Jerry and Elaine are sitting in Monk’s diner on the Upper West Side.
The place still has that old Manhattan feeling: a film of grease on the
booths, pink packets of Spelnda at every table, and the waitresses, in
their frumpy yellow uniforms, have no manners and less patience.
Jerry is lifting a white mug to his mouth, slurping milk-diluted coffee
between his lips, “Y’know Elaine, it’s fine to say you believe in nothing,
but even nothing is something.” Elaine is only half-listening, all
morning she’s been worried about the rumored round of layoffs
eminent at Pendant Publishing, where she’s been reading
manuscripts for the last seven years, and she doesn’t have much
interest in another one of Jerry’s philosophical observations. “But
Jerry,” she says, in a slightly annoyed tone of voice, “if nothingness
awaits us; if when we die we simply cease to exist, then that is true
nothingness. The absence of an afterlife really does imply that there’s
nothing." Jerry raises his eyebrows, lulls another sip of coffee around
his mouth, and mulls this over. For a few mornings in a row he’s been
waking with a new sense of smallness that he’s never felt before; even
in a city as cold as New York, Jerry had never thought much about his
infinitesimal place in the chaotic clockwork of the universe until
recently. “Okay, so maybe you’re right, when we’re dead we’re
nothing. But if you asked me what I did today I would tell you I did
nothing, but what I really did was wake up, and read the paper, and
come here to meet you for coffee – that’s all something. Therefore,
even if we’re not aware that we’re dead, even if there’s no afterlife,
being dead is still a state of being.” Elaine sighs, her mind is off on
another island – if she does get laid off will she have to downsize her
apartment? Or worse, find a roommate? She takes a deep breath,
wondering if there’s a way she can facilely change the subject when,
much to her relief, George walks into the diner. He’s wearing a red
winter parka, which strikes both Elaine and Jerry as odd given that it’s
sixty degrees and sunny outside. He slides into the booth next to
Elaine, runs his hand across his bald head, and in a tone of existential
bereavement moans, “It’s not working for me Jerry, it’s just not
working.” “What is it that isn’t working?” “It all became very clear to
me that today the every decision I’ve made in my life has been wrong.
My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every
instinct I have, whether it be something to wear, something to eat,
has been wrong…” Jerry and Elaine look at their friend, unsure of what
to say. At that moment one of the waitress approaches the table, gives
George a knowing look, and in her two pack a day voice says, “Tuna on
toast, coleslaw, cup of coffee?” George looks up at her, he’s about to
say yes when suddenly an alien impulse stops him. He crinkles his
forehead and says, “No. I always have tuna on toast. Nothing has ever
worked out for me with tuna on toast…” The waitress, looking slightly
bemused by George's neurotic tone, pulls the pencil from behind her
ear and the order pad from her apron pocket. “I want the complete
opposite of tuna on toast. Chicken salad… on rye… untoasted… with a
side of potato salad… and a cup of tea!” The waitress scribbles this
down, gives a quick nod, and hurries back towards the kitchen.
Elaine, shaking her head and laughing, says “Well, there’s no telling
what will come of this.” Jerry is half-smiling, his elbow propped up on
the table, his hand holding his chin. “Let me ask you something
George, do you think nothing is something?” George stares back at
Jerry silently, not sure how to respond. Elaine grabs a hold of George’s
arm, squeezing it with a measure of alarm and says, “George,”
pointing toward the bar, “that woman keeps looking at you.” George
looks in the direction of her point at the tall, thin, blonde woman in a
powder blue dress, her long alabaster legs extending down to a pair
of black spike-heeled shoes. “So?” George says, and Elaine, in a tone
of gentle encouragement responds, “So go talk to her.” George rolls his
eyes – his friend should know by now that his uneasiness in crowds
and lack of self-confidence renders such a suggestion as erroneous.
