Month: June 2016

Answer To Agora Gallery’s Twitter Question: “Is Art Urgent?”

Justicegene

Without the Presence of a Justice Gene, Public Radio Will Have a Strong Corporate Bias 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36″ Painting has little to do with following subject matter beyond dancing chromosomes.

From Last Communion

This also appears in my website that I have never advertised. Take a look. Lots of pictures. Many paintings available for silver dollar, or two.

Answer to Agora Gallery’s Twitter Question “Is Art Urgent?”

When viewing the work of an artist I seek the biography of the man/woman expressed in hard copies. I mark the energy of the joy or angst living in each piece. If there isn’t any, there isn’t art. Easy marker. With that said, allow me to cite a piece of yesterday that I hope will help answer this important question.
Early in the day I shared with my wife a break time video (via e-mail) of Tom Jones and Janis Joplin back in 1969 singing and dancing “Raise your hand”. I wrote to her that this is what gurgles through my veins most days.

Skip corporate commercial. Tom and Janis.

Did you see it? Got up and danced, yes? Made you almost feel ashamed to live in a land that has warped the meaning of joy and dance (which is often art) into Beyoncé, a phony by-product of Proctor and Gamble, Coca Cola, or AT&T smartphone toothpaste glued to your face.
Not ever, even in a very weak moment, say solitary confinement in a boy’s prison or island castaway, would I be interested in the choreographed faux-dance of Beyoncé. It is without real desire. I think it hasn’t loved since it was a little girl. It says “Me” like a blazing sun, but not a star. More like a thermonuclear detonation. All in all, I think Beyoncé hates art, and has sent her husband into gallery show rooms to rap about it.
Her dance is not an “outward expression of an inward harmony of the soul.” It is, to me, a kind of death of individuality and its right to expression. Poor Beyoncé. She is just a tool, as were Tom and Janis in their day to a degree. The difference lies in their humanity. That unlikely 60’s couple each got to dance like any nerd in the lunch line and feel good about it. Real good. Today the corporations steer us to do the impossible and copy the world’s champions, which sets up stone walls to our dance as expressive creatures. Then this negativity gets revealed in our every day lives: Paint a picture? Not if you can’t out dance both van Gogh in color and Wyeth in boredom. Chisel marble? Are your balls square? There has been only one Italian superstar worthy of that! The world’s champions, (a Kurt Vonnegut idea), existed in 1969 too. Yet from watching the “Raise Your Hand” video (I was 2 years old at the time thinking about becoming a painter), it is so obvious to me that the door was open for humanity (at least for those existing in a healthy economy) to virtually explode with creativity per capita.
Art’s urgent task is to reopen that door. It must go back a generation to Tom and Janis, further back to the Mohawk and Santee Sioux; I say shine light on the first clan even, to notice how Glub the Firestarter turned a rock into a Mastodon with his smoldering magic stick. Hurrah! Let’s party!
And Glub’s brothers and sisters gesticulate the wild human dance while drinking spit beer late into the night.
Beyoncé, Jeff Koons and Rita the corporate-sponsored conceptual artist who uses her feet to throw rocks at spider monkeys, are barbarian invaders in our once deeply expressive village. ABC and PBS are working overtime this week getting us to authenticate their celebrity. This will sell more Crest, more Toyota Corollas, and less and less of the truth that each and every one of us is deeply expressive if we dare to dig that deep. The entertainers can be amazing and excite us to our own expressive joys, which is art manifest. I got up and raised my hand with Tom Jones, but I didn’t want to be like him. I writhed and wrinkled and spilled my spit fermented beer on the hide carpet. I woke up and rock painted a saber-toothed tiger stalking a Super Bowl celebrity into the forest.
Art must coax art out of the box that money and power have stuffed it into. Museum is art history. Instrumental in preserving art’s stories. However, no joy comes from paced, clockwise observation at a respectable five foot distance, whether that be an afternoon at the Louvre or your local, struggling art association. And celebrity is anything but celebratory. Lady Gaga is Cindy Sherman. Mick Jagger is Jasper Johns. Millionaire super jocks with dead style choreographed. I think their art is as much fun to be around as burning plastic. It is urgent that we support the expression of our neighbors Donna, who paints us the real news, (what the fourth estate has abandoned for advertising deals), and Fred, the marble sculptor sweating out angst in the oppressive July heat. His suburban neighbors doze the live long day long in the cool of the swimming pool.
Hey, crank up the music.

Yawn.

Just another Beyoncé tune.

 

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Letter To My Daughter About Her Upcoming High School Graduation

 

“Hi. I Am My Father’s Daughter. NPR Would Call Me a Consumer. I Think If It Does That One More Time, I Will Become a Predator and Eat NPR.” 2016. Acrylic on discarded press-cleaning sheet, 7 x 17″

Here is a letter to you elder daughter, a lá Capricornus. Save it. Store it in the top drawer of your dresser. The gibberish of it now may bring some meaning to your adult future…
It is the first night of February. Some small storm burst has covered the branches with merry snow. I shall type out this graduation message to you now before the spring calls me to do marvelous things with some seeds and soil. I feel the need to bequest more than an electronic toy or some cash in a card on graduation night.
Prophetic warnings are the least a father should offer to his well fed and clothed daughter at this significant rite of passage.
Prophecies need not all be dire. Yet since I’ve used more than half of my allotted 2½ billion heartbeats, and it’s the dead of winter, and, I am typing by kerosene lamp from a wood hut in the woods…
Dire for certain.
In an interview Noam Chomsky once admitted that he did not expect, nor even encourage his children to share a similar world view. I don’t think that is possible considering his fame and misfortune as a world renown humanist. Perhaps by stating publicly their ignorance of his politics, he would prevent future Army Ranger raids on the cribs of his grandchildren. Either way it is wrong thinking. Here is a man alive today who wants to drastically change the public’s perception of the American Empire, yet leave his children “off the hook”.
Geez, if he can’t persuade his own flesh and blood at the dinner table, then how is he going to achieve moral revolution to the millions of minds of a sick society? Doomed to failure, don’t you think, if his own spawn cannot be convinced?
Well, I am no Noam. Sure I have opinions, but most are formed in the gut. My gut persuades me to believe that it is a more reliable reader of our political world than the eyes, ears, and encyclopediac inner wanderings of Noam Chomsky’s well documented gray matter.
Surely there is something to be said about his ignoring the kids. Is Noam any different kind of careerist than the bank vice president? I mean it takes a lot of time out of a person’s day whether he is an astute member of the board or a genius in sneakers. Loans to sign, books to read, lunch to eat, books to write, desk arrangement, office hours, thousand dollar plate fundraisers, speech invitationals, an immoral philosophy to uphold, a moral philosophy to uphold… So much in common when there is not a minute of free time to teach the children. Really, why have kids if there is no intention to pass on a philosophy?
Here is some cheap advice.
Don’t worry about paying your bills. Give what you can to the collectors if their pressure is not too cumbersome, and nobody near and dear to you is in desperate need. Corporate entities are poisonous scum, and should be treated as such. You did not choose the culture and economy of your birthplace. It is difficult to step out of the moving picture and look at what it has done to our families and friends. As a people we are not generous, not sharing or caring. Oftentimes we do good deeds, but only if our own tools and toys have absolute, guaranteed protection.
At present Mother Earth knows I am a despicable bum. And you’re a bum’s daughter. But not because we won’t pay our bills to her fiendish corporate caretaker. We are the bums of want and waste. These are the vices which contribute rapidly to global flora and fauna extinction.
In 1800 Mother Earth was encumbered with a billion human beings burning carbon to heat their huts and cook their food. Suddenly the Northern Europeans perfected industry and its byproduct greed, which scoured the earth tree-clean to fuel its fire.
Now nearly everyone on the planet wants to live at least as high as a 17th century French monarch, with indoor plumbing and personal computers to boot.
Impossible to sustain at the 8 billion over-eaters mark.
We have entitlement issues. Unfortunately too severe to be psychologically managed without an upheaval of society. You and I both wake up expecting eggs, cereal, orange juice, sometimes even an onion bagel. The “radical” historian Howard Zinn likes Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Sure the U.S. government murders thousands of children a year with its policies of extermination. Likewise, the humble individual mammal, Howard Zinn, via the marketing miracle brought to him by corporate earth filth, feels entitled to take his caffeine fix from the depleted forests of Mother Earth’s tropical latitudes. Is he not just one poisonous vanity expecting his fair share?
So who is the bogeyman? How much damage would Howard Zinnabu, the Kalahari blowdart specialist, do to a corporatized earth? As a boy from Brooklyn Zinn managed to land a job as Air Force bombardier, pulverizing the environment below while poisonous gassing the sky above. All in one idyllic French afternoon of the past he slaughtered human babies, hare babies, badger, boar and blue finch babies, flower babies, insect babies, tree and shrub babies…He bombed his only home and human family, yet did not mourn about it until much later, after addiction to caffeine got him thinking about a conscience. His guilt caught up to him, like it always will to the sensitive ones. But he tried to treat it with a change of heart. He picked out a greater guilty party, and spent the rest of his life protesting his socks off.
The earth and its inhabitants suffer for it.
My big complaint about this type of celebrity vanity preaching morality is that Howard Zinn had two career choices after being an accomplice to mass murder.
Suicide or born again “Earth Avenger.” For his own protection he chose a much safer in-between career. And I bet he always pays his bills on time.
As a young earthling he could kill non-combatant life by pushing a button that dropped a bomb. The order came from distant, corporate chiefs of his national tribe. Next door in Germany innocent villagers were being gassed to death by young men, the latter also ordered to press buttons and pull levers. All this earthen dead because dumb kids did the bidding of conspiring corporate thieves and cowards. Howard Zinn, like millions of other “shoot to kill” veterans, chose a career which he thought entitled to after executing his orders perfectly. In earthen terms, Howard and his warring contemporaries were the beginnings of a new virus infecting the planetary immune system. It procreated exponentially and fed upon its host enormously. You and I are here dear daughter because of elders who believed that the birthright of twentieth century humanity was a long life at any cost, plus a dollar-sixteen for a cup of Dunkin’Donuts coffee.
We are lucky to be alive, but unlucky to have had families that believed a life of chocolate cake and professional sports was a fair trade to make for the end of our world.
The Iroquois were a good thing. They burned carbon and procreated too. They knew that the winter festival began five days after the new moon of Orion. Tonight on a safer earth I’d burst full of pride and joy watching my daughters dance by the firelight.
Please take the quickest steps you can back to the Iroquois structure of society. As often as possible take cover from a corporate world. Just to live a couple days a year with a hundred other earthwise hopefuls might make bearable this hot monkey barn we’re fermenting in now.
So put this letter in your junk drawer. Save it for a later date. You are not ready to look at the world with your father’s critical eye. I need you to be aware though that something is very wrong. Someday you will see things a lot like me, my eager apple. Know that when you do, Dad was trying his darnedest to communicate. There is always a choice. And you will choose poorly most of the time. Threats of starvation and disease for our ancestors brought along huge opportunity for communion. Science and economy have lessened the threats significantly, but destroyed the religions and superstitions which nurtured our communal happiness and well being. There are good reasons why the Seneca willingly traded skins and maize for western beads and tools, yet refused to harness the awesome energy of Niagara to run their own mills.
I think they had souls.
There are known reasons why we fear the car-driving, chicken roasting, baby-making people of our neighborhood. One of them is the cotton gin reformation of society.
We are formatted to become interchangeable parts in a corporate blueprint. A pow-wow lasting for several days would, under the present conditions of an atomized community, amount to no more than an extended block party of endless juice boxes and rum and cokes. No dancing and singing, no conjuring spirits, no room for the storyteller to awaken our wisdom. A lot of loud, drunken babble to make the new year bearable, and then everyone back to work in the morning. A local pow-wow for our serial numbers to get scrubbed and oiled over, that is all. I don’t write this to change you. I write to commune. For our ancestors, starvation was an excellent opportunity to come together. I don’t predict that fortune befalling us anytime soon. Just look around you. There’s food everywhere!
Hard times regulated by nature’s unpredictability was, once upon a time, rich communal nourishment. Everyone laughed, cried, birthed and died together. No such luck nowadays. Not even a religion. The industrial mind survives on the waste products of manufactured culture, which is set by whatever trends the fashion designers at Coke and Pepsi pick this year. The clutter adds up. Hand-me-downs from the plastic goo-gods of industry. The industrial mind cannot help but become a junk yard to the soul.
The human soul is mirror of its society. And all the poor brain can do is compartmentalize this tremendous amount of useless gobbledygoop.
Enough said about the desolation. Middle age is a cleaning up time before the doors open out to the great “What if?” After finishing the attic, I‘ve tackled the basement.
What a mess!
I believe we share an excellent father/daughter relationship as far as modern ones go. Millions in the Western world aren’t so lucky. There lies a generation gap, which is just an industrial age purchasing phenomenon. Dads can’t respect the things daughters want to buy, and vice-versa.
I have long been an arty fool. I think this is why you are fortunate to know me mostly for who I am. I speak for Marie too, and Janie. Actually, it’s quite the anomaly that our nuclear unit lives nearly as care-free as a modern-day eighteen year old. Although we reap the joys of a successful fringe philosophy, the slightest hint of change today could upset the flow in some drastic way. The family is cohabitating in a very fragile state. We are content, for now.
However…
The twentieth century buried the extended family. After decades of experimenting in concrete fall-out shelters, science, funded by industry, created the element fam238. It is highly unstable, radioactive, volatile, explosive even in its most gentle, natural state. Father, mother, children hold it together with thumbtacks, refrigerator magnets, layers of Scotch tape, string, and a gob of Elmer’s glue. Fear of the unknown is its only molecule of stabilization. It can counter the volatility of fam238 for at least a lifetime.
So what happened to the clan village of our dreams? How did it come to be that I am silent with my neighbor as we stand outdoors on a perfect autumn day? All the beauty and tragedy of life internalized, laid to rest in the mind beside the circus insanity of modern communication. Like me daughter, you are condemned to know more about a celebrities’ love life than the haunted and happy dreams of your next door neighbor. That is a manufactured truism for all fam238’s. A huge atomic weight to bear. We pretend not to care, yet since neither I nor my neighbor will challenge each other toward mutual acts of loving kindness, we are doomed to live out the rest of our lives caught whistling despair in the backyard. Avoid copying nuclear family false dreams. They usher in the plague and rely upon medicines anathema to the true family state. Money is a pill. Wealth, status, career… all sugar pills. Kurt Vonnegut believed that the nuclear family, no matter how loving, is too vulnerable to fight back the plague. It’s a dead duck right from the start.
Cheery, eh?
I’m not through yet.

Two Nuclear Families

Here is how your two families have labored over the past several years. It is a social account of mental derangement, beginning with a rough guide of your parents typical weekday…
These daily routines are a spit in the eye to freedom, love, compassion, and overall well-being. They become ever more mucus forming in their predictability. Your mother, Frank, Marie and me are the characters in this chaotic play. The couples in The Bald Soprano are enjoying quite a sane evening by comparison:
Your Mom drives a monster truck east 50 miles to a far away village to teach art to the children of strangers. Frank drives west 50 miles in a more monsterish monster truck to perform stultifying roof labor that shares no common ground with his wife and family in Red Creek. Marie heads east 12 miles in a compact car to manage a department at the college. She will work the best hours of her day copying other people’s meaningless chaos onto recycled paper. All three will exchange labor, creativity, and time for some acceptable amount of money that will seem satisfying enough, to keep them at it week after week, year after year. By the end of the day, three of your parents have traveled a combined 225 miles as part of their illusory contract made with conformity.
My partially sane choice is to stay put, keep house, homeschool Janie, and prepare meals for the family. We have spent incredible amounts of energy for what exactly?
In the human history of the world before the coming of the Industrial Revolution…
No sane mother ever dreamed of giving the best of her time and attention to the imaginative play of another tribe’s children. No sane father preferred to build rooftops on other people’s homes while neglecting the leaky palace ceilings sheltering his progeny. No sane mother ever nurtured a career path sodden with minutia and monotony to imprison her maternal instincts eight hours a day. No sane father desired the heavily lopsided responsibility for education and family management.
Families are not strong if separate the majority of the time. Especially if we do not depend on each other for survival. One spouse supports the other’s distant occupation for the pretended comfort and social status it maintains. The 50% divorce rate in the United States is proof that we do not need each other anymore. Role playing survival games ended early twentieth century. The old marriage contract was made under duress of a very difficult future without the expected help of another. Try turning a field of corn with a spade shovel, and heating a tub of water to brew your tea and wash your under clothes, all in the same afternoon.
Today’s marriage is based on the foundation of good companionship. And no creature of earth need travel twenty-five or a hundred miles a day to support a friendship. In today’s economy, a supermarket chicken is made available to all young couples in love. Unfortunately the status-starved heads of the nuclear family need to eat too. For the next several years they’ll try by hook or crook to convince you that a good job will secure for your future a lifetime of Sunday chickens-in-the-pot.
It will. Yet my gut instinct tells me that the good job chicken only poisons the family, and gobbles up desire like an insatiable fiend.
We modern parents must be very frightened of life. For an artificial, acceptable place in society we have traded the future health, education and overall well being of our children.
A drastic trade in a warming world.
A diabolic trade by the standards of some cultures struggling to nurture tradition. For the sake of industrial fashion, millions of nuclear families with great jobs generate billions of tons of atmospheric CO2. I crave economic disaster will come. It is youth’s cosmic revenge upon these clowns we call responsible parents.
Sustainable poverty for all might set the brakes on doomsday. What do you think?
Stay local. Work to eat and groom yourself. And if you cannot find work, I’ll teach you and a loved one how to plant seeds and cook over a wood fire. Fortunately, at present, you need not survive a stressed out existence. Your few cubic feet of self-responsibility can be a joyful pastime. College will provide for you an artificial extended family. You and your friends will live like royalty in a Palace of Versailles, with few expectations beyond getting good grades and staying alive. Hundreds of young people enjoying their own personal staff of servants. Cooks, maids, butlers, tutors… College is set up in a Feudal society, and students are its lords and ladies. Faculty, staff, administration are the villagers and serfs toiling for your health and prosperity. Enjoy the fantasy while it lasts. This marginal, often very joyful existence will give you a glimpse into the past, when high born people lived well and played together in a stone castle on the hill.
Lucky you. Give these upcoming days of happiness your best face. Take in deep breaths on cool autumn days. Hum a favorite tune on your walk to class. Dream about being someone’s girlfriend at a party on Friday night. Maybe by graduation time, the majority of earthlings will have come to terms with the immense challenges of the future. Denial will gradually give way to realism. Some bright ideas might be born out of the gloom and chaos of tomorrow. Maybe you and some close friends will want to forego a career in massive CO2 production, and commune on a farm. A kind of extension of your extended family vacation. The gang will have to take on new roles, however. There won’t be anymore maids to wipe your girlfriend’s vomit off the toilet seat. Some of you will need to learn how to cook kohlrabi and milk a cow. You would think that the college would offer a course in threshing grain. Maybe make it a physical education requirement. Since that will be a common exercise of the future.

Either Books or Children

The nuclear family is a symptom of the 250 year old disease called “The Industrial Revolution”. Marie and I never asked for the conditions it has set for our lives. Not even close.
We were born onto cold tables in hospitals. There were electronic machines and white-coated strangers surrounding our post-womby cries of fear and discomfort. Thus began the great conditioning.
We all suffer. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, house pets… No one is to blame because everyone is the same. As a father I beg of you to disregard thoughts of getting a good job. It won’t happen anyway, no matter how hard you strain. The competition is too gargantuan and grotesque. Sensitive people make for horrible individual viruses in a pandemic plague of the soul. To acquire a great job means to dedicate your life to something besides people whom you love. The anti-industrialists tell us that “careerism” is the fuel that feeds all the horrors of society. Intelligent bombs are made by sober middle class people with “great” jobs. Your Cousin Tom has a good job torturing ferrets for the military. His house is very big. He travels the earth bimonthly in airplanes, drives an SUV, and eats chocolate by the pound. Compared to you, his carbon footprint is like that of a Sasquatch to an amoeba.
Searching for a good job is another symptom of hyper-individualism, a post Social Darwinism that just reeks stinky of intense loneliness. At what expense will you finally obtain the job of your dreams?
Listening to National Propaganda Radio, I was amazed recently to hear the stories from a sample of college juniors across America. Several mentioned the need for “networking” in order to survive the many challenges ahead. It sounded to me like each interviewee was stating, “I have leprosy, and want to spread this disease among as many people as possible.” Young people talking about networking? Eww. Gross. Shun them. Laugh at them. Point at them. They represent our gated community thugs of the future.
Communities are destroyed by individual self-promotion. It is the beginning of the end when young people are persuaded by their elders to network. How far is that advice from the following I would give to you?
For once in your life wipe an old person’s ass, or kill, skin, cook, and eat a wild animal. My fatherly advice welcomes you into the community. Networking wants you to persuade an old woman to buy its robotic prosthetic arm, and a three-ply role of toilet paper. That afternoon you’ll meet for lunch with a band of other pirate networkers. It’s important to remember their names. Otherwise they might sense that you’ve become an empty nothing too.
Every old person you know has failed. Some artists and clowns pretend immunity by clinging stubbornly to their dreams. They don’t fool me. No one is immune to industry.
Yet you are still the hope of our future. Buy a mule, build a shelter, acquire a manfriend. Initiate a community of hard-working artists and clowns. Share a communal garden, dig a well, fashion useful tools with your hands, and during the cold months boil lots and lots of lye for the renewed art of soap-making.

Now back to the nuclear family…

If later this week China dropped a rain of 2000 lb. bombs on our town and country, then the revival of the extended family would begin immediately. We are poorly prepared.
Once, basic common dreams were shared and nurtured throughout the clan. These are impossible to regain until some long-lasting natural or man-made disaster strikes.
Our relationships are so fragile. The easy life has made us very vulnerable. Not much longer will we rule atop the food chain. Can we even claim title now? What happens when the electricity gets cut? Candlelit trips to an altar might sustain us with the moral courage to fight back. But with what weapons exactly? Don’t look to the family for help. Is anybody capable of teaching you to live with just your wits about you? When the bombs start falling later this afternoon, who will you trust to instruct about the many practical uses in the design of a birch tree? Uncle Fred? Jesus? All those two selfish brats ever nurtured was their vanity.
Who knows the path the moon will take? How can the sourdough be kept alive in February? Will the miller grind the amaranth for a bag of its flour? Where the hell is the miller? What’s a mill? Will a mortar and pestle work? Which is which, anyway? Oh poo, we’re all gonna die!
Just a few generations ago Americans experienced a year of a hundred seasons or more. Today we’ve streamlined them down to four, and barely pay any attention. They are thermostatically controlled climate events, thanks to the acquired knowledge of several generations and millions of deceased peoples. Unfortunately no cell phone towers exist in oblivion. The intelligent dead cannot be reached for repair.
And how is it politically and philosophically that a father/son, mother/daughter can be at confused, moral odds? This should be the only spiritual question of our day, to bring frequent reminder that the nuclear family is very, very sick. “One generation abandons the vessels of another…” This was Thoreau’s individualism and the beginning of the end of man being humbled by nature, yet sustained by the strength of the extended family.
How did it come to be that you and I would have different visions of past, present, and future reality? Opinions sure, but visions? Who can I depend on if not my own father? Why won’t he depend on me? Who have been the mentors and “heroes” of my life thus far? When I was twenty I believed Keith Richards to be the ideal man. Twenty-two, Walt Whitman. Twenty-seven, Henry Miller and Henry Thoreau duking it out in my mind… Modern media communications was indifferent to my drift toward insanity. No one alive came to the rescue. Honoring gifted, specialized (usually dead) strangers became a swift method of disassociation to the living world around me. Bitterness followed, and soon I was matching all the “living dogs” of society up against the exclusive club of “dead lions.” I was comparing myself and all peoples to the champions of art, literature, music, etc. “Aristocrats of the spirit,” as Henry Miller called them. Like distant yogis hanging themselves upside down from a tree. The great, creative masochists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet none of them, Henry Miller especially, strove to regain the instincts we are born with. Trust of the pack. Need for the pack. Put two or three wolves in a zoo, feed them regular meals, house them easily, make them friendly…Their wolfness is destroyed in a generation.
That is how I feel today. We give birth to our babies, feed them with other people’s foods, read to them stories from all over the world, house them in palaces built by specialized strangers, and then say “goodbye and good luck” on their adult journey into nuclear oblivion. Not even a lesson on canning. The internet will take care of that.
No longer do I admire the human symptoms of our disease, no matter how talented and inspired their works of art be. Henry Miller’s father was a tailor in Brooklyn. Not many life survival or reverence tips to share while stitching up the trousers and shirt sleeves of stinky thousandaires. So Henry jumped onto his bike and pedaled around New York City, pretending to be Dostoevsky — Russia’s own version of the urban hangman to the extended family. Makes a great story, but a rotten path to follow while dodging razor sharp Chinese shrapnel.

On a spiritual plane…

Nothing you do now will upset me. I honor your character. You have made me so proud so often, that I grant you lifetime immunity to my criticism. I will be content with whatever life path you take.
If you choose to marry, a lasting mate must warm you in every way. I can see now that you’ll be eager to please, and you are apt to blame unrequited love on some handicap of your own. As I often explain to Marie, love is a verb. How arrogant to say to someone, “I love you.” True love will confidently shout out to the world at large, “You love me so well!” Teach children what you believe their future needs will require. Sounds basic, but near impossible without a large, nurturing familial base. Do your best anyway, and joy happens more often than not.

A knowledgeable note…

The nuclear family is enslaved. We toil on an economic plantation of mind misery and woe. There cannot be freedom without mutual need. What species ever desired individual freedom at the cost of overall clan health? Bears shopping for Cheetos? Wolves up late watching television? Worker bees drowning their sorrows in a mug of mead?
Humanity cannot remain in a position of power for long. Mother Earth won’t allow it. She’s bigger than us. And I think a little bit mad too.
Know your true needs. Status and its faux-security will not bring contentment. You must keep an eye out for strong, like-minded people, and together take the path to paradise. I want my grandchildren to live closer to the bone than I have. It will mean instruction in life-giving subjects. Axe forging, goat milking, seed saving, well digging, grain threshing, bread baking… It will give you great joy and feelings of true freedom knowing that you’ve passed on a knowledge of living. You will be loved, honored, but most of all, needed. At the communal fires stories will be told of the great change that came, and the wisdom of the few who redefined the purpose of the only species to ever claim a purpose.

