The Park

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Michael Burns Pencil drawing on 75 lb rag paper 11 X 14 inches

Entering the park, he felt familiar here. People passed without seeing him. Some looked at him, like they were looking at a wall.
A syringe cracked and the plastic body of it split under his boot.
Dreamers and schemers.
A mother and son passed him, and the boy looked backed on passing, only for his mother to clutch his hand closer in a sign to move more quickly. He smiled at the boy, and the boy smiled back.
A skinny teen rushed past with shoulders up, and bumped him, and turned and swore…”Fakkk, maannn”

He shook it off and plodded on, along the path and he saw a tree, stopped and looked out front and up the asphalt path, and then back from behind and were he had come. And then hurried and slipped swiftly into the wood.

He had come to this park for a very long time; when he was a young man he had walked with a beautiful young woman on his arm. She was desperately in love with him. Her long hair up in Gibson girl, a long blue silk dress with a bustle… she is dead now, long dead. Dust in the wind of this park.

He played as a child for years in this ancient playground. Spinning around and around on that heavy steel and iron merry-go-round, the paint layers, red and blue, flaking of a thousand years.

He was there the day the park had opened, “How long ago was that?”, he thought. His mind went further back to when the park was a wild place, raw natural and naked in front of the sun. Sweet new-green leaves, and every breath of air was breathed for the very first time.

Unzipping its front and slipping inside his light dirty orange polyester tent. He sat down in the damp, on a little canvas artist stool and putting a painting, therein against a tattered cardboard box of hodge podge, and clinkity clack. And he rested.

His mind drifted to a time, when a circus arrived in the park, no one had ever seen a circus before. They don’t come here anymore…circuses. Real circuses with fortune tellers and pony rides. Real hot dogs in a bun with mustard and a pickle.
His eyes filled with the visions of it all; the gaslights, and the smoke, the flares and morning after smell of fireworks from a night before. A mist and the entertainers and animal sounds and the; swirl and swirl drawing him ever in, deeper ever deeper.

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“Are you alone young fella?”

“No I am never alone.”

“Would you like to see a magician?

“Yes I would please.”

“Ok then, follow me my young friend. And be dazzled and amazed at the Universes, greatest, living, magician. Now…being as it is Tuesday, you are lucky…also as it is the first Tuesday in the month makes it even more lucky. “Luckier! What a lucky, lucky boy!”
For you see, the great magician only frequents here, the first Tuesday of the month of March. Or is that the second Tuesday? Anyway…he is here today for your satisfaction and won’t be back for another year…or two… and who know were the circus will be then?…right?..follow now, quickly, keep up young fella.”

They arrived at a small booth no bigger than a large; two large cardboard boxes, with a little peak on top. The front door open of the booth like a flap. And the boy entered, under the outstretched arm of the Barker. “Voila!” he said.

The old man stood in the dark, still for moment. In what felt like a massive room. He couldn’t tell from sight. Adjusting his eyes. Adjusting his weight for his lack of sight. Centering himself for the possibility of the unexpected. His eyes adjusted to the lack of light. The strong smell of wet saw dust and road apples.

He liked horses. He like horses a lot.

Ahead of him in the darkness, he heard a voice. It beckoned him and he followed, slow, shuffle in the dim towards the sound. “Step right up, come closer.”
“And what would you like to see?
I am the Universes greatest magician, and there nothing I cannot conjure up. Well it is not really conjure…it’s, magic. This gig is sort me practicing my chords. Ask of me something extremely difficult, even impossible.”

The old man answered, “You’re the magician, show me something I have not seen before.”

“Ok.” said the voice. “How about an elephant balancing on the stem of an apple”

“No…I have seen that..I can do that my self.”

“Alrighty then. How about a whale in gold-fish bowl?…hm. How about that, would you like to see that, young fella.?”

The old man looked into the magicians eyes, as he moved closer to him, as he had done so many times before. Those blue circles sparkling with excitement for what he was expressing. The enthusiasm of his… presentation.

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Michael Burns Drawing , pencil on 75 lb rag paper 11 X 14 inches

The old man blinked and he turned and looked at the painting against the box. He leaned over and picked it up. He studied it for a moment, he had seen it so many times. It was a very old painting. He couldn’t remember when he made it.
His eyes moved over the surface, carefully scrutinized it’s ever detail. And then he stopped and saw something, something vague. A shift in the color, not anything noticeable on a first glance, he had not noticed it in earlier lookings.
“What is that?” he thought.
“Why haven’t I noticed that before? And then, he walked right into to the painting.

The path lay before him, a sunrise to his left, meadow flowers of yellow and white and insects flit and buzz by, all along his way. Moisture and a dew on the blades. Up ahead, a slight incline of a meadow rises. In front of it a fence line of grey wooden rails. And at the top of the meadow stood a little thatched white-washed house, with a dog out front wagging it tail, eager, staring in his direction…prancing. Ready.
And he moved on and looked to left and heard the sun sizzling as it rose slow in the morning air.
He came to a fence line and an old gate, that swung both ways. Rusty on a spring. He passed through and then saw the dog bolt out towards him like a whippet out of its gate. And race and race ever faster towards him. A smile broke on his face. He was happy… and he bent down and caught the happy dog in full stride. It wasn’t heavy. The dog’s excitement caused it to slip out of his arms and landed on all four with a yelp, and it bounced forward and the two strode on toward another door, on the front of that house…

Autumn 1932, London, England

20151006_134606Autumn 1932, London, England: Cold grey October day, wind gusting….

I step out of the front lobby doors of the Sandman Castle Inn, put my hands in my overcoat pockets and pulled the long coat closer around me, against the bitter chill of fall wind, the world was getting colder; it had been a long trip by steamer, bedded down in dingy digs, but here I was in London, England, three weeks later…standing, waiting…for what? For whom?

I stared out into the lane and there on the opposite side of the street was a black government issue Studebaker. In the front seat sat a burly fellow in a long coat and brimmed hat. He casts his eyes sideways through the driver side window at me and gave me the nod to get in. I walked across Alexander Bain lane and entered the back driver side door and fell into the plush red, velour sofa sized seat.

The seat was warm, like it had been heated under the buttocks of a healthy dame, I slunk into the spot and felt the shudder of the outside cold fall away.

The driver sped off as soon as the car-door *clicked*….travelling at a furious speed, the driver took a right, a fast left, another right followed by two successive rights, and five minutes later we arrived at what looked like another back street hotel.

I peeled my carcass of the warm back seat, and leaning forward exclaiming “We’re here!”, the driver nodded and gave me a look from his rear view mirror and in a low, deep raspy accented voice he said…”Room twenty-tree”.

I said “Room twenty-three”, he said “Gjess, twenty-tree”.

The driver was a foreigner, from Italy or Spain or some such place. He had one of those tiny little pencil thin moustaches that curled at the ends…and that look in his eye. That dark brown-eyed insane look of a foreigner.

I exited the big car an it sped off pulling the car door handle from my hand; a squealing right and the car was gone down some quaint back street. Into the cool morning air of England.

I looked up and saw a small sign, squinting I read: Sandman-Castle-Inn-Rear-lobby.

“We’re back were we started..” I thought. “What is this, a joke!”. I flicked my cigarette butt out into the street and pull my coat close and walked into the back lobby.

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A few nefarious faces stared back at me, even the bellhop looked like a prize-fighter. I trudged to the elevator and the accordion door opened and I entered the lift.

A dwarf with a red pillbox hat squeezed out “What floor pleez”, and with my back pushed up against the rear of the elevator I said “Twenty-three”.

