Thursday, January 27, 2011

The clock runs out

Few things will make you cut to the chase faster than a death sentence, something that informs Chidiock Tichborne's poem "Elegy"; confronting the fact that everything he has seen, said, done and felt in his life is soon to be brutally ended, Tichborne takes stock of his own life. The poem is a rapid succession of self-appraisals, an accounting of a life that is in the middle of all things, projects unfinished, personal affairs in flux, an existence of mind and body absorbing experience that hasn't lived long enough to achieve accumulated wisdom. Where age and the sheer volume of life's deeds can bring one to a maturity one could call a defining wisdom--when the large personality of youth becomes right sized and the large propositions a youthful enthusiasm have been tested against a world that was, in large part, indifferent to youthful spirit-- Tichborne abandons fancification, elaboration, grandiose rhetoric and chooses the monosyllabic tone that quickly admits his vanities, his unfinished condition. A dedicated Catholic, one imagines he wanted to meet his God after committing a final confession to the paper he wrote upon, his only witness.
The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
The effect is breathtaking, the succession of assertion and counter-assertion, of thesis and antithesis, a vision of a man who is finally seeing the grain of the brick and realizes the smell of the meals he will no longer see nor taste; this is the mind of someone who's life is cleared of the material things that typically get counted as aa successful life and who realizes that he will no longer have the luxury of taking things for granted. He prefers direct address of his situation and impending demise--the larger words, the crackling syllables, with their river-run rhythms and swashbuckling cadences, are significations that are hollow. The future has been brought to him, not he venturing into it. Those consequences of his actions have caught up with him. The poem is chilling, magnificent in its blunt clarity. It brings on the feeling of a weight being placed on your shoulders, increasing by noticeable degrees as you walk, it removes the passion one had which made life a pleasure, hobbies and crafts and philosophies that dissolve as the corridor that comprises one's life narrows and becomes darker.

The remarkable thing about the time is how beautifully if tragically, the piece demonstrates how a man can summarize his life in spare metaphors when coming against a literal and non-negotiable deadline. In a strange way, it reminded me of those times when I had t move very, very suddenly and I had the task of what to take and what to discard; sentimentality took a back seat more often than not while going through boxes of stuff. Once, even my record collection had to go, all 900 something discs--I simply had no way to transport them, no place to store them, no one to leave them with, no time to sell them. I gave them away to the first associate who would take them. It was, though, liberating, having all that vinyl gone in one quick flush, as I had no reason to resist CDs and CD players. I have a thousand of them by now, deep into jazz and blues, my music of choice from my mid-forties forward. Perhaps Tichborne wanted to arrive at Heaven's gate without the bulging pride that besets a life of enduring disease and bad weather; he perhaps sought to be liberated so as to be as pure as Heaven is described. Tichborne's poem makes you feel as if someone had just walked over your

Monday, January 24, 2011

Eyes Glued Shut

This caption is dedicated to my friends Barry and Janet.
Eyes Wide Shut, the final film by director Stanley Kubrick, came to us with a hype that suggestively alluded to matters of infidelity, necrophilia, an orgy,  intense , bad-faith sex between an eventually naked pairing of Tom Cruise and his then wife Nichole Kidman. The highlight of the film, it seems, was that we did view Kidman nude, a sleek figure one encounters in drawings by fashion designers, but the movie itself, intended to be ominous, exhibits all of Kubrick's faults and very few of his strengths. The movie is an uneven enterprise, impressive technical competence here , pretentious art gestures there; I have the suspicion that Kubrick actually died before he completed the film and that what we have was finished by c...ommittee. I am not a fan of Kubrick, but I do think that even his most portentous efforts had, at least, a "finished" quality, a well tailored fit. Kubrick could finesse his films to the degree that it was easy to overlook the vacuum that seems to habitually occupy the center of his themes. "Eyes Wide Shut" attempts to approximate the interiority of Schnitzler's novel and exhibits a topic drift; what ought to seem like incidents that, while insignificant in themselves, build to a culminating crash of tones, instead seems like the tale told by someone who cannot finish a sentence, let alone deliver a punchline.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Keith Olbermann will rise again

