..

“On a Highway to He**”

I am bathing in a quagmire of atrocity. Day by day, I just try to stay calm and not do anything stupid. To the greatest extent possible, I try to evade humanity. When I spend two consecutive days in my room, blogging, listening to music, writing poetry, staring out the window and watching college basketball, my roommate starts going all ballistic. He starts crying and screaming at the top of his lungs about things like murder and murderers. He’s like a big, dumb, loud version of Dennis the Menace and he is in no way capable of turning off the bathroom light when he’s done using it, repelling me from any delusion of his ability to empty the lint trap in the dryer after use and ergo avoid fire hazard.

In the last four weeks I’ve seen a person open a locked door of a bathroom in which someone was crapping and not express any remorse and I’ve also had my landlord walk out onto the roof and look in at my while I was showering. My entire body was visible to him and there is no shower curtain in the shower area.

I never wanted it to be like this.

I’ve always been a nice person. My personality is azure, which means, with all my ducks in a row, I get the natural impetus to help other people. I’m a former aspiring teacher who has been disallowed a teaching license because of my criminal background, which, at the time, consisted exclusively of victimless crimes.

I am worried about myself but I feel a little bit better than I did two hours ago. I am continually wondering how I am going to go on existing, particularly in a mental sense. I am in a state of inquiry as to what types of things I will be able to think, of how I will think, and to what it might lead. I start thinking of art, of artists, people who create. I have a current fixation on Diego Rivera and I’ve just today discovered a great poet named Michael Torres whose work is incredibly clear and gritty. It was not my intention to fixate on Hispanics but it seems it’s happened anyway.

I begin, I find myself, focusing on the exact fabric, the exact essence, of artistic expression. Today, I am taking the day off of work for reasons related to my mental health. I am in the library, which is probably my favorite place in town. I have no plans, and, aside from reading about four poems by Michael Torres, I’m pretty much just thinking, ruminating. Next to me, a lady is relating a tale about a guy driving his car into the river accidentally and drowning. I’m in a furious rush of stress, frenzy, and, I’d imagine, hypertension. Currently, as I’m writing this, I’m trying to get back to my former state of mind, which regarded the exact essence an artist is feeling when he wants to create. It’s not I want to create art. In fact, I’d much rather get back to a point of sanity. The reason why I’m fixating on the phenomenological requisite for the creation of art is that, in my current state, this is the only entity of which I am capable of wielding respect. Humanity has become repugnant to me, like a reprehensible waste species offering nothing of any value and simply undergoing quantifiable processes that are essentially meaningless.

Through art, however, I evade this mind state and observe that art, at its essence, is a storm in a teacup. Artists can identify other artists because they know exactly what needs to be expressed and what doesn’t. It’s always a storm in a teacup that will acknowledge an intense, broad landscape of humanity and imbue therein a sort of renewing paradigm. Rivera’s art is a little hard to understand and describe but I like it for its color clarity and its misanthropic avoidance of human forms, save for his excellent self-portrait, which may be his most famous work (and which, noteworthily, predated his Cubist phase in conspicuous fashion). The creation of rock and roll, too, is hard to describe, but possesses this transformative quality I mention earlier, necessarily, upon its materialization. The frequency, upon encountering of atrocity, is lowered, and this aspect of artistic creation becomes the sole component of one’s reality. This is why art must be the last thing to leave human society upon the race’s eventual demise.

“Entropic Foreground”

Walking around the jail cafeteria

I glance over

And see my reflection in the glass

Behind which

People I don’t know can see me

And I weave through

An abundance of men

Who have been caught beating their wives

Composing two-thirds of the individuals being held.

.

The TV relates a story of an “improper relationship”

Conducted by a football coach.

.

I sit down

And stare at the TV in disbelief and

Wonder when they’ll wake the fu** up.

“South Bend: an Expose”

I’m walking into the Hilton Double Tree in downtown South Bend, which stands across from the lot that used to hold the College Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame building still sits, completely empty for the past 11 or so years, on a 30,000-square-foot lot that also features a concrete football field painted with green turf and white lines.