The midget cranked the brass handle forward and a sudden jolt and the elevator rose fast and came to a quick stop. Squeaky said “Second four, bangwit halls, convention wooms, and our wonderful Sandman Castle Inn gift shrop, twenty threeee is that large room to your wight sir.”…short funny little fella…I thought. Another immigrant from some foreign place or another.

I walked out into the large hallway turned to the right and walked up to the double doors of room 23.

I opened the right side of the door and entered the room.

“Professor McLuhan!…come on in sir.” exclaimed a young college type in glasses an a three-piece suit. Over the din of the room, he said. “Welcome. Can I take your coat and hat, Professor?”

I took off my long coat and walking further into the room… I handed it to him.

The room was filled with men in dark suites, college types, older greying looking, professors types; with German accents, more foreign types and mostly government men with their cheap government suites. And the same hat. It looked like a lecture room for the dark side. I wondered who I was speaking to.

“Your speaking in one half-hour sir.” quipped the coat-holder, “The title of your lecture will be: The Medium Is The Message, am I correct Professor.”

“Yes..ah..The medium is the…message…um…what is that crowd gather around over there, in the corner” I exclaimed.

Oh that professor is a…Tele-vision”

I squawked “Television?”

“Yes professor, moving pictures…television pictures.”

I walked over to the crowd gather around a table, I glimpsed a glass window…a thing… television. What the hell is a television.  I knew not what this new…contraption.

After nudging my way through the crowd I came to the center of it all. There on a table sat a black box with a round glass front on the box. Black and white images flickered on the surface of the glass front. Silent images of a dancer dancing, then it changed to a horse running and then a man walking. Magically images moved, like at the movies flickered across the screen, first one and then another. I was mesmerized. “Where the hell are the images coming from?”, I thought.

A man in the crowd said “Its the newest thing. It’s the latest! Twenty years from now they will be all over the world. We can put little plays on it. Little shows to keep them watching it. Operas… and they will change every half hour or so and then another story. And then a new one will start…It doesn’t matter what they see the whole process is about the flickering.

You see the machine will hypnotize people, the images flicker at a certain rate, and the viewer’s brain goes into an alpha wave after about twenty minutes. They lose touch with their critical thinking. The mind doesn’t see anything of significance, and so slips into the alpha rhythm. Now the mind is easily fooled. What ever they see starts to become more real than real.

And, that individual becomes, highly susceptible to suggestions. It works regardless of the images. The images simply keep them watching the screen…stops them from getting bored, during the process. The images are irrelevant to the workings of the machine. It will keep them watching though.

Twenty minutes in front of this and you can say anything to them, and they will believe it. It will be a great teaching tool.”

I looked at the speaker and said “It’s not so much the message as the sender that is sent.”

“He exclaimed “Yeah…right! That’s exactly right. The sender is sent.”

Artist: Michael Burns

Michael Burns Mixed Media

I looked around the room at the glowing faces, watching and listening to what was being said with a glee…their vacant grins.

At that very moment the world had changed; it would never be the same from now on. I felt alone in the room.

The message that I carried was more important than anything I had realized before. Was this lecture room interested in my message or were they interested in the messenger. I felt a growing fear take hold of me. I wasn’t in room of my peers.

My hypothesis was confirmed today and I understood as the Gutenberg medium had changed medieval man and brought him in to the church, and the monarchy and entrenched in the mind of the individual, their absolute control.

The television would change modern man forever.

His thoughts would be thought for him. They would grind up and homogenized and force feed thoughts to a public at large anything at all, anything they desired.

Through a mechanical box, a magic box, a magical hypnosis mind box that plays, moving pictures.

I ran the opening line of my lecture through my head.

“The Medium is the Message.”

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Michael Burns Pencil drawing on 75 lb  paper 11″ X 14″

PORTALS

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Michael Burns Acrylic on Masonite 16 inches X 20 inches

The portals are everywhere. And they lead to other earths…right beside this one.

I think a majority of people don’t even realize that they exist, and those that are left are mad from the knowledge, believing themselves mad, others convince them that they are mad. They know they are there though…the portals. And so they are locked away from us, or babbling foolishly to themselves about it. But they can’t understand why their lives can change so drastically for one moment to the next.

At first I thought, when I went to sleep at night, someone came changed the whole thing, and that it was a test, and the point of my day was to get back to the one I liked. Or started at; I don’t know which one I started at now, it’s been so long.

I mean there was more than one of them, you could like, you could like a lot of them; they weren’t all strange. But some were, very bizarre, nightmarish, and dangerous…ominous.

Some even with the slightest of differences. The smallest of things, the color red was missing in one, and replaced with another color I had never seen before. And have never seen since. I was the only one that noticed that, I got myself in a lot trouble trying to explain that concept; do you know how hard it is to explain the color red. To someone who has not seen it? There’s more to it than you think. And don’t ask me what the replacement color was, it just wasn’t there for me…I had no words for it, it was, a brand new color. And because my brain was not use to it, it kept popping up, like someone yelling at me. There is one were everyone likes me, and they love me. They are always doing things for me, giving me items, gifts. Or asking me to go along on unusual and wonderful experiences with them. Everyone of importance, does this… it got to the point that they would travel to my door to see me. It actually became quite horrible and annoying…people always watching me. I would go to the mall and people were watching, and waiting for me to speak to them so they might run up to me and make foils of themselves…I hated it. I was always trying to get away, escape, hide; duck in somewhere, disguise, they would see through it. They knew it was me.

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Digital photograph Michael Burns 2016

Wherever I would go, I’d go with the best, I live in the best house in town…

In one of the worlds I am hunted down, for doing something, I don’t know what it is that I did.  But I am tracked and chased mercilessly, and then I escape their clutches. And I always seem to be able to escape in that one. I am chased and harassed constantly. I think the point is, being chased. I think it’s about terror.

In another one, quite perplexing; the only difference was a small mole about the size of the head of a pin, to the right of the mouth about an inch and a half, and down about an inch towards the chin; everyone had it. But me… they all had stopped noticing they had it. Or never realize it at all. They had taken it for granted I’d guessed, I presumed it was because they could’nt see it anymore… but I could see it. Plain as day. There it was on everybody’s face, to the right and down, exact same place. It was the only thing I thought about there. That mole. I look in the mirror, couldn’t find it on my face. I would talk to others about it ask them if they could see it, I thought it might be possible that only I was seeing it. It was worlds like this that made me start to wonder. It took me a few years to figure it all out. These portals…

I stopped mentioning these things that I had noticed when I was a child. It got me in a lot of trouble. It would upset the ones that took care of me, the ones that loved me or had authority over me; only adults seemed to be bothered by it, children never questioned it when I told them about these things. But tell an adult and I would quickly be raced of to see another adult who was expert in such things. But strangely ‘they’ could’nt see the portals either.

So I decided not to tell anyone about them ever again. And I have lived that way since.

I notice now that as I get older that I manipulate which ones I wake up in, and sometimes if I am not paying attention I wake up inside one that I have totally forgotten I created during a night of dreaming. And then I notice something throughout that day that brings me back to the dream, and I realize the portal was into the dream.

In some way, I have imagined an answer to a question, or some profound thought I had been mulling over for sometime, and there it will be, a portal. I have sometimes played with multiple answers, just to see the outcome.

Lately I have gone back to some that I lived in for while, weeks or months and correcting some of my, how should I call it…my, malfeasance. Sometimes I take control in them…I was young then.

Yes in some I took control when I shouldn’t have; let’s leave it at that.

I think that I have discovered something that only I am aware of, or that I can do…and possibly everyone else can do it, but they don’t know that…I have thought that maybe I am the only one in this, and these people I meet are not real, I mean not really real.

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Michael Burns – Charcoal drawing and blue China crayon on cartridge paper. 22 X 30 inches

Maybe they are real, and they have not learned to do what I do quite yet. I know they don’t know what I talking about; could I teach it? Should I teach it?

I am not sure, I haven’t thought about it that deeply. I am too busy exploring them. The portals.

And so now I move from one to the other, sometimes back, sometimes forward. Sometimes I have gone back to childhood portals to experience a specific day, were I am clear, and young and fresh, a child, pure of heart and new, and in the Spring sun and happy…oh so desperately happy. Lusting after my life.

I have a tendency to forget a lot. I am not sure how old I am anymore? I not sure how long I have done this…maybe, I have always been doing it. Maybe, I will always do this…but it’s only limited, I have come to understand, by what I can imagine and dream.

Poem: The Dream

And gold leaf, on guilded aluminum…

the rot deep, in the body of the thing.

“Tear nee not, and sommelcore,

and afreezan too sheck ne gree”.

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Michael Burns Photograph.

The crowd grew on the stair, and flowed up and slithered down.

Round ornate newel and spread through the arteries of the building,

like it was a thing alive and pumping blood, onto…

Hidden places tucked in and separate and without an escape…

back there behind the rustle.

One way in, and one way out.

 

And massive tools lay on the truck, and I slipped away in secret.

On by it and around I go, and

the ocean, I saw, and the wall behind it.

I felt closed in and held in that place,

they watch my dream like a movie on a screen.

They are visual and need my images,

caught in something they will…

Never ascendible from there.

 

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Michael Burns Silver point drawing on specially prepared ground 16 X 20 inches (Unfinished)

Never leave it, but they found us in our vision.

And they are forever voyeurs now the ones who watch,

and I feed them life, defined in pictures.

And early I heard them on my roof

the soft footstep and creak of my timbers.

They are so curious those little ones…

they were made and we were not.

They are to be pitied, poor things locked here forever,

just looking, just watching…

always watching, the dream.

Always watching the dreamer.

 

The White House Press Club: St Patrick’s Day 2017

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Snake Michael Burns

The scene is the White House Press room, shuffling feet, reporters looking for a place to sit; there is competition for the front row seats, the usual old hacks of mainstream television sit in the front row seats, reporters are standing in the wings watching for seated reporters to leave a vacant seat and them zoom in like a chicken hawk to the empty spot, a few squabbles and murmurs and the talking of the CNN Senior White House correspondent, microphone checks; fussing with hair; talking to others on the days issues.

A faded playboy news anchor, John Roberts (Fox News) adjusts his flourescent pink tie against his dark blue suit.

Pretentious looks and vogue smiles, are seen coming from the crowded Press room, like very old 50’s mannequins in modern clothes. Stately music plays in the background, appropriate for the White House Press room.

A sliding door near the podium and the president’s press secretary Sean Spicer enters the fray, and walks to podium adjusting the days notes onto it. There is momentary pause during shuffling and the room quiets. Sean Spicer looks up and states..

Sean Spicer: Good morning everyone, happy St Patrick’s day to y’all, this is going to be a wonderful day today. A positive day. Later on we are to have a nice St Patricks day breakfast, with three Irish Nuns from  St Patricks Catholic church here in Washington will be cooking green pancakes and green eggs and ham for breakfast, it will be served with green tea, and green orange juice. And everyone gets a shamrock lapel for good luck. Which I hear is difficult to make.

At noon there will be a short Catholic service honoring St Patrick for driving all the snakes out of Ireland and into this godam White House Press room. *Sean smiles and looks out to the audience* Did ya like that joke?

There will be a luncheon at noon; the lunch will be cooked by three recovering pedophile priests from the Catholic monastery of St Patrick’s on the Isle of Skye, so the public may be protected from their lust filled and vile wanderings, and as penance for their sins.

The lunch will be Ramspeckled trout, served with real Irish spuds, soda bread and a green Irish Guinness to wash it all down. *Rustling and escalating murmurs from the audience*…I see a lot of you are excited. Are you excited April? *Sean looks to April Ryan the bureau chief for the American Urban Radio Networks (AURN) Sitting in the second row*

April Ryan (AURN): *April starts shaking her head, first side to side then up and down)

Sean: Your shaking your head April? Are you happy…not happy? *Sean Spicer smiles and continues talking* You can stop shaking your head now April…April, stop….shaking.

This afternoon, we will have a leprechaun hunt with a real leprechaun. The president has gone all the way out this year. We sent representatives to Ireland to get a real leprechaun. it was difficult because there not many of them left, and they are extremely pricey. That hunt will be held on the White House back lawn. And whoever catches the little bastard get his pot of gold.. lauren begorry.

Now to get to serious business..The president has been meeting with world leaders and finally after thousands of years, and trillions of dollars, and countless lives lost, has hammered down a solution to world poverty. It a great solution and poverty all over the world will be solved. There will be no more poverty; everyone will benefit from this, everyone.

The president also has created a health care plan than solves the American peoples health problems and no one will ever be sick again. In essence this health care plan cures sickness. It’s a miracle!

Peace has been brought to the middle east, the war in Syria is over now, the middle east nations are going to give their oil for free, and we in turn are going to give it away for free. The budgets of the Military, CIA, FBI, NSA and all the other alphabet departments of government are being slashed and their mandate changed to suit the public need only; as the President has solved the problem of crime in America also…

President Trump had a meeting with all the Wall Street banks, led by Goldman Sachs and they have agree to print only free money; the Federal Reserve will comply with their demand; all the debt of America and its partners is nulled and voided…in fact we are resetting the whole thing, the economic machine..we will hit the reset button. America’s debt is zero. Isn’t that wonderful…April are you’re shaking your head…you agree April..oh well.

The president has also had meetings with all the world leaders and they have all agreed to dismantle their nuclear arsenals. From now on they will live in peace and administer only good will and happy feelings to the neighbours and the peoples of the world.

The president has increased the budget of NASA and they are in agreement that the priority for from now on, will be that NASA is to put humans on MARS and eventually another star system within the next year. This is exciting people. Very, very exciting.

The President has reached out to all women, and womens organizations in America, through the most note worthy organizations; he has apologized, and is taking ads out in all newspapers, at his own expense, and will make a vocal formal apology publicly this afternoon on television. A formal apology will be made to Rosie O’Donnell, personally, and he sent her 10,000 roses at his own expense as gesture of that sincere apology. He sent Bill Maher a truck load of Guinness stout and four kilos of the best Humboldt bud. The president in fact has legalized all drugs. There is no more war on drugs. To conclude that statement, there is no more war on anything.

He has asked Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to serve in his administration as advisers to the president in a new and unprecedented move to work to sustaining national peace, and happiness, and has asked the FBI to cease and desist any investigation they might have going into the Clinton Foundation. Or to the case of wiretapping by the administration of Barack Obama. Peace is seems will reign supreme within the political parties of America, finally.

The president has aims on creating a new system in America of job sharing without the losses to anyone, with the government subsidizing that plan to what ever end. And the minimum wage will be raised to US $30 per hr. Taxes are being slashed for the poor and all tuition fees in colleges and Universities will be free to eligible candidates.

And now, I will take a few questions…

Major.

Major Garret (CBS News): Yes Sean, I am wondering…can you tell me…is it..does…uh..are there..can you ah..can you ah..ah…is, is, is..ah…it’s just a simple question…do ah, is

Sean: Yes major we did, and completed it, and vetted it, and its solved Major..so shut da f…

*The room explodes with reporters snapping their arms up to be next to have a chance to ask a question. Sean scans the room and point to April Ryan (AURN)*

…yes, April! April your nodding your head…you haven’t ask a question yet…April stop nodding your head.

April (AURN): *April’s head is shaking like a African-American bobble headed doll, and gaining speed*

Sean: April!…April! April you shaking your head, stop shaking your head, you haven’t asked a question yet…stop shaking?

April: Yes Sean…good morning Sean. Can you tell me something yes…um. The President insulted Condoleezza Rice eight years ago, and she being one of the countries leading African-American women who are trying the break the African-American glass ceiling. And the president had lunch the other day and it was witnessed by another reporter that he passed three African-American women in a hall, and ah.. that…the was a paper was studied, I can’t disclose the source, but ah.. that was ah… and Ms Rice said also and he insulted her back then…the paper said he had Russian dressing on his ah..his ah *head shaking*, salad…at lunch.

Sean: No he didn’t have Russian dressing April…April you shaking your head again…April! April stop shaking your head, the president had french dressing on his salad. April..stop shaking…

John!

John Roberts (Fox News): High Sean..

Sean: That a bright color of tie John, do have a switch for to turn it down, what kind of pink is that, is that electric pink John. You know it’s St Patrick’s day, right John. It’s green today…do you have any Irish in you John?

John : It not pink Sean it’s Vivascent Salmon..

Sean: Vivascent!…is that a real word John?

John: Yes, it’s ah…it means ah, influenced by perfume. My question Sean is..

Sean: Oh yes proceed, vivascent *snicker, cough* John..ask..PINK

John: It’s not pink Sean. How did Senator Nunes get into the White House Sean?

Sean: He came in through the front door..

Chris!

Christine Ann “Chris” Kapostasy-Jansing (MSNBC): Hello Sean,

Sean: Chris..

Chris: Sheaaaaaaaaan, iss…*fixing her hair, vouging*…iss ah.ahem..

Sean: How come you still use your married name when your are divorced Chris?

Chris: What!…what Sean?

Sean: Your married name Chris…why use it?

Chris: Oooh…well..its easier to pronounce.

Sean: Than Apostasy… was that why the divorce Chris? Because of you lack of faith, abandonment of loyalty…

Chris: Ahem, talk to the hand Sean ..*raises her right hand as a gesture of stop, with her other hand on her hip*…My name is not Apostasy Sean, its Kapostasy.

Sean: Oh…*Sean point to man in the front row*….Jeff…yes Jeff Zeleny

Chris: But bu….

Jeff Zeleny (CNN Senior White House correspondent) : Good morning Sean… is Donald Trump a sore winner, because his accusation of millions of illegal votes during the election…

Sean: That’s President Trump to you, you little twit…is it true you guys over at CNN eat brains?

Jeff: Ah.. Sean…noooo..about the leprechaun hunt Sean. Is this…is this, legal, Sean is it legal, leprechaun hunting. Does this leprechaun speak, Russian.

Sean: No leprechauns are being hurt in this hunt Jeff, “hunt” as in “EASTER EGG HUNT” Jeff. Off course you being a cannibal, hunt must be a trigger word for you…is it.

Sean: April you’re shaking your head again..and finally…ahhh

Jeff:  *Jeff says quickly* I have a follow-up question Sean?

Sean: Really Jeff…your last name means green, right Jeff.

Jeff: Yes

Sean: Well here’s something green for ya, since ya didn’t get the leprechaun bit. President Trump solved Global warming…he solved climate change yesterday. There is no more, it’s, gone Jeff…

Jim!

Jeff: Ah, but.

Jim Acosta (CNN): Yess Sean thank-you, happy green St Patrick’s day…um.. the Russian dressing affair, is the… has the waiter been investigated, it would seem he is a Russian spy, because he handled the Russian dressing… is this more proof that Donald Trump’s politics were compromised by Vladimir Putin. And will the White House be investigating the company that sold the Russian dressing to the restaurant. I have been informed, over twitter that the lunch the President was having was in the “Russian” Tea House, a cafe very close to the White House. Is this Russian speaking Leprechaun, been….

Sean: Shut da fuck up you cannibal…no he didn’t have Russian dressing he had French Dressing you twisted twit. Is this why you lost the senior White House correspondent position to that other twit Zeleny.

Jim: But I haven’t lost the senior…

Sean: Shut up, yes you have..*Looking out at the audience*…meeting is over. Have a good afternoon everyone.

I’m going to drink a lot of that green Guinness on the back lawn and see If I can hit that fucking Russian leprechaun with a sling shot.

Later bitches…

PARASITE

20160902_165309Sometimes truth is unavoidable, sometimes it can pop up in front of you and you cannot get away from it. You did’t ask for it, you were not even looking…but now here it is. There is no avoidance.

People can be affected by the parasite and it is going to take advantage of the situation and get what it needs; the house is full of bad energy, and now I sit with one of the worst in negativity.

I am being preyed on, attacked, a psychic attack. But I am strong to it. This has been my life, my whole life on this strange planet. I am pushed till anger and then they act surprised when I defend myself. I am beginning to feel isolated, cut of and surrounded by the gaslighters. It can be difficult but I have no fear, of any of this …I am getting so tire of the gossip, the cliquey ways of humans, even the closest to you will turn on you and you will get lost in it, lost in their dysfunction. The dysfunction of the parasite. If one contemplates it carefully, you can watch the watchers.

One world is ending, it seems, and another is floating along right beside it , like two barges on river, and a small step, or maybe, a giant leap of faith, and you are now on the better of the two of the millions of versions of this…Madness is the way or conformity to collective. I have noticed that most are against everything that your are, to awaken to this is to wake to the ridiculous. The absurdity of this three-dimensional life. Some of us and there are very few of us, know that the world is being conquered on my many different levels. The future cannot be stopped; they can close you down to it, try to close you off from it; that open unexplored and filled with vast new and unrealized possibility. For all incentive purposes we are finished as a species, we will move along an evolutionary path towards global domination and the eventual jackboot on the throat forever. In this..and these present conditions. Unless everyone revolts, not against a system or a government, but against ones own self. No one is going to come along and do it for you. They can’t be beat, unless you conquer yourself first. You are what they are fighting for, and what they are fighting about. Don’t buy into any of it, unless your right in the middle of it and it is your deal. If I made a choice to come here and help in some way, I have failed I think, if I can’t get you to realize that; the illusion of your powerlessness is all you fight.

20150403_190347I had a dream inside a dreamscape that has become very familiar to me, more so than any other dreamscape, far too real, and a strange animal took shape in it.  The dreamscape is mine and I have been creating it for decades, and while in it, when I looked I saw a dried sunflower, in front of a dream house that I have live in a long time, and the sunflower, after a long winter in the snow.

I have a fondness for that image, I’ve painted it many times. It talks to me of both the death and rebirth within the same symbol. The emotion and the power of the symbol is my own, I created it. Or possessed it the first time I saw it. The dried past and the many seeds of the heavy head of the future.

In my dream the Sunflower; as I say after a long winter, dried and brown, and waiting. Bent head towards the ground heavy with seeds. And around it was coiled this strange animal, coiled around a garden plant. I saw it and thought is very strange indeed, it was an octopus, a land octopus, disguised and camouflaged like the Sienna brown and orcher and black dried flower. It was trying to hide; and it screamed a bit when I approached it, I moved towards it to pick it up in the dream, and it screams and coils tighter to the dried sunflower. But I eventually did pick it up. Pryed it loose from the sunflower. placing my hand around Its neck and  bulbous round and large head. It felt bony in there, beneath the surface, like a vertebrae, like it had a spine, and a soft feel, inviting and very sensuous. It felts wonderful, it had an unususal mink like soft fur. It screamed at first, when I pull it of the plant. And then it relaxed and made some interesting sounds. Sounds I have not heard before, they could have been cries for help or excitment that I was touching it, but what I understood was they were inviting sounds.  I can only describe the whole thing as an octopus with very soft downy fur, soft golden tan and blonde colored fur.

I recognize a ceiling on these worlds. And not in the sense of a visual thing, but it is obvious and I am sure I can almost reach up and touch it. They seem like they are limited places, but this creature…I think it found a way in, and in doing so, it also gave something up to me, without knowing. Without realizing it, knowledge of how the parasite works, it get in through dreams, and we unsuspecting pick them up, or don’t even notice that they are not part of the dream, but are invaders into the dream. Which in a sense ‘is’acceptance. But it doesn’t realize what it excepted in return.

SUNNIES DILEMNA

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Michael Burns – drawing

There I was in the center of the tomatoes, my face turned towards the sun. Yellow like me. The green fruit looked at me and said “You are intruding…we were here first, and now your in here. We don’t like you.
This is our piece of ground and we need it, all of it. Your are too big, you take up too much space.
Your so fat, and cause a cold shadow. We like it warm.”

Me, well I am a late bloomer, I fell out of a ducks ass and here I am, I landed here. Did I ask to start here…no, I didn’t. And so, it not my fault. I am just doing what I am supposed to…grow and blossom and then get heavy, so very heavy with my seeds and stoop over when I get old, get that slouch because of the weight of it…that is what I am to do.
I don’t know how I know that, but I do, know that. It’s what I am. I don’t have a choice.

People like me…I think. Why shouldn’t they…I’m bright and yellow and big…friendly.
Even the birds like me. Bees like me…butterflies, even those crows, like me.
I am named after the sun. What an honour, how many can say that about themselves.
I am named after god.

It gets boring sometimes, here in this exact spot. I mean, lately its worst, these whining little green-fucking-tomatoes. I’m not crowding them out. I am, “Taking up their space and drinking in their water.” Fuck…I did’nt get the start like they did. Grown in greenhouse. Planted by a human, fertilized and watered in…nooo, I was shit here.
So I am making the best of what could have been a bad situation. I mean do any of us own anything, here…the ground we grow in. Who owns it. Definitely not the tomatoes.
Maybe that little bird. Maybe the sun owns it…there would be nobody here if he didn’t shine. It would be terribly cold and so dark…and lonely.
It would be so lonely.

I daydream a lot…I put my face into the sun and then follow it all day until the dark time, and then do it all over again, the next day. I like daydreaming. I like daydreaming…
All the time listening to those assholes whine.
Sometimes bees come along and walk all over the face of me and pick up my yellowness and stick it in little bags on the hind legs and carry it off, and I make more of it. I don’t know were they take it, I don’t even know why they take it. It’s not a big deal though…they don’t take much; it is easy to make more.

Oh, I do like that!

That little bird that comes along…it flys really fast and has a very long beak, and that flicking tiny tongue. The sound it makes, similar but a lot louder than the bees. No, it’s different, it’s quite different.
It likes the water that collects at the bottom of my face, my yellow dissolves in that water, and that tiny little thing drinks it up. I would like to be one of those little birds, I would want to be one of those little birds, but for now, I am this.
They can move so fast…and I have to stay here in this one place. I’m so slow.

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Michael Burns Cell Phone drawing

I look out on the water and the ducks, and the wetland. This a good place to grow. I have dreams here…of next year, or the year after, and then there will be many more like me in this spot. Maybe even hundreds. There would no place here, no room left for dam tomatoes…bastards… I like that. Many around here have said they don’t like the tomatoes. There would be just hundreds of yellow faces. No tomatoes, tomatoes are angry, and their hard to get along with… yes I can see it now, hundreds of yellow faces, everywhere…smiling yellow.

I wouldn’t be here, then… I would be gone, to were I don’t know.
Maybe I would be like one of those little birds that like to drink yellow water. That would be good, that would be great. That’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be a tomato, they don’t seem like they are happy. I am supposed to be happy…I mean I am happy…actually I am not sure if I am happy. Now I am confused about it. I am not sure I know completely what happy is…maybe I am the happiest, and don’t know it. So in that case. I’m happy.

I know I don’t want to be grass. I listen to grass all night, that, ohhhh ooh sound, that reaching, stretching noise it makes.
I am not sure if it is happy. I doesn’t talk to me. I’ll bet it heard the racket from the fucking tomatoes, and thinks I am not very nice. It seems to be in a hurry all the time. And oh does it like the rain. I like the sun. I love the sun.

It has been getting cooler at the dark time. It is quiet then, and I can’t hear the ducks. Even the tomatoes are quiet, rustling away, mumbling very quietly to themselves. I like them at night…well maybe not like.  Maybe I should tell them that. Maybe that would stop them bitching at me, if I told them I liked them.

There is an owl that lives behind me, back there, I can’t see there. It is behind my face.  He makes hooting sounds at dark time and I hear him flying. I saw him once, late, when all was quiet. It was very dark. He was so big.

Every so often I hear squeaking down at the bottom of me. Some little animal lives down there. He is always moving around in the strawberry patch. Those guys, the strawberries have been here a long time, and nobody bothers them. Ever.

I hear some birds, quietly having intimate conversations at the dark time, in those spruce trees to my right. Whispering; low voices; quiet giggles. I listen, it’s not like I am nosy, I am just curious. Sometimes the ones sleeping near by, get upset, stir squawk and jump to another tree and huff and settle back down.

Sometimes I see the sun’s wife and she shines so bright. Only at the dark time does she come out. And not very often. I can see clear across the water. I like her, everything is silver when she comes by. I feel really good about myself at that time. Kind of energized in a different way.

It is getting darker earlier every day and I don’t get much information were I stand, I always feel like an intruder…the tomatoes make sure of it. They are such assholes.

I am bigger than everybody else here, I take up more space. I don’t do it on purpose. It is just who I am. I’m big. I get so upset about it, and so…I write poetry at night… in my head, about myself, my condition here, what I think of myself. What I think about being… alive, a living thing. It is quite unusual…

I think I am having an existential moment?

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Painting acrylic and charcoal on canvas. 16 X 20 inches.

I like poetry…a lot… that little bird makes me think of poems, I could write a dozen poems about him. Actually I could write a poem about the tomatoes, how much grief they give me. That is a good Idea, I think I will write one…

The intruder pushes up and out

and past green fruit       envious         seven heads     and late to a season.

an invitation        lost or forgotten in a translation

and in an eagerness supplant             the expected ones

those who were invited

shiny faced open

I am

the slave is aglow in musty yellow

and a wing’d friend flits and rushes round me        I think he is my friend

racing on towards conclusion

and the many obstacles that block

me

the late bloom in Autumn’s cool glow, before winters glass

after a false start

some bear their greatness near the end rather than at the start

I would care to say…

the grass grows and I can hear it

praying to God

ohhhh       ohhhhhh                       ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh

prayers silently unrelenting

moving up

reaching in quiet unison

for a fading summer light of their God

not enough time

melancholy setting in

for the season of the frozen

lines will rule the sky

and blot out

the light

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Michael Burns Painting – Oil and acrylic on hardboard. 18 X 24 inches

I saw my father face in a dream once

I’d never met him and told him so

one     second     here

now there…

a different place

felt        shifted

And then I am in the other,

the non ordinary and confused sometimes

but mainly never understood

they tell me that I’m mad

and running circles

round and round and round

the sky…

I am not mad

I am an artist out-standing in his field

Poem: Poets Hospital

There’s a hospital for poets

End of the road for a broken dreamer, and an artist with tarnish on his soul.
There’s no line up there, you just walk right in and get into a bed.
Dead dreamers are wheeled by on gurneys on their way to reincarnations.
The place is filled with unspoken words, and half filled remnants of…those angry hearts
Ghosts walk the halls of the unpublished, asking you for a word…ah, “Please will you listen.”

The great Dylan Thomas died here and the place reeks now of a writing shed. Corso walks by holding an antiquated toaster and speaks to him in tongues about the substance of a symbol
“I was born here and I will die here.” He exclaims in the accent of an Italian Hamlet, on passing.

A water drenched rat from the Titanic, hugs the wall on its way to the basement to fornicate with its American cousin.

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Michael Burns Drawing, charcoal and red Conte on 75 lb rag paper. 11 X 14 inches

Scribbled notes on latin edges, and pencilled words on back pages, of dog-eared books about etiquette, written by a Vanderbilt.
And scratched last lines onto the walls grasped, and gasped out by those on their way to the other side for recycling.

And the ‘wall of hope’ remembers.

And so I check my pulse and found I had the prerequisites …to be in this place.
I was definitely a card-carrying member. And my poems were sick.

The nurse arrives and asks to take my temperature.
I tell her “I am minus thirty and dropping…my heart is frozen. Can you help? There’s an ice age comin, don’t ya know!”
“Aw” she says, “Would you like a hot drink, what seems to be your trouble Micko, and can you bend over dear.”
She reminds me of a poem about another woman.
An Irish woman named love. Who lives under a hill. And the words fall out of my mouth, “Come away O’human child…”
I tell her I am suffering from double entendre
“Aw” she says “There’s a lot of that going round these days.”, as she pulls the thermometer from its hold.”
Nursey leaves swishin; I love that sound. And  I wait, on my little cot for doctor Big Fingers to arrive.

“And how are we today.” he says, on entering the clutter. He walks over and closes a cupboard door to staunch the bleeding words from the top shelf.
“We?”
I ask to borrow his pen and clipboard with a page. And scribble down quickly the words to my next ode.
‘I have a bug in my ear and I am tone-deaf to bullshit’
I return his clipboard, pens are hard to get here.

“So what are my chances doc…will I live?..is this fatal?
Will I need an operation…maybe a transfusion. To rid myself of the parasites in my thoughts.
Am I using my words well,?..am I color blind to context.
Is my sense of semantics charged, and pure to the meaning.
C’mon Doc, don’t hold back. Tell me the truth.
Am I…a dead poet?”

He looks at me and sighs, ” Poets are born with broken thoughts. And use words as pills to heal themselves.”
Write a couple more lines, and I will see you in the morning…

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Michael Burns – Charcoal and red Conte on cartridge paper. 22 X 30 inches

I returned to my room and there was Corso and that fucking toaster…he was chewin the fat with Larry Ferlinghetti…about spaghetti, al dente. And something about publishing his next book.
They turned and looked at me and Larry said…”So you want to be part of the club, is that right kid. Are you a sick poet?”
“No.” I sez…”but I wouldn’t mind a chit-chat about Fluxus, I sometimes get on my drums and start with my heartbeat.
Bom bom..bom bom…bombom bombom and the blood gurgles glickly and falls through the holes at end of my veins.
Red.
Sticky.”
Larry leaves in disgust, hands in the air, exclaiming “Wannabee, couldhadbeen, mightdahad.”

I am content now I have found my own…I don’t feel as fatal. Not nearly as fatal.
My poems are better …and fellow madmen arrive every morning with new lines.
And my fake Irish nurse arrives for late night checks of my vitals.
I think… I’m ok.

Woman in a Grey Tight Suit

Its was one of those, afternoons. Sitting at a café, light diffused, not quite there, surreal. Light waiting to happen. On the edge of waiting to happen…ready.
Perhaps waiting for something; a trigger, so that it might play and create further the mood necessary for the unfolding of a greater drama. A simple prop in the gamut of this reality.

Leaves jumped of willow branches like small children going for a ride, and rode the breeze like ashes to the ground. And then scurried away. Giggling down a cobbled street.

It was cool…

I looked up and there he was, watching me, staring. He had what looked like a coffee cup at his right…yes…it was, and he picked it up in the man’s way and drank from it and proceeded to stare out and then down at me again.
Tipped his black hat back of his forehead.  And then, he began typing on what looked like one of those ancient, clunky old-fashioned Coronas, you know…the ones that war correspondents carried around all over battlefield Europe during the Second World War. I should know, that is where I cut my teeth so many moons ago; battlefield Europe.

My eyes left his two fingers pounding on that makeshift piano without a sound, and turned towards a voice. An inner voice, and then…drifting.

“Madame, voulez-vous donc plus de café.”

I looked up and into his eyes; the waitor was so young, a child really. A glance and suddenly, I felt so very, very old. I didn’t like that, his youthful presence made me feel, so used up and full of memory. I became embarrassed for myself having that thought. And pulled in for moment, as if being caught naked and exposed being old, I said, “Non merci…je l’ai eu assez. Mon chèque s’il vous plaît.”

The young man walked back into the café.

Leaves danced down the street and strangers passed.The scene kept changing, forever shifting… changing. Like a glitchy video.

Men walking in and out of a door to building across the street, large sums of money in hand;  colors and smell of perfume, and then of wet flowers and a single dog with three legs, stopped at my table and looked up at me.

The sun broke through the mist like an intruder into a house, and then left like a thief in the same kind of hurry. And the mist started to rise and envelop everything in that strange…light again.

I looked up at my observer and there he was dark, typing, violently onto that machine. And the words came out from the top of his typewriter and took shape… form, color and texture. It had volume, and became the air and the shape of things, and the buildings around. Like a dream forming, the very bricks under my feet. And the leaves flying in the breeze. He was writing reality.

I watched on and saw him look back to me occasionally, stop and think for a moment then begin his playing upon his keys. His music was asking for a real sound.

And then music started, and I looked to my right side. There sat, my date, a very young man, and I was young… listening to the orchestra in a large hall. He looked so handsome in his black tails; the symbols crashed and the roar of the orchestra rose to its intro. I lean into the side of his head, and paused for a second waiting for him to listen, and said softly in whisper in his ear ” I will return shortly, I promise.” He turned his head on swivel and smiled and I rose from the balcony chair and exited the door behind us. Walking along in a stride, the red plush carpet under my shoes,  past enamelled walls and period french art, and massive vases of many flowers…the smell of wet flowers.

The bottom of my evening gown swishing to my step, setting a tempo, a sequined glittering tempo. and the music behind and to the back of me.

I stop for moment, and made sure I was alone, and looked back and front, and back again. I opened my little clutch purse, and removed the little ivory-handled two shot pistol, therein. I checked it’s contents…and there they were the brass 25 caliber shells snug in their holes. I closed its little breach and cocked the pistol once for each bullet. Then I put it back in my little place.  And advanced my walk to the time.

A moment later and a young german officer in black, passed and smiled the smile of an aristocrat. Hansome evil. The smile of the priviledged. Touching the visor of his black SS cap, with a slight bow as he passed like a gentleman.

I strode down a long flight of stairs to the ground floor,  and enter the grand entrance to the great hall.  A narrower hallway just to my left, invited me to step in and go beyond into that blackness. The scene changing flowing out in front of me like paint from a can.

Without a change in my step I moved forward and along, glancing at numbers on the doors of the private ground floor galleries. 126…127… 128….and…129; I stop and turned and waited a moment, the sounds of the orchestra rose to a crescendo, crashing Wagner, symbols, music fuging loudly, and louder…and I looked both ways, and  turned the knob of the door and entered the room. As the loudness of the music rose upon my entrance.

A small alcove with a thick dark curtain in front of me.  Low light and the smell of heavy fabric. Closing the door quietly behind me, I stop and took a long deep quiet breath. I removed my long gloves… open the purse and grasped the little ivory handle in my right hand. I walked slowly through the curtain and saw them sitting there…backs to me, so very close together, above and separate from the main hall seating. The lights and loudness of the music, crashing. The blackness back in here.  They couldn’t hear me. No one could hear me, or see me. Their chairs barely apart; the staccato of the old Obergruppenführer and a child barely fifteen, dressed in a black gown like a woman of thirty.

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Michael Burns Charcoal and graphite, naples yellow acrylic, on gessoed canvas, 24 X 30 inches (Unfinished work)

I walked up to him swiftly, in grace and placed the gun at his left temple and fired, a crack and he slumped forward in the large chair. She looked at me in shock, an innocent in the wrong place. Youth shining against the stage light, her and I caught in that for just second. I hesitated… and knew her fate if I didn’t kill her. Slowly then I placed the little gun on her temple. She knew as well as I, and bowed her head gently as if a swan. The music rose, submissive, knowing. And in the deafening crash of the music, I fired once again and her release from this terrible part…

I looked up and there he was, staring again at me. Then typing again.

I move in my chair to adjust the skirt of my grey suit, on my body, it was pinching me in places. Taking a drink of my Americano and picking up the new folded newspaper to the side, I opened it and read the headline: Secret Nuclear Storage Facility.
I place the paper beside me on a chair, and took a drink of my coffee. I pick up my sunglasses and put them on my face and look up to my observer.

I was standing beside him, and I say…

“Forget the message, just concentrate on the context. Reality two is intersecting with Reality one, the one you know every day. That’s the point. Where we are now is two. It’s invisible most of the time. But it’s far more powerful than the place where you live. What you do with that knowledge is up to you. No one can advise you.”

HARLEY

20151006_132335Harley is simple man, he likes, rather, he wants his life to be that simple.
No complexities, no unnecessary frills to eat away at the edges of that quiet simmering and easy pleasure.
His life, that has become habit; habits.

He got up in the morning, showered and shaved and then dressed himself in the usual work clothes, hardy and ruggedly made for his job at the mill. All the sme colored green work clothes. This morning he took time, and picked the best and newest shirt and trousers, from a rack of clean work clothes; pressed and in their place. Each one lovenly placed like a piece of art. Each hanging and resting in the place that it should.

Harley walked down the same staircase, and entered his same kitchen, shuffling across the kitchen floor to the stove were his wife stood frying his eggs, as she had fried so many of them; the synchronicity of that one real moment in time, at the same hour at the same few minutes on the hour of six o’clock. Between her cracking an egg on the edge of the pan, to the flip of the second egg to make them easy…. over, was actually quite remarkable over the course of thirty some odd years, that Harley had worked at the mill. This was their morning ritual.

He would kiss his wife, Frankie, on the cheek as she moved her face ever so gracefully towards him, a split second glance away from the pan in intense acknowledgement, showed all that she felt for him, but quickly back to the contents, and the importance of the frying pan…Harley’s eggs.

Francis Waters; Frankie as Harley loved to call her, was the simple wife of mill worker. She asked no more of herself, and excepted no less. She was getting old now and getting tired of all this, but always found enough of herself to put in that pan with those eggs. Aways found enough for the day.

Dedicated to her husband and his job, the job she knew he hated, but that they both needed to keep the wolves away from their simple and quiet door.
She took to this morning chore like a monk, a meditation practiced like a prayer to an unkown God. And as sacred. Week after week she fried two eggs and bacon and buttered toast washed down with two cups of black coffee.
The same old way, at the same time; quiet, simple and a beauty in the uncomplicated. Was it pleasure was their life pleasure?

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Harley would sit down at the table, and Frankie, sat across and watched quietly, her elbows on the table, cup in her hands close to her mouth, leaning in drinking the coffee in short sips, and watching Harley eat. Watching him eat, was pleasure for her, a pleasure in seeing him eat the eggs like he had so many yesterdays ago. She would smile as he ate the white from around the yolk first, and then wait a second, like he was waiting for the world to breathe, and quickly scoop up the yellow sun fom his plate, and put it in his mouth. She would smile as his face would light at his success. It was the boy in him, noticeable at corners of those old eyes of his…

Waiting for the occasional glance up her, and his smile. Or his wink. Sometimes a word or two, as the morning was allowed to take it time. He would say something about fixing something, or she would talk about her sister was coming over this afternoon. But she always enjoying those eggs more than he did.

He would rise and take his cup and plate, and rinse them in a charity so as not to allow the egg yolk to dry to the plate and cause Frankie more than enough work. They both were in the habit of placing love in everything they did for each other. They were devoted and timeless.
When he finished he would go to the back door and put his boots and coat on, look carefully at Frankie, and tell her how much he loved her, always and forever, and then pick up the cooler with lunch inside and leave through the back door, with a clatter of a screen door.

Today was like any other day, no difference than the day before, except he was older. And now it taking it toll on his body.
He felt tired, and achy and something was amiss in his gut, he could feel it. It had gone on for at least a year now. It felt fatal, it felt like it was never going to leave. It had moved in there, and he knew in his heart, it was final.
He had hidden it and knew deep inside of himself that it would cost him dearly. One of those things that comes along and would take everything that he had worked for all his life away from him and Frankie. A few months of illness and without any real medical benefits, it would break them like dry tinder.

He crossed the back lawn to his truck and slid onto the front seat. It was cool this morning, and the truck groaned into life. He allowed it a few moments to warm up. He looked towards the back kitchen window of the house, and there she was looking at him. As always. He smiled and waved, she waved back, he turned his head and put his arm behind the passenger seat and backed out of the drive and into the alley. A glance back at the window to Frankie, and he blew her a lovers kiss.
A few minutes later and he was on the highway heading north to the Big River Mill.

The drive was quiet at this time of the morning, no traffic, just the occasional deer, or coyote in the ditch. The crows gobbling up the insects that bounced of the passing vehicles. They knew exactly were to stand, and timed jumping out-of-the-way perfectly, when it came to rushing out into the driving lane after an injured dragonfly. Harley loved to watch them, he thought them wise beyond their making.

Harley liked this time of the morning it was the only peace and quiet he’d get all day, until shift-end at four o’clock, when he made the return trip back home to Frankie and the surprise of what she had cooked and was baking during the day.

He thought about her again, as the white lines flicked by him. She was his life. What would happen to her if he got sick, real sick and died. This pain he had was never gonna leave.
He couldn’t see an illness and doctors and tests steal what they had built together. He had an insurance policy that covered him at work against accidental death. It paid of the mortgage and his debts and he had bumped up the coverage over the years and so she would stand to make upwards of $400,000 upon accidental death.. They had saved a little bit for years, and she would get a modest pension from his thirty years. There were no real debts to worry about he had kept on top that, never allowing it to slide more than a few dollars.
Harley never smoked or drank much. The odd shot of good whiskey, here and there, or at the holidays. His pocket-money went into a saving account, he never spent it; and he had roughly $18,000 saved now. He was not into buying much, he had no need of anything or desired anything for that fact.

The miles clicked by, and Harley reached to his truck radio and turned it on. A country music song twanged on to its ending and the voice of the broadcaster broke the air, “And now for the KSPX early morning weather folks…

Harley listen to the weather as white lines fled behind him. He grabbed his side again, as a stabbing pain broke into his quiet time. It subsided, in time for him to glance in the mirror an see Skinny’s truck close the distance behind him. That dam kid he thought, aways in a rush. He looked to his left a moment later to see skinny roar past him, with the snotty kid’s usual morning salute. Harley smiled, and relaxed back into the seat for that last few miles of his trip, seeing skinny’s truck fade into the distance in front of him.

Five miles on and the noise and traffic, jump up out of nowhere. The image of the mill suddenly loomed high up and above him,  dominate the whole scene; the smell, exhaust, trucks, his windshield was filled with employees entering the parking lots, and semi’s leaving full of lumber for distance places.

Harley pulled slowly into his usual spot abruptly stopping and throwing the shifter into park. His truck went silent, and he sighed and took a breath….he entered the employee entrance to the noise of the morning. Men standing in the long hallway, chatting and drinking coffee. He was half an hour early as always, and walked up and plugged five quarters into a coffee machine, and pushed the black only button. He stood there watching the cup fill,  looking up he saw the approaching shift supervisor, Mel Thompson.

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Michael Burns Oil and acrylic Painting canvas 24 X 36 inches

“Morning Harley, how you feeling.”

“Fine Mel, and yer self?”

“Good, yeah I’m good Harley. Listen…we’re looking at a possible lay-off at the end of the month. Not to worry though, your job is secure Harley. You being one of our best guys. Skinny’s gone, an Moyd Samson…Elmer Strabner and that whole afternoon shift. Those boys have it comin, always smokin dope and not doin a stitch. When they all come back on the freeze-up, I’ll be moving upstairs to management. Finished my grade three, materials handling, and got my grade higher for first aid. I can save your life now, learned how to work the defibrillator. Listen I recommended you as shift supervisor, thad be another fifty-four cents an hour Harley, you and Frankie could use that…plus I’d getcha of the planer. Noisy fucking thing, eh. How thad be Harley?”

“Yeah, I’d have ta speak to Frankie about it…so for sure the lay-off huh Mel?

Skinny Lawrence slapped Harley on the back, on his way to chipping-on-shift, “You gettin slower every morning old man, how old is that dam truck of yours anyway?”

Mel stared at skinny passing by saying, “Yeah, Harley. That’s a definite…he’s gone fer sure Harley; idiot. Anyway, have a good one buddy, later.” Mel moved on down the hall to another.

During his conversation with Mel, Harley had felt the pain in his side rise to the unbearable again, he had difficulty making it not known to Mel that he was in pain. The bouts were coming more often now, he knew that tomorrow or the next day the pain would come and stay for good and not leave.

He moved to the time-punch and pick the chip hanging on the board with his name on it, and waved in front of the machine. The high-pitched wee-luu sound signaled he was on shift. Placing the chip back on the board he entered the main door while putting his ear protection on, and strode towards the large industrial planer at the end of the building. Waving to fellow employees on his morning walk, the mouthed hellos deafened by the loudness of the plant. Whining saws, and clacking conveyors, the beeping of forklifts and sound of planking falling off the fresh sawn logs.

The smell of spruce sap was always satisfying, it calmed him. Made him think of the forests all that wood came from. He didn’t like the destruction of forests.

He reached the planer and gently touched the shoulder of the man he came to replace. Sam Wisen turned and smiled and said “Harley.” The sound never reached Harley’s ears, it was swallowed by the din of the mill.

Harley pointed to his ear and then to the booth at the side of the planer, as a signal he wished to speak with Sam. Sam nodded and stuck one finger in the air and mouth “One minute.” Harley walk over to the small room and entered and sat down, the automatic door closed behind him, and the sound dropped to become a vibration on the metal floor.

He looked around at the centerfold nudes pinned and taped to the walls. Black felt marker penises drawn beside mouths agape in the sexual vogue of the models in the pictures. Oversized dicks drawn close to exposed vaginas. Harley looked back to the door and saw Sam open the booth door. The rush of noise like water quickly filling the room and the quiet filling just as quick when the door closed.

Sam Wisen slipped his ear protection down on his neck and said, “Morning Harley, how are ya man?”

Harley said “I good Sammy, how was it?”

“Well, they put twenty-thousand board feet through…we had a jam up at about nine thousand. I went up on the widow peak and checked to see, it’s clogging up that exit door to the burners. Watch the safety rail, the bolt is real loose Harley. I told the safety officer, he said someone will get to it on your shift. Be careful though.”

Harley looked at Sam, and said “That dam rail has been broke for months, I have told them a couple of time about it. Twenty-thousand eh. Are the kilns loaded?”

“I don’t know, I think so. I don’t know what they’re pushing for…”

Harley interrupted him “I do, they gonna be a lay-off at the end of the month Sam.”

“What, That kinda short notice, isn’t it. We need to organize, get a fucking Union. This is ridiculous, a big rush and then a lay-off. Fucking ass-holes are doing this all the time.”

“I know Sam…Mel said I would be okay. I don’t know about you Sammy. Skinny, and Elmer Strabner and that afternoon crowd are gone. Keep it under your hat though. They will keep you, you’re a good worker.  You got no worries, Mel has always had a kind word about ya. Anything I need to know?”

“No, it’s all good. You might run up the cat-walk and check that top conveyor, before start-up.  I greased everything about an hour ago. Moisture is up, so it is building up a bit around things. Okay I’m outta here Harley.”

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Painting on heavy rag paper. Mixed media. 16 X 20 inches

The both men rose and exited the booth, into the noise, and the dust and the heat. Harley stopped at the control panel and pushed the large green button on the feed. The conveyor started and the wood moved slowly to the planer mouth. He looked back in the direction of Sam and moved towards the stairs leading to the cat walk. He hesitated a moment and then climbed the steep stairs, he reached the cat-walk and moved slowly towards the end. Towards the exit door to the burners and the faulty guard rail. The cat-walk was steep and the hand rails on the side were needed to help in the climbing. After a few moments Harley reached the end of the cat-walk. Grabbing the faulty rail he shook it a bit, the main three-quarter inch bolt was loosen almost completely. This was his chance, a golden opportunity, it wouldn’t come again. He unscrewed the nut the last few threads, the bolt popped out into his hand. He looked down at the work floor far below him he could see Sam Wisen, a small figure exit the main doors on his way to punch off shift. Harley looked out ahead of himself, felt the familiar twinge at his side. He thought about Frankie, her face lit up in his mind; he pushed the safety rail and it swung open exposing him to the danger. He looked to the plant floor far below, he let go of the nut and bolt in his hand; Harley took a step and dropped hard and fast. He heard the sound of Frankie voice above the noise, he saw her face, she smiled and then there was silence.