From a practical perspective…

Sing freedom always, and take pride in all things you create, whether that be a painting, a loaf of bread, a new child, or just a darn good time.

I love you more than a million stars,

Dad

Last Serial Installment of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 324-349

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If you buy the book, I promise not to serialize the other 11 stacked on my table.

This last stretch is rated somewhere between PG-13 and R.

I want to write this down while the fear is still fresh.
I live along the windy shores of Lake Ontario. We have nothing of any value to bomb besides a nuclear power plant and my home. It’s dark just before dawn. Moments ago I heard a large plane flying low in the sky. I stepped outside my front door into the frosty air and felt the plane crashing into the power plant. I imagined the split second and the overwhelming power of explosion liquefy my body, my house, my family. We blew into space. We melted into nothing.
Fear is crazy. Being a man unable to defend against an explosion larger than a firecracker is insanity. How can I protect my body? What strength has a single man against the machine that pretends to ask his opinion before taking its revenge upon the world? Nobody has asked me for my yea or nay on the subject of war. Nor have I personally put my representative into a seat in the Federal government. There is no one whom I would want to represent me other than my close, personal friend Pat. Yet he has no intention of running for office.
So I am unrepresented.
Who is?
Dangerous question.
In a nation of 300 million, I would probably be close to the mark to say that about five thousand are represented. If it’s a hundred thousand, it’s still not enough. Even a hundred million counted for is not America—at least not the ideal which the present king and queenies pay such horseshit lip service to.
We have three branches of government. Let us attempt to find one honest soul.
The Executive
No. Every one knows that the President is a spoiled rich kid, playing with toys, and a partisan boobie who can only hire other partisan boobies if he’s not going to be contradicted while telling lies. So the President, his cabinet, and all secretarial and janitorial positions made at the White House are partisan liars, and brutal too if they assist in the murder of a single human being. They will become honest citizens the day the President publicly admits that he is the leader of a mass murdering, profiteering organization of clean-shaven, blood-thirsty baboons.
The Judicial
Appointed by presidents. They get to pick the cases that they want to hear. Almost madness. Doesn’t that say enough? There are nine of them, in addition to an army of secretaries and janitors.
The Legislative
The Senate. Two people to represent a state. There are eighteen million people in my state. If we all ate the exact same dinner last night, I would be satisfied with my representative. Impossible. And he shall be a immoral thief to boot the moment he steps into a car not bought and paid for by his own sweat and struggle.
The House. Opportunistic thieves who don’t dare campaign for the secretarial and janitorial vote. Tend to wait for the local union leader, or big business representative to give a donation.
This is why America is not free. It says that we are free to voice an opinion. But in a life or death situation, which cannot be a more final and necessary situation to voice an opinion, we can speak up, but it won’t do a bit of good, and it might even kill us. If the king and queenies of America want to kill, they most certainly will. We have the freedom to talk and the shackles to stay put, but for the sake of our lives, never raise a threatening finger.
I think the American government acting as a blind, ravenous cancer is going to kill as many civilians as Hitler, Stalin, and the man most responsible for the Armenian genocide. I am certain of this because our President has already used the word “evil” and “crusade” on public television. Wow! Those are pretty strong words! The king and queenies of America are going to kill every single one of us eventually. Of that I am certain too.
It’s bound to happen. If it isn’t America, it will be China. If not China, Jamaica… Nowhere are people free. If America is the freest nation, and it can wreck total destruction upon the weaker nation of its choice, how are we to trust other nations with equally destructive powers, yet leaders who admittedly crack the whip to keep their people down?
My god, I say trust China first. Where do we see their government presently spending billions of dollars dropping bombs on children? A billion people, who will admit that they are subjugated by a minuscule few, and yet I bet that they are more loyal to their repressive government than Mr. Patriotic American waving his fifty dollar plastic flag, simply because the simple Chinaman knows damn well that he is not free. The wise Chinese is lied to, admits he is lied to, and lives his unfree life while regularly filtering truth out of lies. But he knows that alone he cannot defeat a government of nuclear weapons. So why for the life of self and family would he even try?
Same in America. Here is propaganda. Here they hang flags on the front porch, and then sit down on the steps to drink their delicious gourmet coffees. Why organize to fight the monster? It’s gourmet coffee!
The fear we need to save our souls is enemy planes enjoying cruising altitudes in our airspace. We need to be humbled. We need to be bombed daily so that we can feel again. Never have we been so needful of a forced occupation of our lands. Hasn’t happened yet in United States history, although I am sure it would do a great deal of good for American and especially world preservation.
A revolution in America will never come from within. We are a nation of spoiled puppies driving cars to and from our overflowing food bowls. A million people could not rise up against the government its forefathers created. We praise the latter and then ourselves for realizing the success of their experiment. Madness. They made a monster. They nurtured the monster. Guilty from the start, they fed their hideous creation with money pies wrought from slavery. Only white men with property enjoyed personal, ridiculous ideas of freedom. A woman lived and died beside her husband, to be named in the end “His Wife” on her tombstone. There was no freedom then for the majority. Some freedoms today, but even the smallest freedom must be paid for. By blood? No. More money! Today the greatest freedom Americans wish to uphold is the freedom to make money. There is no freedom guaranteed to not make money, hence all men enslaved to a life of not creating their own lives. Hence, hence, NO FREEDOM!
How easy for our leaders to put down a revolt! America has engorged itself way beyond the most imaginative idea of God’s wrath thought up by the typical eighteenth century human brain. There might be a judgment day, but the leaders of nuclear nations are the only ones currently in power to initiate it. In America the President has the nuclear power to prevent any threat of civil war. There is no target too small or too big. A hundred million might organize by telephone. But they’re dead before a manifesto can be written up. More than anything the President fears his own head getting hung on a post. Each night while in bed, he peruses his personal survival itinerary with crackers and tea, tucked snugly beside Mrs. President under a fluffy down comforter. Fellow Americans, how many nuclear warheads does it take to wipe out life in North America? You don’t know? I promise you the general knows. Which general? Pick any one of those mini-satans having brunch with the President this morning. How can we be certain that the two of them have not already constructed a special, secret plan to murder every single one of us?
All of this distrust is brushed off as paranoia. Of course it is! It must be paranoia because there is no day left to debate after the morning of “ouch, my face is melting off my skull…” There can be no proof of it not being paranoia until after everyone is dead.
Ambition is dangerous. There does not exist one world leader who has inwardly freed himself from maniacal ambition. America, in its present, pretend democracy, cannot stray too far away from its idea of the worst evil in the universe. Our President does not meet my standard of manhood. Nor does Prime Minister Gumbai ruling the little known African nation that America nukes tomorrow because Gumbai is evil and the American president wants to go on crusade and kill people.
When a leader starts talking about God, evil, crusade, and bombing missions all in one breath, it’s time for a people to welcome the forceful footprint of another culture onto their lands.
God, would it be that bad for us to lose? How bad was it in France during the German occupation? Was there music? Was there dancing? Was there wine flowing? There weren’t nuclear weapons. That’s some good times, eh? What would be left for the occupation to occupy after a nuclear drop-off? Hitler, a French family, eleven million unfortunate Europeans, and all the people in the world would have disintegrated. It takes a lot less pent-up evil to press a button and annihilate whole populations. It’s impersonal. Which makes such a terror that much more likely. Now that it is easier to kill, it’s easier to kill, understand?
I think that I might be patriotic enough to volunteer my body to the resistance if there ever was an occupation of America. Just for something to do besides “obey and pay,” until I’m dead and even buried in money. Although first I would need to convince myself that after the war this government would be much improved. That is to say, just a touch less embarrassing and hypocritical. Oh yes, and I should expect that all the nation’s top dogs be rounded up and brought to the newly instated World Children’s Court. There they would be tried and convicted by the universal judge which existed before the dinosaurs, and hasn’t left since. All leaders guilty of just one violent crime against any human being would be publicly tickled to death, disemboweled, stuffed, and put on perpetual parade around the earth.
Wow. What are the chances? In such a world, I would become 100% patriotic American.
We, the fearful parents of America, force-feed fear into our children first, before ever stumbling upon the bright realization that fear kills freedom. It’s called wisdom, folks. And it used to be something that grew with age. Right from wrong? The children know it. They always have. All legacy after 1945 is meaningless horseshit. What insane child gives a pisspot about your good deeds, professional acumen, loving demeanor, or whatever lie it is that you pretend all day long while knowing, Jesus Christ, knowing that man’s world is a push button away from extinction? You think little Charlie will ever get anything finished properly when tomorrow his tiny face will be smashed in, and his skull cracked, because you, yes you, only you, you sick, twisted ghoul allowed for this demonocracy to break into your home and take your children, without so much as a murmur of complaint. COWARD! Name all the armaments stockpiled in the United States Armed Forces. Do it now you imbecile, you shit father, you embarrassing human being! I want the exact number and names of every baby killer that you buy with tax money. Do it now! Find out! Do it, you dog! I want the name of the soldier who would walk into my home, by rule of the President… I keep a list now, on my refrigerator. I intend to scribble out each name until the last baby killer is dead and buried. My God why has our power to protect the children vanished? The amount of fear each of us possess in one brain cell, is so tightly wound and compact, that if unraveled, would stretch 600 miles all the way to the White House with a “Please don’t kill me” sign hanging at the end. You are a taker. You do not give what the universe gave to parents of all species. Instinct of self-perpetuation. Here you are at the end of your life leaving the children little notes of death signed by you and your lawyer. Money, a house, maybe a stamp collection for junior and his bride. But never, ever, never, ever never wisdom. Priceless wisdom. The only needful protection to pass on to loved ones.
And now, seated in your cozy house chair, you think that you’re protecting the family. You little piece of nothing. You fearful little pig in space. I am so sick of what you make humanity. Every man loves his child. You want a little chink-face, honky, nigger, dot-head? Is that what you want? You want that I too am as hateful of living as you? Respect one man today and protect your own child’s life. How do you respect man? You give him this hate of yourself as your last expression of divine love.
Meanwhile, acquiesce while your brutal leaders bully ten conventionally armed Arab nations united against us. Play with the kids on the floor that you just washed and waxed while the U.S. Kingdom of Madmen piss off another Chinese nation, or rub the wrong way a volatile despotically armed Russia. I promise there will be nothing to look forward to besides a tiny state-of-the-art nuclear warhead seeking out your child’s left eyeball. Tomorrow Pakistan will have one of those. Our trigger-happy leaders already have a hundred. If just one exists, God’s law of inevitability says it most certainly will get used.
The end of the world?
A sure bet.
We can try to organize and revitalize a nation of strong-backed mothers and fathers. But first one strong man must make a beginning. It would be a miracle coming. Just one man to protect his child. Not God, not nation. One Man! He alone would make a beginning. The miracle is that if and when he made his move, he would actually be supported by enough neighbors to make even a dent of difference. Without the name Mr. WalMart, or Mr. Fordcar, or Mr. Dollar store, it would take more than a miracle to jumpstart a nation of deadbeats tucking their fear in at night. Who would be so foolish to invest time and money in a man who has nothing but a beginning? What if to begin, he hijacks a plane with feather pillows and a loud threat, and flies the plane into a building of nuclear missile engineers? What if that was his beginning? I think it could be a very rational beginning. The irrationality of it all, the miracle transcending rational thought is that there even exists one man left in America to make a beginning.
Progress is so slow.
Geez, maybe it might be smart for America to lead in the fight for a one world nation. It has the power now. Why not use it wisely? Make each nation an equal entity with equal vote. If they don’t like it, nuke them off the map. What is America, Italy, Iraq, Taiwan, besides a constant reminder to humanity that it still has not aspired to human? What is the vision for humanity anyway? Is our evolution to be so slow that we will have run out of time before ever realizing our true potential?
Yes it is. Painfully slow. Retarded. Almost brought to a complete halt.
Look what damage America presently inflicts on the world, and it cannot even get to one man! It bombs an entire nation looking for one man. It bombs from above and is afraid. It bombs undercover of night. It cannot get to the one man. Americans at home are afraid. Yet swear that they felt anger after their buildings burned.
No.
When a man is truly angry and seething with vengeful thoughts, he does not wait for the government to clear a path for his wrath to walk down. A man would leave today for Afghanistan. If I was the father of a daughter who was slain in the World Trade Center collapse, I would see to it myself that anyone connected to her murderers was tortured and burned before my eyes. At least I know I would die trying. Avenging the death of a loved one. I believe Americans have forgotten all of their god-given rights. I know they have forgotten their god. As I write this some families of the dead are suing the government for a bigger compensation check. Consumer cannibalism.
I dare one man to be successful at anger. I dare myself more and more each day.
It is futile. Nothing could be more hopeless and self-destructive.
Just hearing a plane buzz overhead in the sky brings constant reminder to the American man of how small, how little, how tiny, how weak in mind and spirit and heart he is, and always will be until the end, which will be a very bitter story, I’m afraid.

A day later…
There are zombies in the midst. There are slow-walking, groaning cadavers everywhere. The city streets our mobbed with death. The countryside breeds zombies on the farm.
I am almost to the edge. I’ve been running and hiding and running. I know the end is near—for me and the zombies. Still, they follow me day after day, and into some nights. What is the matter with us? We must escape. We have to find safe hiding. The river jungles of the Amazon? A frozen cave at the top of the Mount Marcy?
I live in the central Middle Class Mountains, where the zombies have their strongest hold. I have begun several daily routines over the last fifteen years to disguise my life from them. I’ve finally found one that works, but in the end I must throw my live body to the zombies in order to save my daughters. At night I go out looking for trouble. I feel the need to be different, but it’s like a human siren sounding off, and they rush at me from every angle. I can tear the head off one or two, to give myself a narrow escape. What good is that? Ten more leap into view. All night I run without any place to run to.
I think that I might be alone. Perhaps the zombies have at this moment begun chewing up my friends and family. If I don’t see life exhibiting itself immediately, if in a whole day I cannot differentiate between cold death and a lively action, then I think I might end life myself, before the zombies can take their first nibble of my flesh. So far it’s a narrow escape. But be careful. I might sign my next letter in zombie.

Dear Middle Classes,

In New York City about seven years ago I spent an entire month of autumn nights lying down in my friend Beth’s loft dreaming, hiding out, refusing to come down until I could be coaxed with coffee or food. The safest pattern—with the least possible human interaction. One evening in particular I lay awake flipping through pages of The Wandering Jew when Beth came home with her gay older brother, Sam. She knew I wouldn’t come down from my high bed to socialize, so my true whereabouts were not revealed.
“Where’s Ron?” Sam asked, as if he was wondering about the cat.
“Probably out walking.”
“That guy is weird,” he said. “He has such a strange sense of being.”
“That’s Ron. So, what do you want to get Mom for her birthday?”
For my sake she changed the subject. Then climbed into the loft to get her money, winked at me, and left with her brother to go shopping. Maybe mom got a cookbook or a pretty candle stand. Three years earlier she got a gay son out of the closet. Which was fine provided he didn’t hide in people’s lofts or do peculiar and freakish things like read wisdom books, or walk for the pleasure of walking. No. A few years back she was forced to contend with a new outlook on life. Her son was queer. Not strange. Not weird. In fact he made a lot of money despite his queer condition. He bought furniture for his condo. He bought a stereo, a plane ticket, a wardrobe. He bought the Sunday paper, and actually read most of it too! And he played a very good game of tennis, even for a man with his man-loving desires.
Anyway, their mom loved Sam. After all, he was still her only son. Truly, it didn’t matter what he had sex with as long as he kept quiet about it whenever she brought Dad along for a visit. Not necessary to have frequent reminders that their son was gay. What business was it of theirs? He drove a nice car. He dressed nice. He was a high paid accountant with an established firm in New York—the grayest, most dismal exciting city in the world. Soon she came to think that her son’s life was actually quite exotic, not at all immoral, indecent, or degenerate, like she used to think. She loved her son. So what if he was gay? He was an upstanding member of the community. And he always remembered her birthday on time.
Up in the loft, I lay back on the pillow and let his careless words play over and over again in my mind. I was crushed. I got the impression that everyone thought of me in this light. The village idiot. The eccentric loafer. The poor dreamer. Maybe I had the wrong idea. Maybe I was strange. Maybe I was weird to the point of being judged asylum ready by my peers. I hadn’t a penny to my name. I had a child to support. I was living off the kindness of my friends. I was high over the thought of a free egg breakfast with coffee. I was euphoric and then deeply depressed. I felt free, yet at the same time a prisoner of my own quietness. How long would my welcome last? Was I going too far down?
Then it occurred to me in a flash, thank God, that, like Beth’s mom, I too was being put on. I was part of the problem. I let the gay brother Sam put me on. I recalled that not long ago, Beth brought me over to his apartment to watch one of his gay movies. It starred a man with a thick mustache dressed in a blue and white striped, fuzzy bathrobe, playing with himself. The doorbell rang. A thirty-year-old man pretending to be a fifteen year old paper boy handed the paper to the man. The mustached man asked the boy what he expected for a tip. The boy said that he would very much like to suck on the mustached man’s penis. And then, as expected, the two men acted out their parts while all our children’s dreams and fairy tales burst into flames and died.
Middle class morality. A complaint of Eliza Doolittle’s father. My sole complaint of humanity from up in the loft on those terrifying fall nights, and to this very day. Sam is not alone. We are all liars to the soul. Sam dressed up like his heterosexual good provider Dad. But with all the apparent smart looks of money, he could not disguise his screaming desire to blow the man with the mustache. He was gay, everyone knew that for sure. But only his sister and I knew now that he was a gay pervert. A minor reality, but a huge realization which set me back on the path soon enough. My sanity was saved once again by juxtaposing the secret life of a degenerate dreg from the middle classes with my wide open desire to be in the class of no class.
Liars to the soul.
Liars to each other.
Beth’s poor gay brother Sam. My poor friend Beth. My poor self, barely able to make out the truth wandering around among dreams in clouds behind the transparent jiggling jelly I won’t dare leap into and squeeze myself through. I pretend to try. But I am just another bona fide member of the middle classes. We are the world’s spiritual losers. Count on us to always put a million dollars to good use. I would buy more useless books to read, and perhaps a small lake to read them by. Sam would buy a new and improved video collection—some with actual fifteen year old boys sucking and fucking. One would buy a car, a business, a summer camp… One would put it in the bank. But which one would take the million dollars and blow his nose into it? Who exactly would break this newly acquired fortune down into a million separate dollar bills and side his house with the money pile? Who would roast a marshmallow sandwich over the coals of the bonfire made of a million dollars and some sticks of wood?
Millions, maybe billions of us, so similar, so forever the same. One life of mass similarity. Degenerate dregs. We’ve come to think perversion is freedom. The sensors allow “mother-fa-er” over the radio waves, because freedom sings rap songs about “big black asses.” Rape is the middle class. Race is the middle class. The middle class is ninety percent sad and masturbation, and always a different movie about new and improved ways to murder and rape. The middle class immoral? The middle class degenerate? Sure, the middle class goes poopy and smells its fingers. The middle class flosses and feels clean. It is home for the homeless soul, the helpless, always careful, and cheerfully idiotic. Sure its children are insane, and the parents are children, two times nuts over. Pretending freedom out of a plastic shopping bag. Steel pipes beat against our heads, an order for prescription drugs, and waiting in line without complaint. No complaints. Don’t ever complain! Always wonder what they will think of you. Be polite, mock your neighbor politely behind his back, love until you’re bored of loving, and buy an exercise bike to heat up loins that aren’t used unless walking to and from your parked car.
Here’s a question for you—
How many pairs of shoes does it take to protect the delicate feet of the middle classes? I don’t know how the hell they wear them out without walking! They don’t walk. Nothing ever gets worn out before the next purchase! It’s all about a little bit of more money, isn’t it? Aren’t we dumb like death as soon as we open up our mouths? What do we have to say? What important news is there to relate? Do we even know what it is we are talking about? Who remembers getting through our last conversation? Steel pipes beating our heads into the ground, and we still try to fix our hair with bloody fingers. I cannot stand the moral degeneracy of our no-culture! I’ve spent too much time alone with the precious words of the life-givers. The few who pointed to the light, died, and then left me the legacy of “hate for a change”.
I do not respect any living creature that accepts money. I love those that need it. Love them enough to swing a steel bat against their skulls. We need a good movie. Tonight in the city, there are four or five more gay paper boys getting home from school, laying down on the carpet and blowing their male dogs. Gay is middle class. Not gay is middle class. Black and white can share or not share their cookies in the middle class. The rich and the poor are non-existent in the middle class. Channel seven is the all-class channel. Still, in three seconds exactly, every person in America in front of a television will laugh a careful middle class laugh. Not one middle class cat or dog will laugh until a steel bat splits their master’s skull. And then it’s a wild dog and cat dance of death to the middle class.
City, country, farm, or any life medium which includes the electronic cash register, to never pull an egg out of a chicken’s vent, to believe that two cars are better than one, to get a damn good job, to think about a raise in your check and a rise in your pants while watching the handsome people on the screen, in your own private living room, doing it perfectly together while you and the misses and the kids who are old enough sneak into a room alone and play alone, with yourselves alone, to not rate your holidays “S” for “Sad, middle class audiences only”, to swear you only live once, and make sure there’s never more than two piles of laundry on the floor…
God dammit, I want my rightful place in society! You should see my shoes! I can’t afford another pair. America wants to shove both of these worn-torn things up my ass. I am alone now. Poverty is not glorious when you’re alone, smothered to near death by the middle classes. What do I have to do? Stop at the little store after work in my sharp suit and galoshes to pick up cat food? Is that it? Oh I know my wife hates me. My daughters ridicule me. I know what I look like to a young MAN, before my position in life rallies up to mash his spirit. I am picking up cat food. Oh and when I get home you just see how almost wealthy I can get! I got the newspaper right here, and on my lap there’s my best friend the dog who gets people food overflowing in his silver bowl thank you very much. My socks cost more than Ron Throop’s last seven dinners, and I got twelve more pair clean and folded in the closet.
I make 56 a year, and I live in a house with 2200 square feet of internal weeping space. My buddy at work has three kids and one bathroom. That’s an idiot for you. Hell you’re all idiots! I think I haven’t had an honest conversation since I was eighteen years old. But that didn’t come easy either, even with a joint and six pack of beer. You’re afraid of me and I’m simply terrified of you. I won’t help anyone. I love money, although I pretend to love my wife. Neither of us will move a god damn muscle to make our children proud. They’re in control anyway. My fifteen year old is on the pill and laughs at my hair. She lost her innocence the day I stopped loving her, which was any day I thought about the 56 a year. I like to peek inside the fridge when I’m not hungry. Sometimes I pick up a book just to put it back down. The sun comes up. I don’t see it. And I don’t give a shit about the moon. The whole earth is when I wake up and turn in frantic circles around and around a pretend sun, and I got nothing to show of my existence—not even a real, honest to good, fruit or vegetable I grew and preserved myself.
I got the cat food. I don’t care about the night. Truthfully and honestly I have never in my life wondered out loud. I see the young girls on the TV and I want to do to my wife what I did to the young girls on the TV. But I don’t plan to do it with love because the only thing I love and revere is money and I worship it in ungodly repetition. Every Tuesday and Friday night I walk through the door with a bag of cat food. That’s it, and that’s easy.
I’m tired. I am always so tired. I am going to bed tired and waking up tired. The world is turning closer to Christmas. But sit on the moon and see if you can guess what crap the middle class sets under the tree this year.

I have to keep hate alive. Although I can’t stand for it any longer. I stink of hate. I wallow in it. I acquire more strength from it. Sometimes I get the desire to join the other side or die. To know and understand, but most importantly, believe in quiet, non-eruptive emotions as long as everything seems okay. I pretend to want to be through hating things that were never good enough to love in the first place. I imagine that patience will get me to my essence, eventually, and show me who or what it is I truly am. I always thought hate was a good path to be on for this type of mental excursion. And it is, if you can handle the sometimes fantastic condition hate puts you in. For anyone who has ever hated as well as I do must know it is himself, his lying, sick and dying self, whom he hates the most, the utmost most.
Am I capable of finding love in this deep, blinding darkness? Love of myself, of me, mine? Love of me? I should ask myself this instead… Is hate a negativity that must be avoided in order to love?
No! Absolutely not. Hate is a needful and necessary form of expression. Moreso than ever in the age of monster technology and aggressive fearyourownneighbor-ism. You must first understand that hate is not the opposite of love. It works beside love. For example, one hates to show how much one loves. Don’t get confused. Hate is not racism. Hate is not genocide. Hate is not hunger. Serious problems do not arise because of hate, (besides poverty). No, bad things happen because stupidity brazenly squatted on love’s territory the morning love woke up weak and radiant, and forgetting to defend herself.
Yet stupidity is only partly responsible for what hate gets blamed for. Power is the brains and stupidity is its strong arm. Power protects and perpetuates stupidity. It uses stupidity to get what it wants. The powerful want you to think that hate is the cause of evil. No. Power fooled love into thinking that stupidity was a-okay, even kinda cute, harmless. Then stupidity usurped love’s fertile ground to plant the seeds of evil. Stupidity takes evil for nourishment. Stupidity needs evil to live. Power and stupidity are the reasons for evil. Hate needs God, even if hate wants to open up God with a knife for being such a complete failure to humanity. Why did God fail to maintain a world where hate could protect its love? Hate hates genocide. Hate hates nuclear weapons. Hate hates Hitler, Stalin, American presidents 1 through 79. But what hate hates most is an apathetic, loveless, and hateless America. Hate promised love that it would expose the power behind a stupidity nourished by evil. Too many billions of people have not expressed the hate needed to check power’s seemingly endless rise. There’s too much talk about Jesus’s love, but nothing about his hate. Sure Jesus turned the other cheek. He’d do it again and again, for quite some time too. But then one day he’d have to become a man. People without hate. They call it love. They mean Jesus. Clumps of stupid people. Ignorant cows, chewing, and allowing power the open gate freedom to feed, clothe and shelter stupidity. Contrary to the belief code set by power, hate wants to feed the world. Hate would wash our faces clean of racism. Hate would want to stuff the potential beauty of mankind down the nation’s throat. Hate would demand that a fair God reign in our hearts and in our children’s hearts. Hate would not want to kill, but needs to clearly show power that hate is prepared to die for its cause. This makes hate a very dangerous threat to power’s domains. Hate knows that without hate, humanity can kiss its ass goodbye! Hate knows this hate is a stronger love for mankind. No matter how stupid hate believes most of us are, hate has hope that one man, one woman can believe in a beginning.
It will be a very long winter of hate. I could set myself free and join up in the ranks of the powerful and stupid. I could hire myself out to the action news team and with a smile give nightly accounts of murder and death-by-mishap. No. I prefer my lonely, self-appointed role as hate’s philosopher, prophet, and artist. The people’s living concerns will not be mine. Besides, I hate the people. They do not aspire to my ideal of man: to hate for love to reign. I want freedom for every human being. I desire to persevere with hate. I can hate a man because a badger will never be as stupid as a man. This is the philosopher writing. Obviously we are doomed, but not because a family of squirrels are nestled together tonight in a warm bed of dead leaves… This is the prophet calling out to deaf ears. And I shall paint the whole bloody picture of humanities’ annihilation by power and stupidity! This is the elusive, struggling artist whose life I will give my own life to nurture.
This morning my visiting stepfather tossed me the want-ads. I reached for the front page instead. There was a picture taken at the India-Pakistan border where the routine changing of the guard continues at a time when all life might end. Another awakening. These bearded, colorful men, soldiers dressed in traditional attire, traditionally preparing to eliminate the planet earth, but not one of them thinking that tonight, whether he acts or not, a starving, innocent child will get traditionally stabbed until dead. There was a huge crowd sitting on a hill overlooking the demonstration. Beyond them was a sky stuffed with a hundred gray clouds, heavy, pregnant, and ready to break water. I concentrated on the fantastic changing colors of the sky. I did not think about the impending human doom, nor did I recall the empty feeling doom brings while doing some usual chore like brushing my teeth. No picture came to mind showing what happens to a child’s face after picking up a live grenade. The sky was snow gray and the trees behind the soldiers were going darker green with the setting sun. To hell with human beings I thought. Straight to hell with them. They cannot represent true life any longer. They only get in the way. I saw beauty in the background of a picture fraught with human animals. It was sent over the wire for the world’s editors to print as shock material, yet I saw nothing that they wanted me to see. I saw stark green living, breathing trees. I saw an old, wise sky going to sleep day after day for a billion years, with or without the changing of the guard, the mass of humanity, or myself.
Tonight, in this chilled twilight, while the winter sun sets over my frozen backyard, I have made a very big decision. The sun will continue to rise everyday to the ax-wielding stupidity of mankind. That same sun sets on my small, hopeful intentions, and I know that I am as right as I will ever be. Because I desire to give this piece of my thoughts to you, the invisible reader, I know that I must be a loving human being. I might write angrily and carelessly. That cannot be helped. It is the way my machine works when it is pushed up against a wall. It fights back screaming. And I know the chances are better for victory if you hate your enemy, and aren’t goaded to fight by cowardice and fear, like the typical soldier. I will die first by hate, because it’s good to make the attempt to clear out all that you hate. And then I will die for love. Because after your best shot of hate, that is all there is left.
Philosopher, prophet, artist? Yes. But also father, husband, friend, teacher, student, wanderer, homebody, and divinity. What do I really care what you or posterity thinks? This is my fight. I shall not let my love be bullied by the brutal, careless whims of a stupid mankind. I understand death. I accept it whenever it happens to me. The knowledge of its inevitable finality is responsible for the howl while I write. I am one man who launches hates’ minor attack on the human world. I am also a fool who knows that he must attempt to preserve the reality of the universe, the unmanned part of the universe, all by his lonesome…
Tonight I became an insect watching from a green tree getting darker with the setting sun. I am only a very small thing. But I hold the fight of many unrecognized nations. I represent the non-human world of poets, most women, animals, insects, fish, all trees, all plants, all life that does not line up each new sunrise prepared to kill, without also being damn well ready to eat their kill. I cannot go the rest of my life ignoring stupidity. Even as a lowly insect, I know that I am smarter than all of man’s nations. And I know it would behoove quite a few species that I became just as dangerous as all of man’s nations.

Two thousand-thirty-five years ago Christ was born in the land without snow. He was a dark baby who didn’t wear diapers. Christ was a baby and all babies live peace. Besides hitting his mother when he wanted her to play with him, he was very peaceful. Kings brought the divine child presents, not one of them a small plastic toy phone. A variety of presents, but not one that a child would want to play with. Frankincense and myrrh? Don’t ask. Just receive and smile, smile and receive, and make sure the gifts are big enough not to get lodged in your new savior’s throat.
This Christmas more than one person will drive forty miles to purchase a popular candle holder. When my oldest daughter was very young, she was taught to give nothing besides love and attention, and occasional crayon drawings of devotion. Slowly, gradually, over the past couple years, Santa Claus has left her heart. It is only a matter of time before Christmas makes her deeply and hopelessly frazzled like the rest of us.
This Christmas I am depressed. I am out of the kind of work that writes you a check for the holidays. Joy has left my body. I have no way of knowing if I will ever be able to help support this family financially. And because of the money problem, I start to wonder if I am husband or father, or anything good at all. Money is the sickness of our hearts. It is the sole cause of any depression that exists where no tragedy has occurred. Because of money I did something yesterday that I thought I would never do. I went out peddling my books all over three counties. I took a day to do it. I had to ask my wife to take off from work. I had to borrow a car. It had an American flag attached to the back window, and anyone who knows me at all, knows it would take a miracle to get me to drive about town waving that red, white and blue blasphemy.
I drove it. To every bookstore and library in Central New York. By the end of the day I sold to three stores and involuntarily donated one set to a library. I walked up to the head librarian embracing my precious books. He received me quite cordially. Of course then I expected him to escort me over to the money box and pay me for my efforts. No way. Patiently I waited while he talked about the lack of arts and culture in the Mohawk Valley. “One bookstore,” he complained, “in a county of 250,000. Can you believe it?” Yes I thought, but here, let me put my hand out again, palm up, and hope that you get the hint. Nothing. Instead he stepped into his office and came out grasping the local swap sheet, suggesting that I advertise my books with the used cars. Then he offered me a book signing, but recanted, saying that in the past those only worked well with children’s book authors. Then I imagined that he would prefer to ram the heel of his boot against my skull rather than pay me the paltry sum necessary to justify my existence as a writer. Culture or no culture. I should have killed him on the spot and fished through the petty cash box myself.
Now the thought of peddling my own books was and is a personal nightmare. Total desperation made me do it. Man will succumb to anything when the money is tight enough to almost starve. Except work at a dollar store. No. I won’t do that. So what if an offer has already been made…? No. I will very calmly open up an artery before dehumanizing my existence at a dollar store.
After a day driving in and around Syracuse New York, I discovered the worst hole in all of the world to raise a sane family. You drive around for a full morning in it, penniless, in a borrowed car and see for yourself what an incurably sick and twisted, groaning hell of a city it is. Two of the bookstores on my list of ten were abandoned. Two more sold only pornography. Two were consignment, and the second one of these wouldn’t take my books unless he could get the whole set for fifteen cents.
Yesterday I lived the life of a traveling salesman in America. Except I was selling a product which I made myself. Of course one couldn’t eat my product—strike one. Nor was it something quite like holly leaf wrapping paper sold at a huge profit for charity. Strike two. Encyclopedias might have brought better luck, if I went door-to-door with the volumes I researched,  wrote and published myself. Strike three and out. Actually lying prone in a basement beside a gassed Willy Loman.
A few years ago my chef left the restaurant business to peddle oyster crackers for an upstart company. Up before dawn, he drove his car over two hundred miles every day except Sunday. Boxes of light, airy oyster crackers stacked to the ceiling in the back seat. He peddled throughout a business world that he convinced himself was in sufficient need of better oyster crackers. The best oyster crackers. In fact, over time, he couldn’t understand how restaurants stayed in business without his delicious oyster crackers in stock.
Once he got me to chew them, while he stood at my side waiting for affirmation. Holy God, the ironic, blind arrogance of despair! Every time he said “oyster cracker” I envisioned spiraling rounds of slow-motion bullets bursting out the back of my skull. His behavior was beyond delusional. It was insane, maniacal—an oyster cracker…Jesus Christ! Yet I played along, chewing for his benefit, although at the time I felt like striking him down and stuffing his mouth full of oyster crackers. He wanted to sell them to everyone. He was preaching the Word about oyster crackers. Each book that I wrote and got published, no matter what value its content, was written with the dreams that appear while walking alone at night in fear of death. I collaborated and created with the body which houses my soul. It was all that I had then, and all I have now. For $12.95 I will share its story with you. That’s all the Word I know.
You say sure? As long as it’s told over a bowl of steaming hot seafood chowder? Fine. Just try to ignore the steady stream of bullets drilling holes into my head. Promise me you’ll crush those crackers quickly and take the soup onto your lap. I’m spilling blood.
Why this staunch, masochistic refusal to become equally excited over my own creations? How can man live a whole life never to stand up and lustily sing his own praises? Even if he foolishly sings to some greater power beyond him… It has got to be more stimulating than worshiping oyster crackers, right? I mean, how could my old boss become the apostle of a dry cracker company without having committed suicide yet? Has he not already gone way beyond the point of just considering it? Unless the crackers are laced with enough extra preservatives to fool the rest of us into thinking that he lives, I tell you that he must be dead already. A soul must die each moment an oyster cracker gets believed in.
To tell the truth, I hate my books. I despise them. I hate the product that I wanted to sell yesterday, during a weak moment when I thought my children needed toys for Christmas.
I intend to sing my praises while the rest of mankind watches me bleed. But I won’t be singing for your money. I will sing, but know that I know it’s not what I write into books that makes me praise-worthy. I am 100% man. I am a man. My blood heats up my wonder and desire. I can be squeezed until warm blood spurts out of my pours. But I will continue to sing while bleeding. I believe that every man’s blood is my own blood. And every man should sing the song of watching it flow. I am singing for me and for you, even if I know that you, if given the choice, would choose a low-sodium oyster cracker over the intactness of my blood and its systems. Translated into easy, easy easy…
You suck
my blood.
But would rather have an oyster cracker.

Now tonight I am a hack. This is the end of the book, and the fifth time I promised myself openly in a book to bury the anger in a deep hole and write something beautiful for once. I lied. It is impossible for me to concentrate on the beautiful. I know where I live. These are my own eyes and I cannot play “pretty picture” with them, no matter how perfectly glorious the world would be if I could lie to myself more frequently.
There is a young man named Gangsta Williams being tried tonight for the murder of a seventeen-year-old girl. He shot her in the face and blood poured out. She died while the blood flowed out of her skull. I live forty miles away from the murder scene. I live a million miles away from humanity.
I appreciate your human murder. It is necessary and good for me this evening. It makes me right. It makes me feel good to remember, without much effort, that America is just a smelly hole I drop my garbage into.
Yes of course Gangsta is a piece of human ca-ca. I would like to watch his face clawed apart, eyeball to eyeball, by the mother of the child who was slain. But I was thinking about Germany today. I asked my daughter to imagine what a German Christmas was like. We were thinking of warm strudel and kugen, a hundred mountain villages each with its token butcher and steeple, Heidi and her Grandfather on skies… I thought about the glorious humanity thriving in a German village before Jesus and  the Nazis. Sure it was imaginary, but so was the hydrogen bomb, once. Nothing will ever become something without first imagination, and then belief. The former is a healthy recreation for a childlike mind. But belief is the reckless preservation-in-motion of both angels and devils.
Life in the village was busy and wonderful. It looked best during a heavy snowfall. There was a bakery, a butcher’s block, and wooden toys for sale in every shop window. Now I’ve decided to place Gangsta in the village I dream about. Presently he’s pointing a pistol in the face of one of Hans Friedaflach’s daughters. She’s more astonished than frightened. “Dis koonnnot hopin’ heera.” She’s right. Here comes Hans skiing down the mountain just in time to catch Gangsta before he pulls the trigger. Hans takes a second to survey the scene, then he takes Gangsta by the eyeballs and kills him.
I want to take Gangsta by the eyeballs and kill him too. Don’t you? Won’t you?
Liars! Wasted sperm! Rotten eggs! You allow for it. You let this happen. Now lay back in your easy chair and whistle “live and let live,” while Gangsta plans and executes the murder of your little girl.
Today I picked up my daughter’s book about German Americans. There was a picture of a man who was tarred and feathered for not supporting the war bond drive of 1917. The caption underneath the picture also told about another man who was beaten to death in prison for not wanting to volunteer with the Allied cause, to cross the ocean, to butcher his cousins, aunts, and uncles in Germany. On the page opposite there was a short article about the German internment during World War II. All proof of American criminal behavior that I had no previous knowledge of. In America the lies are hitting us the moment we are born. The truth is more fluff to stuff into our pillow cases. In America truth makes for very comfortable and cozy drool catchers.
I told my daughter that we should start looking at the world as if living in an imaginary time before Bismarck and the Holocaust. In the village of forest fairy tales, fear of God and trembling desires, the bright white nights of lighter living with moonbeams…
1862. Now that’s a year to be alive in Germany! Especially at Christmas, and in the mountains, where the snow falls heavy without a sound, where the cholera and poison gas can’t get in by airplane or autotrain. It’s Christmas, 1862, and tonight is the one night out of the year for all Christians to feel safe and nearly immortal. They are in the safekeeping of their savior Jesus Christ keeping watch over his domains.
The family stands around the piano singing carols. Nobody is faking. All are rosy-cheeked and glad, and actually faithfully believing in their god.
Tonight back home in America, Gangsta William’s got talked about on the TV News. Gangsta was a bad boy. A very bad boy. Yet Gangsta, on his worst day, could not hold a loaded automatic weapon to the anchorman who covered the story from a downtown courtroom.
Gangsta was smiling. The anchorman was serious. Gangsta looked into the camera and snickered. The anchorman kept to the story, looking very grave. I am no longer human because the anchorman did not laugh an uproarious laugh in the face of a man named “Gangsta.” I have ascended into the blue azure beyond human because the anchorman got paid by other human beings to tell the murderer’s story. I am seated beside lord god our savior, I might even suggest the two of us play cards tonight, because I don’t dare look to mankind for any cheering up.
He’ll play. I’m told that if I win, I get to choose how we punish
Gangsta.
I won. Lord god our savior let me win I think. So I have decided to push a serrated knife into Gangsta’s belly, and probably his mother and father’s belly too, for the bigger crime of stupidity, which they have obviously committed. Actually, any hurtful crime brought before lord god our savior and myself, from this day forward, is inexcusable, and punishable by a thousand screaming deaths. Who dares to carry stupidity and its murder so pretentiously into our kingdoms?
Tonight, just a few hours before Christmas I realize that a huge mistake has been made. I was accidentally born a human. I don’t know what I was supposed to be, but it was not human. Maybe hyena. I am always laughing in the face of man. Anyway, I have become ferule. I am almost wild. Look at me. I forgo all my human rights and expect to be hunted, tortured, and killed for my meat by midnight. But this smarter, more wild animal already knows that you fearful bedwetters will make a legal season first, to give me a sporting good chance to escape.
I look human. I smell human. I may even act a bit human, sometimes. But I am not human. I am a semi-wild animal. Once, long ago, my pack defended itself to preserve itself. There wasn’t any evil. Only hunger. But that was a time before I was born, a life which I had no control over. Now the pack is not related in any way other than by species. Pack became country soon after the survival instinct became unnecessary. Small packs need not roam, hunt, nor play anymore. Leadership is dead. True leadership. The kind which defends without question the lives of its individual members. My country does not assume responsibility for me, my wife, my daughters, my dog. No pack leader. Hence, Gangsta. His own mother would let him fry. But the state protects him. Gangsta blew the face off of a young girl. He doesn’t know what a man is. So he must die, right now. No questions. No arguments. All life outside of man agrees with me. Gangsta must die immediately. Immediately I tell you. No justice. No court. No humane treatment. The moment the young girl’s face was blown away, a rock should have been picked up by the nearest pack member and used to pound a hole into Gangsta’s head.
Here is the end. I promise. It is time to finish up the hate letters to my fellow man. I have to play Santa tonight.
Listen. Gangsta is evil but the anchorman was serious. He refused to laugh out loud, while silently watching his imagination cut up Gangsta into thirty smaller pieces.
Gangsta.
Gangsta.
Gangsta. And now I am over the edge. I prefer to make myself wild. There is my mountain cave, a pine forest, bright star lit skies, and a moon to laugh out loud to. I stalk the mountains high above the village, always on the lookout for a sour piece of human flesh.
The end.
Gangsta will go to prison where life is insane, and he will be fed well, with other jolly thieves and rapists. The anchorman will drive home to his children with lots of money for presents and popcorn. He wants the wife to watch him on TV at eleven. She knows his routine. No voice of protest. No video shot of his declaring, “Stop please, I can’t do this anymore.” She already knows, by repetition, that her anchorman husband will not provide one honest opinion. It’s the news. It can lie anytime, but it cannot have an opinion. She knows this. Once there existed the faint hope in her heart that she would watch her husband behead a Gangsta with the point of his fountain pen. No. That hope and pride died together the same night, during his first assignment of a hit and run. He got good at keeping a straight face anytime evil bent him over to shove a truncheon up his ass. Now she waits for sleep. At eleven-thirty she can go to sleep. Though presently she expects to frown the perpetual frown that she’s been frowning behind her sad heart for years. He will say “Gangsta” without laughing an uproarious laugh. He will say, “shooting death,” and then it’s possibly three more decades of heavy sobs into her pillow. He will say, “Gangsta” again, and if her mood doesn’t improve tonight, then surely she’ll be dead by morning. He says “downtown courtroom,” and quite unexpectedly she livens up. Suddenly, she and I, and everyone else who’s feeling a little bit wild these days, are out roaming the earth together again, in packs, tearing the flesh off any beast who stalks our territory with the intent, just the intent, of doing harm to our children. On the third and final “Gangsta,” she bursts out laughing, leaps up from the couch, and in a giggling frenzy, runs into the kitchen, out the back door, around and around the house, and then back into the living room, doubled-over, laughing and laughing while the anchorman scolds her for not being the least bit sensitive to such an important issue. She’s laughing in his face, screaming “coward” and “Gangsta” in between breaths of hysterical laughter.
Now I am laughing.
Tonight began as a German Christmas in my mind. I turned on the TV to see a thing that amused me very much. I laughed an uproarious laugh at the infinity of life which happens every second all around me, and although I did not give one bit of it permission to be so wrong, by it I can recognize the absurdity of a life not lived on my own condition. This life is absurd. I don’t think humanity can survive another minute without becoming ferule. Not here in America anyway. I live here. I should know. Tonight I escaped out the side door, and ran across the street into the woods. I think it might be a good thing to stay here until everyone goes away. Far, far away. But who really knows? Tomorrow I might sneak back into the house expecting dinner, a bed, or maybe just a stomach wrenching laughter at the face of a Gangsta, a TV anchorman, or you. Personally I think humanity should be ousted from the pack. Gangsta doesn’t matter. Neither do you. Not to time. Not to dogs. Never to God. Do you think that I think you’re one to decide, pisseltit?

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Serial Installment #16 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 302-323

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The eyes inside focus in on three to four chores at a time. I walk into a room and immediately bombard my time as if I not only wanted to kill it, but blow it to smithereens. What truly needs to be finished before the snow falls? In 1800, December moonlight was bright enough reason for father and son to shingle a roof. In 2001 the same moon shines, and so much activity is meaningless because it is unnecessary. No father son team tackling the weather, keeping mom safe for hasty puddings. Plenty of fathers and sons still, but all of them up late, alone somewhere, picking their asses. I wake up to notice the difference between midnight roofing work to keep the snow’s weight from caving in the rafters and killing the family, and the cold, moonlit night when I admit to myself that I am afraid of the dark. I live my life in a trance. I don’t know it until I wake up. And then what do I do? I take out the garbage while thinking about the dirty dishes, the load of laundry, the dust balls, the whining dog.
The brain mellows itself enough to see the tree, but never the leaves. The day it sees the infinite maddening colors of leaves and not the tree, man will have aspired to his first awakening. Finally he will have forgotten that he has a brain.
There are a few crazies out there seeing the leaves today. But you and me? We’ll be content to suck in our guts while standing before the full-length mirror. Okay boys, now let’s curse out the fat jelly below the chin. The hairy stomach, the man-breasts, the flab arms, the heavy neck, the hunchback, the chicken legs. Hate our physiques. Despise and deplore its mental store above. And nobody sit down to eat another cookie before cleaning up that mess in the garage!
After 1930 “neurosis” was the catch word for the American intellectual dwerb. Nowadays it’s neuroschizophrenia. My only life accomplishment which I hope to make manifest in my children is the murder and meticulous clean-up of neuro-schizophrenia.
I am crazy because I want to paint with acrylics and teach my children the art of being alive? Yes. That is fine with me because I will live longer, which means that more cakes will get baked. I will kill time often enough to see the leaves. And why not always remain crazy if they already expect it of me? Unless I am not crazy enough. Then I better watch out, or they will certainly carve me up to fit neatly in some obscure corner of their neuro-schizophrenic scheme. Become a car mechanic or business lawyer, aspire to chefdom, manager, the pitiful CEO, force-fed an artificial, insatiable desire to know more than him or her, be smarter, quicker, wittier, funnier, and get money to afford three shampoos in the tub, and a fifty thousand dollar car that rusts.
Oh no. Not me. I’ll get crazier if I have to. Keep ty-typing away. Tip-tip-tipitit-ding! I’ll walk up to my seventy-year old typewriter, ready to begin my unending string of letters to you, to them, to silent comrades dead or unborn, and I’ll bang-bang at the keys to keep me from banging bullets into you, into them, into nonexistent comrades unborn or dead. I guess perfect sanity was the bright autumn day when this typewriter was handed over to me. Hand-delivered out of a train at the station during a short period in my life when I fell in love with being crazy. A few pennies, a borrowed home, a man! A crazy one, that’s for sure. But a man! Hot-diggedy dog! A man! Poor. Comfortable. Uncomfortable. Crazy. As sane as a bird. Wild and ordinary, with holes in my shoes and a starving heart.
It was all me. I wanted to be crazy. I consciously became callous, cruel, and loopy just to temporarily live the life of an artist. What’s new? Here I am again.
My daughter is in the process of writing a diary for the young girl whose parents died in the World Trade Center attack. She is a born writer who will one day make a difference in her world. I have to wait until the year 2100. Only then will I get the respect of the post-consumers. Isn’t it true, though, that if I was never born there would be no 2100? Does that sound crazy? No? How about this?

Snickle-pickle-put-a-pan-
ping-struck-a-dan-dan
Folapolapontickle!

Letter to the couple who came for dinner last Saturday

Dear Shannon and Bill,

I want to take this time out in my busy day to write down my thoughts to you both. What I am thinking and what my voice utters are so diametrically opposed to one another, that it’s quite a wonder sometimes how I can get my thoughts to agree with the mouth to say “feed me.”
More than anything I am sorry that I did not mention what mattered to me most last Saturday during our little dinner get-together. Oh I’ve been plagued all week with guilt and self-disgust for not divulging my true personality. At the time I think I was more concerned that you liked me. I did not want to give the impression that I was a social retard, even though I most certainly am. No. What I really wanted to do was pee in your wine glasses. I knew immediately upon your arrival that the night was going to be angst and despair. That we would die or go to sleep. I realized how much I hated myself for not being true to everyone I meet.
Well Shannon, you’re a secretary and Bill is a car salesman. I am a hack writer temporarily unemployed as a line cook, and my wife is your boss at the office. Not one of us is proud to be human.
Civilized? Yes, painfully so. Civilized to the power of googol and speeding faster toward the last straw of civilization. Peeing in your cup was the final hope. At least from this house. Maybe my letter will re-civilize me. Do you think? No, it will only increase the strength of my cowardice. Bill will never see me again. But my wife must co-work beside you, Shannon, everyday to talk about television shows, popular movies, your promiscuous teenage daughters, Bill’s new raise at the job… If I send this letter, she might never speak to me again. But I can’t worry about that. To stand through another torture like last Saturday night would finish me off for good. Absolutely necessary that I nip this in the bud right away.
Did you like the dinner? I cooked for five hours. I prayed that everything went well so we would open up like children do. That’s what the wine was for. But we never open up quite like flowers, do we? More like four green garbage dumpsters and each one of us a child carefully dropping his dog’s bagged shit inside. What was it we talked about for the first five minutes while uncorking our tiny nightmares? The ride over. The damn construction and the detour you had to take. Bill actually seemed to be put out. He didn’t want to come. But he’s supposed to love his wife. And me mine. It isn’t enough that you girls are together five days a week. Bill made you go to his friend’s house last month. He brought along a twelve pack of beer, and had one helluva time. The boys got drunk. The girls talked about curtains, until the husband’s monosyllabic conversation switched to sex. Then even the table got excited and shook for a few seconds. But that was it. Everybody went back inside themselves. Bill wiggled the keys, and before long you were back home tucking the kids in bed while Bill puked up his pizza and beer in the downstairs toilet.
Oh I know Bill hates me. My dinner made him suspect. American men don’t whip up a hollandaise out of nowhere. Before I took your coats I should have mentioned where I thought the night was heading, that I’ve been through this before, that I could only allow two successful destinations for the evening—a hide-and-seek game after dinner, or hopeful talk about revolution, personal and/or nation-wide.
But I was guilty. Caught in the game that we’re all presently losing. I cooked all day. I didn’t draw, paint, or play. I would not dream. I had to impress you. “We have so much good food to eat,” I probably told myself. “I must cook and artfully arrange their dinner. Then they will like me and believe I am alive.”
Wrong! No more. Next time it’s hide-and-seek. Or we can all sit down at the table and draw a picture for our kids. Crayons! Could you imagine? Oh no you can’t. Yours was the last dinner party that this house will ever see. I won’t allow another tragic story about a new bathroom to my table again! Ceramic tile or hardwood? It won’t matter if I have to take a pee. Marie will pull me aside and whisper, ‘Did you pee in the wine again?’ And I’ll give her a playful, guilty look. She will lovingly slap me on the shoulder, and we’ll tell the other couple to run outside now and play, while we do the dishes for the absolute last time!
It has to be this way or more letters. I am not ready to go down such a polite, frustrated and lonesome path. I actually fell asleep last Saturday night forgetting to kiss my wife. I don’t mean kiss her, and then turn out the light either. You know what I mean. God, the heat we can create, but instead give up these nights to fashion and society! Shannon, you remember Bill, the first time, the second time… The time he pressed his body against you and the thrill of your heart, the excitement, the dreaming and hoping was a pleasure/pain that held your fragile belly in a vice. Those were the moments of true security. Not money, not job, not dinner. Hungry for sex, for love, for care of another human being. That’s the hunger for life taking on a new form. We lust for life as children. We live again when our bodies take shape. We call that youth as we grow older and invite another couple over for dinner. Then we think to ourselves what’s gone is gone forever and hell is another Saturday night getting ready to step into our shiny car for a drive over to the home of a couple we will never have the strength to know again how we knew them in the golden days of youth.
Now look at us. Saturday night at the Throop’s! God awful. We could promise that next time we shall meet in the woods out back of your house. There at the path leading in, in the dark… Me with two bottles in a bag and Bill pointing the way to the big rocks where we shall build our fire, pass the wine, and talk and laugh again like we did when we were still near wild and fearful of each other’s sex.
Yes! Next time we can concentrate on getting to know each other again. No hardwood floors. No curtains at K-Mart. The night shall be a romp through the forest of our youthful dreams. I’ll kick your ass Bill if you go near my wife. Shannon looks great! Her cheeks flushed yesterday when she talked to her friends about you. Go for her and I’ll work on mine. We will catch the girls in the dark, stop where we haven’t been in years, build a small fire, and talk about our hopes and dreams. Is it cold? Do you even notice? Hold her hand. I’ll hold hers in mine. I will give her my coat, and I’ll give up these Saturday nights for the rest of my life to live each one in fantastic hope like I did when I was a boy. Like you did before this rotten, hopeless dinner, and the thousand before that… They must end. Most certainly they will happen over and over again in an agonizing sameness, unless we summon the necessary courage to destroy them.
You are both invited next week to search alongside my wife and I for our true hearts. Otherwise, stay out of my life until my wife knows me again how I wanted to be known before the first fainting kiss.