“Well here’s your chance to try the opposite,” Jerry interjects, “instead
of tuna salad and being intimidated by women; chicken salad and
walking right up to them. If every instinct you have is wrong then the
opposite would have to be right.” George leans back, smirks, “You’re
right,” he tugs on the lapels of his parka adjusting it to his shoulders,
“normally I would sit here and do nothing and regret it for the rest of
the day, so now I will do the opposite and I will do something!” With
that he jumps to his feet, and with an unshakeable pit of trepidation
being to cross the dirty dinner floor toward the leggy blond. The walk
was only several feet, but somehow that expanse felt much greater,
recalling the nervousness with which he would cross a middle school
gymnasium floor to ask one of the girls to dance. “Excuse me,” he said
to the blonde, feeling like he had an anvil crushing down on his chest,
“I couldn’t help but notice that you were looking in my general
direction,” She smiles, pushes a stray strand of hair behind her ear
and through her red lipstick lips says, “Yes. You just ordered the same
exact lunch as me.”
the dead re-materialise by the side of the roadside
they are visible as though seen through a spotlight
it is a brutally interrogative light
that magnifies these corpses
makes them resemble the fragments
of suicidal terracotta pots
it magnifies them as symbolic equivalents
of their real image
its beam dazzles broken glass on the pavement
the breakage an impersonation of their cataclysm
causing the edges of seeing to hurt
and hearing to submerge itself
in a turquoise blue aquarium in fear
as speech sounds a primitive retreat
in its atavistic echoes of inveterate distraction
there is a disorder of blood stains on the road
where all emotional impulse is volatilised
causing a wild distillation of programmed anxiety
which in a different vocabulary becomes
a figment of somebody else's imagination
causing a sinister, stuporous, stagnancy of sound
in palpitations, dropped heartbeats, nausea, headaches
and a foul change in bowel function
I am not one of those people who put up angry notes because of some crazy impulse or a destructive desire to rail against everything that is wrong with the world.
I am not the person whose hands shake so violently,
Whose body shudders so uncontrollably,
That I cannot type straight
But today, I just found out
They pick up my poems
Are being picked up
Likened to rags
And treated as cheap caricatures
Of the life I've led
If only they had ever felt
That gut-clenching fear
Of something beneath the surface
The scars that have faded
Covered by new skin
Over the years
If they felt
The need to end their own life
As I do
I've never stopped
Not even once
Since the past seven years
It's been right here
Hidden underneath the layers
In between the lines
Read deeper if you dare
Bright windy November
with the slap of cold sun sending frowns
and the absent rain not beating down
choleric substitutes of alcohol withdrawal
and spatial omissions of home fires stoking
empty remembrances of faded potential and
misplaced amorous regret
Haunted by the lingering smell of the souls of
last night's GUINNESS intake staying swell in
the nostrils which is in reality the gulf breeze blowing
gullshit down the river Liffey giver of life.
...And here I am Dublin pillaged and funded
en route to the hour-rate slog
shiny white commerce bleaching out of
windowsills distracting from rooftop
Chiaroscuro serenading a sky
which old junkie forgotten Sons and Daughters
will die under.
Boots tapping mock-goosestep to the ground
past a girl who speaks on her IPHONE to someone
who presumably not only wants to be seen speaking
to someone on their IPHONE but who also cares enough
to listen as the girl announces to all-and-sundry
human dodging on Bachelors Walk this fateful morn
that "I realised what my problem is Now! People
think i'm saying N when I'm really saying M!"
.....quite an existential crisis you got there, EH DOC?
("This girl's SITUATION belongs in a scenario in the TV show GIRLS which young
Woman Europe-wide have embraced as their spiritual saviour in an era of Consumer
impulse control. By placing the mundane generalities and perceived social failings
interpreted by young American female comediennes as instead representing a means and
self-forgiveness and attempted new-wave soft-core feminist self-celebration young American
actresses are inspiring a new generation of young woman to speak openly in a more in-depth level about everything that usually happens to themselves or some girl they know"-From "The Post-New Male Gaze: Interpreting Critiques of Stereotypically Feminized Pop Culture in Westley Barnes's "Notes on a Rant: The "Took Me Up To Dublin Where It's Famous" Notebook
This is the new white noise.
White Irish Male Critiques perceived socially-announced problems of White Irish Female over White Technology on a white morning in a grey city.
A grey city which subliminally stinks of shame and left-over guilt and of spending too much money on tecno-toys and new-improved nullifying debauchery and even rent during a significantly rough stretch of fiscal years. After a lot of years of white nonsense, really.
But this is where I took myself, and this is what happens once you take yourself here and this is where its famous for it.