I try to open the doors of the Double Tree, in order to enter and apply for a kitchen job. It’s three or so in the afternoon on a Monday. The doors stick together as I’m trying to open them and it takes about 30 pounds of force to get them open. I walk into the giant, lavish lobby, in which the ceiling is like 10 stories high or so and adorned with copious windows, and make my way over to the bar, which flanks the kitchen and serves fare cooked there. I pass a couple of cheerful or innocuous people, get up to the bar and notice there’s no one there. I start making my way toward the kitchen, still not seeing or hearing a single person. There’s a bathroom there and I do in to relieve myself. One of the dispensers is out of soap. I walk out, still not seeing or hearing anybody, and I start to walk into the kitchen. South Bend is very violent, so I decide not to go all the way in (actually I once heard a story about the manager of this very kitchen trying to lance this dude I worked with with a pizza cutter, right on the job). I walk back out toward the bar, gaze at a bunch of bottled beer in a little cooler, and think, this could probably all be mine, if I wanted.

It’s been another year in South Bend: of skimpier-than-ever uniforms at Hooters, of greater and greater prevalence and even intricacy of yoga pants (they now make bell bottom yoga pants, for your viewing pleasure), of homicidal glares from random dudes and of spending a lot of time alone, on my computer, blogging and listening to music, two of my typical practices. Car washes and fitness centers are spreading like wild fires, disabling any scabs who would attempt to say there’s completely no commerce here.

The commerce at the downtown hotels, though, seems perhaps a little slow, which is ironic since the Marriott just built a new multi-story hotel right next to the Hilton (which is especially weird since the Hilton used to be a Marriott in itself). In one quest for night life over the summer on a Saturday night I walked past McCormick’s and Cool Runnings on Michigan St., right across from the Hilton’s back side, a block which is supposed to be unmistakably the epicenter for local music, these days. There was not a single performance going on in either one and on my way there I’d passed the Howard Park Public House, where a band was packing up its gear at 10 o’clock at night.

Before Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s initiative of doling funding to establishments to set up downtown, there stood a bar called Blarney Stone, which was a sports bar which also made a regular practice of housing live music. I also remember hearing of DJ sets at the State Theater, something that hasn’t transpired since Buttigieg initially took office.

Since 2016, when downtown was fused with a bunch of government-funded businesses, places like Blarney Stone and Finnie’s sports bar have gone under, leaving a drove of new-fangled, faceless bars and restaurants whose only purpose seems to be to cater to the pretentious wannabe-Bohemians who are dense enough to consider South Bend a “cool city,” or whatever. The Morris Performing Arts Center still stands one block from McCormick’s, a staggering and almost unbelievable bastion of proof that, even in a city this size, it’s possible to forge a staunch, defiantly cataclysmic separation between socioeconomic classes. Tickets for these events typically sell for over $40 and the shows they hold are galaxies away from anything the average working-class or blue-collar individual would want to view — musicals and other Broadway-minded events, typically. I mean, I have a liberal arts degree and I can’t even stand that dross. South Bend Brew Werks has been known to house live music here and there but it’s nothing on a consistent basis. (Please let me add that their nauseating shtick of “donating to local charities” smacks of pecuniary subterfuge, to put it very lightly.) The most consistent venue for live music in South Bend is probably Simeri’s Old Town Tap, which sits about a mile and a half southwest of downtown.

As far as the public schools go, there was a stabbing incident at my old school, John Adams, recently, an event the likes of which I remember nothing from when I was there. In one case, during Mayor Pete’s tenure, a certain school ran out of food for the day, and the mayor did not even issue a single statement to the public regarding the incident, let alone issue an apology. That’s a matter of fund allocation, right? How is that not the mayor’s responsibiity. Buttigieg went to St. Joseph High for his adolescent schooling and certainly behaved, while mayor, like somebody with no interest in the public schools. I heard another tale, from my boss at Bob’s 19th Hole, about a student transferring out of South Bend public schools and seeing his self-esteem pretty much skyrocket, as a result.

