Saturday, October 20, 2012


~ Jan. 23, 2010 ~ MANGE Raccoons up an old elm as we tour a 1940’s custom-built brick home and dream of what it might be like to raise our kids there, in a neighborhood nicer than we deserve, and how me and my wife can sit by the fire and be content, and how maybe I can use the basement to write and drink and read and maybe even smoke a pipe, and we see the coons. Three of them. An adult and two young. And they do not look good. Mange has a hold of the two little guys. Something else has hold of the other. I know this because they do not look strong. And I know this too because it is January and daylight and 22 degrees. I say nothing, but the realtor does. "Oh, there are the critters," she says. And Little Man and S.B and even Jovi look out the kitchen window. The kids--they do not know--but S.B. looks at me. I look at her and we pass it off as the realtor does. An obvious fact of life. "Two of them have mange," she says. "And the big one, she doesn't look well either." Little Man stretches his neck. Watches as the animals wobble and shake thirty feet above ground. "They won't make it through the winter," our realtor says. It is sad. True. Another dose of brutal reality in this life that grows warmer and colder each day. And all of us turn from the window and keep looking. In closets. Bedrooms. Upstairs. Down into the basement. And nothing is known. For certain. It is, after all, just a house. Another building. A place to call home. And no matter what, we will have shelter and food, and we will last the winter. Not like the coons. Or the snowflakes. Or the people pushing through this life fighting for the wrong things. "I think we'll get the loan," I said to S.B. Tonight. As we sipped wine and watched bits and pieces of WALK THE LINE. "I think so too," she said. "We're good people, I think." "We are good," she said. Just then, Johnny Cash appears in the studio singing about prison and shooting a man just to watch him die. "Johnny goddamned Cash," I said. S.B. looked at me. Smiled. "People these days, they don't get it," I said. "Get what?" "Anything. People just don't get it." She smiled. Sipped her wine. "They don't get old brick houses, coons with mange, family, or doing what it takes to rise up and be better," I said. "You okay, honey?" she asked. I drink my wine. "I'm okay," I say. And head to the kitchen for more. But I am not okay. I am caught up in work and not writing and how our world has moved too far from a life where faith outweighs fear. And I wish to fuck our world had a Hemingway, Grant, and Johnny Cash to battle E.L. James, Tatum, and T.I. "Could you imagine," I said. "One of these hip-hop rapster-shits that think they're so tough in a room, one-on-one, with Johnny Cash when he was young?" She smiles again. "It's just not the same anymore," I said. "It's all different and based on things that do not last." "You seem tired, honey. Maybe you should sit down and rest." But I don't want to rest. I don't want to sleep. I don't want to do anything, but drink more wine, fight the good fight, and believe we have what it takes to hold onto the greats. But instead of drinking or fighting or believing in anything worthwhile, I sit at these keys--these goddamned keys--and I tap away at ideas that mean everything. Raccoons with mange, clinging to trees. Families. Trying. And these days. Autumn to winter. The tired dreams. Eating away our time. ~ KJ

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