Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 28

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Episode 28: An E-Mail to William Logan
Cc: James Comey
Bcc: August Kleinzahler; Garrison Keillor
Subject: Unwanted: Dead or Alive

“I wasn’t very long at Stony Brook when it occurred to me that the English department
had all the charm of a street fight where no one actually landed a punch.”
―Jim Harrison, Off to the Side

Great Day Mr. Logan:

Me again. You may recall my email to you some time ago, regarding my take on a certain somebody’s debut release. I have copied the FBI on this correspondence – my way of assuring you that these transmissions are not from a deranged stalker. I do not pose a danger, merely a threat (wink wink). 

Thank you for recently posting on the great and wide internet machine a link to your brief essay published in last Spring’s The Battersea Review. Funny story: a few hours after reading “The State of Criticism,” I viewed The Battered Bastards of Baseball for the first time. What a sublime combination. But what’s more, throughout the days since then I’ve been frequently harkening back to a spat my main man Hoz and I had some time back (by the by, this is one dude who you should actually try to get to know; he is, after all, trying his damnedest here to scribe my irreverent core into upstanding theory – God bless his sagged heart; Hoz is without doubt the exact kind you’re referring to within “The State of Criticism” when in your requisite aloof / collegiate-funded way, you concede, “These days, with the internet open at all hours, there is more criticism than ever and more poetry than ever. … A few of these critics are rabid, most are rhapsodic; but the usual sins do not attract the rare virtues. On occasion, you will find a reader dogged with purpose, one who scours the poetry carefully, has an idea or two, and who can write a few sentences that don’t make your eyes bleed. … I am glad for them. They are obviously men and women of leisure.”), it was a spat that ended with him duping me into encouraging him to grow a rattail, which the douche can’t even really do because he’s bald as shit. On his way to duping me he touched on something about how by avoiding crawling into the skin of Trash, American poets are occupying a limited, limiting, scope. … His dupe, your concession, the thoroughly American spirit of anti-establishment on display in The Battered Bastards of Baseball—well, I’ve been put in such a state these past days that my inner-delinquent – the exact delinquent to whom I pay homage when shopping at the Targè, searching out t-shirts whose very near futures on Chicago’s South Side (bang bang) promise to be sleeveless—the delinquent in me feels justified. In the past days I have found myself at complete peace with the paranoia that I will most probably always be looked upon as an unwanted voice – an unwanted voice within the one artistic ring into which I have always projected tossing my lifer hat.

I just knew you would want to hear from me. …

American poetry needs to aspire to be as irreverent as a noon-time fight taking place on a gravel parking lot over the fact that one dude deliberately touched one of the chunky breasts of the other dude’s significant other, a significant other who, incidentally, having just entered the second trimester of her unannounced and as of yet unnoticeable pregnancy, at first didn’t mind the passing fondle, however unasked for, and actually thought for a split-second of grabbing the offender and yanking him out the back door and pinning his ass against a Dumpster and forcing his way to the resolve of her thirst (his unit, the weathered burnish of a curved leather stock in want of conditioning – this, her imagination’s accompanying snapshot) while her old man continued to do shots and play pool and stuff singles into the jukebox—continued to ignore her in favor of playing the outlaw and taking trips to the john for a few snorts here and there. But that’s all that lady allowed herself for fantasy – a split-second; a snapshot – because the offender no sooner gave her a wink of an eye than she screamed out bloody hell to dig up the attention of her old man’s vengeance. And right now out on that gravel parking lot (one dude is wearing a Slayer T-shirt, the other dude stepped out back humming the opening verse of an Ozark Mountain Daredevils tune while unbuttoning his flannel), with knuckles and bile and grunts and denim and oily hair all Tasmanian Deviling amidst the whoops and curses of the intoxicated spectators and the occasional approving horn-blow of a passing semi, we readers capture the faint writhe of a psychiatric cultivation bring on a nuanced cleanse to the trap-like lines in that lady’s expression, and we sense her trialed conviction’s just abandoned her for a backbone-swallowed stomaching of where exactly she’s at in all of this; and we readers mouth a “Sweet Jesus” to the nonjudgmental gauge of the words hand-picked to whip her back into the tavern to go cram into the broom closet and force down as much cleanser as she can lay her hands on.

There’s a goddamn scene to get the pulse going. Right there’s some content, some American-born narrative of the plain-ass real-world’s condition. But it’s my guess the majority of the curators of the American poetry world are shuddering right now: OH, but I just hate fights, and drugs, and violence, and psycho-sexual brain thrusts; they’re all just so ugly and nasty. I hold to autumn sunbeams penetrating mountain mist, to frosted moss on fallen limbs just inside the edge of an eve-wanting woods, to the untouchable possibilities surrendered in the quiver of ruby-colored lips behind a sunshower-touched window of a public bus. … Copping Sons of Anarchy for an atmosphere is quite simply not the thing of taste. … But I’m not talking about that crap specifically, Mr. Logan; what I’m trying to get at is the emotion that goes behind the seemingly mindless totality of such a scene. Yes, it’s ugly; sure, it could feasibly be politically incorrect to the Lefty Looseys, morally abhorrent to the Great Right Hope, and way too genuine for the blanked-out snickers of hipster ironics*, but tough titties. 

I’m attempting to purvey an emotion that exudes a poetry that will not reside warmly alongside the careful MFA character of the majority of the poetry that is perpetually touted in our publications of esteem, even when said poetry is being touted as “fresh” or “hip.” I’m trying here to purvey an emotion that exudes a voice that actually stands the chance of removing American poetry from the lingering nonexistence of an American poetry culture whose discernment is rooted in the cause of making poetry less dreadful to the reading public. 

Now, I get it: the American reading public – the intellectually curious and creatively attuned American public – is already a limited population, and those within this population who care an iota about poetry is limited even more. I get it. But I figure the poet doesn’t have to settle with that – well, not if he or she hasn’t made of poetry a “career” that depends upon him or her settling into the “careerism” of a “system.” We can attract more; we don’t have to assimilate to the “system” – the few.

The poet’s got to be a dropout. (Here I must thank you, as I did in my previous email to you, for being a stepping stone in my ever-establishing suspicion that a poem deserves to be more than poetry, and that the poet must risk his or her stake in poetry for the sake of the poem.) The poet must reach out unapologetically towards irreverence, bringing to the poetry world’s set table an offering rendered from the heretofore “sophomoric” endeavor of entertainment. The poet needs to rip the tablecloth from under the table’s setting, and if nothing’s left standing, Oh the fuck well – if he or she manages to pull off the trick, Holy shit. … The poet should not be crafting for the safety of a classroom stuffed full with student debt holders; the poet should be the craft of a nasty-ass fisticuffs between strangers out on a gravel lot, a fisticuffs that just as it’s taken a sudden turn into being a knife and a broken bottle affair is halted by a waitress’s unworldly scream coming from inside the tavern. In this way, the emotion of poetry becomes an expression of spite for the scam that claims poetry is for brainiacs. The conception that a reader needs to be skilled or educated to enjoy poetry is an entrenched false reality; it is as invalidly entrenched in our poetry culture as the word “God” is being stamped on our currency and dangled from our politicians’ tongues. Separation of church and state is a motto to absolutely live by, strive for, in American culture; separation of classroom and poet must become the motto the American poetry culture lives by, strives for. …

You see, Mr. Logan, when brought in and being interrogated by today’s American poetry culture, the unwanted voice makes no excuses: knowing and accepting full well the fact that she or he is the possessor of a Lone Wolf nature, the unwanted voice assumes full accountability for his or her criminality. From behind a one-way mirror the legend-less legacies of American Poetry Awards watch on as under the lamp of a closed-door basement the unwanted voice exhales smoke into the American poetry culture’s face; and staring the interrogator square in the eyes, the unwanted voice, without pause, without stutter or a blink of the eyes, sings like a canary, throwing his or her poem straight under the bus. … After all, that’s where the “system” has been throwing poetry’s potential readership for a long while now.

Chalice Sinclearly


*This is the second time I’ve used “hipster ironic” within an episode. My thinking is entirely derived from Christy Wampole. ~J.H.


(A Song for Episode 28.)

