Friday, September 30, 2005

No. 19
[digression] Clyde wanted to join the party, so we head in the direction of the nearest live wire, which to my mind, was Lulu who had struck a chord within my shredded heart. I was hoping that she still planned to meet us in the lobby of the movie theater, whereupon I had a plan to start moving in the direction of Osama bin Laden. As crazy as it seemed, I think I'd fallen upon a foolproof idea. Because if you look at the history of programming languages, they don't last forever, since technology changes, programming styles change, and good languages last only 15 or 20 years; a man like Osama fell into the same category. Let's say he had shelf life, which was only a few years left until he became ho-hum on the international market.

Likewise, I reasoned, but actually, I lost my bookmark of reasoning. I was aware of being able to concentrate more and more less. Prowlie's glass and light was beginning to emerge again in my consciousness and I didn't know what that meant except I had to follow it to its ultimate logical conclusion.

"Paranoid schizophrenic," I'd heard someone once say of me.
[ / digression]

Back to the party.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No. 18
For breakfast I rustled up two cups of coffee, brewed over a spoonful of instant, and two bowls of assorted dry cereal, poured out from the bottom of a bunch of almost empty cartons. Okay. The cereal was a little stale, but who cares if you've got milk. Right? Sometimes I can sound like a fucking commercial. So Granny stuffed her sleeping bag back into some expandable netting and then spent the rest of the morning in my bathroom cleaning herself up while I danced around waiting to take a piss.

"Come on in," she said. "I don't care."

"Don't look."

"Are you out of your mind? I'm behind a shower curtain."

I pissed, brushed my teeth, and washed up. By the time I got dressed, the water had stopped running, but she was still futzing around in the bathroom.

I decided to sit down at the computer balanced on a snack table outside the kitchen.

"You ready?" she asked after I had almost finished checking my email.

"Huh?" I couldn't believe it. Cleaning up had done things for Granny that I couldn't have imagined. While before she had been some indiscriminate age, a raunchy gnarly thing curled in upon itself, now she appeared radiant, a woman in her late thirties, and her light brown hair; well, it almost had sheen. I was glad to see she was no longer wearing several layers of multi-colored shorts, now dressed in a black shirt with a stained red top, clearly rescued from some Goodwill sale pile.

"Stop looking at me," she said, throwing her bag over her shoulder. "Let's get going. I'm not use to being in one place."

So we walked up the side of the house, past the recyling bins. I saw a man going through my bottles. He looked familiar. "Say, don't I know you from somewhere?" I asked. He was this black guy. All I knew was that he was built like a line-backer.

"I've never seen you before in my life," he said, holding up an aluminum orange soda can.

"Yes, now I know where I saw you. You were the ticket taker at the movies up the street the other night."

"Yeah, what of it?"

"Nothing much. I remember you bumped in to me."

"Hi, Clyde."

"Hi Granny."

"You two know each other?"

Granny nodded. "I know a lot of people."

"So you got yourself a place to stay last night," winked Clyde.

"You can think whatever you want to think."

"Say, you look good cleaned up," he laughed.

"Clyde and I have done street time together," she explained to me. "But right now he's holding down more jobs than you can count on two fingers."

"Three right now," he said. "Going through the recyling bins is a sideline. I work at the theater in the evening, the laundromat across the street in the afternoon, then I haul off the glass whenever I can, and get five cents a bottle."

"I'll probably see you in the theater lobby real soon," she said. "selling newspapers. But in the meantime, I'm going with a couple of these bums to build a mass movement."

"Anything I can make money at?" he asked. " I need time off from one of my jobs."

Sunday, September 18, 2005

No. 17
"I use to be pretty," said Granny, "not that you'd ever believe it," and she held up her hand in my face when I tried to protest. "You don't have to say anything. And my hair! I bet you wouldn't believe that I almost was hired for a shampoo commercial. The people said they'd never seen anyone with the kind of sheen I had in my hair, especially for someone with light brown hair. Light brown hair usually doesn't do much of anything. But I was eating back then. I think it was the nuts. They say peanut oil has a lot of vitamin E."

Was that so, I thought. My hair was starting to thin on top and I wasn't ready to reach for the Rogaine. Maybe I should eat more nuts. "So what happened?"

"I can't wash it, brush it, so I just keep it braided down my back. But it's so dirty, it weighs two tons. I can hardly hold my head up."

"No, I mean about the commercial. For shampoo."

"Oh, that," she laughed. "They hired someone else. And you know what? She scrunched up her face. "That girl hardly had any sheen. She and the photographer were sleeping together."

"Sometimes that happens," I began, wanting to say something to Granny about bum breaks. I kept feeling I had to be nice to her to help make up for society's injustices.