Salon writer Niall Stanage adds his half penny to the much ado surrounding the abrupt departure of liberal firebrand Keith Olbermann from his MSNBC program. Olbermann is a narcissist, is smug, is a loud mouth, is a ranter, is, in brief, arrogant, and that makes the fretting Stanage woozy. He writes that he is glad to see Olbermann off the channel. I think the writer is a hand wringing Pollyanna, shocked, he says, that someone on the left that uses emphatic language and dares his opponents to vet their declarations.  Olbermann's accomplishment during the eight years he presided over his Countdown program was that he turned the national discussion regarding the political future of America into a real  discussion  . The monopoly on public attention was over.  
Keith Olbermann is a blowhard, a loud mouth, an advocate with a blow torch to underscore his points, but he was our blowhard, our loud mouth, our pyrotechnical fighter, and to that end he advanced his causes admirably, bravely and, as with anyone loud enough to speak the truth to the choir of tin soldiers ceaselessly repeating the half-truths, distortions and outfight lies of the rancid power mad Right, one accepts the bluster as a price of having someone on your side who pulls the covers, relies on facts, gets it exactly more often than not. Olbermann is hardly an unquestioning toady for the Democrats--his criticism of the Obama White House on everything from the lack of a public option in the Health Care Bill to the failure to close Guantanamo as he promised during his first Presidential campaign have made waves and created stirs; he has a political edge, he makes his arguments forcefully, he relies on facts rather than false presentations, he punctures the arguments of those less well acquainted with the truth and the facts that come with it. Fox News is a channel full of bluster and deception; we need Olbermann to be our counter blast, to lay out the case for change, to set the record straight, to not allow the mean and the habitually short sighted to get away with an their falsehoods unnoticed. 

The departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC seemed inevitable, at least to me, as media behemoth Comcast takes over the reins of NBC Universal,the company that was Olbermann's nominal employer. Olbermann was a Methuselah with a bullhorn shouting truth, bolstered with vetted facts, in an arena
where what passed for political analysis had long gone in only one direction, from the right.
Olbermann was the first to talk back to the chorus of barking seals that make up the conservative  Greek Chorus, and he got attention. Olbermann's willingness to break with the pack and undermine the criminally contrived rationale for war laid out by the Bush Administration drew an ever increasing audience, and encouraged others of similar mind to not shirk their principles with mainstream disguises; liberals and progressives wore their politics as a badge of honor and asserted their patriotism.
Thanks in large part to Olbermann's  brave efforts to give rationale and coherent alternative critique to the group think that brought this country into unjust wars and into a recession, the other part of the discussion, the progressive community, is now part of the equation, an American vein of belief that will not again be marginalized. Of course, MSNBC became popular as a result and was a desireable acquisition in a media takeover; the loudest voice, the most intense believer, had to go. Whether Comcast had anything to do with Olbermann's abrupt departure will or will not come to light as more on this sad event gets unveiled, but the fact remains is that MSNBC retains a host of potent left-leaning voices in Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz. Olbermann, however, was the wordsmith, the history buff, the live wire, the heartbeat of what this network has been for millions who wanted their political discussions accompanied by facts and a knowledge of history. One wishes that Olbermann finds a new slot from which to shine his bright light on the doings of the powerful , and one prays that MSNBC refrains from making itself a toothless shadow of itself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ricky Gervais is shown during the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP / Paul Drinkwater)
Just a note to say that I think Ricky Gervais comes off like a smug asshole. How many maladjusted goofballs have you known who suffer from the delusion that it's their task to Speak- Truth- to -Power with stream if pedestrian vulgarity who haven't the slightest inkling that those they would enlighten would prefer to slap the shit out of them?He attacks all the sacred cows that need to be slaughtered, but in this day what is considered sacrosanct is profaned on a regular basis, but better wits. Gervais seems to be the last one on stage on an unending amateur night, telling his dirty jokes to a room full of empty chairs. There is something desperate in is need to offend, to be shocking, to seem edgy. He is, finally, as big an example of Grandstanding Moronics as Dane Cook, a comedian who would be funnier if he practiced Mime in an unlit supply closet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Write until the fumes ignite.
T.S.Eliot and Ezra Pound had their own style of the mash up --classical and pop styles and a preferring a diffusion of coherence rather than writing a series of unifying metaphors--in ways that would better express their idea of the fracturing of reality and the destruction of purpose in culture. The New Journalists weren't really the mob--mobs cannot , by nature, be democratic nor fair nor be able to devise a fair and just politics. I'd say they were more the guys at the end of the bar who stopped opining about the way things ought to be and got off the bar seat to enter an argument that started without them; they were going to straighten folks out. As it goes, they did provide an interesting alternative narrative line to what gets called the Movement of History, a choice , up close view of the insanity, the ugliness and the egomania that was chewing at the margins of the Great Society and it's aftershock. Realty is both an individual and a collective endeavor, yes; whatever it may in fact be in God's mind, we , as a species, cannot conceive of reality without a narrative line, a script. We are all stars in our own movie and everyone else is from central casting; reality is close to being a multiplex theatre with very thin walls between the auditoriums. Dialogue and sound effects bleed into each other's plot lines.

