written on the painting:  It's Lovely Here

It’s lovely here.  The sun couldn’t be brighter.  I put up white gauzy curtains and when I squint my eyes the glow and blur reminds me of weddings.  Of summer sundays and clothesline sheets, and awkward girls in prom dresses, practicing, practicing.  And Redemption. The kid version — if I make this basket, this jump, this no-hands double-dutch eat-my-dust with hot-fudge-on-top...then all wrongs will right and I — well I’ll just slide on by.  Little girls grow up and buy bigger dresses.  They marry boys with bigger shoes.

But who could complain about this weather, this atmospheric rightliness.  My neighbor grows pink waxen tulips ten months of the year.  They’re small but stand like righteous spears.  Like my neighbor.  A cold-war ballerina with a hose held like a gun...day in, day out, ten fucking months of the year.  Well.  The sun isn’t yellow it’s white, and the streets are black not gold.  And yet they’ll take you if you come.  Because no one belongs to anyone.

(I thought maybe —

The ocean goes on forever, same as anywhere...but here you can follow for a long time, just to be sure, like a country dog chasing freight trains.  He tires and trots home, convinced they will be there tomorrow.  And they will.  This is everlasting-now.  I stopped going because I never wanted to say of the ocean: twelve fucking months of the year.

The weather unfortunately cannot bridge those gaps in dull or delicate conversation, on account of its genial predictability. People speak of the traffic instead, or of people more terrible than themselves.  Thankfully there is always an infinite supply of such persons — exceptional in the ways we mutually despise.  In fact what defines a group are its enemies, not its friends.

Only saints and devils get on with everyone.

I tried to steer clear of groups for this very reason, but it is not possible.  OUTSIDER, they say, and every beetleman and overman comes to lend me their books. The anarchists offered to burn down my house; the feminists suggested I muzzle my breasts; and the elephants, the asses, and my favorite, the jackasses, insisted I could save the nation by writing to my congressperson.  I sent him a photo of my neighbor’s tulips with a note: This is what it’s come to.

Just before dawn, when all things are revealed as clearly-blue and endlessly fragile, the prophet parks his jangling metal cart in the street.  He spies me on the balcony and I start to look away — but why.  If it was his crime, he’s found a way to stand for it.  If it is mine, at the very least I should face it.  And if it does not belong to us, or belongs to everyone, well here we are, that much in common, and a sky neither one of us can touch. 

He begins to sift through the cans and wastepaper.

You can bet this isn’t paradise, no ma’am, it is not.

But we didn’t have to die to get here.  Long as you can take it 

—(long enough and just so long) — it’s yours.

Using Format