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some days are better than none
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The City Has a Face
Dean Strom

Goodnight, dear. And gooddreaming. You'll find me receptive to your dreams, your endless ribbon tie and pull, your static case of superstition. Eewww it's raining! Get up. Today they might have caught a glimpse. Tomorrow your skin is sallow but you write your memoirs as though you could place yourself inside. You plink plonked over the piano keys. Better luck next year and take it with you. Your despair. Scalp jel. A sample. Yet then. Death. That's all they found. And some cigarette butts. There was shampoo. Her favorite magazine. Around her neck a washcloth. In your dreams falling forever. Get up. It's raining. A case of superstition and some cigarette butts. A clue.

The city has a face. Behind her eyes is a belvedere. Her mouth a rotunda with pews. From her vagina, prothalamions - as tickled as a kitten in a castle. But down this street, as always, her timing was predictable, distant, poorly defined; fake nails appearing on many steps; mellow and overlooked. A steep slope of a smile, an old steam engine without brakes. It doesn't take a sad girl to empty on lousy with people streets. It needs no cultured yeast to feast on its young, we all do that.

The canned stew and the whisky are being consumed by the merchant marine and the only surviving whaler, the asbestos installer who's buying a role of film, a silkscreener and a guy who knows Latin, a woman who calls herself Mary Poppins, the last telephone prankster, philatelists, productions of Othello, a legion of bird watchers, model airplanes, professors, coal, SUVs, the Tilt-a-Whirl's gears, checkers, and me.

There is a watch ticking in my gut and can be seen twitching on my epidermis. There is a watch in the middle of that mass of intestine wound up and flipped over like Dali's eggtime. It really doesn't matter what time it was when I swallowed it. It is due to the trouble given over to time being mostly a matter of style. Fortune smiles on those who get lucky. I have only my strong bowels to thank that having not passed it I'm still walking and ticking, a flipped over Dali egg gloomy side up.

This is Zith. He is of the Dexter family. He is not fickle but fond of silence. Not foggy. The dampers are dry and shiny. He's a fine looker. Has sawdust in his pants. He is industrious and kind. He might never be famous but will never pine. When you ask him 'what do you do, Mister?' he knows what to answer. He is also descended from a serial killer of little note who shall remain nameless. This ancestor claimed fealty to "The Curse of the Cow" - a secret organization during the 'Dexter period' - which lasted right up until the time of Phil. One of the Phils. Not Phil the first. It was still some time before the nasty cold sore epidemic preceding the dawn of the age of science right as the full bodiced Gloria came of age in the common state of delirium; that year the aliens in their spacecraft decided to go back to observing the mating habits of coyotes and bugs while Bruce, the slightly effeminate cobbler, known for throwing wild wig parties, could very well have been the ancestor-killer's first victim.

I was in love with Zith's sister Mary Jo. It's all jumbled in my memory now - what I heard and what I lived. Alzheimers disease has ripped entire pieces off. Everything was nude under the sun and deaf and dumb. Everything was pretending to be one thing, only one thing at a time. Onething rather hazily compiled a list of characteristic excuses to be drunk away on December 31st. On December 17th it looked to me, newly self-concious and sipping a bourbon and coke, like another year realized. The night danced crisp and clear and I could see as far into the past as light just now reaching earth from an event some few billions of earthyears ago... or so. Looking into the sky, and seeing more stars than I was used to seeing in the city, a very prominent clearly flaring star that I was focusing on disappeared. This kind of shit, this EVENT, happens not only once in a few billion years but at alltime it is happening for the first time somewhere - given an observer. This might be a somewhat complicated arrangement of words but it was as true a statement as any as I understood physics and linguistics. This EVENT has no time coordinates that are not in itself infinite. So Celebrate, ye damn moquitos, ye lightening bugs.

Mary Jo, my fiancee, was dancing on the other side of the room avoiding eye contact. the band was covering the classic Death Defying Trick of Living by The Obviouses. If you were alive then you know the song
'...when she had finally attained
happy despite me
way past happy to spite me'
performed with the faintest deft off hand; fancy, or poetic, or dancehall.
'but face it my pointless life is one dance short of itself.'

On the 'its elf' refrain everyone screams in their own unique yet enthusiastic way thereby, theoretically, with a large enough audience, achieving all possible chords. The song of the year as voted by the Academy of Published Songwriters of Europe and North America.

'when she had finally attained
happy despite me
way past happy to spite me
but face it my pointless life is one dance short of its elf.'

It was the year that might have been if I remember correctly. How great the year that is dust on the horizon behind an outcrop of vaguely human rock eroded into the shape of Abraham Lincoln, some say. The wheels that kicked up such magnificent dust must be mighty and sleek indeed. This appeared to bode well for the return of the sun. Another year's model driving yonder with a back seat full of hair. Mary Jo told me, "My mama said, 'Please remember if you should ever decide to do something, words aren't productive. They sit around and moan and no one remembers them. Build a house for yourself. Only smart people are stupid with a cause. Everyone is receptive to a miracle even those who aren't counting on it. Even those who don't expect it. That thing that pokes around and wishes you into existence is calling you faintly. The dark hush. The smoke dawning rush of angels. To and fro the whiskered menace wave steely eyed and hallways beckon. Walk them.' She died two days later." Mary Jo married a lawyer about six months after breaking up with me.

