Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wobbly times number 130

The Modern Way
Don't show you are hostile
your feelings are wrong
come now my darling
let them be gone
they're a big social stigma
they’re not even mature
you're aware of dysfunction
 that's NEVER approved
remember the others
are all just like you
one must embrace life
with positive tones
sure there'll be casualties
and a few broken bones
remember you have to
sell self with skill
wage-slavery’s the price mate
 that we must all pay
so suppress your emotions
and have a nice day
your fate is the market
your destiny's sealed
now on with the show love
 the modern way

Wobbly times number 129

On Reading
by Jared Diamond

It is disquieting
like watching one large accident
about to happen
with most every body
looking way away
far too willfully blind
too caught up
busy in our billions
burying noses
in some million dollar
owner’s  business
sticking the Earth
“our faire sister
in the side of the dawn”
with fences
symbolic markers around
“a vast accumulation of commodities”
which make up our wealth
especially our current Nature

it doesn’t affect
my children
my S.O.s!
Just leave me mate
the hell alone!”

And the Disquiet
worms its way
into our computed days
Somehow we know
in some fashion sense
sleep loss
weight gain
fear of our childrens’ tears
we’ve always done our work this way
just as we do it now
We sit upon an eve

and think
that we will never ever fall

I give us fifty years
old mate
give or take a few
We’ll slowly boil like lobsters
one by one
then two by two
while unbeknownst to all of us
we’ll turn a deep red hue

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wobbly times number 128

On the Eve of the Invasion of Iraq, 2003

It was a still Sunday morning in March. Even at 7:55am, the heat was already unbearable. The sun was pouring 40C down full scorn. It was Indian Summer in Perth and the Fremantle Doctor was out of town. Hector sat in his apartment waiting, his curtains drawn, his fan on full. As a janitor, he didn't bring much money home, even though he worked most everyday of the week. He had no regular pay. Essentially, he and his crew were on call for services so, the amount of money he had each week varied, sometimes quite widely. Hector was lead man at TempoJan. He'd be the first to get any call. He'd wake the others by phone, and become their wage-slave driver, if they were needed. Better, if he worked alone though. More money that way. But today was special. It was rent day. Both his employer and his "team members" at TempoJan knew that he couldn't take-off from home before 8:20am or so.

Hector lived life in the slow lane. He'd done that since he'd escaped from Sydney, his ex-wife and his failed building maintenance business. He'd traversed the whole of the Australian continent in a `66 Holden wagon ten years before. He still had his son and his daughter whom he would speak to now and again very loudly on his phone at 4 in the morning––his son being at university in Canada and his daughter, wasting her life away, employed in a shoe factory after her own divorce in Brazil. His wife...fortunately, he never heard from her again after he took off for the West Coast.

Hector's landlord would be coming by soon to pick up his bi-weekly rent. Don and his wife, Alice were always quite cheerful on rent days. They'd visit each of the eight apartments, knock on every door with a smile on their faces, expecting same and rent from those who answered. Funny how that works. Of course, they also used the occasion to take a peek at the condition their property was in. Two birds with one stone, win/win and all that.  Hector opened his door rather obsequiously after the first rap. He guffawed nervously, cigarette in hand. Alice tittered. "Eh, hombre!" he bellowed loudly. The others would know now that it was The Don. The Don was usually quite prompt for these Sunday rent collections––always 8am––unless something had gone awry––like the time he had to have his heart checked at the Royal Perth Hospital. Then, he'd phone Ian and Ian would make sure the other renters knew the new time of his arrival."Hot morning this one," Don observed to break the ice. Alice kept smiling. She reminded him of his ex-wife when she was giving worm pills to the family dog. His wife was Anglo too. "HereMercury." It was all wrapped up in hamburger that worm pill. Mercury would sniff and then his wife'd pop it down his throat as he opened his jaws for burger.  

