My neighbor’s dog is not named Dewey. I can’t remember what his name really is, and that doesn’t matter, because the dog should be named Dewey, or at least, Llewellyn. Those are fine names for dogs. Maybe I know a Dewey or a Llewellyn in the canine world already? I don’t think so, but I’d have to ask my wife to be sure because she is more on top of things. If we all work together, we can do this. If we all do our part. I’m not suggesting anything too crazy. Just, maybe, sometime when you are in a city park, yell, “Dewey! Here, Dewey! Deewwwweeeeyyyy!” The mere suggestion of naming a dog Dewey might inspire a passerby. Or, if you happen to be there when puppies are being born, you could just wait for your opening and casually suggest, “How about Dewey for a name? Or Llewellyn? Llewellyn is a fine name for a dog!” If we all do our part, someone, somewhere, will name a dog Dewey, and there will be world peace and everyone will be happy.
Through plague and
the lax drag on,
the proud puff chests.
some have heated seats.
They cut back on their meat
and wean their hunger with milk
made from beans.
Wise counsel suggests
that crocus break soil
despite the cold wind.
Jut your chins. Jut your chins!
The day is yours.
In sooty rooms
the educated brood,
the papers pile,
the poems mold.
Wake ears hear the goings on,
the treble static of patrons with thin pride
buying bottles tableside
down the street from a shut library.
Wise counsel suggests
that the prudent cut their wine
with tap water and contaminants
easing the disease
so it can feed in peace.
grass blades grow erect
songbirds grow bolder,
grey snow gives way
to new life.
as we make last arrangements
for the changes.
My last two paintings have been higher key than my usual paintings. The colors are brighter and a bit more saturated. I think I know why. I wore sunglasses during the block-in stage for both of them.
It was an experiment prompted by two forces. One, I had noticed that the cheap sunglasses I had bought at the Jackalope Gas station made colors look more intense. I wondered what would happen if I painted while wearing them. Two, about a month ago I was painting in Maine and I set up facing the sun, because the crazy glare on the ocean was so cool looking. I painted right into the sun, and yeah, it gave me a headache. I’m lucky it didn’t snowblind me. I posted about this on Facebook, and within hours, I received an email from my optometrist insisting that I promise to never do that again.
He’s not your typical optometrist. Macular degeneration runs in my family, so my eyes most likely are especially susceptible to damaging UV rays. So he had good reason to rattle my cage. But the email also made sense because he and I do not have a typical patient-doctor relationship.
On my first visit to his practice, I asked him a few questions about his job. That’s typical; I’m curious how other occupations are. Anyway, he was doing that doctor thing they do at the beginning of an appointment—getting things out, turning things on, reading papers, making notes. I asked him if his floor was bamboo. He said no. Then he asked me why I asked. I told him that I had noticed long lines running down the wood, so I thought maybe it was bamboo. He smirked, sat back, and said the floor looked that way because it was installed incorrectly. He had contacted Home Depot and paid for a consultant to come to the office, examine the rooms and halls, and recommend flooring. He purchased the recommended flooring, and continued on to hire the installation team at Home Depot. The installers arrived, looked at the flooring that had arrived at the jobsite, and told my eye doctor that this flooring was absolutely the wrong thing for the office, and they were going to have to remove the previous flooring to put this kind down, and it was going to cost and take time.
It took even more time when they found asbestos under that old flooring.
Meanwhile, he was audited by one of the insurance companies. Who knew this was a thing? The insurance company didn’t believe something about one of his claims and opened up the investigation to include all claims filed by my dear optometrist. That insurance company was my insurance company. I can’t remember the name. That’s not my fault. The name of the insurance company is so incredibly generic, it does not deserve any capitalization. One shouldn’t capitalize generic terms. I’m not joking—the name of the company is something like Vision Care.
So vision care or whatever audited my poor poor optometrist and he almost just shut down the whole practice. Or commit suicide. I think and I hope he was joking about that last part.
