THAT I AM

That I am
That You are
That Death is
More real than God
To Me

(Oh, no
Not again)

I Whistle
I Sing
I Eat candy
I Smell flowers

I Cry

Not To Be
But To Be
Not enough
No more
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ON THE DEATH OF JOHN LENNON

lennon

ON THE DEATH OF JOHN LENNON

        “I’m shot! I’m shot!” plays loudly from the record console as John Lennon emerges from the fog and shadow. He covers his ears and stares at the source of the grotesque song.

        A figure in a long robe of red appears from behind the record console. The figure reaches out his hand and the grotesque song is silenced.

RED-ROBED FIGURE

“A bit primal, but it was a big hit on earth.”

JOHN

“Who are you?”

RED-ROBED FIGURE (laughs and extends his hand)

“John Lennon, I am Jesus Christ.”

JOHN (shaking his hand)

“You?”

JESUS

“Do you remember?”

JOHN

“Yeah. I’m bigger than you again this December.”

JESUS (wincing)

“True. But your message is mine. That is, most of it is mine. Some rewording was necessary to reach your times.”

JOHN

“Yeah. Goo-goo Goo-joob, y’all. So this is Heaven? Excuse me but I didn’t expect…”

JESUS (gesturing all around)

“Heaven? No, John. This is the Heart. We all meet here.”

JOHN (angry)

“Fuckin’ expensive ticket-to-ride, Mr. J. C., sir.”

JESUS

“Hey, buddy, you went fast. The world cared. I went slow, speared, and naked.”

JOHN

“So who are you workin’ for now?”

JESUS

“I am still with the Self we all claim.”

JOHN

“Yeah? So are there guitars here or what?”

JESUS (smiles again)

“No. Whatever sounds you imagine can be made real. Just let it be.”

JOHN

“I’ve heard it before.”

JESUS

“Go on. Try it.”

JOHN (his eyes going misty. Oh, Yoko plays happily from the music console. It stops abruptly. He sighs.)

“Is..?”

JESUS

“No, John. Here we are still within Time. Yoko will be along later.”

JOHN (voice cracking)

“So what now, Big Brotha’?”

JESUS

“That is always for you to decide.”

JOHN

“Believe it or not, eh?”

JESUS

“Come on, John. All you need is love.”

JOHN

“All you’re gonna need is a good lawyer if you keep rippin’ off lines from my songs.”

JESUS AND JOHN (both laugh together)

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A TASTE FOR LIFE

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A TASTE FOR LIFE

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        Trotty Wilde rides her bicycle (named) Kardashian up and down the slopes of the Coyote Hills trails at night. In these wee hours, Trotty enjoys being the only bicyclist, illuminating her own path with that 400-lumen LED headlight.

        Trotty swoops out of the trail head and onto the public street that circumvents Coyote Hills. She pedals furiously up the incline in a triumphant finale to her workout, focusing only ahead, savoring the deep muscle burn, the rapidly chilling sweat, and the bicyclist’s endorphin high.

        Suddenly a large dark automobile, without headlights, comes up from behind Trotty and side-swipes her. Trotty is flung away sideways onto the sidewalk, bouncing off of her helmeted head and rolling like a rag doll.

        Trotty can feel as she impacts and tumbles but the sensation is not yet pain, only knowledge of what pain must come.

        She faints as the deluge of pain now quickly engulfs her.

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        Trotty awakens. The pain closes upon her consciousness like water upon a hole in water. She sees a blurry figure above herself.

        Trotty hears a man saying down to her, “I have called for an ambulance. Can you hear me? You’re going to be fine.”

        Trotty faints again.

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        When she again awakens, her first conscious thoughts are of dread at being conscious. Her jagged world is pulsing with a red light. She realizes there are now other figures above her.

        Another voice is saying, close to her face, “We’re going to lift you into the ambulance. We’ll give you something for the pain when we stabilize you.”

        Trotty faints as she is lifted onto a gurney.

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        She awakens laying inside an ambulance with two medical technicians moving around her, touching her, prodding her, pulling her, saying, “We’re leaving your helmet on for a little while longer, just in case….”

