Justin Stone's creekbed

songs, prayers, poetry, stories, art, photographs, moving pictures, fondnesses, tall-tales and meditations

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Location: missouri, el paso

The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Talking Heads

“He was a Data Entry Assistant’s Data Entry Assistant, if you know what I mean. He took the form to a whole new level. It’s something of a shame he never received the popular acclaim or attention he may have deserved in the office, but his peers, those that knew what was happening, they were well aware of what he was quietly accomplishing.”

“The guy had the ability to visualize the entire account at once. Not just one of the accounts, but every account. He knew where all the figures stood. He knew the status of every buy, every pay-out, the number of units in every estimate that had been and yet needed to be input. His files were maximized. His Status Quality conceits were through of the roof. His cubicle didn't smell too bad. His Bramble Reports—the millions he must have done—were always completely without error. Every thousandth point rounded, every formula closed. And he never missed a day at work. Never took a vacation. How a guy does that, I don't know. Unreal.”

“He went to the bathroom alot. I remember that. And he always used the stall, never saw him use the urinal. But he always lifted the toilet seat.”

“His fingers flew over the keypad. His stroke was, well, let's just say it was poetry. And I swear it’s like he wasn’t even there. I mean, he was there, obviously, and he was inputting, but he wasn’t really there. One time I asked him how the tendons in his wrist were doing, just trying to make small talk, I mean, the guy sat in his cubicle all day and all you heard was the clikiclakaclikiclakaclikiclaka of keys just being decimated, man, and you figure that kind of thing’s gotta take a toll on a guy, on his arm if not his brain, so I rather jokingly asked about the tendons in his arms, you know, his wrists, and we were in the breakroom at the time, I’ll never forget it because he just stared at me. I stared back at him a few seconds, thinking, okay, this will get better, but it didn’t get better at all, in fact I think his pupils were actively dilating, and so I laughed, one of those tension breakers that in fact increases the tension tenfold, and I suddenly gulped at my still too hot tea, spilling my cup and burning the crap outta my mouth and my hand, and he still said nothing, did nothing, and I got the hell out of that breakroom. I really wish I hadn’t mentioned the tendons.”

“I cannot remember ever having a conversation with the guy. And I was at Freckle & Sons for 6 years with him. Almost positive he had no idea what my name was. That guy could render a crowded elevator car mausoleum like in no time flat, all he had to do was step into the car and it's like a completely different front had suddenly moved into the atmosphere, all the breathable air just rushed out of the space as fast as possible. All conversations ceased. He had the negative touch. Am I being too mean? Maybe, but, I mean, that's just the way it was."

“He saw the information database as a matrix, but more, he was an active part of that matrix, maybe, gawd, I’m getting all Keanu Reeves here, but it’s like he was that matrix, there was no separation between he and the data.

“Black coffee. All day long. Every day. He drank cup after cup after cup. And if somebody hadn’t made new coffee after finishing off the breakroom pot—this is funny; only time I ever heard a peep from the guy was when the coffee was out. If he he came up on the pot in the breakroom and it was empty—and this was documented by more people than just me—he would just kind of gurgle, in the back of his throat, I can’t really describe it, but it was a desolate, dying kind of sound, like tiny last throes or something, a wet, wholly frustrated, half suck, half hiss gurgle. A sound that wanted to be a word but hadn’t learned how yet. I now imagine the Universe itself making a sound just like that in its moment of expiration.”

“I remember one day. We were keeping count. He of course had no idea we were doing it, but we knew what project he was on, and we ran reports in the morning before he got there and in the night after he had left, and the dude had input 164 long Bramble Reports. Seriously. I mean the recommended average, the expected there, was like 20 BRs. Most of us called it a day at 10. Ridiculous.”

“I’ll tell you this much—the guy only had 3 pairs of pants. And 4 shirts. At least what he wore to work, that’s all he had. I know. We kept track. He rotated those articles of clothing in the limited number of combinations possible week after week after week. At least for as long as I worked there, and that was like 2 years, I mean, and from the looks of them I’m guessing maybe these 12 combinations lasted him the entirety of his career at Freckle, all... I don’t know—how long was he there did you say? 17 years? Christ. Really? I mean, that’s kind of weird, right?”

“You brought him something to integrate, BANG!, it was done, just like that. Sometimes it was done before you even brought it to him. I don’t know how that works.”

"Do you know who Henry Darger is? Yeah. I always kinda wondered if he wasn't something like that. Like maybe he's sitting on an awful new holy book at home or something. Like he's building a massive Dandruff Pyramid in the river valley of his apartment or something. Oh, man. That's mean. But god. Really."

“He never moved up, never moved down. Never asked for a promotion, never got one. I don’t know that he even knew what any of the other positions at the place were. He had found the thing in life that was his to do, and nothing was going to be keep that from being done. He was Freckle’s Data Entry Assistant, that’s all there was too it, and he was the best.”

