the life of richie


Posted in is by Rich on February 25, 2009

The washing of the dishes usually occurs after dinner & after breakfast: twice daily, like clockwork. It is, in some ways, the favorite times of day in that he is able to just think of –– only the washing of the dishes.

He remembers Anne, in London, shushing him out of the sink, saying that the washing of the dishes calmed her, too.

Amanda, in Hawthorne, once washed his dishes, and then asked, “You’re going to wash these dishes again after I leave.” And he did. That’s why he loved Amanda: because she knew he would. She knew. He needed it.

From dirty to clean.

Dirty to clean.

Dirty >> clean.











Rich does not mind the dirty dish routine (the DrEn). He is not burdened by his lack of a dishwasher. He has performed this ritual in many a kitchen –– in many a-partment. New York with Alex & later the lesbians; in Hawthorne alone; London; now here. It is a tradition for him. (Though once he broke Sarah’s dish, precious precious bowl. And he threw it out; then retrieved it; then told her; Sarah’s bowl, in London; but Russell broke the same bowl, she said.) It is a tradition. (And bowls were made to be broken.) It is a right. He does not mind: soaping the mugs & dishes & slippery bowls, the utensils; allowing all to soak; then the rinsing; then to the rack with them, rack above the sink to drip-dry, dripdry, dripdry, dripdry –– down on down the drain.

So too the daily stress (dripdry); so too the day (down on down the drain).

He does sometimes fantasize about having a washer-dryer set though. There is something so prole about having to take his laundry out though.

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Posted in is by Rich on February 25, 2009

There is a squirrel who has taken to waiting for him when he returns to his apartment in the afternoons. He stations himself on a post long the perimeter of the porch, a ledge above the trellis-work, waiting. Once Rich saw the squirrel nibbling on one of the red chilies left-over from the summer; the ones that had taken to drying and dying in fiery ristras on the stem. The jittery squirrel (hot, hot, hot); he had worried/wondered if the chili would be safe for his digestion. What is the constitution of a squirrel, after all? Vernacularly, he assumed squirrels subsisted off of nuts. Nuts are so bland, so bland and so safe; sometimes life too seems like this. Maybe there are berries too. But chilies?

There he is now, waiting.


After a trip to visit with his friend Anne, in which he speaks often of the squirrel and thinks of the squirrel oftener still, Rich decides to name him Pepper; then, almost immediately decides to promote him to the rank of sergeant. After all, Pepper looks to be a grey old pet, who has seen much of the world. The world has worked its wars on Pepper. What is a chili, when you have seen the things I’ve seen? he might growl. A chili will help me to forget all this world, kid. The things I’ve seen!

Rich remembers: when he and his sister had gone to Venice, Rich had stuffed bags of mixed nuts purchased at the Sainsbury’s into his suitcase. For some reason he had worried about he and his sister having enough to eat. What if they were hungry at night? What if they ran out of money? One could subsist off nuts, he reasoned, for days, even weeks if necessary; they are so safe and nutritious. When they were tucked away in their hotel room in the afternoons, reading books or watching Italian television, they would snack on the nuts and feel very safe and nutritious.

Perhaps this is how he has come to be a brother to this squirrel. They are almost roommates; except that the squirrel keeps to the back porch and Rich to the insides; this makes them very good roommates, very respectful of each other’s space. He considers Pepper more a roommate, though (or a brother) than a pet or vagrant varmint.

He feels responsible for Pepper. He has named him now, domesticated him in this sense. He wonders what Pepper does all day while he is out –– during all the hours and minutes and seconds that he is not waiting for Rich to come home; for them to share a brief moment (sometimes up to a minute, but usually much less) of “roommate time”, the silent staring of one to one. He wonders if Pepper has friends, but worries that he does not, which is why he is not afraid of Rich and has taken up this routine of the waiting. He would like to leave out foodstuffs, but doesn’t want to attract any hussy squirrels or birds or rabbits or things that might show up just for the free eats. He thinks Pepper understands this; does not expect any handouts (he is proud). Stole the chili, maybe, just to be noticed: that was when Rich first took serious notice of Pepper. Like any other middle-class shoplifter, who does it entirely for the thrill and the attention.

So that is what is, between the man and the squirrel. Shared, liminal moments of coming in the house –– a pause in passing (how was your day? mine too); and then, off ––

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Posted in will be by Rich on February 23, 2009

Someday, when we are gone ––– when we are dead and maybe buried –– when there are all of us pushing up daisies and none of us putting up cities, will the world again be covered in daffodils? Will it matter, if there are none to write of them? The world will return to Being when we are nothingness and daffodils. We will be clouds on high and what will be our words worth then?

Can you not see the world in daffodils? –– a world gone to the daffodils. To primitive primroses. To transient tulips. Gothic geraniums. Richard would like to see such a world, but to see such a world would make that world impossible. We will be not even a voice-over in flashback. There will be silence –– punctuated by wind, exclaimed in thunder, lit by lightning, edited by earthquakes. Daffodils will reign supreme, and were we able, we would call this the Age of Daffodils after Man. But to name would be to maim and kill. The host of daffodils will consume the patient-planet. Their roots will find strength from our fertile bodies. They will suckle us –– and, if they could, chuckle.



