Monday, March 29, 2010

pieces of taxi

something about afghanistan: © 2010

Trip 459-2010. old vet, new vet
...what you whinin’ for?
Your terrifyin’ chemwar and yer spdrs and yer slot-ls in redux? Sheesh!
We fought back in the day where they had mosquitos! Fer cry-eye!
We didn’t even had no war. They called it "police action." One that cost 50,000 ‘Merikin boys dead and buried. Check it out. All they names on a big black rock a half mile long in DC.
That qualify?!
So yer stupid winless "war" on terror cost us 5,000 boys [and some grrrls] dead and buried.
Desert wars are EZ.
I hear tell we both killed about the same # of non-combatants–you call collaterals. Geez-sheets!
What kinda word is that?!
2 million each.
Ours took longer, and they’re still dyin’.
Count ‘em.
Course, gotta admit yours’ll die for centuries, y’know, that DU stuff. Un-depleted you ask me. UDU. Or, you do. Voodoo. Sheesh! We used white phosphorous on peephole too.
Or you can drop a Daisy Cutter: you go an’ toss some fine spray napalm from a plane and kill ever’body ever damn thing that lives or breathes in a big circle. From six inches deep to twenty stories high. In a dome of death. That’s not war!
Don’t know the name...wanna call it a Daisy Cutter.
But that ain’t war....

Trip 56-2010. whippersnappers.
Young guy gets in my taxi at the airport with his wife and a little girl. He’s got a big black halo ‘round his head on stiff little poles attached to his shoulders. After a better look I can see the "halo" got some sticks stuck right into the skull and same for the shoulders. Sheeee-aye! When he turns to talk, which ain’t often, he has to turn his whole body. So his neck won’t swivel.
He’s got the Marine cut so I ask him. He says yeah. Get that apparatus from the Afghanis?
Wife blurts up first, "Yes, he did. IED. It killed his best friend and nearly killed him!"
Did not expect that outburst.
Shrapnel just missed my spinal cord. He explains. By a quarter inch.
I look the situation over as we pull out of the airport. Pretty hectic behind us tonite. Pretty wife to die for. I pause to check out with the mag card press it to the reader screen. Look back at the little girl about 4 hugging her dolly. Boy! I go. Sort of losing it. Sorry. But I say, Prettiest little girl I ever seen! What’s your name, angel? I fergit what she said. I flash one more glance at the wife–I swear. By this time. 10 seconds the A-hole driver behind me is honking. I flip ‘m off out the window so the young wife don’t think I’m a jerk. We head out.
Spent five and one fucking half hours waiting for planes here. If they don’t get their shit together...I dunno...tomorrow we gotta be in Fresno.
Why you gotta be in Fresno?
Everybody’s waiting.
Relax. I tells 'im. One, you’re a national hero. The airline company is heartsick about your inconvenience, and I’m as sure as hell [on this planet is where you came from] about that. They are probably sick about disappointing you. But they do not want to kill you with a plane with mechanical difficulties or some other kind o’ dangerous flight when you are about two days away from paradise. You hear me, Marine?
He looked at me stern and full of macho indignation at me telling him shit. Any kind of shit.
Nobody has a better shot at happiness than you right now, I go on. Just look in that back seat! I was not lying and they all knew it. A woman knows how good looking she is...and how good she wants to be as a person as well. She spoke:
He got hit on the road. Just driving along. We are so happy to have him back with us...
And she trailed off.
I didn’t want this to get saccharine, nor worse, theoretical. For all I knew the wife was a lazy, ego-maniacal heroin addict whore. All I’m sayin’ is she did not look like that...and dammit I wanted it to have a chance as if some dumb cabbie’s tough love is gonna add to their chances...and not detract.
So I asked him, "What’s goin’ on over there? What’s it like? They never tell us anything."
"It’s fucked, he said. The people are fucked. The situation is fucked. It’ll never work. I think we oughta nuke the entire country and bring everyone home. Nuke the whole place!"
I felt I was in the tilt position to be able to have some positive input–as a random source of some sort of coincidology. Just one American speakin’ to another.
I felt if not pressure, then the seriousness of my imagined responsibility. Under the gun so to speak.
I asked him. You ever hear of Malalai Joya? He said no. Remember that name, I told him.
She agrees with you. About gettin’ out anyway. Don’t imagine she’d go for the nuke ‘em part. She taught little girls to read in secret schools. When she was 18. She’s 25 or 6 now. She’s the youngest woman, of the few ever elected, in the Loya Jirga. She rocks, man. She wants us out. She says you cannot bring democracy. It has to grow up from people. And she would work to teach girls to read and vote and work and go to school like they never could before.
I went on a little roll: teach girls. That’s what you want, I bet. And let girls become all that they can. Let ‘em learn physics. Become doctors, scientists, architects, politicians. I can’t believe women would have got us into this mess...
