Melodramatic Stroboscopic Picture Show In Words: A Love Affair

bloody plate

She had always been unhappy. And it couldn’t be helped. He loved her. And it couldn’t be helped. She fought with him that he didn’t really love her. And it couldn’t be helped. He fought back with her that he really did. And it couldn’t be helped. For ages she told him that they needed to take a break. And it couldn’t be helped. And for ages he resisted her saying that they needed take a break. And it couldn’t be helped. To try to spice things up between them, she brought an old sex book she had owned to his bed. And it couldn’t be helped. He tried to ignore the oily stains that had been on the book’s cover. And it couldn’t be helped.

She told him all her problems she had with life the next day on the phone for half an hour. It couldn’t be helped. Unable to speak a single word himself, he listened to her problems and felt exasperated listening. It couldn’t be helped. The next day after that, she did it again, filling him with her problems. It couldn’t be helped. He felt beside himself, listening again. It couldn’t be helped. She felt that they were finally at a new beginning, that she was opening up to him again. It couldn’t be helped. He told her that they needed to take a break. It couldn’t be helped. She broke down and sobbed. It couldn’t be helped. He listened to her sobbing for an hour on the phone. It couldn’t be helped.

The next day, he sought to recant their taking a break. It couldn’t be helped. She denied his request that they not take a break. It couldn’t be helped. She skipped his birthday when it came. It couldn’t be helped. He felt pain. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him text messages indicating that she was inclined to let the whole thing go. It couldn’t be helped. He panicked and missed her terribly. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him a picture of her wearing his locket. It couldn’t be helped. He felt love seeing her wearing the locket, the same one which he wore, too. It couldn’t be helped. She messaged him a picture of her engagement ring, now carefully placed in a little house of sticks and bark and stone he had once built for it for her. It couldn’t be helped.

He felt love for her, holding onto hope from that sweet picture. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him more texts telling him she couldn’t talk. It couldn’t be helped. He felt despair. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him text messages that she felt relieved and had discovered a new, happy social life. It couldn’t be helped. He felt deeper and deeper loneliness, missing her. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him messages that said she would let him him know when she could talk to him. It couldn’t be helped. He respected her request for space. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him more messages telling him to let it be. It couldn’t be helped. He sent her messages that told her he loved and missed her. It couldn’t be helped.

She sent him messages indicating that she had no intention of returning to their relationship the way it was. It couldn’t be helped. He felt some hope, that indeed they could change the way their relationship had been. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him texts that she wanted their relationship to be over. It couldn’t be helped. He sent her messages that indicated he was lonely and missed her. It couldn’t be helped. She sent him texts that said she was worried about him but would not help him. It couldn’t be helped. He arranged with her to pick up his belongings at her house. It couldn’t be helped. She agreed and told him she did not want to see him and to be gone with his belongings by the afternoon. It couldn’t be helped.

He was stunned to find every stitch and scrap, from his tube of face moisturizer that had been in his drawer in the bathroom, to his running shoes in the closet, had been already neatly bagged and boxed in the little, dark room he had worked in down her basement when he got there. It couldn’t be helped. She weeks before had removed from her sight any sign and any remnant ever associated with him from her house. It couldn’t be helped. After packing all his belongings into his car, he bought and lay dozens of roses for her in her house—in hallways, in the kitchen, on the staircase, upon her bed, and wrote her short love notes telling her he would do anything to be with her again, and drove away. It couldn’t be helped.

After therapy and work, she came home and changed out of her work clothes to go out with her date for dinner. It couldn’t be helped. After he had left, he had turned back to see her in person and to beg her to speak with him. It couldn’t be helped. Having left the front and the back doors of her house flung open, she shouted down the staircase from her bedroom that she would be right there. It couldn’t be helped. He’d rapped on the back glass door, just open enough, and called out to her. It couldn’t be helped. She came downstairs and when she saw him, she screamed and screamed and screamed. It couldn’t be helped. He followed her outside where she was screaming and screaming to her car. It couldn’t be helped.

She screamed and screamed for him to leave her alone. It couldn’t be helped. He begged her on his knees, “Please! Please! Please!” It couldn’t be helped. Her date appeared behind him in the driveway and claimed the police were on their way. It couldn’t be helped. While he believed this was not true, he also didn’t care if it had been. It couldn’t be helped. She ran to her date’s car waiting for her on the street. It couldn’t be helped. Afterwards, he struggled and fought for her for weeks. It couldn’t be helped. She held her ground against him. It couldn’t be helped. He sneaked into his friend’s house nearby who had plenty of guns and put a bullet through his beautiful head. It couldn’t be helped.