"But that's the way my luck has been. Never knew my father. My mother went crazy by the time I was ten. Not that I really could tell the difference. It was all crazy. I thought that was the way everything was. You could say that these past two years on the streets have been my most sane."

I could tell this was going to be an all-nighter. "What do you mean?"

"You're not interested."

"Why do you say that?"

"You're just being nice. I'm not going to sleep with you. Now don't think just because you're listening to me..."

"I'm not the least bit interested in sleeping with you. First of all, I've got at least four hours of work I still have to do. And second of all, we're on a project together, which means we can't sleep together."


I stumbled for an answer. "Because it's unethical."

"Oh," she said, folding her hands into a neat pile on her lap and looking more relaxed. "So what do you do?

"I'm a programmer," I said.

"TV? Radio?"

"No, I program languages. Like XML."

"What about XXL?"

"Do you program also?"

"That's my t-shirt size." Oh, by the way," she said, "I lied to you before. It wasn't peanuts that gave my hair that sheen. It was rosemary oil."

Rosemary oil. I made a note to ask her tomorrow where I could buy the stuff. If my hair had more sheen, it might help to make up for everything else it was missing. "Good night," I said.

"Good night," she chirped back, and shook out a sleeping bag from somewhere inside her shopping bag upon my old couch.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

No, 16
Granny was now a person with food in her stomach, a situation which definitely agreed with her. We sat on the living room couch; her feet rested on an an unread pile of InfoWorld magazines stacked on my coffee table. Granny didn't talk much. We stayed up for several hours and sat in front of the TV, until I couldn't stall the inevitable. I had to start programming and finance my mass movement {all bathroom jokes aside}.

I knew she was the lady in the house, but beats the hell out of me if I was going to let greasy Granny spend the night sleeping under my blankets. I didn't care how dirty they were {my blankets}, which as far as I was concerned, was nothing compared to eau de Granny. I just thought Lulu had been pretty slick to dump everything into my hands and run off with her video recorder.

"Uhh, I'll make a bed up for you on the couch," I said.

"You're gonna let me sleep here?" she said, startling herself back into a sitting position. "On your couch?"

"Where else? There's only one bed in the apartment."

"You really don't have to do that," she said.

Yeah, and didn't I know it, which is when Granny decided to tell me her life's story.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

No. 15 (continued from July)
We walked to my apartment that was a few blocks away. If this what it took make my life interesting once again, I thought, I was up for it. "So Granny," I asked. Do you like spaghetti?"

"Yes, indeedy, needy," she said. "I've got the sauce." She ransacked her black bag for a moment and pulled out a jar of Newman's Best. "I went shopping this morning," she said to me, and winked. "The trick is getting into the store."

"What do you mean?"

"Don't you know diddley-squat? Granny's gonna teach you. In order to shop, you have to get in the store, and in order to get in the store, you have to get past security, and in order to get past security, it's important they don't know your face."

"So how'd you get past security?"

"A different guy was on duty this morning," she said. "I scored."

"Basil-garlic," I said. "My all-time favorite."

She smiled. "I figure you got a stove in your apartment."

"I even have a loaf of bread," I said and found the key. I jiggled the lock just the right way to open the door. Granny followed me to the refrigerator. "I forgot something." I said.

"Tell me."

I closed the refrigerator door and opened up a few cabinets, realizing that I didn't actually have spaghetti, just another jar of sauce.

Granny's face dropped, but then she recouped. "Heat them up," she said. "We'll have soup."

I did, and we had plenty of bread. But then there was all that Top-Ramen in the back of my closet, and who said you couldn't put sauce on a noodle that comes packaged as its own raft?

"Score," said Granny. "Totally score."

Monday, September 05, 2005

CellPhone Poem 12
Calling to find out if I can go
pearl-diving this evening
inside your mouth,

as I sit on a chair that dreams
of becoming a crocodile
climbing the hills

that turns into a bridge
connecting two short points
to a distance

as I wrap my legs
around whatever it is
we can become.

Me? Fine. I know.
You? Okay. Great.
Just for today?

So I'll come over
maybe in a few hours.
Around dinner.

We'll stuff plastic bags
with clothes for people
in New Orleans.

Take them to the Grand Lake Theater
any time from the morning commute hour
all through the night.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

CellPhone Poem 11
It's me. All my important
numbers. Ring tones.
Daffy Duck & Pastures of Plenty.
Beseme Mucho & Beethoven.

All my significant others
gathered beneath one roof
a press away
distilling voices

into the daily grind
blinking when its cell
runneth over
with voice and text messages

video grabs
eyes closed shut
or an abandoned meth lab
there for all to see.

My whole life stripped down
to ankle bracelets
from single shining chip
to shining chip.