Suspended Above Towns and Cities, Timeless
DD#26 By MLW
1. The Soundless Churning, Mortal
The view of San Antonio goes on forever on the 10th floor of the hospital. I swear I could almost see Laredo if it weren’t for the swirls of dust and exhaust swallowing the disintegrating dusknight.
I know I’ve been here before. When I was a kid. At least of my elders did the mortal coil shuffle here. But I have no context. Only images of the hospital and the vague feeling of strained familial concern.
Up here we are leaden, imperial, ephemera.
2. Sharp songs where we listless be
We learn names and forms and logos and slogans in towns and cities and also outside of towns and cities. The logos. The slogans.
The Greeks called the ineffable divine reason of the universe Logos. We call Logos a confluence of colors and shapes that allow us to tell McDonald’s from Taco Bell. The difference isn’t accidental. This is the most our culture knows from divine reason.
From the 10th floor of the hospital I can see a Pizza Hut and the far off I spy a Burger King. And though I have never been to either these particular branches of these restaurants, by the shape and color of their illuminated signs, I know exactly what is inside. I am plugged into the divine reason of late Americana.
3. Flowers, dead and dying
In the lobby is the saddest machine I could imagine. There all night and day, dying flowers sit in a locked isolation chamber, revolving in cages, waiting for $30 dollars to release one bouquet from the revolving display of placid ebbing into wilt and waste. Commerce here puts flowers in cages and extorts the grieving and the nervous.
4. The heart, shrink-rapt, sold for parts
We are living longer. Generally. Usually. There are some younger ones dragging down the average. But generally, yes, longer.
It used to be there was only enough time in a life to raise crops and bang out as many kids as possible before the ticker gives out.
Now there’s time: thick clouds of void to waste and resent for being simultaneously in excess and short supply.
Like waiting for a corndog in the microwave. It takes about a minute. And that minute is too short a wait to do other stuff. So you sit and wait and watch that fucking corndog. Hopefully it’s a revolving tray microwave so you can watch the beauty of its dance, illuminated and revolving like things of desire on pedestals on game shows. And when it comes out you know it will not look like the corndog on the box. Nor will it have the flavor or consistency or gratification reflected in the responses of folks eating corndogs in corndog eating commercials. (There aren’t too many of those these days — corndog eating commercials, that is. One can presume it’s because everybody already knows exactly what they’re going to get.), and though you set the timer a bit higher, you know that damn corndog is going to be overcooked in some parts and undercooked in others. But when the microwave finally rings the dinner bell, you know the sodium and the fat and the complex nitrates are gonna do a number on your chemical composition, but you’ve watched that corndog do that soggy microwave pirouette and it’s working its moves deep down to where warm things should be in your heart. And you watched all of it. The whole ballet. You didn’t look at your phone or check the news. You watched the whole microwaving process from end to end. And you take out the corndog and you cool off the corndog with gentle kisses of air blow. You smear some mustard on it (or ketchup if you’re a disgusting person.) And you finally bite in and it is a hot and cold rubbery meat slush that is exactly no more or less than what you expected. Hungrily you power down to the wooden stick which signals victory. And this was it. This was the full culmination of everything. This is the last corndog and the last you. Your whole life was waiting for that corndog to cook. Watching. Watching. Cooling. Dipping. Eating. Finding yourself awash in dissatisfaction. And then you die. No crops. No kids. No wild exaltation of the human experience. Just hot breaded compressed animal protein mildly irradiated and then death.
5. Other people. Other wearers of skin.
Aunt Elizabeth is recovering nicely. She was upset with me because I didn’t come back to the hospital last night like I said. I fell asleep. I had only slept 8 hours in the past 48 and I wanted a nap, but I overslept. So today I got her a thank you card and wrote the following.
Thank you for always being there for us and always loving us even though we are sometimes assholes who let you down. I can’t promise that it won’t happen again. But I can promise that we are trying our very best not to be assholes. And I promise that we love you with everything we have.
All the best,
Marty Pants et. al.
