February 25, 2009

a brief history of a suicide generation wanderer

In Las Vegas
I worked a job standing out on Freemont Street
handing out casino advertisements to passersby.

At noon,
when the sun was at its highest,
I could feel sweat dripping down my face,
down my neck and chest and back,
gathering in my ass and under my balls,
my shoes like sponges soaking up the wetness from my feet;
while evening saw the gaunt, middle-aged prostitutes
and hard-eyed crack dealers crawl out of their urban burrows
to peddle their illicit wares to the desperate and depraved,
the lost and the lonely, the hungry and the hopeless.

One night,
only a few blocks from the tremendous spectacle
that was the electrical canopy of lights flashing overhead,
I threw down the last of my pamphlets,
went home to my little pad four blocks from the Boulevard,
packed my things, walked to the nearest bus stop,
got off at the Greyhound Station and bought a ticket east.

In Delaware,
I worked security
at a sleazy strip joint.

Some nights I watched the door,
collecting the cover charge and checking ID’s;
other nights I stood by the stage where the girls expertly
worked the boards and pole in wildly seductive dances,
just making sure the patrons tipped well
and didn’t put their filthy hands all over the girls;
and some nights
I watched over the girls in the private lap dance rooms
as they pressed their assess and tits up against the customers,
grinding against their rock-hard cocks,
making them drool and stare glazy-eyed
at the slow movements of their seemingly flawless, naked flesh
bathed in the soft glow of the dim, red-tinted bulbs overhead.

After hours,
I put the rubber latex gloves on
to wipe the night’s worth of ejaculation
off the fake leather sofas in the private lap dance rooms,
which was when the other security workers and I
flipped coins to decide who was on cum duty…
“Heads or tails,” someone would call!
and there was always that fifty-fifty chance
that you would be the one cleaning up other men’s fluids.

And when it was time for the girls to go home,
we had to let them out the back door,
right off from the Dancers’ Dressing Area,
which always smelled intolerably of
unwashed feet,
old sweat,
cheap makeup,
menthol cigarettes,
and over-fucked vagina.

My lover at the time---
a nineteen year old heroin addict
with impossibly green eyes,
long, plum-colored tresses,
and a perfect little body---
worked there as one of the top dancers…
and I quit the job the night I quit her
(two years into the gig, it was).

In Alabama,
I was employed at a shitty roadside motel,
where I stood professionally in suit and tie
at the front desk,
taking care of our guests,
checking people in and out,
and dealing with the random madness
that occurred here and there throughout my shift.

It was a job that proved strange---
with the old lady
who filled her purse with handfuls of granola
from the complimentary breakfast buffet
and always flooded the lobby restroom before leaving;
with the group of young men
who came in twice a year to shoot gay porn in our rooms,
always leaving it smelling like bad incense,
day-old pizza,
stale cigarette smoke,
and scented lubricants;
the schizophrenic man who,
beer-drunk and cocaine-crazy,
smeared the walls of his room with his own feces,
slit his throat (though not deeply enough to be fatal)
and jumped out a third-storey window into the courtyard;

with the pretty black prostitute often called to the motel
by one of our regular corporate guests (on her way out one night,
she confessed to me that he paid her a few hundred bucks to shit on his chest
as he lay in the bathtub under her).

Tomorrow I may be a beekeeper in the Deep South,
a salesman peddling adult novelty items in the Midwest,
a cowboy actor in a Wild West Dinner Show in New Mexico,
a signpost digger on the muddy Louisiana backroads,
a clown twisting balloon shapes at children’s birthday parties,
a cast member in an exceptionally fucked-up bizzaro porn series,
an unrealized and underappreciated writer of American Poetics,
a shuffleboard champion at a Nursing Home in Ann Arbor,
a horse whisperer in the prairie lands of Colorado,
a fisherman on an Alaskan crab boat,
or a corpse in a cheap burial arrangement.

james g. carlson (Philadelphia, PA, 1977)