Once Monto-based FUNDERLAND for the rich and royal turned over-waxie infested tenement slum district and second city of an industrialised economy waiting for the rest of the world to pay its way.
capital of green and squeaky saviours of the third-world who made some money and forgot about everyone else they used to know back home. Mr Poverty, Mr Humbleness, Mr Sense of Catholic Shame.
Until the rents got too high and they had to move home again.
no matters what it achieves, always putting itself down.
But I can adapt.
I've lived in Rathmines and Portobello before living in either was a
really hip decision to make.
I can find somewhere else before its gets gentrified
(after I find some job that's not worth complaining about
or I eventually leap into becoming to middle-class
to complain about it.)
enough that its a headache living there, too many men wearing the same winter
jackets. Too many packed restaurants and your local actually preparing the tables
in the run-up to the Rugby game on Saturday.
The less of all that, the better for me.
I used to day dream about all of the above, honestly, but I
somehow managed to regain my innocence by living through it.
As for the girl who discovered self-realisation on her (through her?) IPHONE?
She'll be alright. If that's how she starts wading through the floodwaters of relating
herself to the world, misunderstood syllables, name-fails and all, this time in twenty
years, she'll be laughing. Don't worry yourselves, she'll adapt with the times.
Sure, Dublin's famous for it.
There is something sharp like thorns that,
Like knives flashing in the dark, go
Pricking and cutting; the blood comes black and sweet.
"Your thorns are the best part of you," she says and
Wishes me goodnight.
I am cut into pieces like Osiris
Too much in the Sun
A finger digging into each wound
Like these words that dare to make the trek
From innerspace to come rumbling
Onto your lips as you read from the page.
Always the impulse to find wilderness in
The frontier of the crowd
Hands the color of night
Channel the lightning, follow the impulse;
Sometimes it is the Poet's most eloquent lie
That tells the truth; a white arrow pierces
The land of the unspoken.
Auden said: "Poetry makes nothing happen,
The wind whispers the animal night.
Owls masticate, a long gray tail hangs out
Its curve of a mouth;
Coyotes pull a coat of shadows over crooked
Backs and distended bellies; like an arrow to
Its arc, it sneaks in to invade the chicken
Coop, anxious to collect its prize.
In slips the ghosts that become the rain to dance
Through a thick forest of pines laughing.
The museum was deserted at mid-noon
The summer sun more than his taste for history
Drove him in for a stroll among the dead faces and objects.
His eyes caught the two warnings
Photography prohibited and
Don’t touch objects
He furtively cell-clicked Dupleix’s Bed
Solid 18th century teakwood
Carrying stains of his passions on white linen
Imprinted with the motions of his emotions
There he saw the ruler on the bedstead
With tender touch of fingers on his head
One svelte hand on the dark wooden stand
His hand involuntarily touched the wood
A small chunk fell into his hand
And without a second thought
In a forbidden impulse
He shoved it inside his pocket
He came out from the musty smell into the sun
A chip of Dupleix in his pocket
His passion’s outlet
Escapes from the ravages of war
To find solace
From the tender hands around him
Bought by force of wealth
Far far away from home.
Away from colonial past he breathed deep
The little wooden chip would be a memorable keep!
Joseph Francois Dupleix was an 18th century Governor General of the French establishment in India.
It’s been a long day
I’m sitting in the recovery room, waiting for a late evening case to start
The PACU nurses tend to two patients at opposing sides of the room
Familiar cacophony of sounds – monitors softly speaking, informing the staff about their charges
Heartbeat, pulse oximeter timbre, quiet respiratory alarm
It’s my 7th case, I’m starting to fade
The sounds are relaxing, soothing.
All is well
Suddenly I hear the disconjugate beeps of the two heart monitors
Draw together, until
For just a few precious seconds
These two total strangers
Completely unaware of one another
Share a pulse – their hearts beating in perfect sync – the two sounds indistinguishable
A beautifully symmetrical moment, almost lost
In the next second, as if it hadn’t happened, their hearts diverge - once more strangers
one to one another
unaware of an incredibly intimate moment shared
Sitting there, waiting for the case
An instant in the course of history
Where, for one fleeting breath,
Humanity’s rhythm converged
Billions of hearts in time, a nerve impulse propagated across the planet
before scattering to the winds
A potent event, possibly one of many that even
In our modern world, still remains in the mystical
When it forms the soul of purest liberty,
Which an aid that makes all the broad sense
Vivid and meet knowledge’s growing beauty
Mindful state where solemn music attunes.