Posted in was by Rich on February 23, 2009

When he was four, he could not say his L’s and so every Luke and Leia from Star Wars came out yooking yike Yuke and Yeia. He yoved Star Wars, maybe more than rice even. (But not as much as priests; but he was a heathen.) He would play Star Wars with the boys who went to church and yvved down the yane. They were not heathens and would be cold in heaven. And there was a girl who would play with them, and Richie was happy that her name did not start with an L, because her name was Megan and he could say Megan. He once kissed her, and the boys yaughed at him. The boys picked him flowers for his clubhouse.* He was surprised and wrote Richie on all the walls. Megan smiled. She kissed Richie and smiled.

*Daffodils they picked for him –– lovely, dovely daffodils –– in springtime, festooned his clubhouse with sweet yellow daffodils. The boys next door did not see him when he went out to his clubhouse to see the spectacle of flowersfleursflores. They were gone, taken by God on the Sunday. But before church, they woke earlier, picked the peckered pale posies from Mommie’s front lawn, littered the clubhouse, and left. And the little boy, not having known such sweet tenderness before, discovered the daffodils, could not keep himself from crying, and so came, and so surrendered to the seduction of the neighborhood boys. And later that same day he would watch Flash (Flash –– ahh-ah-ah) Gordon and because he yoved the footballer-hero saving Mistress Arden from Merciless Ming.



Posted in was by Rich on February 19, 2009

Mommie did try churching Richie –– twice twyed, but it did not take (so much for that). Once, they wended way to the praying place, where Richie sat with Mommie in the back, coloring in his coloring book. (Purple sky with boo clouds. Poopy brown earth. Lima bean green twees.) Mommie, sadly, felt no heavenly peace, because Richie kept pestering her withwhispering Mommie, look at my picture! Look, Mommie, look! pulling on her blouse. Shhhhh –– not now, Richie. Mommie’s listening to the message.

So the next week, Mommie deposited Richie at Sunday school: Be good, Binky. Richie was left in the room for an hour with kids throwing paper & yelling & being loud & unruly & un-Jesussy, and Richie sweated bullets and just wanted some quiet peace and his purse full of penspaper. When Mommie recovered Richie like a coat from the closet, and as they walked handinhand home, Richie said to Mommie, “Mommie, that wasn’t a weal church, wasit?” and Mommie smiled (oh, Binky) and said, “No; I don’t think it was,” never looking back.

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Posted in is by Rich on February 17, 2009

Rich recalls –– he did carry an old purse of his mother’s. He must’ve found it one day and figured that, were he to be a writer, he would need a place to transport the artist’s supplies: pens and paper. He received this notion, he remembers now, after watching a cartoon version of Louisa Alcott’s Little Women. Jo had had a purse, hadn’t she? –– and in one scene, the wind blowing through her hair (was she rendered a blond?), carried her writer’s bag in pursuit of work in the world, having cast off suitors. Rich can’t remember her having had love affairs in this one; he only remembers the desire to write and be acknowledged in print. This is something he could understand –– can sympathize with still.

This purse –– it was tan, a sort of faux leather, and today would be considered more a messenger bag than a purse, it’s true; today it would seem rather de rigueur of any young professional male. At the time, he wondered what his parents had thought –– or even if they remembered it as he does now –– how important it was for him and his fledgling work. He would find quiet places to sit and scratch at the paper, unable to write anything more than his name (a requirement for attending kindergarten the next term). But just that act of pressing pen to paper was what calmed him. Here, then, is the release –– the transformation of thinking into action, however crude and unformed.

Rich begins to pack his teacher’s bag for school, still chock full of supplies: pens, graded papers, papers to be marked, books, handouts, attendance and notebooks. This is a life he has been practicing for every since he was that little fresh-formed Binky-blossom alive in the country.

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Posted in was by Rich on February 16, 2009

When learned to spell, Richie would run through the house writing his name on everything –– boxes, books, on clean white walls. Before naming, he would keep paper and pens in a purse and tote the bag around the home with him. He would write whole novels –– couldn’t spell, see, so he’d just scribble pens across the pages in long twittering lines. They were like beeping heart meters, sustaining his captive inner creature. They were like…


Mommie was so proud of Richie. She called Richie Binky even though his name was Rich and written R-i-c-h-i-e when he was young. She did not even mind that Binky wrote Richie on her forehead and on the cat, who coughed up a hairball. She was so proud.

Some of Richie’s friends went to church, but not all of them. He asked Mommie-Richie why they did not go to church. She might have said that they were heathens and would be kept warm in hell when they one day died and went straight to hot as Hades. They were heathens.

He-then! He-then! cooed Richie. (Mommie was so proud.)

