Whether you have come to possess this compendium of doggerel confessions by chance or by choice, should you decide to venture beyond this page, I politely suggest you consider the contents to be nothing more than a well-intentioned attempt to exorcize numerous scurrilous demons by installing them in modestly furnished purgatories of verse both narrative and lyric – forms generally dismissed by modern critics as passé. What do I care? I am just doing my job. In this business, critics are numerous as umlauts in Luther’s Catechism. Yet there is no fear of hell, nor desire of heaven to be found within these pages – only whispers of oblivion and echoes of the eternal. My church is open to saints and reprobates alike.
I could preach to the converted to my heart’s content and as long as my sermon rang eloquent, the choir chimed sweetly and the offering baskets were full, I might give the final blessing and feel pleased with my ministry. Such is not my way. I have forfeited my membership in the country club. There is nothing left in the treasury but ersatz folk songs, counterfeit ballads and pseudo blues. You may find it is like the motor oil stained, gilt edged, leather bound pages of righteous scripture left open on the work bench of a Bible Belt garage, but better – there are centerfolds tacked to the pegboard above it. Since I left the priesthood, I have come to know about such things.
We do not create art. We vomit hope, because it makes us ill to think that the ultimate purpose of our lives may be to exist as mere tubes into which one end enters what the other end extrudes. What makes the lies told to us by our seducers so insidious is that they are manipulations of truths we would like to believe, because if we did not believe, there would be no hope. Doubt sees Hope looking at herself in the mirror, deciding whether she should switch to a blue blazer and khaki slacks instead of dark stockings and a slit skirt. But remember, having one's dream come true does not always result in the desired consequence. We often make wishes with our eyes closed and are shocked at what we find when we see the light. Wish and Hope are both four letter words, mere profanities we expectorate prayerfully when things are not going our way. They will carry no water when you take them to market.
When I do find myself in the market, I never dicker or haggle. If I do not want to pay the price, I do not do the deal. However, I do sometimes doodle while making up my mind. When I doodle, I often draw trees, or rather, one particular tree. It is a tree like no other, and it is mine, all mine. If I need more time to think, I will sketch a setting for my tree. It usually includes a couple birds flapping their wings, an unpaved road and hills in the distance. If I am still having difficulty deciding, I will sketch a castle on a hilltop. The road runs past the tree and leads to the castle. That is where I live. I will sometimes venture out of my castle to walk that dirt road and climb my tree. I continue my ascent till I hear the limb beneath me cracking. At that point I curse myself for not having drawn a stronger tree.
I often find that when the pavement makes a detour around a tree no longer there, I feel obliged to do the same. It is all a question of balance. When I lived on the banks of the Big Muddy in Algiers, by the Canal Street Ferry, I maintained my equilibrium by learning to never lean too far in any particular direction. That enabled me to avoid reaching the tipping point. By such practice did I discover that good habits are as hard to break as bad habits, and that bad habits are the calling cards of decadence. There are times, however, when decadence accomplishes what temperance avoids. Truth speaks with a lisp when she has a captive audience. I have come to know these things through my travels beyond the pale. Having seen the elephant and the dancing bear, I quit the circus. These days I can usually be found about three pages from whatever page you happen to be reading. Such times as the Devil wakes his scarecrow should you chance upon his garden of evil, you may always rest secure with Tropic of Cancer Brand® Gum Arabic. I would trust no other. And remember, whenever you have need of being catered to in that special way, get your kicks with Sultry Chicks®. That is what I always do.*
To bring expedient conclusion to this concise preamble, I would also like to offer sincere thanks to the management and production staff at Bad Seed Press, Left Hand Finger Entertainment, and Empty Menace Enterprises for their herculean contributions to this publication. Finally, special praise is in order for The Phantom Gateway Players, The Dry Habañeros, C. Gunther Marrow, Elzbieta Bienga, Brent Scorn, Toby Rufus, Laz & Jeanette Kingston, Pindar Lesion, and Lydia Fox Consultants for their contributions in designing and constructing this ridiculous house of cards. Given the bohemian habits and rebellious nature we both share, I am certain that my colleague and I would have abandoned the effort, had it not been for their firm encouragement, support and loyalty.
Chief Pony Blindstone, 1947- 2014
*Mr. Goliath was compensated for these endorsements.