What A Curious Feeling! I Must Be Shutting Up Like A Telescope

That’s A Funeral In The Mirror And It’s Stopping At My Face
Empty House On 5 Cliff
Deadwood, South Dakota
Dec. 20, `75

By the end of the week, I was finally ready to accept the inevitable.
C.S. was leaving me for another guy, but I would survive. After things
calmed down at home, I found another job, one on top of the ground. I
liked that; I liked sunshine. I worked a service route filling and
servicing candy vending machines. My route, in addition to servicing
Deadwood, also took me to Spearfish, Sturgis, Belfush, and Lead. For a
while it looked as if C.S. and I might actually get back together, but
then she left rather suddenly. Her leaving to go back to Michigan did
not come as a surprise, however. It came after she found out about a
one-night affair that I had with another woman six months earlier.
After that I became 5 Cliff’s solitary resident.

Learning how to live in a house that held so many memories was
difficult and painful. In the daytime I had work, and at night alcohol
helped me to forget. I worked with some good people. I made friends
with the sons of my boss. Mark, the oldest, came over one night to
listen to music. He wasn’t impressed by my record collection, but he
was impressed with my loyalty to the musicians. Once I got hooked on
an artist, I collected all or most of their music. I was drinking
before he showed up and really drunk when he left, so I did something
I had promised myself I would never do again. I played Leonard Cohen’s
album Love And Hate. When the song Dress Rehearsal Rag came on I let
it play. After that song, I experienced terrible emotions. I can’t
describe them, but the words Love/hate pretty much summed it up for me.

Dress Rehearsal Rag

Four o’clock in the afternoon
and I didn’t feel like very much.
I said to myself, “Where are you golden boy,
Where is your famous golden touch?”
I thought you knew where
all of the elephants lie down,
I thought you were the crown prince
of all the wheels in Ivory Town.
Just take a look at your body now,
there’s nothing much to save
and a bitter voice in the mirror cries,
“Hey, Prince, you need a shave,”
Now if you can manage to get
your trembling fingers to behave,
why don’t you try unwrapping
a stainless steel razor blade?
That’s right, it’s come to this,
yes it’s come to this,
and wasn’t it a long way down,
wasn’t it a strange way down?

There’s no hot water
and the cold is running thin.
Well, what do you expect from
the kind of places you’ve been living in?
Don’t drink from that cup,
it’s all caked and cracked along the rim.
That’s not the electric light, my friend,
that is your vision growing dim.
Cover up your face with soap, there,
now you’re Santa Claus.
And you’ve got a gift for anyone
who will give you his applause.
I thought you were a racing man,
ah, but you couldn’t take the pace.
That’s a funeral in the mirror
and it’s stopping at your face.
That’s right, it’s come to this,
yes it’s come to this,
and wasn’t it a long way down,
ah wasn’t it a strange way down?

Feb. 17, ‘76

I will make this short. I am embarrassed to relate this experience (but
in order to make sense out of future journal posts it is necessary).

C.S. had been gone for two months. I was coping, but then I had
another one of my infamous bad days. There was too much suffering. The
house had a dining room, which was sealed off from the rest of the
house to save on heating bills. However, the room was equipped a small
freestanding gas heater, and it was time to use it. I created a cocoon
around the heater by draping blankets over the unlit stove. To prevent
gas from escaping, I sealed off the chimney. The project completed, I
turned on the gas, crawled into the cocoon, and went to sleep. It was
that easy. I wasn’t even frightened. For me, it was about leaving
behind misery. After three hours, though, I woke up, alive. I was mad. I
turned the gas on full, rolled over on my stomach and propped my chin
up over the burner. Three hours later, I woke up alive, again. My
mind wanted to think, but it couldn’t. I climbed out of the cocoon and
turned off the gas. Through the window, there was only a glimmer of
twilight left. “I had just lived through a whole day of grave
digging,” I thought. “Maybe, I’m not supposed to die.” I pulled
open the upstairs door to the bedroom and using the hand railing, I pulled
myself to the top of the stairs and fell into bed. When I awoke it was
the night of the following day.


About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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One Response to What A Curious Feeling! I Must Be Shutting Up Like A Telescope

  1. It seems that you are a special son of Mr God. No one and nothing can kill you!! 😀

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