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 27

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Bottle Me Stupid

The genesis of what would prove to become the most of Chalice Sinclearly commenced upon its single-spaced itinerary one evening in a hideaway nestled nicely amidst the lush vegetation encroaching upon, but not quite getting at, the backside of a detached garage. You see, it would be in the safety of this hideaway located on a suburban plot where Chalice Sinclearly and I would split a six pack – our first tilts of the bottle. We stole the beers from a neighbor’s garage-kept fridge. We had for our entire lives till then witnessed this thing of intoxication throughout the neighborhood – we were eager to give it a roll ourselves. Besides, there was a party to be attended that night. Chalice and I had a month earlier entered a public high school from our parochial isolation. We would prove smarter than most in our grade, having the previous decade been taught the hard way how to give unto the cloaked a willing ear. Well, maybe “smarter” isn’t the proper word to use here – perhaps I should say that we proved more “deferential” than most of our publicly educated counterparts when it came to being faced with the disciplining that is knowledge. That being said, however, we did bring with us into the public domain our Catholic penchant for detention: we befriended burnouts with great aplomb.

Sure we were eager to give beer a try, but why were we so eager? Was it because we had watched people in the neighborhood or in our own families drink too much and act goofy and we thought it looked like a fun time? Was it because it was impressed upon us that it was cool to do? I imagine some shrink or a discussion over steaming Styrofoam in some church basement would endeavor to urge us to call to courage the philosopher residing deeper inside somewhere who could more gravely address the whys and the what-ifs surrounding that night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since), and perhaps thusly encourage the move to commit our conviction to the supposed upstanding course of sobriety. … Perhaps our decision to drink that long-ago night (and of course any of the over 12,000 nights since) is the product of an uncomplicated reasoning, one that may have something to do with destiny while also having something to do with being finite at the same time. A thing of the blood not the brain. Who the hell knows?

The point is that we became a drinker that night and we have never once felt sorry for it; even during our thirties when the hangovers were especially relentless in their renderings of guilt, we have never once looked back with regret. (We are the lucky one, we understand this. We made it as a drinker into this current age. Quite a few of our imbiber cohorts had to give up the bottle before the revolution of Craft Beer came along, and what that means is that those poor sons of bitches went out into the world of recovery after the insult of a rice infused American macro beer hangover.) You see, Chalice and I made the party, and one seemingly casual moment in that night of our first ever drunk proved to be epic, and tunes Chalice’s vision even to this very day: there in the middle of that party’s backyard milieu I lied flat on my back, isolated, buzzed, staring up to the stars of a suburban October clear sky, holding a bottle of Old Style on my belly, and with a cigarette extended and lightly swaying to and fro from my underage lips – the loud chatter and adolescent live music of the party faded to a elegiac white noise as Chalice’s stare zeroed in on me. … That’s the image right there; that’s Chalice’s first-ever poem right there: the first moment in time when he ever really – and I do mean really – ever looked at “it,” whatever that “it” might be.

Chalice went home that freshman-year night, stripped down to his whitey-tighties and sung a Kenny Rogers song with Kenny Rogers over and over until his mother put a merciful end to the redundant buffoonery of “Through the Years,” unplugging his cassette player and turning off the bedroom light, making sure that for the split second before it went black in his room he fully captured the reprimand emanating from her eyes. Chalice did; he was in trouble, and not just for that next day or next week, but for the rest of our life: Chalice rose from the bed and walked from his bedroom nearly forty-five minutes ago, leaving his wife to her early AM dreams as he headed for this basement desk. And down here, now officially 3 hours and some minutes beyond our 49th year on this planet of unbendable ears, he reaches forward into “it” to finally begin to draft what will eventually, in weeks, months, years, through the patient practice of allowing forgetfulness to play out into self-editorial benedictions, become this, his so long ago first-ever poem:

A puff on the smoke turns the air about
a delinquent countenance into the spectral
nest of an out-of-season firefly – right
here – the first moment to have ever poised
itself in memory’s imagination and awakened
the illuminating bounty of sadness; the first
Moment to have ever dared itself to contain
what is fleeting into a sort of permanence,
to reconcile sadness. This first moment in
life wherein life awakens to the splendorous
dread of what it will mean to leave proof
Of transience behind. Yet, it would be many
imaginations beyond that night before I’d
separate from memory to seat my being be-
fore a real live poem, and absorb worth via
an unwitting commencement upon threat,
the invigorator of the toil of seeking sake.