Wonder it is that has never felt the latest in care of a good looking purple pill combusting in your stomach now, after ten minutes, and an hour and half later. No more comeuppance. Eggs glistening in the dew fortunes futured in full length features and gowns climactic in their train carriers of staying ahead of the smith's anvil and brand new newness and all that is advertised in a monthly addendum to the New Year's resolution of next Valentine's Day hard Midsummer's Christmas. But then comes another memory that flutters under the radar done obsolete by the advances in the expectations of physics examining both the dreams of the broken heralded and thirty ton exhibits on ice which are skating the recesses of glacial retraction and the landlocked creatures of carbon extraction which are still on exhibit in the more shallow ocean. I remember it well despite the interruptions.

It was Zith's and Mary Jo's younger brother Jerry that was found dead in the park. He was 36, homeless, and schizophrenic. All he had with him was a notebook with some scattered entries and a few loose sheets of paper. A few years later Zith asked me to publish some of it. I didn't really know how to go about it so I chose this. The first three handwritten scratchings appearing on the third, fifth, and seventh pages are

as i few years hence sit in my wheelchair typing with a stick taped to my nose it's occurring to me that a benevolent benefactor was right. max? yes. ... meanwhile was...corrupting a story on schadenfreude and its internet uses

the world's next 50 year old teenager sits dancing with guitar, look, those fingers move. The guitar is thrust between his legs just so. got every finger moving across your fret board, was her best available suitor... - he thought - but not she. She was ready to go dancing tonight down at Fingerpoops.

we know a lot of stories about singers. usually they're about lost voices and sad declines... into drug abuse, cruel men and rap sheets... a crow sitting on a pole. it drops off then rises in an arc caw caw and is gone. there's nothing i can tell you now or make you see except maybe for brief what-might-have-beens but it really can't comfort the terror, the panic, or compete against the bright or the loud. The sudden loud has everything going for it but it is limited in that it can only be rung once.

On a printed sheet containing what appear to be a few holes caused by tacks and stuck into his notebook.

Lately in the hallways I have been overhearing snatches of conversations. But I have had no one to talk to about this, since everyone ignores me while I straighten my hair and dress at my locker then stand behind you at the drinking fountain, I have decided to post this on the bulletin board and some of you will see it and one of you will tear it off the board and draw stupid pictures with arrows through my head captioned with my name.

It leaves the impression of having been written by a girl.

More notebook selections.

and the silence said
there are no causes only punishment.
there may be a god
and he's a digital camera

Every moment's crushed kitten brains Stay real or go insane, Tubo said. or can I go real later? The enemy is real and out there somewhere. I'm in here, somewhere, and safe. stay real. real passed me and maybe when it laps me I'll catch a glimpse. I know my enemy isn't real as he impresses himself on me anyway. I'll stay real then whenever I think I'm real I discover later I'm really just some whining bitch. That might be real but that can't be the truth. The truth is something and real is something worse. I don't think I'll dispute this later. later isn't very long. stay real or go insane. Or can I go real later? The enemy is real and out there somewhere. I'm in here, somewhere, and safe. Have tea with strangers. Shoot your monkey. There goes a scooter. Every one is sad. Take shelter. Name names. Citizens buzz bees. Have soap. Sneak seconds. Play fiddles. Know what to do with a fantasy. Somehow or another get the right address. Wait at the bus stop. Notice nice legs. A fall from grace is a long one. It packs sunsets into a travel case. Son't be fooled. The bus picks you up when you are ready. Don't bother packing a toothbrush. Your guide says those luscious green valleys you see below are home to a trillion mosquitoes. We'll be arriving at your destination whenever you decide. Take your time. Eventually you will yank on the cord. I'll leave you to the graces of our driver. We call him "that little pissant who will get all the credit". Don't let the blank faces get in the way. You don't have to kiss any. If you want to toss a few off to make some room feel free. We make swoops into mesa crested valleys barrel-rolling and smashing into walls sprinkling the sand with mystery. Find yourself sitting on a ledge. Reality shows itself to be quiet but then forgets itself. Finds itself hopeful. Doesn't pay the bill. Hands me a note. Comes with a whimper. Disappears and is replaced by nurses. Reserves a table by the kitchen. Carves initials in drunken sailors. Wishes you were more like him. Is true justice. Sucks notions. Sheltered a kitten. Buys boxes. Never once said you were pretty. Is barefoot and dances on your head. Opens blind spots. Reveals more blind spots. The corrugated roof is slippery. Reality never gets shared. Sets mirrors at funny angles. Doesn't invite me. Sinks comfortably into the distance.

