adventures in pathos

some fables from modern life
by Pat Ludwig
I burn all your cities - how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
you all must be crazy to put your faith in me
that's why I love mankind
you really need me... that's why I love mankind
from God's Song - by Randy Newman


tv grumbling

CNN...don't you just hate it when you're forced to watch some human future getting squashed in a fall from a tall building? see the world's starving children saved from famine only to be sold into sex-slavery by unscrupulous merchandisers or parents hoping to trade their destiny for a reasonable return on the parenting experience. while you were watching, any reasonable hope came to a terrible end, splattered on the pavement. up from the ground wet with blood, political candidates poke their heads like new corn, outstretched arms rise skyward disavowing any blame. i hate when that happens...


damn right i'm ambivalent! i can see right through the moth-eaten lining of your hopes and dreams. you promised me a few happy moments without care, but nothing is ever what it seems. instead our existence seems to be some gigantic good-news/bad-news joke where you never feel happy without my bitter tears, sad or angry without my laughter. you beckon me naked to your bed, and force me to recite from the latest stock quotations. i've always loved how you read, you say. dropping the paper, my hands wander lovingly over your back giving you rashes.

spitting pebbles at the moon

...ringggggggg. i 'm just waking up when a new cycle of domestic violence wheels by. i stare out my window as a screaming husband stops and threatens his wife and children with dismemberment if they don't stop making demands. i turn off my alarm and call the police. they arrive and haul the guy off (hands held in front of his face to avoid prime-time coverage) after beating him severely. i realize by then that there was no reason to have set my alarm. i haven't had a job in years. suddenly, the smoke in the air causes me to jerk awake and i find myself in a soggy cardboard box, beating a broken clock with a piece of pipe.

you ask why i love you? let me count the ways...or rather, how can i not love you? homeless, as the city burns, as people with names beginning with " I " murder people whose shoe size is larger than theirs, and great crowds of the poor and downtrodden demand high-quality sportswear and semi-automatic weapons. guilt- ridden, " I " search my pockets for money to give to the families of the victims. all i find is your picture in different denominations. the smoke is thickening, forcing me to choke. tears stream down my face as i stumble to my feet. i know you will love me despite my guilt. despite my shabby, sootstained clothing. i head for the park where you will be waiting.

somehow i reach your side and we make love on a deserted merry-go-round. our passion causes it to turn slowly, metal creaking out a tune. this is my idea as usual. you would be happier hearing about my day, my life on the road. the places and the people. the day in, day out routine. why do i live for this song of metal on metal? later, as the day grows darker, you ask how my day was. fine, i say. except for the food riots, the pointless and savage cruelty. religious warfare, the disease and famine, the rush-hour traffic.


he had for some time forsaken conversation for gesture, the clumsiness of signs offering refuge from a precision and eloquence he could never achieve. and now, even the thought of expending energy on arm flapping or finger sculpture seemed too much to bear and he sat slumped in his chair, defeated by entropy and minutia.

along with this stagnance came one of his prominent obsessions, visualizing life as an ocean. maybe the sheer inanity of his metaphor escaped him, but it was a workable and accurate portayal of his existence as a bit of floating debris. being led by prevailing currents, sometimes encountering other travellers. at rest or flying on the crest of a maelstrom. at no time did he feel in control. at no time did his life stop churning or lapping against the shore.

slumping down, he considered a lifetime of friends and other attachments torn away by the tides. their outstretched and receding arms and open mouths soundlessly mouthing the horror of their circumstances. unable to share these with any but the ones caught in the same wave forms. sadness gave way to satisfaction for seemingly no reason. he considered this briefly before it occurred to him that his life in the backwaters was not so bad, and these moments of relative calm and recollection were happy. there was little left to say which would not be eaten by the relentless currents. what remained were the beautiful shapes. the frozen skeletal gestures polished smooth in passing.

a particle of loneliness

it wasn't lonely in the beginning. there were no long evenings staring off into a starry sky, wondering if somewhere another is holding you. in the beginning, we pressed tight our embrace, clinging to a single dark red thought. how good you felt wriggling through me! black, electrashiny like a moonlit fish as our life passed thru eons.

how many nights have passed without you now? how many nights considering the moments? and doubt. was our desire ever really enough for either of us? could it have held you here forever? balanced on the point of our passion, balanced between your own needs and mine. a fantasy. selfish, non-vision trapped outside time.

in the beginning, what did we share? our thoughts, our feelings spiralling together, greater than the sum of our parts? shimmering and trembling with no distance between us and nothing beyond us. your lines seemed to blend with mine without break. later, this strange attraction would seem less important than measuring the time and distance. because somewhere toward the middle, it changed. gravity pulled at us. our bonds weakened and the distances appeared and grew predictably long. instead of an explosion, a "big bang", you were gone.

[Writers] [Birdhouse]