the life of richie

BOOK CLUB MINUTES (5/28)

Posted in is by Rich on May 29, 2009

Lori, Chrissie, Rich, and Caroline update Facebook statuses to reflect a return to book club.

Rich arrives at Chrissie’s first, bringing a bottle of white wine. En route, he passes two dead cars getting jumpstarts/jumpstarted –– one in the Shoprite parkinglot (Somers Point; isn’t that his former student?) and one across from Spadafora’s. (Bad day to be a car; actually his own car had had some brief trouble starting, he realizes, and so perhaps there was some Bermuda thrice-wizenheimer happening going on.)

Chrissie prepares lots of delicious munchies: crudités, salsa and lime chips, pepperoni roll. Lori arrives on ice. Then Caroline. Wedding plans are parsed; philately (the study of stamps) is briefly engaged in. Comity is restored to the bibliophilic kingdom: everyone has read the selected book; all agree to having liked it, though no one can relate entirely, and there is talk that it glamorizes meth use. (Rich remembers too late that his mom had insisted he share the brief few days she was on speed in the seventies, as prescribed by her doctor; Rich says, I’m not telling them that, but now is blogged.)

The friends adjourn, in good spirits, a little after nine.

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A PORTRAIT OF THE WRITER AS JESUS

Posted in was by Rich on May 28, 2009

There was a truth here before the violation of text fell upon blankness –– a truer truth –– a toothier truth –– (All that is here is scar.)

There was a virgin veiled in white passing through snowbanks with a procession of immaculate polar bears, trailing, but leaving no tracks, in the snowbanks, the ponderous snowbanks, casting up isolate flecks of snow gusting in lilt, in time with the cold white wind ––

There was a virgin like the one that gave birth to Jesus who hung all cold and dripping from the cross, so lovely and erotic there; so Richie thought anyway (but he was a heathen). But the virgin was violated by deity and then Mister Gabriel came to reveal the crime , and Mary cried and curled up in her bed like a fetus, like a little girl fetus, and cried like Richie after Wesley had gone to the priests telling him all his toys were eaten. But Mary did not then have a mother whose hair she could cling to for comfort like Richie’s. She was all bloated with the Messiah, just like Mommie had been bloated once with Richie and then sister too. Then her uterus had burped, the belching womb choked, and out had tumbled the child. And he was beautiful, and everybody thought so, and everybody said, seven pounds, seven ounces, and some cried and some laughed and others just clutched their crosses hard. And then there was the incarnation of words, the gurgle-gurgle-coo, and soon Richie and later cat and then dog. But the cat runned away with the Wesley like the fork had runned away with the spoon. The little dog laughed to see such suchness. But the forks were spooning each other in the street, moocows ejaculating like milkmaids in the moonlight. This: the transgression of ink into the virginland. The ivory Mary cried ice blue tears. The snow white Christ bled hot red ink. And the author secreted his black inky serum to bind into bibles and ribald balladry. And the virgin was wet and dripping with the ink, and there was no more white and could never be snow again. The dye was cast in the mind’s cauldron, to double up more trouble. Eh, but –– the distracted planet turned backwards, against the gravitational stress of sun and moon, against the rice of grain (priori). There was a world inside waiting to be born, to seedinate into a garden. Those outside the artist’s garden thought that they were living in some postlapsarian state, kicking at cores and cruxes. But they were wrong, and Richie yaffed, and the scar smiled in the glistening sunlight that gleaned on the girl’s bright glasses in the park, in the Washington Square park years yater. And the moons all jumped over the moocows just for spite.

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MEMORY DAY WEEKEND

Posted in is, was by Rich on May 26, 2009

Richie memembers Daddie wanting him to wear his new white sneakers to the saramonie but he diddnit want to wear the sneakers ––

Mom and dad take Living Grandfather up to Farmingdale for the parade of alzheimatic arhats; Rich remains behind. He is visited by friend Amanda; they drink wine and eat cheddar cheese, which Rich teases her about because cheddar cheese is her favorite, and Rich thinks it delicious but common. Amanda frets about being single and in her middle-late-twenties; waxes neurotic over her new romantic interest, another chance to not die alone, and her boyfriend anxiety and constant indecision and revision make Rich feel very calm and sorted. Wouldn’t it be worse, after all, to marry someone just to have someone? –– and what did Rich’s opinion of Amanda’s new beau’s Facebook cameo matter so much? (Is this The Hills or an episode of Seinfeld?)

