Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hogwash (2/15/07)

alderdash, malarkey, no way!, for real?

I'm talkin bout nonsense, people, and I've been thinkin a powerful lot about it lately.

We got my family, my parents, my little sparrow mother and my burly Irish bearman father, scrabbling around Manhattan in a way that you are waiting for the muppet brigade to follow us down second avenue, and it's the last day they're here, Monday, and they want to go to the Statue of Liberty. Well, really it's Linder, my mother, who wants to go, but that's not important.

So I call up the day before and I get tickets and I figure out how the hell to get to the Castle Green from South Ferry station or wherever crap I am (it's near Wall Street, in old old New York. This is the New York where Herman Melville saw Bartleby steal away)--turns out the walk takes you right through Battery Park.

Everyone's huddled up, it's a gray day, all foggy and seagulls sneaking down and dipping into you like they're gonna take a bite of flesh with their beaks, swooping around albatross style, and we are NOT ancient mariners. So we're tromping to the will call box whose location i'm mostly ignorant of, and my dad wants me to look at every fucking map we pass, and i don't want to, i can ask anytime and anyone and anyway i want, back off poppastoppa. And htis lady in like an old raggedy white mickey mouse sweatshirt--a sweatshirt without a hood, you know the kind? She kind of leans her whole upper body, like a retard or a little kid bending over to wave cockeyed at you, really endearing actually, but she's got stringy greasy hair and a radish round face and about three sharpened teeth in her head. She looks like a weird witchy type thing that fell off the monorail while touring tomorrowland down in Orlando.

And she gets right up in me and my Dad's and Olivia's and Linder's face and bellows except in a screechy way: "Will you buy me a hot dawwwwwwwwg??!!! I'm Hawwwnnnngry." And this is the weird thing: I'm embarrased! I'm embarrased because this is New York and I live here and my folks don't deal with this type of thing...ever. And I don't know how they're gonna react. They were fine--my dad's kind of a callous prig in the way that only a kid who grew up poor with a shitty alcoholic father who didn't love him can be, and Linder actually felt bad for the lady, and admitted that "you forget about these kinds of people where we live."

And there's so many more... the poetry junky. She begs by coming on the train in a shuffle that LOOKS like it's offa minstrel show. I mean, there's the cane, and the seeming overblown exertion of effort, and the dabbing at the forehead with an old rag whether there's sweat or not. You half expect her to break out in "Nobody knows the troubles I"ve seen." But she doesn't--oh no. No no no folks. She recites her own poetry. Every single one of them taht I heard--I don't see her anymore; she ran up and down the G train and the A and C trains, none of which I ride much these days--they were all songs of hope and dreams and positive as hell. And she looked up where they should have been a sky except we were underground and that's a train car roof, lady, and she sang her little songs with her mouth full of messed up filed down teeth that looked like the chewed up bits of styrofoam cheap coffee cups you get at church bazaars or like mutliple rows of sodded out corncob, chewed up and ready to be fed to hogs.

This, along with some nasty ass looking gums, made her speech real slurred and it was always hard to understand her words. But I always gave her all my change, or a buck, or whatever, whenever I saw her. And one day she talked to me before moving on to the next car because she was riding a few stops before moving on and so was I. She asked me if I was one of her poetry groupies. I said no, no. So she took her hand and did the sign of the cross and Bam! I was consecrated: "Now you are."

I asked her if she'd ever read the Langston Hughes poem about a dream deferred. Because her poem that reminded me of it. She told me, yes, she had. She had heard it in the fourth grade and memorized. She recited it to me with stops and stutters, but with all of it there and intact. Every line verse and measure.

I about hit the floor. Now I don't hardly talk to people ABOUT poetry, let alone anybody who can RECITE it on command. Nobody, frankly, gives a shit about a poetry. Nobody reads it, or reads it to each other, or has it read to them. Nobody, that is, except for the Poetry Junky and her groupies. And I'm proud to be one. She's the only person i have to talk poetry TO. Nonsense.

Nonsense. Bob Dylan knew about nonsense when he lived here. Shortpants romance gonna be a success twenty years a schooling and they put you on the dayshift don't carry guns you better chew gum don't follow leaders watch the parking meters just then the whole kitchen exploded from boiling fat food was flying everywhere i left without my hat he asked me for collateral so i pulled down my pants just then out of a car came these two girls from France an undertaker came up to me looking kind of sly he asked me if i had any friends, he said call me when they die.

To live outside the law you must be honest.

So I very valiantly handed her my last piece of gum.

Don't stop moving. Don't sit still. Don't get calm and secure and bored and cute and clever. Don't, I say, with ten thousand mouths, don't ever--the soul should never die. I've heard you say many times that you'r ebetter than no one and no one is better than you. If you really believed that you'd know you have nothing to win and nothing to lose. Everything passes, everything changes, just do what you think you should do. And the someday maybe, who knows baby, I just might come crying back to YOU. Stop making sense. Talk real, real smooth. Smooth? Yeah, smooth. Smooth like butter. Smooth as fuck.

Bobby knew it, and he's all beat up for it. But that ain't half the story. Just stay outlaw all of you, and stay honest.

Nonsense. Utter and complete horseshit.

What's that guy sayin?

He ain't saying nothin, man, let's break.

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