Category Archives: shards

facial recognition

Facial Recognition

Hoping to make more friends, he bought twenty masks at bulk rate and went out the door wearing one and carrying the rest in a small suitcase. Two blocks down a cop car pulled to the curb and hit the siren once, enough to make him stop and turn.

Both cops got out and hoisted their pants by their belts that were weighted down with pistols, tear-gas canisters, billy clubs and tasers. They sauntered over to the faceman, pushing their caps back as they went.

“Out for a little walk are we?” asked one cop.

The faceman wasn’t sure how to answer, so he said nothing.

“Cat got your tongue?” asked the other cop.

He tried to remember which mask he’d put on before leaving the store so he’d know how to answer, but he couldn’t.

“Step over to the car, sir,” the first cop said.

Sir. Maybe he was wearing the retired professor mask.

“We need to see some I.D.,” the second cop said.

He ducked in toward the squad car, hoping to catch a glimpse of himself in the side-view mirror, but one of the cops grabbed his arm and yanked him back. “Where do you think you’re going?” he said, and got him in a headlock.

“Okay, wise guy,” said the headlock cop, and wrestled him face-down on the sidewalk.

“I need to see!” the faceman cried out. “I need to see!”

“Yeah, we need to see too,” said the headlock cop. “We need to see some I.D.”

“In the mirror!” the faceman said. “In the mirror!”

The headlock cop had a knee in the small of his back. He yanked his arms around behind him and cuffed him. “You have the right to remain silent,” he said.

“What’s in the suitcase?” said the other cop. He lifted the suitcase to the trunk of the squad car and was about to snap it open when the headlock cop said, “Hold it! What if there’s a bomb in there?”

The other cop backed away from the suitcase.

“Is there?” asked the headlock cop, pulling the faceman to his feet.

“No!” said the faceman. “Faces!”

What?” said the headlock cop.

“Jesus,” said the second cop. “He’s loony tunes.”

“Call for back-up,” said the headlock cop.

 

***

A paddy wagon and an armored truck came wheeling around the corner with their sirens wailing. A ramp was lowered out of the back of the armored truck, and a bomb-squad technician in full body and head armor walked stiffly down it and over to the suitcase on the trunk of the squad car. He made a motion with his arm, and everyone backed away.

The suitcase proved harmless, and the bomb technician took off his headgear and wiped the sweat from his face with the back of a thick glove. Then he snapped the latches closed on the suitcase, and everyone jumped, including the faceman. The bomb technician laughed. “Pussies,” he said, and returned to the armored truck.

The headlock cop shoved the faceman into the back seat of the squad car and then walked back to the trunk and opened the suitcase. He found himself looking into the faces of the Pope of Rome, a gay Norwegian Olympic swimmer, Wayne Newton, a black rapper he knew by sight but whose name escaped him, and the mayor of New York City. “Jesus,” he said, and when he looked thru the rear window of the squad car, there was Leonard Cohen, smiling away.

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the meeting of the minds

The Meeting of the Minds

James Purdy and Bohumil Hrabal meet up on a fast track to nowhere. “There must be some way out of here,” says Purdy, and Hrabal laughs uproariously.

J.M. Coetzee and Ian McEwan stand in the moonlit shadows of a giant redwood, silent, tears in their eyes. They long to touch hands but the gesture is too complex and fraught with misunderstanding.

Kent Haruf saddles up and spurs his mount out over the Colorado prairie, determined to disassociate himself from all this literary mumbo-jumbo.

Bukowski turns on his bar stool and for the ten-thousandth time says he’ll kick anyone’s ass in the place, just let him down a ham sandwich first and then let’s step out in the alley.

Neal Cassady explodes out of his chair where he’s been sitting (more or less) with a tight-lipped William Burroughs, an anxiety-ridden Allen Ginsberg, and a painfully sincere Jack Kerouac. He smells action and dances across the floor in Bukowski’s direction, snapping his fingers to the be-bop rushing thru his head a mile a minute (make that 10,000 miles a second). “Yes!” he says. “Let’s take a spin around the block in that sweet little ride parked at the curb outside that I hotwired just ten minutes ago!”

Bukowski turns back around on his stool and challenges his own image in the mirror behind the bar.

Leonard Cohen straightens his tie where he sits by himself at a small table off in the shadows, looks at his watch, tilts his hat at a rakish angle and says, “Show time.”

Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath step thru the door into this dim literary limbo and stand with their hands on their hips in a blaze of otherworldly glory.

Ginsberg, startled by their arrival, stands up abruptly, knocking over his chair. His brow is covered in sweat and he is composing a poem in his head.

Burroughs clears his throat but says nothing.

Kerouac downs a shot of whiskey and follows it with a full glass of beer, and Cassady gives up on Bukowski and dances toward the door.

“What have we here!” says Neal, running a comb thru his thick dark hair. He dances between Anne and Sylvia and locks arms with them. They throw their heads back, all three of them, and laugh their way into a truncated future.

