Perforce

19 June 2012 ?

In spite of what I’d dreamed I’m still asleep under your covers
Expecting nothing from the world but expectations
That I myself would fail to find convincing
And given all that’s happened unappealing.

You, though, strike other matches
And flutter other lashes
What could anyone expect if not an answer?
Whole cities have been built for less.

If I remember your lips it’s just that someone else
Has them; that can’t be helped. How was I to know she
Was a stand-in? I never thought she was an answer,
Just an expectation from a different time.

It’s dark out, still, where you are now. You’re sleeping
While I shower in my sleep. Did you know I still use the
Brand of shampoo that you said you liked? I want my next
Girl to like it, too. I want her to be just like you.

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Rice

9 December 2011 ?

Friendzo and I have been exchanging words via post lately — large ones for round ones, red ones for spiky ones, etc. The last time I saw him was September, down by the docks. He was walking bowlegged in a light sunshower, trademark golden spats gleaming like a Christmas bicycle. He asked me what the matter was.

- What’s the matter?

- Cow done gone.

- Mhm

- Rabbit stew for supper again. Cribbage at the pool hall.

- Did you hear the one about the lady preacher from Tennessee?

- Yup.

We walked together back toward the sighing city. Mama Cass came out of the drugstore and waved a handkerchief at us, but Frienzo kept walking.

- What was that about?

- She owes me twenty bucks.

- Maybe she was flagging you down so she could pay you back.

Friendzo looked at me, dumb as an ox.

- Don’t you call me an ox!

- Sorry. Let’s go see what she wants.

We retraced our steps but Mama Cass was nowhere to be seen. Then I spotted a note under a welcome mat.

Dear Friendzo,

I know we have had our differences in the past, and I know I haven’t been the most loyal friend to you. But I want you to know that you mean a lot to me. I will never forget the days we shared walking in Central Park, or the nights we spent butchering whole cattle at the meat wholesaler. Our relationship has been like the rabbit, fertile and eager but always in danger of being consumed by Hornblower. When we made love that surprising, delightful Tuesday afternoon, I was so surprised by your advance that I forgot to take off my merkin and it just fluttered against me like a mudflap on an 18-wheeler. But then you lent me $20 for my bone marrow transplant surgery and we never spoke again. You should know that I still care for you. But you have to choose between me and Hornblower. I’m also not crazy about those red pants. You can reach me at my old place, the flat above Irish Exit. I await your reply.

Lovingly,
“Mama” Cass Elliot (from the Mamas and the Papas (the fat one (sorry)))

I looked at Friendzo, but he was still reading the letter. Dumbass hooked-on-phonics Friendzo. Come on. He finally finished reading and looked up at me. We were silent for a moment, until the guy whose doormat we were standing on came out of his apartment and told us to scram. As we hightailed it out of there I looked at Friendzo again, and he looked at me. Then he tripped on the curb. Goddamn clumsy Friendzo. We sat down on a bench outside the drugstore.

- There sure are a lot of drugstores this part of town.

- Mhm. So what’re you gonna do about Mama Cass?

Friendzo stood up.

- I have to go to her.

I knew it was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier. We’d been down this road before, when Mary Lou Retton told me I needed to stop seeing Friendzo so often. I stood up and shook his hand, slipped a stick of Juicy Fruit in his shirt pocket. Like old times. He walked away and I realized I was going the same way, so I hung around a bit and played count-the-rabbits. At sixteen I headed toward the subway station while all around me the city hummed and bustled, imperious and indifferent.


Rash love

21 May 2011 ?

It’s not too late to buy your sweetheart a Valentine’s Day bouquet. That’s what Friendzo says, at least. I wouldn’t trust him, though — not without knowing where the bouquet’s coming from. Last time I went with Friendzo to buy a bouquet, we went to Hoboken to meet up with his cousin, Clamzo, a merchant.

Clamzo was just what I expected — 6’8″, ginger-bearded and thin as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. What I wasn’t expecting was his flower collection. Friendzo had told me Clamzo’s metier was begonias, and yeah, they were nice. But then I saw the squid.

