I have to credit Mark Strand for the structural inspiration of this next piece.
He sits with his evaporating thoughts,
Holding the pen that might save them.
Shouldn’t have hesitated. It might
Already be too late. He pushes the pen
Into the paper and a green meadow
Creeps onto the page.Dew hangs heavily on blades of grass,
Sparkling in fragrant morning gold.
I am seated on the cool, damp earth,
Shaded, waiting. The meadow looks warm
Two people come running across the meadow.
One carries something white. The other
Is shouting. They stop and drop what they carry
In a barrel, turning toward me. They run back
In the direction they came.
I call out to them. They don’t hear me.
He stops. It’s not right. And there’s more.
He knows these people. He knows what
They were carrying. Why has he hesitated?
He knows what he has to do. It’s simple,
But it’s not getting any easier.
He starts over,The meadow spreads before me. I wait
Shrouded in sumac, shaded from the golden morning,
Afraid for the people I’ve lost. They are
Running across the meadow, carrying their
Daughter’s soiled diaper. The woman’s breasts
Bounce beneath her red blouse. Her hair
Trails behind her like an auburn vapour.
She is shouting. He is two steps ahead.
They toss the diaper into a barrel and
Turn toward me. I can see their smiles
Through my dewey eyes.
I open my mouth to call to them,
But I make no sound. They run back
The way they came. It is too late.
He takes a breath and thinks. It’s not enough.
It’s too much. He knows what he must do.
He has to get it right. Nothing will happen
If he doesn’t. And he never does.
But he writesI am waiting at the edge of a meadow
Under a canopy of sumac. The earth is
Hard and cold beneath me. I can’t feel
The sun. I am hidden. I am not… hiding.
My parents are racing across the wet
Carpet of grass. He’s holding my sister’s
Soiled diaper. My mother’s breasts toss
With her long stride. Her hair is thrown back
Like a red cape. She shouts through a laughing mouth.
They stop at the barrel and drop the diaper in.
They look right at me as they turn.
I wonder what they see –
A distant grove of sumac, darkness.
They run back the other way, but
They’re not gone yet. Just very far away.
I make the word in my throat, and push it forward,
Rolling it over my tongue, and forcing it out
Through my lips, “Mom,” so soft,
I almost don’t hear it. They are already gone.
He puts the pen down. It was too late, after all.
He knows what will happen next. That the
Sumac will pull me into the shadows.
That I will be buried. That I will suffocate.
That I could not have saved myself.
And that he was too late.
from Lacerations (c) 2002 by Your Anarchestrator
SF on TV
“I can jump higher,” Denise bragged. “C’mon, it’s my turn!”
She began climbing onto the trampoline, which took up most of her back yard.
“I bet you can’t!” I taunted as I hopped off to let her try. I knew she could jump higher. It was her trampoline. She could even do flips and stuff that I was too scared to even try.
I hopped around in the grass as I watched her jump. She wore dark blue Tuffskins and a red and gray striped T-shirt. Her hair was shaved in a crew-cut – easily four inches shorter than mine. She looked more like a boy than anyone I knew. But her wide, brown leather belt clearly stated that her name was “DENISE” across the small of her back.
“Watch this!” she shouted and did a back-flip, landing on both feet.
I smiled and hollered, “Yeah!”
“Hey kids, I’m gonna skin a rabbit! Wanna watch?” Denise’s dad, Mr. Grainger, shouted to us from the shed.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch Mr. Grainger skin a rabbit, so I looked to Denise for confirmation. She had already leapt from the trampoline and was running toward the shed. I followed.
It was a small tin shed. Mr. Grainger had stacked cages on tables against two of the walls. I could tell he built the cages himself out of old plywood, strips of cedar, and chicken wire, but they looked sturdy.
He stored rabbit food and bedding under the tables, along with some garden hose. We couldn’t all fit in the shed together, so Denise and I held onto the doorframe and peeked in from outside. This gave us the best view of Mr. Grainger’s cleaning table, which was just inside the shed door.
The cleaning table had a smooth wooden surface, covered with dark stains. A fluorescent utility lamp hung over it and a large mallet and a variety of butcher knives hung from the wall above it.
Mr. Grainger pulled a big white rabbit with black speckles from one of the cages, lifted it by its neck, and placed it on the cleaning table. It sat there calmly, twitching its nose, not even looking around too much. My fingers squeezed the doorframe tightly.
