Fake Gold Chain Turns Green: Tiny Essays about Inspiration
A Jar of Bugs I’m Holding.
Last night, after work, Arle came up through the yard balancing the mushroom pizza box and the hoagie in a bag on top of that. She smiled at me as she passed the dogs. They were barking at her because they were happy she was home. Same as me.
I was on my folding step-ladder thing that I use as a chair sometimes when I’m doing some art stuff out back.
“You want work on whatever you’re doing for a while?”, she asked me when she was standing there on the back stones. “We can eat upstairs on the bed whenever you’re done?”
With those words a heaving weight was lifted from my shoulders. I had been worried, you see, that this plan of ours/ this beautiful kid-free night plan to get together and watch some pro wrestling docs on the TV while we lay in our t-shirts and shorts and eat pizza and drink alcohol, that it would have to start now. Right when I was trying to fit in some time to be me. To be artsy. To use my mind and my hands and my imagination to create something that I could envision behind my eyes, but that had never existed in the history of the world before.
I smiled up at her as I pushed and dragged my little plastic roller, smoothing out the bubbles on a fresh skim coat of Modge Podge.
“You sure?” I asked her.
“Yep”, she said, as she kicked the back door open with a Van foot.
I could tell she was serious too, because that’s what happens when you are together for years and you fight for equilibrium and you challenge each other to be present in the moment even though you are a totally brain-damaged shell-shocker walking around in a trauma daze half the time. You just sense the air/ let it whisper into your ear/ some old Ghost Mama breathing at you to hush now child.
Later we could spread out on the mattress together, sip our drinks, watch the sad, strange, cocaine-fueled, Shakespearean masterpiece of Jake the Snake Roberts unfold before our eyes as we let the pizza crust crumbs fall down onto the sheet; when the lights went out, it would feel like gravel in the bed; as if we had drizzled broken shards of seashell and shattered specks of glass over our prairie. As if the stars in the very night sky we sleep under had fallen from the hot glue ceiling all around us. And we could feel them rubbing our skin in the middle of our dreams and nightmares.
But for now, I had been given the subtle nod to keep doing what I was doing. Then I touched a tacky surface with my spray-paint fingers and it felt as if I was holding all the kingdoms in a jar. Like bugs. Like lightning bugs with blades of dry summer grass.
Softly Sing Me Out the Room.
Once, I wrote songs. I would write them in spurts, as needed. Writing ten songs a day like Ryan Adams or someone was never my thing. I wrote songs mostly because the band needed songs. Sometimes I wrote songs because I needed to write them/ because there was a magnetic tide within me that was inspired by something I’d heard. I was driven to deep periods of longing back then, as stretches of time would unravel all around me and everything would be marked by the songs I had written lately.