Friday, February 21, 2014

Seems So Long Ago, Nancy


    I was not prepared to be with her when I tossed myself at her willingness to have me. She needed someone and I thought that someone was me. For a brief moment, she believed I was right. We were both wrong.
    The first month we were together, we were drunk every night, cooped up in our tenement apartment near the railroad tracks. We had both moved out of our parents' house before we knew how to take care of ourselves, much less each other. We would praise each other and argue endlessly, until there was nothing left to do, but embrace and kiss in the name of our imperfection. We sang along to songs we knew well, together. We taunted and foolishly played with each other and it felt great. We made love and when there was no love to be found between us, we would simply fuck each other to feel better.
    There were certain songs she insisted on hearing when she had had too much to drink for anyone's good. She would sit, head slouched near the speaker, listening to a Leonard Cohen song. Seems So Long Ago, Nancy. The lyrics still give me a chill when I hear them.

    She had nightmares sometimes when we slept together. She said she dreamed she was trapped, bound in a place or situation she did not want to be in, but she refused to go into anymore detail. I told her they were only nightmares and that always made her angry.
    We began seeing friends again, stepping out of our two person cocoon. We continued drinking. Her actions were reckless sometimes. My actions were too, sometimes. When we went to parties, she would flirt with other men, other women's girlfriends. I saw it, but thought little of it. I too was talking, sometimes flirtatiously, to other women, other men's girlfriends, enjoying the company of someone other than each other, knowing we would end up together at the end of the night.
    Until, eventually, we did not end up together.
    In cowardice, I watched her ride away in another man's car from a party. I called her phone eleven times that night and was always met with her absurd voice-mail. It began as a lion's growl before you heard her voice. She appreciated the nonsense of electrical connection. She never called me back that night.
    In the morning, she called me and asked why I had called so many times.
    "What happened last night?" I asked
    "What do you mean?"
    "You left without me. With someone else."
    "Yeah, I had to crash."
    "Who did you go home with?"
    "A friend. He was going home, so I went with him."
    She refused to tell me what happened that night, no matter how much I would push her to tell me. She would walk away from me whenever I asked about it and turned on that Goddamned Leonard Cohen song from the album Songs from a Room. Everything about it's sleeve and cover I know and recognize. All it took was her sinking her head into the speaker when the needle hit the groove. That was enough. It was enough for me to drop it. It was enough for me to forgive her. And she knew it was enough and she continued to take advantage of it for as long as she and I could take it.
    I became aware of it, but I was too late.

Seems So Long, Nancy
By Leonard Cohen

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone
looking ate the late late show
through a semi-precious stone.
In the house of honesty
her father was on trial,
in the house of mystery
there was no one at all,
there was no one at all.

It seems so long ago,
none of us were strong;
Nancy wore green stockings
and she slept with everyone.
She never said she's wait for us
although she was alone,
I think she fell in love for us
in nineteen sixty-one,
in nineteen sixty-one.

It seems so long ago,
Nancy was alone,
a forty-five beside her head,
an open telephone.
We told her she was beautiful,
we told her she was free,
but none of us would meet her in
the house of mystery,
the house of mystery.

And now you look around you,
see her everywhere,
many use her body,
many comb her hair.
In the hollow of the night
when you are cold and numb
you hear her talking freely then,
she's happy that you've come,
she's happy that you've come.

    We both worked long hours at our jobs when we were weren't figuring out ourselves and each other. Service jobs. Construction jobs. Odd jobs. Any jobs we could find, and that did not help, but sometimes we found solace in complaining about our jobs to each other.
No time for the things you love.
No time for those you are stuck with.
Choosing no time for something to find time for something new.
Ignoring obvious flaws in your existence.
Walking away without saying goodbye,
when someone believes they deserve a goodbye.