Mr. Grainger lifted the mallet from its hook and wrapped his left hand around the rabbit’s hind legs. He swiftly hammered the rabbit in the head with the mallet. I knew the rabbit was supposed to be killed instantly, but it flopped and twitched, held in place only by Mr. Grainger’s left hand grasping its hind legs. I was clenching my teeth and digging my fingernails into the doorframe.
“What’sa matter, Blue? You got a weak stomach or something?” Denise teased.
Mr. Grainger hung the mallet back on the wall and pulled a large cleaver from its hook. He held the cleaver over the still twitching body and I closed my eyes. The metal blade met the wood cleaning table with a thud that vibrated the doorframe.
“Here’s some good luck for you kids!” I heard him say.
I opened my eyes. A bloody rabbit’s foot was flying toward me. I ducked, and the foot fell in the grass behind me. Denise caught hers and cupped it in her hands, examining it with a smile that showed her crooked teeth.
I walked over to where my rabbit’s foot had landed in a patch of green clover. The white fur was speckled with red dots. I pinched a toe between my finger and thumb and lifted the little foot, holding it in the air in front of me.
“Hurry up! Dad’s starting to clean the rabbit!” Denise shouted from the doorway.
I walked back to the shed, not sure I wanted to see Denise’s dad clean the rabbit, but positive I didn’t want to miss it.
Mr. Grainger had cut around the rabbit’s neck and pulled the skin away from the body. The skin came away so easy, like a pair of baggy trousers bunching up around the rabbit’s legs. The inside of a rabbit looked like a shiny red baby to me. Mr. Grainger started cutting the meat away.
I stopped watching him and instead watched Denise watch her dad. She saw him do this every week, but the pleased look on her face showed how much she enjoyed it. Her mouth was open, and her eyes wide in a gaping, sparkling stare. A fly landed on her forehead and she didn’t do anything about it.
I blew a puff of air at the fly, hoping to scare it into flight without her noticing that I had done it. Her eyes darted to mine, her pleased face now fixed upon me and the fly still stuck to her forehead. I made an embarrassed smile and at that moment, I heard my mom’s voice calling my name.
“Blue!” the faint echo bounced among the houses on my street. That’s how moms and dads in my neighborhood found their children. They stepped onto their front porches and shouted. My mom’s voice had found me from more than a block away.
“I gotta go!” I said. I started running across the yard.
“Bye!” Denise called at my back.
“See you later!” I kept running as I said it.
“Where were you?” Mom asked when I came in.
“I was playing with Denise,” I answered. “We were jumping on her trampoline and then we watched her dad clean a rabbit!”
There was just a little bit of silence before my mom said anything. “I don’t want you to play with her any more,” is what she said next.
“How come?” I asked, because I really could not think of any reason.
“Because she’s ugly as sin.
THE LAUNDRY EXPERIMENT - PART I
Well, Nash Bridges and Party of Five are gone (thank goodness). But if you think that means you don’t get to see exciting television programming set in your favorite City – you’re wrong!! There are still plenty of shows set in San Francisco, and at least four new ones started just last month!“MDs”
on ABC and “Presidio Med”
on CBS both air on Wednesdays at 9pm Pacific time, so you’ll have to pick one to watch, and tape the other (if you really need to). My personal pick between the two is “MDs,”
but my Tall Boy prefers “Presidio Med”
for some reason.“MDs”
is sort of a medical “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” about two outlaw doctors who win our hearts by bucking the bureaucratic medical establishment, treating patients who don’t have insurance, and (as if that wasn’t enough) by looking tossled, unshaven, and hung over.“Presidio Med,”
on the other hand, is sort of a medical “Hogan’s Heroes” (only without the comedy) in its kooky misrepresentation of reality. But if we suspend our disbelief and accept that the medical staff of a San Francisco hospital (in the Embarcadero Center, no less) could possibly
be so white, we are treated to a wonderful cast of actors, including Blythe Danner and that woman who used to be on China Beach. But ultimately, what really matters is that both “MDs”
and “Presidio Med”
are set in San Francisco.
If you don’t do the hospital dromedy thing, but you were
a fan of Ally McBeal, well then maybe “Girl’s Club”
is the show you’ve been waiting for. It’s about three pretty, young lawyers who are determined to make it in the cut-throat world of lawyering – if they can only learn to act like adults instead of whiny, bitchy, immature, cry-baby sorority sisters. Most importantly, “Girl’s Club” is set in Frisco!
Don’t like hunky, disheveled surgeons or
nubile young lawyers? Then you must be looking for a detective program! “Monk”
is the show for you, about an obsessive-compulsive former police officer who’s afraid of just about everything, not hunky or nubile by any definition of the words, and is working independently as a detective. I haven’t seen this one, because it’s on USA network, but the main thing to know is it’s set in San Fran!!