The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance: B-Side


She mourned the recent death of her fiancé by going out on dates. That is how she grieved. For there was no use hanging around and moping. There was no use feeling sorry for him or for herself. She deserved a life of joy and joyfulness. After all, wasn’t that what the tattoo on her backside read in Latin, just above her buttocks in permanent  blue: “Inveniens Gaudium”? And the truth was, he hadn’t been the showboat anyway of her life. Judgmental and cruel at times, he could walk the rice paper path like a monk and never leave a trace. But, the truth was really in his essence: boy-like, full of wonder, like an Elephant’s Child’s mind full of “insatiable curiosity.” If one were to pass out gold stars for good human behavior with strangers, many a new star-lit constellations would fill the painted skies.

Almost everybody who met him had left him blinking their eyes in open human wonder and delight. In supermarkets, barber shops, railway stations. That was how he was, touched with a lightness of being and gaiety that was like the cheerful song of birds. These ways of his would not stop her for a moment, however. She’d dine, and undress, and pull through a continuous orgasm of amazing sex without him. No use sitting on the shelf like unused bed sheets and turning gray and brittle there for nothing like that innocent lost girl folding linen warns against in that poem by Brecht, who instead was destined to live her own life to the fullest, and be a woman completely manifest. No sense in hanging onto the past. It was just as Jesus had said, “Let the dead bury the dead.”

And besides, where had he been for her? What had he done for her lately?  Fuck  Eddie Murphy! He’d done nothing. He hadn’t been there. When she was down and in need, where was he for her then? True, he had once repaired and painted white her crumbling garage; he had once patched her roof; he had once changed the basement pump; he had for a spell from time to time minded her children when she had slipped into the coma of her depressions. True, he had battled off her irrational and abusive ex (chronic guilty reminder of her past life mired in poor choices, sickness, mistakes & misdirection). True, he had protected her from her mother’s mania (who’d beaten her to tears as no child a mother ever should). True, he had amused her boys endlessly every night at supper (when at the table she had been a maternal ghost). So what!

He had been such a bastard. Her past was her past. He was always judging her by that. That was who she had been then. She had changed, she had changed, she had changed. And where the fuck was he? Last winter, he had abandoned her, abandoned her when she had really, really needed him. He had abandoned her! She had been all alone. He’d just come on the weekends and fuck her and leave, leaving her alone again. She didn’t need a man like that. He hadn’t been her partner like that. That’s not a partner.

She would find a man who loved her the way she deserved. Where had this dead fiancé whose diamond ring (which she had bought with her own hard-earned money) that she wore for nothing for the four years they were engaged for nothing who would never have married her anyway been? She was an ageless goddess. She, without him, was an amazing, powerful woman who had now become fully herself. She was an amazing, phenomenal woman. She’d enjoy her life for what it was—“Life as itself now,” and sleep with and date and fuck and love again whosoever she pleased. Whether he’d been dead two months, two years, or a day, what difference did it make?

Twinkling Morning Sigh


After four years she told him that the sparkle she had hoped would happen didn’t. He went to pick up his pajama tops, his bicycle in the garage, and a handful of crystals that did.

Home Survey Wheelbarrow News

rounded rocks

I’d changed all the picture places in my house with one another: the daft old woman with the young, blue-eyed fresco; the landscaped lake with the pillows on the dresser; the Spanish seamstress with the Finnish rocks; the mask of evil with the hairless juggler. I switched them, changed them all.

The bed sheets on my bed, I tore them all. I tore to shreds the tiny rosebuds, pink and soft. I shredded three sets of pure white cottons and dumped them outside in a heap. My clownish purple, polka-dotted ones I’d kept for Whitsunday, I cut apart with scissors. Even the gold ones, sewn for Cleopatra, I ripped to garden rags.

All my hats that I had worn for years, I tossed them too. My lucky Filson, I gave away to a stranger in his cups. Three straw ones I set beside fallen scarecrows in three empty autumn fields. My others, whose styles I won’t mention, like pints of blood, I donated to Good Will.

Anything I had to remind me of you, I was beside myself. Grief with Anger. Sadness with Guilt. Joy with Misgivings. Anxiety with Pleasure. I had crossed and crossed myself so many times, I became embedded with my lustrous poverty, almost barren through such eroded wealth.

