In 1999 I was too old to have the patience for my grandpa's stories, but before that I would love them. I'd sit on the rug and he in his armchair. The living room mahogony brown. I couldn't mind the smell of him, it was simply natural. One time he gave me a riddle and said it was the hardest riddle in the universe and that only a boy who likes stories such as myself could solve it.
And so the riddle goes:
What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs mid the day, and three legs at night?
I sat in the quandary some quite some time. And it was bliss. It was something for me to throw every thing I could think of at and still come back to it with energy tenfold. He had brought a big black light before my senses and everything in my world could be seen as refracted from the match against his pipe. And then The Race of Discovery:
- I learned many things about my grandpa.
- These are those things.
- He came back from the war where he had failed.
- He had sat in an airplane and failed to lift off, failed to rise up, failed to conquer the enemy.
- All these failures stuck with him when he returned to his wife, who knew nothing of and soonly forgave such misunderstood nervous fatigue.
- She saw him live his life in front of the television and she watched gathering distance from her kitchen.
- Both of these locations are where they stopped believing God.
- With that they stopped fearing God and they quit fearing each other and their lives went onward like that
for forty years.
- Horny, chagrin, exhausted, my grandfather took to himself and all his sexual urges with his own empty hands.
- My dad's mom had left because she talked to grandpa's war buddy and he told her to shut herself because she couldn't know of them different and the japs and in the bar where she went to him for advice he spit liquor on the floor and said, "Leave your husbands troubled dead and buried so they are and so will they always be."
- She moved to Ohio, to be with her children.
- Forty months later she went back to Pennsylvania and their bed again was once shared but soon afterwards she changed all her mind and my grandpa was confused throughout.
But before his death there was another war.
- Accordingly my dad should have fought in it, but instead sent himself over the Canadian border.
- He also had a wife who also left him and after the war she came back and gave him a child and took from him it again when she moved far far away.
- But I still learned to love my dad, and his dad, even as my parents dragged our their fight in heated courts like snakes make love.
- After 16 seasons he roared out your good bloody instinctual violence.
And both the women came back like happily ever after so I get to write a story about my grandpa.
- This is that story.
Shouldn't I be happy that he returned from war with both his legs? Shouldn't I care? What does it matter, I guess, if he only sat around and watched tv. He would still take phone calls. Still. What a mean beast of war, sitting in an airplane. Those that man computers and sit in rooms with televsions, they are our warriors. It's manners and gestures and masks. We've made terror and bombings easier than strangling and stabbing. Those with willpower to their minds, not their bodies, had the advantage to murder. How many grandpas since always. Whatever riddle my grandfather left me in it was familiar and excruciating at the same time. It was life and death and it was constant. I tried to collect ladies to distract my detestable mindset and they sat around for a minute. But they were called away by schedules: blinking lights and telescreens, there was music there that used to be just beeps. There was artifice and I stood weakly in the midst of all its shallow use. The things they had constructed only deconstructed our view. As if the battlefied of the mind wasn't a fitting one for the turn of the 21st century. From the hotel room on Mars good fights evil for all. From a large window I watch it. The frame, the four sides, contain within them all the world's observance and the experience of the past million years. While room service waits I destroy my sense of gathering, my ability to culminate information. Beyond the structures of this room my mind is obstructed by a door in the desert. After the technology gave us comfort I waited for her call against the phone and tore myself lose and rebuilt again in the process.
This happened over and over and over again.
But by in time in that bed with breakfast I beheld it. How dare it stand to defy my heritage. Had not the process of evolution brought me here? Was not millions of years among the living things credit given to the desire and complication in naming them. Yet there I still am, in that high rise Mars Motel. I am dying, as we all are, as we continue to get better at doing. Our stories were never so fast and so exciting, so vivid nor visual. And he teach us to read alters the landscape until cerebral ruins guide us through our every thought. At the place runs a path where no markers of our bear signal and we venture into the wildnerness beyond.
Chaos of the mini-fridge liquor and the spastic 15 second commercial spots. To burn bright and fast. To venture onward in the dark with only the varying shadows from our burning pages. I am there, before my grandpa's large corduroy knees. Telling him simply that I've already heard that riddle. That he crawls in the morning and walks daily and then leans toward death on a crutch; the answer is man.
After my grandfathers stories
I dreamed of the man with no legs
The gods bethought their beings anew
And strength defined their honor Until the dawn of thought uncovered madnessby definition.
From that Golden Eden they fell
Again and within their own flesh
Clutching for Sameness
Solidarity of Conflict for an infinite graspableRounding the same four corners
Until the frame has chipped awayinto the ever solar circle:
Noble legends speak to us
and guide us through the night.
Lend us the spirits of the elders
Whom we call ours
To explain the ways of man from beast,
and offer us
a hero to improve things for the moment.
Behind my iron eyelids
A world of time unknowable passed by
where grey haired babies stopped using botox
And Atlas had the freedom to shrug,
nothing. Until the sirens called me out
to wake and toil miserably
like a child yearning for his grandfather
to tell the story again.