He said yeah. I’ll look her up.
He said the hotel name they were goin’ Snarled a bit. I said, Paradise. You got one night of paradise. Great family. I had loved these guys at first sight. Man, I said, enjoy every breath of free air you get with these two angels. Take that hotel to heart. It’s free, huh?
Oh yeah, he goes.
Get smart, says I. It’s a holiday. Now tell me what’s it like.
You wanna know what it’s like?
For sure.
OK. We got a report from a farm. The guy had been having trouble with the Taliban. Stealing his food and shit.
So we convoy up an head out there. It’s good intel. We get into a fire fight, and we chase them away. So it’s over quickly.
Kill any?
Yeah. Several. I didn’t see the count. Don’t matter. We didn’t get ‘em all. They fade into the hills. So we return to the farm. The owner is an ass-hole.
How so?
He’s pissed we upset his schedule. Says his goats and cows are upset. Gotta milk ‘em and the chickens are over the place. His wife is crying. The Captain is trying to pacify this idiot. Then in the middle of talkin’ he spits in the Captain’s face.
Real a-hole.
I look back at the wife. She is nodding at me. Positive. About the vocab-constab-ulary or what? The whole interrogation? This is de-briefing taxi style. I’m into it.
What did he do?
Do?! He did what he had to do?
Kill the guy!?
No. He ordered the house cleared. Then he had a tank run over it. Back and forth a couple times.
That shuts ‘im up.
I bet. Then what?
We left.
There was a bit of silence there. The little girl was looking out the window when I took a glance in the mirror. She was hugging her dolly and looking out her window at the night. At Millbrae, California, on the bay side of the freeway. Big expanse of darkness off to our left which was salty water.
I said, if you got time. You get up early. You go for a walk here cross this street. Big, long park. Goes for miles. I didn’t know that for sure. You can see the birds flyin’ in under the jets. See the jets flying in to come and get you outa here. I hope you come back.
Yeah, great.
Then it came to me. The farmer. The captain. Had they talked before?
Yeah. I suppose they had to. There would have been some questions. How many insurgent? Maybe some directions. I guess. Stuff like that.
And it was friendly?
I didn’t see that.
Y’know. The genius of those two is cool. We pulled into the driveway of a very nice-looking hotel. Wow! I go. I ask the girl if she ever stayed at a hotel before. Unt-huh, she says.
[I’m going bananas inside.]
But I tell the girl, "You gotta try room service and free movies and order a coke and try pancakes for breakfast...that’s what you do in hotels. Use everything. Use ‘em up!"
Mom was sliding over to the girl’s side to get out. Daddy was pulling an airline voucher for the ride. I’d seen those before. Heck, happened to me one time. I’d had an angel with me too.
Gettin’ them together like that, almost out of the taxi, I said to the Marine, "They did it so he wouldn’t get killed."
I mean, you guys couldn’t be there all the time. You had to return to base. So the Taliban would’ve killed this farmer if you hadn’t knocked his house down. It was survival. Your Captain only had to wipe off some spit and knock down a crappy house. He saves a family.
You got the same choice. Only you won’t get spit on. You get loved.
You’re the luckiest man in the world. If I were you, I’d wear that thing around your head for as long as it takes to never go back.
His wife touched my arm.
He nodded.
Peace, I said.
Driving back to the airport and the short line, I almost cried like a baby.
Joya. I kept saying it. Thinkin’ how I forgot her first name in the tears...
gonna be his moon
jimmymankind © 07/07
She knew she wasn’t ever gonna be his moon.
‘cause the things he did to her were dumber than a loon.
He’d promise her the worl’,
then she’d find him
chattin’ up some other grrl.
He’d tell her he’d be goin’
and she’d see him in the mall.
(You could tell he wasn’t that enthrall’d.)
And she’d hear...he’d been seen
rubbing faces with some...ditzy human bein’,
While Jojo languored cooked up
instead of hooked up
somewhere on the softer side of
You here,’s the hold-on
grrrl, you, me, the good man at your side.
These bright wondrous days are for when we love.
Life–y’all–boils down to a few salient days:
the ones when we are love.
You who make me laugh.
You here, me.
The rest be chaff.
Yesterday afternoon
I was sitting/in my car/in the safeway/Sparkling lot
Listening to the snooze upon the radio.
My car’s burnin’ oil just like the nation
(tryin’ to stay ahead of China and Big Oil’s constipation.)
And I’m Thinking,
angry. romantic, and dangerously lost ! ,
of Starting up
Some sort of "Don’t Tread On Me"
to make the Boss man even more angry.
Like me:
romantic, and dangerously lost.
He be some kinda foo’! Man!
He turn my brown ass blue.
She knew she wasn’t ever gonna be his moon.
Because the things he did to her were dumber than a loon.
He promise her the whirl,
then she find him in the mall
chattin’ up some other grrrl.