        Trotty cries out from the pain. One technician says, “OK, here you go. You’re going to feel something in one second…”

        The pain now falls away like a robe. Trotty exhales. Her vision is still blurry as if under water. She watches the two pale young technicians.

        One of the technicians says to her, soothingly, “Welcome back. You were a hit.”

        Trotty giggles at the bad joke.

        The other technician says, “She’ll be marinating in happy juice now.”

        Trotty is sentient enough to realize that she is now strapped naked under a blanket. She drawls with effort, “Where are my clothes?”

        One technician says, “He knocked the shit out of you. Understand?”

        Trotty mumbles, “Yessir.”

        The technician continues, “We’re leaving your helmet on until we are sure.”

        His partner mutters, “These bicyclists. How stupid are they to insist on sharing the road with automobiles? That’s like swimming with sharks.”

        Trotty begins to mouth the movie JAWS’ ominous theme music, “Dun-dun-Dun-dun-Dun-dun…” and she splutters, giggling.

        One of the technicians says, “Don’t marinate her too much. She’ll be bitter.”

        The ambulance stops. The technicians throw the back doors open.

        They are not at a hospital.

        As they lift Trotty out of the ambulance she has a disconnected observation that they are in a dark park. Her gurney is bumping over uneven grass.

        Trotty becomes aware of a small crowd around her. She tries to focus on them. They seem to be a mix of young and old.

        One of the ambulance technicians lifts her head tenderly and removes her helmet. At that moment she realizes that all of the different people seem to have the same pale face with sunken eyes.

        The ambulance technician snatches Trotty’s blanket away. The cold night air is sobering upon her nakedness. The pain medication is diluted with a fierce shock of adrenaline but she can’t make her throat scream. She squirms desperately in her straps upon the gurney.

        The ghouls now surround her closely and begin to press their hands and lips upon her flesh, murmuring with lust and craving.

        For all ghouls have a taste for life.

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BRATWURST AND RUMBLEGUTS

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BRATWURST AND RUMBLEGUTS

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        When I was a wild kitten I was chased by that old pit bull Rumbleguts up into a great pine tree in Aden Park. I didn’t need to climb as high as I did but I was terrified.

        I cried out for days and nights to Saint Francis, afraid to climb down. People left food at the base of the tree to entice me down but I was more afraid than hungry. One of those nights a coyote appeared, saying with his eyes, “Come down little friend, I will catch you.”

        That dawn an old man appeared. The nice old man leaned his face against the tree trunk looking up at me and patted the bark, saying with his mouth, “Come on, come on, you’re keeping me awake every night,” fixing his eyes into mine. It was then as if the way down became horizontal and I was compelled to clutch bark, branch to branch, all the way down to him.

        The nice old man then carried me exhausted to his house near the park.

        He named me Bratwurst.

        Otherwise it was a good situation. My mother had told me to find a human.

        The old man’s neighbor owned the old pit bull Rumbleguts. At first Rumbleguts would get all agitated when I sat on the fence, well out of his reach. He was blind in one eye and he was missing pieces of his face from his fighting days (he would tell me later), and he got himself rescued by our neighbor before they could kill him when he couldn’t fight anymore.

        Humans. Killer Angels.

        My human took me to a veterinarian at the Cornell Feline Health Center for a “routine checkup and shots”. The veterinarian said, “Bratwurst has Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). It is a viral disease of cats caused by certain strains of a virus. Most strains do not cause disease but in a small percent of infected cats (5 to 10 percent), either by a mutation of the virus or by an aberration of the immune response, the infection progresses. With the assistance of the antibodies that are supposed to protect the cat, white blood cells are infected with the virus and these cells then transport the virus throughout the cat’s body. An intense inflammatory reaction occurs around vessels in the tissues where these infected cells locate, often in the abdomen, kidney, or brain. It is this interaction between the body’s own immune system and the virus that is responsible for the disease. The disease is progressive and is almost always fatal. The way clinical FIP develops as an immune-mediated disease is unique, unlike any other viral disease of animals or humans.”

        The veterinarian suggested “putting me to sleep” but I sleep just fine. My human said that as long as I had an appetite he would keep me alive. When would I not have an appetite?

