Stream of Consciousness: Tralfamadorian Poetry

It’s the first day of autumn today and there’s a literal explosion—

(not that kind of explosion, so maybe metaphorical)

 —of colors everywhere as you pedal down the street, so maybe it is an explosion considering that yesterday it was pretty much a cool summer day and the trees were green but today they’re burning reds and smoldering oranges and cheerful yellows—

(yellow is the color of happiness, I know because van Gogh said so, he ate yellow paint to try to get the happiness and to escape the prison of life)

(I wonder if I’m happy)

—and it really does feel like the first day of fall, and the air is crisp and while you can’t see your breath yet, there’s this undeniable charged atmosphere of autumn that makes you feel alive and grand and glorious except you’re not really feeling any of those except for maybe alive and then you take a left and see Trayvon Robinson from your geometry class and he probably sees you—

(of course he sees me, but he doesn’t really see me, nobody ever does)

—then he’s gone and you’re still pedaling, harder and faster and you’re sort of standing up, the wind tearing at your face, tears running down your cheek, but you’re still grinning even if you don’t really feel exactly like grinning but you definitely don’t feel like frowning—

(yet, I don’t feel like frowning yet)

—so all you do is keep moving until the park entrance looms in front of you and you zip through the dewy iron gates and nod at Mr. Feldmann, who used to be your mailman when you were four and you still remember waiting for him to pass by every day, but now he’s at the park and you still like to visit him on the weekends and listen to the stories he tells, because they’re the best and you’d rather do nothing else than listen to him—

(if I had the chance, I would do something else, but I don’t, so I go there, and I’ll keep going there, and maybe the yellow paint will help after all maybe it will it just might)

—and you make a mental note to bake some oatmeal-raisin cookies and take them over to him tomorrow so that means you have to get some raisins because your parents don’t care for them and neither do you so much but you haven’t made cookies for Mr. Feldmann since school was let out and it’s about time you did and raisins don’t cost that much especially when you pick them up at Rainer’s Fruits and Vegetables and then you’re on the bike trail and you see some early morning joggers off on the runner’s path—

(I should probably do some running one of these days, bring my iPod and go on a Marvin Gaye marathon, it’s been way too long)

—then the joggers are out of sight and all you can see is the sinuous, winding trail, each twist hiding yet another twist and then another one and another one, and who knows what could be behind the next one, and the only way you can find out is to keep pumping and that’s exactly what you do, and you pedal and pedal and pedal, trying to forget the unhappiness and the yellow paint and starry nights—

(if this were a starry night, I would probably be happier so yes, yellow paint could help)

—until you turn another corner and see the stone bench you always stop and sit at for a few minutes and listen to a song or two, except there’s someone there, and it’s this guy who’s maybe your age, and he’s reading a book and he’s got hair that’s as red as the birch tree leaves you saw earlier, and you sort of want to keep on going because you can’t have your private moment, but then again it’s your bench, and some random guy shouldn’t be able to get you away from it—

(that’s the attitude I always need to have, more assertive and all that, yeah)

—so you brake, hard, and rubber squeals and there’s a black skid that’s nearly a foot long, and you don’t care because you’re breathing heavy and it’s just a skid mark and then you sit at the opposite end of the bench as far away as possible from Redhead, and you breathe in and out, in and out, until you’re taking small, even breaths, and then Redhead looks up as if he’s just noticed you for the first time, and he quirks his face into this weird expression—

(I wonder if he’s smiling or frowning or if he’s surprised or what, he’s got the strangest facial expression I don’t even know how to discern it, weird)

—and then he says hi, and you blink once and say hi back, and he gestures to his book and says something about how poetry can’t really do anything strictly useful, and you don’t want to offend him since you don’t know what he means, so you just sort of bob your head in what you hope is a non-idiotic manner and vocalize your assent—

(poetry’s not useful, I don’t think anything’s useful, if something were useful then it would get me out of this prison, the prison of life I’m in, that would be useful)

—and then he goes right on talking to you, a perfect stranger, and says some more stuff about how maybe the only good thing that poetry is worth besides self-reflection is making life just a little more bearable, and ::perhaps you’d like to take a look at this, friend?:: but you sort of shake your head and grin like a moron—

(my life is not bearable)

—yet he pushes the book in your direction, with this dorky little grin on his face, and ::go ahead, I think you’ll like it,:: and maybe it’s because he called you friend, or because he looks so honest and sincere and real, but you take the book, and your eyes flit across the page and land on a random poetry and it’s like a mini-volcano’s erupted inside of you, spitting out all these locked-up emotions you have, and now they’re bubbling and gushing and gurgling, and it’s the strangest combination of the feels you’ve ever had, ever—

(it’s not like I thought it would be, it’s not like the yellow paint or getting the happiness, not so physical, something more, I think)

—so you don’t even try to figure out if it’s the rhythm and lilting cadence of the words, or if it’s the subject and theme that you connect with, but you let it wash over you and inundate you with this inexplicable sensation that does indeed, somehow, strangely enough, make it all just that much easier, and as you look at the poetry in front of you, you can’t help but wonder for an instant if maybe Billy Pilgrim’s Tralfamadorians were up to something when they went on about how their literature, and that it’s not so much the individual words and sentences, but everything lumped together and viewed all at once—

(sure, it’s impossible, but does it really have to be, because this looks like it, I think, maybe?)

—and you look at it all together, and for the most infinitesimal of all moments, everything is beautiful and surprising, and impossibly deep and grand and glorious and yellow and alive and—and—and—

—you wonder if maybe the prison has just become that much more bearable


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