sit there like a plant expecting the sun to shine

in the rain..

Where to find comfort in this world? My mother

died long ago. I should dig her up. I should

hold her close. I remember the comfort I

felt on her lap driving down the street, cars splashing us.

 Maybe if I still smoked cigarettes. The first drag

and I was a baby again. Just thinking about

it made me start to cough.

 

Maybe comfort is too much to ask.

You would have to be on a permanent drug-high

for that.  Then what? I should become religious

and put it into Jesus’s  hand. Let Him do the

heavy lifting.

What I need is a job where I can help people. Help

them what? Be as dissatisfied as I am? I am hardly

a model for others. I resign.

 

 I am looking outward, which always

causes glare.  I am going to have to look inward.

 

There is no home inside. All the rooms are vacant, dusty,

the smell of old paint, the wind thru broken windows

blowing newspapers around, hinges creaking.

It is like listening to a baby crying without stop for something.

Just need blaring away like a siren. And there is no answer.

Nobody is home. Nobody gives a shit.

The baby will eventually stop crying.

Then what?

 

At my age (72 and a half), there isn’t much room for the future.

Whoever thought I would get to half that number?  

I should be grateful for a full and pain-filled life.

But here I am complaining. I do that well.

I can complain about anything at any hour.

I highly recommend it. It is rather cleansing.

 

EICHMANN and SHAVING

 

I realized today

that I am a mass murderer,

that I have been for a long while,

and that I am good at it.

I realized this while I was

in the shower shaving.

It came to me

that I have been killing

my hair stubble,

not letting them live

for more than three

days in a row,

then slaughtering them

with my blade.

 

The aspect that I understood

most acutely

and most alarmingly

is that I do my best

to kill every one of them,

not allowing any to get away,

to live.
feeling upset if they do.

 

Am I,

I ask this dispassionately,

the Adolph Eichmann

of stubble killers?

Would I be as passionate

about doing away with humans?

 

The fact that I am so meticulous

in my task

and feel so glad

when the task is over

and I can touch my smooth skin.

A job well done!

Might I feel the same sense of gratification

after regarding a full shove into the gas chamber?

 

The difference between the two

set of circumstances

Is that I can remember

that the stubble will reappear

in a few days

and I will have to kill them

once again, will have the pleasure

of killing them with an even sharper blade.

 

Did Adolph ever wonder whether

his victims would reappear some day?

I think he might have.

BOTH EYES SEE

Will anything make me want to write this

A third rate writer in a shapeless game

Old weathered forms abound in glee

Walls thick and determined

Around me

My solitary eye is sown with stitches

Of a life well spent

 In constipated weariness

And the present black appears

As heaven sent and repugnant

My dreams take flight every night

In a whirl of penny arcades

That make the morning knife

Strike

In utter mere senselessness

Yet what does the other eye reveal

What is known about what is real

Is that I have lived and learned from you

To know love and know love

Is true

I USED TO BELIEVE

I used to believe.

I used to believe when I looked something in the eye I believed it,

I believed it was so. I trusted other things, people.

I was young and needed to believe in the other.

Now that I am old I don’t need to believe anything, not even myself.

Everything has its worth, even lies, and nobody knows what the truth of anything is anyway, so lies are the only things we may go by.

Choose your truth, but never believe it.

I know there are things that choose us, but in the end they disappear.

Nothing survives.

This may or may not be true.