photo and poem by tara przybille bradley
I need to shake this off
the trash talk of a salesman as insincere
as a â€œgoing out of businessâ€ clearance;
!last chance! and !act now!
but itâ€™s all crap because 6 months, a year, two years later
itâ€™s still there doing bad business as usual
I need to shake it down
the too loud guffaw and the we-are-such-pals hand on the shoulder of the
very smart, now very desperate used-to-make-150K-now-I’m-out-of-work guy.
And I see the almost imperceptible drops of sweat
on the flat red forehead of that also-just-as-desperate pitchman
now using the latest suckerâ€™s first name like a
while never looking him in the eyes.
I want to walk over to their table and laugh,
shake my head and
sit myself down, ignore the drummer
tell the mark that heâ€™s being taken for a ride
there is no easy money
no quick fix, easy pick, joystick
in this bleeping, freaking, electronic video game of life
And pay attention, because when they talk to you
without looking at your eyeballs
you can bet they donâ€™t even know your name.
What are the inner thoughts of the lonely man?
Dark old eyes, older than he is, sadder than they should be.
What are his thoughts when he looks in the eyes of the passersby?
Where does he go?
What does he find? I have a hope
that he always finds what he is looking for
(but I know he doesnâ€™t).
He finds what I find.
The nothingness of surface dwellers
who walk, drive, crawl from place to place
and purchase pitiful plastic dreams in discount stores.
And maybe one day in the fall, when the beautiful leaves are
slowly twisting down and being stepped on
he will be on his bench.
Then I will sit quietly beside him
and let him look in my eyes.
And I will look in his, because maybe
that is really what he is looking for.
I long for the connections of impossibility.
And the slow, slow wrinkled lady,
small and struggling to push her cart down
the big aisle,
eyes wide and a little vague.
My hands restless in an earnest
desire to push it for her,
to reach the top shelf,
to lift the heavy things.
But I do not
because I have my own cart to push.
We all have our own carts to push.
My consciousness – my empty, unfulfilled intention –
leaves a lingering trail from the cereal
to the pancake syrup
And I wonder if she catches it
as she passes the baking soda and vanilla.
But by the time I enter the frozen food section
And I have forgotten how much I wanted to hug her.
Fluorescent lighting and consumerism
have a way of
gnawing to the bone
any warm flesh
any familial love of strangers,
they are the greatest vampires.
But there are others, the lesser vampires;
They are inescapable
The black flies want me
They never settle. Never make up their minds.
Such minuscule minds.
Such tiny vampires.
What do they want?
Where to they want to be? Inside my head?
No one goes there.
Buzzing and zipping like a slipping Suzuki crotch rocket
on blacktop in the distance, a black fly plague.
Like somehow they sense the shit I feel
the crap of my life
and theyâ€™ve come to sit on it, if only
they could make up their damn minds where.
Find myself at Starbucks, a fucking American monument
to yuppie addiction and false relaxation
But I buy it
Oh yeah, give me that cup
Iâ€™ll take that
Swallow it down
Drinking black flies.
Leave the consumer whore to her emerald rain and her sleepless city
I drive. Again.
The houses and roads become something apart from
who I am
all the glass and steel and concrete and moving wheels
acquire a meaningless significance.
The pitchmen and the desperate ones, the too old ladies
and the lonely men with no eyes,
they all acquire the same status emeritus.
Only the wind can get inside me here.
Above the world I live in, closer to the sun
partners with the moon in a very small way
Yet bigger than industry
Higher than the black flies.
I am here
above the city
I need to shake this off
The sun has slipped out for a drink
And the moon is tacked onto a cloudless sky
like a â€œwill returnâ€ sign
And I should go down
so I search and I reach my thoughts out
to find a reason
Something that will give me the desire to
return to life
to join something
But I find nothing.
There is no magnet to pull my metal heart.
A feeling of suspended animation ripped apart
by screaming time
passing through like bullets
And still I do not go.