Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rose Hills

It was a Monday
and it was Whitter, California
a cemetery named for a flower and a hill
I was working a Graveside Service
in an old black suit 
rubbed raw
with time and lint brushes
stained forever
with tears and embalming fluid
blood and hugs
the hearse parked high on a hill
you could see downtown LA 
far away through the haze of smog
and the clock was ticking
not just for the gravediggers, the family and the preacher
but for all of us as well
those that still inhabited the realm of the living.

I adjusted my shades and my tie
and looked out at the rolling hills of grass
the trees and the flowers
two hawks circled in the sky
as two ravens joined them
and they flew in tandem 
it was a majestic sight
at least it felt that way
nonetheless, my soul needed it to feel that way
as I drew the pall bearers together
near the ass end of the funeral coach
and we drew the casket out
the body was heavy inside
seemed to fight us for a second
I whispered, “you are going to a better place then from which you came.”
and things oddly went smoother 
from that point on
and the pallbearers
grunted and groaned 
as they heaved the casket
onto the lowering device 
which hovered pensively above the hole.

Off in the distance
I thought I heard 
a bow scratch a violin string
but I could not tell from where
and it seemed that my skin was drier 
then all the camel hair in the Sahara
and that hangovers could come from any direction
at any time
and we were helpless to defend ourselves
I thought this and more
as the sun beat heavy upon my face
I began to perspire in my old black suit
as the preacher spoke to the large crowd 
that gathered around the grave
at least there was life here, I thought,
it felt alive
I smelled the freshly cut grass
moist ground underfoot
and I knew 
I was in a better place from which I came
having traveled to Los Angeles 
from the mean dryness of the Mojave desert
I almost would’ve rather went into the hole myself
then have to go back
I shivered in thought
as the wood casket floated above the ground
the preacher continued on
someone sobbed and blew their nose
as a Mexican gravedigger leaned on his splintered shovel 
far beyond sight
and I thought of dried bones
the mental scars of promises broken
the sandy camouflage of  starving jack rabbits 
dehydrated in the solar heat
the empty beer bottles and the dusty lies
the tricks and the bad trades 
the strangers with tan leathered skin 
drifting faceless 
down the tumbleweed highways
and that horrid sinking feeling 
of being lost forever.

I thought more and more
wondered at the very back of my skull
about walking out of my house
just that morning
where I surprised a small lizard
resting on the concrete
he swiveled his head back to look at me
standing in my dark suit holding a sad cup of coffee
his tiny, pebble sized  lizard eyes 
caught mine
we both froze for a moment, 
like when you walk in on someone 
sitting on the toilet
drawers dropped taking a shit
our four eyes searched each others souls
surprised that we caught each other here
imprisoned in this circumstance named the desert
victims of the gross terrain that spares 
no man women child or creature
and the lizard at least had an excuse
born into this . . . created just for this
reptilian genetics that had been adapting to this environment
for century piled upon endless century
but still his eyes questioned, “what’s your excuse, pal?”
as he scurried off to do whatever the hell lizards do
and I got into my compact car with 73,000 miles on it
to go do whatever the fuck humans do
all the while thinking to myself, 
“Goddamn it! I need to go back and kill that lizard 
before he tells anyone else!”
revenge against the witness in grand Nietzschian style
and then I was in Whitter, California
standing in a cemetery named for a flower and a hill
the preacher had just finished his sermon
he eyed me with disdain
cleared his throat to indicate that he was waiting for me
to bring this whole affair home
I stepped forward in front of the coward
and thought of blind folds and cigarette smoke
firing squads and Spanish bulls
I re-adjusted my executioner expression
presented a folded flag to the dead guys son
thanked him on behalf of the President of the United States
and a grateful nation
never even having meet the President before 
but I figured he wouldn’t mind
seeing that he was probably a lot busier then me 
with foreign policy and the staggering unemployment rate 
and I stood back as the ghost flew 
thanked everyone for their time, their love, their memories
like any good lounge singer (I mean Funeral Director) would do
and that was it
but at least there was life here 
I could almost reach out and grab it by the throat
everyone engaged the hug switch
the crowd breaking up and moving away 
dudes in slick sunglasses driving high dollar cars
ladies in tight black dresses that smelled like heaven in high heels
all waved and invited me to follow them to the reception
in La Habra
going to be a real rager
a celebration to end all, to beat all!
but I just shook my head sadly and thanked them
saying,  “No, no.  I have to get back . . . duty calls!”
and I knew that my party had been over a long time ago
as the sand asylum was already reaching out for me
I could feel it’s sick fingers clawing at my skin
so I got back into the hearse
drove down the grassy hillside
thinking that when I get back to the desert
I was going to find that little shit head lizard
and stomp him into oblivion!

But, alas, I never did . . . 

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