Period Pains – Homework (Peel Session)

No rights: homage.

/Do your homework/

/hand it in/

/do your homework/

/you can’t win/.

The newly hired, seventeen year old busser arrives for her fifth shift.

I have been training her; and, she is under the mistaken impression that she answers to me.

She walks up to me and says: I know I’m supposed to wear all black, but I felt like wearing green today.

She wears a lovely army-style green button down shirt.

Am I busted or does it really matter?: she asks.

Yeah, it matters: I laugh: They’re gonna make you go home and change, I bet, but talk to J.

J. sends her home to change clothes.

I think: she’s gonna fit in just fine, on this isle of misfit toys, if she can deal with wearing the uniformed colour.

A hallow on the high street.

I arrive at the restaurant through the back door.

I walk through the kitchen into the back office to drop off my coat and purse.

A book of poems by René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke sits on the employee table. I know it has been dropped off for me to take and read.

But, there is no note and no one says anything of it.

I do not bring it up.

The community blocks off the high street this evening.

No cars are allowed. Only hoards of costumed pedestrians.

The restaurant is booked. Chock full of reservations.

We are situated in the heart of the affair.

The previous owner, who retired two years ago arrives

to distribute candy with the new owner.

I introduce myself and

open with: so you released this place two years ago?

Yup. After twenty one years.: he shrugs.

Did you found the joint?

No. We inherited/bought it from the previous owners.

Was it called the same name when you took over, or did you change it?

Yup. It was called by the same name.

Do you want some hot tea to take with you? It is cold out there.

I want a glass of chardonnay at exactly seven o’clock, when this ends.

I make a sticky note reminder and post it where it will continue to catch our bartender’s eyes and thus,

Attention.

The seemingly ancient regulars begin arriving. None of the regulars made a reservation

for

Tonight.

Every reservation includes a note: window table requested.

Specters at a feast, watching the separate feast of the youngest generation,

through our looking glass.

The tables have been rearranged. The layout of the floor altered to allow more tables to be in front of the huge frame windows.

I intuit how unwelcomely our regulars perceive this change.

Understand the regulars eat every night here and have done so for over a decade.

Well, I suppose we’ll sit at this table. We want to watch the trick or treaters.: they huff, already walking towards the desired table.

In anticipation of this, i have placed placards on tables reserved for those who called ahead.

It bears their name and time of arrival.

I fear this one is reserved. I can seat you here or here. Anywhere there is no placard.

But, we never call ahead: they protest.

A lot of people did: I say.

I think: how do you not know what to expect tonight? You have been eating here for decades.

None of the reservations do I recognize.

The aura of the restaurant becomes maroon instead of its usual sunset orange.

{I hear a whisper say: tulpa.

I whisper: heyoka reads, tulpa.}

An exasperated, decorous but uncostumed, regular flags me over.

She and her companion dine with a couple I have not seen before.

[Trans. They planned to impress their friends here, this evening.]

She has been painstakingly doing panto. Craning her neck, trying desperately to espy the youngbloods in the street.

Yes, Misses ______?: I say.

I don’t know any of these people you have given the good tables to. All these people made reservations?: she accuses.

Yup. They all did. And, they all specified they prefer a window seat. You know, I don’t recognize any of them either, yet something led them here. Kind of magical, huh?

If those people leave, can we move to their table?: she responds.

Perhaps.: I allude, walking away.

These reservations are specters of the feast of the specters at the feast of future ghosts.

To them, i am tonight’s hostess.

Like them, I remember I have died before, will die again, and

I forget to remember it.

I will wake up.

I will fall asleep.

I will sleepwalk.

I will lucid dream.

I will remember to not forget that I am going to fail to remember

Again and again.

In delicious, concentric, Socratic circles,

Ever issuing out to the ether.

The fall of a trip.

A pair of mended pantyhose, rationed from back during war time, hang on a wire, until dry, next to a patio railing lined with salted peanuts made as an offering to the nervous yet inquisitive Stellar’s Jays.

How I appear; how I am; how I perceive.

I first steeped in the blues near the delta shores of Muscle Shoals, as a child.

Families singing songs since forgotten by most places where time flows through you more quickly.

/ the grandfather clock was too tall for the shelf, but as it weighed,

not a penny,

not a penny, weighed more/

A pendulous arm with a weighted ball

pivots about the point of suspension.

