excerpts from: Confessions of a Beer Mystic (a novel of beer and light)

by Bart Plantenga
(c) 1995
"I gotta get drunk but I regret it cuz I know just what I'm gonna do; start spendin' my money, call everybody honey..." -George Jones
Lights went on the blink in the stalled subway. Is when I began to think of things happening in terms of fate. Coincidence after coincidence, light after light, week after week, going out above all around me. Coincidence suddenly seemed inappropriate to explain certain phenomena. I even began to fear that I'd somehow wished it this way & that wishes had begun to influence fate.

In the dark I imagined the girl across from me tapping the seat with her Krazy Nails, smelling like Barbie bathing in warm 7-Up. Infatuation insists on misunderstanding. Digs its own grave.

A guy was slapping his hat at monsters. "The monsters won't let me off this train!" he yes, "It's a matter of wife or death!" I tried to imagine his wife. He didn't appear to have much of a nose. Just a huge crust. Was he the victim of a fight, a fall, or tertiary syphillis? He wants to tell his story. Not for loose silver. Just to tell it.

As a child, generals had sent HIM into the rubble Nagasaki. Where he kicked up dust, charred gruesome limbs. Jaws fixed in terror. He reported back to the generals carrying bottles melted around forks.

Now he aches all the time. His body is "full of rusty hinges." The Demerol "don't do shit." Pops them like Lifesavers. He ran away from a daughter in San Francisco who was born with flippers, or so he says, for arms "like a purpose."


"Yes, purpose."

When I got off at my stop a Krazy Nail - torn from the warm 7-Up girl's hand -lay on the subway floor smiling up at me.

"I'm getting dizzy as a blond from the liquor fumes & so to clear my head I'll raise it up into the nighttime sky & check the planets." -Max Blagg

I get tired when I look at the autumn leaves after work. I'm at the end of some kind of rope. When you know too much you end up knowing you know nothing. Sophistication hides this fact. An evolution in which you become the third person singular of yourself.

I can't even bribe myself to change TV channels. My body burps instead of breathes. A third person singular in a fourth world plural.

It's so humid her dog's hair (suspiciously still 4-legged) sticks to my torso. I feel more primitive with a coat of fur. The difference between me these days & me then, before the streetlight stuff, is simple: I used to be on people's HIT lists while now I'm on people's shit lists. Ah, the incremental crawl of socialization.

Talking to the TV used to make a difference. But lately the true nature of our relationship has become clear. It's not intimate. Not give & take. It's all one way. They never take MY advice. They have more money than me which makes them more right than me.

Me & Djuna kicked in the TV one night. BAM! -like that. Sanity should be this kind of momentary craziness. A kick that takes your breath away. Sanity should be appliances that work for, not against, you. But instead even kicking in the TV becomes a second-hand gesture, like something off TV.

By week's end Djuna has gotten an old set from an ex, anyway. Just a moment of temporary heroic insanity that someone eventually translates into politics.

Everything lingers, chooses it's own time to mock me. The confusion began with lights, streetlights mainly, doing the ole "black eye," snuffed at the rate of more than one a night.

& eventually we drape an explanation over our confusion. So i began to see that these strings of black pearls, these constellations of black holes could guide me through my crepuscular sojourns. But things still conspire to confound, become autonomous. Their ferocity escalating because they escalate. It's physics. I'm sure. Like the inside of a bomb. Like an avalanche. Or "alcoolisme". & the Mona Lisa is, by now, merely famous for being famous. & I'm drunk for drinking....

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