Hello Pat,

Look! A letter! It must feel so good to get mail that doesn’t beg for your money. It must feel like Christmas receiving correspondence addressed to “No-man’s-land, USA.”
I don’t know why I write. No particular reason. My next book will contain many letters; maybe I just want to add your name to the bunch. Years ago I used to write to Tony when life was pretend and Tony was The Pretender. Now I haven’t the desire to get in touch with that fakealot. You, however, are human, and two eyes that will look upon my pile of crap, even if only in brief moments of personal desperation.
The truth being told, I need another human being to fondle my thoughts. Marie hears so much dirt in a day that it’s a wonder she can give me a second look without following it with a violent kick in the crotch. I need to write letters. I’m tired of writing to nobody. I am sick of a world that refuses to write to save itself from spiritual slaughter. We need more letters! Why bother opening the mailbox? Who’s getting a present? It’s junk mail or anthrax, and just the appropriate amount of bills to keep you and your neighbor enslaved for a lifetime. There is not enough open speculation about the expected stability of people’s brains. Look what I see. The whole lot of us walk around like Goofy with his pants down. Our viewers already expect from us the most outrageous acts of stupidity. But to expose our ugly genitals while being so stupid? Pornographic. Demented. Just too much perversion for this poor man to bare.
Speaking of bears… Are there any lumbering by your window in the north country? Is one trying to read over your shoulder right now? Do you think he would agree with my bit about Goofy, if he was dumb enough to read?
Look Pat, they hand out literacy by the millions, but never expect any of us to use it properly. They demand articulation, but really all they want is to hear us say the word, “articulation,” so every one in the room can know each other’s limits, and talk incessantly about the kind of every day drama a squirrel would pee on, if he could sit still for five minutes and take into his tiny squirrel skull such a relentless banter of meaninglessness. Pick your words recklessly mi amigo, and put them into letters. No one is interesting enough for a conversation. I say make a man read what’s on your mind, even if all you ever think about is shit. We all admit that in person we don’t listen to a word the other person says. Don’t bother to say anything. Write it down! Then he is forced to read. Write it all down, even the bowel movements of your everyday life. Wait for the biographers or the staff psychiatrists to write out explanations for you.
This week I plan to write to a couple credit card companies. I want to offer them a rate they can’t refuse. It’s time for the poor man to fight these birds. With power? No! Letters. More letters. Open, angry demanding letters. No pussyfooting, “please can we meet on common ground?” letters. What have we done in the past about our insurmountable debt? We pay the bill. It comes, and we pay it. Now some other naked Goofy searching for his trousers is sending anthrax poison through the mail. I think that he just wants to punish his creditors. Too bad, he thinks, that the mailman, and every other average Joe in Nincompoopville is left wide open to death. Every one is vulnerable because death is inevitable. Who is innocent? It wouldn’t matter because death is never fair. The man sending death-by-mailman might be death itself. But who would believe that unless the President said it was true? Believe in God, in Jesus, but don’t believe in death. Absolutely absurd to think it could come dressed up in man’s clothes. Most of us are certain it will never come at all. Death never hits us until it does. I say there would be no fear if death was obvious and expected. If it was real, like a man, and all at once sat down at every table in America.
Meanwhile, we have all been smeared with the kind of evil the President decries. What are we to do as Americans if, after thorough investigation, these deadly letters are being sent by reindeer from the Seattle Zoo? Or from children who broke into a laboratory a couple months ago, and stole a box with some “neat shit” in it? Or what if it’s a man named Ahmad Pakistan who has been living in Iowa for six years just waiting for his chance to kill people? What difference does it make to God? All humanity over twelve years of age is already plagued with the virus that mistrusts living and ignores death. Even the poor reindeer in the zoo. Like the rest of us, he expects his special dinner on Sunday too. Only death will prevent him from getting it. But who really understands this? It’s getting worse each passing day. All the Goofys want their new, special thing. A Volkswagen Bug, ice skates, salvation… Has anyone considered the nineteen lives lost, the nineteen “evil” lives, in the September 11th drama? You can bet that God has. Who thinks about the 20 million Russian lives lost during WWI? Only some professor trying to make a point. But out of that human tragedy we got better TV. Video biographies of Lenin, Trotsky, and a mad Joseph Stalin, whose deeds made even Hitler think, “Wow, can’t beat that!” What interesting viewing! Today this new world media touts it’s recent 3000 dead statistic as if it just counted jelly beans in a jar, and I’m supposed to be shocked because Tom Brokav got a sheet of death dust in the mail? I say good riddance to the sleeping animals. My dear friend, it’s time to wake up and live, even if for just a very short time. But be careful! Humans everywhere prey on other humans, and if that was an unfair beginning, it’s a justified end. What does it matter that we, as biological phenomena, could live strong, healthy, vibrant lives for two centuries or more? We’re lucky to get in as many years as we do dressed as presidents and pedophiles. Still, it’s a weak life that embraces its father’s legacy of “follow the rules sons and daughters. No matter what the horrors of humanity show you… Always follow the rules!”
Last week I watched a show on TV entitled “Hitler’s Women.” The commercials in between were all about choosing the right financial advisor, or buying the best SUV, and I thought that any Jewish man alive today with a link to the Holocaust possessed divine right to explode a bomb in the building where that film was being broadcast. Was his grandfather humiliated, robbed, beaten, deprived of food and water, and then set on fire so that the owner of the television station, and all the people connected to it, could make a vile living feeding on the murder of eleven million human beings? The people at home, including myself would get their just desserts too. Why not? How could such once unimaginable horror be born again into our imaginations as “before bedtime entertainment?” It’s a fucking shock to the system just to think about that insanity for five minutes.
But we no longer invite ourselves into our true thoughts. Therefore rarely are we shocked, even for five minutes. I don’t think a shock could shock us, not ten thousand volts, or even our own heads cut off and thrown rolling across the street. Does it matter? Shocked or not shocked, three thousand murdered, or a show about bunnies, and yet the commercials still come. The economy grows or slows, the money either comes or goes, children lose their fingers and toes. The commercials still air on time and always on purpose.
Happy Day! So how is the job treating you? Remind me never to get political again. The sad truth is, however, that life and living itself must get politcal if its going to boil down to crying out against the boiling of human beings. Extremist. Dangerous. I’m on the wrong side and at both extremes of the political spectrum. Either way my color is dark and unhappy. I cannot trust a single soul.
My dear Pat, you called last night to tell me once again about your financial predicament. Don’t do that anymore. You are poor, broke, down without a dime, but this does not prevent you from having a pot belly and cable TV. Anyway I don’t care. Not until you join the ranks. Not until you are ready to cast blame. My father called up a few hours ago to ask me for Christmas suggestions. He’s going shopping at the Mall tomorrow. This has got to stop. I am a grown man. On the other side of the world America is bombing children. Bodies are being ripped open, bombs are falling, blood is spurting out of holes shot through human bone and skin, and running into sewage drains. Bombs are raining on the desert and in the street. Everyone on that side of the planet is screaming. What could I possibly want? What do I dare need?
Jesus Christ, is there a sensitive man I can talk to?
My old friend, you are the bottom dreaming of the top. But your top is my bottom, and I don’t know a single soul alive who thinks like me. Now I think I can tell my Dad what I want for Christmas.
I would like some teeth of a murdered Afghan child. I want to wrap them in a handkerchief to lay beneath your granddaughter’s pillow. I want the tooth fairy to hover lightly above the murdered Afghan child who lies inside your grandchild in bed, sleeping and dreaming on her pillow.
And Dad, wouldn’t it be swell if all of America had to run outside tonight screaming in the pouring rain? Wouldn’t it be great to know that by tomorrow the world would have collapsed and all the wrong was gone for good? That too. I want that too.
I don’t know if Border’s has that, or JC Penny, or Kinney shoes. You might have to go to Awareness.com, but by the time you get online the whole world might be dead. And really, who would know or care as long as we preserved in our brains the hopeful thought of shopping today?
This letter has become another one of my anger bombs. Please make this stop. Teach me soon Pat, before I go nuts, the art about not giving a good god damn.
Goonnite.
Ronald

Letter to The Credit Store, Inc.

Hi,

You don’t know me because I haven’t a face. This morning I want to put one on so whoever you are will know me, and we might become great friends spending lavishly together for the rest of our lives.
Twelve years ago I got a credit card while attending college. Five hundred dollars credit was quite a sum to the boy who had not a penny in his pocket. Nor a job. Nor any intention of ever getting a job. I took it eagerly, (show me any nineteen-year-old without means who would not), and spent every dollar allowed on gas money, cigarettes, chips, soda, and beer all the way to New Orleans and back.
I am sure that then I had every intention of paying my debt. However, a year later, after graduation, I was cooking my meals on a wood stove and trying to stay alive without money. So you can see I was unable to pay the monthly balance. Interest added up by the hour while I ignored every single bill that came to my table. Any heat in winter depended upon my own two hands, so I decided not to make money-making a priority because my infant daughter needed wood on the fire and constant giving moments of loving attention. I am proud to say that for quite some time I was able to chop, stack, and burn my fuel without earning a dime.
Years passed. I lived from check to check, or from week to week without a check. I moved my home over twenty times, and was even homeless a couple Aprils in a row. My initial credit card company finally gave up on me. They sold my account, writing me off as a bad debt. Tax savings for them, and a new human poker chip for an upstart garage company to gamble with.
Fortunately I was in the right frame of mind to not give them the chance to make a profit by me, at least not without my consent. I too wanted a piece of the action. But the new company never sent a penny my way. Only more letters demanding money.
Year after year I was sold to many different companies, probably for some ridiculously low sum, and each company not losing a penny on my bad debt because the IRS was, and is, a WASP mafia-like organization of government worshiping, half people with no self-respect. Then last year I was caught off guard. I answered the phone.
It was your company calling.
You wanted the sum I spent in New Orleans, plus nearly double the principle in interest. I wanted to please my wife. Like the fool I am and shall always be, I agreed to your terms, forgetting that I had every right to hang up the telephone. Guilty about money spent twelve years ago, I was getting older, more set in my ways, and leaning further toward the open arms of the middle classes. I wanted to mow my lawn, eat my meat, drag my bones about the house like a two-week old battery-powered toy, and pay all outstanding debts, eventually. At the time I never thought about who I was paying. Who had begging rights to my money? Was it you? But you were not my initial lenders. You were the parasitic worm of man, the lowest of the low, exceptional human cheater, better than the best thief at tying up and ripping off members of your own species. I realized this the moment I hung up the phone. I was caught. Cornered by middle class conscience, self duress persuaded my player to surrender his piece in the Capitalistic Extortion Guilt Game.
Oh well. The fool and someone else’s money.
I paid the debt with a little extra to spare.
Now I want my extra back.
My last bill says I have a credit balance of $12.02. You can choose not to pay in full. However, there is a minimum charge of $.59 and an annual interest rate of 20.07%. If I am not in receipt of at least the minimum payment by December 21, 2001, there will be a delinquency charge of $35.00 added to your account. If you do not want to be written off as a delinquent by a delinquent, I would suggest sending the money right on time.
I am doing business as “Ron Throop’s Credit Emporium” and your company is my first customer. After reviewing your economic history I regret to inform you that your credit limit is set at $12.02. So no card will be issued.
You will receive a bill each month for as long as you are in debt to me. Your account number is 12345-6789.
Any questions? Call me. You already have every number ever associated with my name.

P.S. This is how I calculate your average daily balance. First I figure a portion of the 55,000 years of pent-up, masochistic silliness, and divide that by the cost of a discount camera, and five pound can of cheap coffee bought on credit at a thrift store. Then I take the beginning balance of a very cheap Christ, Zoroaster, Mohammed, Buddha, five hundred and twenty-two Hindu deities, add an endless slew of new, meaningless purchases, multiply that ending balance by the zero lifetime spent calculating credit and debit, inhale a deep breath of that infinite emptiness, and blow it into a big green plastic bag. I quickly tie up the ends of the bag, walk out into my backyard with a spade and my new big balloon, dig a deep hole, drop the big balloon in, cover the hole, and firmly pack the very cheap dirt down over it. Then I lay the spade on the grass beside my toes, pull my jeans down around my ankles, and piss a hot stream of urine all over your money grave. This gives me the “average daily balance,” and a very powerful sense of lifetime security.

P.P.S. I think I shall charge you an annual fee of $45.00         beginning January 1, 2002.

P.P.P.S. This communication is from a debt collector.

Pleasure doing business with you, you usurious scum of the earth.

Ron Throop

Letter to Mr. Ahmed Kuschbash, an Old Afghan Man Watching His Grandbabies Explode

You don’t know me but I am a citizen of the United States. Your country is being bombed by my country and I don’t care. I’m too worried about getting a job. Anyway, what special prize would I get for wondering about the safety of your family? So you see, I can’t worry. The President said not to worry. He said America is fighting a crusade against evil. To tell the truth I also find my solace in the green flashes and thick, hot smoke choking your insignificant nation. It’s interesting and, I confess, even a bit soothing to my spirit. My television won’t show your son’s intestines hanging out of his barely breathing body. I think that’s because our journalists would chew on a hot sandwich with curly fries rather than tell the truth.
I don’t care because I can’t, not because I would, even if I could. I am an American scum, a coward, a hideabout. This winter I’ll most certainly pay taxes on time to have my road paved next year and your grandchildren blown apart tomorrow. I am not alone. All of my American brethren are sissies and cowards too. As long as the money comes, and the video, and the new car—we will hand money over to the war machine, the evil crusaders, the sick fundamentalist white, black, and blue preachers who run the country now. Thanksgiving is in two weeks and I think we’d eat you dirty people if the President told us too, and ordered his generals to wrap you up in plastic mesh bags like headless Tom Turkeys.
Mr. Kuschbash, I understand that you just turned seventy-nine years old. Congratulations on your long life. Hopefully upon reading this, you still have warm blood in circulation. Or has one of our bombs already speckled your cave walls red? Do you like dying for no cause? Were you retired? No, you could not possibly understand what that word means. You’re still milking one goat and you’ll milk her every morning until a United States soldier fires a bullet through your head for speaking in tongues. You should see how the little old men and women of America sympathize with your present plight! As long as the retirement check comes in the mail, the typical senior citizen does not care a new set of teeth if a troop of soldiers just forced you to swallow your own big toe. Would you care about them if you had shuffleboard, golf, a proud array of cheap pretty things to look at, and lavender-scented sheets to lie down upon? Yes you would. But you’re an ancient religion that Americans cannot for the life of them understand, even though they’ve been given the power of free thought. Americans are spoiled dogs. Loyal pets to the machine. Dedicated in equal proportion to the amount of hamburger chunks tossed to them.
I must admit that I am no better. Yes, I am young and against everything, but I also have my own babies, and do not intend to raise a finger to help you old man. I fear that something bad might befall my family. I fear my government, but not in the same way that you fear it. In this country, a soldier cannot pull a man out of his home and shoot him dead in the street. Not here in America! No, the sneaky rats of our government would have the flag wavers do it to him first. My own neighbors, the mob of men and women who need Afghan children to die so their hearts can glow warm with brotherhood. No, if I show the slightest mark of dissent, their gentle ways, their hearts overflowing with glorious thoughts of brotherhood, will break into my house, rape my wife, call my oldest daughter a sand-nigger loving toad, and surely stone me to death. I see what bombing your country does to them. It fills them with glee. They’re hopping up and down, joyfully waiting for shuffleboard. Every single one of these monsters will remain silent until our government says that the war is over. Translated into the Afghan tongue that means literally “get a good look at your friend’s head today, Mr. Kuschbash, for tomorrow it’s faceless history.”
It is the mob mentality of my neighbors, the living dead, waiting for their chance at shuffleboard and medicated living; they are the guilty ones. God says so. Any real poet says so. Yet both are forced into quiet for fear of their lives. Yes Mr. Kuschbash, it’s true. America would blow it’s own God out of the sky if it stood in the way of their right to shuffleboard. My street’s representative to God has an American flag waving from his porch roof and satellite dish attached to his steeple. He must also appreciate very much the green flashes ripping across a night sky!
I understand that you had nothing to do with crashing jet liners into very tall buildings. But I promise you that I am the only one here who understands that much. The other 279 million plus human idiots know that you had no part, yet the President says you have to die else the price of gasoline and airline tickets will rise by twelve percent. That’s good enough reason for everyone here to want proof that you’re dead.
Dear Mr. Kuschbash, are you still reading? Or did you crawl out of your cave to milk the goat, pump some water, or do whatever poor, luckless chore you must do to survive? I understand. But my President publicly swears that you’re a violent madman. He vows to kill you and everyone. I know and you know that privately, he’s sexually, religiously, and ferociously frustrated. He and everyone else in the world knows that your only utensil is a scratched, aluminum spoon. And no doubt old man, you have the power to pop out our eyeballs and fling them with that spoon.
Finished? Yes of course you are old man! Might as well enjoy what night you have left, do whatever it is you funny-looking ragamuffins do for enjoyment, play a game with a long stick, smile your toothless hopes and dreams for one more night, because tomorrow you’re dead waste!
Anyway, what I want to know is this… What would you do if the American war machine accidentally left behind a B-52 bomber outside your cave? Inside the cockpit you’ll find a little instructional manual written in your language. It contains information needed to fly it, and mechanically unlatch the big hatch in the hull so you can drop pretty yellow bombs and matching colored food parcels on the harmless village of your choice. What would you do with such a gift? Would you follow through with its original, satanic intentions? Not likely. I think instead, you’d set up housekeeping in the plane, divide the food out evenly among your family and friends, and let the goat nibble on the shiny yellow bombs. I would wait for your reply to tell me if my assumption is right, but your head and body will be separate by morning. Oh well.
Here’s a fact about those shiny yellow bombs. Did you know that our stupid, barely literate military pilots name each one before dropping it on your children? Here in America we watch the TV news every night, every single lonely night, just night after night after night, and many more nights to come until the final night comes, about the same time at night when you walk outside to milk your goat. There’s a video of a pilot smiling as he writes “from NYC fire department” across one. They personalize the bombs. It’s funny business to Americans. All of us put a smile on before killing you from thirty thousand feet up in the Afghan sky. Face to face, each one of these baby killers would shit himself in your sandbox if forced to explain his cowardly behavior to you face to face. I know the anger boiling inside your soul. I know that you will want revenge if you survive an attack. I know that if you were a few decades younger, you would become tomorrow’s terrorist, and offer your life up to the nearest demagogue with a semi-feasible plan. An eye for an eye, correct? I would do the same. Who in God’s whole creation would not?
These news videos fill me with dread. But I will forget about you Mr. Kuschbash just minutes after I turn off the television. I promised my daughter creme bruleé for dessert tonight. A moment ago I watched my wife get out of bed, and had not the least bit of difficulty getting aroused by her beauty. The moment she stepped into the shower, three or four more American bombs erased the village on the other side of that mountain. Your village is next Ahmed. I am sorry that no one will be left to buy a bag of your goat’s milk. But as far as I can tell, I am the only one who is sorry in America.
But to be completely honest… If I had only goat’s milk to bake in my custard, and my government began bombing you so that cow’s milk would come back to my kitchen, and the TV news anchor man said, “Don’t worry! We’ll never show you a dead Afghan. Just pretty green flashes and objects exploding on the ground which we’re told were trucks carrying fuel to Afghan tanks. Either that or water jugs being pulled by Afghan mules…” If I could get these conditions to insure a sweet and silky custard, I too would not care a beating heart about you Mr. Kuschbash. That’s the truth. And absolutely universal outside of Afghanistan!
I should be strangled with heaven’s shame for not changing my diet to spare the life of another human being. Ha! ha! But heaven’s dropping death on your side of the world, so it looks like I really don’t have to care a pill for you!
I just got into bed and snuggled up in my sheets to watch my beautiful baby dream. She’s nine months old and fully enjoying her free and happy existence. My wife just stepped into a hot shower and one American bomb just blew your neighbor’s cave up into dust and blood. You heard the screams. Did you think that terrorists lived there? You thought that Omar and his two shy daughters weaved blankets all day to sell at market. Not anymore. America said it will kill anyone with the name Omar. Then it said it will kill anyone who weaves blankets. It’s not a crusade against the evil ones. No. It’s a massacre of the different. It is the hot winds of destruction sent by the foul breath of human nature. The pretending innocents sit down to eat a bowl of custard. They won’t partake in the slaughter of humanity, directly. They just eat dessert and complain a little bit while the Kuschbash population is erased from existence.
The sun is rising in the East where America digs for you a hot smoking tomb Mr. Kuschbash.
I am sorry for you old man. But in this age of distrust and paranoia, I promise to forever remain more sorry for myself.

Good luck!

Ron Throop. An American coward.

Letter of Application to the United States Election Committee From the Rama Party:

Dear sirs and maybe one madam (who wants to be a sir),

Hi, my name is Ron Throop and I am running for the office of President in the year 2004. I am curious to know what preparations I must take in order to get my party on the ticket. Is there a total number of signatures I will need? How many? Any specific clauses (besides the obvious ones) which keep all honest and sincere people from trying to become President? When can I start campaigning? Please send a reply as soon as possible.
I will be fully endorsed by the Ramas. Enclosed please find my party’s official description and mission statement.
Thank you for your time.

Ronald J. Throop

The Rama Party

Under cover of night, Rama brought Lakshmana and Sita with him to his mountain retreat. He wasn’t ready to be king. Scandal would erupt in his father’s palace if Rama accepted power too hastily. He believed that time in exile would help cleanse his spirit and strengthen his resolve. Time and sacrifice he thought would cement the trust of the people.
Rama lived a peaceful existence on the mountain, loved by his perfect bride Sita, and loved and counseled by Lakshmana, his loyal half brother. His days were simple and wonderful until the morning the many-headed, lunatic monster, Ravana, stole Sita from Rama. Then the epic story of the quest for Sita begins. Flying monkeys, wise vultures, voluptuous evil deities dancing a test by temptation, secret worlds within our world, battles being fought, lost and won with bravery and meaningful death—always without smart bombs, machine guns, biological weapons, and land mines to act as a kind of appetizer to the threat of total annihilation which neither Rama nor Ravana could pull out of their immortal stockpile…Those were the days of man. As ancient as India and probably older.
We suggest to anyone who is thinking about joining the party to read The Ramayana to learn more about our hopes and fears, and our wiser solution to the present-day American crisis. We believe that success will come, but only after a total majority reads our story. For time is the maker of all miracles, and time is one thing the Rama Party has in abundance. We desire that each individual American nurture his natural right to dream all day from under a tree in an ancient forest. We believe that American freedom should consist of lying down most of the day dressed in loose, colorful clothing. All ideals, all morals are born out of that perfect hour while reading aloud the tales of Rama and Sita to our loved ones. The whole forest is alive with joy. The wild monkeys leap and laugh high up in the canopy. All days from now on are to be this sleepy and innocent.
In 2004, or 2008, if conditions are ripe (and if Rama is old enough), we will put our representative up for Presidential election.
Rama is dead but Ron Throop is not. In order for him to accept the highest office in government, he must be elected by a 99% majority. At present Ron is our only member. The party doubts very much that America, in its current loathsome condition, could spit forth another man or woman to share with Ron his romantic ideas for the presidency. Although he alone can save the country from disaster, no one has yet been willing to follow his path of thought to find out how. (If you or someone you know is a Lakshmana, please write to our candidate as soon as possible. He needs a sane and strong running mate to help with the hunting and seemingly endless wood chopping).
Rama left his kingdom. If elected President of the United States, Ron Throop promises also to leave. He will go into hiding immediately. He has already made his plans for an arduous climb up an unknown wooded mountain. All decisions of state will be made from a small, modest hut he will build singlehandedly. Aside from signing or vetoing only those bills delivered to him via a trusted messenger, he will do very little in the ways of governing. No sound will be made to the public, nor to the hired representatives of the public who make noise and more noise, with unjust intentions to pollute the public always. Because our candidate refuses to pollute the public, he will have no intercourse with the other two branches of government.
No domestic policy. No foreign policy.
In fact, no man or country is invited to dinner, unless he or it agrees to hike up the mountain alone to meet the President.
We of the Rama Party believe like Thoreau that the state which governs least, governs best. Our new president will not employ a secret service to lock up his retreat in constant surveillance. Once every day he will meet with his cabinet for a walk and talk about the state of the nation. Each member will have a cabin too, and a family there to love and interact with after advising the President. The cabinet will live in cabins, the only appropriate abode for members of all governing bodies.
Throughout his term policy cannot waver, even in the likely event that a rogue nation vows cannibalistic jihad until every last American has been eaten. Ron will keep good to his promise to do nothing.
Assassination attempts are inevitable. The party knows that the killer must be smarter than both the President and his messenger to ever get near enough to murder. Still, any successful assassination would be honored by the party. We hope the killer would choose to remain on the mountain to finish his victim’s term.
Meanwhile the President shall not be concerned over such trifling matters as self preservation. There’s a country to love and look after. How will the common man refrain from paranoia if his own President does not feel safe? Ron will accept the job after receiving 99% of the vote. No need to justify spending the people’s money protecting his skin from the radical wing of the 1%. The job pays too well to care. We strongly believe that a president should expect to die for his country. No one should protect him if he cannot protect himself. Therefore, only warriors need apply. If the President-elect is not prepared to defend the country all by his lonesome, then too bad for the entire country. Rama was an expert bowman. Ron will know how to shoulder his bazooka like a pro.
The job pays well, but our candidate expects no monetary salary. He will live on donations of food and fuel for the length of his term.
Remember, no domestic and foreign policy. All governing consists in the guise of whatever paper reaches his office for signature. No Brownie troops to meet with on Thursday morning. No Chinese Premier to happily shake hands with today and tomorrow threaten with nuclear tough talk.
Ron knows that it’s the world’s children who have their faces blown off in a war. Therefore he will forever be aggressively against it. A Secretary of War will be chosen to keep in touch with the death-wielding generals in times of hostility and unrepairable conflict. In the unlikely chance that war is declared, our President, holding tightly to his bazooka, must be the first to charge the enemy. If a draft becomes necessary, it will call for all propertied, married men, over the age of forty-five, who bought a new car at least once in their lives. Our party knows what is needful to perpetuate god’s animals on earth, and it’s not the miracle of money making money. The money hoarders never make good soldiers. So they get sent down to the front lines first. Ron believes in saving America’s youth for procreation. He knows that all wars yesterday and today are provoked by the rich and powerful. Ron says that the old rich men are too fat and comfortable to ever make a worthwhile country anyway. So each one shall stand behind his President and wait for the call to charge.
Four years of doing absolutely nothing! Letting the country go. The Executive Branch of the United States Government acting like the part time babysitter it should be, and putting on no new masks! The money we could save! The example the President would set! Nothing ever before like it. Not even George Washington. “A New Precedent by Your President!”—That could be our motto. Or we might prefer the following one: “Cloud-hidden Whereabouts Unknown”. Give us a party for our platform and we promise never to show our candidate in the public eye.
In 2004 or 2008, it’s Ron Throop and the Ramas.
If he gets one other vote it might be enough to set America on a winning path.