Ticking out time in mono sound.

Watch it and I will show you how that strange land taught me to turn five seconds into three æons.

And, I write these words, first, by longhand to show how inane I can be; and,

to see those recognizing

kindness is kin of open-mindedness.

Sometimes I get a little...:howls the singer.

/And, when nobody’s there to write it, I’m gonna show you everything…/

/and, I can feel it in the silence…/

/why dont you come take a trip with me./

An emptied vessel is not necessarily vacuous; but, to

presume it is craven to be filled, is teleological fallacy.

Without trying,

{still}

a cistern is what it is:

Bits of sand transmuted into glass blown

to be exploded and then recapitulated.

Sea glass is simply sandy trash recycled.

I found the open secret viz a viz a well-marked rabbithole

with a spray painted perimeter to warn that

you fall at your own sweet risk.

Collected Strands

Restless a.m.

I

Ayes running through my mind’s eyes like little cottontails scrambling into the brambles.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Robins bobbling around for worms.

The only animals appearing sleepy are tethered. A dog walking a human.

A clot of hair collects about a nail head that is pounded into the railing.

I suppose it is mine.

Strands tugged a’loose like feathers, after the daily ritual of:

arrive home, sit outside, and, let the waves down.

Like little feathers lost only to be reassembled into

a new configuration.

A merkin for the metal.

Hosting Flaneurs

The chill in the air smells like the last time I fell in love.

Knitted woolen leg warmers donned. Chestnut brown and unraveling from overuse.

My sister gave me three pairs, last year.

“You want, like, Flash Dance legwarmers for your birthday?” she asked.

“Yeah, I am standing on my toes these days.”

An hour ’til I walk to the restaurant.An hour of coffee, words, and nicotine.

I will pluck my heavy comforter (trans. duvet) from storage after work.

I seat a one top.

Coffee?: I ask

I insist on it: he says.

We have that in common.

No cream. Bring white sugar if you have it: he says.

White sugar?: I think.

Kat, do we have white sugar already on the table?: I ask, unsure what white sugar means.

Bleached sugar, you mean?: she asks.

Smiling, I say: dunno. He wants white sugar. Those words.

Well, we have raw sugar, nutrisweet, sweat n’ low, and truevia in packets on the tables. We have Splenda packets here, just in case. Brown sugar for breakfast…:

The dishwasher (who provided his own sobriquet [call me MC BlackCoffee: he told me, when I first started] ) interrupts her.

He wants this: he says, holding a shaker the size of two coffee cups stacked on top of each other.

What kind of sugar do you call this: I ask him.

The good kind: he says.

We need to reevaluate your nickname. Sugared coffee is not black coffee: I tease.

Don’t change the color, does it?: he nods, smiling.

Server T. touches my shoulder: the guy at table six has a book for you.

Oh, word. I was hoping he would make good: I say.

How do you know him? He wasn’t sure if you were the right person. Plus, you just seated him.: he says confused and a bit irritated I had let one guy sit at his four top.

I don’t know him. I didn’t recognize him: I reply.

He shrugs. I smile.

Two nights ago, I discovered this server knew philosophy as well as, if not better than, me. And, he discovered a coworker that could keep up with him. We had discussed the very book table six has brought me. He seemed happy.

~

I met table six when he came in for breakfast a few days before. I noticed him reading a Martin Gardner book.

I dig that guy: I say.

This seventyish year old man looked up at me. I recall one eye not opening all the way, although both eyes appear open today.

I found Hofstadter, Penrose, and Feynman through him: I say.

He stared at me.

He wants to be left alone: I think.

I walk away, after offering: I’ll leave you to enjoy.

As he left, he stopped by my hostess post and asked: how did someone your age find out about these guys.

Well, I was ten years younger in Alabama selling collegiate clothing in a boutique and I got very bored.

~

I go up to table six. He has brought me his second copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, thoughtfully wrapped in plastic as it rains heavy. This was a gateway book for me and I lost my copy during my move from AL to WA. I am thrilled a copy has found it’s way back to me.

What kind of restaurant is this? You and my server is a philosophy graduate.: he says, looking quite serious.

One that is open to hiring ex-academic flaneurs: I joke.

I have him sign and date the book.

By the way, your server is also a third degree black belt: I mention.