"I picture him surfing this algorithm on a giant calulator and he's just stapling everything, he's throwing files into the air and the files are circling him like doves, and he's typing on the air, punching code into air keyboard you know, and numbers are just flying out behind him like those musical notes in the old cartoons and there's definitely a piano playing something ragtaggy with swing, hella swing, and it's pretty damn breathtaking. With those uncanny fingers he's sprinkling the formulas for life itself onto a wet, nascent Earth. I mean, that's just the way I want to remember him."

“Never showed up at a mixer.”

“One time we had a building-wide Earthquake Evacuation Drill, right? The alarms go off, and everybody files out of their cubicles, their offices, and into the stair wells down and out of the building. And we’re on the ninth floor of a nine-story building. So we all make it down and we’re standing around in the courtyard under the building, there in the massive shadow of the building I remember, and it was hot out, clothes sticking to your body hot, and everybody’s kinda talking amongst themselves, milling about, killing time, all in all there’s like hundreds of us out there from the entire building. Well, all of a sudden I heard somebody say something short and loud and surprised like, and a murmur rather shot through the crowd, and somehow I knew without knowing—you ever get that?—I knew without knowing exactly where to look and, I think, I knew exactly what I was going to see before I saw it, I don't know how else to explain, but—the memory has that kind of photograph quality to it, you know; I’ve thought back on this and thought back on this and it's, what do they say, burned into my brain?—I look up to the top floor of the building and there, 9 stories up, there he was! He was pressed against the glass window, his palms out to his sides, pressed hard against the glass, like two pale orbs floating to his right and left, and his nose was even smooshed up to the glass, a blur right in the middle of his face. And he just stood there like that, frozen, and he just stared down at us, the mass of us, and one and all we stared back at him, the entire courtyard, I don't know how it happened so fast but there you have it, the entire courtyard was soundless, nobody breathed, nobody peeped, even the traffic of the city seemed to have come to a noiseless halt, and he stared at us and we stared back, and his eyes, mercy, I will never forget those eyes, I’ve not seen them on another human being ever, that expression. And I know he was nine stories up, but in that moment it was like he was just right there in front of us, that's how good I could see him. And there was in his face the deepest, starkest—how can I describe it?—fear and confusion and shock and sadness and wonder... you know what it was, what it was like? Like, I imagine if a baby, a little bitty baby were falling through the sky, if it were plummeting down from the heavens and somehow one were able to take a good, clear look at what was happening to it—like this is all speculative, you know, but dang if it didn’t just hit me—that little bitty falling baby’s face would look exactly like his did that day. That face is frozen in my mind, here as I stand. I won’t forget it. Why I was asked to bear witness to this and nothing else I have no idea. It’ll be the last damn thing I see before I die, I think. I don’t want it to be, but there it is.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

The found banjo, the story and the happening,
A few of us saw it.
I believe that you were wearing a raincoat
and your eyes went away wet.
I could not even stand to look,
So I had to turn around.

He takes a look around and
Says, "This is rough country,
This is where trails are born."
Says, "Goddamn got a right to,"
Pulling a deed from his back pocket,
And I signed the thing over to him.

a voice: “self-help . . . self-involved . . .
. . . a pattern of getting it wrong.”

Close-ups shot in passing headlights,
home video
and found sound.

A scene in the middle of nowhere,
"it's very nowhere, this scene."

“We are looking for El Stinko,
La Stinka,
over here in the Sigh Factory Outlet.”

We hunt through caves,
comb the countryside,
intercept and misread signals.

“the body is telling you that something is not right.”

B-movie actor/truck driver, Jefferson Jefferson,
a union man and a man with hands, resolve.
A burning in his gastro-intelligence
told him that he needed to make a change.

Put finger in the eye, Shakey,
Our cake is dough on both sides.

In his favorite interview
Warren Oates is said to say,
"This sure beats working,"
and a smiling Ben Johnson agrees,
"It does. It sure beats working."

"quick, quizzical half moves...
Tharp's language for the working class." [j. acocella]

(He dreamt last night of salted peanuts
and today he ate salted peanuts.
He was a free thinker,
He never charged a dime for what he did!
He led orchestration in a thing called the Monster Symphony.
(I will write a lot more about him later.))

I lost an ad campaign and
my family had to foot the bill—

Spun round,
Paralyzed. (Paralyzezed)

I put my high heels on,
For it was the year of the blue jeans.
I rode my horse into town,
the mile of 18 above the ground.
I dug around,
I got ‘em big rig-rounded,
I put you down,
And I put myself down.

It was the year of the blue jeans
and beauty queens.
Angelic dreams.

To the tired teachers of Doug Lipscomb:
When You Don't Need Me I'll Be In The Recovery Room
A big, empty high school gymnasium—
now that is art.
And when Doug walked slowly across it, his chin on his chest,
it was sublime.

Arms and legs akimbo
in New Missouri.

Learn to keep your lip down,
and your face coherent,
and the sky may not fall.

(in a barely audible home video sound)
“Think yer pretty smart, don’t you?”
“You are making yourself old.”
“You are a bum.”
A silhouetted shape wades into the picture,
preaches from pools of glistening emotion
a kind of thick sadness,
almost like you could grab it in your hands and break it.
“The eyes hurt.”

