The bears and the birds tell Clifton Clowers.
Mice serenade Cinderelly.
Prince Charmin berates himself
at the bus stop
and untucks his rumpled work shirt
to scratch his soft belly.
Keep your distance!
Or you will dig out
his glass eye one day
from within a mulch pile
beneath dry brambles.
O greasy paper plate,
whose grease glitters like
a neon sequin camo tunic,
go stain a teenage sweatshirt -
you have my blessing!
Remember times you were infested with vermin -
You lived in an unfurnished master bedroom. You wintered in a nest of filthy sheets and unzipped sleeping bags. An unfortunate incident shook you from sweet slumber - mice ran across your nude torso. You think it might have looked like veins bulging under skin. It felt like a nervous tickle, like when your lover would run her tongue across your hipbone.
Or, the nails on your right hand were so long, you discovered an entire dead mosquito nestled beneath one jutting claw.
You thought I was the jewel in your crown.
I will not let you number me among your best pawns.
O love, I am numb to your siren-song.
You cannot care for natural humans like dogs shepherd flocks.
I've seen it all before. I've seen it all.
Can I get a witness?
It gets so lonely in the Witness Protection Program.
I know I seem distant.
Like The Watcher, I cannot intervene (sing me your wrath, Galactus). I claim a cohort of false oracles - quack psychics; Bobby Bare's Marie Laveau; fake Indians like Paul Eagle Bear and Peter LaFarge. I heard the swashbuckling Mongolian stutter. Pitiful drunks set my heart aflutter. I saw the best minds of this side brined - floating in jars of vinegar among hard-boiled eggs; chopped and tossed like giardiniera; or simply pickled in brandy. I saw Pokey LaFarge eat an eight-dollar hotdog as a snack. I saw Pierce call Doose-Doose a crackhead. He said, "Get off the crack." Crack like a knuckle, crack like a baseball bat. Crack like an exposed ass-crack. Does it make my ass look fat? Does wearing this hat make me look like a cop? Does this sweater look like a mop? What time do you get off? Every time...
have you ever loved so big it sucked you dry? did it weigh on you like a tumor? are you the husk it left or is that what you wear like a costume? well, I might wear my heart on my sleeve but at least I don't wear my house like a hermit crab. that's no skin off my back. this one's for the losers and the nothing-to-losers. do you feel like, you know, you're too shallow to fall off the deep end? and too scum to come clean? I've scraped tougher scum off my sneakers. yeah, you think you're so tough.
So many ageless vipers stalk these streets. Where is your fountain of youth? Which circle of Hell? Just what did you trade for that youthful face?
And remember when you dropped your phone at the Confluence Point, kneeling to finger a rock - was that current-polished pebble a philosophers' stone?
Sure, you've heard the rumors - "Still Crazy After All These Years," et cetera. Is your makeup running? Maybe you have a bloody nose? Or are you just happy to see me?
But flopping dongs and costume jewelry alone - even decades' worth - would be a pretty empty endeavor. No, this is no esoteric ceremony - it's a calculated strategy. The pageantry is dazzle camouflage.
If Skarekrau Radio is really a cult at all, it's a cult of youth - in pursuit of immortality and a utopian, inter-generational love (not unlike ancestor worship and Hellenic pederasty). Members devote their decaying bodies - loose, hanging flesh - to reclaiming an ideal, youthful virility. Like many nostalgic bosom buddies - they reminisce, shoot hoops, grab ass; and lament a vanishing, lascivious past. For now, time plods forward - friends move away, puppy love turns to resentful co-dependence, lovers cheat, marriages end in divorce, best bros back-stab, the thin get fat and the fat get fatter.
Don't just gawk - surrender. Let the unraveling ensemble unravel you. Together we can stop the clock.
This is weaker than this. I cop more of a buzz off the butts I sniff. Who needs a clenching jaw and the sniffles?
This is the "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" karaoke mix. I wanna be a mountain. Are you altitude sick? I can't breathe like this. Mt. Rushmore.
This one is dedicated to carbohydrates. Dr. Oz says, "Eat THIS, Never Diet Again." I'm on a diet. This is the Atkins Diet remix. This one's for your favorite sandwich. Egg Salad.
