Just yesterday it was yesterday
Now it's already today
Confuse not mercy with weakness
Confuse weakness not with an upset liver
And confuse not an upset liver with love
It is the shape of the silence
Which defines the sound
Like winter rubbing against summer
Each refines the other
Only certain curtains can be drawn
The rest must be endured
The souring sermons
The centered self serving
The lion den Christians in Coliseum stands
Twixt ape and angel wandering
Torn between the knowledge
And the need
Do I worship the moon or sun
Or yet the blooded one?
I bloat and smell
Decay in age
The focus runs
Yon black crow hunched against
The yellow asphalt line somewhere
On route 36 interstate north
Is but a breath of my fancy
An inevitable pigment of my integration
One final fiction
Old crow's dead
Motherless mind sewage
Black cold magpie
Could be raven
Platinum yellow ozling
Mother Mary mud pie
Young mudded girl
Inflected in random pools
Of rainbow auto oil
On yellow lined highways
The dead black crow
Hunched against 36
Huddled beneath behind
Green metal stalls
The tile encrusted
Yellow, he sews an
Empty money bag
To his crotch, watches
His reflection mirrored
In regimented urinals
five six seven
Decaying down the wall
Cradling his existence
Fraying five to seven
In staid erotic fear
Small spider woven
Through uninforming ears
Tired of heaven he sews
His money to his crotch
My best friend at the Naval Academy was a self-made degenerate who was dating a shelf-made Catholic. She's the lady who was to blind-date me with my unfortunate future. After graduation they got married, and she constantly semi-quietly chaffed at his sins, especially his alcohol-filled friendship with drug-infested me.
One weekend while she was visiting her parents to celebrate her pregnancy, he went down to Baltimore's infamous Block to see Blaze Starr strip. During her act, Blaze came up to him and had him powder her big bare breasts with two large powder puffs.
Afterward, he picked his wife up at the train station and on the long trip back to the naval base told her of the breasts and the powder puffs and she flipped - starts screaming the car is filled with powder unclean, to let her out. He does, calms her down, gets her back to base and treatment.
Over the next few weeks she sinks slowly into insanity. Refuses to eat anything because it is poisoned. Won't clean because it's filthy beyond soap and water. Eventually they lock her away awhile until her blooming pregnancy catches her attention enough to qualify her as sort of sane. He broke off our relationship because she believed I was the evil in his life, and he tried to spare her what he could. The last I heard, she was a careful and loving mother, but not much of a wife - and he was set in sadness.
This is the woman who decided my future ex and I were made for each other.
My wife to be was also unstable. Not really her fault, it ran in the family. Her sister was being treated for schizophrenia, and her father was a daughter molesting madman. Tried to smash my face in with his fists the night we told him we would marry. Her grandmother was a vicious sharp tongued backstabbing member of the once rich who kept forgetting the once, although she did still own a second home on the Cape next to the Kennedy's. Her mother at least was a good person, though crippled with arthritis, disappointment and alcohol. Grandma had disinherited them all because her daughter had to marry a common farm boy - who in order to support his new family, had to shelve his dream of singing opera, and become instead a rather prosperous maker of partials, false teeth and bridges for others.
I once thought I was the good guy, the hero in white. But in truth few of us are heroes, and black is more wearable than
white. White shows the soul's stain.
My first six months in jail, I was in the tiers.
A tier there is five two man cells and a shower, all enclosed in bars. Each night, we'd be locked in our cells, each morning let
out to wander the 10 by 70 foot communal area. Our tier had Ringo. He claimed they couldn't legally get him for murder
because the dude he beat to death was still alive when he walked away. Ringo was big, black, brutal, and did not like me.
Not because I was white, but because I wouldn't get out of his way when he walked. And he walked all day, in this continuous
oval, with a short detour each loop around me. He was working towards hurting me, and said so. He scared the shit out of
me. But I scared me more because I couldn't give in. When I'm that afraid, I seem to go out of my way to piss off what I'm
afraid of even more - and what I was afraid of was bigger, stronger, faster, meaner, an admitted fatal fighter. I felt ill.
Then the odd backhand of salvation.
I smuggled one too many letters out of prison. Unfortunately this letter described a psycho guard. The warden called me down.
Showed me the letter. Said smuggling is 18 months. Wondered if I had anything to say about my charges against the guard
(who of course like everyone else in jail on both sides of the bars had a cliche name - Sarge). I said what I'd written was not
only true, I hadn't even scratched the surface of his verbal and physical abuse of visiting wives. Warden told Sarge to return me
to my cell, and for me to think about 18 months and we'd finish tomorrow. I go to my cage and I worry. I worry about tomorrow.
I worry about Sarge's retaliation. I worry about the 18 months. I worry about my wife who's sleeping with an ex-con who's not me.
And I really worry about Ringo.
Next day, the warden casually tells me I'm moving downstairs to the dorm, and he's making me head cook. No mention
of the letter, or Sarge, or the 18 months. The one thing every prisoner wanted was a job that got you to the dorm with its one
locked gate, its radio, TV, eating what you wanted when you wanted where you wanted. And of all the jobs, cook is cockerel's
walk. Switching so quickly from such certain sorrow to overwhelming wealth fucks your mind, sends too many
simultaneous threads in way too many directions, yet I instantly flash - I'm free from Ringo.
All that for this tit for tat.
One of the dorm trustees ratted Ringo, who in punishment was in a locked cell in a locked tier 3 floors up. We're watching
TV, and in he walks - taller, stronger, larger than any of us. Rat was Woody Allen's size. Ringo says "you ratted me out."
Rat says no. Ringo repeats "you ratted me out." (He really did rat Ringo, and we knew it. He also ratted my letter). Rat tries
to explain but Ringo hits him hard, knocking him to the concrete floor, then stomps 5 times on his head with his work boot.
With each stomp, Rat's head bangs against the concrete and bounces up to meet the down coming boot which smacks his
head even harder into the concrete as Ringo says (one word per stomp): "you. . shouldn't. . have. . done. . that." None of us
moved, or spoke, not once. Ringo turned and looked at us to see if he had a problem, decided he didn't, left. Rat got up,
stemming the blood, his head already swelled to thrice its size.
That's when I knew I was not the me I thought was me, the me I needed to be.
It's not my only lesson, but it is the one that worked.
Had I said or done something, two things would have happened. I'd be dead, or broken ... or ... the others would have rallied,
and we would have stopped him. But had that second happy Hollywood scene occurred, at some time, at some place,
Ringo would have found me, and hurt me. A lot. I know now, I did the right thing for me, but it did cost me my mirror mirror
on the wall who's the hero here of all view of myself.