… Chalice should have grown to be a man with an office, not a cubicle – he should have become a man who hands out business cards, who concentrates on things like Business Development, his golf swing … a man who keeps a kept calendar, who collects cuff links not roach clips … a man who talks shop, not shit. But no, he became this: he became this man before you who treats each session with the bottle not as his last, not as just another, but as his first, his very first: as if sprung by a petty act of breaking and entering, and shaped in the de-selfed-conscious state of a bottle-muscled mind, only to be sacked deep into conscience by a wordless – pure and eloquent – wordless – reprimand. Chalice Sinclearly became this man before you whose ever-slouching shoulders betray the ever-swelling problem child that’s defiantly slung across them.

… He’ll come to title the poem “Proof”. …


(A Song for Episode 27)

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 26

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I wrote a piece many moons ago while captured within those contemplative months we all shared in directly after 9/11/01. The piece was sentimental, which at the time was the accepted, appropriate, emotion. However, I was never truly satisfied with its expression – its choices in patriotism and promise always rung a tad yucky to me. Nonetheless, I committed it to print. And so for quite some time I have known that I failed a poem; I ignored a gut feeling and intentionally went all nicey-nicey, all in hopes of getting some gushy awws. Sentimentality always seems to have guts when you’re first grasped by it, but in time it never fails to show itself to be pure fucking flab, especially to the torn and frayed reality of one who aspires to be of a Chalice Sinclearly nature.  … Lesson learned. … The occasion to turn a misstep into a stand presented itself recently: it’s 2016, America’s a mess (heroin, cop killings, Rahm, homicidal Chicago, our Public School teachers getting shit on, the pathetic Presidential candidates and how our media are failing us, and how America’s everyman increasingly fears and ridicules intelligence while our “bohemians” are still being conned into the horizonless conformity of MFA programs, etc., etc., etc.), and I had been on my way to turning 50 and in the paranoiac enormity of that the prospect of perhaps one day needing to stop being a juvenile delinquent had begun to encrust my party time. … And besides, today, 9/23/16, just happens to be the first full day of yet another fall. … ~J.H.

“Note to Self at 50”
September 13, 2016

Look at them trees, look how them leaves seem afire today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Brain’s gonna be here tomorrow.

Forever believe there’s dignity, your dignity – your family’s dignity. Forever disbelieve systems that dis-interpret dignity. Systems without dignity won’t ever understand ancestry seeds the imagination with timelessness. This is why undignified imaginations won’t be ripened within the tempered humanization of an unearthly promise. Never be pretentious enough to be selfish enough to believe your imagination dies with you.

Never be that graceless, that artless.


Look! Look how them unpredictable winds blow them fiery leaves from the trees today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Brain’s gonna be here tomorrow.

Forever disrespect those that dis-interpret accountability. Those without accountability will forever be confused within their self-glorifying lies about the utilitarian histories of common sense and dissent. Never try to be cool, just be unusual – only barely show a want for the doubt Free Speech assumes to be a requirement. The truest of radicals find the dead center!

Find the dead center, and call home.


Watch them trees go bare today; and don’t you ever be afraid. Old brains is here.

Always know the most pioneering of all the seasons looms just beyond Santa’s list: trees are gonna be enlivened again, be the prelude to the season of no school again. Go gather all them dropped leaves into one great innocuous pile. Leap into the pile valiantly, again and again. Always know humanity’s authentically moved into the chastity of a future by the simple joy you incite. As you take pause within the crackling pile, peek fondly at the sky (now crisp with the blue captured sun).

The sky alone rewards eyes in selfless flight.


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 25

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A Conventiently Self-Satisfying Manifesto
(The First of Many?)

It seems as though some unseen, omnipresent agent of “This second! Right now! Now! Now!” rides upon today’s vernacular breezes, surging the human condition into needing to be defined in the terms of immediacy. Within this age of Gizmobation the human condition has increasingly become saturated with the promise that immediate entitlement to expertise and that being immediately heard are tangible, acceptable, notions. (Notice how more and more folks are more and more talking over everyone within “conversations” because more and more folks are believing they know more than most and so have no time to listen?) And certainly, the DIY culture of self-publishing (blogging) is derivative of this province of immediacy.

