Willie Smith


         High heels, leather mini, scarlet blouse, coral lipstick, fresh permanent, the robot vacuumed around the house. I occupied the overstuffed – slippers up on the hassock, cocooned inside robe. Newspaper masked face. Teeth clenched pipe.
         I was reading about the new toilet on the latest spacecraft. Converts waste into fuel. Once it gets off the drawing board, Americans can conceivably shit themselves to Mars. Well, practically.
         I grunted.
         The robot inquired – sucking up a spider fleeing under the couch – everything OK?
         “Yuh,” I grunted, turning page, mentally noting to refrain from such outbursts, which only confuse household circuitry.
         Underneath growing unrest in former Upper Volta, beside an ad for a laser-edged razor, appeared an article concerning the disappearance of definition. If neologisms continue to spew and terminology to re-invent at the current fury, perhaps as soon as yesterday – because the tail has no pin – don’t key the donkey.
         I lifted legs to allow the robot to vacuum between hassock and overstuffed, careful to avoid any show of disbelief.
         The article argued language is before our eyes evolving. Adapting to a more immediate future by the second. Lungfish downsize acrobat into macro updating buzz chips. Speculation rampant tomorrow’s word might be the one around the house wears the pants. And if you still can’t find those pants, tongue might morph asthma mother in groove.
         I drew down the leg bridge – shag isthmus below whistled clean –absorbing with suppressed befuddlement the synthesis: To firewall communication you must anticipate the diaper by changing your wife.
         I faced the mask of The Times down in my lap. Contemplated against the opposite wall the dead television. Realized I had been fantasizing for days just that.
         Withdrew pipe. Balanced stem and bowl in ashtray on end table. Rose to my feet. Shed the robe.
         Sidled behind robot – under cover of vacuum roar – into the bedroom. Picked through closet. Picked out and donned a French maid outfit.
         Simpered back into the living space.
         She had already commandeered the overstuffed – garbed now à la Clark Kent.
         I knelt before the icon.
         Replaced wingtips with slippers. Removed fedora. Uninstalled the jacket. Wrapped robe around console. Inserted pipe. Loaded paper. Undid tie, while she examined without undue curiosity the sports.
         Teetered in alpine heels over to the Hoover. Grabbed hose. Bent over. Straightened hose.
         Revved engine. Settled down in anxious comfort to re-re-revacuum.


         Lee Harvey Oswald is walking over the moon, wondering if the Holocaust really happened. Jimmy Hoffa happens by in a rocket ship exceeding the speed of light. Snatches Oswald like a brass ring. Tries to interest the lone nut in hitting Bobbie.
         Lee says he is busy that night. Gonna catch a flick with this Russian babe in Havana. Maybe then drinks. After that – who knows?
         Hoffa snorts in supraluminal disgust. Slows the merry-go-round. Dumps the youngster off on Charon.
         Lee pays the fare to Pluto. Teleports down an obelisk up through a toilet in the men’s room of a gay bar in the French Quarter. Where he bumps into J. Edgar Hoover adjusting his nylons.
         Lee excuses himself, queasy with warp-lag. Throws up in the sink. Hoover pats him on the back. Asks if maybe a kid who shows so much guts wouldn’t maybe like parachuting into Cuba to assassinate Castro?
         Oswald spits one last chunk at the rusty drain. Wipes his mouth. Sneers up into the mirror at the pig behind his back that murder is not exactly his idea of fair play.
         Hoover fiddles with a bra strap. A signal to the agent crammed into the cupboard under the sink to start a file on this suspected bi-sexual Soviet mole.
         Oz exits the john. Is waiting at the bar for his Cuba Libre, when undercover NOPD detectives in Hemingway drag arrest him for mopery. Drag him out into the alley. Where Werner von Braun, working hand in hand with Dr. Mengele, using V-2 technology combined with Nazi medicine, vacuum the little goof back to the moon.
         He hobbles over, hands cuffed behind back, to the Tranquility Base flag. Kicks despondently at the trash around the pole.
         The Lone Nut, America’s most unknown patriotic patsy, burns to salute Old Gory. Drops to his knees. Dies of a broken heart, hallucinating Marilyn singing Happy Birthday to Jack Ruby.
         He’s up there tonight, is Oz. You can glimpse him yourself, even through a cheap spyglass, crumpled in the dust, sobbing his heart out for the bullshit that is America. One nation, named after a wop, under surveillance, founded on rape, slavery, paranoia and the Amway.


         If architecture be frozen music, then I feel – stood here tonight before a full length mirror – my cathedral give down the ogives drop by drop onto the nave. And I begin to believe, because in the beginning was the word, I am that knave.
         Knock-knock! Who’s there? It is I. Sorry, no English teachers wanted here.
         At my back I hear, hurrying near, time’s cherry-popping chariot. This coyness were no crime, old bat, were our world but the McCoy. I mount the nearest pig and away we fly – just me, myself, Mayor Daley and I – to buttress an iceberg in the sky. A flush of inverts tipping off the hat in the head for the waiter one fat chance for a tip.
         If melted music be the stuff drowns dreams, I wake in a wetsuit, flippers, mask, at tomorrow’s wake, with behind me all the other Irish here in the glass over my shoulder whistling Dixie. If frozen music be architecture I’ll get busy on the tympanum beating. Because in reality I am beat, out on the street, nothing to eat, no dice, just ice, eating my gut – god, that bad!
         On the tympanum beating the heat. Cyclops-like – socket sizzling still – feeling all around cops. Sipping from the crook of his palm – alas! – a last glassful of the empty half.
         Can it – I stutter into the glass – can it, can it really be I?
         “Aye, aye!” I eye in the glass my eye, recalling of a sudden like a sound BM the tart with the glass eye who plucks out the eye, not because the appliance offends, but rather to fend back into the fold a john – with all his folding – about to because of her ugliness beat it, begging the john in the beginning take her word for the thrill. “Here – fuck this.”
         Takes just one john to screw in that socket. Cut to the gratified trick, adjusting his cuffs, cinching his tie, about to leave this time for real, exclaiming to her face in the boudoir psyche behind, he’ll be, oh yes, very soon, back for more.
         “Okay,” yawns the whore, curling a pinky to swab her orbit. “I’ll keep an eye out for ya.”
         He gets off, back at the office, on ice. Crunches cubes. Imagines prime rib, taking the fifth root of rum pie. Switching off and on, on and off, the memory, under glass, of a trumpet in the head of his beloved strumpet.
         Starts at my face in the glass across the room.
         Smiles like a spider in a crypt surprised with a torch. Starts to sing, through shattered ice and limestone melt, “I’m Forever Blowing Sailors!”
         Knock-knock! Who’s there? Ma-dam. Madame who? Muh damn foot’s caught in the door!
         Which suffices to give entrance to trance.

Willie Smith's longtime favorite asterism is Job's Coffin. Job was too holy for earthly burial. Willie first "discovered" the Coffin while poring over star maps at age twelve. He star-hopped his way there from the Summer Triangle, which he found from the Big Dipper, which he in turn quite simply "found." He had already been writing for nearly four years when he stumbled onto the Coffin. Perhaps this was a turning point in the development of his style.
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