He tell her he be goin’
and how he got aroun’.
She hear he been seen
rubbing faces
with some ditzy free for all
Latina human bean-a.
While Jojo languored all cooked up
and broke-up
like some defunct...
No where she’d be seen.
It was a day for the audacity of hopes
I had the newspaper open to the Sun.
Cuppa coffee on the dash–this was some kinda fun.
I was counting the dead as best I could,
Until the numbers turned to oatmeal
In my head. Or vice versa.
I dug into the billions wasted, stolen, lost...out upon the sea...under desert rocks... bad peephole’s pockettes.
Burnt. Manured somewhere. Or forgotten like squirrels lose nuts.
I got all confused.
That led me to a-dreamin’ ‘bout the more manageable simple number
of wars per century, and if ours was not the worst of all the bad...
ones viewed from this late perspective,
from this point of human evo- devo- or our reso-solution.
On sun-dried killing fields where there was only one army
not at home
whose jones was blowing
up no one’s
homes Or homes unknown,
So that was not a war...exactly. (If you don’t know who you killin’.)
Like unintended murders have unintended consequences w/o intent
–these gloves fit all sizes.
When my eye caught something all weird and fluttery ‘cross the street
high up on the tarry old telephone pole–slash–dead tree:
y’all be darned if they wasn’t a couple a coupling
California Blue Jays up there high above it all,
Kali-forni-cating’ they (dumb little) brains out.
"Omigod! Omigod!" she seemed to squawk,
squashed down upon their/her polestand. "Omigawd!"
As her old man pounded, "Uhnt. Uhnt-uhnt!"
And–finally, "Uhnt...! Squawk. Caw!"
Just like any man would sound if smaller,
and with wings in feather.
One more Spring.
Oh. Joy,
I thought:
High hopes.
You here,’s the hold-on,
grrrl, you, me, the good man at your side.
This bright or gray, illuminated day, when we love.
Life boils down to a few salient witnessings:
the ones when we are love.
You here, me.
The rest be chaff.
High hopes.
red spot t-shirt
© 08/06
"Haight and Fillmore. Pick up."
"8-7, check."
I was driving up Haight with just a twenty to my night;
It wasn’t late but my hand was pretty tight.
Suddenly a fresh-faced blond kid, maybe twenty-some,
held up a shaky arm and signaled me to come.
He stood too long in one place for me to tell.
(There is a ritual for catchin’ cabs, y’all.)
Suddenly he reeled back into the pole,
Leaned there uncertain, not like he would chill.
He wore a pair of jeans, the uni of the night,
and a white t-shirt that looked a bit too the flourescent blue-white light.
I raised my hands to him, in the universal, Well, what?
When at that moment he sat. He just went phump!
He slid down his back along the pole.
His grrrl friend screamed at me, "Please don’t go!"  
She tossed her head up, down, to and fro,
Jumpin’ at my door and jerkin’ towards her beau.
While his face turned into some angelic kinda glow,
Her screams rose as if I was something slow,
but I’d pulled over, opened up the door, all set to go.
It was he who wasn’t movin’, seemed somewhat outa flow.
When she tried to lift ‘im I could see the whole
Of a tiny spot of red to the left of center
Below the patch where ciggies go.
It started out real small like that and then began to grow.
His head fell over, the wet spot spread and white went red.
I hit the mike and screamed, "I think he’s dead!"
"I mean," I said. "Mayday! This kid gone red!"
"Corner of Haight and Steiner, send the man!"
"The kid’s been shot! He barely understands."
"Don’t worry ‘bout findin’ us. Here they come!"
Two gangs, I spose, incitin’ fightin’ without bendin’.
Ran by cross the street and veered toward downtown’s ending.
We’ll need an ambulance, two shots a ‘drenalin,
This could be the bitter pill.
He’s twenty-some, looks real ill.
Grrrlie’s screaming at me.
Her boy can’t talk.
I said, "Just hold his hand. Tell ‘im how you feel.
If he can’t hear you, I think it’s time to kneel.
They’ll be here ‘fore we could lift him up."
She turned to him–and stared–her mouth all stuck
Big red spot from clavicle to down to where he opened
She dreamed of one more chance...with any luck.
But that dream faded as the EMTs arrived.
Seconds later cops strolled ‘round to find that he was not alive.
The big red spot now filled his shirt.
His Grrrl all covered with his dryin’ stain.
Sobbin’. Lookin’ up at me like she’d been hurt.
I nodded her way. Through all her pain.
I tried to say...something any...
Way. Then the bulls walked in between. Asked, who are you?
I called it in. I called for you. So don’t play me to diss. I’m the ride he missed.
There came a squawk from my machine:
"1-8-7! You OK?"
"Yeah...," I heard me say, as I reached back to close the door. "Haight and Steiner, no ride here. 1-8-7. Free and clear."