From Tangled psyche playful fancies rise,
Worth as muse: that rolls in feeling curls,
From domain world that unseen memory gaze
And seeks my visions of direst impulse.
Hark! limitless are they thoughts,go they fairer
And vital so to consume the fire of harmony.
Ne’er a portion find his visions flatter ,
Number of scenes that glad and agony
While to pass the world I feel,to dwell in,
When no chasms that safe my varying dim views
The want,the e’er longing for nature’s inn,
Silent her breeze,that lulls my tiresome eyes,
Rapid the freedom mid flight,you neath.
Need you- I live,and leave a love for high,
On circle of passion’s dwell and breath,
As few men do,to trust his work till die.
Ah! let me then to see luck's halcyon wings alight-
from infinite skies;and painted hope's shall float,
Nor gaze by greater muze to catch its imbued light,
Of distinct curious that my soul shall not defeat
Tis grace I obedient to sun when glittering more,
By whom day to day cast me think how great my god,
Hid the hideous Inhumane dark's torturing fire,
Ceased by its yonder orb that shining abroad
All through the woodwork lesson
and through a double dose of maths,
he thinks of her, the kiss on the sports
field, the brushing of his lips on hers.
He'd almost cut his finger on a saw,
being preoccupied with thoughts of
her, her eyes through glasses, the
innocence of lilies about her, the way
she looked so surprised, he having
kissed her. Not planned, no he didn’t
plan the kiss, he was just going to talk
with her, get to know her more and
better, when the impulse to kiss, over
came him, as if some rarely seen fish
of the sea had drawn him into depths
he'd not known. He sits on the school
bus, got on before she had, looks out
the window, shy of seeing her, now
wondering what she'd say after that
kiss, her reaction. Trevor says softly
something about the Frump, he doesn't
turn, looks at the kids waiting to get
on the bus, excited, engaged in their
conversations, laughing. He is aware,
that she may be on the bus now, he is
so self obsessed, he can hear his heart
beat, thump through his chest. Trevor
next to him, talking across the aisle,
says something about her, but he isn’t
listening, stares out. He feels as if he's
under a microscope, eyes gawking at
him, words around him. Maybe others
saw the kiss? He didn’t think about that,
never gave it thought. The radio is on,
the music blares, some one is singing
about love and missing her. He relaxes
as the bus move off, senses no one is
aware of the kiss, no talk, or chatter
of it. Even Trevor, who is the vanguard
of gossip, says nothing about that at all.
John is aware she sits across the aisle,
a little bit back. He could possibly see
her, if he glanced over the top of his seat,
but he doesn't, he looks at the passing
scene, trees, hedges, fields, cottages.
He tries to calm his beating heart, the
thump seems almost audible, as if
the whole bus can hear its thump.
He closes his eyes and thinks of her,
the lips kissed, the eyes behind her
spectacles, her mouth, the way her
words were stilled by his kiss, were
drenched in her virgin mouth; he had
touched her, too. His hand had soft
touched her arm, drew her body closer
to him. She smelt of countryside, air,
and hay and fields. Her lips there were
feather soft; he could have slept there,
lay there, brushed the lips, as if a red
butterfly had landed, sought refreshment.
He reruns the kiss, in his head, plays
it over and over. She is there just across
the way; he can almost sense her eyes
on him, like feelers reaching over the
seats to touch him. He opens his eyes,
Trevor has football cards in his inky
hands, he talks of this player and that,
that football team and this, but all John
can think on is the butterfly landing kiss.
I am a creature of blood and impulse and
though I may sometimes seem thoughtful
and i am thoughtful you're kinda wrong
i am a creature if blood and impulse and
love and hate and there is uncommonly a middle ground
to those emotions for me
I am not a delicate thing
I know this
But you are,
you think more than you speak
and when you speak I see that you
think and care and pace your
way through things
you will win the race
because I'll kill myself before I hit the finish line