On Tuesday (Umbrellas in the Rain)
the rain comes softly down
the cobblestones are restless
dressed in gray flannel suits
(umbrellas in the rain)
a gray sky over the city
women sadly pass by; brown tweeds
flat-bottomed shoes; going off to meet
their trade on Tuesday (a village in the rain)
didn’t even know her name
the day she caught my eye
to her it was just a game
no lies, no promises
but that’s ok
I’m doin’ all right
there’s no need to apologize
I’m just trying to get myself right
I just need to dry the skies on Tuesday
(then she was gone) on Tuesday
when the world went wrong
Chinese sailors bend and fall
down walkways of a crowded street
smiling ladies laugh and speak in a sing-song harmony
with hibiscus flowers in their hair; it’s not fair
on Tuesday (umbrellas in the rain)
‘Even fear crossed his brain, imaginary fevers that something was going on behind his back, before his closed eyes: unmoved, he let these doubts and disturbances, like bubbles, vanish back to their origin in the emptiness of the mental sea.’
Jack Kerouac – Wake Up! A Life of the Buddha
Fear of Knowing
to displace calm
The swallowing sense of fear one sometimes gets navigating the ‘mental sea‘ dissipates.
come riding down
while sunset strips of Fellaheen gold
laced the crystal peak mountains
with countless horizons
We sat in the back
of my new pickup roadster
and knocked the gear shift out of whack;
while the alcoholic blare of the AM band
blew holes in my eardrums and splintered and cracked
the bottoms of my new two-toned shoes.
And Glory! Cried Orly
the Greek from the Geek Show,
as though tied to my ribbons; Don’t you know,
somebody’s got to believe; In what? Said I;
and lied to the sky,
tho’ it knew my intentions,
it wasn’t that sure who I was.
Nothin’ doin’! said Chewin’ The Fat;
as we sat in the back
of my new Ford pickup roadster.
And Golly! Said Wally,
Don’t stall anymore;
Why don’t you write them your song?
When along came a flare! From who knows where?
And shattered my brand new windshield!
Crack! Splash! Sprinkled glass—
And that was the last I heard
Of Wally, Orly or Chewin’ The Fat; as we sat in the back
of my new Ford pickup roadster.
And now, Airplane Mahogany
don’t shine like it used to;
it glitters like gold from the five-and-ten store.
And no one will meet me in the back anymore;
when I come with a scoreboard of chances;
and try to tell them the score.
I hear footsteps behind me and look
for Wally and Orly and Chewin’ The Fat;
but that don’t seem like a likely experience,
they’ll never be back this way again.
And Airplane Mahogany
don’t shine like it used to;
Airplane Mahogany don’t sparkle like wine;
and Airplane Mahogany no longer sparkles
children gather around the wagon
light from a power-pole illuminates the side panel
Carnival On Earth
on the side of the van the words scroll in giant golden letters
on a swirling background of mountains
crystal peak snow-caps and shafts of light
on a carnival in a green valley
…quite a sight
“Look at those kids staring at an empty wagon
like it was full of something besides DREAMS!” Tin Horn shouts
over the noise of the carousel
“Step right up folks for the Most Horrifying Geek Show
in Human His to-reee!” a barker is calling in the marks
Orly bites the head off a chicken
spits it out into the crowd and parades on the platform
preening and flexing his muscles
he dances a two-step
the barker continues his call
“Nothing more horrible on the planet!
You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Come watch this so-called human being
digest a live ALLIGATOR! IMPOSSIBLE, you say?
Come SEE FOR YOURSELVES! Step right up folks
for the Most Horrifying Geek Show
in Human His to-reee!”
the night fades—
it is the next day—
Wally Orly Chewin’ The Fat and Tin Horn
watch the sun come up
“Break down those scaffolds!” the foreman yells
the wagon rolls by they hop on
“Let’s go before the morning EXPLODES!” cries Tin Horn
the driver turns and looks at him over his shoulder
“Giddyap!” he c-calls to the horses
…and off they go
“Are you OK?” Wally is shaking Tin Horn
the driver is trying to ignore his rider’s jerking and kicking
in his sleep
“Aw he’s alright.
Just let him sleep it off” he sh-shrugs
Tin Horn shakes himself from the grips of the dream
“Where are we?” he looks around and tries to regain his composure
he growls to compensate for his show of weakness
Aren’t we there yet?”
he smacks the driver on the shoulder
“When will we be there?”
“Soon.” the cabbie flicks the whip ever so slightly for the lead horse
to step up the gait
all five men are rocking to the rhythm and sway of the wagon
as it ambles along a dirt road outside the halo of the city lights
in the distance—
there is a glow above the horizon
there must be a city just beyond the summit
as the wagon pulls over the crest of the hill
they come upon spotlights crisscrossing the night sky
and a Ferris wheel
a hubbub of excitement
sprawling across the landscape
it is a carnival
an illusion of lights and mirrors
gawking wildly in a swirling careening
idiotic phantasmagoria of mayhem
in the nocturnal countryside
the wagon stops inside the confines of a farmyard vivid with noise and excitement
strings of lights draped across creosote darkened electric poles
glow the night
the driver ties the horses and leaves; Tin Horn must fodder them
“See ya later!” Wally calls out running after Orly
Chew Lin stays behind
“What are you waiting for?” Tin Horn asks
“Just waiting for you.” Chewin’ shrugs
“I don’t know my way around.”
“I’ll be with you in a flash
I’ve just got to feed these beasts.”
the two walk the horses
to the livery
(To be continued…)
Walking down streets and empty harbors of the city;
I look for an answer; one is nowhere to be found.
A sound reaches from behind broken storefront windows
a sound that echoes in the emptiness:
“Hello,”—a voice soft and gentle.
“Hello, what are you doing here?”
But, I have searched through tome and printed page
to find the answer to that question; I found nothing but despair.
While words fell like curtains from the page in candlelight,
I’ve found nothing to guide me.
And I have tried to catch the rainbow in my hand;
for a pot of gold— knowledge more than riches.
A barren dream is what I earned—
a cauldron full of wishes—a worthless treasure chest of emptiness.
(A dove flew past my window in the morning.
It cooed a song, a soft ‘hello’.)
And tho’ I felt the sun warm roses yellow on the bough
in the distance I heard thunder.
The dove became a hawk;
and the thunder tolled (and answers hadn’t found me);
I saw a searing wind that burned the leaves off every thing,
and left nothing.