There’s no yanking back and forth anymore. That was where the schmig came in. I’m glad to be done with that. My niece went to the zoo with us, and I wouldn’t want her getting mixed up with it.

It was Jazz appreciation day. There was a player signing autographs at the entrance for half an hour. He might be a playoff hero someday, but none of us had ever heard of him.

We got on the train. The conductor was tooting his own horn, making jokes about bibles coming back to life, losing control, and waddling down the hill.

You don’t have to justify your morning to me, he says to a bunch of no-show gorillas. Musette tells me that her favorite is the monkey with a big belly. She sees herself in it.

The monkey turns away and lies its head on some wood.

They need TVs, I say, and one-way glass. Then it wouldn’t be any different from our lives.

The new zebra’s name is Poppy, says the conductor; and the elephants are putting on a show.

They’re more wrinkly than I imagined, says Musette.

They look like my velvety ball sack. It’s supposed to be our baby’s spirit animal.

My niece wore a bow beneath her sunhat. She was basically born that way, so I wouldn’t be against you saying that the bow is her spirit animal. Gigantic robot bugs are scattered around the zoo. Musette is terrified of them, which means that one of them could be hers. She always says that it’s a raccoon, but I don’t even remember when the last time we saw one of those was. For that matter, I don’t know when the last time I saw a skunk was, but you can smell ‘em, and the smell of weed billowing through the halls is often mistaken for it.

I hop on a wolf and ride the merry-go-round. Musette is on a sea lion. Two pups are nestled under its saddle. Her dad is on a penguin. My niece is behind us on a tiger. My sister is holding her on top of it.

Everybody that you’re seeing is somehow stuck in time, she says, and I have to change my undies because sweat is pouring out of my asshole. I’m not laughing. I’m crying all of the time. My footwork is very shaky. My hallway smells like cigarettes. There isn’t a bad bone in my body. My sacred heart is in my head. The world’s got its grip on my vision. I’m doing everything I can to pierce it with the needle nose pupils of a whipping wind that is working to rip our dreams down. Don’t worry, I say, you’ve got the upper hand in that you are a dreamer, and this is the eternal night.

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