Bird Glass Man Leave-taking

bluestone steps

By the time he was done moving it all, there was nothing left. He had removed every trace of him that ever was. Everything had been picked up and carried out of his little work space where, quite thoroughly, she had, prior to his arrival, collected every item of his that he had ever brought to her house. His blow torch, his gloves, his mask, his tank—the main tools of his trade where for years already he had blown dozens and dozens of flying glass birds—these had already been there awaiting him, downstairs in the grotto.

For years he had been perfecting the making of ornamental glass birds, wings and plumage of every color. That is what he did. And if a man can have a genius for one thing, and one thing alone, he had it for that, even if today such pretty objects of beauty are close to superfluous. At any rate, she had instructed him, per his request after their separation, to pick up his belongings before her return home from work in the afternoon.

Down there in his workspace, in a little corner room off to the northwest end of the basement, she had filled it neatly with all his belongings. Brown shopping bags were filled with clothes. Boots and shoes were placed in another. Books and musical wind-up toys were packed in boxes. All the little trial glass pieces he had made and given her, which once she had beheld as her own private and personal collection, were returned. Pretty little lame birds, you were so hard to see!

Before he closed the metal hatch doors that led down from the outside into the dark space that had been his own, where he had once thrived, he decorated her home with roses from floor to floor. He left her two notes: one on the kitchen table, and one on her bed. Dozens of red roses (and some white) lined the hallways, and traveled in pairs up the staircase. Two red blossoms lay crossed on her bed, beneath which he had slipped a little love note.

He told her that she was wrapped so tightly around his heart, he would do anything he could to be with her again, even though not a dot of him was left in his lover’s home. She knew he felt smashed and could do nothing to help him now. He flew off, little glass man, to the forest alone.

Parcheesi Picture Postcard

cactus mountains

She played a game of Parcheesi by a certain set of rules that were her rules but not all of them. And beside the swimming pool, he played with her for years. One day, after he had proposed his taking a little swim, she promptly then decided to fold the board game up. As he had come back dripping and looking for his towel, he was surprised to see their time for playing had been declared over. She wept and told him about the rules he hadn’t played by, and he was loath to say, “My dearest love, but these are not all the rules the game is, in fact, played by.” He could hear that in her mind she was making up her heart. He could see she was creating for herself a Parcheesi picture. He dried himself off completely and refused to disagree. Who was he to decide another’s rules? He was nobody to rule that. And, besides, it would have done no good; it would have neither advanced nor prolonged their poolside game. Still, he was quite disconsolate. Parcheesi, with its little, brightly colored wooden pawns whose tips felt just a little too small for his hands, and the same went for the dice, was certainly his favorite. The sound of luck tumbling in the knocking cardboard shakers was something he would always remember. Swimming laps now back and forth will help forgetfulness.

Purple Mountain Wood Stove

mountains arizona

Already, my wood stove is burning. I stacked the cords myself. I fear six cords of wood may not be enough. Winter is long and full of deep snow. I had once had another pair of hands to help me. But they are gone. That was a time I do not regret, and have not seen that in a while, a life like that when the tandem knocking of each piece of wood laid against the growing long stack our wordless work kept the coldness of winter out. And I get on, je me débrouille, because I now must. That is the way with things, with spiders nested in the corners of bathroom shower stalls, soldiers stationed on a foreign front, or men and women somewhere listening to an easy-going book as they commute back and forth between their city office buildings and glass-lit evening houses lit up and down the streets. In any case, I’m not sure there’s enough wood to sustain me before the tubers in the ground have all grown (or rotted). I had better scour the deadfall with my saw and ax soon. The meager fronds of the ferns are already yellowing. The bears are circling wider and wider in these searching final days before they disappear until May. Cries of geese overhead, these are common. How with my jolly heart and glad-eyed ways I became myself here to be living at the foothills of the Rockies, it is no mystery to tell at all. It is only to be remarked upon, I think, that unexpectedly I made myself saddened by all the passing of everything that I had known and all there was standing once before such great purple majesty.