    In a night of sorrow, she drunkenly decided to swallow as many pills as she could find in the medicine cabinet. She made this decision after drinking as much hard liquor as she could manage. I was in the bedroom, sleeping.
    I woke up to the sound of a crash. Rubbing my eyes, I walked towards the bathroom, through the stark grey hallway. Through the ajar door frame bare light emitted unto the floor. I looked in and found her laying naked on the bathroom tile with foam bubbling out of her mouth. Her phone was in her hand and someone was on the line.
    "Hello?" I said cautiously into the phone.
    "Jed?" A voice asked back; It was her mother's voice.
    "Yes." I said quietly, checking her pulse at her neck.
    "Is she okay?" She asked, worried.
    "I don't know, but I will take care of her." I said impulsively, then looked down at what I was wearing; boxer briefs.
    She regained consciousness for a moment and mumbled that he did not love her. She was not talking about me. Then she said now he is gone. She coughed up more white foam, then rested her head back onto the floor, drifting back out of consciousness. The foam slowly started draining back into her mouth. I cradled the back of her head with my arm and lifted her towards me. Her eyes fluttered. I looked up at the light fixture and winced. Then I raised my arm above her head with a flat stiff palm. I slapped her across the face.
    "Wake up!" I yelled.
    Her legs and arms curled up to her torso, dragging against the polished black and white bathroom floor. The lights flickered for a moment in that cold and drafty apartment. I slapped her again.
    "You have to wake up!"
     She wrapped her warm body around my legs, semi-conscious again. She pressed her sweating pelvis against me. I pulled her closed to me. "You have to wake up." I said again, quieter.
    "I know." She muffled. She rest her head in my lap. "He's gone" She said again, then coughed up phlegm and foam. "I'm sorry." She whispered.
    I clenched her skin with my finger tips. "You need to throw up."
    Her entire body shuddered. "I can't."
    I scanned the room in its buzzing white light.The light was the only sound I heard. "Stick your hand down your throat." I said.
    "I can't."
    "I'm going to call an Ambulance."
    "No." She coughed. "Stick your hand down my throat." She gurgled, struggling to breath, then hacked up small bits of yellow phlegm. I stared at her illuminated face in the harsh overhead light, blank and spotted with pasty saliva. With unexpected lucidity she gazed into my eyes. "Jed, stick your fingers down my throat."
     And that is what I did. I tapered my fingers and forced them down her esophagus, as far as they would go, mining for the internal poison that needed to erupt. She gagged and her eyes bulged. I paused for a moment. "Are you okay?"
    "Mmph." she muffled with tears welling at the corners of her eyes. "Am fine."
    I cradled her head with my other arm.
    "Do it." she muffled, struggling to breath.
     I pushed my fingers deeper into her throat. She hacked up more phlegm, blood, foamy chunks of white pills, bile, and saliva on my hand and wrist. I slid my hand out of her mouth and pushed her head towards the toilet basin. She retched loud and violently for what seemed like an eternity. Staggered and strained gagging noises echoed against the porcelain. Things were coming out. Things were being evacuated. Things were being expressed. It was horrible.
    Finally, she stopped. She exhaled with a moan, then fell back slowly to the ground. Her eyes were closed as she took deep even breath.
    "What is going on on?" I asked stunned, but coming again to my senses.
    She was silent, except for her breathing, for a very long time. "Can you get me a towel?" She asked quietly.
    Without answering, I walked to our room and found a clean towel and a large thread bar t shirt. I sat back down next to her and raised the towel to her face. "I grabbed this shirt for you."
    She wiped the phlegm and saliva off her skin. I handed her the shirt and she clinically let it fall over her head and shoulder and hips.
    "Are you going to be okay?" I asked.
    Her closed eyes were puffy red and wet. "Can we not talk, please? Can we go to sleep?" In an dizzy and exasperated tone.
    "I hung up on your mom."
    She sighed.
    "You should probably call her back."
    She sighed again.
    "Let me take you to bed." I helped her to her feet and walked her down the hallway. Her legs buckled near the doorway to the bedroom. I picked her up and cradled her in my arms.
    "No." She whispered.
     I walked through the doorway and laid her in the bed. "Go to sleep."
    "Are you going to bed?" She asked.
    "Not yet." I answered. "Go to sleep."
    I sat in a chair watching her sleep for a very long time. She would not die that night. It would not happen. I wouldn't let it happen.
    The first dim light of the eastern sun began to glow through the window. I walked over to the window and watched it rise over the skyline. Warm and welcome orange and red light cast faint shadows upon the streets and building of the city. The first train rumbled deep and solemn down the street. I knelt down beside her sleeping in bed. I placed the back of my hand against her cheek. "I have to go to work."
    She sighed.
    I went to work.
    That was not the end of it, but it was the beginning of the end.

Aaron C. Molden



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shooting: A Collage

Infection.
We pretend to not know it
until it is inevitable.
It festers and bleeds and saps
blood mushrooms
in the full moon.
Pretending.
Abstract realization.
Bucolic escape and vulgarity lists.
Natural things that can be expressed.
Waterfalls
waterfalls
waterfalls.
Seventy percent of all of us
will eventually fall.
The other twenty will dealt with how we wish.
Most people bury it

I have the ability to notice things.
It benefits me only, as far as I can tell,
but sometimes it keeps me alive.
Symmetry, asymmetry, color, light, line
tone, gradient, repetition, pattern
criticism and theory.
Visions.

Music.
Music. Music. Music.
A great word packaging an unfinished well of expression.
Music is pepper.
Music is ink.
Music is un-corrupted diamonds in the human mind,
when it is at its best.
Rare and often eventually compromised.
My Favorite Things by The John Coltrane Quartet. John Coltrane and Elvin Jones emphasize the beat with a sustained note and cymbal ride when the listener is singing along, in their head or out loud, the word "things" in the titular moment of the chorus of My Favorite Things. I feel that moment everytime I hear it.

Reality:
Another school shooting.
It is cold now, but will once again be warm.
Awful things happen on a daily basis.
Globalization and advertising
make it simple, almost self evident
to forget about tragedy almost immediately.
Warfare footage. Climate change.
Technological mediocrity.
Forced blandness.
An isolated tumor
of fear and consumption.

Second life.

Talented dancers, talented composers, talented musicians.
Wonderful and beautiful bands and orators.
Characters
with great facial expressions
with flexible dance moves
with tone
with color
with contrast
with words which cannot simply be read.
Another school shooting and it was here
at Purdue University.
Once again, I am glad to not be Mitch Daniels,
but this is not about him.
It scares me that I can only express this in abstract fragments.

return to haiku
return to haiku, you fool
she is beautiful

Another school shooting
and it was here at Purdue

School shooting: Purdue University
Little Known of the Casualties

Shots Fired Near the Engineering Mall

"I heard there were three gunman."

CNN reports of a school shooting in the Midwest before local news source has arrived on the scene. An old woman at a bar looks up at the television screen with a cigarette in her hand and mentions that the local news did not get there before the national news with slight tone of disgust in her voice.

Tweets. A bird chirp of information that says warning and not very much more. One hundred and forty characters, some of it hypertext, which many must not understand. I, myself, have a hard time caring about using it, even though it is right there at fingertips every  time I type this thing up.

-Three shooters what?-
-Six have been shot. Are you kidding me?-
-Three confirmed dead? No way, dude.-
-Four dead in Ohio was about the US government opening fire on students. This isn't the government. Neal Young rules, though.-

    For awhile, I didn't know what to believe and I was perfectly safe from any harm; A very strange sensation. I was paying attention to the information fed to me because people I know and love could be endanger. My mom works at Purdue and two friends were attending classes near the building where this isolated tragedy occurred. Also a girl I am in love with was working in the area. Almost everyone I see and know on a regular basis live and work within a short radius of this well documented city and university in the state of Indiana. This was surreal to me, but my reality is completely surreal to a life of regular and random violence. This was and is methodical violence. This is intentional violence. This is theatrical violence with the exception that it is real violence.
Shooting at Purdue.
One dead.
Shooter in custody.
Photographer from the Exponent newspaper mistakenly taken into custody.
The victim was a teachers assistant.
A resident assistant named Jay Severson was shot and killed at Purdue in 1996. The shooter killed himself before the police could take him into custody.
They took the shooter into custody this time around and he will have to explain himself. If he cannot it becomes his problem and what a problem it is. The human condition. The unchecked and unexplained violence of what the human mind can manifest.

    Elated by the fact that no one I know was hurt in the wave of paranoid panic, I walked to the University book store with the intention of buying some new pens. Pens are one of the few things I am stubborn and particular about. Plus, I needed to take a walk after my totally natural, but still utterly irrational panic attack.
    After I purchased my three pens with gradually increasing widths of tips, I walked out of the book store just in time to hear the words "I'm alive!" being yelled across the street. "I'm alive!" the young man yelled again, raising his arms in the air as he spun around on the icy corner of Pierce and State street. He had heather grey Purdue sweat pants and a sweatshirt bunched around his knees and elbows and cropped hair that was slowly grown out; jar head hair. Bright white sneakers in such deep snow. "I'm alive!" he yelled again as he and his friends left Harry's Chocolate Shop with backpacks on their shoulders. They crossed caddy-corner through the intersection. "I'm alive!" he yelled again with a smug smirk on his face. "I'm alive!" once more.
    "Well someone is not, if you haven't heard." I yelled back at him, irritated.
    He looked over at me with angry gaze. "Alright, cool it, man." His friend said and they continued walking in the opposite direction as me.
   The departed's name is Andrew Boldt, and I didn't know anything about him.
   This is a tragedy.