The two sit on the beach, where the dramas of the world, like sands through the hourglass, pass for a moment. There is a ferris wheel ride and mini-golf game and hand-dipped, homemade ice cream. All is well and, Rich realizes, shall be.

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REFORMED METHODISTS’ DRINKING CLUB: MEMORIAL DAY EDITION

Posted in is by Rich on May 22, 2009

“Do you want babies?” Rich asks her, and she says, “Only when I watch women having babies on t.v.; then, maybe briefly. But it doesn’t last. Besides, I have travel. And I think there’s a reason I haven’t had children.”

The evening starts out with shandies made from Red Stripe and ginger beer; the three move on to sampling two IPAs; then there is a rush to finish everything alcoholic in the apartment, until Karen and Rich (Caroline exits earlier) consume subs from Sack O’s; watch Bravo reality t.v.; call it lovely and a night.

There is nineties music and light dancing and the breeze is cool, so cool on the porch, as the three sit and scheme their lives, planning them out like lessons for the children: like their lives lessons for the kids to learn from. With the cool air and what from the shandies and IPAs and other beer, life seems to almost stand still with its arms open. The world dematerializes around and except for the back porch –– everything else faded, everyone else in the world wraith-like and feckless, except the three reformed Methodists.

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LORI’S HOUSE

Posted in is by Rich on May 22, 2009

Rich goes over to pregnant friend Lori’s house. Lori’s sister and her newborn are there; Rich is startled to find the sister nursing the newborn when he enters. “Do you want to hold the baby?” Lori quickly intercepts the question: “Rich doesn’t like babies.” It’s true –– he doesn’t. He feels depressed just looking at them: so helpless and needy and just one more life sucking up oxygen, making it hard to breathe, difficult to move around (it is his claustrophobia, you see), and harder & more difficult to find a space of one’s own amidst all the –– too many goddamn people in this world –– just need a little space & air. He knows it is an unpopular position to take: not liking pets, babies, or old people. Still, there he stands, with arms crossed, watching everyone fuss and coo over the child.

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THE DEAD BIRD’S CAGE

Posted in is by Rich on May 22, 2009

The bird’s empty cage is left out on the sidewalk next to two trashcans, to be collected by the trashmen in the morning.

A woman stops Rich before he enters his parents’ house, as if she has been waiting for him.

“Excuse me, are you getting rid of this cage?”

Yes.

“Is there anything wrong with it?”

The bird died.

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STILL LIVING

Posted in is by Rich on May 18, 2009

The Cézanne & Co. exhibit at the Philly Art Museum begins with an image of the lone bather.

One presses close to the canvas-flesh, the audio guide whispering seductive intelligence in the ear. The viewer is coaxed to admire the left diamond-shaped nipple, how it eschews realistic form, a composite birthmark from when the painting was delivered from the artist’s studio. With the audio guide, one can shut out the flock of visitors, can somehow stand alone, for the moment, with the bather, face to down-turned face (a brief, yet erotic moment). Marsden Hartley’s “Canuck Yankee” hangs, well-hung, nearby.

We, the viewers, press on towards the Still Lifes. There in that room our lives become, for the moment, still themselves (though still life; though we are still living, that is). Rich hungers looking at the fruit spilling on tables, remembering the pear and cheese he’d had for a mid-morning snack. There is a vibrant pulse to these: one can feel the ions buzzing, the bombilation of colors & contours. (Though he has always preferred the paintings with people, or with animals, with something other than some fruit, a vase…)

Outside, the city throbs with a bloated rhythm. It is warm, and there are people spilled out on sidewalk tables: still lives with beer they are. Off Logan Circle, the trendy boutiques belie the urban desperation which mocks affection; here there is more grit and suspicion than brotherly love, it seems.

