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.
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.
While having lunch
At a delightful patio
I noticed beside me
A little birdy walking the ground
Searching for handouts.
Unfortunately, I had none to offer.
This bird suggested to me this situation
May be reversed one day.
I tried to make a sculpture of you,
Cutting away bit by bit
From the stone
Until you were not there.
RON’S WISDOM SALON: A fictional advice column
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
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.
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,
Though people love you
Even as you scorn them,
Revere your sickness
And you secretly don’t believe
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.
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
One does not excise the emotions and conscience
Of adults to this degree in such a short time.
Everyone knows one must demonize
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?
He made us laugh
He drew us in
He left his imprint
On our screen
And then he was gone
By his own hand
One early summer day
In a French hotel
Chef and seeker
Into our lives
We miss those CNN
Around the globe
Those sparkling dishes
And easy conversations
You had a rare talent
For empathy that
Broadcast to viewers
That you end this way
Who might have
Seen it coming
We hope you are in
A better place Anthony
Rest in peace
You need to connect with only one person.
If you have affected one person
You have affected the world.
I believe this and need to believe this.
He affected many with his humour
And was killed at the age of 49
By his wife as he slept.
Is God playing a bad joke on him?
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
RON’S WISDOM SALON: A fictional advice column
Do you think having no problems is a problem in itself? I have no problems today and it bothers me.
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.
Many hate hate
Many love to hate
Many more love
Is hate an absence?
Perhaps it is a force
Equal to love,
It elevates those who hate,
It consolidates them.
Their muscular spirits
Laser in over a target
It matters not who or what
But that it be destroyed,
And to no end
Other than the act,
And what results
Is cried over
But not understood.
Do we hate the hater?
Which causes more hate.
Hate is as old as the earth
Itself. It is survival,
No one will destroy it
No one will change it.
Everything man stands for.
Hunger indicates lack.
Hunger for anything, really,
Tells us we are incomplete,
Our anxiety requires some state
In order to be at ease.
Unease is the root of invention,
The cause of civilization.
But humans hunger
For what result?
And then on to the next
And so it goes in constant
Religion assuages some
Love can too.
Yet the heart of this matter
Is even more mysterious:
We hunger to cast off
Our human form,
Someone else, something else.
Transformation is the end game.
We are sick of being human,
We have exhausted our possibilities.
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
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
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 .
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,
Desert notes that brace.
I can finally breathe.
You are always fidele,
I am never put off.
You settle me
I need more, more of your cold love,
I must trick out fresh cubes.
Second rounds, please.
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
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.
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.
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
and most alarmingly
is that I do my best
to kill every one of them,
not allowing any to get away,
feeling upset if they do.
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.
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
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
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
and the leaves are waving goodbye
to an empty mansion.
What do you cling to on
the way out, you with your blind gaze upward?
There is so little justice in the world that
when it gets cold I put on a second coat of skin,
I paint my teeth white
and try to leave footprints in the snow.
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.
This may or may not be true.