Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ray Walks

Instead of sleeping, I started increasing the frequency and distance of my walks with the hiker's backpack from Lester full of books. I even switched out some of the books with larger ones, like the anthology of Tennessee Williams, the "N" encyclopedia, and an artbook of Van Gogh's complete collection in full color.

When I come back home, I pull the straps of the backpack and let it crash to the floor as I collapse next to it, stretched out, watching my chest rise and fall quickly, licking my dry lips to make them wet like my sweat-drenched T-shirt, basketball shorts, underwear and socks. I like the way my arms glisten and I squeeze my calves because for a half hour after walking, they are firm and defined. I pretend like they are always like that and imagine girls noticing them.

I stare at the ceiling above me and imagine animals and plants in the swirls. When my breathing slows I stand up and spend twenty to thirty minutes in the shower and sometimes I just imagine everything I can that is sad so my tears can mix with the water streaking down my face and go down the drain. I bought a creme that is supposed to help with my acne and apply it meticulously every day in front of the mirror. So far I have seen no effects. But I made sure to buy the most expensive creme in the store, so I'm sure it will work in time. Sometimes when I don't walk, I do crunches.

On Friday night, I strapped the backpack to my shoulders and walked directionless around the town. Young people going out for the night in their nice shirts and summer dresses looked at me. Some kids pointed and one even ran up close to me in the wobble-walk small kids use. I smiled at her and she wobbled away into the arms of her young bearded dad who whisked her away. Two women around my age were standing outside a bar as I walked past them. They wore makeup and revealing dresses and eyed me and I thought about asking them if either of them needed a date for the night, and they'd giggle, and agree because I was so intriguing in my backpack and had romantic notions for a care-free and wild night, that certainly, someone who looked like me could provide.

Instead, I walked into a gas station and the clerk looked at me and I looked at the products behind him. "Give me a pack of Newports," I said, trying to sound like I was someone who purchased cigarettes often and had tried them all and could give opinions on the flavors and strengths of them all. "And a lighter."

Outside, in the dark, cool summer air I lit the cigarette and smoked it like a pro. The used cell phone I just bought a week prior rang in my pocket.


"Hey, Ray. It's Lester."

"Hey, what's up?"

"Anna just called. She wants to know if we want to go out for blueberry pie tomorrow afternoon. She wants to introduce us to her new boyfriend."

"And she asked you to ask me?"

"Yeah, I guess so. So, you want to go?"

"No," I answered.

"Well, you're going," he said."

"Okay," I said.

I put the cell phone back in my pocket and walked back home. When I passed a trash can, I tossed the pack of Newports inside.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Speaking of the beats . . .

When I wrote that Kerouac-esque poem I remembered in college I was supposed to write the college life's version of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" for an assignment. I have dug it up and transcribed it here:



I saw the best souls of my university destroyed by apathy, compromise, stubborn and easy ignorance, dragging themselves through books and friends looking for fulfillment,
hipsters plunging covetous for academic, physical, or emotional power into late-night libraries gymnasiums and coffee-houses
who read Sedaris out loud in public places under eyes and someone laughs
who walk the sidewalks and burst out into loud songs that do not glorify the self
who stretch arms with eyes closed and open mouths flooded with noise
who masturbate wild in bedrooms, bathrooms and prayer closets
who speak in tongues in small groups and share the latest visions of the night
who tongue their girlfriends in havens in Jackson with booze and marijuana
who intelligently discuss the news and God while drinking tea brewed in a teapot
who speak to God with each other for hours crying hugging and giggling
who sit around the tables eating never-ending attempts at making the others laugh
who pour chunky vegetable soup on bodies and beds with warning
who gather with new poems and Starbucks every week desperate for a line of worth
who walk calmly to the staircase at 3 A.M. and smash the great nerf gun into tiny bits
we keep telling our stories, the embarrassing ones we keep to ourselves, and we cry eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani because we know we are not who we are and this is just a few years and then we’ll be okay, but maybe forever we won’t and we don’t know what to do.


What clock tower shaded the base innocence and illuminated youthful pride and youthful desire?
Moloch! Pretense! Agitation and unobtainable peace! Misguided community!
Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the self-loving! Music Moloch! Moloch the way we dress!
Moloch who smiles too much or not enough! Moloch who doesn’t recognize God! Moloch in always being where everyone else is!
They are restless lifting Moloch up to where it doesn’t belong!


I’m with you in Ormston
where you’re with God more than I am
I’m with you in Ormston
where you battle against social rewards
I’m with you in Ormston
where you can sing only until quiet hours
I’m with you in Ormston
where you pray for revival
I’m with you in Ormston
where you cry O the condition of man
O call us Hebzibah O Shekinah come we want Your power
I’m with you in Ormston
in my dreams we leave with nothing and become pilgrims, like the true children we were created to be

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Have to Stop Sleeping So Much: An Ode to Jack Kerouac (In the Style of Jack Kerouac)

"Michigan Blues"

One is not grown in the night

One in the Night
Is not Grown
They know their Time
Is not limitless

But their Time,
Unknown to them
May end-

Which is Ruin

Careless men
Who sleep
Have Time
Of waste

Good men
Who are up
Have Time
Of ant

Bike are Gold Chariots of Heaven
Have come rescuing
Through the dark night
To see the lake of slight sounds

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Poem I Wrote


“I discovered that, owing to some deficiency or other, I was fit for nothing and I decided to be a poet.” –Pierre Gringoire

If I don’t believe she loves me anymore
and love always hopes
does that mean I don’t love her anymore?

