In the Normal Sense

It did not make us crazy in the normal sense.
But there was always a blanket of struggle to our lives,
At least I remember it that way with the always hiking.
Not running but trying to get there faster walking,
and we knew we were always walking a long way.

At least I did.

At least I felt that way,
and felt that way
as that
was what I was made to feel.

Dad said I made him feel some way about the garden.
Like because I didn’t want to work in his flowers
I didn’t love him.

In love songs I heard about how people made them feel.
We had it like that in those songs as if it was OK.

I read the short story in the college short story collection.
Some girl wrote about a tom cat getting on top of her for sex as a lover.
I got it. It was clear enough.
I was a bit confused wondering about what the college was really like.

She must have been an outsider.

There was the band of leather and motorcycle longhairs
Singing “Salty Dog” on the Main street when they opened the bar full of dried wood and dust and I saw it right there, an early glimpse of the revolution.

The main guy like other main guys had the right black leather vest,
A black beard and a black helmet and a black Triumph.
He’d be going somewhere same time as me 6 O Clock or 6:30 AM up the hill by the RR tracks, trailing vapor like a high bomber and jets.

We weren’t crazy by normal standards at all,
Just wary and oppressed knowing we lived in a town of enemies.
Every day, pushed into a fight.

At least for me it was that way.

I told my brother it was okay to deny he was related.

One day he just stopped being the happy one.

A couple of years ago it got to me to be glad my father
Had the opportunity in the war to kill the enemy.
NAZIs were as much his enemies as they were enemies of the Jews.

He was really bi later, after he was married.
He said it was great for the first 7 years, and then there were 7 more.
He volunteered for what they call conversion therapy now,
It’s just stupid and you never ought let enemies see you weakened.

You’ll never make anyone happy.
You’re not the bank for their feelings.

The poor guy with the lobotomy that wandered the streets
Showed me about the girls, no better than the boys.
I saw them on the side street having caught him out alone
They held up what they had of breasts and cat called to his
Far away and terror stricken face with laughter and delight
His pained and confused face the writ of the horrors of a scrambled mind.

They had been serious about fixing that man.
Didn’t they start with an ice pick in your brain?
They went after the thinking part.

They weren’t joking about the “non conformists” or how “You have a bad Attitude.”
With Hoover and “Death from Above”, or some righteous claim on whatever way someone else walked,
It was all to be fixed for their feelings.

It did not make us crazy in the normal sense.
Us kids.
Brother and sisters not born in town and then their babies.
But Targets as soon as seen in town where there was no way
to drive so fast to even be a stranger that way.

From the first day at school there were was tight clique
that all reported their discoveries back to
on the TV
Peyton Place looked like a better neighborhood.
Some did what was a distraction while another
smashed you in the balls from behind.

From behind, from behind they would come, or attack your sister.
We were having fun there with the rest in the snow at the town hill perfect for the sledding. Like in those prints, dusty browned paper that you know will crack easy.
We were not going to be allowed to have fun with the rest of them, and were only part as apart.

So you make me feel anger, and have put in me
a bank of feelings.

Wary, I hear every bump and have the necessary weapons, along with some for ceremonies.

I know where the South is all the time.
Someone thinks I deserve to be hurt, and around me it’s assumed
They are my betters.
Don’t hurt their feelings.

You are their bank and they can draw on your life for their piggy bank of emotional needs. They must be looked up to. Their family has been here a long time. They were there owning everywhere before you. They get more rights for that.

You are an invader.

Mom and Dad had the cars and were somewhere around. There were pancakes, OH Boy!, Spaghetti and “I want a meat ball!”

We didn’t turn out crazy like the funniest clown of the class who I was told in hushed tones by the sheet rocker who drank two 6 packs of Coke a day. “He hung himself in jail. Something about he set fire to a house.”

I one time called in my thirties to the guy that opened the first real bar on Main Street. He said he was old and bald then. I think some things were really getting confusing, again. I was happy alone and video taped it.