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born into this

BORN INTO THIS

(Charles Bukowski: August 16,1920 – March 9, 1994)

No sense of support. No sense of the end of things. No sense going back thru time to some misty day where the sun rose like a tulip. No sense of a trace being left.

Once the horn of plenty spills out over everything, there’s no telling the forest from the trees. Every Tuesday Jack Horner rides in on a pony and sounds the alarm, but his arrival goes unnoticed.

Don’t take it personal that the world passes you by. It’s only business. A chest full of medals and an annuity, and still the general goes down in obscurity.

***

There’s a reason why Bukowski is worshiped by skinheads. A reason he bet the nine horse his first time at the track. A reason his women save one were all lunatics. A reason he slipped through the crack into stardom without selling out. A reason but no explanation. Which makes him the second messiah, taking root like a mustard seed.

Jack Horner rides in blowing the news on a bugle, buck naked with his head cranked around backwards.

An aging postal clerk looks into a mirror and sees someone else’s reflection.

Somewhere someone turns a page and gets a three-second reprieve.

Somewhere else someone pours a glass of warm port while listening to Shostakovitch on a transistor radio. Angels will be there when the battery dies.

There’ll be no crucifixion.

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buck

Buck

Buck is an inspiring documentary about a man who was viciously beaten by his father in childhood and grew up bonding with horses.

At the horse clinics that he runs all over the country, Buck can take an unruly horse and sometimes within minutes render it docile and ready to saddle. Buck attributes all problems a horse may have to the people around it.

But there was one horse that although Buck could calm it for a short period of time, no one else could get close to it. It bit people in the face, attacked other horses and cars, crashed through fences.

One thing that Buck did that no one else could do was coax the horse into the horse trailer that took it to where it was put down.

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borg shards

BORG SHARDS

BORG I

This is not America. This is the Land of Borg. A place spawned by TV.

TV, the PC, smart phones, etc. Mothers giving birth to machines. Look around. I saw three of them just yesterday–one walking down the street, another sitting on a bench in a park, a third in his car at the bank drive-up window, all of them with a piece of technology growing out of an ear, clinging like a leech; perhaps receiving messages from outer space, perhaps playing music, perhaps taking pictures of the inner brain where neurological synapses are already being phased out by micro chips.

I have a walking stick made of purple-heart Amazon wood with a silver tip and an elk-antler handle. I’m going to grow my silver beard back and my hair down to my shoulders, and barefoot and dressed in burlap I’m going to strike out with my shaman stick at the Borg growing out of us.

The time is ripe for an old-fashioned prophet. He needs to appear before our direct link to God is cut off by inventions.

BORG II

Think small. Think infinitesimal. Think virus. Think biological implants, deep in the labyrinth of Borg. A spray of California poppies in their hard drive. Daisies in their circuitry. Crab grass in their memory bank. Lima beans in their digital warehouse. Ants zinging crazed through the dark bloodless maze of their gigabytes.

Do not go gently into that dark night. Rage against the dying of the light.

BORG III

A 45-minute nap and he comes up off the couch like Prometheus, slams down a triple-mocha, and goes on the attack.

BORG IV

Think singular. Sever connections. Renounce 12-step study groups. Focus.

Go for the crucifixion and resurrect in three days to spread the message. Get it right this time.

BORG V

A scribe in a hut on a mountain, drinking saki and eating brown rice, taking dictation from voices floating down from the moon.

By sunrise he is asleep on his straw mat, a dreamless sleep, an emptiness waiting to be filled.

It will not go well for the Borg once his blue eyes open.

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breaking free

Breaking Free

He grafted the hard drive of his computer to the personal hard drives of George Bush and a retired circus clown and then he axed his computer to smithereens.

He taped his smart phone under a seat in an Amtrak train and then hot-wired a car off the street and peeled rubber straight out of Seattle.

Before this sudden departure he nailed his SIM card to a bulletin board in the U District. Men in black showed up and took pictures which popped up on computer screens everywhere.

“Have you seen this man?” the caption under the SIM card read.

A modern-day Wanted poster.

He chopped his plastic into small pieces and melted them over a candle flame. Shaped the soft wax into miniature voodoo dolls. Broke out the pins.

Men in high places twitched and moaned.

So much for Homeland Security. So much for code-red alertness. So much for the world-wide fishnet.

They came down from their Ivory Tower and kicked in the door to the place where he’d lived. Went thru his papers, checked out his tax returns.

There was nothing to go on.

He’d been feeding false information to Facebook, and he Googled things that were meaningless.

His passport was bogus and his birth certificate belonged to a dead man.

His driver’s license was ten years expired and the car he was driving or at least drove away in was stolen.

The situation was grave, but how far could he get without tapping into the System? How long could he stay out in the cold?

Six months went by before it dawned on them that there must be more like him.

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