Mom must be doing “get-grown-children’s-shit-out-of-the-house” Spring Cleaning. This visit home armed me with an arsenal of old family photos comprised of big 80s hair, ET hats and dolls, awkward sports apparel, and images of my short-lived boyhood (Dad always blew my cover, but that’s a whole other story.)
On the upside, I waded through some old school scribblings. Admittedly, I put the box on the back burner until boredom and curiosity got the upper hand in a Des Moines hotel room. Most of the box now lives in a Motel 6 garbage bin, but a few pages were worth saving.
Among them, this letter to George W. Bush dated September 2, 2001 (This didn’t get me on any of those CIA lists, did it? Oh yeah, they can’t even stop terrorist attacks, let alone track a heckler from Indiana).
September 2, 2001
Dear President George W. Bush,
I wanted to write a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you’ for my recent $48.15 tax relief check. I truly agree with the ‘Giving back to America’s Workers!’ slogan on the back. America’s workers are the backbone of this country.
My only question for you, Mr. President, is this: How can I best reinvigorate the American economy with my $48.15? I was thinking I could use it for a down payment on a car, but what kind of car can you get with a $48.15 down payment? I guess I’ll just do a little grocery shopping!
I saw a piece on the news the other day about this whole surplus thing. Is it true that money is going to be taken from social security to cover this surplus? Well, I guess it’s time Americans learn to take care of themselves!
I mean, Mr. President, you’ve already approved drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Why not take the next step? Build the biggest mall in the world! Make an amusement park! That would generate so much tourism whereas right now, who wants to go to ALASKA? This idea alone could reinvigorate the economy. If you hired the right PR people, you could realize the project so quickly! Europeans, Canadians, Australians, and Americans alike would clammer to get there.
Personally, I would be willing to donate my $48.15 to the project right now because I know it will help America!
Thanks again for helping America’s workers!
Also among the uncovered artifacts was this poem that I wrote after receiving another rejection slip in the mail. If I remember correctly, I sent it to Ploplop anonymously:
If only I had a penis,
and a 40-year-old beer gut,
a hairy ass
and a sweat-stained wife beater.
If only I wrote poems
about my beer and cum-stained couch.
If only I wrote about my sixty second
fraternity sexcapades with reverie.
If only I though my dark, adolescent
fumblings had the makings of 21st century kama sutra.
If only I went to parties and got so drunk
I woke up and pissed on a lamp.
If only I thought fags were disgusting
but owned fifty lesbian pornos.
If only Charles Bukowski
were the only poet worth reading
and nihilism the only philosophy worth living.
If only If only If only If only
Yet, I do get drunk and wonder over lovers,
trouble over the world and think:
Will it be here tomorrow?
And I did have drunk adolescent fumblings
that get confused with nostalgia.
I do have five books of Bukowski,
a wife beater (minus the sweat marks),
and I even have horrible
taste in fashion.
But no prison tattoos, no beer cans collected
under the passenger seat of my car,
no yellowing Hanes with a rip in the ass,
no calenders of naked women with sports cars,
no war stories, no collection of Marlboro miles,
no brothel encounters, no Spring Break in Tihuana,
no rubbing elbows with writing buddies or
business partners, no foul cigar stink in my clothes,
no wife at home wondering where I am.
Only a few words that,
without a hairy ass, a penis, or a beer get,
will never see the light of day.
But, of all the words I found in my old bedroom closet, sarcastic ones were not the most resonant. Rather this little diddy from a type-written page called Pointing at the Origin wins that prize. Written over ten years ago during a visit home to Indiana after some time abroad, I was feeling a little distant from old friends:
“It’s as though you spent your youth painting the same line, together in the same direction. Then, you hit a point and suddenly an infinite number of lines shot out in every direction, intersecting with lines and people you could never have imagined. You labeled point (H) home and spent a great deal of time explaining the details to yourself- Geographically (Midwest), Topographically (Flat). Family, friends, childhood, summers, camping trips, the smell of the outfield on hot humid nights, tornado alley, teen angst, blizzard winters, yearning. You go over the details as if they might eventually lead back to the self, the point of origin.”
But, they never do.
And that is what Indiana taught me one week in August 2009.