Amélie Frank has
done her “that Karl” imitation for Billy Bob Thornton, yet he still lets
her run his website.
You’ve cleared your
throat three times in the last hour.
The first time after
the orderly came by with the hooked pole to crack the top transom.
The second when a
fellow took a magnifying glass and misdirected the moted dayroom light
onto the crayon boy’s tools, sparking a fistfight that involved more
spit than punches.
The third when the
cicada choir kicked in at 11:00 a.m. sharp, cheeling like sprinkler
systems from outer space.
You don’t understand
that you are worrying. Your hands do the job for you, clasping and
unclasping like an uneasy wartime alliance. If you were brighter or more
nimble, they’d entertain you with five finger exercises. They’d count
for you, make their tips into little abacuses of meat. Perhaps even
shadow conduct, but there ain’t no rhythm in those wrists, not even
enough to inspire you to pull on your works.
Such is your
What else ails you,
Sweet, Slow Thing?
Someone gave you
Huck Finn, but reading’s a chore. A headache, really. Words come
into your head upside down and never right themselves. The world spills
in reflected off the concavity of a spoon. Chapter and verse juggle and
ping-pong between eyeball and brain, and never the twain shall meet.
Using a typewriter would be like walking a tightrope.
You dry-wash your
hands, and the state shrink thinks it’s penitence, but you really rub
‘em to make the big, wide world smaller, quieter, four-cornered and
On the few nights
you can sleep, you hug tools like plush toys, like a baby monkey
cuddling its wire mother, but since they took the tools you loved best
from you for your own protection, there’s no sleep. Only staring.
Yesterday, the state
head doctor said to you “That’s not the Bible. It’s a Franklin
Planner!” and laughed himself silly. “When’s God gonna pencil you in?”
he asked, thinking he’d found the key to a diary, thinking you were as
simple as a little girl’s heart.
The light in the
dayroom is greasy. The nasty flavor in your throat puts you in mind of
kudzu-soured milk and pastures of cows, each with four unhappy stomachs.
Folks just don’t know when to leave well enough alone.
You reckon well
enough alone is a garage and a cot. Or a sack lunch of biscuits and
bucket chicken. Well enough alone is beneath a wordless rock in the
backyard. Wordless is best, you think, your heart turning rocklike as
the day stretches out over the dying lawns beyond the window. Well
enough alone is a good boy learning to tinker and sharpen things. It’s
the sleep of a childhood delivered from evil and reckoned in
tranquility. It’s a nerve growing still. It’s the sounds that don’t get
through once the forgiving river has flooded your ears.