“I am sorry that I shortened our time together by 20, 30 years . . . “
“ . . . more . . .”

Cute Devil and Cute Devil
Theirs was a finely calibrated series of eye contacts.

I had said to the arresting officers that I was “the sober chaufeur.”
Bathed in flashing blue and red siren lights,
The bunch of them thought that was pretty hilarious!
And it was, really.

Seis de Mayo—
La Seisa, we call it,
the day after. . .

post-video, the shoot,
everything is scattered into corners
waiting and thinking
i have been mean
casually cool is
in no way casual
and in no way cool
and you sure did know
“you sure did know a lot of people in there.”
“that’s the thing in this town.”
rhymes with frown
rhymes with gown
the new word lown
and it somehow rhymes with you
and mean rhymes with short
and hung with over

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Raised in the centers for disease control,
we slept at night like bags of rocks tossed into a body of water,
our little eyelids a bruisy hue embarrassing to the angels
who stood by in pools of light and stared at their feet
as they wrapped their wings ever tighter around their chests.
There was a tenor to the way we asked for things which was nigh unlistenable.

State of the Union

You asked all of them to leave
in that special way you have of not asking,
and some time later you think you may go mad so lonely,
but such is not madness,
and such is not loneliness.

You may no longer claim to be the great ape hayseed.

Progress tonight will be judged by the number of cigarettes you do not smoke,
the number of drinks you do not imbibe,
and you are 0-for-Alot.
It is well to feel proud—
There is no secret to the fact you could stand to afford yourself a great deal more pride.
This necessity is, in fact, about the only thing you can now afford!
Be not spendthrift, Abe, be not threadbare,
for you have a holy heart
and a well-travelled pair of shoes.
And you have so much work to do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

and if you are not careful, if you are not taking care, if you have in any way ceased to care, the bustle will get you in the morning, it will get to you, the hurry-up will hinder, flummox, action will be confounded, the mind confused, thus the lurching paralysis, the stunted endeavor, the lies in easy reach, words unconscious like belch, the lie and excuse and complaint, the harried indignity, the sweaty neck; you cannot feel frustration for it just is. waking is like stroke, a guy used to tell me, you come to suddenly, surge, the systems are shocked, and fail. keening is the noisome world. it will grit your teeth, tighten your chest, squint your eyes, shrink your face, put a neck in your neck in your neck, sag your carriage, distend your guts and erode your constitution. and you will shake at your very core, you will shake and the shaking will eventually weaken the foundation, and you will be a landslide, then a landfill; it will all go, sudden and swift, and then it will all sit, piled up in an unsettled mess. an erosion of will, free thinking; an erosion of endurance, clear thinking; an erosion of reserve, style and grace. in lieu of wit—in lieu of wits—you will tell dirty jokes about frustrated people, awful stories about awful people, and you will laugh too loud, too abruptly. certain jokes are not funny, jokes like the one my uncle used tell about the fish that lives in his chest, this fish that cannot breathe unless it is wet, and thus he is drowning this fish everyday, so as to breathe and keep that smell out the chest, so as to keep the scales from hardening and drying, so as to not choke on the beached dead carcass of the fish. he has a smile audible like an avalanche to bury these thoughts, and the laugh it too tears the day and is done, loud and crashing and then empty, as in explosion. and i came upon him one night late in the kitchen and he was leaning against the open door of the refridgerator, he was slumped against the open fridge, his head against his arm against the freezer compartment, and he was staring toward his feet, breaking eggs on the floor, one egg after another, slowly, methodically and without care, small white eggs dropped and destroyed, he was reaching into the fridge, taking an egg, and dropping, reaching, taking, dropping, and the yolk, shells and mess gathered in a growing pile beneath him, and he looked up at me after a while and he was not awake and he said toward me but not to me in particular he said life is hard.

a smile ought to be without sound,
and a laugh without end.

i will believe in you believing, friend;
i will believe in you getting up and going out the door,
a full breath in your chest.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

and may we be round
that we may roll
and may we be round
that we may roll
and may we be sound--
i can hear you now

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lindsay and Justin Stone
Highway Z, Rocky Mount, August 2006
Photo by Kathy Tennison

Sunday, August 06, 2006

the porch tonight is
every porch i have sat
each conversation

one i have held close
and i am alone with the
multitude of me

when my sister asks
if i have had the pleasure
of watermelon

Saturday, August 05, 2006

At times you appear in what I think to be a blue car,
And other times I see you in a green car.
I guess I may be looking for you everywhere that I go,
And everybody looks like you,
With pulled-back hair and a straight-ahead stare,
Such a curious face!
I try to memorize your license plate, but the numbers change,
And my memories rearrange.
Cinéma vérité, a windshield,
A world exploding in light.
The car and myself and you and ourselves and this town and an infinite possibility,
Urged the curve of a highway,
Carried and carrying on.
Sunglasses you give nothing away.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

amid the noise and the artifacts
a paucity of word