In his or her willfully basemented, unpeopled, enterprise, the Lone Wolf Poet must not acquiescence to today’s human condition’s need to be defined in the terms of immediacy. The Lone Wolf Poet must refuse, by all means necessary, to be inconsequential to the growth of perspective, and so must elucidate a stringent (albeit a tad pigheaded) conviction to the no-nonsense illumination of how mutinous perfection in the poem, and so in the poet-life, is achieved:

  • First and foremost, never treat poetry as the thing of a career; poetry is anti-career in its nature.
  • Understand life is greater than poetry—poetry is never worth dying over, never worth dying for. Time is for living; so obsess over living, forget poetry—poetry attacks only in sporadic, Bam!-like, moments (see final bullet).
  • Know: the poem is never, ever, created in a single draft; or in two, or in even three, four, five, for that matter.
  • Once the poem is to your mind completed, put it away for a few months, forget about it. The longer the better, actually – put it away for a year, two even. The poem must become detached from the passion of its creation and its creator in order for it to unearth the means to its full realization.
  • In this time of absence—and to be sure, this will not be an absolute absence, you will on occasion come back to the poem for instances of conditioning—allow yourself to give up all hopes of having the poem published anywhere but in the self-published book-home you’re building for it and its kin. This will save the poem from unnecessarily growing up too fast, from missing out on a fully fleshed out childhood and young adulthood – sweet-ass delinquency and all. … (Some might contend that not seeking to have a poem published is counterproductive, that in that the poem becomes a shut-in, the poet performing a societal – moral? – disservice by not allowing for the poem to become “socialized” before it is experienced in its self-published book-home. And, of course, some might contend that not seeking to have a poem published before it appears in its self-published book-home is a direct indicator of the poet’s fear of the mental anguish derived from having a poem rejected over and over again. The Lone Wolf Poet fully acknowledges the accuracy of these accusations: indeed, they are intricate elements within the irreverent heart of the Lone Wolf Poet’s paranoid art.)
  • And so detached for a good length of time, come back to the poem removed from the poet who was once lurking inside the Moment 101—the fervor—of crafting it. It is bump up time: it is time to recognize the poem for the character it wants to be; it is time to recognize the poet’s say is no mas – the poem is no longer in that fool’s hands. Come back to the poem more weathered, less concerned for its vitality than you are skeptical of its temporality. 

For in the end, the Lone Wolf Poet – Chalice—my man—Sinclearly – aspires to position the poem on the side of the reader, not on the side of poetry. 


(A Song for Episode 25.)

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 24

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“Fuck Scotch”

Nothing worse than a 50-year-old suburban kid alive in the city now for over half a life, crowing on ‘bout high school Punk bands, segueing into bandmates’ names and you recognize some of the names from chit-chats between your wife and the friends she’s known since those days (some now even among friends of your own) that you’ve sat through, daydreamed through them all while hearing them all throw out all these names of bands, and this one high school, that high school, that boyfriend, this one boyfriend—hehe-haha; wink-wink—you’ve sat through all those hehe-hahas silent, with nothing much legit to offer, and you daydreamed ‘bout how the only real way you’ll make up for your lost time from back then, being as you were too much the Catholic boy, one with a penchant for paranoia and solitude—daydreamed ‘bout how if you had not been such a Sin-

Clearly by birth you’d never have had to of waited so long to lose your emoter virginity to the sphincters of words—daydreaming here ‘bout the only real way to make up for lost time from back then, with never having anything equivalent from your own back then to chime in with, is to accentuate crappy craft, citing Pop here in the wake of a poem, plotting Abacab’s track “Like It or Not” against the ethos them high schoolers of Downers Grove’s early 80s have forever needed to be cited as being Punk-born, this ethos that is in all actuality—to any graphic mind at least—nothing more than the artlessness of Ma-ma/Da-da’s suburban sprawl/anti-family principled taste for Scotch, especially how like now like back then you headphone the song and, with this crave to be something far cooler-hearted than that creepy loner you’ve been in proximity of ever since driving school, you envision the song covered by a cool chick as she waits for you in the empty aisle of a teeming bookstore out there beyond the deadpan world of the basement you keep all your wannabe posterity down in—some cool chick waiting in the Lone Wolf

