The Road trip: 10 Acts of Utter Indulgence

09/15/2003

in Milestones

I. How many ostriches on the ostrich farm bury their face in the sand?

They are stu­pid birds.
And while I’ll admit that their asses
puffed up in the dirt,
speak to us, I can’t say that I haven’t heard
it before. Nor can I say that we,
in all our dumb glory, could con­ceive
of some­thing more fit­ting, more per­fect,
than to bend gen­tly
over and let the world have us.

But don’t think—even for a moment— that man
is an ostrich on this ostrich farm,
or that we don’t under­stand
what to do with our heads. We’re bad birds, granted,
that’s already been said
by famous philoso­phers, and now that they’re dead
let’s unearth the lit­tle brains that we’ve planted.
Call it apoc­a­lypse. Call it a harvest.

IIWhat time does the party start?

It starts after the hosts have already fetched
the mop more than once (that’s the retch­ing).
The trough is filled with God-knows-what
and shots are slung straight to our stomachs.

We begin to see a new kind of light
syn­thetic mon­key light.

The for­est passes out
on the floor of a moun­tain.
The lech­er­ous trees eat the dung at their feet.
And when some­one claims they see Dean
Young, the party has started. It can­not be stopped.

IIIHow do you wake up with a hangover?

Have break­fast in a diner with beau­ti­ful wait­resses. Do cof­fee at a table with your chair in the aisle. Flirt. Over-estimate your hunger. Lick the but­ter that’s wet on your bread. Don’t tell too many sto­ries about the night before—only the ones you remem­ber with lit­tle accu­racy. Tell them the one about the glass of Dean Young and the poems that you wrote on the floor of the pool. Tell the wait­ress she looks like your mother. Tell her you’ll pick her up at 6:30. Tell your­self to stop anytime—you can stop any­time. You can drive right back to place you began and drive here again. You can slap your liver on the side of your stom­ach and swal­low the rest of the grounds in the cup. Under the table, there’s a mute girl kick­ing you. There’s love let­ters writ­ten on unpaid checks. But really, there’s you, with a girl you don’t know, show­ing each other fresh sets of bruises. But don’t worry. I mean it. Don’t fuck­ing worry.

IVHey. What’s LASER stand for?

Love And Sex End Rectally.

Lively Apes Scratch Everyone’s Rump.

Lucifer And Socrates Enjoyed Ruminating.

Lib­eral Angels Still Eat Retards.

V. How do you play spades?

Spades is about books
and the best way to read some­one.
It’s a game of skill. I mean,
it’s a game of chance. But thank God
it’s only a game. Maybe the girl
in the red dress won’t put out

unless you win. She’s rub­bing her thumb
into your stack of books. This is sign.
Just like pulling the label from a bot­tle
is a sign.

Maybe you’re eyes are glued
to the card table and the reg­u­lar dis­sec­tion
is get­ting under­way. Maybe
you can’t find a vein to the heart.
So you’re stand­ing there with a bad hand
of scalpels, just stand­ing there,
when some­one says, a lit­tle hes­i­tantly,
I win.

VIMatt or Michael. Who would win?

Both drove half the dis­tance singing
and even though singing is a trump,
it doesn’t trump here. Matt reminds you
of an enor­mous statue of a lum­ber­jack.
Michael snores. But the snores are melodious.

Matt likes break­ing the crab leg bet­ter
than suck­ing the juice from the shell. Michael likes
the suck­ing, and drinks with the strength of thirty one
men. Matt has a twin. He doesn’t mind a third
party. Michael prefers to make love the old way,
with Tom Waits scratch­ing it face
on the tape deck.

And if mas­tur­ba­tion were
the decid­ing point—and I’m not say­ing
that it is—you should tie them both
to the low ceil­ing above you. Watch for the hand
reaches for it first.

VIIWhy do you write?

Matt’s Haiku

She left me. I cut
both eyes out of her pic­ture
and looked through it.

Dawn’s Haiku

I don’t write haiku
because I smoke cher­ries out
of my ovaries.

Michael’s Haiku

I am a drunk­ard.
Nobody imper­son­ates
whiskey like writing.

(Years later, Con­tem­po­rary Poetry stabbed itself,
and because this was no small feat,
we all con­sid­ered our­selves brave for escap­ing.
W e said fuck Jane and wrote our­selves silly.
There were prophets and par­o­dies, babies on fire.)

VIIIWho called the day after the day you made out with a man?

Of course the ex-boyfriend.
You dropped your hand and picked it up
and pressed “play.” And play, it did.
The old way, over your mouth, teeth,
deflated tongue. Your tra­chea is the longest part
of a sigh. So you sigh across the entire field
and it lands at the forty-yard line.

That’s the far­thest
you’ve ever thrown your weight.
They do the replay, in slow motion,
and cir­cle the place where he stepped
out of bounds. That’s a first down.

The roots are dug up and strewn
through the bleach­ers. Fans do “The Wave.”
They launch cans of beers in the air,
then hot­dogs, then pro­grams, then beau­ti­ful
cheerleaders.

IXbool

an adjec­tive, noun, verb, or def­i­nite arti­cle we found on the ground of the stu­dent cen­ter, used before some­body or some­thing that has already been men­tioned, or some­thing that is under­stood by both the speaker and hearer if both are insomniacs.

Ex. I booled that bell.

X. What is a road trip?

Since we are young we can name this moun­tain
what­ever we want. You call it ‘The Wolf Moun­tain.’
I say it’s shaped like a sail. What we don’t say
is sim­ple: this is the begin­ning of a joke
that will take a long time to tell.

In the end, I’ll say I love you and it will feel
like the first time we pressed our feet
to the ped­als. We’ll reach for the radio
and that far in the future, the radio
will play some­thing peo­ple can fall in love to.
And this moun­tain will mean lit­tle in comparison

to way our old bod­ies still arch upwards, the way
we explain to each other what we car­ried,
what we still carry, and even then
we won’t get it right. This place will change,

but not because we came back to it. Or because
we’re here right now. It’s a mat­ter of what hap­pens
and doesn’t hap­pen. The ground will give in
or give up what it wants. Our arms

will grow long with the things we let go,
and when we say we are stronger,
it is because we feel more real know­ing
the places we’ve been.

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