A lone bather anxiously takes his first baby steps, still wrapped in the swaddling clothes, through the landscape; down the incalescent sidewalk.

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FUNERAL SONG FOR BIRDY

Posted in is by Rich on May 15, 2009

Maman’s bird died today. Or yesterday maybe. She called her son, crying, “He’s getting sicker. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand the thought of coming home one day and finding him dead at the bottom of the cage.” She boxed him up with some food and carried him to the hospital.

The women at the hospital told Maman that she had nursed the bird longer than was expected; that sick birds usually do not last longer than days, but not weeks; that Maman, in feeding the little bird with an eye dropper some water several times a day, had extended its life, shown great comfort and love, and that the bird had been much loved and comforted in his life, but that she had to let him go now. (Birdy had been going into convulsions; would act somewhat normal on a perch & then be seized by some apoplectic fit & fall. Was puffed up & not singing. Did not want to drink his drink. Bird, thou art sick, thought Rich; Maman cried and cried into the telephone.)

Rich went over to pay a final visit before Maman boxed him up. He petted the bird’s head; the bird tried pecking at Rich’s hand, final kisses. You were a good little birdy. Such a good little bird. And so good-bye.

(The bird was sick and spent his last weeks where he had lived his life –– mere feet from where Schizo Grandmother had died in peaceful sleep, after sickness.) There was a brief return to rain & fog today for the bird’s funeral (or yesterday). It passed, the day, in silent procession; no birdy dirge sung, only Twittered –– a final tweet for the birdy of Maman.

Wrote the poet Rumi: “Why cling to one life / till it is soiled and ragged? / The sun dies and dies / squandering a hundred lives / every instant.” The charge for cremating the bird and for having its ashes taken to the pet cemetery was three dollars fifty; there would be no charge for just the euthanasia. But Maman paid the women; took the receipt.

Now, little bird, whose wings I kept clipt so that you would not hurt yourself, now you must fly, back to the king. He seemed to understand what was happening; seemed very unafraid of It.

Rumi: “Oh fly, oh fly, O my soul-bird, / fly to your primordial home! / You have escaped from the cage now–– / your wings are spread in the air.”


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ITCHIE RICHIE

Posted in is, was by Rich on May 15, 2009

When Richie was older was when his eyes became sneezy and itchie. They would puss and cause undue fuss for him; and he for his would take to wearing glasses. His eyes –– were baddened like the smile, like the bruised-tooth de youthe –– eyes that were half-weltered from the weltanschmerz all watery like rivers in the derisory confluence. Too much badness, everywhere, everyone…with the double-o’s yooking yike gasses themselves.

And he disdainded wearing glasses. Thick thick slices of frame to shield improve his corporeal my-opia.

But then he thought But then Daddy Joyce was half-blinded then too. And Grandpa Milton. And their blindness was the source for great sight in insight into into into

(yes)

just yisten and yook, yook!

eyesea

The white page is like is cornea (does that sound too cornea?) cornea and we we we and no no no eye eye eye eye pop the pupils the tender black swirling ink blobs of and there is bleeding bloodshot yes there is blood and there is puss and we scratch and itch and distill the ink down with liquid drops the rain washes the words away but still the page sees must sea must and so when I shut these hurting (when Richie I mean when Richie of course when he shuts) eyes in order to seeze that is when it happens people. when there is no outer eye no transindental eye even no it’s MY I ha ha ha for I am the transendit so transend that waldo! and suckit ralph!

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Et in D.C. (coda)

Posted in is by Rich on May 13, 2009

Anne insists that it be mentioned that Ashley found a green rubberband hidden in her dolma.

It was as if her dolma were proposing marriage (cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a band on it).

Ashley motioned for the Greek-looking, scraggly-haired, hirsuit-ish waiter. “I just thought you should know –– there was a rubberband in my dolma.”

The dolma was quickly taken away –– rejected.

(Even dolmas must get the doldrums.)

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