Hector was from Brazil. Portuguese was his mother tongue. "Yayz. Buggah me. It'z ben so bloodah hah. Woo!"  Don Martino was of Italian stock. His parents had moved to WA to farm after WWII when he was still a little boy. They had been lured by the Australian Government's promise of cheap land. Plus, the idea of living in a country barely touched by war appealed to war weary Sicilians. Don's papa planted a couple of apricot and pear orchards. "The Don" as he was known, had taken overafter his parents retired. He'd decided to buy some apartments on the side in the 70s, after he'd married Alice. It was a second marriage for both of them and they'd wisely decided to pool their savings to buy some rental property before they'd gotten hitched. It was in writing.

The Don opened Hector's screen door and came in, black book in hand. "Less sigh, we goh-- elec-trissity this time oz while."   Hector silently grinned and asked as politely as he could, "How much bahz?" His tone was not challenging, indeed, it was taken humourously, The Don and Alice laughing out loud, The Don putting his pencil tip between his lips with his right hand while placing his left arm on Hector's shoulder."Well, ih comz to for-ee-oyt this toyem," Don informed him. His black book was at the ready, in case there was a challenge to the figure. "Eye goh eat," Hector replied. "Cheers Hektah, so ill be, let'z sigh", Don said as he took his pencil out of his shirt pocket and added the rent to the electricity figure on the pre-printed receipt, "too-hunret oy-teedollahs." Hector looked a bit taken a back and then smiled sheepishly, peeling off the $200 and then going into his back pocket, he pulled out his wallet for a fiver and then extracted a one and two dollar coin from his front pants-pocket.  After the last bout of the rent collecting ceremony had ended at Ian's door. The Don and Alice sauntered back slowly to their shiny, black, air-conditioned Holden Statesman for the drive back up to their home in the hills. Their spacious house was situated picturesquely next to their apricot and pear orchards.

As the Don and his Alice were going down the driveway into King Charles Street, Hector's phone rang and the owner of TempoJan informed him of a small clean up job at Skipper's Hyundai Auto Mart.  As Hector was putting his phone down, Jimmy, the Scotsman popped out of his apartment below. He immediately began to complain to Ian about how little The Don did for upkeep at the complex. Ian listened patiently, "Humm," he said. "Oy seee," he saidslowly. After pointing out for the 10,000th time how The Don only cared, "boot this," holding his hand up and rubbing his thumb and his index finger together, the scene evaporated in retreat from the ever rising sun, into the fan cooled interiors of their respective chambers.

Afternoon was even more torrid. By the time Hector got back, even the bricks in his apartment were radiating a withering heat. As he entered his oven-like home, he spied a cockroach out the corner of his eye. The toenail sized brown bug scuttled along the lip of the sink, racing behind the fridge. "Got damn ro-shez," he whispered irritably, as the stale,humid air of the apartment sank into his lungs. He had to keep it locked and sealed when he was away. There were break-ins happening all the time in his neighbourhood. A yawning wave came over him. It was time to nap. He shut the front door, opened his windows and turned his two fans on. He left his sweat soaked clothes in one clump. The hot, form fitted sheet stretched across a lonely queen-size mattress which was plopped, frame-less. atop a set of box springs. His head slumped into the feather-filled pillow.

Dream dramas took over more or less instantly as he found himself in a furniture-less living room. His ex-wife was shouting at him because he hadn't remembered where her laundry was. A kangaroo appeared behind her, putting its arm over her shoulder. But she didn't seem to notice its presence as she shrieked. On thefloor, surrounded by wall stickers, advising the location of her web site (complete with telephone number), the sloth-ant arched, its black, furry back.....

He awoke clutching his heart! His pillow was damp from sweat. He glanced at his alarm clock. He had been out for an hour and a half. He got up, trundled to the bathroom and splashed cool water on his face. The feeling was so refreshing that he decided to shower. In he jumped, letting the water run cold over his back, over his head, then he adjusted it warmer and shampooed his matted hair. The rest of the accumulated dirt and encrusted sweat-scum from his body disappeared under the vigorous sudsing action of an aqua-green Palmolive soap bar. From there, it was off to the fridge door for a cold one.

