1 June 2k9
My Neighbor Tells All
—Rage city tales pt. 7
While taking a roll through the neighborhood
I happened on a roadgang raising havoc
with a gas-fired wood chipper.
Stopping to watch, I soon became mesmerized
by the verdant, leafy pile disappearing;
pushed by diligent minions
down into a metal gullet.
Mesmerized, yes, and excited as well
by my own wanton appetite
for destruction of the ogre machine.
Hardhat sycophants feed it the green limbs of trees
dismembered for their ugly appearance,
or where they happened to be growing.
From within the danger-yellow, dented maw
there comes pandemonium—
the sound of doomsday slouching forth
a ruckus of Wood Nymphs enraged
the sound of civilization ending by rending.
While, from its diesel-driven bowels,
out spits nothing but chunks
and clouds of greasy dust
spewing up into an arcing fountain.
A drift lay piled up in the back of a waiting garbage truck.
…Grinder will gobble up everything one day…
the maddened ogre murmurs
within the mayhem of exploding dinosaurs.
“Man, you could pulverize a body with that thing!”
My neighbor bawls, booming into a silence
created by the sudden killing of Grinder’s engine.
It’s not silence really, rather it is an emptiness of sound
—a riot of molecules screaming into the vacuum
once filled by a furious and vengeful demigod.
In the clamor he has snuck up on me,
is standing right behind me, this neighbor.
And I am perfectly certain that my heart
really will leap up out of my chest,
flee from my shocked, witless mouth
and fly straight into the waiting gob of Grinder.
“Yep! You could chew through a whole body
pretty quick with a monster like that.”
Quieter now, but no less disturbing,
his voice is hoarse—almost reverent.
We have rarely spoken, this neighbor and I.
He’s heavy-eyed this one, with a Gorgon gaze:
acting as if by his keen weather-sense
he feels capable of Judgment—of sussing out the malingerers,
of rooting out the unworthy, of meting out punishment.
His stare is weighted with thinly-veiled
contempt; as if I reek of weakness
and he can smell me wherever I go.
I have always given him dubious distance.
In this moment I am not sure why that was
—only that I was right to do so.
He looks to me for some kind of response, and
sensing the patience of a bully in him, I realize that
I am not sure what to say.
He has a compelling face carved over a long age.
its surface is a lunar field of fissured craters,
belying an eternal battle with volcanic acne.
Ever the old soldier, he still worries at those war wounds
such that they are perpetually on the verge of eruption.
Seen up close, his eyes are chipped marbles of blue;
almost dreamy, those eyes give scant hint
of the heat seething inside the brain.
Iceberg eyes set slackly adrift;
until, upon voracious Grinder, a fond,
brutish stare is avidly affixed…
absently stabbing with one blunt finger
at an angry lava vent on his forehead.
Trying not to wince, I bobble my head vaguely,
neither up, nor down exactly.
Squirming slightly in my wheelchair.
Where to start with such an opening statement?
“Yeah,” says I, “but—”
Grinder, gnashing-demon of the trees,
roars to sudden life:
shocking me like a cat out of one more life.
My neighbor, this Judge of Humans, stands
wearing a child’s smile, arms akimbo;
utterly free of guilt at loving such a terror.
“Sure,” he yells into my ear, “the skull would bounce
around for a little while, skipping on the blades, it’s true…”
He whips one finger around in tight circles,
“But, eventually, you could shove it right through.”