We’ve just had a festival where metal detectors were required for entry, the two-day “Fusion Fest.” I would have gone but I don’t have any camouflaged clothing. Violence, spite and antipathy are through the roof downtown, as was corroborated by this local  comedian I used to be friends with on Facebook, who gave a tale of a homeless dude decapitating a goose in Howard Park. (Now our comedy club, The Drop, is closed, by the way, so I’m not sure where or if she’s still doing her routine, which included, I have to say, wanting to date an epileptic because “The sex would be incredible”).

Mayor Pete did oversee the addition of the South Bend Cubs, which I suppose is a positive in a certain sense. But South Bend has always had a minor league baseball team, in that same spot, since my parents moved me here in 1990, and there are no sports bars surrounding the stadium or establishments which seem in any way to get clientele runoff from the games, which is certainly troubling. Here is hoping that in the coming years we can place a greater emphasis on the schools and in giving locals a voice in what transpires in the realms of downtown nightlife. As it stands, in this downtown revampment project, South Bend is trying to attract people to what is basically a phantom entity.

“Astrological Shift”

This is one crazy zodiac we’re entering here,

As if the sun’s fire has become semantic

In its molten, all-encompassing rage to

Drive our shadows to precipice

And our shadows will dance and sing

In careless, timeless zeal, with

Faces glued in burning identity,

A 90-mile-per-hour

Omniscience factory.

“Military Curmudgeon”

His car is smeared heavily

With bumper stickers of aggression —

Armed Forces,

All gave some some gave all,

And then

A curious permutation, you might say,

In “Bite me,”

The words juxtaposed next to the

“Don’t tread on me” snake,

.

The question then, perhaps,

Being

Begged

As to why we fight wars

And attempt to gain victory

To

.

Reconvene on the

Homeland and administer,

Simply,

“Bite me.”

“Mocking Replica Fire Eye”

Stevie Wonder is laying down the truths

On the mic

But in your mind

Is the carnage,

Is Sandra Bullock speeding

Through a city of retractable roof stadiums

And so the truth hits your mind

And dies like old leftovers

With the mocking fire eye of America

Berating down on you,

Its poison running through your veins

As you hoist carnivorous eyes to the world.

“Coco Gauff Commandeers My Music Collection”

I have reason to believe that Gauff has hijacked my iPod shuffle

In the last 48 hours

Because she’s laid her head to rest —

She’s snoozing off to the left

On a sun-lit, screened-in porch,

Laughing at her Charlie Horses

And puerile taste in liquor

And swimming in the muck

Of America, of

Gawkers complimenting her new woman’s shape.

“How to Not Cross Your Own Moat”

He sits atop a land mine

That is his castle

And

I know

That castle is his jail

Because

.

I constantly

Hear his snips —

Now he wants to

Fight, now

He wants to buy,

And it was never

Enough and

Tonight

.

When I retire to bed

My blood will be

The same color as his

Apologizing for itself and

Swimming beside kitten’s fur.

“Solidarity”

When people are happy in my town it’s like a found art object. One example would be the two liquor store clerks talking about STD’s. I said it was like something out of the movie Clerks. They asked me if I’d ever had an STD. I said no and that I even went to IU so that meant I’d been extra lucky and my guardian angel had been watching me. They accepted everything I said with this steady, semi-oblivious, slightly passive-aggressive element of disregard. The fat dude who was talking a lot would never laugh, but only offer, in jovial but finally indolent disposition, more anecdotes, like “I thought I had an STD but it turns out she just ruptured a blood vessel in my penis.” I loved how he blamed her. So authentic. The other guy only talked when he was spoken to, pretty much. They made the perfect work pair. I started bounding out, having declined a receipt and exchanged no more words with either of the two. It was a Saturday night at about 9:30 in early August, temperate and raining. As I was walking out, I heard the talking dude say something about how there’s a tube from the testes to the penis and his friend got his injured. The more you know, I thought. I got in my car, cracked a Summer Shandy, started driving home and just letting it all sink in. Tomorrow it would be back to sports, tattoos and Magic the Gathering, I figured. I mean, it’s only so often you get two guys alone in a liquor store at 9:30 on a rainy night in August.

“Animation Protein”

So is there someone

Up in the sky

Who, like,

Consciously writes all our dreams every night?

.

That would be a funny job —

Like a cross between

A news reporter

And a

Saturday Night Live hawker.