They saw a story on television in which a priest was having an affair with an Australian woman. Richie loved rice, and asked Mommie if if he lived in China, could he eat rice everyday? Mommie said yes. Richie watched the priest stand naked in the rain. Mommie would fastforward through the bad parts, but she was in the kitchen making rice when the naked priest was shaking off in front of an old lady on the porch. Richie loved rice.

When sister was born, Mommie showed Richie the scars where sister had been ripped from Mommie-uterus. Richie was sad that Mommie was stapled. He hated sister for hurting Mommie. He threw her away with the garbage. He told Mommie to take her back. She said she couldn’t. He wrote Richie on sister. Then he smiled and went to go play with the Richie-cat.

When Richie went to write Richie on Daddie, he found that Daddie already had Richie written on his forehead (but he spelled it R-i-c-h-a-r-d). Daddie was Richie too. Richie was sad: thought about naked priests and was sad. Richie loved rice, which made him happy, and wanted to go to China to eat rice and write Richie on Chinese cats. Would his name still be spelled the same in Chinese? Maybe it would be spelled backwards, and Richie wrote his name backwards: e-i-h-c-i-R. Soon the whole household was filled with Richie, and it was Richie’s house, and he was terrible because he was two, and Mommie said that he was just going through the terrible twos. But then he was three and then four. And he was still a terrible little Richie.



Posted in is by Rich on February 15, 2009

Rich receives two valentines.

The first is from his mom.

The second, from the ACLU:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Send us your e-mail address,

And we’ll send love letters to you.



This is pinned to the kitchen cabinet.

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Posted in is by Rich on February 14, 2009

This all happened some years ago now, when Rich was living up in Hawthorne.

He sneaks out onto his porch at five o’clock in the morning to have coffee and listen to the old Goffle Brook. There is only a faint hint that there might be a sun, and everything is dark and cool, even in August. There has been rain, making the brook passionate in its course.

But, what’s this?

(Rich realizes, suddenly, that he is not alone.)

A moth flies past, banging its body wildly against the porch door. It wants to get inside the kitchen. It wants to get at the light.

Rich suddenly feels very trapped. The predicament is this: if he goes back inside, if he opens the door, the moth is sure to follow. And it is a big moth (were he an entomologist, he could tell you Lepidoptera and what species of such; as Rich is not an entomologist, he can only say it is…) biggest moth ever!

The man tries to swat it away from the door with a copy of an old New York Times.

The moth backs away, and he hurries inside, inside where the moth is waiting for him (damn little bugger), making love to the kitchen light –– hard, rough, nasty love, flailing itself against the globe, as if desperately entreating, Take me, hurt me, bash me to bits –– I am yours. I should die making love to you. I should be happier for no greater death!

The moth then proceeds to assault other lights left on around the apartment. Well, this simply cannot stand. Who pays the rent around here?! One cannot have some moth diddling the lights and flinging itself around like some drunken, debaucherous, indecorous houseguest.

Rich –– sitting down at his computer, trying to compose himself but dashing head to and fro –– left –– and right –– to make sure he is not being watched (he feels he is being watched) –– types kill moths dead into a Google search.

Suddenly, there are pages of different species of moths (ohh) and butterflies. They are listed alongside butterflies, moths are. But butterflies are not so bad then. And Virginia Woolf does write, in her essay “The Death of the Moth” that “Moths that fly by day are not properly to be called moths… They are hybrid creatures, neither gay like butterflies nor somber like their own species.” And so, it is decided, quitting the Explorer application, the moth should live.

It is charging itself against the kitchen light again (that old siren; silly moth, will you never quit?) when the man slips into the bathroom to have a shave and a shower. Shut the door. Let the moth have its privacy after all.

To listen close, one can hear the fornication going on in the next room. The hot water from the shower douses all that out. The bathroom door opens slowly –– peaking around the corner, and sneaking into the bedroom. A hurried change ensues in order to catch the next act of the moth’s congress with the kitchen light.

But –– ohh, there, –– ohh, on the floor, twitching barely but barely twitching is the moth. It looks so pathetic and sexually spent. The kitchen light, above, just goes on burning and laughing, laughing and burning. And for the poor, poor moth…

Love, it seems to say, with its final breath, and not death was stronger than I.



Posted in is by Rich on February 13, 2009

Rich explains to his students, in their propædeutics into psychoanalysis, when one of them suggests, “I suppose Freud didn’t mention gay people,” that yes, he did, and yes — in his estimation (Rich’s analysis), he supposes that Freud did not pathologize homosexuality, or de-pathologize it, but pathologized or re-pathologized all of us, and showed that none of us, not one of us was innocent (not even children innocent, those polymorphously perverse little poppets); there is no hierarchy, further, of psychopathology. If homosexuality is criminal or aberrant, then all of us are aberrant criminals. All of us are guilty of childhood. No one escapes unscathed.

“So what about love? I suppose love is just another pathology –– another neurosis, for Freud.”

We prefer to call it transference, kid.

Pause for the scratching of importunate pens.

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