What's beef? I thought this was supposed to be meatless. I'm a dirty laundry panties thief. I'm just the merch guy. I'm Spiderman. I'm a snake-in-the-grass and you've got a grass-stained ass. Snakes and ladders.
The sun shines down on your grievances. This is the Meramec Caverns Knife Fight/Party Pizza remix. RIP pizza.
You taste like a marijuana cookie with ants crawling on it. Passionate kisses.
This is a spectacle. I never wear my glasses. This one's for Libertarians, for the Ying Yang Twins. This one's for idiots. It's symbolic.
Sniffing poppers in a fireproof closet, you nosedove and somersaulted. I've got your soggy card in my wallet.
In order to perform, she left work early. We all stayed at my apartment.
He said, “She must steal it from Whole Foods or the small health food store.”
They sent messages to each other and he mailed her a letter for her birthday. She said, "Pretend I'm a stranger.”
She took us to her home, where she told us about what happened to her uncle. We listened to
"Amazing Grace" and “The Most Beautiful Girl.”
This was during a manic episode, before he left for good. It may have been
too much for her dog. I sat in a corner and stared off into space.
The next time I saw him was the following summer. I was angry. While I was gone, the three of them had spread out in the house.
We danced together on the dance floor. I will always remember - he did not tell me. I only found out from Daniel. We talked afterward. He apologized. I agreed to drive him back to my house so he could get really drunk.
She offered him a place to stay, but he said he was not interested.
She said she did not know if he was ready to become vulnerable, to try to. They were already a couple but did not officially live together.
He did not seem to like me or my work very much back then.
He would spend the day napping. He said he could not remember the address of the apartment where she was staying, but I knew he was lying.
I saw two people from my life. Cameron was the sound man at the convention,
This was when he and Jason spent most of their time embarrassed. The three of them had started drinking again after a month-long break.
A lost man introduced himself - Ben from Cincinnati. In the morning we went to a sports bar.
I thought about how bizarre, consider the biggest mistake of my life.
I have become sadder and more guarded in the conversation.
I was worried she would hear something or misconstrue something. They were both very drunk.
At one point he revealed he did not get the job.
We made a vague plan together - it was an intense phone conversation.
He swallowed at the end of every sentence.
She worried about how drunk he was.
I did not want to go. She said, "You introduced me to it," when I was leaving.
I believe he was living in the neighborhood between the grocery store and his mom’s apartment.
When we got there, we realized
he would not devote himself to situations he could not control.
At a certain time, we all sought the glasses. I remember the exact circumstances.
On this night, years after the birthday party, we rode downtown.
He reprimanded me - “We have a job,” he said,
the last time I saw him.
This was when he was experimenting with a confessional social media persona.
I remember an impromptu game we played.
Jason assumed Anna would be his new girlfriend. He gave her a book and we stayed with her. She was house-sitting for her uncle and taking care of his impossibly-small cat.
This was when he was a guest at the conference. He told everyone at the party about her condition. After that they had a talk, according to her. Before the final round, I filled one miniature glass.
He stayed in her high-rise apartment again. This was a coincidence.
Ben was lost and scared. I think his phone was dead.
I drove through there four years later with him. They had recently reconnected as friends.
He was starting to
help me, but I wanted to wait until we got home to try it.
They laughed about spoiled children I didn’t know. He went up when I parked.
I wanted to try some.
He was looking for the perfect atmosphere.
We danced on the dance floor. He wanted to see someone for the last time.
I left several days later. He drove us to a house south of here. On the way we talked about his outfit.
We celebrated his birthday early because I would be gone during the actual date. He had read my Facebook post. Ben ordered a pizza.
I had a sinus infection, but he wanted to smoke with someone.
She seemed confused.
He drank a bottle of cough syrup and I took him home.
This happened the following fall - we spent two hours at a flea market.
Then we drove around trying to find the journalist. I know this sounds like a pre-repression fantasy. I was worried about his anger and jealousy.
The next time was at his mom’s house. He was only working part-time. This was when I started to panic.
He was flirting with two women who did not appreciate the attention.
Of course he arrived with her. He was in love, but he was afraid of sleeping
on her smelly bed.
We remembered the address this time, but she was out of town.
She and I wanted him to spend his time with people he would trust. I believe this was the time she described tickling him. It was an odd, mediocre group.
I drove him home and he passed out quickly. The next time was at Jason's, where we filled the miniature glasses.