        My mom told me that the lifespan of an outdoors cat was 12 moons so I wasn’t worried. Twelve moons is a long time.

        Then one night I met Katalina, a golden long-hair cat. She was from the next neighborhood. We climbed up into “my” pine tree in Aden Park and we talked all night, talking of our three moons so far and imagining the moons to come.

        At dawn Katrina left, saying that we would meet again someday. Occasionally after that I would think I heard her far away crying to the moon. I might have been dreaming.

        Rumbleguts and I became friends, which was lucky because he could dig under his gate any time he felt like it (that’s how we first “met” when he chased me up that pine tree). We would cruise the neighborhood together. He took me under his tongue. People would point and be amazed and take videos, yet they would always stand aside. Ugly old Rumbleguts was my protection and I was his lost eye and ear and nose.

        One day when we came back to Rumbleguts’ house there was someone at the front door talking to Rumbleguts’ human. When Rumbleguts and I squeezed under the gate into the backyard we saw another human opening a window and trying to climb in.

        Rumbleguts charged and jumped and chomped onto the foot of the intruder human slipping through the open window. The human screamed. Then there was a loud bang. Rumbleguts fell down onto his side and stopped moving. I heard Rumbleguts’ human shouting and the intruder human jumped out the window and ran across the backyard and climbed away over the fence.

        Rumbleguts’ human picked up Rumbleguts and cried out again and again. He put Rumbleguts into the front seat of his automobile and he crashed through the closed gate and he drove screeching away down the street.

        My fur stood on end for a long time.

        Then I was lonely.

        That night I climbed back into “my” pine tree in Aden Park and I sang for poor old Rumbleguts who had first chased me up there.

        It wasn’t the same without Rumbleguts. I had to be a lot more cautious. I spent more nights up in “my” pine tree just watching the stars creep.

        One moon I saw Katalina at the edge of Aden Park. She was coming toward my tree, singing. I joined her song. She was still far from my tree when I saw the coyote emerge from the bushes. My fur stood on edge. How often had he been there? I wanted to run farther up the tree.

        Katalina saw the coyote and began to run to “my” tree. I could see that she wouldn’t make it. Without thinking I leapt from the tree and charged at the coyote, hissing and crying out. The coyote became confused for a moment and stopped and stared at me. Katalina would be almost at the tree now.

        I was jumping and hissing and crying out, a whirling aberration, but the coyote now could see I was a dead cat leaping and he charged at me. I could see Saint Francis as my few moons passed rapidly before my eyes. But then…

        I heard the hoarse bark, the savage growl, and I saw the charging form of a dog startle the coyote. The coyote turned and fled across the park. It was Rumbleguts! Rumbleguts chased the coyote until I saw Rumbleguts halt wheezing and coughing. I looked back at Katalina up in the pine tree and then I dashed toward Rumbleguts in disbelief.

        Rumbleguts was weak and shaking from his exertion. It took me a minute to see that Rumbleguts now had only three legs.

        I rubbed on Rumbleguts wet face. He licked me. Katalina joined us and we stayed with Rumbleguts until he could hobble back to his backyard, where his human had not replaced the shattered gate. We stayed with Rumbleguts there until he fell asleep.

        Rumbleguts got to see my children before he died. That made me happy. I don’t care what the barking dogs say, Rumbleguts was ahead of his time.

        Now my moons are waning. I have become skin and bones but I haven’t lost my appetite yet. I lose my balance sometimes but I still enjoy the sun in the backyard, even if I can’t jump up on the fence anymore or climb “my” pine tree or even dare to venture all the way to Aden Park anymore.

        I died in my sleep, dreaming of Rumbleguts and Katalina, and now we run together in Aden Park where even the coyotes eat only apples.

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IMPERFECT PEBBLES

imperfect pebbles

IMPERFECT PEBBLES

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          I am Old Medicine and I have come to this mountain creek in the white of winter to settle my death.

          This creek yet flows through the frozen tears of the Great Spirit.  In the throat of this flowing creek I see many pebbles colored with the memories of sunlight.  I reach into this yet living water but the cold makes my hand turn very heavy, reminding me, stroking my hand, reminding me.  One by one I borrow pebbles to make a beautiful arrangement on behalf of my death.

