Tune In:

There’s a nothing building inside of me; it’s being made of sadness and peanut shells; the blueprint was made during my childhood, I was a prodigy; now the nothing building is almost complete; there are tiny construction workers down in the nothing, they work even when I sleep; “Send some beer,” one shouts; I pour the beer down like it means something; maybe it does to them; you should see how hard they work building my nothing—already it is taller than the hope building and the dream building and the love building combined; when it is finally complete I’m going to climb to the top, I’m going to look at the birds, the nothing birds with their ripped wings and razor beaks, and then I’m going to jump.

Tune Out:

I’ve cleaned toilets; I’m told it’s not anything to take lightly; imagine sitting on a filthy public toilet because somebody like me would rather be thinking about literature; imagine running out of toilet paper because the janitor (that’s me) is writing poems in the break room; boy are you pissed; you have been a good citizen but now your ass is covered with shit; well, one day it will happen and when it does you will do what Mrs. Swain did; you’ll tell my manager: “Look, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble but could you please fire the janitor…” and later that day I will be in his golden office with its long celibate desk and cold snapshots ordered in studious rows and he’ll say, “A transgression like this can’t be ignored; you’ve ruined Mrs. Swain’s day!” and then I turn in my mop head and go outside and now I’ll have to tell everyone why I lost another one and I’ll have to face finding another job which is even worse than working and the next job will want to know all about it; what am I going to say now: sent packing for soiling satin, canned for crusty crap? It’s not long before the boys down at the construction site start calling for more beer.

Tune In:

If you listen closely, and I mean very very closely, you will sometimes hear the toilets talking to you; this is not something everyone can do, nor is it something everyone would want to do, but if you do it you’ll find the toilet is one of the most beautiful creatures ever made; I’ll tell you how to do it: first you must start a relationship with your chosen toilet; what I mean is you have to get eye-level and show it a little affection; you have to tell it everything will be all right; don’t worry, it’ll believe you: toilets are known for both their trusting nature and their stupidity; now here comes the tricky part: you must touch it; toilets especially like to be touched in the back where hardly anybody ever goes; now, if you’re lucky, the toilet will talk to you and it will say the most profound and surprising things and you’ll love its sense of humor; like I said, this isn’t for everyone, but it helps if you’ve been shit on yourself.

Tune Out:

Things to be ignored: cameras intellectuals money and art; if you run around the block twice without becoming dead you are okay; passion is a thing best left uncontrolled and ghosts have no blood, that’s the reason they’re white; if you listen to everyone you will become just like everyone else; never apologize to people who demand an apology, chances are they are at fault; people will admire your poetry if you write it after you’re dead; there are other things, but why bother listing them.

Tune In:

Everything is my fault if I can just get myself to admit this my life will surely improve.

Tune Out:

Next job: the factory; not an American in sight, they come from all over the planet to end here, a stinking black lung hell hole; the construction workers take a break from the nothing building to scream; they don’t like to see me work harder than they do; there’s a whole universe of pain in my back and I curse everyone I know: my parents for having me, my wife for making me love her so much, and even myself; I curse us all and the shout in my soul can be heard by all living things: dove, larvae, even the carrot buried deep within the earth, they can hear it, they sway with it and it’s like a bad ballad; I look at the parts as they come down the line, grab one, then look at it in my hand, put it against the machine and watch it as it becomes something else; it becomes walls decorated by winter, becomes a death whose name I know and there’s no escape and there’s no hope; it’s when you hope that the construction workers hurry to the nothing building with renewed vigor.

Tune In:

The sight of a woman in love with you; doesn’t happen often, but when it does the days are lighter and the faces on even your enemies seem beautiful and there’s talk of the future; things seem to be happening in ways they never happened before and you look at the moon, the two of you, and think never was there such a rock, diamonds do not compare, but you turn away for a minute and maybe you forgot to tie your shoelace or maybe a cloud passes beneath the moon and you turn back around and it’s done; might as well pack up and leave then; things will happen that make no sense and no nation has an army that can deter a woman’s rage, but if you were fast you got that moment and you can take that with you to the grave and if you weren’t—sorry, no second chances.

Tune Out:

Reasons why men succeed or fail, it is beyond knowing, beyond understanding; some will walk a line to heaven, others will hold vigil at their own tombs; you see the end, but all of the condition which brought the disaster or luck has disappeared; it is easy and tempting to blame others, but no one is to blame; after all, each has spent years in the care of another and when does a child separate from his parents, when does a life truly become his own?; surely it must take years or decades or a lifetime for that as well and if you find you’re alone in a cold efficiency apartment, the cats gnawing on the acerbic flesh of rats in the hallway, the job like slush in your soul, it’s best not to think about it and pour more beer.

Tune In:

The face of a woman you love in orgasm, a frozen moment cut from time: mouth slightly open pulling in stilled air, stomach hard then soft then hard again, eyes shut tight against the current, nails on back, gripping down below and the heat; it’s earthy yet celestial, familiar yet bizarre and you on top or underneath thinking, yes, yes, I’ve done this, I’ve made this happen, me, little nothing me, who’s never done one good thing in his life, who has trouble finding work, who is lazy, who was laughed at as a child, who never graduated college, who broods, who oversleeps, who’s shy and can’t make friends, little shit me, with my yellow teeth and greasy bad breath, with a wife who left me for a welder, with my poor wallet and all the minimum wage jobs, I did this; it was me.

Tune Out:

The men at the nothing building do not bother with calling for beer anymore; I’ve got plenty and don’t need prodding to use it; they’re almost done now, they’ve finished with the sheet rock and spackling and now they’re going to sand until it’s flush, when they get done doing that the only thing left is to paint the whole damn thing a darker black; I’m the guy who walks into a post office with a gun or I’m the guy who stabs his wife and nine kids, you have to gas me from my home to cuff me; or maybe I’m the guy who rushes into a burning building and saves two children and raises them as my own with a woman who loves me; either way you’ll read about me in the Sunday newspaper and then skip to the comics.