6. Jesus has a corndog for you.
David called with urgency. Take the car. Meet us at the hospital. Her blood pressure’s dropping.
I raced through with special speed and maneuver. Vivaldi concerto was blasting in my ears as I smoke and demondrove.
Ran through the hospital maze to the room 15 minutes after the call. She was sitting up and in pain. A little delusional.
She’s in pain and the nurse isn’t very helpful at first. She reminds me of jail nurses who will whatever they can to not really do anything. But eventually there is some hydrocodone and an ice pack and she begins to relax.
She is irritated, my Auntie. And she has short temper for our antics when she’s in this mood. It’s a stressful psychic space. She seems to simultaneously be thankful for and resentful of our presence. The Clash wrote a song about it.
In times of duress, I cope with levity. It’s a family trait. Our big family funerals were full of jokes and laughter, talking shit about the deceased and anybody else around. When Grandad died, everybody spent the whole funeral talking about was a miserable rotten son of a bitch he was. Comedy is our mourning. But sometimes, my levity is misplaced and I say something to annoy Elizabeth and she chastises me and I leave the room. This happened and I left to see more of the hospital.
Down the hallway I found the hospital chapel. Inside, one woman is knelt in the row crying. Another woman is comforting her, reading the Bible. She said something about Lazarus. She said something about how all our sickness is for His glory. That seems to make her feel better. It made me feel like suffering was built for the amusement of an egomaniac.
The crying woman turns to me and asks, “Are we bothering you?”
“Is there anyone we can pray for for you?
“No ma’am. Is there anyone I can pray for for you?”
Then I have the chapel all to myself.
Fuck. Now I’ve gotta pray for Greg. That’s what must happen.
7. Marty’s prayer for humanity/Greg
Hey Jesus. A lot’s happened since we last hung out. My balls have dropped and I’ve got grey hairs in my beard and I’ve fucked a lot of women and drank a lot of booze and I had a good time through most of it. I did other stuff too which you don’t find so galling. Stuff like helping the poor and meek whenever I can, maintaining a loving loyalty for those I hold dear. Trying desperately to throw the money-changers from the temple. A lot’s changed and it’a good to see you.
I’m praying to you now because a stranger asked me to pray for a person I will never meet. His name is Greg. He must be a pretty rad guy because he had two women in here praying an sobbing for him. That’s a good indicator. And Greg probably still thinks you’re good at you job.
I don’t think you’re good at your job. I think that if earth and humanity were my creation and I had limitless power and vision, I would find this experiment an abject failure. Your record sales are dropping and you are losing fans by the day. An all powerful entity who claims that he loves his creation should make something better than this.
You are an abusive father who beats his children and insists that that is love’s expression. You beat us to tell us we should love you more, and if we don’t, you beat us further. You want folks to come around? Quit being a dick.
But this guy Greg, he hasn’t given up on you yet. He’s still in your corner. So go help Greg. And then if you still have some energy left, go fix the rest of humanity. Because we’re proper fucked right now, Jesus.
8. Million lifetimes. more corn. more dog.
Now on the 10th floor, Auntie bears grudges born in morphine dreams. And I ate another corndog, not knowing if it is the last because we are all still teething on reality and our gums are gnawed to thrash. I just found a new toy that makes a friend of my corporeal sludge. I slice into my corndog.
9. Reality matters because Malcolm X told us it does
A bunch of white dudes asked a bunch of questions at Malcolm X in the height of his influence.
One reporter asked Malcolm whether he’s afraid he’s going to be assassinated.
Brother Malcolm replied that he lives like a man who died 20 years ago and there’s nothing and nobody in this world that could make him feel more dead than he was. He walked around as a dead man and somehow cared more about the living than most of the living. Maybe the best we can do for the life of this world is to get a little more dead. If I get more dead, we’ll free all the flowers revolving in the lobbies of all the hospitals in the world. But that ain’t the noise I want. We soon will all get more dead and be all the more alive because of it. Malcolm X and Lao Tzu will meet us end of that rainbow. We will live for never.