Pound and Eliot are interesting contrasts, one a windbag, a blowhard,a buttinski, a motor-mouthing gab-bag who happened to have some brilliant notions of how poetry can be made aesthetically and personally viable again, the other being a depressed, crabby, self consciously rigid individual who's view of the cracked surface of culture gave us some haunting images that perfectly convey the despair and longing decades after they were written. Both were closet autocrats, of course, and very conservative--neither was a fan of corporations nor capitalism, and it wouldn't be so hard to imagine the current strains of the right wing characterizing these fellows as left wingers. A strange set of long-view bed fellows; two anti-Semitic, totalitarian inclined poets who wind up writing stuff that dovetail comfortably with a Marxist analysis on the effect of capital on human relationships. Everyone brings their own dynamite to this party, blowing up the same thing for the same reason, but with each with a Jesus of a different name.

You're right about Thompson, he was not an intellectual , nor a particularly sharp analysis of what he was covering, but his strengths were in noticing things people did and characterizing them in a critical, sarcastic light that revealed an ongoing quest for power, naked and virulent under all his subject's noble rhetoric. I

This sentence has no period, is therefore timeless

There is  a well argued rationale for the lack of editing in Infinite Jest, that David Foster Wallace was in the tradition of testing the limits of a what a sentence, a paragraph, a page can contain before the onset of the concluding period, the test being that a sentence can drift, digress, take long turns and circuitous routes to the finish a series of ideas,but even digressions have to be pared down to the ones that will have an effect, even a diffuse one that. Wallace really isn't in control of his digressions. Every so-called postmodern writer has to decide , and finally know what effect and point, or drift, they are getting at. 

Even in an style whose hall marks are pastiche, parody and high-minded satire, craft still counts for something, and a sense of the form a book is taking, it's architecture, has to come under control, or else the eventual point of the writing, to study, in an imaginative terrain, some aspects of the human experience, lost entirely. Any working novelist, whether a genre-hack , a royalist, avant-gardes of most any hue, ought to be in control of their materials, where Wallace, with IJ, clearly isn't. 

That control is more instinctual than mechanical, and the ability to know when to stop and allow the fictional incidents resonate in all their overlapping parts. Wallace doesn't trust his instincts, or his readers powers to interpret his material, I guess. There is always one more paragraph, one more digression, one more bit of undigested research for him to add. It's like watching a guy empty his pockets into a plastic tray at an airport metal detector. 

White Noise is written, of course, in a spare and professorial style that some might find maybe too much so. I didn't have that problem, and thought the style perfect for the comedy he wrote. It's a college satire, and was a remarkable choice on his part to convey the distorted elements of the storyline, from the lush descriptions of the sun sets , et al. 

It's a prose style that is brilliant and alive to idea and incident: DeLillo has the rare genius to combine the abstract elements of a philosophical debate with imagery - rich writing that manages several narrative movements at once. His digressions meet and merge with his descriptions, and the result is a true and brooding fiction that aligns the comic with the horrific in a series of novels where the pure chase for meaning within systems of absolute certainty are chipped away at, eroded with many layers of a dead metaphor , slamming up against an unknowable reality that these systems , including literature itself, have claimed entree into. Heady, compulsively readable, vibrantly poetic.Mao ll, Underworld are among the best American novels written in the 20th century. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Animal Farm: barnyard epitath

