Voices on the Wind Voices on Aging
LAUGHING IN THE ALLEY by Ken Boe The literature is blowing down the alley, full of air. Blowing down the alley. Blowing down the alley. All the holes in the concrete are reaching divination. Words pass over cracks in the cosmos, of a little place at a blowing pace between wind, water, and waste. When will the children find that they are found, that little as they are they are the same mathematical equation producing God? I have found that there is litter in the gutter— the gutter being that place along the curb, the curb that is slowly sinking into the clay, the litter that has letters, verbs, symbols forming their own genre’, an art movement rolling and collaging together the dispersed message; layer; echo...wind. An analogical Doppler Effect of its own blowing down the alley until cornered into piles of mixed metaphor. The sign says “fifty dollar fine for littering”. Is not the sign itself a kind of litter? As are the landfills, the other sordid option. Are we not just hiding who we are, stuffing the excess of our personality into a detritus constitution; a literature of the absurd: Product Of The USA Made In China on the same page of wind, landing, like products on a shelve into the broken rear-view mirror and Help Wanted. Quality Brewed besieges a can emptied of purpose like the spontaneous diaphragm of Goldsworthy leaves minus four, plus eight; a child's lost homework, equivocating the coincidence for having noticed a Chinese Fortune, maple helicopters, elm yellow “You will be showered with good luck” as the thunder accentuates the zodiac of your own random constellation precisely where we threw you out... Yielding only to the concrete curb. Yielding only to the coincidence of rhyme, and how forms that you can wrap your hands around become idioms, phrases such as “wrap your hands around.” And as if the litter wasn’t familiar enough, as if the curb wasn’t already as similar as brackets in algebra, we go and hire an imitator to do our public sculpture: “The sidewalk sculptures stand erect!” un-deconstructed, of Freudian neglect, our lives be smudged with cranky forgery for which we’ve paid this craftsman salary. We told him “modern art won’t sell” and hide that desire which seeks to rebel! The content must be completely nostalgic or it might as well be completely abstract. We don’t want to offend the Christians with a sit-in at the Woolworth's Fountain or something about the Vietnam War that doesn’t praise what we’re fighting for. We don’t want sex, or Derrida’s view that what we read wasn’t what we knew, for we know it all with our Bible intact (the president of the church will point out that fact!) and make sure that sculpture is about the past, a history in masking tape not meant to last. The sculptures rise up from the concrete and begin telling stories they’ve heard. The sculptures rebel at their conformity as the future abducts them, reassigns their assignment. The craftsman smiles, relieved that when his propaganda becomes obsolete (The Cold War, Segregation) his works of art change in their meaning like shoes on the feet. Feet are like fingerprints, leaving shoe tread marks with wet paint in the mud where what is explored is also transgressed, where what is observed has been quoted, the image reversed, and mixed into political bitching, rhyming, and gerrymandering. The construction boss uses fluorescent spray paint to tag the territory of his engineer’s plan, the city worker paints an off-color beige over the tags of disenfranchised gangland, the square-looking cover-up, from a plastic can of police paint, like a bland Hans Hoffman. The graffiti of the institution is officially better for the eyes to glance over than the folk art of some poor man’s opinion like some maddening reminder of a scorned lover; we prefer the repressed painted-over identity to the illustrations of some mad artist’s graffiti. Logging roads mark the disappearing forests with runways of mud to Hoffmanesque clear cuts, but pity the poem stapled to a phone pole and pity the signs treehuggers hang up. Is ugly beauty to the degree it blends in, or blotches out the truth of our sin? Like the preacher man with Tourettes syndrome, or the beggar who says he will work for food, who pull us from our cellular cell phones or nag at us to enter some world-peace mood. Who make art out of life with whichever Gods plan, what, with so many Gods reaching out though the Hans. The abstract expressionist who taught us that both the graffiti and the cover-up are beautiful. Or the newspapers piled up in the wind, or the kid with nothing, looking for money, objecting to the machine, but to be the object of the machine’s economy. Come bang on my coin return, child. Stick your curious fingers into the hole of the news machine, you wild child, and stand on the corner with the papers you’ve stolen, selling them. Stand there, with horoscopes under your arms; pulped squirrels, wood fiber from the tree farms. Come bang on the intersection’s ferry yelling out headlines in the cold like some punk in a black and white movie; headlines co-opted by the news machine’s dingy plexiglass window, that quarter-fed robot that stole your labor when it’s the kids who should yell “war in Iraq!” at their neighbors. Bang on the coin return for the news of serial killers at church in the pews, The Beacon, The Times, The Republican all part of the machines machinations; its anonymous plot, its mass publication, its bound and tortured market saturation. Come on you child entrepreneurs, Eagle Scouts of societies manure. Steal all of the quarters, and the papers, Sell them to the highest Wichita bidder– enjoy the news of the latest caper as the springs in the machine still jitter. The tribe of litter will be joined in this; the Home Depot shopping bags, Styrofoam cups, and shreds of scorned love letters will blow down the alley from the field, laughing in the alley like inner demons as innocent as limericks. Can you hear the laughing in the alley? Does it make you nervous, turn your back? Raven wings echo across the lost valley, up the canyon, and over the sands into the laughter of the street children, the children we raise without good plans whom we send to school as only a burden, more concerned are we with stuffing our faces, more concerned with retirement accounts. We don’t cross-train the languages of the races when the children are young enough for it to count. We don’t teach them musical notation, how to draw, how to dance, how to climb until their adolescent frustrations guarantee they won’t succeed in their minds. We’re more concerned with making them normal, not extraordinary, not ahead of the pack, not excited about knowledge that’s paranormal when normal is television and smoking crack. Can you hear the laughing in the alley? Can you go and see who the children are? Can you tell them of books beyond mind-candy? Tell the children they are smarter than their parents. Tell the children they are smarter than their parents. Tell the children they are smarter than their parents. ? Can you hear the laughter in the alley? What does it say, from these bumps and tumbles of the children, as the children play? The parents listen eagerly, eerily, and much without a knowledge that they do, until a scream. The children jump into a mountainous piles of leaves. A roller coaster of joy funnels into the explosion of their own plunge into the trusted unknown. The parents are weary of their own adolescence when fun turned to weed, and weed to seed. The flocks of children descend like wind racing through the yards of strangers, beneath bushes, between implements without dimension but as a playroom in the Kingdom of Playdom, like play-dough, like kinnikinnick.