As a job requirement, I have to keep my phone on me at all times. Even as I slumber my phone is in arms length. Every night I go to sleep hoping that the phone doesn’t rouse me into action. It is an abomination. I am beholden to the incessant flow of notifications, updates, irrelevant texts, and infernal headlines. It is overwhelming. I have daydreams of throwing my phone off of skyscrapers, cutting a hole in the ice on a frozen lake and dropping it to its icy death or wrapping it in toilet paper and releasing it into the bowels of a porta potty.
I have contemplated deconstructing my phone, taking it apart and carrying a thousand little parts in a sandwich bag, periodically laying it out on the floor and making designs, or spelling out my name from its delicate little pieces. When asked, I would say I was trying to get to the bottom of things, figure out how it worked–looking for some kind of breakthrough in communication. To be frank, they would probably hand me another one and tell me to be careful moving forward. After the third or fourth time, they would probably fasten it to my neck or tether it to my testicles. There is no escaping it.
In the future, I am going to retire to a life of hand signals and telepathic communication. I will replace my televisions with fish tanks and my laptop with a vintage Underwood. Of course I will exist on an island, not receiving vital updates via social media on the mood status of people I never talked to but shared a homeroom class with in the forth grade. And I will not find be able to stay tuned into the latest celebrity gossip or fantasy football talk. Oh the horror! I need to downgrade my life and find a magical community of those so predisposed to aversion for all this digital bombardment. It probably doesn’t exist, but my sense is that it is right around the corner. I am not alone.
Jasper Kerkau (9-26-2016)
Finally got some space between me and the world, rolled away and tucked in silence, walking down hall in socks, peaking out window–cat in street massaging her paws with her tongue. It is so easy, so soft, this elegant quiet, tinkering with laundry, listening the hum of air conditioner and candles that flicker to jazz, unencumbered by the cacophony of static outside my door, which is trying to drown out my meditative melody that I alone hear. Ah…the silence of Saturday night.
Jasper Kerkau (November 13, 2016)
Yesterday was a disaster. The last weekend of summer, at least summer as I visualize it. It was supposed to rain. It didn’t. I was supposed to turn the corner, transform my life. This summer I would pick up the debris of the storms that I had weathered and find myself in a new place with laughter, scores of new people, new loves, new passions, yet all I got was a kitchen devoured and heaps of trash on patio. Nothing happened the way it was supposed to. It never does. As I sit and wait for a cool breeze, my thoughts turn to the future. Never give up.
I realized that everything is different than it was in the spring. My kids are gone half the time. My wife is now my ex-wife. I pace around constantly, chain smoke most of the time and find myself struggling to make connections in a world of texts, email, and social media. Thankfully, the future is wide open. Soon, I can start thinking about kids squealing with excitement getting into Halloween costumes, sitting outside with a blanket smelling the first cold front, the giddy preparation of Santa letters, and, lastly, a new year sitting on the horizon, which can only bring better things.
Jasper Kerkau (9/5/16)
Devoured, I dip parchment in blood and furiously scribble incoherent texts in invisible ink. Stains everywhere. April was folly. Gave birth to half-life, sickness, and inevitably death. Each humidity drench day was an exercise in funeral preparations for a life that was nothing more than fantastic mirage. Inverted crosses and sacrificed infants give birth to dark demons that pursue me in my dreams, clutter mind, and poison perceptions. I never realized that it would be this hard. The sound of the football games pours over backyard and in-between houses and beckons September which holds the promise of something on the horizon. Cool air blowing in from exotic northern locales, breathing life back into me as I am close to destroyed by divorce, fear, and, of course, failure. I awaken slowly from a passive-aggressive coma. Then comes more silence. It’s the silence that is the killer. Thankfully September peaks its head out slowly, stretching its long arms and embracing my battered body. It can only be better.
It’s in the blood. I have a million secret illnesses. My skin turns red and the sun is blacked out in a Plaquenil-induced nightmares. Rheumatoidish delusions and joints cracking, spewing forth organisms of poisoned thoughts spreading throughout the body, metastasizing in the brain. Blank stares and awkward silence yield disappointing looks and self-doubt. Quietly I devour hours on computer referencing secret medical journals and find masturbatory language and nuances of encouragement for marijuana sandwiches and internet porn. Psychological plague. No proof. The autoimmune fever is my word against theirs, as is the lymphatic swelling and fickle feet that manufactures fear of heart exploding. I am older now than my uncle who did everything right and had brain aneurysm that left him obtuse and slow, shadowed by death. Caffeine headache yields fear as clock ticks. I feel my brain expanding, capillaries and blood fight a battle that is going to end in staring upward, prostrate, helpless. I think of my father dying young, heart liquefied, never had the luxury of cocaine fits and Benzo-inspired breakdowns that beset my past life. The answer is in the blood? It’s always the blood. The blood in the toilet, coughed into paper towel and discarded serendipitous in toilet paper like tampon. The answer is in the blood.
I saw her across a busy parking lot. I acknowledged her with a second glance but didn’t wave. There was a thousand years standing between us. Lives that were led since those years put back the pieces together. The past was ancient history, buried in dreams, half-real, lost in the normal hustle and bustle of adult life, raising children, paying bills; it is like it never happened, but I was there–I know it was real. We both lost everything, well, almost everything. And now it doesn’t matter. It is a second-glance in a parking lot full of strangers who don’t matter. I move forward, cast off the ghosts and go about my day. It was a long time ago, but for a while, I can’t help but think about that world lost so long ago.
The rain happens suddenly, bringing dark air and wet streets. I feel mist on my face standing under patio, absorbing the dense wind, sensing the future out there among the drops slowly burrowing back into the earth. Tomorrows that once seemed obscure become real again as I watch the thick moisture glisten on everything, lathering my landscape with a slick film. There is life in the wet night, and I am a part of a world that swirls and wobbles forward in time, out of nonsense, into something incomprehensible and magnificent. I watch it all silently. Listening. There is a song in the storm.