Anyway, so that was my first visit. About 20 minutes of discussion regarding optometric office management, and 20 minutes of determining how out of focus my eyeballs are.
The second visit ended in confrontation.
We were talking about macular degeneration, and discussing the efficacy of some of the OTC drugs/supplements that are designed to address it. (He agreed with my choice.) He reiterated that I should always protect my eyes outdoors. I asked if I could wear a hat instead of wearing sunglasses, and he said sure. I told him I wondered because of bounce light. After all, isn’t snowblindess caused by bounce light? He refused to acknowledge the existence of bounce light. He became indignant. I dropped it.
The last time I went, we discussed contact lenses. My prescription wasn’t a problem, but the shape of the contacts—well, of one of the contacts—was unusual, possibly a special order. Doc explained that most eyeballs are similar. One unit of measurement is the axis of the eyeball. He told me I have crazy axes. I said what. He said that they are shaped weirdly, almost nubile. Nubile eyeballs.
I was sort of at a loss for words at that point, and the appointment was wrapping up. I told him that I thought maybe Crazy Axes would be a good prison name for me. He was startled, stumbled backward slightly. He asked if I planned on going to prison. I responded that I had no desire or plan to go to prison, but I feel better about the whole thing now that I have a prison name, should I need it.
Doc was perturbed. That was the last time I saw him, but after that I did get the email. Which prompted the sunglasses today. Which explains the high key of my paintings. Ω
A long layover in Dallas gave me time to write this longish short story, which has elements of pulp fiction in it. I have long loved Dashiell Hammett, and his influence is clear here. The link to a PDF is below.
The only really horrifying space in this universe is the empty chasm between you and me and you and me and you and you and you.
The disconnect, that empty yaw, the mouth of otherness with its ragged nasty teeth—
Ponder that and you’ll swirl down the cosmic terlet,
Hopeless and incommunicado,
Sure that the energy can’t jump from nerve to nerve,
we, staring over the synapse at the other tender receptors of life and energy and
in need of drayage,
in need of clean, effective transportation from mind to mind,
Special Delivery via sledge, text, Leonardo drawing, a good fuck, S.O.S., holy tablets, love song, tattoo, bumper sticker, crying jag, skywriting, snail mail, scowl or blog.
Transportation is the key, transportation of ideas,
Transportation the miracle,
And yet we celebrate the deliverymen, and celebrate the messages, when the marvel is, always, the bridging of the chasm,
by Dylan’s heartache and anger,
Johnny Rotten’s politics,
Whitman’s euphoria (Ray).
We celebrate the packet of data that leaps, infrared, from human device to human device,
the warmth of acceptance, the cold of rejection,
the “universality” of “The Scream,” the acceptable mystery of “Mona Lisa,”
the shadings of blue to both the color blind and the hyper-aware and well-seeing,
the United States Constitution,
when the marvel is
that the message was delivered at all.
transporting messages as realistic and true as a plastic flower,
suggesting the experience, but not capturing it,
(our individual imagination doing all the really heavy lifting)
And yet we shower them with gifts and fame (uncomprehending, not examining),
ignoring the mystery of the fundamental synapse separating us all.
And the businessmen—don’t even get me started.
As relevant to the essential experience as a bootleg t-shirt vendor set up 50 yards outside of the arena 30 minutes before SHOWTIME.
Those fools interested in bridging the synapse only enough to make the next tender receptor BUY.
They study the drayage, they measure the synapse, with unclean intent.
But that’s where the money is, and that’s undoubtedly from whence the breakthrough will come.
Ready yourselves, people! Prepare, deliverymen!
We must hijack this new transportation model before the bootleg T-shirt vendors monopolize the method to sell consumerist crack!
To arms! To pens! To your computers, your paint brushes, your pianos!
The synapse, its mysteries, belongs to the artists.
Drayage, the transportation of ideas, cannot be trusted to anyone else.