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The Backyard

By Mark Flanigan · February 16th, 2011 · Living Out Loud
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Exiled from Main Street XXXVI: for D.F.

“I never realized you had a backyard,” I said to Dave as I looked outside his bedroom window. His younger brother was tossing ball with a friend below it.

“You didn’t?” he asked, puzzled. “I thought everyone had a backyard.” Dave started leafing through a book. Then he asked, “Feeling anything yet?”

“A little headache.”

“Me too,” he agreed, handing me a book of photographs, America by Andy Warhol. Dave’s room was small, claustrophobic. I lay back on his waterbed and tried to see some photographs. But the neighbor’s dog barked every time the ball was pitched, thus blocking my view. Suddenly, my hands became projectiles and my legs stretched out in front of me. A door slammed.

“Shit,” Dave said, “that’s my dad,” his face pale.

“It’s cool, man. Why would he bother us?” I sat up, propped my head on the windowsill. Dave’s brother was still pitching, the dog barking. I wanted to play, too.

“Come on, man, quit doing that. Suppose someone sees your big head nosing out the window; they’re gonna know something ain’t right.”

“Man, I feel like two thieves shut up in a house with the cops outside.”

“We are,” Dave reminded me.

I leaned back onto the bed and started writing in a notebook:

dogs bark: it was me, moving through a mirror. and i laugh every time that dog barks and that kid says fuck and i’m looking at America (where does that leave South America?) and laughing.

i just don’t want to do anything. but i’ll laugh and laugh. why? ‘cause did you ever try not to do something? it’s very unamerican. everyone has the same name, shares the same face. shit, there’s a man eating dinner on my notebook and i’m plastic. how can anything seem real? and do i think? i’ll be able to comprehend this rubbish tomorrow? and why tell me why do i keep using all these damn question marks?

this is the real poem the real poem man, no wonder the 60’s were the 60’s. man there is just so much i want to do (like stop saying man, man) and i wanna know is dave laughing or crying. stop and listen:

i can’t stop laughing. but i am somehow sad. shit this is funny. but man i smell. if there’s one thing to be said for this, it is the edges on everything. everything has just so many sides. and that’s what we forget in everyday life.

Dave left, and then returned from the restroom, his face pale as Nosferatu. “Whatever you do,” he warned, “don’t look in the mirror.” I continued writing:

i hope i already said it. maybe that’s the problem. no ink in the pens. there’s just some things that can’t be said, like the wind. yes, like the wind. and there’s just some things that can’t be sung (did john lennon say this already?). i hope i remember, tomorrow. i hope i can bring with me the image, the line, the beauty, the waves. you can open these lines and look between them like floorboards. how am i getting back home? i wonder.

and i can feel the blood, i mean see the blood circulating through me. and i guess i like this a lot because it’s so hard not to be frank with yourself when you got eight hands. so much can be said. but it’s still not enough. everything has its reality here. no one is cast out, not even the conservatives.

my head’s bulging, everyone’s too lazy to turn on a light or something. but there is already so much light, just a different kind. look at the girl’s face, so pretty and pensive, and so rich. and she’s not even there it’s just a picture of the statue of liberty by warhol. and i know i’m andy. and andy knew i’m me. just like dave knows he’s me, and i know i’m as loony as this fuckin rainbow on my page. i laugh and dave laughs and we knew it was gonna happen.

this is just too much; i know everyone else is saying that. but i can’t stop the sun from setting. it’s like a dream where you know everything that is going on even though everyone’s faces keep changing.

mark, never forget the wonder of it all — the stars, the airplanes, and the thought that rebellion is starving now so you can make money off it later, sort of like traveler’s checks.

I forced my notebook down. Noticed that I could spread light with my hands; make music with my feet. And I tried to read but there was just too much meaning. I became familiar with one paragraph so that I knew it better than any other, yet there was still so much more there. Everything was connected, even me. And life, suddenly, was serious.

I stared at the clock. It meant little to me, only that there wasn’t much time left.

Dave was asleep. Or dead. I didn’t care which. It seemed immaterial. It was immaterial. So, I propped my elbows back up on the windowsill and watched the spaceships attempt to complete their circle overhead.

It was dark now. I got up to use the bathroom. There was the mirror. Recalling Dave’s earlier advice, I looked anyway and quickly regretted it.

Stepping out into the hallway, I noticed an open door. I peered inside. Dave’s little sister lay asleep on her side, her face pointing toward a cracked window. Blonde hair fell on her face. I kissed her forehead.

And left through the back door, not closing it behind me.


CONTACT MARK FLANIGAN: letters@citybeat.com


 
 
 
 

 

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