That was a corrected section. The next selection more closely resembles how it appears.

braids are wet and they sink deeply into my lap as i satisfy my urge to develop a more lasting friedship. quick quikc yelled felix who was never understated but quite sincere when he wrote that the fealty to a unique cosmopolitan whatchamacallit iwas more imprtant than the shpere of rosy inclinations and he forever regretted having said that. that was quite a night. it had daisical fulcurms of spittle on the empty bottles of mine sperechuck forgoshamaapples and bob.forsense it to be. call them call them make them see. they will come to you after many many tribulations. effortrs and self centered writing about wirting about and that doesn't count, he said one morening quie circular notions of greave intent and spotty somthings that rare somewhat green and gold this time of year what do you think that all this is shattered have my dreams been of finding that which idoes not mirror herself. elmore came fine a falutin smacker now. deep inside this pestilence. no. stop. the stark realisation of stop.realizes.

why are you blue, god, why are you blue?
how can one be expected to know one's thoughts while one is forming thoughts.
it would take a perfect record to study later
and notice the spaces
getting bigger
and bigger
to spend some little time on my thoughts
would become acceptableshitter and acceptableshitter.

Blind elf glore ironical. Own exacerbation hypsiloid draw to the stone pancreas. Send slave to purgatory. Tell him to bring back everything with mold on it. Analyze chemical composition. we might outdo LSD25.

Only thru these i go
in Quick release shoes
The dawn is never late but I am
always trees falling and people falling and trees getting back up again
And then he said, Suffer, you fraud. Suffer
suffer, foo. He will make you suffer. suffer, you freud
pointed like a sponge, my little kitty
the rats fleeing in all directions
then gathering
go angrily into my underground bunker and stare at my suitcase nuclear device.

AND GOD SAID i came down from the mountain to say, Jew! and he said, no i am not a jew. what made you think i was a jew? it's not the handbag is it? What do you have in that handbag, God asked without a question mark because God doesn't need question marks. God wanted to help this little Jew.

As close to the protozoean dance as you can get short of mutating, so she says, vitus, but you didn't ask. I would've, you know, but I was busy staring at your filled in blank. To steal, I say, and you are. You are malleable to the deal? Yes, she said, but she was hesitant. I accepted this. When you wake up tomorrow it is distant. "Honey, it was distant tonight." My last vacation pina colada or is that piquant colloquy? I can't remember. I'm still blinded from your sweat.

The second to last thing I am including was simply

y prone body. linchpins are timeless.

I have fulfilled my obligation to Zith.

I see now the seagulls have taken over. You can't entrust anything to crows. Tea Time for popscycle Bob, dirty Maurice, action without cause, cessation of cruelty, cause celebre, meaningful lassitude, steal a heart away, copy editorial functions, the things the play, so little more afforded the luxury to live - to spin - to grovel - to win, gimme some more, so much is less is more, so much more, so little, so, crepuscular. At a distance faces don't matter. They are conical flat flesh. The sun is setting. I understand that painting finally. Now if only they wouldn't talk... When I first sat here traffic was moving smoothly, but now, regarding my view point, it is not. I've tried to imprison part of myself in a hole and go about my business, coming back every now and then to the hole and myself and say, "what have I done? Let me be the first to ask.” And then that guy said, "Did you know that christ died for your sins?", said as if he was the first to ever be so the profoundest to ask me this, so, so so hopefully, and I said, "No. He died for his own." The poor boy contorted. He bizarrely respirated. He plunged into rage. He couldn't formulate a sentence. He just screamed a reaction to the general world. I don't think he even saw me for a few seconds. When he came to I could see he was building up again and I should take my leave. The poor guy is beyond my help. What gets people this way? It's still a world where all the women smoke and make that chimney spout motion with their lips and chin, please... when in walks another with the obligatory dripping cigarette fingers. The fingers... the fingers tap. They keep tapping. And the beat is faint. ignoratio elenchi. A person has little power over his own life... He is captive and driven;;; I don't get close to what's really happening. They slip onto the page only half discovered torments. Brief glimpses. And that guy kept talking. "Well, that depends on if you are a materialist..." It was time to interrupt. "I don't know", I rule finally, "As opposed to what - that I imagine it all?" He's exposed as the fraud he is. He thought I was going to say, "- a nominalist?" He should have asked me how was my imagination? But "A monist!" he did shout and confirmed the hanging. His friends will be leaving him now one by one, slowly. In the "more than one entity" concept, multiple personalities have keys to the different pathologies and "solutions". The recirculating of synapses or etc. The cultivation of positive emotions, the necessity for change. Go ye now.. I wonder how long she's going to go along thinking nothing has changed. She understands none of it. She understands me not at all. To her, I'm just a solemn solitary figure. She doesn't guess the great energy welling up in me. The come as you really are momentum... When suddenly I came about to the realisation (again and again as I do) that I must stop my little resentments and mad abouts and live magnanimously and LARGE. I must embrace my new privacy. Leaves jiggle, branches sway. A bird twitters out of sight in the pine. March comes in like a literary lion gone dangerously awry.


Dean lives next to a lake and can be seen frequently in it, doing the backstroke, back and forth, across the lake. Back and forth, back and forth, staring at the sky, his arms appearing as a steamboat’s paddle-wheel.