Aaron C. Molden


Monday, February 10, 2014

A Day: Epilogue

Overnight

    Jed opened his eyes and found himself on a kitchen floor with a thin sheet over him. He was pressed against the back side of a warm body: cloth to cloth in places, skin to skin in others. It was Steph he was pressed against and she had his arm under hers and was grasping his hands. He sighed with a smile and rested his face in the nape of her neck.
     "Are you awake?" Steph asked.
     He kissed her neck. She let go of his hand and placed hers against his cheek: hand to head and head to neck. "Yes" he said.
    She brought her hand back to the embrace of their hands at her bare navel. She removed his arm from her body with the hand that touched his smiling face and threw the sheet over them, away from her head. She exhaled. "I'm going outside."
    He stayed for the moment draped in the sheet tossed upon him after she stood up. He watched her brush her hands across table clothes and counter tops, feeling for something useful to her.
    Alone in this reality.
    She found a pack of cigarettes and took one from the pack. She walked over to the refrigerator and took a bottle of vodka out of the freezer. She poured it into a shot glass and stared at it for a moment. Then she drank it in one gulp and stepped outside to the back yard to smoke the cigarette.

   Outside, she adjusted the clothes she was wearing, looking down at her body with smoke drifting upwards from her cigarette, pouring into her eyes. Jed stood behind her in the door of the house.
   "Hey" He said.
   She turned around to see him as she pulled her tight yellow t shirt down to the low waistline of her jeans. She was startled, but barely showed it in a small body twitch. "Hey" she said. blinking the smoke out of her eyes. "What's up?"
   "Nothing."
   They stared at each other for a moment.
   "What are you looking at?" She asked.
   "You." he said, pausing before he nodded his head.
   She took a drag of her cigarette as she turned away from him.
   "Whose house is this?" He asked.
    "My mom and step-dad's. She answered while staring at the cigarette in her hand. Her arm was slumped down and bent at the elbow in a ninety degree angle. Her other arm and hand rested upon her hip. She turned around. Chiaroscuro. That beautiful curve our skeleton supports and braces at the human bodies's infrastructure. "Is there something you need?"
    He stared at her. His smile fell blank. "No. It's just that your awake."
    She took another drag and checked for her phone in her left pocket.
    "And so I'm awake now, too."
    "Okay." Car keys.
    "Would you like something to drink?" He asked.
    "I'm fine." Wallet, but she wasn't sure where her purse was.
    "Do you want to talk?" He asked.
    "About what?" She had been taking inventory of her things, but she was at her house. She didn't know why she was doing it.
   "I don't know. Last night?"
   "I don't remember most of last night." It was he who would eventually be leaving, not her.
   "Really?" He said.
   "Yeah." This was her home, or as close to a home as she had. He would be leaving, and hopefully sooner than later.
    "Do you want to get some breakfast?" He asked.
    "Look." She said. "I'd like to be alone right now."
    He stared at her, confused, and then he said "Okay." And then he went inside and sat with his legs crossed on the carpet floor staring silently out the window for about five minutes. A long five minutes. Then he got up and left out of the front door. Quietly, he intentionally left quietly and she could finally go back inside the house.
    In that five minutes inside the house, when she had been smoking her cigarette, Jed received a text from the man -are you coming back to work today?
    Jed text back -yes.
    -what about Zeke?
    - no.