If these shows are too realistic for you, then you’ll be happy to know that “Charmed”
is still on the air. “Charmed”
is about three very powerful sisters/witches who always work their magic to save the world before their one-hour time slot is up. One sister is married to an angel; another is pregnant and dating a demon, and the third is just kind of slutty. They are played by the actresses Melissa Alano, Rose McGowan, and the one who used to be on “Picket Fences.” The most fantastical, out of this world departure from reality that “Charmed”
offers is that the three sisters live in San Francisco, in a house with a lawn
These aren’t the only shows set in San Francisco, of course. There’s “Suddenly Susan,” Dharma and Greg,” and “Full House” still viewable in syndication. And a whole bevy of others that I’m sure I just can’t think of.
And of course, there have been just scads of movies shot in the City. You’d be surprised how many. Just look at this list!
Laundry day has long been my least
Well, how can that be? No... no... that’s not true at all, because on my list of favorite days (Pay Day #2, Pay Day #1, Buffy night, Survivor night, South Park at the Eagle night, Earth-shattering Sex night, 2 Bottles of Wine night, etc.), Laundry day does not even appear. Laundry day is actually perfectly, solidly lodged at the very dark, eternal bottom of my list of most-loathed days (Rent due day, Seventh Heaven night, Leftover dinner night, Butt-shot day, Organ Transplant day, Quitting Smoking day, Day-after Quitting Smoking day, Laundry day).
“What’s so bad about Laundry day?” I’ve been asked. Imagine, if you will, what laundry day entails for us.Step 1:
Sorting the laundry. Whites. Warms. Colds. Towels & Bedding. Cramming it all into two large baskets and one giant, over-sized duffel bag.Step 2:
Walking to the car, a red Ford Escort named Butch. She may be a block away. Or two. Or three. In the heavy mist, or rain. Uphill.Step 3:
Parking the car as close to the apartment as possible, often illegally, since finding a parking space in San Francisco is more exciting than getting laid and/or finding a twenty on the sidewalk.Step 4:
Lugging the laundry down three flights of stairs to the street, to Butch, wherever she may be, and stuffing her full.Step 5:
Driving. This could
mean driving to the nearest Laundromat, Brainwash, which is about 2 blocks away. But Brainwash is a zoo, their folding tables are shaped funny, and though 2 blocks is too far for us to walk
with all our laundry, it is a ridiculously short
distance to drive after all the work it took to load the car. So we drive to Launderland at 46th Ave. and Judah, which is a block from the beach, and about a half-hour drive from our cozy South of Market flat. It’s kind of a mind-trick, really. You see… we’re not going to do laundry
, I tell myself. We’re taking a nice evening drive to the beach!
Riiiight (works every time).Step 6:
Doing the laundry. Loading the double and triple-loaders, plugging the quarters in, waiting, fighting for dryers, plugging more quarters in, waiting, waiting, waiting, folding the cold, wet load (and then lugging the much, MUCH heavier oversized duffel bag out to the trunk), folding the dry clothes, packing them neatly into their baskets, and back into the back seat of Butch.Step 7:
Driving back to our lovely South of Market flat, parking (illegally, if necessary), and unloading the car.Step 8:
Repeating step 4, backwards, this time, much wetter, and therefore heavier.Step 9:
Catching my breath, but only briefly because Butch is blocking a garage (or a lane of traffic on 9th St.).Step 10:
This is where we divide and conquer. I typically go find a place to park the car, while my Tall Boy begins hanging up the wet clothes to dry.Step 11:
Walking from the car. I may have parked a block away. Or two. Or three. In the heavy mist, or rain. Uphill.Step 12:
Putting away the folded clothes and making the bed with new, freshly washed sheets.
There you have it. Our twelve-step program: Laundry Abominabous. If all goes smoothly, getting off to a good start right after work, we’re done by midnight!
So you may understand, ein bischen
, the truly life-changing (yea, World-transforming) visit we had from my Tall Boy’s Tall Parents three weeks ago.
They bought us a washer-dryer – of our very own.
So much better our lives were soon to become! So much easier! So much happier! As my Tall Boy said, upon returning from the Sears Outlet in San Leandro, to his Tall Parents, without a hint of irony or sarcasm, “This changes everything!”
Is that where the story ends? Did we live happily, fluffily, snuggly-softly ever after? Oh no, my friends. Don’t even kid yourself. That was three weeks