Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pardon Me While I Scream

This is what happens to people like Ed.

We had a good rain last night for the first time since last spring. All is wet and happy this morning. From my glass office I watch my neighbors decorate their homes for Halloween as the broken clouds overhead play tag with the possibility of more rain.

When my daughter was young, I loved walking the neighborhoods with her. Then we moved here, to a housing tract on the edge of a tiny rural town, and we learned that every family in the countryside drives here for trick-or-treating. Said daughter didn’t want Mom to tag along anymore. I have been stuck for the past 12 years answering the insistent doorbell to hordes of ghouls and the occasional cute ballerina. It drives my dogs batty. And for some reason, it drives me batty too. My husband likes it, so he’s the greeter while I hang with the dogs in the bedroom and eat my own Halloween candy.

To ride the Totalfeckineegit’s internationally-famous Poetry Bus this week, we must deliver something ghoulish. I would like to deliver the hundreds of greedy children who will descend on us Halloween night. I would like to frighten them away from my house. But all I can do is howl. So I shall howl, and you may investigate other howlers on the Poetry Bus at devious Liz’s place.

Ed, You Talk Too Much

“Women of 20 are as mature as a man of 40,” Ed declares
perched on the edge of my couch in his gray running suit.
His hands play imaginary piano on his knees. The right leg
twitches. “But I wonder,” he says, “when she says, ‘Ed,
you're just not mature enough’—What does that mean?”
I stare at him, feeling the pen like a sword in my hand.
“I don't want to talk about that,” I say, taking a long puff
off the fake cigarette I have made from a shortened straw,
a bit of tissue for drag and a bright red painted tip.

When I ignore him, Ed crosses the patio and stares out
the barred open windows at Santa Barbara, then leaps
on the stationary bike for a furious ride. Schizophrenic,
he has spent the better part of the afternoon wailing
in his room, two doors down from mine. He returns
to my couch and stares at me, as I puff on my straw
cigarette and write about him. A girl wanders in
to start a load of laundry, tears puffing up her face
like they have mine, a soul sister of the broken mind.
Not a word is spoken. Ed watches her and I watch Ed,
and when she leaves, he smiles. “Alex is sure cute,
isn’t she?” he asks. “I wonder how old she is. Do you
think she’s 20?” The drugs have kicked in, and I feel
the cool, sweet Santa Barbara air, a hint of salt from
the sea to the west. I rest my puffy eyes on cypress
trees beyond the window, a procession of palms
running through them, and I admire the red flowers
on some exotic shrub I don't know, a rich blood red
amid the green. Ed’s mindless chatter splits the peace
of this place like a buzz saw tearing at the bushes,
and my pen becomes a sword in my hand lashing
at his mouth, writing my hatred on his face. Red
flowers bloom in his eyes when he understands
finally that silence is everything, silence is better
than contact with humanity, even his, even mine.


The Bug said...

Ah, blessed peace...

Dr. M will sit outside to distribute the candy. We'll get a pretty steady stream for about 2 hours - & then we'll be out of candy & close up shop. Thank goodness we don't have a doorbell - or any animals for that matter.

Liz said...

Very absorbing story, Enchanted Oak, love the build up and the final snapping! Fits in with pardoning before screaming perfectly. ; )

Carrie Burtt said...

I can completely relate to this poem Chris....your words lash through the feelings like a dashing sword. :-) Hope you have a wonderful Halloween with the dogs and the candy. :-)

Kat Mortensen said...

I like this diversion, Chris. It's really cool! Not scary. It reminds me of that movie, "Death Becomes Her", only much better because that was crap and your poem is excellent.

As my 85-year old uncle says, "Don't let the rugrats get ya!"


Beth Niquette said...

You made me laugh. lol Thank you for making me laugh.

Titus said...

Loved this, the tone is just right, it moves along in the proasaic yet tells extraordinary and I really like the pent-up-ness of the narrator.

Karen said...

Great peek inside your times and inside your head. Go way, Ed!

Shakespeare said...

Wow. Fascinating. One of the best things I've read lately.

Indigo said...

We went to my daughters, where she has hoards of trick or treaters. Paul loves answering the door, so Skye and I watched Pumpkinhead. A yearly tradition.

As for the poem, loved it! Silence is golden, there is beauty in the midst of it. I should know. (Hugs)Indigo

Dick said...

This remarkable piece really speaks with a voice of its own. The long lines, reflecting clamour and noise, and the shifts between objective narrative and subjective absorption give the poem great power.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, much scarier things in this life...

Peter Goulding said...

Chris, you have a great talent and seem to be able to turn your hand to any form or structure. This slight conversational piece is sooo deceptive - some wonderful dark images here and great themes.
With you 100% on the Hallowe'en-hating. Turn off the lights and hide begind the sofa....

Woman in a Window said...

Oh my god, your pen is violence. Holy holy violence, you can write!


the walking man said...

Anyone rings my doorbell tonight means they had to come across a gate with a chain and lock on it which means grandpa's 16 gauge answers the door. Humanity would be not firing through the door.

Myrna R. said...

So well written, your poem. I love it. Silence is everything.

Totalfeckineejit said...


RNSANE said...

Ed is slow to comprehend, isn't he? I know so many Ed's, sad to say.

Enjoy the candy and your pooches.

Funny as captcha was: coping!

Magpie said...

Oh, Ed, you need to learn "Silence is golden". What a riveting piece. Thank you, Chris.

Dave King said...

What I most like about blogging is the way the posts just seem to get better and better the more you read. This will take some beating, though!

Scott said...

great bit of writing Chris :-) I taste and feel very similar things in my own story, sitting in meetings, listening to the prattling on about stuff that doesn't matter to me.

You took me back to a time about 14 and a half years ago, when things were not so well with me. Thanks!

Jeanne Iris said...

A wonderful piece that leads the reader through the interlacing of inter-intra relations!

MuseSwings said...

Sat here for a while trying to describe how much and why I enjoyed this poem - the way you share the vision of what I will see one word at a time and build a scene with barred windows that I can barely escape from. Wonderful is the best I can come up with for now. Other than that, I shall remain silent and share a drag that straw cigarette.

Carolina Linthead said...

What a disturbingly exquisite poem!

"Red flowers bloom in his eyes when he understands finally that silence is everything..." is simply brilliant. A delicious Halloween treat :-D

Nana Jo said...

This is the first year I didn't share Halloween with any of my grandchildren and I was aware of a certain sorrowful sense of loss all day. They all called me, though ... my little 'Hannah Montana, Transformer, Spider Man and Buzz Lightyear" filled with tired, sticky, sweet happiness.

I bought enough candy for 100 kids, not knowing what to expect as this is our first year in our new condo. We had a grand total of six kidlets! I must now somehow stop myself from gorging on multiple mini-chocolate bars!

(I'm giggling here. My word verification is 'fatershe' ...I kid you, not!)

Syd said...

Ed is dead. Silence is golden. Blood is red. A scary tale to ponder weak and weary.

Marla said...

Wow. I can only imagine the stories you have yet to tell.