Poet section to give back to you what the real you has never missed out on in this explosive world out here beyond the safety nets that are the basement and an end stool at Skylark. Now overhearing a conversation, out here all alone now ‘cause you want to again be the you you emerged yourself into for over a decade—the you who got wooed into being with it for a while a bit too late but in just enough time to be snagged by the wife—the you who before becoming dismayed with sociality all over again hung out in clusters at venues and bar hopped and confronted newly confronted strangers with a cultured wit and a bookish charm—the you before the you now who has the wife back home who gave you her unequivocal blessing to come out tonight to search out that you you feel the need to voice from again before emoter’s block bursts you into bursty piles—all alone overhearing this like-aged, Scotch-sippin’ dude’s tête-à-tête, you squeeze Sin-

Clearly into those pupils of yours there in the bar’s mirror: Déjà vu, creep: The wake of a poem lingers you well past the welcome it swore to make of you.

at The Hideout, Chicago
January 10, 2015


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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 23

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Bush Doctor



What? Don’t sh-sh me.


Really? Then why the fuck are you calling me? You know my cell is for emergencies only. … What the hell is it, Chalice?

[Chalice says nothing.]

Where are you?

“In a bush.” [All whispery.]

Hello? Speak up. Did you just say you’re in a bush?”

[Chalice says nothing.]

In a bush? … I’m hanging up. Bye.

[I do not hang up. He calls my bluff; he stays on the line, says nothing.]

Listen, dweeb, I’m walking down Halsted. Hear the traffic; sirens. It’s loud out here. I have no time to play little hide-n-seek games with you. Especially when I can’t make out what you’re saying. … Hello? … I’m hanging up.”

“I’m making something of you.” [Whispery; creepy.]

You’re what? Hello? … Can’t hear you. … La-la-la-la-la. … Hanging up now. Bye, asshole.

[I hang up.]

What I don’t see is that at this very moment in my after dark stroll, as I step off busy South Halsted to head into the quiet backstreets and silent alleyways of homicidal Chicago, while now in my paranoid head I begin to envision that he’s concealed inside any given bush or behind any given Dumpster along my trek, waiting to pounce on me, scare the living shit out of me—what I don’t see at this moment is that I am in the crosshairs of his insight, and that he’s already, many moons ago, and curiously unbeknownst to me, made this of me:

Instant of pure fright; instant wherein
Utter awareness is made of utter absence
And simultaneously vice-fucking-versa:
A prey backed into a corner; backed in,
Clawing insanely, screeching methodically
For preserved meaning come morning.
… And behind every line: Fright finished:
On its knees, its forehead, elbows, forearms,
Palms all pressed to imagination by memory’s
Collapse, its back arching, flattening in great
Amplifications as it sobs into imagination
That sob that can only be sobbed by a man-
Child in the throes of having lived beyond
An attempted kill,  lived through the freak out
Fending off the insanity of this cubicled reality
With a hard-bitten, unapologetic word choice:
Self-defense against being mooted is perfected 
In the line of this instant when tears cease to be,
Of this instant when memory needs tears most.

I can only imagine what he’s titled it. “Not In Line With”?  “The Fall Into a Line”? “A Fall Into the Line”? “Coloring Outside the Line”? “Coloring Inside the Line”? “Finish Line”? “Lay It On the Line”? “In the Line of Fire”? Or, something like “BOO!” Or, something real personal and pointed like “Quit Being Such a Pussy” … I don’t  know. …


(A Song for Episode 23.)

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Lone Wolf Poet: Episode 22

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Barrier Blues (Writer’s Block’s Telling)

While quite surprisingly finding himself in a drinking establishment the other night, Chalice Sinclearly eavesdropped:

     “Grace, listen. I have come to you tonight to appease my own paranoia, to sedate my very own guilty memory. …Hell, since when have I been able to tell the difference between guilt and memory, anyway? …Pretend you didn’t hear that. That’s really not the type of question I’m intending to bring out in the open here.
      “You see, I feel that if you and I are to ever remain friendly and sharing throughout our lifetimes we must relieve a barrier – that entity which, ironically, happens to be what brought you and me together. It is this that must be addressed here. Yes, we must bring her into question, whether you – we – like it or not.
      “Now what I am about to say will be said with utter respect for, and with very warm feelings towards, Flo. But you have got to understand my vocal apprehension. You have got to understand that with her as your best friend and with me as her former beau – I mean, the three of us lived together, Grace. We were like family. We were family. Flo and I shared a bed, sure, but we all three shared the same bathroom mirror.
      “I was what went wrong. You know that, you were there. I think you’ll understand my embarrassment, and how I have a sense of dread in knowing what you know of me from that happening, from that ill staging. Grace, like Flo, you witnessed me silence away. I did not. I still have no idea what you saw. I’d like for you to share that with me someday. Till then, I’ll remain embarrassed, in dread.
      “Now I don’t ever expect Flo’s forgiveness nor do I ever expect I’ll ever deserve it. However, I do hope you’ll respect me when I say to you that forever is a long time, and fortune telling is a TV scam. And so, Grace, I have resolved to pace myself through each of my days, each day making another humble attempt to get back to the outside of myself.
      “Please, can we relieve the barrier? I don’t want to always have a slight fear of trying to speak with you just because I know you communicate with Flo on a daily basis, and because what I might say could be subject to report. I don’t want you to come to you and you harbor a fear that I might overwhelm you with inquiries about her. I want her to become, between you and me, a private word, barely, if at all, mentioned.
      “Grace, I’d like to believe that you and I had a special friendship growing, apart from mine and Flo’s situation. I’d love for our friendship to continue. I guess what I want to say – well, what I want from you tonight is your assurance that the past is the past.
      “Time out of mind, Grace? Time out of mind?
     “Grace, I wish I could let Flo in on the loneliness I’ve caged myself in. I’ve got to tell someone: the only thing at-large inside loneliness is confession. Loneliness heals a scream with a moan. Understand it’s a flesh-positive, though colon-taxing, incarceration.
      “Forgive me, but like I said, I’m saying this for myself. I know I’m being selfish here, but I hate the fact that we came together under that circumstance. Can we start anew? I mean, I’m torn by the fact that it has always been proven that you and I have more in common than Flo and I ever could. A harsh fact, but a fact. I just hate thinking that you and I might never allow our in-commonness to flourish because of this barrier.
      “Grace, I’m not suggesting that we relieve the barrier so that I can act upon the opportunity and make some kind of effort to seduce you. But I am asking that we relieve the barrier so if I ever have the urge to hold your hand while we’re in conversation, I don’t need to feel any apprehension in reaching for it. Let me put it this way: when the three of us were surviving together you were going through an extremely rough time in your relationship to what’s his face, and you cried more than once when I was the only human present. I know this is my own paranoid problem, my own string-less violin, but because of the barrier I always withheld from offering you my shoulder. Grace, I never want to withhold my shoulder from you again.
      “I don’t know. I hope I’ve made some kind of sense here. Grace, I’m simply hoping for the continued privilege of us sharing, unequivocally and tenderly, the wisdom we gain throughout our lives. And it is my paranoia that says we will never be able to do that if the barrier remains, if we don’t address the question of Flo once and for all, and discuss the very real need for her to be absent from the present tense that resides between us.
      “Now, with all that gibberish said, I must fall silent.”

Sinclearly was seated at the bar. The older gentleman who had just delivered the above monologue was seated at the bar, as well, and like Sinclearly, he too was alone. There was no Grace present; the older gentleman seemed to be reciting to the can of beer before him. Sinclearly asked, “Hey, who’s this Grace?”

The older gentleman looked at Sinclearly, studied his eyes for a moment: “I suspect you haven’t seen her around yet.”

“Then, where’s this Flo?”

He waved an arm through the air, and giggled sarcastically: “Kiddo, you got to open your eyes a little.”

“What’s your name then, old man?” Sinclearly asked.

The guy answered without hesitation, in a tone of voice that had obviously been haunted by a graceless age: “Why don’t you just make one up for me, you nosy son of a bitch!”

Needless to say, Sinclearly had worn out his welcome. He exited the tavern in quite a rush; and it was not until he was on the bus, nearly at our stop, when I realized that he had forgotten to leave some sort of tip on the bar.


(A Song for Episode 22.)

This is wannabe John Hospodka’s bi-weekly instructional blog.

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