“Fob Off”

To keep someone in need
dangling,
to deceive rather than heed,
claim-wrangling
with victims and out-of-pocket
policy expenses,
to disregard lawful time, mock it,
and hence this
“vested” interest, a chained adornment
to a press-button key
unable to open a car door meant
to compensate fairly
while waiting for a court date
and making demands
as if the victim was somehow late
with the paperwork he hands
in due time, and for the devil’s due,
wondering what the heck
his guardian angel might do
since saving him in the wreck—
Is he on the clock?
Has he the time to talk?

Scrambled, Not Over Easy

2019-01-09 13.21.46-1

No one tells you that
while you are lulled in routine,
ungratefully disgruntled by
early Monday morning traffic
and you stop behind other cars
and wait impatiently for someone to turn
that the universe will smack you
on the back of the head
at fifty miles an hour,
telling you
“WAKE THE FUCK UP”
as the car behind you
flips you over,
somersaulting you
with the world atop your
head and
flapjacking your worldview
until you see things more clearly,
even as your eyes loll in their sockets
like Magic 8 Balls
drunk on quantum
uncertainty.
No one tells you that during a
car wreck
your body will scream
involuntarily
while you ride shotgun
in your own head,
eyeing yourself coolly
while shards of glass explode as a
mandorla
all around you
and your body performs interpretive
Jazz Hands
to express the melodrama
for which you are the
embarrassed audience.
They never tell you
that you see everything in
real-time
while
Zen-detached,
as if admiring the Hollywood production
of the dynamic scene of
chaos
in which you are the
happenstance center.
And then, when the car finally slides
to a stop, resting on its roof,
and you are hanging upside-down
like a tangled marionette
from your seatbelt
and everyone is screaming their scripted lines
“Get out!
Get out of the car!”
and you smell gasoline
hemorrhaging out of the
eviscerated underbelly—
no one tells you
that you will feel
embarrassed, like some grandstanding
drama-queen
with an agent desperately gushing
flammable indulgences
trying to land you
gigs.
And so you crawl through
shattered glass and twisted metal,
searching for some lost
lyrics
to a song that was playing before
the impact.
Hopping up to your feet
you are greeted by strangers rushing to
see you
as if you are the most important person
in the upside-down world,
like a Star Baseball Player
striking the home-run to win the game,
only the bat is a car
and the ball is your
head,
adrenaline making a
manic muppet of you,
your limbs trembling wildly as you
stand aside from the aftermath
as if you weren’t at the center of it
and glancing back at your new
compact car
with gasoline threading down
upon a large book,
a Philosophy Encyclopedia
that you glanced through occasionally,
as if in search of the meaning of
Life, and now this scene of
Near-Death
pissing gasoline
all over its platitudes.
And then you look down and see
that you have been jostled, hustled,
shaken down
straight out of your brand new shoes,
walking on coolant-kissed asphalt
in damp Christmas socks
while the paramedics spread around you like
gauze around a bleeding wound,
strapping you down to a board
like a broken leg to a splint
and lifting you into an ambulance,
speeding down the interstate
to take you to the
amniotic surrealism
of the antiseptic,
bleached, blank
ER
where the ritual of
medicine
is conducted between long hours of
waiting and
wondering and
pain, they
discharge you, a healthy
human specimen no longer
interesting, and so no more
in need of their godly powers.

Adjusters are called in,
eventually,
for insurance claims
and skeletal frames,
and the towing company
vultures
swoop in, crouching upon your
ruined car, pecking at your
pockets for more cash,
more life, whatever remains
after the impact
of which you were victim
and they, now, the new
predators.
You feel like the Fool Card
strolling alongside a scenic path
only to be shoved from behind
by the Devil Card
into a gaping gorge
that you could not see before.
Later, after you have sacrificed enough
blood-money
to the vultures
and you retrieve your car,
you find odd things remaining
in the wreckage of
yesterday:
you find “The Fragile”
by NIN,
and
“The Audacity Of Hope”
by Barack Obama
and you find
“Nights From The Alhambra”
by Loreena Mckennitt,
and a collection of HP Lovecraft stories,
and a collection of MR James stories.
Poor Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar
does not survive, but
seeks oblivion as she
always had.
The handgun your father gave you
survives the collapsed
accordion trunk,
but all of your
sissy-ass coconut water cans
have erupted in an orgy to celebrate the
End-Times.
And, with great sadness, you find that your
cheery-cheeked, chubbily-grinning
Bodhisattva
has gone on to Nirvana
at long last,
taking with him his
price tag
which you left on his plastic bottom
for the love of
irony.
And, beyondhand,
comes a day divinely warm
stolen from Winter when
Summer
cheated at a game of
poker,
and you lay in your fiancee’s arms
while she cries and holds you to her
heart
and you think
“How would I like my death?
Scrambled
or over easy?”

Haunted

The red taillights of the motorcycle were a triple-pronged brand that burned her conscience with guilt and horror. Whether waking or sleeping, the red triangle haunted her, as did the mocking word on the passenger’s leather jacket, flashing white in her own headlights along the dark interstate of her memory.
“Kid”.
She no longer drove herself anywhere, rarely leaving the house except to walk down the street to the nearest gas station. The last time she attempted to drive she bounced her new car slowly over a speed bump and promptly broke down in the middle of the grocery’s parking lot, killing the car’s engine, removing the keys and raking their teeth through her hair while some customers blew their horns in a cacophony of geese fury. Other customers— more observant, and subsequently horrified—scrambled to restrain her from scraping out more bloody strands of hair from her head.
She could not eat apples anymore, or anything that crunched when bitten; nor tomatoes or anything that smashed wetly inside her mouth. The truth was that she ate little of any food now, and wasted away in a limbo of self-loathing. She did not watch television anymore, either, with its “entertainment” of car crashes and sudden noises and pulse-quickening action giving way to tragedy. Her mind instead repeated the same reel again and again in a compulsory loop of torment: the motorcycle wobbling, the scream of the little boy, the motorcycle toppling over, the little boy’s body tumbling off the back of his drunken father’s bike, the shriek of her brakes, and the shriek of her own shrill voice, and the strangely rhythmic thumping beneath the underside of her old car as the shadows of the interstate pirouetted beneath a ghostly moon branded with those three red taillights.
Now she lived in shadow, the curtains of her home incessantly drawn and the sun shunned like the prying eye of a busybody god. She dwelt in darkness, and in that macabre memory, and sheathed her soul in an iron maiden of blame.
“I deserve this,” she said, and no one was there to contradict her.
The accident that fateful night would eventually claim three lives.