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This is Serious

by Jason Scott kirkmeyer


"at a pace too quick for the normal human mind to discern the real guts of the universe rip past us through the ether.

there is no time-
life is the accident that happens in the midst of shifting points of reference.
gaps in the continuum.

time is what you make of it
because it doesn't exist . . .
it lacks substance outside the memory-track.

yesterdays laundry cluttering today's conscience.
scurrying mind fading into dim recollection.
forgotten memories subtly sink into some oblivion or another.

confounding problem, isn't it? the human mind naively counteracts the general emptiness of universal function in a relentless search for substance. every moment in the history of mankind has been spent in pursuit of moments that feel full. that's the joke. that's why this is funny. july fourth."


-dawn settles like bits of sulphur in pink lemonade. old man sitting on a veranda adjacent to his luxurious summertime condominium eating breakfast. bacon, eggs and coffee. drunk on a vibe until his wife lets out the poodle, ridiculous white ass-puffs clinging onto its backside.

you know it's funny the way the future looks different when you get closer to it - all diminished and random without the love or happiness you always allowed for in high school pipe-dreams and graduation speeches. an old man sitting in the glory of sunrise with a shivering naked poodle.

it all shifts for a second as he hears the next door neighbors clang around in the garage next door. home from the fast food restaurant with styrofoam cups of hot chocolate. a quiet moment with the dog evaporates into false reconciliation, bad conversation, and two dollars and some change.

just another drive down main street, u.s.a. america for sale. people hocking the dream at cut-rate prices on front lawns . . . on lazy summer afternoons-the neighbors come over -maybe there's a barbecue. little timmy's gone to college. time to sell those goddamn action figures. the old sewing machines, yesterday's best sellers, clothes post-dated by the latest absurdity sprawled out daintily on accommodating quilts - lust dripping from lips like a bourbon street seraglio.

"Oh look, john, here's the dress I wore on our first date," she says sighing into her cup and reaching into an old box. "I might as well get rid of it. It's got that stain, and I'm too big to wear it now anyway." he nods and turns toward an old weed-whacker.

"honey, do we need this anymore?"

lifetimes on display just beyond the picket fence or behind the house in the garage. crazy capitalist ideas - dollar bags - toy sections - promiscuous stickers all mucilage and dollar signs.

turn the corner. there's a ten-year-old playing basketball on a cracked driveway - his sister playing with barbie on manicured grass. daddy behind the lawn mower. mommy in apron waving out the window thinking about how the time flies-how things change so much all the time-then she puts away the vacuum cleaner, mixes a drink and watches al roker and the today show.

and they've all got the cutthroat stare like malicious carny folk and listen to bad music - still starving hysterical naked . . . high on paint fumes and cheap hair spray. momma's lookin' all seductive 'cause pappa just sent the kids to mazatlan for a week of debauchery and artificial culture. granny moved into the home last week. grandad died drunk in a fist fight on the golf course.

and it's old men with young ladies. death, taxes, sundresses, tube-tops, high heels, friday night bridge clubs, church sundays, baseball games, marriages, weekly allowances for taking out the trash, mercedes benzes, lee press-ons, coloured contacts, tommy hilfiger, birkenstock sandals, and extramarital affairs. it's the broken legs and broken hearts. it's arthritis in brittle joints-impotence and menopause-, floundering first dates and first kisses. it's the kid you don't know on the school bus-a tattoo of st. catherine in the small of your back. nicotine addiction, alcohol addiction, heroin addiction, a repeat sex offender. 20/20. tom brokaw. pat robertson. necessary proctological examinations and the occasional pap-smear all sitting naked on your plate smiling at you. waiting for you to munch down on the dream. waiting for you to have your fill of 10 hours at time-and-a-half, credit cards, college, and comics in the new yorker. waiting for you to march arm and arm behind a banner that reads "stay involved and make a difference."

teenager out mowing the lawn across the street with his friend. they stop to dump grass on a 1950s flatbed trailer.

"so what's it like?"

"well, it's kind of like having to turn in you taxes every day like it's april 15th or something - always in anticipation of some terrific refund. or sometimes it's like puking all over yourself on some crazy carnival ride in front of like fifteen million folks of various nationalities, racial foregrounds - backgrounds - whatever, and they all come together in one voice as they laugh at you - wet, smelly and dripping. then again . . . sometimes it's like - I don't know - like the ground's a little softer under your feet. Or . . . ahh . . . kinda like the sky's a little brighter and everything settles into you with a kind of perfect confusion. like slipping imperceptibly into water."

the morning wet sticks to the grass catcher. slow mowing with a worn-out blade. and the girl next door is up early today to watch the fellahs cut the grass. she tries to keep from looking conspicuous as she sits preening on her front porch. looking natural. looking like she always sits on the front porch at eight o'clock on a saturday morning brushing all of friday night out of droopy eyelids dark with smeared mascara-got in too late to take it off. her mom and dad walk out the front door. they're going out of town for the weekend. guy behind a red-snapper lawn mowing machine makes out a tear trailing down a young girl's cheek as a '99 lexus pulls out of the driveway.

something slows down the pace of things-long summer days, early morning breeze at your back. slows it down just right. to the point of validation. the world sings back-up to whatever you feel for a couple of seconds and then turns itself off again like it never happened. and all the hopes and dreams of two-hundred and some years are just suburbia and a kid that mows your lawn saturdays. a veranda and a naked toy-poodle. dolled up gramma-wife in curlers and pink slippers. weekend trips to the lake. a little seed-money in your pocket-enough to prick ambition in the ribs a little bit and make you do something absolutely crazy like pierce your nose-hole. maybe wax up the car and go drink a gut-full of alcohol with a bunch of "loose" girls. what would uncle larry the baptist say?

red, white, and blue dreams hollow as your nephew buck's lsd eyeballs. barbecues on your days off. hunting trips on four-wheelers. your bran-spankin'-new satellite dish. seventy-five cent condom machines in every damn service station in every county, swamp, parish, and city as far as your eye can see. cheap mexican labour. cheap aeroplane tickets to cancun. tax deductions. washer and dryer superstacks. free public education. and yessir ahm a pround member of the national rifle association. take the fifth, speak out for the first get a militia started up. hey, they ain't jes niggers anymore - emancipate, and get that census bureau in there el pronto so's we can't count 'em an' get thar tax money. oh, an by the way, make 'em go in the back way at the comp'ny store. gold rushes, oil booms, industry, mass communication. ya know, maybe orwell had somethin' there. and they all moved into the city with the golden sewer where the backyard smells like diesel and dog shit.

slips the dog the last piece of bacon twice as long as its head and smiles. he kicks off his blue flip-flops and leans back in his chair, hands behind his head. the successfully retired sprawl. cracked toenails stretched across the breakfast table.

"Capital," he says. "Get a start. Put some money away. Feed your kids. Buy sensible automobiles. But above all, make the right investments. It's the key that unlocks your future."

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