    The night before, Jed walked to the address Steph had sent him. The two of them spent the night there drinking and listening to music.They were quiet around each other at first, taking sips of their mixed drinks, sitting with legs crossed on the decorative rug in front the record player. They faced away from each other while listening.
     "Do you want to take a shot?" Steph asked.
     Jed looked over at her and said "yes."
     "Okay, let's go to the kitchen."
     They went into the kitchen and took a shot of vodka, chasing it with vanilla coke. For a moment, they leaned against the kitchen counter smiling, listening to the music from the other room. Jed looked over at her nodding his head. She looked over at him. They made eye contact. She smirked and looked away.
    "Do you want to do another?"
    "Yeah."
    They took another shot and leaned silently on the counters. They started listening to the music from the other room again.
    "Let's go back to our other drinks." She said.
    "Okay."
    They went back to the record player and sat down by their drinks, leaning back with their hands on the rug.
    "What if there was a fireplace next to us, against that wall?"
    "What?" He asked not understanding the context of the question.
    She pointed with her thumb at the wall next to them. "What if that wall had a fireplace installed in it and there was a fire going in it right now?"
    "It would be too hot." Jed said sincerely. It was the most sincere words he had uttered all day.
    "I don't think you understand what I am saying." She said. "What would it look like?"
    "The fireplace?" He asked.
    "No. The whole room: the rug, the record player, the wood floor, us, our drinks, but also a fireplace against that wall." She pointed to the wall without a fireplace again.
    "With a fire burning in it?" Jed stared at her wide-eyed and confused. "I think it would look uncomfortably hot." He said.
     She sighed and took a sip of her drink.
     He scanned the room as he took a sip of his.

Both of them stared at the ground for a while.
Nothing to say
nothing to do.
Both of them inside their mind for a while.
Nothing to me
nothing to you.

    The music was still playing on the record player.
    "Something my mom would hang on a wall."
    "What?" She asked.
    "It would look like something my mom would hang on her wall." He said. "If it were a picture. Like a photograph."
    "Yeah." She said quietly.
    He took another sip of his drink. "Do you want to take another shot?"
    "Yes."
    They went into the kitchen and took another shot. Then she asked him if he was hungry. They ate a last meal of organic granny smith apples, gruyere cheese, and water crackers. "This is pretty fancy looking cheese" He mentioned.
    "My mom takes food kind of seriously." She responded.
     After they finished eating they lounged on the rug with their plates and drinks next to them.
    She laughed. She belched. She laughed again. "I'm sorry."
    "What?"
    "Let's do another shot." She said.
    "Okay."
    "I'm sorry!" she yelled unexpectedly.
    There was a moment of silence between them.
    "Okay." He said.
    They went into the kitchen and took another shot.
    She looked at her phone a lot. He looked over at her looking at her phone. He looked at his phone occasionally, mostly when she was looking at her phone. When the record ended, it was quiet for a moment. He went over to the record player and changed the record so that there was music playing once more.
   "Do you want to take another shot?"
   "Do you think we should?"
   Cued laughter. Cued gasp.
   "Why not?"
   They went once more into the kitchen and took one more shot of vodka. Then they sat back down on the rug and finally talked. They talked in a way that only isolated and solipsistic minds can talk when they find another extended adolescent mind in the mire of reality. They felt smart, if only momentarily, in each others company. They spoke to each of their dreams. Dreams that would go unfulfilled or would somehow be fabricated. They talked about their frustrations with life, friends, family, and acquaintances, so disconnected with the rest of the known world. They spoke confidently, selfishly, comfortable in the selfishness of their company. "They'll be sorry when I'm dead." "She is the worse person I have ever had to be around" "Everybody thinks he's the greatest thing ever, but he's really just a fucking asshole." "They'll never understand what is really wrong." "That's the problem with this world, isn't it?" "You're so right, I'm so glad someone really gets it, gets me." And with every shameful display of vocalized singularity there was a response of support, of understanding.
   They walked back into the kitchen, still talking, reeling off of the flow of shared frustration. Jed poured two more shots of vodka and handed Steph the vanilla coke. They took the shot. The talking had ceased for a moment. And then Steph began to cry.
   "What's wrong?" Jed asked.
   "A lot of things." She said quietly.
   She leaned into him. He adjusted his arms so that they were wrapped around her. She pressed her face against his chest. "Do you want to talk about it?"
   A muffled "no." She looked up at his face with wet eyes. She wiped them with her hand. He looked down at her face. He kissed her on the lips. She jerked her head back, but quickly eased back in and kissed his lips. "Can I trust you?" She asked.
    "Yes." He answered. "Do you think you can trust me?"
    "I think so."
    "Do you want to lie down?"
    "Yes."
    They laid down together on the kitchen floor, covering themselves with an extra sheet from the linen closet. Jed began kissing her neck and face, and she would occasionally turn her head to kiss him back, but she was mostly just still. "Let's go to sleep." She whispered.
    "Okay." Jed kissed her neck once more and squeezed her body closer to his. She took his hands in hers and very soon they were both in a deep drunken slumber.
    When she awoke in the morning, she already knew it was not going to end well.