"No beer!' his thoughts panicked in Portuguese. He remembered now that he'd drunk the last of his Emu Bitter block on Saturday night with Jimmy. "Time to get dressed and make your way to the bottle shop at the Broken Hill," he whispered to himself in Portuguese. Out he went, into the last, dimming orange tinted light of day, with his partially jelled hair slicked back, crisp white shirt on, his khaki coloured shorts only one day old. His flip-flops struck his heels rhythmically and he walked down the cement staircase onto the driveway and onto the sidewalk. He proceeded down King Charles road to the Albany Highway, to cross the street to the sparkling, old Aussie hotel structure known as, The Broken Hill. 

"Perhaps a small beer before I go to the bottle shop," he reflected outside pub entrance."G'day myte," Ian said smiling from the bar. "How long Yu ben he-ah?" Hector asked."Since `bout tha-rree the avo myte." said Ian. "Come, I'll by ya a Jameson's.""I'm goin' to the boh-ul shop myte." 

Hector answered as he took the whiskey in hand and downed it in one quick, satisfied gulp.Ian sniffed the lip of his tumbler and then, "Dawn tha hahtchmyte. I'll calm which ya. By the whey, did yah know ah'mgoin' back ta Ireland next year?. I want to see weatha I kin live there agin," Ian said."Am leavin' this blood-ay Westurn Austrailyah too," Hector replied. "Ma see-ster sayz thot I cah leave which her familia until I get whirk." "Where'z tha, myte?""Brass-eel," Hector said. "Way-ahr  you tink?""Less go," Ian said. He accompanied Hector to the bottle shopjust outside and around the corner."One block of Emu Bitter and one litre of Jameson's. Is that all?", the bottle shop attendant asked."Yayz," Hector answered. "Hearz thur-tee for the whiskey, myte." Ian said putting onehand on Hector's shoulder while shoving the thirty dollars into his mate's palm."I tank U, leslie tanks U," Hector replied grinning, a freshly burning cigarette dangling from his lip. 

Hector had lived in America for a few months, learning English and some of the commercials stuck, it seemed, forever. He took the cold Emu block under his arm. Ian grabbed the Jameson's and the two made theirway back across the Albany Highway, up King Charles road, into the driveway, up the cement stairs and into Hector's hot-as-an-oven kitchen.

"Blah-dee roaches!" Hector said as he twisted the brownexo-skeleton against the wall near the light switch. He wiped the gut stain from the wall with a paper towel. "Podon me. I'ma gonna wash ma handz." "No were ease, myte," Ian smiled. "Aye got the sameproblem. These thingz are a bloody new-since." "Yah, and Jim-ah, he say, The Don, he don't donothin'," Hector guffawed from the bathroom. "He juscollek da rent." "Nowah, therez a trooth," Ian returned.

Hector came out, turned the TV on sound down and put an Anita Bryant LP on his record player. "The man is the soul of a woman," she wailed. The music drifted on through an eclectic selection of piled discs. The TV in the background flickered like a campfire as the two sat at Hector's kitchen table talking weather, sports, former familylife, and news events while downing swigs of Jameson's, followedon by Emu Bitter stubbies. 

The last record plopped down on the turntable and the Morman Tabernacle Choir came on with their stirring rendition of, "Onward Christian Soldiers". The two men stopped talking, giving the choir their undivided, even rapt attention. The music stopped and a moment of silence ensued. 

Of a sudden, they started slurring their views on the coming war. "Waz you think? The bloodee Air-abs. Therz no hopa. Bloodee liars, all of them. Hypocrits. All of dem-- hyp-O-crites."

"Am not sure what's happenin' owt they-are now,myte," Ian said, his head lowered, his eyes looking up through his thick eyebrows. Then, with his head cocked sideways, he looked askance at Hector from his kitchen chair. His broadly set, greyish-blue eyes stared out from his white, partially balding skull. 

