The only one there said, You may as well go home, nobody’s going to show but me . . . and you. So I took my fifth of Jose Cuervo and ten sticks of Mary Jane, along with the sheaf of uncollected poems I had planned to offer the audience for approval . . . or what? This is the Midwest, where they never say outright what they think and especially not if it may involve feeling, but leave it to you to interpret the silences.
At home I toked up between shots of tequila. I had survived the test of my work by keeping quiet. And the other thing about this part of the country is this: If you keep your work to yourself you don’t have to worry about what others think or feel; you simply keep writing until the synapses break, the wired places between brain and hands go down in the storm of, an oblivion of, your own making. Why wait to die?
I had wondered why my father asked my mother, both in their seventies, to get in the car and go down to the river and drive over the edge. I didn’t figure him to think of doing that after such a youth–cottonfields and coal mines–and independence after the second war of the world, enough to pick up and move to a country he didn’t know and begin again, even though living another forty years carried pain into his hands and legs and when he kept on smoking he couldn’t sleep.
You have to wonder why you drink and smoke dope. Is it because you want to live in Mexico now and forget the American options, taking your chances on staying alive and helping, one hopes, others to survive? Or you could eat Spam in Honolulu. Or go to Canada, but it’s too close to the States, even if you can die under a doctor’s care without paying the bill or, at best, buying medical insurance. No: Live out the paradox of liberty and happiness and how they relate to human life.
(23 June 2013)
copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander