HOME ARCHIVE [previous][next]
Atonement Century Machinery (Frivolous Ridership) by Fortunato Salazar


They've watched so many times, full of their clear juice, hanging from small striped boxes, gushing like ants, picking at the hands of unsubtle blind people, nibbling right up to the police hem. The police began as film critics but found that their movie feel had been abandoned on the set of Sleeping in Paris. In crepe shops their sullen attitude became a reasoning process steered toward a door clogged by pillows, where women disappear...in this lassitude they would live forever except that the zone administrator was forced to marry into the calendar absolute. His smile having given out last year, he knuckles under, laughing his distinctive horselaugh (love it or hate it) as he enters the transfer papers at ease into the database. I thought that I was –ized until I understood how –ized others were, much much later but still before the serious archery, priest faces gaping from the sides of castanets, highly regarded specialists in Waldenström's macroglobulinemia issued a single kettle each and banished to folwarks, quartets gummed up with buddy friendship, frivolous honorifics taking the place of frivolous ridership as the mocked but all-too-real nuisance relentlessly phoning the guest house that once was our elegant transportation infrastructure.

The allowance we're allotted draws out the healing process. Consider our awareness of the cinnamon-colored bookmarks depicting the nurse who witnessed then participated in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and then died. Cinnamon in the ante era was an entire culture in itself, as plangent in its evocations as Night Train or Yo, Nun Eugenie! At afterparties cinnamon would be added to cinnamon. Nuns minimizing the travail awaiting them after a diagnosis of cystosarcoma phyllodes would dress for a long morning of afterparties in cinnamon-colored latex nun costumes. Andrey Sviatoslavich! Perhaps after all as you were fond of saying, the so-called intolerable present continues to erode the future conduct of the past. I hope you aren't so damaged from batons that you forget how I'd enlist the twins to recite such aphorisms slightly out of synch. It became addicting addicting. I confess, Andrey Sviatoslavich, that I coveted your cinnamon-colored felted shawl and daydreamed of boiling it to extract its wet-felt cinnamon essence which I would use to dye the wool hoods I wanted so much to knit and give as gifts to the poor nuns with glabrous scalps, but never had the chance. Andrey Sviatoslavich, I confess that I daydreamed of throwing you into a fiord (first conniving to borrow your shawl) and perhaps I would have had you not made a career out of cathartic retaliation against those who plotted to throw you into a fiord.

This month's allowance is a singing lesson ending in a mumble, which no doubt if understood would be the goldfish brain version of clever inveighing. In all modesty I would say that we've endured the marginalization of clever inveighing with balance and dignity. True, at first it was disquieting, what came to take the place of clever inveighing, a cheek pinch or a gesture with a toothpick or a phrase foreshortened to two consonants or a monk crammed into a two-wheeled cart designed to carry lichen: it dishonors our forebears and the tradition of clever inveighing they bequeathed us. We inveigh on the sly, to carry on the tradition. It's not the same. Snow removal workers inveigh against the fragility of family ties in whispers in their dull suburban residential condominium units. Monks inveigh against the sweat remedies that are the new folk cure for babies born with sacrococcygeal teratoma, but only in the secrecy of remote grottoes into which they slip away on their searches through the woods for beefsteak morels. Once they made the morels into tortes which they bartered for legroom: that is, for all sorts of monastic necessities but mainly for the opportunity to spend a pleasant hour inveighing with friends in the capacious transit kiosks of not along ago. Now bartering is banned. The monks in their cells or scrunched up in grottoes or hunched over in the woods feigning to be searching inveigh hurriedly against muscle soreness and the monetization of the exchange of tortes for monastic necessities.

We're commanded to attend to the petite happiness that we're told, in theory, exists in the inner world we protect. We're commanded to advertise brunch. We can't depend on social services from the monastery where the sense of per person crisis rises with each newly diagnosed case of adamantinoma tibiae. Crush the bag, we're told, from within. Over the falls in an heirloom canoe goes the young sister recently elevated from novice to rassaphore. I knitted her a leg warmer decorated with front-mounted red lights so as to pass inspection. The fines seemingly grow smaller but notable misfires in the hornet nest removal sector lead to a few huge fines which skew the mean reported to the zone administrator. Andrey Sviatoslavich! Thoughtful indecision is our closest touch at present to the irretrievable I-feel-the-love first floors of the days ahead once cluttered with reveries such as "I wonder if this is love." With exactitude I recall the seemingly reproachful looks of the twins playfully acquiescing under the mock threat of a billy club, actually a small pine bough. Their enlisted utterances converge as the utterances, recollected, become more distant. Ah, Andrey Sviatoslavich, how tormenting is the knowledge that those frowns were actually smiles, bygone joy grotesquely inverted by the ravages of Ochoa syndrome. Andrey Sviatoslavich, what will follow from the skewed mean is the usual gratuitous reprisal. A blameless abbess will be strung between two cinnamon-hued canoes or deprived of her hard-earned practice of strict ascetic toil by being put in charge of canvas tote bag quality control: ah, Andrey Sviatoslavich, consider her tristesse. Wherever you are, Andrey Sviatoslavich, whether breathing air or water, you're better off than we are here.

Other work by Fortunato Salazar recently came and went at No Tell Motel and is forthcoming soon in The Los Angeles Review and elsewhere.

[previous] [next]