Carrier Pigeons Fly Back

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Once before I had had a lover. And I used to send her notes by the only carrier pigeons left alive on Earth. And she used to write me notes back herself, flown across the river dividing us. At times my language had been haughty and grim. Mostly, however, it was pleasant and nimble and full of grace. For I am mostly pleasant, nimble, and full of grace. The river over which these precious birds once flew was fast-flowing and dangerous, especially during the storms of late summer. To this end, I flew her a note that said, “Let us write each other no more, lest our meaning drown.” And by this I meant that until the whitecaps and the tall waves upon the raging river abated, we should cease our correspondence. This last missive of mine, I learned, once the river was calm and smooth again, was understood quite differently by her. The bird whose note from her I read delivered this: she took me and my meaning quite abruptly and altogether harshly. In short, her note revealed she pictured me to be a hard and dark and embittered man. For some time after this, the pigeons flew across the river back and forth. All our meaning, whatever it had been, was completely wasted now. The last carrier pigeon alive has drowned. My final note I’ve got, I’m rolling that back and forth between my fingertips now. As there is no way ever to send it, to ever get across my sorrow and my love for her, my words are just as soon drawn upon the blowing sands of Arabia as one whose name is writ upon water.

Morning Waves Swell Again

morning waves swell

It had been a danger to look at, and read, the words of a lost love so early in the morning. After all, they usually began—mornings—still black so early. Then, at that time, before time even felt counted, the window was as black as night, and even the fog could not be seen, which was often the first thing visible. Ideas and feelings all loose and unformed and inchoate stirred from his bedside, and really only the whisk of his beloved cat’s tail passing his foot was a little reminder of being quite alive. He’d begin there. To hear the yearning and longing and sorrow and even the gratitude of another decent human being, like seeing a bright, starry pinprick in a lightless universe before the universe itself had become awake, before the heavens were stretched open before the coming brightening day, the sudden human influence upon another human being cannot be underrated. It made him miss things he did not want to any longer miss any longer, love what he could not bear himself anymore to love anymore, and to tend to another he had wished in his darkened little world to be loath to tend to again, as he once did love and tend to her before.

Lovely Broken Flowers And Grass

lovely broken flowers and grasswildflowers 2

When you looked back at the whole thing, the whole thing was kind of funny—clown-like funny. Borges funny. A cartographer’s map taking over all the world and everything in it funny and becoming the world funny. That kind. Now, to begin with, because there still are these things—‘beginnings’—he had been in the Emergency Ward of the hospital having suffered an injury to his groin. He had lain there moaning and groaning with his hands cupped over his groin, which is funny in its own right. At least funny to readers though not perhaps, or not outwardly so, to hospital staff. Not until later on when they were smoking their cigarettes at the corner of the hospital grounds right next to the “out of bounds” NO SMOKING line that had been painted there, and which was pretty much ignored except to stamp out smoked cigarettes with the heels directly on it or with the twisting sideways back and forth of shoes’ toes there funny when they could talk about it freely then. And she, well, there was nothing funny about her at all. She had been burned badly in a car wreck and her survival itself was said to be a miracle. “The fact that she even survived,” a resident intern had said, “is a miracle.” So: the man with the pulled groin, who was an amateur pole-vaulter and whose ambitions were to become a professional, to someday join the Olympics, had suffered an injury; and the woman she was a victim of a car wreck, an event over which she could have had no real control.

I will skip entirely the middle, the meeting at the hospital, and the long drawn out affair of their recuperation and the salubrious intentions, especially those which the man had for the woman during their live-in relationship. Not that hers were any less, or well-meaning. Simply that the severity of her injuries required greater care and greater attention. Soon afterwards, after their meeting, the man, albeit with a limp, was practicing again. He leapt higher and higher. He was determined to become a World Professional. And the woman, whose injuries hindered some of her ability to talk as easily as she might, supported his efforts to all conceivable ends, even pouring into the man’s ambitions and aspirations her own resources. And the man, he was no less kind, laying upon the woman poultices and rubbing her flesh with lotions and bathing her body in oils and smearing on unguents that would make her better, however much he withstood, as much as it was possible, her howls of pain, and her near constant bouts of recurring anguish.

“I am completely behind you,” the woman told the man as he successfully flopped over the horizontal bar and cleared a height of over five meters onto a thickly cushioned mat, which she herself had bought for him, as he crashed into her little green backyard. He was deeply appreciative of her, and felt great love for her, however partially disfigured her own crash had still left her. He vowed truthfully that he would stay with her forever. “I will never leave you,” he told her with his heart.

I will skip, too, the end of this somewhat clownish little tale of this now tattered and neglected world, only to relate that they both adequately recovered. The man he was lost track of at some point, and some contend he is teaching competitive pole-vaulting at several of a number of nationwide high school gyms. The woman is again pretty and healthy and only upon closer inspection can one detect that in her past there had ever been what newspapers reporting on the scene at the time had written about for several days in their columns as a ‘tragic accident.’ I can’t really say that everything was fair between them but can maintain with an upper lip that doesn’t quiver that nothing they did was wrong.