Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Bullet I Wear Around My Neck
In my house if you were to look, you could find the following -- a baby cobra in a jar of Vietnamese snake wine, a yellow-colored stuffed representation of the type of bacteria that creates ulcers, a barbwire crucifix, a postcard with Mark Rothko staring at a blank canvas, the tiniest Snoopy alarm clock from Japan, a picture of my mother handling a python in front of a crowd in Australia, a pen that lights up when you write with a beautiful blue color (the last gift from my dad), a free-standing voodoo doll with an entire kitchen knife set stuck in it, a set of appetizer plates with a realistic-looking skeletons adorning them, an old-fashioned rotary phone that still works, a Janis Joplin Christmas tree ornament, a book containing excerpts of all the erotic parts of classic novels (Hank billed it as the "greatest literary timesaver ever!" in his inscription), a Pebbles doll, a watch with the face of the great Dwight Yoakum on the face of the watch, the cd of the last songs of the People's Temple and Jim Jones last speech urging everyone to drink the Kool-Aid, a bottle of Absinthe, every season of the Sopranos, the bullet I wear around my neck. All of these things were gifts, things that define me even though I did not choose them. Of course, they are far more wondrous than anything I could have wished for.
I'm a person who doesn't give enough notice to the physical world. I have inherited from my mother a propensity to hurt myself, in tiny and large ways, ways nobody could have predicted -- walking into walls, dropping knives onto my legs, being sprawled on the cement before anybody understands what has happened. I'd like to think it's because my mind is on other things, the slow alphabet of rain coming down in the morning, the past or future (two of the most interesting places to reside), on conversations that happened long ago or what I would have said to someone had I been thinking fast enough. When I was a gymnast, I never hurt myself during the actual work-out, but rather walking from the uneven bars to the balance beam which kind of makes sense given that I had to prepare my mind to someday live in a world in which I would wake up to a baby cobra encased in alcohol and touch the bullet around my neck, just to make sure it was still there.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I don't write songs, I just make them up." Janis Joplin
Poetry Collections with drinking themes that I like:
Viper Rum by Mary Karr
The Incognito Lounge by Denis Johnson
All of Us by Raymond Carver
Benedictions and Maledictions
Thanks to everyone for all the great comments! As for the request to put someone out of his misery, I think I'll pass given that I'm much better at putting people into misery than releasing them from it.
First published in bordersenses:
Everything Seems Dead
Everyone had lost something – a finger or toe,
friends, fluency, currency. Most still flew, though,
all that war training having some small part
in the other life. As a child, I feared being buried
alive above all else and made my father promise
to stab a stake of holly through my heart when
my time came to be lowered into the ground.
Instead of planning my funeral, my dad told
me I could ride in a helicopter with one of his
friends, who said, Everything seems so fucking
dead after Vietnam. Don’t curse in front of the little
girl, another guy said. She’s heard it before, he
replied. I nodded. Those were the days when I
saw a lot, understood little, much like now, I suppose.