"Not shoah? Dare blooda hypocrits. I theenk dah Americans are gonna bomb dem back to sheet. But no dramas fo me, myde. I stick bah mahself. Day go aroun bombing sit-ays and so fort," Hector said looking a bit desperate. He had forgotten to take his medicine after getting up in the morning. 

"I d'own ax-act-lee know wha you myan, myte?"

"I meen, they all hypocrits, the whole useless bloodee lot. They can all die in their sheet. I doan cair. Wha you meen yu do-own noah? You some kind of hypocrit too?"

"Wha? Yur sayin' I'm a hypocrit?"

"They all dezerve die. Nothin' but hypocrits."

"Whass. You sayin', I'm a hypocrit?"

"They all hypocrits. They talk one ting and sigh an-udder,"Hector said. "They sheet."

"Whass? You sayin', I'm a hypocrit?" Ian insisted.

"The blood-ah Erbs, they gonna get it now. Saddam, hissheet."

"U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?" Ian kept on, his dark,deep voice slurred, but threatening too.

"Dat Bush, heez hypocrit too. Belief me, the world is full of`em. All liahs," Hector answered.

"U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?" Ian asked again. 

Too much booze in too little time had changed them both into the other people, the people they would be happy to forget they were in the morning.

"Da world iss a big plaza ma ferend. Full a hypocrits. I doanlie. No, I doan need ta lie. Day all lie. I doan need a lot. Am simple mine. Haf a simple life, right he-ah. I doan need they steen-king money. Am a simple mine."

"U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?"

Another silence fell over the table. The men looked through their blurred visions at each other.

"Get ow of mah house!"

"U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?"

"Geh ow mah house!"

"U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?"

Hector got up and opened the front door. Then Ian got up and Hector tried to push Ian away towards the screen door. But Ian wasn'tso easily dealt with. He stood his ground and with determined, semi-bowed gaze focussed on Hector, his slurred speech erupted once again, "U sayin' I'm a hypocrit?"

The two men were close to being the same size. Both had had about the same amount to drink. Only Hector was a bit more under the influence of things beyond his control. He stood in close proximity to Ian, and with a frustrated, angry, loud, "Hee-ah!" heforced his mate's torso into the precariously latched, aluminum-framedscreen door. Ian's body went backwards, out onto the cat walk cement landing. 

With this victorious defence of his territory, Hector quickly slammed his front door, "Bang!" as he glimpsed hisdrinking mate's body hit the iron grating outside and begin its bounce back towards him at the entrance to his apartment. He stomped through his living room/kitchen turning off all three of his lights. Then, in the dark, he set his alarm for 5am. Still fully clothed, he collapsed onto his bed and into an immediate, if troubled sleep.

After loudly inquiring three more times, "U sayin' I'm ahypocrit?" while banging his fist against Hector's door, Ian retreated to his corner abode. He turned his record player on-- volume on high. It was 3am and the air inside his brick dwelling was a stale 40C. The sounds of "Irish Eyes Are Smiling" blared from his open windows. He sat in his chair staring, incoherent soliloquies flowing through his mind like bands of angry chimps. 

At five, Hector's alarm rang and didn't stop ringing until seven.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wobbly times number 127

Observations on September 11, 2001
written by
Michael Thomas Ballard
on September 12, 2001

murder is not a legitimate political weapon
murderers should be jailed for life
they're bad for our health
 fundamentalism is a dangerous ideology
no matter what its dogmatic flavor
oh suicidal self-abnegation
is your name only kamikaze
if I thought the "U. S. is the great satan"
then i'd guess i'd think that god was on my side
especially if I was dirt poor and ignorant
"gott mit uns" was inscribed on the belt buckles
of german soldiers
who took off to smash the U.S.S.R on june 22, 1941
hitler "heroically" shot himself four years later
feeling betrayed by "his" deutsches volk
let us hear the war cries coming from the bravest of the future non-combatants
many of them "our" leaders
"let us prey,"
they say out loud
 for the teevee audiences of the world
half devoured children dripping from their mouths