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Serial Installment #15 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 283-301

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Thank you anybody for continuing with me. Henry Miller claimed he just needed one good reader to satisfy his needs as a writer. I only need half a reader. Preferably the part that keeps the eyes.

I’m locked up in the teahouse. The rain is heavy. Wind too. I feel the energy to write another eighty pages. But as usual I will write two or three pages worth of mock-enlightened spit, and call it a day.
Last night while waiting in a parking lot in the rank and filth of dirty, soiled, and brown Auburn, NY, two eight-year-old boys took turns throwing a concrete rock into a rain puddle. Wonderful I thought! Innocence. Real joy. Oh, but it wasn’t long before I convinced myself that in ten years both of these boys would be insane. In twenty years, criminally insane. In thirty years, homicidally insane. In forty years, practically insane. In fifty, barely lifting a golf ball off the delicate mowed grasses of insanity. Irrigated grass. Technological grass. In sixty years both boys would possess a bleeding, cancerous gash in the prostate. One of them would talk of nothing but his open sores and the dumb dot-head doctors who insist on operating. The other boy would get plowed over by a tractor trailer because he drank two scotches at the club instead of cuddling up in bed with his dying wife.
I am thirty-four years old, sane, and as wise as I will ever be. There’s not a positive goal to aspire to in a country where all the children are insane.
I am overflowing. The creative spirit is tickling and teasing me. It goads me to write what I cannot write, because if I wrote it, I would no longer be human. So I had better stop writing for people.
There.
I am writing for goats. I don’t want to pretend that I am an intelligent human. I’m not even a smart goat. If I wrote in goatspeak for eighty pages or so, maybe I could find a goat that would eat my book. Every pasteurized, homogenized house on this street should have a goat in the yard. And now that the children are insane it’s high time for their bleating goats to explode.
My happiness is awake. It was asleep underground but now it is awake. Although still underground. I want all of you to feel the gladness I feel while my wife and I cuddle with the children in bed. I am so far down below that even your sewers cannot reach me. No one can see me. And if you light a match to get a better look, your face will explode.
Can you smell hot homemade pancakes served on a white plate? Can you taste the maple syrup and salted butter melting over the top? In late September the clouds carry the first cold rain that will help you forget the Roman-ness of summer. Time to hibernate like the animals. My writing must have some feelings you share when wondering about the bliss of nostalgia. This particular letter must be a feel of gray clouds moving over your hands while you lie down in the grass for the last time this year. Soon the true cold and wet, and then snow. Spring is newborn up until the age of equally ravenous and stupid adolescence. Summer is manhood, womanhood. Fall is the present of whatever you are. And winter is all about remembering the bummer of mortality… Life is one such year, and then it’s over. Just like that.
I hate America because it has stalked my imagination day and night and attempted murder on my sense of adventure. A listless waiting. A small rise and fall in the chest. One eye might open for a second, when no one is looking. This is the new frontier? This space? This emptiness? Fill in the void here? You stupid, overtly pleasant numbskulls! Adjust your lives this instant to continue the rightful evolution of our species. Think about where the day should go when you are alive! No death. No unhappiness. No more bottomless brain sludge in an acid lake. It’s been twenty-five years since I have spoken with an enlightened human being. We were lying down in the soft grass tossing a stick back and forth. The clouds passed overhead while time passed away. I want all of you to change course by tomorrow! Become the overflowing reservoir you were born to be. An Alpine lake, too deep to measure, and water pure enough to drink and breathe if you are a fish. I don’t think that I will ever get through to you. You are a target I hit, round after round, but cannot penetrate.
This teahouse is my only material treasure. My anger will cease and my love for humanity flower the first morning I prefer to brew tea and not count money. In my dream of last night there was satellite TV hooked up in the basement. I have read Suzuki’s plea to the western man. I know that if his books were stacked up beside a box of stale vanilla wafers, the western man would blankly flip through the pages looking for pictures, while eating the cookies. If his wife was beside herself with anger, screaming out her final “No!,” he would take the wafers to the living room, lay down on the sofa, channel surf, and chew. If he had the choice of Suzuki or death, he’d sneak the box of wafers down into the basement and munch and munch and munch for however long it took death to pass over him.
The life in me has never been this ready to release itself. I feel a total desperation, but the only positive action I can dream up is a new plan to quit my job. When I was young I could take a bottle and a friend to get the madness off my chest. Today it’s just madness that doesn’t go away. Unavoidable masochism. I chew flat stones instead of stale wafers, in a pretend show to stay a step or two away from men.
I need one other person to be as daffy as me. Just one, do you understand? Then we could make our bitter points heard to the walking cadavers of the earth. Are there even two people out there brave enough to share their mad, post-modern personalities? Will anyone play concrete rock with me? It’s not only very unlucky to be socially sane, but to be so is the mark of the highest insanity. The socially sane shop for furniture. One important aspiration of the socially sane is to get through life with just a moderate intake of alcohol. Another is a painless death. Social sanity means never having to fall down drunk in front of your children, unless you can get lucky, and die drunk. Controlled decision-making. Silent dreaming. Extremely controlled dreaming and silent decision-making. Secret dreaming. Underground dreaming. Dream awake, however be prepared to utter a sober “please” and “thank you” upon each human encounter. Watch the boys drop a rock into the rain puddle. Shhh! Wait and hope and dream that there will come a wonderful day when your brain decides to pick up that rock and drop it in the puddle again. Meanwhile, while silently dreaming, ask, “What are we having for dinner?” Wait a moment for an answer. Be patient. One never needs to demand an answer. It will most certainly come. Social sanity must always be polite. Time will get its chance to tie those little boys up into a life of constant, silent, agonizing dreaming. Time waits well. So do the socially sane. They are consummate waiters. Always on purpose.

I think Janie was teething the day the war began. I am at war with America. Come get me.
Afraid of death. Terrified of living without coffee. Consumers continuing movement after having every organ sucked out of their bodies and the bodies stuffed with purchases! I am a man trapped in the culture of no culture. These rows of American flags protect materials. Imagine what the flags are covering… Behind that flag’s door is a pot-belly drinking soda on the couch. He would shit his pants if an armed-to-the-toe, sandaled Arab walked into the room. Box cutters? Americans were overtaken by box cutters? The caged poodles in the hold of the plane were ready to leap through the floor and tear at the hijacker’s flesh, but no man was ready to risk his life to save his life. Jesus, whenever Jesse James held up a stage, he made sure there were several robbers with him, and plenty of guns too. If not, the women passengers, petticoats and all, would jump down off the stage at full gallop, and ferociously scratch out eyeballs to prevent assault and robbery. But these guys had box cutters. Box cutters!
Flags and more flags. We need bigger flags for bigger houses. What a warning to the world! “Bomb us with our own planes and you just see how many flags we can buy!” Now the terrorists back East, burrowing in the sand, have a sense of humor. This moment their leaders are sitting down around a campfire, giggling and toasting their luck with tin cups of warmed goat’s milk.
My wife and I admit that I must be careful what I write. Too many stupid people in the world. She fears for our safety. No fear-struck tiny editor mind would publish this book in America anyway, so she shouldn’t worry. She can worry the day I address all of my manuscripts to Pakistan.
Is it over? Is the war over? A “Don’t Tread On Me Flag” is popular at market today because it’s different. A fine symbol for revolution with an autumnal Winnie-the-pooh flag waving below. Got to prove to our neighbors that we are patriotic and incurably tasteless. Beany Babies for sale down a rural American road, and when church lets out up the street, I swear to God that not one of those flesh blobs looks human. Stunted human moles, young and old with flab roles. No man walking down the steps, tall, strong, proud, fierce. Everyone into a new car. Even the rectory hangs it’s token flag. Next to the Monsignor’s satellite dish!
Kenneth Patchen wrote about the war in 1940. Hell’s images for pompous literati to slice open their wrists with. But no one who mattered read it. The killers never read. Ferocious dogs and their mad, continuous barking. The indifferent cold murder of children and the elderly. The running and hiding behind walls to rape twelve year old girls. Lynching. Tying up negroes and Chinamen to trees and snapping rubber bands around their constricting testicles. Stopping along the highway to rob a service station. Setting up camp on a riverbank southwest of Detroit. The relentless bombing from the skies, bullet holes, bleeding… The masses cannot understand. Their children will go to school to recite The Pledge of Allegiance. I must nip that insanity in the bud. It is my intent to poison their little minds with the truth, for someday they will be grown-up enough to kill. I must teach them now, in innocence, the value of life, of every life…Human, skunk and stinky Arab.
At the dinner table I have told my daughter that war can be creative. If America dropped baskets of fruit over terrorist compounds, I would rave about being a patriot and wave my flag out in the yard, on my car, out my ear. I’d take it to bed with me. Baskets of fruit, toy horses, lemonade packets, toilet paper, dog bones… War is hell, but only from lack of imagination. Drop sacks of body odor, a billion dollar bills, false teeth by the thousands. Strap a couple billionaires to gigantic fresh-water fish and drop them with a surprising message of devotion to humanity.
Why the billionaires? Because they are the ones the evil doers want. Tie Bill Gates to a mother salmon fat with eggs, ride him and the poor fish five miles into the sky, tie a note to his wrist that reads, “I think that you starving sand niggers smell” in Arabic, or whatever language those dirty beggars speak nowadays, and drop him, the fish, a bright light, and a parachute over the bleak and wide desert of human sadness and poverty.
I say seize his assets, and those of anyone else who would allow decorative crafts into their homes. Seize everything made of money and convert it all into silly bombs. We must retaliate with laughter. Terrorize the world with laughter!
But I am through with war. It doesn’t exist. I said Janie was teething the day the war began. She’s still teething and it’s over. Finished forever. No more human wars. They’re too funny. Historically speaking human blood wrought from war is funny. It is entertainment. It’s still Thanksgiving in November and beer picnics on Memorial day even if a Johnny’s head was sliced off in 1863 or 1943 or 2003. It never matters. I want very much for this book to blow some fresh air into our children. I want to empower each child with the vision of becoming a remarkably better parent than what exists today. I write for the children although I don’t want the children to read what I write. It is a book for when they grow up. If I finish it, they will grow up by the year 2020. If I don’t finish it, all the babies presently cutting teeth will have their brains blown out impersonally by whichever President you elect. My finished book is all about teaching the children music and sewing, cooking with love, and building shelters for safety and never decorative deception. It is teaching them sanity. Because right now, at present, the parents cannot differentiate between sane or insane. I need to shine some light on the darkness coming. Truthfully, there is no danger that your local lettuce-nibbling backyard rabbit hasn’t felt a thousand times already. Still, we tend to make our imaginary monsters massive, ferocious, and unmerciful, even if they are not real. American monsters at their most violent and murderous, are really just crying new born babies with sore gums.
I loathe American Democracy. It sucks. I think we need a king of America. A successful revolution would crown a king. A king would spare us another four hundred years of cancerous madness. But what would happen to the poets? Well, he would have to wipe them out of course. I mean the four or five who foolishly kept writing the truth. The rest of the pretties, the laureates and the university professors—they could keep writing the safe crap that buys things, whether medium-sized boats, new cars, or self-esteem. It might please the king. Only in times of near disaster would it matter to me that I had a silver tongue. Then I’d speak up knowing that my throat would be cut by the king if I did not.
Yesterday, on the way to my sister’s new house, I drove the car across a bridge built over an ancient river. Down below, along its southern bank was the timeless village of Lashojas. Autumn’s blaze was full, singing praises of Indian summer. Canoes paddled up to docks where the children gathered to play. Husbands and wives were out walking, dreaming, of their golden day and the last still night before the cold winds blow.
“This is the real world,” I whispered to my wife who was nursing our baby in the backseat.
“What?” she asked. The broken muffler drowned out my talk.
Then I said, “Canoes,” as if expecting her to see all that I saw of the invisible village during those few seconds spent speeding over the bridge.
She saw. She knows. We have a baby. We cry. We feel.
Lashojas had a king. Not a mayor. Not a chief. No governor, no supervisor. The king had the power of the village’s strongest man, balanced beside the weakness of its most sensitive woman. The people sat at council. It mattered what they said, so the king could make his best decision, which was unanimously accepted. How could his decisions not be pure? Each utterance was true, every action needful, all no-action religiously necessary. Lashojas had a warrior-king. Without him, there would be no Lashojas.
Were they free?
More free than any freedom anyone has ever imagined.
More free than a United States Citizen?
Well, if freedom meant a safer place for human fear and apathy to reign, then no, the men and women of Lashojas were not free. Freedom was not a word in their vocabulary, nor was it ever a sign to motion. The people called themselves “trees with legs.” The king had all rights to hurricane or calm summer days. Yet he never ruled on whim. Nor did he need to conceal automatic weapons beneath his pillow. He kept no army besides devoted trees with legs, all of whom had unyielding, equal ambition to raise sane and healthy children. There was no nuclear missile ready in silo to annihilate the neighbor village, nation, or planet. No prisons that could comfortably fit a walking tree with legs.
When human evil came to Lashojas, the king killed it with his bare hands. Then he cut it up and fished using tiny cut chunks of its flesh as bait.
The United States has a president. It has freedom too. Freedom that is well defined, which doesn’t make a difference because its people are caged singing parakeets, not walking trees. When the President says, “kill,” the parakeets clump together and trill “kill.” When the President says, “Good parakeets,” the parakeets coo and cuddle up in flannel pajamas. They are proud of being caged birds. And why not? They have the biggest cages, bursting surpluses of parakeet food, shiny parakeet cars and trucks to wash and wax by their immaculately clean water bottles. When the President says “everything is evil,” the parakeets coo. When the President says “Have a good time,” the parakeets take off to Disney World, warbling and wondering, only to crash into walking trees and explode. When the President says time to kill again, the parakeets go shopping. They praise their god who is the parakeet with all the stuff. Their president is a money god.
No parakeet will trust another parakeet. Mother and father parakeets are waiting for the President to appear on TV. The baby parakeets are staring into the mirror. They are singing “me, me, me, me, me.” The President is on. The President sings.
“Hey wait a second!” says the want-to-be walking tree parakeet. “He’s not singing to us from a cage. He’s a thousand miles away safe in a steel mansion with many bullet-proof rooms. He has servant parakeets, a free car and all the gourmet seeds he can eat. He flies in leisure through the most ominous skies because the parakeet air force protects his wing. La! La!” The lone parakeet is startled by his own, emerging voice. “La! La! Who the hell does that President parakeet think he is bossing? La-la-da-dent-ta-da! President of the parakeets my eye! I have every right to be the President of me!” The parakeet with the new voice sings out to his fellow caged birds. They cannot hear. They drown out the new voice of the parakeet with a flood of their combined singing. They watch their President on the TV. They sing songs about their President. They pick out the best seeds in the dish. They buy parakeet toilet paper and sing “freedom” and “God bless America” because their President told them to.
The lone parakeet flies off to Montana, buys a used cage and carries it in his beak to a remote woods.
Meanwhile the entire population of the United States of Parakeets minus one rebel, caged bird, has their necks broken and feathers plucked personally by the king of Lashojas. That night he orders his cooks to prepare a grand feast to mark the change of season, and initiate another walking tree.

Even if I had the originality to access entry into the minds of future man, and they bought fifty of my books a month to keep my grandchildren free from toil, what good would that befall my family if their memories of grandfather were of a broken, and defeated man? Especially if all they ever wanted was a toy?
To continue on this course means to be too poor to give them a plastic bag to play with during a visit. I couldn’t even find one of those last night to shut out the freezing cold draft above the sill! My wife said,“Well, we’d have to go to the grocery store to get one of those!” Then she laughed. I laughed. In twenty years, neither of us will be laughing.
The spiritual meltdown of America. Yes of course! But what good is showing them if in return they cannot provide a chicken to braise in my pot every Sunday? I am spent. I want so badly to leap over to the other side. I want the opportunity to make the money I see being burned all around me. My daughter is selling candy bars. She put $22.00 into the 4-H piggy-bank this month. I made no money for my family. No money. Not even for food. Nada. What’s worse is that I am completely indifferent about getting a job.
I believe I have the right to steal for food and rent. Yet I won’t even imagine the opportunity! Total and absolute slave mentality. They got me! It’s a Saturday morning of the 21st century. I possess heaven’s eternal right to demand two percent of the millionaire’s income. A lousy two percent! That feeds the family, and delivers a toy or two for the children this Christmas. Why not? No millionaire earns his fortune, not working the way I have over the years. Five dollars an hour. Ten, fifteen, even fifty an hour and there’s nothing waiting for us besides cancer and heart disease. Only a persistent, insanely determined few can get to the million. They should be the most unlucky in a healthy society, and raided right now for a fair distribution of their dough. It’s a lie to say that anyone has ever earned that kind of money. It just isn’t true.
How many thousands of years philosophers grappled with the mysteries of life! Some in robes, most in rags, a few stark naked, but all in need of a bath. And for what? For more unsolvable mysteries! Fate, spirit, wealth, happiness, law, morality… No. This morning I stopped believing in morality. I launch internal mind spit at anyone who practices morality. My neighbor has enough to share with me. Money, not morality. I can take him by the throat and demand fairness, compassion, humility, and money, good god, yes… Money! Demand a position beside him at the office to prove to the world that I can squeeze a dollar from innocent blood as well as the next guy. If he doesn’t budge, I’ll take his money or his life—whichever I can get to first.
Aeons of thinking philosophy, arranging philosophy to fit a philosophy. And what is there now? An infinite number of paths leading to money. And still only one lonely road into the soul. Ten thousand years of practiced thought. So what? For this? Through every age, every epoch, all laws made by kings or legislators had to be broken by real philosophers. Then the philosophers were hung, or stretched, or tarred and feathered to death for breaking the law. Over time truth came to despise real philosophy because it could never amass an army before all of its soldiers got killed off. America, the modern empire, enforces its laws at the bottom in order to protect the top. It doesn’t matter if the bottom mass is a million times that of the top. The bottom can be that huge, that massive, but the law would never allow one lucky man to crawl out from under it. That might make the top drop another fifty bucks. So today laws are made to break the philosopher long before he can summon the courage to break them himself.
The philosopher is trespassing in America. He might walk tall, but get caught on the treated lawn of the millionaire, and off to prison, or a fine, or no job, or divorce, or “here’s fifty more channels for free, you human embarrassment! Be entertained and be thankful! If we catch you farting around this property again, you will be shot dead.”
In America the philosopher is anathema, the millionaire admired, the middle class, the envy of themselves, and the poor, always deserving to be envied and admired, someday. Truth is anathema. And each philosopher accuses the other of seeking a pension and not the truth. Correct! There is no truth after a man watches his second car commercial.
Who or what do you think these new and popular terrorists want? America? Do you really believe that? Yes you do. The reason for the recent flag proliferation. But I tell you, and telling you I know lessens my odds for a healthy dinner this week… Still, I tell you anyway. Listen. The terrorists want our millionaires. And yet we refuse to hand them over. There will be no more terrorism if we drop ten in the desert right now, freeze their assets, no—take their assets and bake money pies with them. Drop them and their pies to feed the hungry. Give up our millionaires to the terrorists! That’s what they want, and if anyone actually listened to their desperate plea to America, we might achieve a better understanding. Perhaps even take a step closer to morality.
Why did the World Trade Center have to be so god damn big in the first place? Could not the business smarm of this nation conduct the rape of our planet from underground? All of this is the fault of a cocky architect. A wiser Joe would have built Rape Central as close to the center of the earth as possible. How many companies upstairs do you think practiced honest, caring, business acts of love and devotion to their clients, employees, and the unrecognized gazillions of other sentient beings occupying planet earth? Each greedy business had its crooked fingers pushed up deep inside some poor man’s ass while busily cutting back another species to extinction. I’m sure of it. And so are you. But we’re entertained too well to think about those things. Too painful, especially before, during, and after such a delicious and filling supper.
And the other terrorist target…Tell the truth. How many murders do you think the Pentagon has been accomplice to? And don’t you dare say that there is any such thing as necessary murder! My guess is, since the birth of our nation, that office, or its equivalent, has killed more or less about two million people. That’s a very rough guess. The exact number can probably be determined, depending on your willingness to trespass onto its well-guarded estate. Just don’t get caught, or they’ll shoot you dead.
Tell me, what is Al-Qaeda? What does it stand for? Does it mean “bomb and burn innocent bodies?” Should we murder Timothy McVeigh’s entire family; grandpas, grandmas, ma, pa, sister, brother, etcetera, and a few more thousand relations not by blood? According to this government’s recent logic, oh absolutely! Actually, following its broken line of reasoning, we should bomb strategic pieces of this nation off the map. These lands were McVeigh’s temporary hideout, were they not? If the FBI didn’t catch him, Mr. President could have had Florida decimated, if he guessed that’s where evil Timmy was hiding out.
But I despise myself for giving the murderers of the world my time and effort. Right now, undercover in America, every man, woman and child is perpetuating murder. Jesus, I’m sorry but it must be true. If I don’t hear another dissenting opinion soon, I’ll go mad. If there was just one other sane human being to talk to, I don’t think my argument would get far enough to reach its inevitable conclusion of retribution. Just one more philosopher to explain my position to, for him to agree or disagree, but more importantly, for both of us to go out after talking and find a recreation less demanding than “round up” and “execution”.
Give the terrorists the millionaires! Just don’t give them the millionaire’s money. They can have the men and women who make money their mission. They can shake each one over the sand, to death if they want to, and find nothing besides pale faces and eyes staring wide open. Without money, money cannot be made. Good riddance to the millionaire, I say. Bad news for the terrorists.
The real terrorists, the true “evil-doers’ are the millionaires and any government that supports millionairism. It’s the truth. Why should I explain it to men who refuse to think like men any longer? Real terror is obeying laws made against your conscience, and every law that has ever been made without my permission has gone against my conscience. I am so embarrassed to be an American. I am terrified to be an American. I fear my own country, like my countrymen pretend to fear planes being hijacked and steered into billion dollar buildings. I could squeeze a Saudi until his eyes popped out. I am not frightened by this man, his bombs, nor his belief. I could take on any human being who challenged my heart’s desire. Our government is no human being. It shares the same ideals as a terrorist organization, just on a more massive, near infinite scale. It is greater than Allah, than Yahweh, than it’s own Jesus Christ, and the most terrifying truth is that it knows! And speaks murderous gibberish with a lunatic’s zeal. It has purposely made itself master of a weak belief, built from fear, and lasting only because it is supported by nuclear missiles. Behind its present unlimited power the helpless American dogs play about without a care in the world. They are shit-sniffers who won’t change a thing until the morning their food bowls aren’t full.
But the real bonding strength of our country comes from the millionaire. What he represents to the shit sniffers is a lifelong hope that the bones to come will get bigger and bigger. He is master. He decides which paths the loyal dogs will take. The terrorist dogs need his bones too. They need even more. Like an SUV and a rocket-launcher. These poor desert dogs are no different from us. Just a touch more envious because of their poverty. They just want what every dog-brained citizen of the United States of Fatstomachs wants. And a rocket launcher. Hmmn. Where can a poor dog get one of those?
From Grandma next door?
No.
From Lenny your best friend?
No.
From 99% of the shit-sniffing dogs in America?
No!
From the millionaires?
Should I write “yes?” Or should I beat you into the corner with a rolled up newspaper?
Meeting together, somewhere lost in a forest, I could give any millionaire smaller than me, a black eye and push down to the ground. And I know that terrorism would cease to exist if I knocked enough of these shorter scumbags into the dirt. The universal jihad of truth instructs us to turn on our masters, to upset our yummy food bowls, and go straight for the jugular.
But what about America? Why do I fear the country as a symbol more than the entire store of pot-bellied men who inhabit it?
Because as long as nuclear weapons exist, America cannot be beaten. Power is top dog. I can’t imagine that a significant number of men live within these borders who would dare rise up to eliminate the bombs. Not even for the sake of their children. The fathers accept both nuclear bombs and millionaires. The fathers follow the millionaires. The fathers look the other way while their children are beaten with a stick by the millionaires. Even if all men were once themselves children and dreamers, it is only children, small children, very small children, the children before their mothers and father’s wrong teaching… Only these small, helpless puppy humans, most still waiting to be born, can be trained to triumph over power.
Why?
Because in America, even the wide-eyed toddlers want to become millionaires!
So who will help these tiny babies?
Well, I am struggling to do my part. What are you doing Mr. and Mrs. Fatlapdog?
Babble babble babble. I am not strong. I have not the strength to take on a country. My neighbor could say “Boo!” and I’d jump, then run, then hide. I am an American. I am over two. I guess I want to be a millionaire also. Yes, maybe it’s time to admit defeat. You and I, from the beginning of time, and until the end, are the greatest cowards that have ever existed under stars in the night sky.
Time now to write my letter of application. I want the CEO job.