A cylindrical aquarium, as tall as a man and as wide as a really fat man, held nine small, blue squid, jetting about like Higgs bosons. I asked Clamzo how much for a pair.

–Ten clams, he said.

I pulled out a Hamilton and started picking out the nimblest squid, but Clamzo just shook his head.

–Ten clams, he repeated.

I knew then whence came Clamzo’s name.

I called my clam guy, Rudy and he came running. I told him what I needed and asked what he was doing in Hoboken. He said he was here for the campfire and left as quickly as he came. Friendzo told me he was going to a diner for some grits ‘n’ whey, so I tagged along. The grits were outstanding but the whey merely decent. After we finished we got back in the Geo Tracker and headed back home, squid and bouquet in our respective knapsacks. I wondered whether I hadn’t done my squids a disservice by separating them from their fellows. I pulled them out and gazed intently at their big eyes. What’s next?, they seemed to ask me. What hearts will I find, what great fjord will I gaze upon? I put them back and stared out the window as great heavy drops of May rain slanted across the glass like amoebae.


An insect

25 September 2009 ?

Everyone told me Friendzo had done it, but I didn’t believe a one of them. Because if I had believed a one of them, why wouldn’t I just believe a two of them? Or a three of them? Or all of them, for that matter? They were, after all, telling me the same thing — that Friendzo had done it. But I didn’t believe that could be true.

The evidence was there, I suppose. The top hat. The cane. The musket. The train.

The bratwurst. The egg.
The cornmeal. The peg

But I couldn’t wrap my head around it. This wasn’t Friendzo. This wasn’t right. I held my breath for a couple of minutes to clear my head, exhaled, and realized that I was stepping on my cat’s tail, and had been for the past few hours. Sorry, Jakob Dylan.

I went into my study for some quiet reflection. Could the Friendzo I have known ever done it? Was his heart so cold? Was his conscience so deficient? Was his garage even big enough for such a mass suicide? I thought about all the times I’d been to Friendzo’s house — for drinks, for barbeques, for weekly cult meetings. I don’t remember once thinking to myself, “Hey, you know, that garage Friendzo’s got would be just the right size for a gathering of 412 people, a gathering that would turn into a mass suicide once Friendzo stood upon the high altar and announced that it was time for everyone present to take his or her cyanide capsule, the one Friendzo and I had given to each person (attached to a keychain, so there’d be no excuse to be without it) upon his or her entry into the cult.” That thought just never occurred to me. And I was on the lookout for those things! Hell, it was my job to find the perfect “mass suicide spot.” We thought about renting out a hotel ballroom, but then how would we sneak the altar in? It’s a huge altar, you know.


Greenery

6 August 2009 ?

I spoke to Friendzo today about his drug test. He told me that the masking agent was something that’s in his hair-loss product. I told him that he shouldn’t be using any hair-loss product — he was losing his hair fast enough already. No need to rush Nature.

He gave me kind of a funny look. I asked if I could borrow a pair of pliers. He said he could do me one better, and bought me a house. But what am I going to do with a house? I can’t afford the taxes, or the upkeep. I sold it and used the money to buy some straws for the wet bar in my basement. Purple squiggly ones. They’ll be a big hit at the next bridge tournament. Hopefully this time Winslow Homer shows.


A salad in the wintertime?

4 August 2009 ?

Friendzo bought an ice cream maker this evening, and brought it over to my place for some experiments. I told him that my electricity had gone out, but he wasn’t concerned. He had a generator in his trunk, as always. We built a fire in my living room and got to work.
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I don’t think there’s a law against that yet

7 July 2009 ?

Friendzo and I went to the mill last week, for a tour. We’ve been thinking of getting into the bread business, and we wanted to reaffirm our love for the old-fashioned mill.

The wind blew the mill’s blades only slightly, and they moved like the very second hands of the clock that would tell some true time well outside man’s erudition. And we watched it for a minute as we rode up. A minute of true time, reckoned by no Babylonian calculus. The millkeeper spoke to us from his throat and hoarse.
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