One loves this book beyond all reason, but when might we
begin to use Don DeLillo's "White Noise" as a narrative warning
against the unassuming stance that the language of authority
is , in itself, the right one?
There is nothing like re reading a classic novel you first considered a masterpiece in high school some decades later, let us say thirty five years or more, and realizing that the book you esteemed has travelled less well through time than your memory would like. George Orwell, although a particularly potent essayist on matters of politics and culture, was a ham-handed prose stylist when it came to his fiction and, one might add, a story teller for whom the obvious moral is the only point to consider. The cautionary lesson is fine as it goes-- the roads to mankind's worst, deadliest dilemmas are paved with good intentions-- but it is such a safe position that taking issue with it is the equivilent to declaring yourself insane, untrustworthy, a morally bankrupt stakeholder in Bad Faith Futures. Partisans left and right nod to the sentiment and find new ways to bark at one another and , notably, contrive new ways to assume the Absolute Power both sentiments warn readers and voters against. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and once you understand this as the point of the tale that has farm animals standing in for the History of the Soviet Revolution and it's brutal goonishnness, one feels as if they're being clubbed over the head with a point that was clear to begin with. This is a dry , brittle parable, a fairly gutless morality play; we need be suspect of those books that are easily co-opted by both right and left wing ideologues as a metaphorical evidence of their more convoluted explanations and apologies for why things are they way they are.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Aging of the Ageless

photo by Scott Stewart / Sun-Times Media
Chuck Berry, 84  years old and, in my opinion, the Grand Architect of the great American art form we call  Rock and Roll, gave a January 1st  concert at Chicago's Congress Theatre where his age where his age, it appears, got the best of him more than once during the performance. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel art and architecture critic Mary Louise Schumacher was in attendance, and the frail on stage doings of an iconic rocker in his ninth decade were too much for her, as she reports here.  It was such a sad display that she and her companion felt compelled to leave. Her resulting story is more a sulk than a report; although she is not the paper's pop music critic, you'd still expect her to apply more perspective and less woundedness into her column.  It's gamy to announce yourself as a critic for a publication and then compose something that suggests your issues with mortality.

 A great writer, a superb stylist, a keen scribe with a skewed perspective can be forgiven and even appreciated for a skewed, personalized accounting, but these geniuses are rare in journalism, let alone criticism, and most of us lacking an interesting way of expressing their fears and funneling their emotions into their columns adhere to  the job description.  It wasn't about Chuck Berry or his music, his lasting art, but how morose she felt as a result of going.

It might be sad to see a genius like Chuck Berry perform his brilliant songbook years beyond his prime, but reviewer Mary Louise Schumacher sounds more heartbroken that the musician/songwriter got old. She seems unaware that Berry's performances have, for decades, been erratic affairs. I've seen him three times in forty years of concert going, and found him sloppy and ill-prepared twice and inspired and exciting once. The film "Hail Hail Rock and Roll", a documentary about the rehearsals for a 60th birthday concert by Berry in St.Louis, is notable for the contentious arguments over event organizer and music director Keith Richards and Berry: Richards wanted a disciplined rehearsal time to do honor to Berry's songs while for Berry it was merely another money-grabbing opportunity.

 Berry did get with the spirit of his own music, though, and the filmed concert sequences show the genius behind Berry's music, but it also gave evidence that the man had "lost his art" long ago. Schumacher, I rear, failed to go to the concert with reasonable expectations, as Berry's crankiness is generally well known. A pop music reviewer should know this and temper their judgment. It would have been another knowing touch had she made the distinction between Berry and The Work he has done; he may have lost his art as a performer, but the real art isn't lost to the audience. It exists in his songs, which are on record and which we can rediscover and marvel at our leisure. However tragic his late life may be, Chuck Berry's contribution to American Music is immense.

Road to Perdition

I saw Road to Perdition with the aid of NetFlix and witnessed what turned out to be a significant disappointment. Director Sam Mendes seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time, energy and resources mounting the film and not enough time directing it. It has a an interesting look, particularly with its' near monochromatic hues and lighting that suggests the eye of a Dutch master, but this wears thin quickly as the plot and characterization fails to develop at either a credible pace or with interesting results.

There is nothing especially awful here, just stuff that is predictable, an offense made worse by sheer lethargy. Hanks does little more than grimace, Paul Newman, performing well in the first part of the film, has little to do afterwards except sit and stare into his lap with an old man's regret. Stanley Tucci and Jennifer Jason Leigh may as well be furniture here.

This was not  the best crime drama since "Godfather as a few critics I remember reading enthused.
Missing, of course, is the script that made the difference with Mendes’s' previous effort, American Beauty , which had an acutely sharp and cynical script from Alan Ball. Perdition is somewhat skeletal in what makes these characters tick, suitable for a graphic novel , yes,but still wanting for a movie. The plot here is adequate, I suppose, for the purposes of the graphic novel it's adapted from, but on screen, as is, the storyline is little more than a thin, cracking mortar between the cut stones of a huge mansion, ornate and impressive at first view, but revealing a crumbling structure the closer one gets into it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

About the Velvet Hammer

I drank at the Velvet Hammer a couple of times with my buddy William in the days of lesser light. The last time I drank there was some time in 1984 when I was sitting next to some old drunk hippie who started a conversation with what he thought of the Ku Klux Klan and what he'd like to do to each of them.