Generic Letter of Application For CEO Job

Today I shared a loaf of stale bread with my dog while my wife ate frozen shit on a shingle. If we decide to pay our bills and not buy food, tomorrow’s dinner will be less and much worse. I want to eat and share a warm bed. I want to get excited over the purchase of a small toy this Christmas season for my new baby girl. My oldest daughter would like some good books and a reading light. She already has a library card, but we are not so certain that electricity will be in flow come December. And my wife? All she wants is my happiness. And a little money.
Therefore I want the CEO job. It will make me happy. I want it and will get it because I am smarter than the boob who is presently in control. Coincidentally, I want to rip off people and wear a sharp suit too. I want to make the company a million unearned dollars right now, not tomorrow, not even tonight. Now! I want to strip all company employees of dignity, and sign my name to everything they own. I want to enslave human beings and have a parking place reserved for me. I want to join you guys. Let the shareholders vote me in to power. I think if the majority of investors get this letter, then the job is in the bag.
Here’s what I want. $26,000/year, weekends off, and two week’s paid vacation. I’ll work hard for fifty or sixty hours each week. I will do this without a company plane, or car, or estate bought special for me. In fact I want no fringe benefits besides free coffee and a private bathroom.
There, I just saved the company a million dollars, and nobody got fired besides the single human piece of waste who was running the show yesterday. In the next minute I will sign a document that will save the company fifteen million dollars.
I, Ron Throop, expect not a dime of retirement money. No severance pay. Nada. Zip. If I don’t do the job, please fire me, and get someone who can do it better for cheaper.

Signed:  Ronald J. Throop                                          Date: Recently

Okay. So what is it we are selling? Dog food? No problem. Now that I am at the same pay as a veteran factory worker, we will be able to slash our prices and beat every competitor. I see here that your product design sucks. Well, the company is in luck. My wife is an excellent graphic artist. She will have the consumer believe he is buying a five pound bag of sugar cereal for breakfast. I might persuade her to do that for a mere compliment. Now you can fire half the advertising team. Another two million saved.
There. I just made our dog food number one in America, and this quarter’s profits will break an earnings record. I don’t ever expect a raise, so no conservative investor need fear a sudden growth spurt in my swimming pool.
Or are we selling cotton swabs? Same thing. I got a plan to screw over the Texas farmer good and proper. Next season he will be begging our buyers to stop by his field before crossing the border to Mexico. The crazy chiquitas down there work all day for fifty cents and a promise. You don’t think I got the stomach for that? Oh I know some countries where the armless and legless disabled will role our cotton balls between their teeth and tongues for just one glass of clean water.
I will save you millions on the sale of whatever bauble, big or small, which you presently dangle in front of the dreamy eyes of fellow, zombie-struck human beings. You name the product—telephones, natural gas, electricity, garage door systems, ceramic bowls, toilet paper, giant, blood-dripping, cut-open stomach stink slaughterhouses… I am your cheapest and smartest choice. I am a marvel. Not only am I young, fit, and prepared to play along for the rest of my life at your cheat of humankind, but I am also quite good looking. So there’s more money saved on advertising. Send over a film crew on my Saturday off. They can catch my wife and I warming up on top of a box of your crackers, or next to one of your checkered chair pillows. If it’s nail clippers, just dub a row of them dancing across the screen and we’ll be the leading seller of nail clippers by nightfall. I promise I won’t charge a penny for that kind of service. My wife will probably expect some small compensation. Perhaps a new dress.
I am not kidding. I am so in earnest that it frightens me. I will represent your jigsaw puzzles, alarm clocks, tiny painted clown crafts, cheese spread, diaper pins, ant traps, playing cards, trucks, cars, paper plates, lawn mowers, screw guns, fence posts, television, DVD, VCR, rubber wire, jelly jars… On and on and on, and I will take the first offer, no matter what embarrassing trifle it is that you spend the better part of your lives trying to sell to everyone. Oyster crackers? I love them! I’ll do anything to keep them profitable and in circulation. But I will not die for them. And neither will the overpaid moron who is presently ripping you off as CEO.
It would be foolish business to not even try me. There are two or three jackasses fired every day. Their stories are on the front page, and honest naive people feel the crunch in their retirement portfolio because that smiling white-toothed bastard had the board of directors sign him over a tremendous retirement package of goodies. Why should the board care? They still keep their jobs and their tremendous packages-to-be. Americans pay too much lip service to the free market economy. What specialty do these top nips possess that any base-level nip couldn’t develop simply out of real need for a job? Organizational skills? Public relations? A librarian or dog groomer could make the same, or better, decisions just as cleanly. It cannot matter because it’s always figures, and never people. Merge the telephone mogul with the asphalt shingle and paper-clip robber-baron, fire six thousand people all suffering the possession of a car payment they can’t afford, rearrange this department, add a secretary there, don’t empty that trash basket until next Thursday, fly all the executives on the same plane, crash the plane, save two more billion…
You are afraid, aren’t you? I might be in earnest. Then your competitor hires me, gets really rich, and you and your buddies lose the timeshare on that piece of ocean in the Caribbean. No, how could I trust you to share my letter with those people who matter? So when I send this application, I’ll make sure to send a copy to a union worker or shareholder meeting loudmouth. I need a job, and I think that my simple solutions to your company’s massive overhead might achieve some backers. If I am persistent I may even get the support from your volatile army of wage slaves who just got canned in a CEO supported sweeping up and downsizing of human dignity. That won’t get me the job I need, but it will definitely piss off enough people to make a difference. If religiously persistent, I can provide for my wife and children. I might consider taking the CEO position of the company dedicated to sweeping up and clearing out the rotten millionaires and billionaires of the world. For as long as there is a man out there making a million dollars a year, in a forty hour work week, there will always be the man whose back breaks to make that man the million dollars. There is not a rich man out there, even in weak moments of benevolence and good will to men, who would refrain from anonymously whipping another human being to the ground in order to make more money for himself. All rich people partake in a massacre of the human soul. It cannot be helped. It will always be this way as long as there are words like “cell phone,” “conduit,” and “airplane” used to scramble and pollute the brains of the insignificant ones. (The millionaire’s money runners).
We are all daffy. Now let’s use this silliness to our advantage. Hire me. Simply for the worldwide positive disturbance I will create. Could it mean more profits? You betcha! On the cover of the nation’s newspapers: “Time Warner/AOL Hires Throop To Do It’s Raping.” Or “Purina Bags New CEO Living Closer to the Bone Than the Average American Dog.”
To hire me would show the world that your company has a regular guy to push its regular products on the regular consumer. Profits would certainly matter to me. I would want to keep my job. Why would I piss off your blood-thirsty mob of shareholders? It’s either dividends or death for the lot of them. That the majority have allowed its executives to prance all over the earth creating and destroying like Indian gods is most certainly the bane of capitalism, and will forever remain a clueless mystery to me. Granny with her sixty shares invested should know exactly what the executive ordered for lunch. If she knew it was a bowl of lobster bisque with garnish of caviar, and a 20% tip was left on top of that, with her money… Well then, you might see granny get just ticked off enough to join in a hostile takeover and cutting up of the CEO.
Moreover, if hired, I promise to keep track of all expenditures. I intend to save the company money at every juncture. That means when we plan to buy out Chunky Tuna, Inc., and break the news to its top men over lunch, I’ll make egg salad that day, bake the bread, and do all the dishes by myself.
Granny will appreciate that. She will rally behind me. I will get elected. All the stockholders will praise the company for such sound, honest decision making. Twenty-six thousand, weekends off, and two weeks paid vacation. I might even consider taking the job as a volunteer, provided your product is life-giving, or even somewhat necessary to sustain life. I would, however, expect home-cooked, free meals for my family, more nutritionally and aesthetically satisfying than shit-on-a-shingle.
Please consider an interview. I am ready for my fair share. I am also quite confident that my presence will only strengthen the goofy machine that is your company—always so serious about nothing really besides making more money. Let me in and I promise to do just that!
Let’s go!

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Serial Installment #14 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 259-282

72west7th

Please read with multiple grains of salt. Keep recalling the title to understand state of mind during a most revolutionary time in my life.

Book 3: Misanthropic Love Letters

An Open Letter to friend and family…

I surrender. I must go on record. I begin my true career today. My spirit down-sized itself into a fickle, indecisive, pot-bellied embarrassment. Now I am stuck in internal revolution. When I am through and all the manias on the inside are hung on the outside, then I will have erased doubt, denial, melancholia, fear… What or whom do I have to fear? All the animals laugh at human melodrama. I swear everything human that is not connected to love is melodrama and useless.
I am not useless. I am a child.
Look here friends, family, all strangers alive today, and those living tomorrow… I am through playing the sad game. I want to live the life I was born to live. I cannot wait for security in order to practice happiness. I do not wish to pursue happiness. It’s here! At my writing table. The same table I set my meals on. The table from where I teach. The table in the kitchen of my home.
As downright stupid and confused that I was at twenty, at least I had the foresight to know I would be ready to write “professionally” by my thirty-fifth birthday. Thereafter, I would keep no job that would steer me away from my true desire. I have done horse and mule work to keep the artist in me alive. I purposely hacked at all financial opportunity because I could never imagine any other life for me besides that of the poor artist.
For the time being, (and I pray that I can summon the courage to make it forever) my indentured servitude is over. Now at thirty-four years of age desire is shooting out of every pore at a screaming boil. Freedom! Poverty! Yes! For the rest of my life I would like that my government mark me out as one of the impoverished. Frankly I believe that its mark of poverty is a king’s income for a sane man.
Because I am a father and a husband, I realize that I will never join that degraded class of poor which turns out the brilliance of Hamsuns, Van Goghs, and Dostievskys. I want to do my part providing the necessaries for my family. Therefore I foresee many more degrading jobs popping up in the future. I write this letter hoping that someday I can be employed by you or someone you know. I am a fantastic cook. I can create all sorts of delicious goodies for the gourmet. I am also quite handy around the house. Home repair. I prefer electrical work to fine carpentry. In fact I am pretty good at anything which can be finally hidden behind a professional job. I can paint the inside and outside of homes. Not too well, but much cheaper than you’d pay someone else to do it just as poorly.
What I really want is to sell my paintings. While the writing is in progress I plan to paint for relaxation as well as keep the creative juices flowing. I use mostly acrylic and sometimes watercolor. I’m good enough. That is to say, I am a living artist, and whatever I do today should be of some interest to posterity. I will charge twenty-five dollars plus shipping and handling for each finished work. I will take commissions. Presently I am painting a goldfish in a busy underwater scene. When it is finished I will have spent approximately eight hours working on it. You can see what a measly hourly wage this will make. A little over three dollars an hour. Yet it’s such a sweeter life than sweeping a stranger’s floors to get my butter.
There are those who think my business will fail miserably. I am positive that it will! But not trying is wrong living, and who wants to be guilty of that!?
“The primary thing is this, that whatever money is given me constitutes a mortgage on the future, my future as a writer. Making water colors is so much play for me; it gives me a release. In other words, it keeps me happy, enthusiastic and alive, and to be happy, enthusiastic and alive is a prerequisite for the artist.”—Henry Miller
The point is I won’t go another year suffering for illusions which others may have of me. (A path I have foolishly followed for most of my adult life.) I am not a sole provider. I am a father, a friend, an honest, loving, incredibly cheerful, desperately creative and funny man. I want coffee in the morning, hot, delicious food for dinner, rent paid, and time. You can help me achieve my first three objectives by offering to purchase one of my books or paintings. Time is up to me. I could make the most of it with your financial, or at the very least, moral support.
One more quote before singing off… It should set the droning, one hundred page tone of bitterness for the remainder of this book. Erica Jong wrote the following about Miller, but it works too for all of us lazeabout, good-for-nothing, artsy-fartsy types:
“The New York that Henry left in March of 1930 was nowhere as fraught as the New York of today, but it still bore certain similarities. In New York it was a dishonor to be an unknown writer; in Paris one could write écrivain on one’s passport and hold one’s head high. In Paris it was assumed (it still is today) that an author had to have time, leisure, talk, solitude, stimulation. In New York it was, and still is, assumed that unless you fill up your time with appointments, you are a bum.”
So be it. But I must warn you that I did not set the stage for this play, although I share the guilt of every actor playing in it. Help if you can, or decide to breeze alone through this one safe life never to support a fallen man unless he’s prepared to give you back some proof of financial success. Invest in paper clips but never individual men. The return is slight compared to the trillions already in degradation circulation. My hand holds a blank sheet of worthless paper. Sometimes I write words on it. Sometimes I fill it with colors of joy and light. It’s not plastic or perishable. It won’t make much money. But it shouldn’t make me broke either. It’s time now to make an exchange to benefit humankind. Neither of us will get much out of it, but one of us will get some money to buy food.

Hello. I am a writer. I am finished as a man. That’s enough. But I need something to do. So, the rest of this book is a silent scream of agony to prove to myself the obvious. I will not torture my wife any longer. I am a loafer, a vagabond, a hobo of the spirit. I am nothing. I am a loser of the first rank.
A man is an idea. An idea comes from man. Man is his own idea about himself. Leave me, love me. I have nothing to do with anyone from this world. I am a writer. So you can read what I write and then you can go to hell.
This cry-baby versus man crap has my insides twisting and squeezing. I don’t want to be crazy. If I don’t give up now, I might do myself lots of damage. That possibility was not in the initial plan, since I remember being born to be alive. Yet because I am alive, here today, in modern America, I cannot truly exist as a man. Therefore tonight I have decided to live the life of a man vicariously, through my own image of myself. And I shall write to prove that I am a writer, as well as a living, breathing, human entity who hates and loves himself on equal par.
Actually I probably hate better.
I can hate myself often enough to begin to wonder what exactly is the matter with me. Why live through another night if tomorrow is the first day to rid the world for good its many human shows of blunder? Why the stubborn, insane desire to want to write about hate, as it’s happening, and with no end in sight?
Who would agree with me that hate is now necessary to survival? The life-force fueled by hatred? Where? Among the animals? No. People are crazy. Animals don’t hate. People have made me crazy because they hate, and I am a people who hates. Anyway, this short book will help me get through the worst of it. The hate that is. Better to hate hard than be saved lightly. Better to hate than play eternal hopscotch with the holy scripture of your choice. Do you think that your boss, your bank, your landlord, your creditors love you? No. They hate you. They despise you. Play these circle games all day long, every day until you die with people who hate you very much. And when night falls and you’re alone in the dark, take those precious seconds left before sleep to turn into yourself. Oh no! Where are you? Not there. Not there either. Search all you want and find nothing because there is no you. Man, woman, animal, flesh, organs, bones? Who says so? You? What is you?
Can’t sleep? Good. Because everyone hates you. So it’s best to watch your back. Take a walk outside. Look up into the starry sky. Tell me what star that is—no, that one! The one you cannot see without a telescope. Quick now, tell me its exact distance from the tip of your tongue. What gases make up it’s light? Can a guinea pig survive floating in its orbit if there was a alfalfa pellet to snatch every five revolutions? Answer these questions correctly and then you will be ready to travel back inside yourself to discover what it is you are!
Am I a father, a husband, a care giver to house pets? Our guinea pig has difficulty breathing. She’s been laid up for a week in a small cage pissing on herself. Any other night, I would stop what I was doing to clean her cage. Not tonight. She must suffer. I am a caged pig too. Full of misery and death, but above all, suffering. I didn’t create it. I have no love for it. In fact, I am ready to destroy it. I could kill a Peruvian grandmother patrolling these hills at twilight for us terrified, little pigs. Damn right I would leap up and sink my fangs into her wrinkled neck skin. You can bet I’d slurp the blood out of her jugular, just for the hope of finding myself. Sure I’d kill for that chance. Tonight it’s eat or be eaten, no matter what the pretty face disguise we slip on.
Where the hell am I? What country is this? Who are these queer inhabitants? The problem is that I have lived like a minister for the past ten years. I should be a murderer and get paid well enough to put food on the table. Or at least a thief sneaking up from behind and stabbing you in the leg for a few dollars. Why not? Have I missed out on something? Is this a perfect world? Is it even a good one? Murder happens and then there’s breakfast. Whoever thought to stop eating in order to stop murder? Has that kind of love ever been attained? The truth is that the two or three people in the world who know how to love like that would not stay alive for long if anyone got wind of their idea. I know the truth gets cut by the human censors. If the humans found truth standing vulnerable alone somewhere, they most certainly would unleash their total ferocity upon it.
Most of humanity today, right now, tonight, is murder, rape, and funny fart jokes. My life has been ten years of filtering out the filth of humanity in order to protect my child. I’ve made all their rotten brain piss pass through me, first. An infected, thick sewage being pressed through my sensitive China cap. This has saved my oldest daughter from premature aging. Yet during this near fanatical process of sheltering her, I have clogged up my heart and soul beyond repair. Wonder, vision, truth, beauty? Human words. The poet’s hope, the painter’s dream, and the suicide’s proof that it’s all just pretty lies told to ignorant, happy babies. The trick is to shelter your young just the perfect amount, so they don’t grow up hating like you do.
Last night I upset my wife with a phrase I read out loud from my writing. She said I would never say, “sure as shit,” in real, everyday conversation. She’s right. Not in the real life I have with her. No, of course not. Unfortunately this life, this human life, expects me to be several mes before getting tucked into bed at night. She also said that my writing is angry. Too angry.
We fought for over an hour, made up with a glass of wine, perused our wide open hopes and dreams, and afterwards sat down to watch Hollywood’s latest R rated movie. The words “fuck, bitch, and pussy,” and a steady stream of innuendo about fuck, bitch, and pussy. Repeatedly throughout two hours of fuck, bitch and pussy, bullets splashed in and out of people’s blood streams, humans stabbed and got stabbed by humans, and gorgeous actors and actresses pretended to fuck each other like hairy dogs pretending to be human.
I write, “sure as shit” and my writing becomes material set up special for the criminally insane.

I am frozen in this life. I am an artist in America. I could be a factory worker, or the wealthy owner of three car dealerships, and the same sad, stunted life would envelope me. That means I haven’t changed a god-damn thing with my writing. Effort is frustrated. It is wiser to paint the casing pink than write a chapter about nothing, even if the latter saves your sanity. My mother-in-law told me that her niece married a millionaire. And then she said if a girl marries for love, why not fall in love with someone who is rich? That would be the smartest thing to do, right?
Yes. She’s right. Money is everything in America. Money and bigness. If you have a lot of money, you have a big house, a big car, or maybe a small car, but it’s bigger because it cost a bundle. Big is big money in America. If it is this way everywhere in the world then I think that I want to die. Hope tells me that you, my only reader, are a small thing with few wants and a little money. Multum un parvo. Much in little. Are you big? Yes? Then you are a filthy, dirty beggar I think. If I were an honest man, I would have the god-sanctioned right to do to you what I did to the squirrel crossing the street. But I am not an honest man. This is what I need to prove to you. I am less than zero. But if I think that nullity of myself, and the title of this book includes the word “misanthrope”, then you can probably guess about how high up the place is where I hold my opinion of you.
I intend to write a living book. However, in order for it to come alive, I must hate the very skin off of you. But I am writing it for your love too, even if I don’t like either of us. I hope we will grow together and the same to appreciate this book. It is the year 2056. Anyone hear me? Fifty-five years ago I got infected with hate, and I wrote about it from a wasteland. Did it do anyone good? I don’t care because now I am dead. I got to say what had to be said, and now I am dead.

Letter of Resignation to all Future Employers:

I am becoming more and more interested in objects, scenes, places which are dilapidated. I am attracted to things run down, broken, and decaying. I am associating cleanliness with loneliness, strength and power with confusion, neurosis, and utter despair. I am finding out that America is a spoiled child, and I have no sympathy for her. I know that the child will grow into something monstrous and equally harmful, to one day neglect her own children, but with an increased estrangement, molestation, violence. And healing will altogether cease. And understanding will die.
America is rich, fabulously rich. Rich and glamorous. So rich and refined that her toilets are palaces where shit never stinks. Her kitchens are full and well-equipped with the finest equipment, yet nothing is ever cooking. Her parlors are stunning, but empty of personality, and no one comes to call because she is terrified of her neighbors—all of them.
Here no one is content. It is not important to be. A good thing is security; a bad thing is drug addiction. The drug addicts are the ones who fail marvelously. Non-entities. There is no other way. Happiness is truly dead until a man finds a large sum of money. Art is for the college bred, and the college bred are making art with computers. No one is painting beautiful works of art, besides maybe the preschoolers, and that happens in between TV time, but only if there is nothing else to do, and mommy and daddy have slipped through the clutch of insanity.
No one is stopping to eat or drink. Unknown purpose, plastic goal. And in the spastic rush to make a living, nothing is left standing. Strangers are trampled. Loved ones destroyed. Houses gutted… Houses which never were homes. For the American house is built of old plaster or new sheetrock, and after all, just a flat facade to hang a meaningless painting on. One brushed by a great artist of course, but the beholder sees nothing, feels nothing… The walls are up. They will fall and be built again, and again. Unknown purpose, plastic goal… Dementia. Here nothing is allowed to die. It better be breathing or back away! The young get younger and the old won’t age. To stop means to be destroyed, by yourself and your illusions. To let on that you may be ill is one step closer to suicide. No one denies tomorrow. Nobody gets old. No time to rest. No death. Unknown purpose, plastic goal…
I write my resignation to all employers, past, present, and future. I am finished with your colossal despair, your anxieties and petty fears, your impossible hope. Why hope? You predict no end. Always I hear the words “tomorrow” and “more”, but no one is listening to the reality of no tomorrows. Each day I get more and more confused, more desperate, unyielding. Shall I accept this fate? You put me in a box and I am slowly suffocating. I am a trapped toad made house pet. This is my death box. I will go mad hoping for life, for freedom. My big eyes will watch and hope, waiting for that precious second when the lid lets in a stream of light, and for an instant I will hope again. The child will call out, “Mommy, my toad looks sick!” So what? The lid will come down. The lights go out. Eventually I will hope until I croak, after several thousand more lightning bouts of depression, anxiety and fear over the near impossibility of setting myself free.
At a time in my life when I should feel rich with joy, wanting to be married, wanting to remain alive, desiring happiness…, I find myself instead becoming increasingly angry, disturbed, upset, separate. Your common ideals, your status quo, your worship of no-nonsense, your whole persona, infuriates me! I can hop, but how far? I am locked up in a shoe box. The hopeful thought that brings temporary relief is that once I was told these walls are paper thin. But all my teachers are dead. So is my belief. I find it more difficult these days to believe a word they wrote. I have no more living belief.
Presently I am employed and sick in the noodle. Something is amiss, I know not what. Maybe I detest work. Maybe my passion for loafing is too great. Maybe I am too smart, and know that I am waiting in line like so many pounds of meat with legs in the way. I fall into a special category of men unknown even to myself. No one can label me, therefore I have promise.
My dear employers, what does all of this have to do with you?
Listen, you being the money, spending the money… You even owning the responsibility to share the money, you living a whole lifetime of money, it would be impossible for money not to be your end. However, loving money and being American means that you don’t give a damn about the artist—the writer, the painter, the candlestick maker. By graciously employing him, by putting him into a position where he does not belong, you unwittingly show your contempt for his spirit. You may assume that you are doing him a favor. Money is the common need, is it not? You think that he can support a loving family with the paycheck that you supply. He can write in his spare time. And if he times life perfectly, someday his work will be found in supermarket aisles across the nation. What a fine piece of work! The towering obstacles in his way! Finally! The time has come for his sun, his moments of clarity, light, joy! Maybe even a fortune. Because of your generous support the artist was able to endure despite all roads (besides yours) being closed to him. Is it something like that? No. You dirty old man. Art can only be perverted by you.
Listen, art is not a trade. One cannot make it on command. Nor is it ever a hobby, to pick up and begin again whenever time allows it. One thing for certain, art is always the result of bad timing. The artist is whim incarnate. He is, because he has to be, whether or not time allows for it. Herein lies all of his madness. Time and poverty. The artist’s best friends. But two of the most bitter enemies to the man refusing to be the artist. The plumber knows a trade. Time is money and money isn’t poverty. The artist knows poverty. The man-in-the-artist can respect poverty and even appreciate it to a degree. But in times of weakness thinks that he could do very well with what the god damn plumber has. And the man-in-the-artist is haunted by his own reoccurring desire to take the limits of time and detonate an infinite explosion inside of it. How can two physically equal, yet morally and spiritually opposite mammalian types play the same game of life, expecting the same results? Both live in the same town, perhaps the same house, and yet the space of an ocean exists between them.
What is a man? Is he a plumber? Yes? What code of living has he set for himself? Is he fed up with an ugly, mad world? Does he search for beauty in a toilet bowl? Does he find beauty there? Where does he get his mental nourishment? The daily news? The classic rock station? Is he peaceful, content, or a revolutionary plumber? Are his ideas plentiful? Does he put them into action? Is he in love? Does he give a damn? Why does he break his back? Why won’t he stop? Why isn’t anyone alive? Does he want to be happy? Onward. Yes, onward. Always today and tomorrow. Today there is a sink to fix; tomorrow, a sewer pipe. He’s growing old. Now he is old. There will be no more growing. He is fine right where he is. Today he is as hard as a rock. Tomorrow he is a petrified street elbow. And he will have it no other way because he is dedicated.
At an employee meeting not long ago, my boss addressed his final words to me. “Ron, don’t you have anything to say? Any criticisms, ideas?” I sat there silent for a few moments while nothing came to mind. Nothing at all. Finally I spoke up. “No, today I am the quiet cook. But I will do my best to come up with something.”
All he wanted were new ideas for lunch salads and veal tenderloin. For him the question was simple enough, direct, even needful in a business that relies upon customer titillation to make money make money. However to me it rang of blasphemy. And it was—from the artist’s point-of-view.
Here boss, you want something from me, you greasy silver coin with arms and legs? How dare you! When you know perfectly well that any questions pertaining to business make my nerves snap, crackle, pop! No boss, I haven’t any menu ideas. I have no special presentation to give to veal, none to color your money anyway. No preparation dreams about filet mignon, bluefish, flounder, lobster tail… I am sympathetic towards the plight of these beasts, but I have no passion for, nor any desire to cook them for money. So, ironically, I thought that this time it was I who was ripping off the boss and not the other way around. Humph, imagine that!
After the meeting, while walking along the river, I considered the possibility of writing a letter to my boss, explaining to him my own ideas about cooking. My mind was so clear. Surely I could win him over, earn his trust, if nothing more. I would tell him that the only real cooking is what is frying in the pan at home. Sustenance. I cook to eat and eat to live. How strange a labor it is cooking for the paying customer. Cooking behind closed doors no less. Cooking food that I would eat only if I were starving. But I will gladly touch it, trim it, flame it, stir it, spice it, flip it, for eight dollars an hour. Ouch! I might kill it myself for ten bucks. For thirty dollars I would set fire to old zoo animals and drag their smoking carcasses back undercover of night. For forty I swear to God I’d be ready to defrost frozen corpses if asked of me, and there was a pension forthcoming.
I would explain to him how in one sense I am following quietly in the footsteps of great union brats and spoiled children. I will not clean up my room, but I will gladly drain my parents for all they have, or my boss, or the government, or God… It’s the American way. That is how things get done around here. Give me more for less! That is my motto. If you want me to learn how to cook hamburgers, then I expect eight-fifty an hour. If I am to order fish, then make it nine dollars. Hell, for a modest salary I will even manage the slaughter house. If you desire a silent partner, I am prepared to spend every waking moment with you. Provided that you make me rich.
What am I going to do? This is your racket, boss. I would like for you to do the best that you can. Begin by firing me. Or at least offer me a salaried dishwasher position. That is something which I can do cheerfully. Cooking is an ancient pastime. People have been feeding themselves forever. But I don’t want my hands serving them chemical chickens sauteéd in artificial Marsala wine.
Must I? Would you in the perfect world that you dreamed about once as a boy and later, so often, as a man?
What do I want then? Maybe I should put the same question to you boss. How can you create the sweet life for yourself without having to deal with the likes of me? You don’t want a hero. You want roux, buerre blanc, piccata, Madiera; you want a pinch of scallions here, a dash of salt there, capers on the salmon, red onion in the salad. You may need all these things because your future depends upon them. But me? My future will depend on nothing.
What are you going to do about that, eh? Tough to find and keep good employees. It’s better to take on all tasks alone. But then that wouldn’t get you rich enough quick enough. So you’re forced to take small risks many times. You hire a workforce of poor, dreamy artists. It pays off in the end. It always pays off. Otherwise you wouldn’t be in business and I could struggle proudly the rest of my life without your money whip to keep me in bondage.
Lately I fear my ideas. I don’t dare put them through the final test. I live the life of the worst type of hypocrite. This makes me a true non-believer. To end up at the same place everyday without contentment means to fail, miserably. What is worse than to fail without ever trying? I cannot say that I am running into walls consciously, because I have been asleep. I am forming habits which, as time passes, are becoming very hard to break. Like the current job which I despise but come back to everyday, religiously. Worst of all, I fear that if I quit and never came back, I would still form the same habits, just in a different habitat.
Presently I am in the process of inflating my ego. I am testing its elasticity. Someday I will burst like a balloon, and then I may very well see for the first time the smile on a human face, the grass, the stars, the living scenery that I once placed my dead self in like a paper doll. I say that I am working up to that point. It may take a while; yes, it may take a very, very long time.
In the mean time what can I do? What a question! I can dig ditches of course. I can work the register at a fast food joint. I could go for broke and earn my doctorate. America needs more psychiatrists, more surgeons, more professors, more nuclear physicists, more veterinarians. I can even run, dance, skip, or juggle for the right price. But I don’t want all that! And there is no way to describe exactly what it is that I do want. I seek the invisible “what,” the illusive “it.” The it that is untouchable, unthinkable, untranslatable. I can say this about the it, and it is a fact. Money is not one of its by-products. In its realm there is nothing to lose and nothing to gain—a world where one must dedicate his life to its vaporous instability.
Meanwhile I remain priceless. I can neither be bought nor sold. This is all that I can do to separate my life from yours. So often I have muffled my spirit to make excuses for you, to cry, to laugh, to lie for you. Nevermore. It is high time that I check out of this asylum. I was crazy. My life was not good while I was with you. I took an extended vacation in your dream. But your dream is insane. So long. I am drifting out of it.
I cannot expect myself to work for the boss anymore. I know too much or too little. Either way I have already been forewarned. There is a voice inside me which calls out, “Everything is screwy! Breakout before you become a permanent, lifetime worker in America. They will get you if you don’t leave now! The odds are very good that once you cross their threshold, you’re stuck for life. Once inside you’ll be bombarded with overtime hours, vacations, pay raises, Christmas bonus’… Even a slight murmur of protest shall provoke the display of a fat portfolio of what their wages have built: a family, close, bosom friends, a never-shrinking better living to content themselves with. Abandon ship! Run away! Go back to from where you came. You can’t possibly be wooed by all of this. Can you?
Can you?
Very good question Mr. Throop. A question which has held you in limbo for so long.
I can’t believe it.
Well Jesus, Ron, look for yourself. It’s such a cozy, seemingly content and overflowing place.
Dear future employers, I write to you the voice of an angry and confused man. I write to you for negative reinforcement. I write to be reminded that I am human. That I am positively human. I express my humanity with the written word in order to avoid the great modern American heart-melt. I know where I must begin. The earth being contaminated, the earth destroyed, children still being born to die unfulfilled, unhappy… What does anyone want with that? Fame? Fortune? Half-fame, a quarter fortune? A fearful life pretending freedom?
By declining every offer that is made to me, I create meaningful, positive action. I do not want your offers. They distort me. I do not want your money. I do not want the be-all and end-all of the corrupt American mind. To join you means to give up so much, beginning with my sanity. Relinquish all chance for peace, tranquility, serenity? No way. I quit! And down the road, if I make the mistake to join up once more, I will quit again. And again. And again. I must make this constant quitting so much seasoning of my destiny. It is part of my plan to create an identity virtually unknown to the American mob. I’ll remind you of it each passing day with my life to contact as a guide. Listen here you greedy boss of bondage present and bondage future… I quit! I quit! I quit!

Phew. A piece of my peace being made, I leave you now to your own end.

When can we get together and go shopping for a hand-held King James Edition pocket Bible? This is paradise. I should love it here. But mankind has amounted to just too many full grown bodies all of which put together, house barely a small crumb of spiritual freedom. Not long ago our representative of the good life came to a fork in the road. One path was the quiet, contemplative existence. The other was the same thing with lots of yummy cookies to eat. He chose the one with the cookies. Every one followed. Some distant long dead relative of mine, the black sheep of his family, the bum without property, the lazy husband, the no good son of a bitch, rotten cousin, smelly-assed idiot, stood at the fork in the road of life, waiting expectantly for the spoon.
Now it’s money and stupidity because it’s $55.69 for the pocket bible. I want to go with you to the store and purchase one. Then I want to take you by the hand to the land where babies starve, stand beside you in the cold room where the stiff body of a child lies holding flowers. I want to give you a peek at the world where our new pocket calculator gets shoved thirty inches up the colon of the man who thinks he knows Jesus. I want you to see for yourself what a tremendously useless thing the human being has become. If he did nothing more than what he was doing up to approximately 500 years ago, the earth might have been saved from the homicidal silliness of mankind. You can say technology polluted the world thus far. But I say it’s the people’s cookie farts
bloating the atmosphere.
June 22, 2001. On the other side of Addis Ababa, three pregnant mothers are too weak to even beg for food. Their big eyes watch potential rice balls walking by, but all hope is lost, and each will die soon enough. Last night at the drive thru, they gave my dog two biscuits, one green and one purple. I think I will dedicate this book to all the children even if most of them are crazy. But I feel that if one or two can be reached immediately, the trees might decide to take nourishment into their limbs this year and forgo their recent decision to dry up so to choke us to death. At present, a welcome summer rain falls hard on my garden. Food is the last thing anybody needs. Mr. raccoon is too fat to waddle across the street safely. Cars are riding over its head. Not a turkey buzzard in sight. Not for days or weeks. The raccoon rots to the bone. Nothing is hungry here. Over there? Yes. Across the ocean many are starving. From here the statistics might appear gruesome. An African proverb: When an old person dies, a library is burned to the ground. An American nonchalance: When an old person dies we are afraid for a few hours after breakfast, sad on and off, before dinner, and then giddy when the lawyer comes over to give us presents with dessert.
In Africa old people have eyes that no American could look into without having his guts turn around once inside himself. In America old people have eyes that would want to strip an African naked, tear away all flesh of dignity, love, security, hope—then lay it down on a busy road, to roll over its head with steel cars and trucks. The children must not care too much about the old people because the old people want to be children. They play dress-up like children. They finish up their lives wanting to play like children. Yet when they’re old and too weak to walk or feed themselves, the children are grown-up and almost old themselves, wanting to start play some time soon. In America it’s something quite similar to kicking the aged in the face until death. And when that’s over and done with, we slap the dirt off our hands and then get back to work. The old teach the young to be indifferent towards death. As if our babies couldn’t see the line of road kills littering our freeways, our highways, our thruways, our countless ways to get away. That deer’s head is hanging on by a thread! Is that a whole possum or an organ pancake with blood syrup? Daddy, why is that African man sitting cross-legged on the side of the road, gobbling up a mutilated raccoon? My tummy hurts, Daddy! Please stop the car. My tummy hurts, and you don’t care at all about the murder of my playthings.
Affluence and swimming pools. Everyone here has nothing to say. Yet the silence is not wise. It’s stupid. The look on their faces is a dumb one of fear. Fear a-plenty. Fear of losing the affluence and swimming pool. I say buy alpacas, a girl and a boy, and go broke all day long with the birds. We are sad, frowning beasts of unnecessary burden suffering from lifelong joy constipation. Giono writes for Bobi: “Youth and joy is a passion for the useless.” That means live and die for a jar of hardened peanut butter.
I reside on the corner of living death, number seventy-two, where the sweeping never ends. Adventure is over. Death happened yesterday. Everybody went to heaven without saying goodbye. Then heaven kicked out the selfish brats. I want to throttle little boys for being born too alive for idiot parents to guide them.
It is time to write a book of morals, of principles, of destiny. It sounds queer, I know. Time to live some other philosophy besides “I have a rotten hole in my porch that needs to be fixed.” Listen to me. Mark my words. All the mothers and fathers are dead beat, apathetic, girl men and boy women. They are dumb bullies walking tall in an Internet schoolyard made expressly for television’s empty fake life. For purity to reign, for the sake of our mental health and happiness, America must cease creation altogether. It makes nothing worthwhile. Only more apathetic androgynies with the curiosity and wonder that befalls wet cement blocks.
Now we know how the mob rule of democracy breaks a healthy mind. No thoughts beyond going to the post office, to Florida, out to lunch, the cleaners, on a lawnmower. It’s the death of spirit and personality. I can’t believe how ungoofy the grown-ups are. I sit down on the porch of suburbia, drink from an aluminum can and watch the neighbors swarm about me. Not one of them is silly enough to notice. The plastic silliness of the world engulfs them. It is an enormous obviousness that is
staggering. One must gyrate a goofy hump dance with the dog, whistle his own made-up tunes, ask unanswerable, nonsense questions to no one, just to light a tiny spark of happiness. Freaking Christ, we need to be silly or die!
No. Instead one drinks scotch or tries yoga, and then watercolors, and then health food, and then screams out “why me?’ while his uninvited guest cancer gobbles up entropy cells. It’s all too serious. Everyone needs a loud laughing at. The neighbor sets up his sprinkler with such a sad face. The plants would rather wither away and die than be quenched by such unendurable sorrow. Every woman in America between the ages of twenty-two and fifty-two must either turn all-out lesbian or band
together to laugh together in packs at one man standing naked holding a toothbrush. American men are nothing but excellent material for Pakistani comedians. I asked my daughter to count the obese people yesterday. Granted we were at an ice cream stand, but I bet similar results at a water fun theme park.
There will never be a revolution. Just look at what we are dealing with! When life is this sterile, potential revolutionaries become soy milk drinkers. Where are the mad ones? The hermits with a sense of humor and human? The craziest crazy of all is that such insanity can take itself so seriously. I don’t know one person as healthy as myself. I don’t look up to any living man. I look down at dried up dead worms on my walk to get orange juice. In a world consisting of billions of like creatures, how can it be that the future of mankind is all up to me?
I am going to go out on a limb and say insanity is the disease. Everything in America is now a mind disease. There is no more room for good physical health because our fat brains have taken over. The fall cannot be prevented. Now we are falling. Jump off the limb because they’re going to cut down the tree anyway. Daddy’s got a wallet stuffed with cash so the tree-cutters must come. Daddy doesn’t mind if the tree-cutter is a boy half his age with a plastic phone to his ear. He’s all decked out in fashionable shorts and cloth belt, white sneakers, and moosed hair. Daddy’s got money and that’s all that matters. Even if in some cultures a man would die from shame if he could not complete these natural tasks alone. That is not the point. Today the ancient tree gets put down with paper money taken from the paternal wallet.
I am going to write. I am writing now. It is inevitable. I’ve been pushing it off for so long. America wants that I go crazy and soil myself. I swear that I have never met another poet. The closest I’ve come to finding one agrees with me that the sky is falling, and then rushes home to mommy, smokes a bowl in his bedroom, and gets rocked to sleep by late-night cable TV.
I am going to start the revolution. Gather all ye rosebuds now you fat sloppy piglets, crush them between your fast food hamburger and chew. Soon Ronnie boy’s gonna walk by dropping death onto your pot-bellies.
I could kill. The apathy is total now. The slaves are eating their breakfasts. There is nothing that can stop me from hating you. My cat struts through the tall grass with a dead bird in his mouth. Oh that proud animal doesn’t need my store-bought bag of urinary tract kibbles. I’m going to get you first! Did you think I would just wait for the cancer to eat me? Or for the President to bomb me? Or for the CEO to pollute my lungs? I say America should stop breathing. And it will. This is the beginning.
My wife is envious of the old lady who’s in charge of the community garden. I wonder if she knows she’s living and sleeping with the man who will watch the old woman burn at the stake, while he chews on one of her asparagus spears. I am a fat, humming high voltage wire. I want the nuclear power plant enveloped in flames. I want Iraqi fighter planes to spray bullets at my home. I want disaster to wake me up enough to kill. To gather my daughters up in my arms and run. I won’t wait for the judgment that will never come. I want everyone to start believing in their local flora and fauna more than in their own, fellow human beings.
Poetry is dead. I believe that life is dead.
Whoever reads my book, know that I know you are dead.
I want to hold her hand and cry.
I have never met a man I would want to imitate. I must be the greatest man alive who does not accept logic.
I do not believe there is a man who struggles to complete himself like I do. No other bodies in the park grass lying around like beggars waiting for poetry. Even the women, who could be our last, and greatest poets, are content to remain a male waste product recycled into farm animal key holders, crafted for the next generation of men to hang their tiny, insignificant glories upon.
Men, ha! There’s a book out on the shelf, a bestseller, entitled Being a Man. That’s also a popular phrase these days used with the hope that nobody sees the man stripping off his lace underwear and standing in front of the mirror with those bony knees quivering. There’s a chapter on John F. Kennedy. As if he was a man! A shit father, a cheating husband, a masturbating girl-boy, sticking his finger in his ass and smelling the
finger. I want all men to poison themselves. He was President? A martyr? For whom? The Alabama disenfranchised? What, you don’t think he smirked every time his piss drunk father said the “N” word?
His contemporary, Fidel Castro, was, and is more of a man. Hail Fidel! Still, just a smidgen less the girl-boy than JFK. All world leaders need and want to be spanked. It’s the truth. Fidel wanted to be a baseball star. John Kennedy thought Robert Frost was a poet. “Ict bin Berliner” The Berliners should have set him on fire and tinkled warm piss over his ashes.
We are bonkers. One hundred percent crazy. Careful to the edge of madness, and dying of cancer before getting the bright idea to live first, and then die. Stand apart from the world as it turns now. Stand on Mars to watch. Stand in your own front yard. Open your mouth and stand there not making a sound. Nothing is here because of you. You stand alone without any truth. People never talk to people like they do to dogs and cats. God pity the human beings.
At work the country music station plays. It’s been torturing me. Some of the cooks know the refrains. They talk the words instead of singing them. The sky is black and three mile high thunder clouds billow out of the stratosphere. If I knew there would be this much death of spirit when I was nine, I would have made many, many tiny steps away from men. By this time I would be lost in a forest of heaven on earth. The cooks are like plumbers. They have no creation dreams. They put things together and listen to the commercials on the radio. “It would be a pity if you don’t shop at Honda City.” After our children kill us for the highest irony of all—reanimating their souls— I hope they make pee-pee in our mouths.
I want to quit my job as punishment for their constant displays of
apathy and inertia. That has always been the bane of my desire. I would rather live and die the way God wanted me to, but my stomach turns sick inside while watching them, and I can’t stay still long enough to save for myself a quiet, uneventful, uninterrupted, sweet, ecstatic life.
My friend called last night. I told him to be nineteen again or die. He’ll never kill himself. I could give him a loaded pistol and he would watch TV and forget that he was in possession of instant-death-by-boom. Nostalgia are those gray thoughts about gray buildings and gray rain water pouring in my mind. No one ever exchanges money. Always active, alive people in my dreams of the past.
This is not esoteric writing. My friend is like everyone else. A money slave with the real freedom of mad joy lurking several miles deep down in the chasm of his true mind. But his life remains to be a taco sandwich and a long, nightmarish sleep on a cot rocking over the edge of the chasm. Finally mankind has freedom of movement, of sunshine and water without disease and death. So he watches TV with this never before known freedom. My friend would not kill himself even if I mailed him some deadly pills with a note attached that said, “Eat us and die instantly”. So my equally good advice was to become nineteen again. So far he has not raised children to imitate him. His father bails him out of trouble. From a little friend’s point-of-view he will always be thirteen. I told him to eat when he gets hungry, have enough money for beer and cigarettes, and meet me at the tubes at seven-thirty. We’ll crawl inside and talk about girls and feel free because we can finally talk about what we want to do with the girls.
Last Friday I put up a sign for the wait staff. “Please donate to my friend who might end his life soon.” Twenty-three cents went into the bucket. I want them all to be set on fire.
These wasted suicides won’t even do the job the right way. In the forest or out on the ocean. They want to be discovered and buried properly. “Please don’t forget my note.” I don’t know if it’s possible for a man to kill himself the way I would kill myself. That selfish bastard still has a cellular phone and pumps gas into his shiny silver car. “What about my couch?” he says to let me know that I will never see his suicide come to fruition. He doesn’t know how to love. Won’t do anything for love. Wants money so he can fuck. Love is dead. It will be love when it’s a leap off a speeding train in pitch darkness. If you won’t walk deep into the forest to kill yourself… If you don’t have that sensibility to spill your bowels before a squirrel who won’t tell anybody, then all you want to do with life is fuck it.
God! Excluding my wife and children, I don’t even have a friend! We are now afraid to talk to each other. Man to man? Pat, my dear friend of our precious youth, you have become an androgynous money slave ass-sniffer! You have the balls of a girl-snake, the greed of hyena, the raving love and illuminating shows of life everlasting that a sloth expresses to an aluminum can. I can never be the friend I was at thirteen. A friend of yours now would have to drag you into a forest and serve you an Amanita muscaria pie.
This truly is the living death. I told my wife and my mother that I’m going to screw a strip of wood into the wall to hang my pans. “No, no. You’ll rush it, and I want it to look nice.” Women are not made to know pain. I am ready to take over the world to establish my kingdom, and yet I allow myself embarrassment over the decoration of a wall. They don’t see the world dying. They don’t see the marvelous rebirth of humanity. They see perfect walls for no one to look at. I see the sky falling and hear all our babies screaming for their mothers.
Buck and Barney are the two cooks who keep my ten dollars an hour secure for the time being. Buck has been cooking for twenty-three years. Barney for seven. They’re both idiots, but Barney is also an asshole. Buck was offered two dollars more than minimum wage to work the busiest line in Oswego. Seven-fifty an hour to cut through five ribs, broil two gallons of scallops, ten pounds of fish, grill burgers, steaks, and chicken, make marks on all roasted steaks and chops, non-stop for five hours, falling behind, getting ahead, but mostly staying behind, and then mop up the mess on the floor afterwards. Buck didn’t show up for work last night. Time to join him. Here’s the letter I wrote to my managers, Ted and Barney.

Dear management,

It’s time to leave for good. Twelve times is a charm.
I’ll make this resignation short and slightly bitter. I can’t give overtly lax management the pleasure of me keeping quiet.
This restaurant sucks bitter and I know why. I’d rather go broke standing upright than play “Neurological Breakdown” night after night for greedy monkeys. So I leave with some final thoughts for Ted and Barney. Take the remarks seriously because I only write what I know.
Ted, you suck, through and through. You are the worst kind of manager. You think that cutting an ounce off a steak is good management. You are just the bosses’ mouth. So, you have aspired in a lifetime to becoming the mouth of a crazy man. Boss is Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life, and you are Mr. Potter’s wheel chair pusher. You play around with a man’s wage. If I were Buck, I would consider shoving a handful of my wage up your ass.
You are whatever you desire to be. A good father? A quiet man? A sexy dancer? Outside of work I wish you an ecstatic life. I don’t know, perhaps you put on a gracious mask upon leaving the restaurant. Maybe out whistling behind the wheel in your 4X4, you imagine yourself to be Harry Bailey, or Bert, the happy cabby. Imagine what you want, because imagination is all we got left. I imagine that if I dressed up my dog Beany in a collar and shoes, he’d manage the restaurant better than you. I bet I could train him to not shit on the floor during service. I would like to say the same for you. But you’re untrainable. Not housebroken. Not only do you ca-ca the joint, but you leave everyone else’s shit there to stink it up too!
The restaurant is filthy. That could be forgiven if it kept its cheer. It’s just not a happy place to work anymore. Everyone is unhappy. Even the bus boys and dishwashers have an opinion of disgust.
A suggestion of choice for you, if you so desire to become a better human being, and therefore a smarter manager… Quit the restaurant business immediately, or clear those god damn cigarette butts off the parking lot! Get to work you laze-about, you sniff ass! Stop stuffing your face with bread and butter chunks, and teach your employees to trust at least half of your poor decisions.
Hello Barney. I gave Ted more than he deserves. My intention was to focus on you, since you’ll be struggling in this crappy business for the rest of your life. This is criticism you’ll appreciate in ten years. But now you’re too arrogant to appreciate a good spanking. Arrogant with Golden Award! Absolutely ridiculous!
I told you the first week I was hired back that your employees can only be as good as the manager. In this type of business anything good starts at the top. I have been at this restaurant long enough to develop a smart sense of the good and the bad—for this restaurant. I also worked at the Captain’s Corner with you Barney, long enough to know how inexperienced you were at management. You had no understanding of proper training, consistency, scheduling, cleanliness, food handling…In fact, you had no qualifications to manage. So this restaurant hired you to manage its kitchen. Like Ted, you think money is management. The plumbers at the Captain’s Corner gave you that disease. They were working with plastic pipe and out-gas of glue—not glorious food that needs to be handled lovingly by inspired cooks. I tell you, now is the time to be humble and learn.
As a sous chef, as assistant to the chef, Jeff Bellow worked twice as hard as you. One has to live the kitchen to head the kitchen. If it means being in at 9:00 a.m. to teach an employee the “right way,” then you do it! For your own sanity. Presently, you’re not the right stuff for management. In the cover letter to my resume, I wrote that I needed to work in a well-managed establishment. Neither you nor Ted are making the right moves. So I go, happily in the right as usual, but broke again for sure.
You’re a good enough cook. I’ll give you that. However, you need to develop a love for the food you cook. And stop talking French! Christ, the French would bury your face in merde if they knew what you were doing to their food. Golden Award! Might as well piss in the sauté and save yourself a lemon.
I’ve enjoyed working beside you during the busy. When I was making mucho bucks as my last chef’s assistant dupe, I had to go off salary time and again because I couldn’t look the other guys in the face. I worked like a madman, but when crunch time came, all of our brains were melting—not just mine. The discrepancy in pay was not deserved. The real asshole is ownership and management, forever playing money master to wage slaves.
It would do you some good to sweep the parking lot. Even the good lard knows you can’t get a dishwasher to do it.
Outside of work, in a more mellow world, I hope we can meet with a handshake and a couple laughs. I believe I helped you out where and when I could. Now it’s time for you to save your own ass.
Good fortune to you and your little girl.
Adios Ted. Talk to you cowboys in the next life.