          Great Spirit, how could I possibly have added to your sovereign purpose?  How can I possibly honor you now except to kiss the life that was never mine and return it gracefully?  What other arrangement do I have time to understand as an old man?

          I am old and frozen with lies.  I now need freedom.

          These pebbles are imperfect and that is their beauty and I arrange them in the symbols taught to me long ago by my mother and never forgotten.

          Still, I am not finished arranging my pebbles when the child of my death appears to me.  He reaches for my cold fingers…

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        FUCK!! AND NOW HE FUCKING TRIPS AND FALLS FACE DOWN IN THE SNOW.  GOD DAMN IT!

        CUT!

        GOD DAMN IT, GREAT SPIRIT LIFE INSURANCE, TAKE THREE!

great spirit life insurance

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THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

 cutters lounge A

THE CUTTERS LOUNGE

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        Tonight is Swinging Dicks’ Night at The Cutters Lounge cigar bar.  There are to be no women.  So why is The Katman’s daughter serving the ceremonial Clynelish 20-year old Scotch to Michael, Rick, David, and me?

        “My dad is running late.  He said to start with his recommended appetizers.”  She holds out a tray of New Havana cigars.

        Michael turns his head, blows a billow of smoke and converses with it.  “There aren’t supposed to be any … girls tonight.”

        Katie curls her lips at him, “Why?  That never stops you from scratching, farting, and belching.”

        Michael’s head whips back at her and he tries to give her his most foreboding stare of doom.  Katie turns and sways away to the counter out front, scratching her ass at him.

        Rick grins and pleads after her, “Everything out there in the world is for women.”

        I add, calling out lamely, “Civilization is a feminine concept!”

        Rick turns to me in seriousness, “It really is, you know.  Think about it: the highest compliment paid to the most advanced invention is ‘a woman can do it’”.

        Michael says “Yeah?  What about France?”

        “Huh?”

        “They were supposed to be the highest civilization once, and they wore powdered wigs and silk stockings!”  Michael leans back in triumph.

        Katie calls from the front counter, “Yeah, yeah.  Without women men would just fish and drink beer.”

        “And smoke cigars!” says Rick.

        “How can she hear us?” I ask incredulously.

        “She’s young,” says David, laughing at me.

        Michael persists, saying loudly, “All real men used to hunt, …seek, …endure…

        Rick interrupts him at his own peril, “Men hunt, women nest”, quoting from the old Seinfeld show.

        “…and all real women, yes, tended the campfire and the children,” Michael finishes, glaring at Rick.

        Katie shoots back, unseen from the front counter, “And women made damn sure the Men stayed away from the children.  They’ll fuck anything.”

        David bursts out with mock indignation, “How dare you insult my better half?”  He grabs my hand.

        I say wryly, “Not tonight, dear, I’m constipated.”

        “Maybe I can help?” he whispers.

        Michael makes a retching sound.  Rick chimes in, “A little too civilized, gentlemen.”

        The Katman enters.  We stand.

        I bow.  Rick curtsies.  Michael salutes smartly.  David flings his right arm out with a “Heil, mein Meister”.

        The Katman seats himself upon the massage recliner Throne and proceeds to hold court, allowing the obvious question from David, “How did the meeting go?”

        The Katman lowers his eyes and warms the foot of his cigar, revealing, “This is a Fausto.”

        I ask humbly, “Is it as good as the Avion?”

        “Better,” says The Katman as he savors the ignition.  “You’ll all try one.”

        “What about the meeting?” insists David irreverently.

        The Katman states matter-of-factly, “It’s going to be a fight.  The government is hell-bent on regulating cigar blends.”

        “Why?” asks Rick rhetorically, “This isn’t cigarettes.  This is wine tasting.”

        Michael says, “It’s what bureaucrats do.  The government can only grow.”

        “Until the revolution!” I conclude, trying to be weighty.

        David shakes his head, “The German government strictly regulates beer.  They sure haven’t ruined that.”

        “A Cigar Czar?” Rick contemplates out loud, “Quality control for blending?  Now that’s a government job I’d like to have!”

        The Katman watches and listens as his court debates, his eyes pulsing red with the glow of the Fausto cigar tip.

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