Sad Days for Free

The author at Brecht's grave, Berlin, 2006 [Nina Fleck]t

It was the type of beauty that makes an artist jealous or an atheist create a religion.

The woman’s face seemed to say “Handle With Care”. Her features were etched with a loving poise as if the brush across her face said to its own bristles: “Check this out.” Her lips had the sculpted and untouched look of a marble statue or a grandmother’s china set. Majestic, but almost too sterile. But so real that you knew if you touched it, you could break it. The delicacy of her face hosted a pair of bright cavernous eyes. They seemed deep and endless, a Xanadu unto herself. And just as lonely, perhaps. Her hair waved and nestled around her head. And her collarbone, too, seemed unloved and therefore all the more inviting. Her breasts hung and bobbed naturally, barely hidden beneath a thin wisp of loose cotton. The Maestro’s mouth twisted dumbly and his eyes ached. He felt bad about every negative comment he had ever made about women. Or life.

He watched her cross the street and saw the poetry in her gait, her bent head, tired arms. What he had always read about in dance books is what this woman was. The purity of her movement–was a great deal to take because it championed the “Beauty of a Better Tomorrow” philosophy in today. Her demeanor was confident, but mortal. And her curved marble lips were not pursed for her victim; they were curled up for grace. A shift of one minor muscle and it would have read as a smirk. All that beauty, like the blanket of stars at night, swimming through this sea of contempt, unpleasantness, and bitter digitized Eleanor Rigby’s of the world.
Seen, but not valued.
Hated because it lived and breathed.
Scorned because she was beautiful, but not wealthy.
Single, but not lonely.
Happy, but not ignorant.
And it was in the way she bent down to adjust her shoes that the trembles started and pain swelled…

He had to do something; he was still dizzy from his episode minutes earlier. He sucked on his dwindling saliva and hummed. Her tiny ballet shot adrenaline-razors through his veins.

Her shoes: tattered, worn, and dejected. But treated like the hands of Moses. She was so casual that it frightened him. The cardboard around her feet were folded and molded like moccasins. The shoestrings were made of wire like un-done hangers. If it hadn’t been for sanguine stretching for August, the stitches, like crimson thorns stuck in benign berry–he would have never noticed…And that is what continued to pain him.
Her refusal to crumble in between the pitied streets of a broken cabaret city and a metropolis frozen in spirit, caught between two different chords–minors and majors clashing and bending like fists in a boxing ring twirling with the sprays of sweat drooling on the grooves and in between the rich peoples’ collars, made him sad. And he looked and he could feel the threads of yesterday’s train pulling and hooting at some lonely distant region of his brain. Her old fashioned elegance reminded him of those black and white movies from the 1940’s and instantly his parents, who always appeared larger in his memory, came to him with comforting compassion and an immense yard of broken TV’s, each gripping its thwarted dream…

He revolted when he imagined the pain of her footsteps,–but like everyone else with a battered soul, shot nerves, and no hope–all he could do was stare and stand motionlessly. At least he gave her full attention. She removed all her clothing and ejected a rolled up ball of tissue in between her legs to help stop Aunt Rosa’s mighty flow. Sadder than an unemployed man’s footprints in the snow on New Year’s Eve.
Sadder than a subway ride on a Sunday afternoon.
Sadder than people who believe that hunger isn’t murder.
Sadder than a last minute pack or an eviction notice in the strange cool air of the summer solstice.
Sadder than a cemetery with gum on its fence.
And sadder than the boys who know who their fathers are–but have no desire to be like them.

*
— from “The Maestro” (2006)

Listen to the excerpt recorded here as a ‘Monocord.’

[photo of the author, Berlin, Germany at Bertolt Brecht’s grave, 2006.]

Originally published in the Outlaw Poetry Network

In the Kangalee Zone No. 215

                     holyrantcovid

“And if you keep the distance of a moose between you and yourself you’ll be alright.”

                                                                          *

The rocks were black and the waves spilled oil.  Queer snow and purple skies. 

He shivered with delight and exhaustion as he adjusted Cary’s coat and proudly lifted his hood.  He remembered when a hood and just a dash of common sense were all you needed.  How sweet were those illusions, those delusions, and those offensive lies.  The patches of ice melting and the swimming corpses less than six blocks away had proven that maybe they always were, and would be, powerless.

The General never did get Cary transferred to another hospital, but he got him out of the fake hell and into the real one and he was proud to stand with his son as civilization took its last sigh and all he hoped for was a joyful exit.  It saddened him to think of the plastic man who never made it and Maria who poisoned herself with crayons.  Their last remnant of consciousness was four white walls and the stain of dead ladybugs.  But he could no longer reference or rewind.  He pulled Cary up on to his shoulders and they maneuvered with the rest of the tribe eager to exhale and be free one last instant or for the first time in their life…

The cold mountain top. 

Shrubs, hollow berries, and sand that still moved. 

They had made it. 

They achieved the impossible and were able to feel their humanity slip away.  And if they could not fight their disease and the makers of their disease – they could at least mourn for them. These people were able to laugh and cry one last time in the dusk of life.  One last time.  And as the moon began to whistle slowly down towards them, the General closed his boy’s eyes as they all turned to the magistrate and listened to their fate. 

Purple sky.

Queer snow.

Chills not knowing which way to flow.

The magistrate hung on to that final sound of himself clearing his own throat:

“…And the sky rained body parts.”

                                                              *

© from Holy Rant 215 April 4, 2020; excerpt from the short story Where Ladybugs Go to Die, September 9, 2006.

 

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