Not at all crazy in comparison to the mob like some hostile village, as if a Jew in Europe during the plague that must be same for invading from the North.

A rally, a rally “Rally” Give ’em the Rebel Yell! The suicide led the team. I was always picked last.

There was the most beautiful baseball field of weathered wood. It was a magical place, now gone.

Everything and everybody was real close like nature made it to be so you could be watched till out of sight in the woods of farm roads and whatever else a mystery of dirt roads by fields where insects were loud.

I really don’t remember talking with Mom, and it felt like something was wrong with Dad no matter what.

Lighting the grill was the best thing ever. Us kids watched our parents drink, and we took turns throwing the match on the gasoline soaked briquettes, a word on a bag that must have been gourmet charcoal hadn’t come along yet.

We got meat and equal shares of a Coke.

So I feel alright not buying all their lies and Not opening my heart to the lies and myths, from people that would be surprised at the concept of “peeping Tom”.

“Commodehead” they called the girl that looked like Ava Gardner. There was all this hate just spread like peanut butter on bread in the commercials so thick it was hard for the actor kid to hold it to his smiling face.

“Hit him.”

You don’t even need to hear the story of the circles they make.

I can hardly remember a conversation I was glad I had with anyone I knew. There weren’t that many around and when you saw anybody they hit you or pulled the trigger on their .22 rifle repeatedly staring.

They all came over to a summertime kids party, like as if they were friends because you are supposed to be friends, and they beat me up.

There is a good pile of anonymity, as is best, in Cary. Everybody is in their condo, or just in.

Better everywhere to only know the people at work, see some at a well lit bar with tables and servers and stay in the isolated world of TVs and cars.

Good weather for driving so goes by over and over, some faster foot who thinks signaling is too much trouble and just is at flooring it and racing and the race is to the burial, memorial service, somewhere in another state.

People know about you, as here now.
Yankees making expensive drugs and the software campus.
The money came from up North. They could see it.
Making all the world look like Stanford or RIT.

I saw my home town a few years ago. Everywhere I went looked more beautiful, or more ugly, like the prettiest trees died and were never replaced.
Willow trees had still been growing and they need lots of water.
The Maples were gone.
There was a parking lot where the yard used to be, and an apartment building where we had a wild place of ours we needed.
The college had succeeded in sucking the life out of the town around it.
The rest, for 50 miles in two directions could only be painted on 70 to overcome its ugliness.

I’m sorry since there are great swaths of reality not ever to be escaped by all strangers and one dumb fate after another.
Only destiny and fantasy of better, better somewhere else keeps us from being the normal crazy of the Serling reverse O Henry.

I didn’t know you were beautiful Commodehead. I knew the town was mean and hated the Blacks and Yankees, and we were good enough,from somewhere else.

A bad attitude near a sneer, sad for all that didn’t get out of town, if only 50 miles, and long later when it seems same as it ever was over and over going backwards towards 1348 in France with Priests selling dispensations.

There are people with real investments in your sins. You made them feel angry, so they get to burn you at the stake and take all your things.
They will succeed at running you out of town.

“We freed the slaves and now we just rent them.” As if “We” was them giving permission since the Yankees left and there were reasons Blacks didn’t. “We.”

They get so happy when their team wins.
You’d think it mattered.
It would be unfitting to just pay for them to bounce the ball
or hurt each other strategically.
So every thing is built up on fraud and appearances.

I’d rather go to a strip joint, and think we need one in this town I live in. I went to the one in Little Rock where the girls dance in a boxing ring, which must mean something about that Capital town.

So it is late in the history of the world from my studies as a scholar. A scholar I can declare myself. No easy books out of me of even the easy ones, not even the heartbroken photographs and captions.
Beauty is truth.

Which feels better? The lies that you pay for, or unnoticed what is missing?

Russell

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