~

Server T says: Don’t you think it’s funny we were just talking about that book the other night?

Ha, I am surprisingly unsurprised. Things like this happen a lot to people like us, don’t you think?: I respond.

Well, I think there would be some observer bias in such a thought: he says, quite rightly.

But, observer bias is unavoidable by definition because we are observers at every moment. What are your thoughts on metaphysics?: I push him.

I try to avoid metaphysics. Too messy.: he says, walking away.

Yeah, yeah. That’s what all you philosophers say these days. Too messy and too close to mysticism: I call out as much to myself as to him.

A ghost ship at full clip

Fighting-as-discipline haunts me with every new face I meet. (Invariably they are black belts, INK’D athletes, ex MMA fighters, etc.)

Cannily uncanny. It may be inspiring my clip this morning. I certainly find the trend personally inspiring. The same way the numbers 93, 13, 11, and 777 hook my attention. Do I see them at every turn because they occur in a disproportionate amount or do my expectations simply enliven significance?

My feet carry my brain to work, propelled as though by the will of something outside of my conscious thought.

I walk too fast. I don’t know why. Mind still foggy from tying one on with the family last night.

Damn. I can barely keep up with my own pace.: I think, walking.

Click, click.

Click, click.

Quick.

Oh well, the energy required to change my momentum seems more consuming than just continuing to walk along, too fast.

It is a grey sky morning.

Have I actually woken up?

°

The sun finally arrives and beats the cloud cover into smashed splinters. It makes the day seem real. I feel my heart finally kick start, keeping rhythm with the coffee coursing through my system.

Howllelujah.: says the newly given up ghost,

in a whisper of surrender to this new day.

Almost a double ewe.

The British invasion occured today, at the restaurant.
A delightful change of clientele in town for Birdfest.
Aside from the accent, the nearly, overly polite manners gave them away.
Along with the ability to smile and make kindly eye contact despite not having had their morning caffeine.
Who cares if they mean it.
Such civility for the sake of simple decency resonates with my Southern background. The South has little else to offer, currently. Hence, my leaving a few years ago.

(Serving people who have arrived to have their first cuppa in our dining room is always an intimate moment of raw honesty. Coffee, tea, or booze).

They enjoy my accent as much as I enjoy their’s. They laugh when I say ‘y’all’.”

I say it a lot. Habituated.

“Most practical pronoun in American English. Much better than ‘you all/guys’,” I tease.

Server P over hears this.
S/he snags me by my shoulder and, laughing, tells me, “I like ‘y’all’ as much as I prefer ‘they/them’!”

It makes me giggle. It makes me feel good to hear this.

Until today, coffee out ordered tea.
Eight to one.
We run out of tea pots to distribute, for the first time ever.

I convert our decaf urn to a simple pot of hot water, to meet the refill demands.

¤

A solo diner arrives.
I wave as I approach from the rear of the dining room, so he knows he has been espied and will be assisted as fast as my heels can click my steps toward him

“Oh gee, hi there. How are you? It is just me, I am afraid,” he says to the hostess (me) before she (me) has even greeted him.

I break into my you-are-dear-to-me smile, immediately.

He was not British, though he held the manners and demeanor.
He had me in age by at least one and a half decades.
Long lovely fingers, nearly sky eyes but not quite.
Like a mockingbird’s.
Like a seagull’s call, cackling at me, because I kept wanting to mistake him for someone else.
We swap a good moment.

He looks a bit bewildered when I tell him I can seat him at a table or he may sit at the bar.
I have put him on the spot and he does not know which he prefers. It makes him genuinely squirm a bit.

Most American folk are most happy to be asked for their opinion. People love to let you know that they think “this” about “that.”

“Tell you what, our best server is bartending today. You should enjoy her service. Let’s go the bar.”

He blushes, nods; and, again,
I want to mistake him for someone else.

I lead him to
seat 35, specifically.

I watch him as I work, this sweet, little, mockingbird.
He watches me working, when he thinks I am not looking, but my job here is to always be looking.
I watch him try to subtlety watch me.
I avert my gaze, at times.

Eventually, I can no longer refrain.
I walk over to him and say, “I just want you to know you have such beautiful eyes. Exceptional.”

He gives me a look of shock and discombobulated confusion.

I touch my palm to his shoulder and walk away.

‘Exceptional’ because he recalls someone shamefully impeccable.