George Bailey

Serial Installment #13 of “On Rainy Days The Monk Ryokan Feels Sorry For Himself”, Pages 241-255

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Spring cleaning on West Seventh Street. So much to do. Just one lifetime to do it in. To the teahouse then, for it’s annual wash and burn.
An oily rotten, wreck of an old tool shed I rebuilt for joy to the potests of my family. At first there was an over-populated ant colony eating the wood hollow. A billion ants delivering everything to their queen, herself the size of a well fed mouse. The previous owners, now dead, used the shed to save everything! And everything stunk from the rot the first morning I broke off the door. I knew then that I would preserve Mr. Reynold’s closet workshop at any cost. I would be the one to keep his original, innocent intentions. Certainly he didn’t dream about tools all those long, quiet afternoons in the shed. Whether he knew it or not, he was wondering about life everlasting.
My first act of demolition was poisoning the ants. No more sweet air for their tiny little ant lungs to breathe in. Ha!
Then I pulled out the rot and restructured the foundation by hammering a steel pole through the floor, eight feet into ground. I laid shingles to cover the hole in the roof that rain water, ants and time made. I built a floor on top of the dirt, and sometimes I sit in the teahouse on summer mornings with my coffee. A tall oak tree hangs its tired massive limbs just enough feet above my chair to crush me during a strong wind. Oswego is known for its strong wind. The wind blows from the west. In the west I built a small reminder of the East I once strove to become.
What is the East? I have lived these last few months in the Northern East. Oswego Siberia, where the Laptev Sea meets the frozen tundra. Life became frigid, sad, and agonizingly repetitive. Even the glow from the glorious Northern Lights was dull and depressed me. I kept a fire lit all day and night, and went crazy. A man will howl at the moon if left alone too long. This was not the East I fell in love with as a youth. There wasn’t even a moon to bark at. I decided to make my move to the hot, wet green of Singapore.
With my small pack and my wild eyes I left the earth’s natural prison. Oh what misery I suffered in its frozen hell. What self pity! The men were wild. Each did something very bad to end up there. I followed the banks of the Lena to the Aldan, eating only snow and reindeer scat until I reached the mountains and the first human village. There I begged the women for scraps until I regained the strength in my arms to work for my own food again. I lived and worked in the village for several weeks until the morning I saw the spring fox gobble up the chickadee.
That day a small sun rose for the first time, and I got a memory of joy. I left the village taking the lumber roads through the Miklav Forest, over conifer hills, and some happier declines all the way to the Sea of Okhotsk. It wasn’t so bad with a sun to rise each morning, a loaf of bread, and traveling men to share their voices with mine.
I bought passage on the first freighter heading south to Singapore. That is when my knowledge fell apart. I can’t find Singapore. Even after searching for five minutes on my tiny plastic globe. Guess what? I say Singapore does not exist. My fingernails exist. I pick at them and pull off each one. Sometimes I go too low and pull off some skin. Blood. There’s Singapore! No, that’s Bangkok. And I should laugh at the sound of that. Because it is funny. The seven a.m. sun rises in the east over Hank’s house and I have more snot in my sinus than salt water in the South China Sea. I am a man. “Don’t shoot I am a man.” That was printed on my bright orange hunting license holder strapped across my back. I never shot a Chinese pheasant. The Adirondack Mountains have wild peacocks living too high up for my hope to climb. Peacock makes me laugh. Mindoro, Panay, Sulu Sea. Still no Singapore. I don’t care how many foreign ships dock there with sailors taking pictures. Bandar Seri Begawan. What is that you smart ass? It’s called “playing globe with a black ocean”. It could be a world of men or one with just black cats. Then no twilight cruise through the Spratly Balabac Strait. Instead a “feed us our dinner now, Ron, or we’ll jump on your head and chomp out your eyeballs”.
Where are we going? Oh yes, to a Singapore that does not exist. Got it! I was wrong. At the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, near the equator. Now wonder what every eleven year old boy, born at exactly 3:35 p.m. on February 8th, is doing in the city of Singapore. That’s knowledge. Try the same thing with an eleven year old skunk. Are there even skunks in Singapore? That is knowledge. I’m on a freighter. What’s a freighter? Now build one, from the up to the ground, all by yourself. That is knowledge.
I hate knowledge. Knowledge is for men and men are woe faces and rollbellies. I hate wonder because it begins at knowledge, then takes a freighter to the mouth of the Ganges, only to be swallowed by a little Indian girl praying with her mouth open for Rama to get her a toy. I like pretend. Children pretend. I like children because I can trust them to hate knowledge almost as much as I do.
I live in a small house in the backyard of my mind. A grown man must kill knowledge. No one knows a thing, and the book we find to know we know, doesn’t know what the louse is dreaming, so it doesn’t know either. I can wonder if the louse is dreaming about a dandruff dinner. But that’s just silly. I can pretend that the louse will wear a pretty dress and go out to the best hair restaurant in the city. Or it can stay home and sing a song about its favorite pore to bore into.
What are the Nicobar Islands doing without a king? This morning I dub myself Monsoon King of the Nicobars. Me and my bamboo broom sweep out the dust in the brain. Just before the rains come I get a horrible itch on top of my head. Knowledge is a man promising himself last night to write down all he knows about the East. He wants to give an exotic flare to his writing that is dull, pompous, and dull. The man doesn’t know what he is. He doesn’t know what a daffodil is either. One doesn’t have to sit cross-legged to know the overwhelming no-no of knowing. Oh how lucky I am! Oh, how lucky the Monsoon King of the Nicobars! Sweep out the dust. Welcome the spring. Go get a job.
Tomorrow is Easter. Can’t get a job on Easter Sunday, so this afternoon I shall continue the writing thing.
I am in love. Nothing matters. Life is lucky. I am glad I got the special opportunity to walk along the river with my loved one. I take nothing I write seriously. That is important to remember. I am creating a very small book about nothing. I know it’s nothing and that makes me happy. I am a man sleeping in the arms of his lover. My belly hangs slightly over my jeans. I get mad when the porch wood rots. I hate home repair until it’s finished and then it’s okay.
Spring is bearing down its cheer upon me. I will find work and step in line. I need the money. Who was Rimbaud? I have to read his book. All I know about him is what Henry Miller wrote in Time of the Assassins. Carrying around the equivalent of twenty-five thousand dollars worth of gold in his belt. What does that mean? Why is Rimbaud sought after? Do we think we have something in common with him? I guess we do. Everyone in written history had a dirty ass thirty minutes out of the shower. Whether a rain shower, or snow shower, or even a very sterile, hot bathtub shower. Every one has a stinky ass, and that is why I never take personal triumphs too seriously.
I don’t mind being ripped off. I sleep with the most beautiful woman in Oswego. You can have my money. I will rub her thighs. I am not afraid of getting old. I look forward to it. Do I fear death? I don’t believe in it. I can’t understand it. I do not foresee it. When it comes, it won’t give any warning. No first hand accounts published on the subject. Unless that is what A Season In Hell is all about. Impossible. No hell but life. No heaven, either.
A wonderful, cleansing nap and walk we had today. It seemed everyone was outdoors, airing out their rot. The river has been emptying all the melt into the lake. The Oswego river flows north. Today southern water flows and mixes with my blood.
A great day. A better night! I want to renew all old friendships. I want my friends again. I want to be free all afternoon to lay in the grass. I want to have a picnic. I love food. I have been away for quite some time—so internal and lonely was I.
I have children. I am an artist. All the dreams of my youth are coming true. I might even go so far to say I enjoy making my home Oswego.
How nice it would be to have humble friends in our lives once again. Any takers? I’m open for offers. I had three friends who lived here long ago. They were just passing through. At that happy time we had no need of money. Just enough for rent and meals together. Until? I don’t know what happened—and I don’t think they know either, but sure enough, each got his call to depart. Had to go some place in the world. Any place besides Oswego. Too quiet here to get concrete feedback on their hopes and dreams. So they moved away. I don’t blame them. Still, youth is so stupid. Always wants to run to prove to no one how great it can become. And where does it go? To New York City! Ughh! Then ten years steadily dodging a longstanding, sincere friendship for the promise of new ones to form on the East side, in box 38. You live in West box 127, and have the key to prove it! And $2200.00 to give away each month to a faceless landlord who lets you live there and climb her crooked staircase. “Box 38, allow me the pleasure of introducing box 127 to you. Box 127, meet box 38. Now you two, shake hands and run back to your boxes!” New York has a quiet too. The kind of quiet to keep an army of analysts extremely busy. I am a friend who has been open and the same for thirty-four years. I’ll be sixty with the same dreams. All I want is my families’ laughter to be shared and appreciated by others not related to us. Please, are there any takers?
Today I forgive my old friends their transgressions. They didn’t want to abandon me. They went away like Rimbaud to find riches for prestige and freedom. It was minimum wage and an over-demanding friend like Ron which drove them away. My dream of ten years ago was to be here today playing flag football with children in the park. What crazy ambitions! What fruitless aspirations! When will old friends finally prove to their invisible Lords the value of their serfdom? At what hour exactly does a man become satisfied with his toil? How many humiliating times must his ears get boxed, and his deepest pride peed on again and again to realize there is no pleasing anyone but himself?
I have my invisible lords. I am just a stupid peasant too. I don’t mind going nowhere if I can only be of some use.
I am a good house picker-upper. Actually, rarely do I clean with a wet rag. I pick things up and put them away. I can give the appearance of clean.
I am a good father.
I am a good husband.
I am a loving master to the house pets.
I am a great success in anything I do besides house repair and keeping a job. I am a good artist, but in Oswego, that’s like saying you’re a good doctor without patients, a busy plumber without a truck, A swell floor-mopper and wall-washer at the power plant, without being a card-carrying member of the Capitalist Pig Party.
Every window I look out of I see a truck. Every truck I see once cost more than the house I live in. I am good at so many things. The one thing I am awful at is making money. I get too worried, but only because I am trapped in Oswego. At the North Pole I wouldn’t care, as long as there was plenty of blubber oil available. In fact I could divert all energy into sustenance living. But not in Oswego, surrounded by money. A truck out my window with a decal on the bumper. “Pheasants Forever”. Now transpose the driver onto the plains of central Africa, wearing nothing but jeans four sizes larger than his original waist. What will eat him first if not a flock of starving pheasants?
I am going to write my book within a book. I will write a primer for artists—a book of reference. I feel useful. I will make enough money, provided I can convince a money-faced publisher of the huge potential market. For that to happen, all present university professors must die. And then it’s open season for my book’s promotion. Target market: artistic American-speaking students world-wide. I predict the book being sold to exactly four universities, and by the year 2030, seventeen people will have read it from cover to cover. I joke with my wife that I don’t expect to make a penny from my efforts, but that posterity will award our children and their children enough money for a day’s supply of oatmeal. I joke although the death of art is so very real.

Book For Artists

You are right. Every one else is wrong. As much as you need people, they must be cast out. If you can’t get to a canoe, swim out to sea as far as you can swim before cramping. Turn around. If the shore cannot be seen, and you are the only human being floating, count yourself very unlucky to be the only living artist in your community.
It’s not fair and there is no helping you. You might be rewarded, and you might not. The strongest people in the world are artists. They’re just not the brightest. Start treading water.
When you feel the cramps, and you will feel the cramps, climb out of bed in the morning and pity yourself. Do this before the army gets up. No one, not even those who love you the most will tolerate your hope for long.
You might get a big break. But only if you make it worthwhile to somebody who is worth something. Real art is always a generation or two before recognition. But then it’s only the life of the artist that gets recognized. It means that nobody comes to help when you’re drowning. Not because they hate you. They just don’t want to have the kind of fun you’re having being an artist. Not that kind of fun!
Poverty and degradation aren’t your friends. No, not at all. But they will tolerate you, as long as you don’t tease them. In a hundred years your relationship with suffering becomes some of the most romantic music in history. Your life becomes an art. What you produced with pain and suffering, people now want to have. Calendars are made with colorful or nostalgic examples of your life and works, a specific one starring each month. The supreme mockery. Even the richest overlord loves a good story about sacrifice. I don’t know why. Maybe it brings him back to moments in time when his life had meaning. Before money. Patrons of the arts? Never. No such thing. They are mockers of art. But isn’t that obvious? Whoever is in possession of a Van Gogh now should be shot on the spot where Van Gogh shot himself. That I even know of Van Gogh in Oswego should be reason enough for my hanging. That the people I know know Van Gogh is proof of imminent Armageddon. Because they are not artists, but will give the dirty prick Van Gogh both thumbs up for life and work well done. Which means, and it should give you the desire to immediately swim out to sea as far as you can, that no one will ever care about your work, and, unless you starve yourself, have all night conversations with God or Beelzebub, while getting progressively skinnier and brain dead—until you give in to the pressure to want to drown yourself, your work will not be appreciated even by your own mother in your lifetime. I don’t care how many colorful cartoons you have finished in your studio! You will never be an artist unless you suffer immensely, die, and wait a half century.
A great American painter of the 21st century must do without peanut butter and solid, lasting friendships. He might even refuse to talk to anyone for the next thirty years. He will eat, shit, and sleep his art on canvas. It won’t matter until that magical day he decides to swallow fire while slicing off his own head. Then I promise, the human world would not let his grandchildren starve. That is how to become a well-received painter.
The writer is so much worse off. Grammar makes it more difficult for a man to fake it. Abstract writing has no blues and greens to decorate a room. Frame the following words and hang them on the dining room wall:

Sea fish bit hairy ass of bunk-a-bunk
dinner dish scrape plate a lot—got
quiet at da camp a moonlight—might
get the boys to diddle the girls
diddle the girls, diddle the girls…

What is one to say about crap like that?
The off-writer won’t receive a penny in this life or the afterlife unless he can fill a fat book with a plot about diddling the girls, and a sub-plot about an evil pet cemetery, which in itself carries a risky theme about a lawyer acting like a hero. And still, this won’t get him rich enough to eat with his art until he promotes his embarrassing words of work to the wrong man who happens to be the right guy to get him money.
He should just stick with the bad poetry, break his back, and be found dead in his room with a rabbit’s genitals hanging from his mouth. A billionaire’s grandson will buy the original manuscript for twenty million dollars.
“Sea fish bit hairy ass of bunk-a-bunk.” It has quite a ring to it, eh? I’m telling you it does. I will tell you what you have to like. I represent all the representatives of American Letters. Every other one likes 2% milk on Special K for breakfast. Over half of the winning writers in America are university professors. Good grammar, a better promoter, enough degrees on his wall to prove to other men just how clever he is. Or be modest with no degrees showing. Just take the money and grow a fat tummy. Tenure and vacation, and another book to add to his collection of himself. The sunniest summer days out mowing his lawn. How can he not believe in the work he does when it pays so well?
Polyp! My beautiful wife just said “polyp”. She was referring to obstructions she would have to feel for in my anus if I went for the job that requires a finger in it before getting hired. “I could have you do it” I told her. “You can get the doctor to show you what to do.”
“You mean look for polyps?” she asked.
Oh my beauty, my best friend… Yes! God damn I just love our sweet potential to death! She is more of the artist than I will ever be. Stick to the nameless work Ron. Make enough walnut burgers to serve three. Your mother-in-law comes over. Offer her yours without telling. Cover the pan on the stove and if anyone asks where yours is—point to the covered pan on the stove. Nameless art. Write letters to friends and lovers, and once in a while, to family. Bleed your joy and pain all over the pages. Place in the envelope a small painting you did to the music, and a picture of your funny face. That’s art. Work like a work dog at it for the rest of your life. Spend every waking moment you can going about the real business of art. Art cannot have a name or a price tag. Art can and should feed the artist. No artist deserves a stranger’s finger up his ass. An artist became an artist more than anything because of his aloneness. He wanted to be left alone. He is frightened of a world he did not create. Uh-oh. I’m repeating myself. First no-no of art. Always progress. Forward!
Today, going to the bank for the absolute last bit of cash in our name, I stumbled upon a bank purse lying on the pavement next to our car. I picked it up. Oooh it was fat. “This is from God.” I thought. “Oh what a funny trick.” I’m sure it would have contained enough cash to take care of us for at least a couple months. Bury it in the yard for rent and food, and a little spending cash for fun—I’m telling you, just a little!
What do I do? You know what I do. This is a book for artists. I don’t care whose money it is. If I were anyone else, I would take it and hide it immediately. Even if I was honest and religious I would take it. I believe in stealing when a man feels cornered. He doesn’t have to be trapped—he needs only to feel trapped. But I knew this trick. I have been out searching for lost money on the ground before. When that desperation begins, the money soon follows. Either I get a job or win a million dollars. I start trusting in invisibles again. I no longer worry myself over trivial matters… Money being the king triviality. Beneath my angsty exterior a calm breeze ensues. A trusting calm. Whom do I trust? Nothing human. That money was for the taking, and I didn’t take it. I didn’t even open the deposit purse to count it, or look to see who was looking. I walked the purse back to the bank entrance and handed it to the first man walking out. I knew it was his. Don’t ask me how I knew. But I knew, and I know what God was up to.
Coincidence? No. One thing is for certain. No man in Oswego loses a bank purse on a sunny spring afternoon.
I don’t recommend this behavior for anyone. It’s money. If you find it on the ground, take it. Unless you enjoy suffering.
Art is easy. Anyone can make art. Art to be made is not the art I want to have. I am suffering for this book. That is art. Not only am I suffering, but my family must endure the growing pains of my creation. To understand the word suffering one must not take the money he is reduced to begging for. One must also write a book he thinks is ca-ca, and wipe his ass with it when he’s finished. It’s true. That must be the final aspiration for every pure work of art. How can I make the aspiring artist understand that everything he paints or writes is a piece of crap?
It is all crap.
That is the first rule of art. There is no second rule without living and dying following the law of the first. So I won’t tell you. I will feel it in you. You can ask me. No matter how good you are at expressing yourself, there is no way to articulate suffering. Believe me hen I tell you how often I have tried. So suffer and sing and crap out one explosion after the other. You are an artist when you realize whatever you create is sludge. Other creations are no less a work of art. But only the artist is art.
Make sense?
I hear the gladness of the bird off my balcony. My baby coos beside the breast of my loving friend. We are such wild, careless dreamers. April began in our bedroom. The past is death. The future is murder. The energy circulating throughout one human hand could feed and clothe and warm a planet of suffering creatures.
But really, who cares?

Dog obedience is tonight. My daughter and I have been taking our quickly excitable dog to Auburn for the past two weeks to get learnin’. He’s a smart dog. A loving dog. A good family dog. Yet he needs to be around other dogs. I drive Rachelle to Auburn because I love her immensely. If necessary, I would drive her to Pennsylvania once a week for class. I believe in a life taken to its extreme side of nonsense. For love. I truly don’t give a damn about my own petty desires if to satisfy them means limiting the passions of the ones I love the most. I am a fake and a fool. But I know I love better than anything else I do. My talent is giving me. It is the reason I have a beautiful, wise princess for a wife, sensitive children, and very careful pets. There are nights I lean back in the hard chair of our poverty and feel like the other son of God—not the poor bastard who suffered the cross, but the first son, the eldest, the legitimate one who got all the neat stuff along with Dad’s true blessing.
Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with worry for my little girl. Something odd is happening to her—there’s a change in her behavior, very slight, but noticeable to such a sensitive fellow like myself. I can’t tell if it’s the right change. I am worried for her.
From out of the blue, over the span of a season, she’s developed a passion for the pop/rock band ‘Nsync. I must make it clear to the reader that before this recent mild mental disturbance, my daughter knew virtually nothing about the strip bar America with its smoky room full of drunk hoods and mascara bar flies. She was growing up Italian in a small Appenine Mountain village. Dad was a cook in a hotel restaurant. He asked the village strong man if he could work nights instead of days, so he could teach his daughter without daily interruption. The village leader said, “What, is our school not good enough for a cook?”
“No Sinor,” said the man.
“Yes. You can work nights. But you can amount to nothing more than a line cook for the tourists. Comprende?”
“Si. Sinor.”
And that is how he kept her world quiet and happy, without the shame of carelessness that cast shadows over the other children.
‘Nsync is not the problem. Music is never wrong. In fact, for an eleven year old, they’re safe enough, as long as she can keep the French Kiss out of her Barbie play.
I don’t expect anyone to understand why I do the things I do. But I am her father. And the word “father” alone brings more of a world to my mind than any American I know would allow himself to believe. I am her father. I want nothing else to happen to me besides peaceful children who are able to give and receive love. I am her father, and that truth is the center of the universe until she graduates from my care.
There can be no half way with the children. There is a pretending out there in America. A huge pretend play game happening. The parents are telling the world how much they love their kids. They are saying this in the same breath they use to shout at them. American parents are selfish, hungry monsters with tunnel vision. The word “guidance” means nothing to them. How could it? When they were children getting ready to make children, each was assigned a guidance counselor. What was that? These weren’t orphaned boys and girls, were they? To be sure, the counselor was neurotic enough, and neglected her own spawn during their formative years. She wanted a job, a career, a field. She wanted to play the game. She became a teacher. She had children and sent them to be taught by another teacher. Everyone sent the kids somewhere else to someone else to teach their open minds life’s lessons. So why shouldn’t she? She was deserving. Where was her special present? She wa-wanted her special present!
I believe that’s three or four generations now of insanity allowed, actually recommended, and sometimes even forced. Schools hire guidance counselors. I often wonder if mom can remember back to those precious, few minutes when she pushed out something alive and very fragile.
I wish my guidance counselor told me to learn a trade, develop an easy sense of humor, don’t go to college, cook my own food, wash my own clothes, make enough money to teach the kids myself, and don’t dare have kids if I plan to play the crazy games my parents and their parents played. No fun if every one ends up spent and shattered when they’re over.
I would say the parents of America rarely meet the children even halfway. Actually, some just throw them away. How can a father allow his child into school through a metal detector? Today Daddy drops his baby girl off in the school parking lot, hoping that while he’s off playing the game, she doesn’t get teased or shot. He might pray every night that she won’t get pregnant, or take drugs or shoot someone herself. Yet Dad will push her out of the car anyway, every day, and drive away. Not to see her again until later that night, when it’s time to feed her and turn out the light in the barn which he calls a safe and loving home for her. One day she’ll become Farmer Brown to her own little pigs. That’s modern living, oink. No matter how well daddy and mommy disguise the truth. Oink-oink. They raise their children for slaughter. Loving parents may work very hard to get them into the right barn. But after all, it’s never their best. And it’s always bacon for breakfast. Oinky-aloinky—boink-a-boink!
You don’t believe me? Why? How could you not? What do you need? What does Daddy need? What does all the damned human world need?
More money, perpetual security, progress, and newer, cleaner things to look at.
Oh that’s right, I almost forgot. I’m sorry. How rude of me. Gas, electric, garbage, mortgage, please god, anything, everything, wheels and a good paying job! A new computer, a better dinner, three accounts at the bank, clothes when we want them, new boots twice a year, a new car, an old car, nothing more that what the poor guy couldn’t get while teaching the kids himself!
What I mean is so obviously scary. Let’s brace ourselves for this one. There is nothing that cannot be got at a walk. For every thing received, some thing will be taken away. Newton’s laws? Universal wisdom? More about dog obedience in a moment. I’m on target now. I think that I am on to something.
Recently our family has lived with very little money. Still, we have eaten well and even paid some of the bills. Heat, electric and phone. I possess books to help teach my daughter, and hot water to wash the babies’ diapers. It’s true, you have no heart. Americans have gone on a rampage killing sensitivity. Like zombies of the movies—becoming that imagined horror show without needing a nuclear fallout to jump start the undead. You have no heart. You can afford everything I can. I am sitting in a Morris chair. I have running water. I even ate a bowl of cereal this morning. And, I am teaching my own children. I am spending entire days beside my wife. Not because I am lucky, or fortunate, or even wise. I know what love is. I have a heart. Now I know it’s your plan to eat it. Good god, you’re the zombie, aren’t you? Run!
Both my wife and I feel the lack in our lives without friends. We need you to come back from the dead. You left a thousand years ago, but by some heroic feat, I alone will get some of you to come back. My wife needs friends she can talk to. She wants to picnic with you and your children. But not if you intend to eat out our hearts, instead of these delicious jelly sandwiches we’ve prepared.
You have no heart. Why are you working away from the family? Why are you putting your children in school? Are you playing Russian Roulette with their spirits? Yes! You do not understand what a child is. You don’t know your husband. You never loved your wife. You diddled her. She diddled you. Then you got the product of your screw. And now no one even diddles anymore. Everyone eats hearts.
I make fifty times less than you. But you do not multiply your life fifty times greater than mine. Do you have fifty more chairs? Fifty more hot water heaters? Fifty more automobiles? Fifty more children? You cannot have a heart. You must be reading this the way you go to the bathroom, or shave your face or your legs. I know everyone is a failed parent as soon as the child steps into an industrial room at the tender age of four or five. What important work are you doing that justifies being excused from the responsibility of raising your own child?
I have one window in front of me. And you cannot possibly look out of fifty in front of you. So you must be living overkill. Where is your dog obedience class being held tonight? Forget that. Where is your parental obedience class?
Are you an important chef? Where is your daughter at 11:00 a.m.? Are you an intelligent manager? Where is your son while you manage more money? You have so much stuff, but never fifty times more than what the poet down the street has. All the children are becoming indifferent, apathetic, unsure. Nature or nurture? You, the monster without a heart, are a lone Skinner box concealing macaroni and cheese for dinner and a trigger with the safety off. Take the lid off the box so the kid can shoot his friends and eat their hearts. Oh small joys! He didn’t finish his macaroni and cheese! There’s a little pile left, pushed to the side of his paper plate. You’re going to finish it for him, aren’t you? You can have his life and eat it too. And as usual, drag your stuffed ass back to work!
Oh piddlepiss. The truth is too painful for me too. Where was I before bringing all the children into my loving care? Loving care. Hmm. That’s right, ‘Nsync.
They are fine millionaire boys, I am sure. I could write another hundred pages about pop music, and the laying out of our children for the sexual molestation of America with horns to climb over. I wanted to talk about Radio Disney, and the magic machine that turns ten-year-old girls into pregnant pole dancers. There is enough wrong to write about forever. But I am in charge of publishing. And I don’t have any money. No one wants to read about a man’s internal ramblings anyway. I have wasted my time in writing these hate letters to semi-erect lap dogs.
This is the last book the poet writes about why everything is screwy. If you’re not near crazy after a walk through your town in America, then there is no hope for you. I cannot be bothered anymore to scratch my head thinking up delicate ways to scold you.
I will continue to write. I will always write. However, from now on I must choose my subjects more wisely. Today is April 20, 2001. I am thirty-four years old. I got a call back last night for a job. I am going to cook French fries again.
Ten dollars an hour. It is my trade. Amazing how these tiny cures of money temporarily rig us up until the next blow-out.

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