Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fare Thee Well, Red Balloon (a poem)

FARE THEE WELL, RED BALLOON

 

I was on my home this late afternoon

When I saw the red balloon.

It had been raining all week,

And there it was, dribbling on a puddle

Where the storm water grates had backfilled

With a winter’s worth of garbage.

The balloon spun for a moment, then

The wind picked up and kicked it along the curb.

I thought, this balloon is going to pop.

I hate when balloons pop. It’s not the noise,

It’s the suspense that really irks me.

But I am world weary and know better than

A child’s faith in an eternal balloon.

So I could not leave the balloon to explode

Somewhere mysteriously around a blind corner.

I had to see it through.

Plus I had had a shitty week and thought

The surprise might make me feel something,

Something besides the career numbing-burnout.

I thought, that balloon is going to pop

At any moment now. I heard the pavement

Scuff the soles of my shoes, and I saw the balloon

Skiff across the street and thought,

That balloon does not stand a chance.

The wind shifted and the balloon turned a corner.

They had been warning about flooding, but so far

The earth had sucked everything the sky had pissed down,

Except for the odd garbage-plugged sewer drain, but

In that case some lazy asshole fucked up.

I splashed through the flooded puddles

That the balloon danced over. I crashed

Through its delicate ripple kisses. I chased

It, thinking, this balloon is about to pop.

But now the red balloon had turned purple in the night,

And a dull orange when it skipped under a streetlight.

I continued my pursuit, shielding my eyes

From oncoming traffic headlights that left spots

That looked like green balloons spinning in the wind.

Those retina balloons spun and faded away,

Leaving the balloon that hopped along the asphalt.

I thought, I am going to make that fucking balloon pop.

The wind shifted for the hundredth time

And gave me the advantage to cut a corner.

I grabbed the balloon between two hands and

Held it to my chest, squeezing my teeth.

Like that would make any difference. It snapped,

It exploded, I thought my ear drums had popped.

I stumbled backwards and let the shreds

Of red plastic drop. They floated on a puddle,

But did not skip or hop. They sort of

Hung there, shriveled and impotent.

I kicked the puddle and smiled at the wind.

There we go, I thought, I knew that goddamn

Balloon would pop. I raised my arms victoriously,

But there was no one to celebrate my success, so

I let my arms drop. And as I looked around

I realized I did not recognize the block.

I had chased the balloon for three hours

Without looking up. Now what?

 

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Shake Hands With a Cop

I have been watching too much TV in recent months…probably since my drugs ran out in January and I stopped taking my psychotropic medication in February, my dependence on external entertainment has skyrocketed. I have been entranced by my free preview of Travel & Escape, so much so that even my real life trip to Argentina did not even feel real until I was sweating in their fall humidity. Goddamn, I hate the modern world. Someday the good old fashioned noose will fix everything.

But for now I’m a coward, and I live on like a model consumer in the information age. I peruse my smart phone while I watch hashed TV commercials. I consume there I am. I share, therefore I am. I am everything but am, therefore I am.

Not to get bogged down in mind-fucking philosophy. That is a domain I have no patience for. My engrained attention-deficit won’t allow for any analytical thought. Just sound bites and other one-hundred-forty character aphorisms.

To the real point: I was cruising TV channels, and stopped upon MuchMusic, a vestigal remain from my TV watching youth, back when music videos actually mattered. I caught the video for “Turn Down For What”, which was actually entertaining to my rum-soaked lazy brain, and I left the remote untouched long enough that the commercials ran on. And in a preview of upcoming Much shenanigans, they clipped the upcoming One Direction video—highlighting a clip where the blond one (or are they all blond?) shakes hands with a British cop.

And I wept in joy. Yes! Thank Dog! Pop music has finally become lame again! It is finally embracing its normality and mainstream nature! Enough of the fake rebel bullshit…I guess we all figured out Avril Lavigne was full of shit (Hello Shitty!) and that Good Charlotte were a bunch of poseurs who stole their mothers’ eyeliner. The jig is up, and we are right back where the 90’s started us, with a bunch of whitebread pretty boys who are so stylized they mean nothing in themselves. They are dolls, and I can’t be happier.

It brings me joy because there is nothing more alienating for an actual outsider than for everyone to pretend they are an outsider. It makes me fucking squirm. The rebel image has long been commercialized, lost to multi-million dollar clothing companies. That doesn’t bother me, because rebellion in itself is ephemeral—it is a dialectic against a specific idea or norm…it is not meant to be blanket-spread over everything…the epitome of this extremism is apathy, and apathy is bullshit. Point-blank apathy has to be among the most disingenuous behaviours humans can partake in. It is against our basic animal instinct and contrary to millenia of evolution. Everyone cares about something, even if they don’t want to.

But I’m straying…because I care deeply. I care so deeply that I am ambling aimlessly over this blog like I own the place. Like whatever I have to say at this moment doesn’t even have to make sense, it just needs to be said. But back to my first point in the previous paragraph: the fake ‘outsiderism’ was a pose that mainstream culture, by its very nature, could not uphold for long. They (the vague, amoebic mainstream culture I would like to piss on, if I could only find a place for my urine stream to land) tried to be ironic, and quite frankly, once an insurance company has caught on to marketing irony, it can pretty much be declared dead.   

Listen, you bandwagon hipsters: I am actually paralyzed by going to a party. I get mad social anxiety and have fantasies of going deeper and deeper into wilderness and never coming out. And when I am amongst the gentry, I do not feel like I belong. I don’t associate with them, I find it hard to communicate, I get jumbled in my speech and tend to just want to intoxicate myself to soothe any of the deep-seated self-loathing that mirrors itself in the Other. What is so fucking appealing about that? Why do you need to market to me? I don’t want what you are buying, and if I give you any indication that I do, I am completely fucking with you to give myself a sense of perverse pleasure.

So the last decade of pop culture aimed at commodifying the outsider, the periphery, the fringe…you will never win this battle. You might as well move on to the true values of your core audience. Take your faux-punk, and manufactured indie, and half-baked neo-hippie and rebrand it back to fun-loving bro-dudes who wink at girls and gel their hair and shake hands with cops.