He informed me, in a language not this delicate, that he'd like to severe the genitalia of these KKKers and shove in the mouths of their mothers. I was intent on finishing my drink and let him prate with his alcoholic bile--it had the memorized rhythm of a nursed resentment that could be rattled off, word for word, at split-second provocation--until the barmaid emerged from the back room and said "Okay, Bobby, just leave the man alone and let him enjoy his drink." Bobby, who'd maintained a slurring, snarling Gordian knot of a grimace, a result, no doubt, of too many years of blown opportunities and short term day jobs and shorter-term love affairs, suddenly let his face go slack, all those tight coils of resentment giving to the gravity of his situation.

He stared into his drink while the barmaid wiped the counter and emptied a bucket of ice into the bar well. It was a cozy little nest of diluted dreams defied the SoCal sunshine during its years on La Jolla Blvd., Bird Rock's ground zero for bad juju. The Velvet Hammer was, by the time I rolled in for drinks years after whatever conviviality it contained had lapsed and sputtered, was an enclosed argument with the sunny side of things.The last thing I recall while sitting there in this dark lounge, was when I noticed that the only source of illumination seemed to be the stray beams of sunshine that came through the cracks of the bar's entrance.  It seemed no one ever walked out that door, nor walked out, seeming that way until someone opened the door from the street, a thirsty man gritty under a work soaked collar. The sunlight flooded the bar for a moment and the three of us stared into the glare, each of us hoping in a variety of ways that this was the moment when things either got better or stopped altogether. Either way would be an improvement than the moment we were in,  which was timeless and fatal.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Steve Cramer tosses a salad

A cigar is just a cigar, meaning, I believe, that it  still reeks inspite of interpretations of metaphorical worth. Likewise, noise remains noise.  Clangings by Steven Cramer is one such noise.I am leery of poems that explain what the title refers to , as it more often than not indicates a writer who is trying to let himself off the hook when confronted with a suggestion that the work , once inspected, not only fails to make sense in the literal , but fails at even providing a sense of anything beyond its own grammatical complications."...dissociated ideas conveyed through similar word sounds..." is what we're told this all means, and I say very good, you bet, but there is no poetry here, just symptoms. 

I have been a supporter of  and have argued vigorously for the work of difficult poets who offer a language, elongated or terse, from Eliot, Silliman, Dickins to Armantrout and David Lehman, who have a variety of ways of challenging the reader with efforts, experiments and projects that stretch and extend the power of metaphorical language .The difference between they and Steve Cramer's poetry is that this week's poet prefers spontaneous gush of short circuiting word salad while the others , speaking in the parlance of jazz snobbery, made better note choices. Uncivilized as it may sound in some quarrelsome corners of the small room that constitutes the poetry world, I can't shake the idea that the writing of poetry is  in the best sense heroic, where the mundane, nettlesome and lethal aspects of one's aspects serve not merely as the stuff to be treated solely as figurative snapshots of one's passing through their years as an imperfect , but rather of transcending those  matters and offering something that can be shared other than a grousing regret. Cramer is inclined to consider  speech , in itself, a poetry, as the results can, at times, resemble either habit of mind.  There needs to be something more. Cramer didn't bring it home.

 Every thing is there , suggested, run through associative puns and the like, but this is private without being alluring. It reads, I believe, as if it were the transcript of an intake interview for psychiatric ward. What might make for a good start for a therapist makes for a turgid grind for the reader to make sense of, with little reward for real music, sweet or artfully dissonant.

Cramer, I'm sure, is an honest writer, but there just isn't that extra dimension here to make this read like more than transcribed gibberish; poetry is an art and art, although it may be derived from mundane materials and the fetters of human existence, needs to be compelling beyond an explanation of how it came to be. What in the poem is a starting point for a discussion about how the language transforms a set of assumptions, does the rare thing and encapsulates a state of being that is problematic?  My guess is that we would be in a mood to discuss the sociology of the poem, the tropes and issues that go into making this standardized bit of alienation rather than have an operation that tried to appreciate the lyric qualities.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Flarf, belatedly

Flarf? Seriously? Sure, and we'll set up a Department of Crayola studies right after this already tedious digital in joke finally stomps the last shimmer of resonance from The Ironic Effect .Flarf is late in the game, I think, attempting to be something that Pop Art was during the Sixties, a species of Capitalist Folk Art where the commercial design of advertising was taken as worthy aesthetic principle by serious working artists; it presented us with Soup Cans, Colleges with goat heads, American Flags and raunched out car seats , products of design all, and served as a genuinely odd fulfillment of Walter Benjamin's much cited essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". Benjamin had thought that mass production of aesthetic objects would cause the mystifying and distancing aura to evaporate from around paintings, sculptures and the like and allow the rest of us to appreciate, enjoy and be inspired by art in a way that didn't rely on a priesthood of critics and academics to keep us attentively dumbfounded with a theoretical catechism. This was not unlike Martin Luther's spearheading the Protestant Reformation, initiated but the invention of moveable type and the printing of the Bible ; the Catholic Church had lost it's exclusivity as interpreters of The Word, and Luther presented that all a worshipper needed as his own Bible and the courage to seek the God of his understanding. Alternative currents within alternative streams makes for intriguing footnotes in literary histories and can give reason for a Cultural Studies major to further beg the question as to how information glut and digital dispersion usurps claims to regional voices and the certainty of the distinct and original voice rising above the rabble, but we have , in essence, the return of the Dada Gesture. The point is to gum up the works and make farting noises in the back row while the admittedly stuffy conversation , quietest and post-avant, drones from the podium. Good for a giggle, but Flarf seems like an undergraduate writing program manifesto that managed to crawl out the Kinko’s copier and land on someone’s accommodating server.


He was in the front seat
Of every car he took to
The other side of the city
Where there were swans
In the park lake, graceful as
Show horses bowing to a crowd .

Half of what you buy

Is who you buy it from.
There you are
With a bag of coffee grounds
In the back seat of the
Car you took back to suburbs
Crowded with the unpaid bills
The city couldn’t set on fire.
There were school girls whistling

Past the graveyard , skirts askew
In uptakes of wind.
Men with shovels loved their work
Because it was deep and grounded.
At dusk, the lake water darkens

And there is only a large, black surface
With a dark so deep that even a bright moon
On a cloudless could shine in the
Mystery of what lies beneath what
The world thinks it is we’re out here

In a boat playing harmonicas and guitars
To odd felines and bovines themselves playing
Along the ash coronas that ring  the stars

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Music after music: a wandering in prose

Just tell the band to strike up a song that blends well with the color of a crowd whose faces blur in swirls across a whirling ballroom floor, high hats and tom-tom drums and cowbells filling the city blocks with locomotion that doesn’t stop until the clock hits the last minute of the last hour.

Everyone stops swirling to get their coats and then their cars to return to their homes and apartments that stopped seeming so extraordinarily alive with the things they brought to the rooms and hung up on the walls.
The music stops at midnight and the only thing you can think of now is how your feet hurt, how many hours to sunrise and the start of your term on the clock and in the customer’s face with service you know you wouldn’t hand your dog after the biggest mess he could produce on the rug you brought home from an enclosed mall.
But it’s late on the road, rain falls with an even temper, small fists bang the roof since the start of history, there are fields of applause your going through in the city on this drive, you drum the steering wheel as she leans against the glass, humming lightly, racing drums and quicksilver trumpets grow winged feet and chase one another from station to station to station on the AM dial.

She starts to sing something you don’t understand as the wheels seem to hydroplane over the asphalt, saxophone blasts a whole in the clouds and the moon is on you as you slow down the car coming to the apartment house. Love seems to lasts forever in ash-silver light, you think, coming to the garage, the music cutting out and static going off like firecrackers on a string under the stars of a night full of train wheels singing along the rails with steel wheels.

Clouds meander over the moon once more, the light is gone, there is only a garage full of tools and dirty boxes of unpacked stuff you never want to find. Her eyes are closed, her head against the door, oh, to dance across the city in top hats, long sideburns, and long white gloves like we used to dream it would be always, this is what you’re thinking.She sings a song without the words, nonsense syllables filling in spaces where lyrics used to be crooned,

“Do you know the words”, she asks, “do you know the name of the song?”
“Sure do” you said, switching off the ignition and tapping your forehead, “it’s up here somewhere, lost forever.”