Thursday, November 17, 2011


…It’s funny how the mind works. Or how mine does, I should say.
Mine jumps around a lot. It goes weird places. It ends up at odd junctures. It talks me out of things and into tight tunnels.
Sometimes it says, “You should really think about getting better at ______.”
Every once in a while it will say, “Remember that time when you could have done ______, but you did _______ instead? Me, too,” it will say. My mind will go on to postulate, “Life would be different if you’d done ______. I’m not sure if it’d be better, but it’d sure as hell be a lot different.”
On the treadmill this morning, I listened to Newton Faulkner (if you’ve never heard Newton, please do yourself a favor and find “Dream Catch Me” on YouTube. you won’t be sorry. cross my heart.)
While I was running and panting and sweating and singing along (“There’s a place I go when I’m alone. Be anyone I wanna be…”) my mind started to play a film reel of my past, not a life-flashing-in-front-of-my-eyes type thing, but more of a selective-moments-of-my-life-flashing-in-front-of-my-eyes situation.
For some reason, I don’t know why, my mind was trying to use my past misdeeds as a way of getting me to grasp a certain concept, one that is spelled:
And it didn't mean that I should be grateful for material things or friends or any of that.
My mind said, “Hey, I was just thinking.”
So I said, “Oh oh.”
To wit, my mind replied, “Yeah, man, I was thinking that you’re one luckiest dudes I know.”
And I replied with, “Is that right?”
“Mos def,” my mind said. “Let me show you what I mean.”
And then we did this kind of Ebenezer stroll through my life, highlighting a number of times where, quite honestly, I should have been killed.
Car accidents.
Domestic disputes.
A rafting trip gone awry.
Stupid adolescent experimentation.
Stupid adult experimentation…
In all, I came up with 11 (yikes!) different times that I should have died, been killed, terminated, done in.
Funny thing is I wasn’t even trying very hard and I came up with 11 Johnny on the spot.
But I did get off the treadmill, shower, and sit down and write an experimental version of those eleven called, “Reasons I Should Be Dead”
Here are the first four parts of what I wrote, before I get to adulthood…

Reasons I Should Be Dead

Before I was or am death comes for me rambunctious sloppy drunk death knocking over a headboard a mirror breaking a lamp or plate black blast to the ribs to her back belly uppercut that shakes the planet the lake the ocean the soup that I swim and float in becoming a typhoon while I bob like an upended boat but do not drown.
Before I am fully me death returns again sneaky bastard while I’m sleeping slumbering dreaming not snoring death and death’s hand stabbing a thin metal rod into the milky cloud where I am hiding hibernating death poking and jabbing at the juice and fleshy walls tearing red gashes into this embryonic tent angling aiming for me a slippery fish who will not be so easily aborted.
After I am born the woman driving the car takes long pulls on her cigarette as if she’s french kissing a snake made of smoke touching a finger to the edge of her white cat-eyed glasses “have I seen you before?” I say only saliva slips out over my lips like goo she is sad is annoyed she sneers down at me on the seat and says “what?” I recognize the voice I want to say “it’s you isn’t it? you’re my mother?” but my words my thoughts are gurgles Gerber baby food the thunderbird trundles over some tracks then shuts off even though Charlie Pride goes on singing does my ring hurt your finger when you go out at night I want to ask “why are we stopping?” but bubbles—two or three floaters—slide out of my mouth instead this is where grandmother died not necessarily here but on a set of railroad tracks somewhere in the middle of the night no one knowing if it was an accident or on purpose I heard them talking—the one time they were civil instead of two angry attack dogs—making funeral arrangements maybe we will go like gran “mom we’d better move a train might come” those are the words in my constipated head that become nothing but soapsuds and blue breath on the way out of my mouth “I can tell I can just tell” mother says “you’re going to be like all the rest a useless piece of shit.”
I am in another car and the man who is my new dad who is not my real dad my blood dad he has the convertible caddie going very fast the car black as evening long like a parade float but sleek I wish the wind weren’t so rough I wish I wasn’t freezing I wish my brothers would stop saying “faster! faster!” I wish my mom would stop holding onto her head scarf and use it for a parachute a homemade airlift cape that could get us out of here but instead we go over a hill leaping the crest like a slow motion trout and I think this is where death will get me right here all of us together a bunch of broken bones bloody bits or a burnt out car nothing to do but scream and pray my soul escapes somehow.

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