I imagine what would happen if I replaced
heroes of old with the people around me.
If Anna were to replace Gandhi
or if Lester were to replace van Gogh
nothing is changed.
But if I replace Ginsberg
the world turns into a wordless mess.

She draws me deeper into the abysmal caverns of her life.

How can I burn the fat off of my soul
while I keep checking how much lint is collected from my laundry?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Lunch

I haven't written because I've only made quick trips to the library to check out more and more of Wes Anderson's movies. He is Anna's favorite director.

We met for lunch on Monday at Panera's and both got cheese and broccoli soup in the bread bowl. I didn't even know that's what she was going to order.

We've connected in a lot more ways than that though. For instance, growing up, and Lester can attest to this, I enjoyed a nice bowl of Corn Chex and I have never met anyone else so inclined to choose those mildly healthy thatched squares for breakfast. But Anna loved them, perhaps more than me. One time, at her apartment, I saw her pour herself a bowl on her kitchen counter as I walked into the room. She was singing under her breath, "They're mild-ly delic-ious!"
"What did you just say?" I shouted.
She turned, looking perplexed and frightened. "They're mildly delicious?"
"Yes! Yes! About the Chex?"
"Are you kidding? I do the exact same thing! That's incredible. How could that be? I do it EXACTLY like that. WIth the sing-song voice and those EXACT words. How could our minds have been so aligned. Everything in your history has brought you to this place to do that and everything in my past has also contributed somehow to make myself do the same. What does this mean? How is this supposed to fit into my worldview? What does this mean for us?"

At first, during lunch, Anna just asked me about what books I was reading and what movies I was watching, but then she got real silent and spooned several mouthfuls of soup through her lips quickly. So I decided to go for it. "When we were texting you said something about feeling something. What was that?" She looked at me for years, prolonging my teetering happiness-in-question.

A baby started to cry to the left and Anna turned to smile at the quieting mother before turning back to me. "Ray, I have felt things about you. Many conflicting things. Sometimes I do like you in ways beyond friendship, but not anymore. I started seeing this guy. I like him. You're a good guy, but I could never date you."

The soup-soaked bread stopped in my throat and stayed there. "Why not?"

"There'd be too many problems. It'd never last. We're too different in ways that wouldn't work."

"Yeah." I said. Her face looked pained in a sort of I-feel-sorry-for-you kind of way. I imagined mine just looked pained. "I'm not sure I'd want to date you either." She just looked at me, her eyes looking more wet and big and beautiful. "You think I would want to date you?"

"Ray, that's been obvious for a long time." She sounded like a mother. I hated it.

A couple weeks after I heard Anna sing the "Mild-ly delic-ious!" about Chex, I was still talking about what that could possibly mean with Lester. "I can't take it anymore, man," he told me. "I was singing that earlier was Anna was around. I didn't have the heart to tell you what with you going crazy over it, but she was just doing it because she heard me doing it earlier. I'm sorry."

And my face became everything I didn't want it to be.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Love Always Hopes

As much as I wanted to know Anna's response to my last text, I didn't, so I devoted myself to my work, cleaning all the kennels and aquariums, reading a lot of books I won't remember, and sleeping for at least ten hours a night.

When Lester returned to town from work on Friday, he stopped by to make sure I was alright since I never texted him or called him. I explained the sitch and he went bonkers.

"Dude, you have to call her! Take my phone right now and meet up with her."

"I don't want to."

"You HAVE to, Ray. You have to. She obviously likes you."

"You think?"

"It's SO obvious."


"Yeah! Now call her and explain what happened and ask if you can meet with her to talk."

His voice was making me excited and more hopeful then I would ever be. I guess that is why he is my friend. Cuz he can lift me higher than I could ever lift myself. "Okay, okay. But you got to leave the room."


"I can't talk to her while you're listening. I'll freeze up and feel nauseous."

"Really?" He gave me a look.


"Really?" He gave me more of a look.

"I will. Now go."

He slowly left the room and I dialed. She answered. We spoke. We hung up.

"You can come back in!"

Lester shuffled in, grinning, and with his hands on his hips. "So?"

"So what?"

"So what did she say, moron?"

"We're gonna have lunch on the the second."


"Yeah, Monday."

"Alright, soon-to-be-dating-Anna-man. Good luck. I'll be back Monday night to see how it went. I gotta get some sleep."

When he left, so did my smile and I haven't stopped shaking since then.