first published 2002 – LINX EYE, Volume IX, No.
When blood is crushed purple by toes of
over-confidence, then a star will tumble in the
west and the anti-christ will shiver with
goosebumps. When children dress in black, with
shaved heads and sheared ideals, automobiles
will rumble, echo thunder, but eardrums popping
to spastic rhythms will not compute. Rivers will
rise, flooding banks. The corns of old women's
feet will ache. Shadows will separate from
objects that grew them. Bibles will crumble till
all that is left is the family name.
Then, and only then, does Napoleon
confront the mirror, finding himself weighed in
even measure with nobodies and the mediocre
somebodies who sign his check. Then, and only
then, does he hang his head in the dangling
noose and offer sacrifice.
On a morning the same as any other,
when clouds with human faces bite the bitter
lemon of a wounded sun, when the sky squints and
a bruised horizon explodes, acidic juices will
trickle from his throat and Napoleon shall kneel
before a porcelain alter, his prayer a puzzle in
pieces, schizophrenic syllables swan diving off
a spastic tongue. He will rattle the mirror,
curse the pills, damn the ointments for being
unable to make him the man his fog insists he
On such a morning, Cinderella, her
pumpkin tattooed with feminist slogans, will tie
back her tangled wilderness, stick out her
tongue, say "Ah." Counting her freckles, she
will wonder how she had come to compromise so
many. In piranha slippers, she will descend the
American heartbeat into the snap, crackle, pop
of another shopping mall morning, smack dab into
another multiple choice question. She will scour
her textbooks, scan pots and pans, matriculate
on soap operas and scandals as she plays Double
Jeopardy on the geography of love.
On such a morning, Tiny Tim will pee
behind the pantry. Having made a skateboard of
crutches, he will collide into an angry kitchen,
crunch down the unfinished sentences his parents
pour with vodka and milk. "Two and two equals
three," he will repeat in the staccato cadence
of a parrot with a lisp. Napoleon will agree.
"Two and two does equal three. . .two and two
equals three after taxes."
On such a morning, Napoleon will sulk
as Cinderella swats airplanes. He will rant as
she irons the screams from his shirt, his socks,
his noose, his pants. He will dial long
distance, get her answering machine with no room
to leave a message. He will leave his fist print
It will be a morning of buzzards
hovering over the Savings & Loan, downtown of
missile silos, gutters lined with poets playing
hooky. Napoleon will dodge the human leaves,
note the nose dive of Arabs homed in on
Israelis. He will scatter his osmosis, shed
static electricity, scoff at chiseled souls,
laugh at statues, suffer from hemorrhoids,
halitosis and split ends. As his shadow ploughs
the compost of decaying equilibrium, he will not
feel his Adam's apple slip away from him. He
will hear only the steady swish! . . plop! .
.applause! . .swish! . . plop! . . applause!
. . swish! . .plop! . . applause! of a
President homing in on golf balls.
Napoleon will mount the mechanical
mare, tap his toes to its whine & whinny, rising
a dozen. . .two dozen. . . three dozen stories.
He will smile at Mona Lisa, stealing glimpses of
the moon between her mammary glands. He will
pour a cup of fog, talk of 2x4's and crosswinds,
drop his head behind a chair, affix his vision
on the flicker of fluorescence, stare up the
dress of progress, pretend it has no underwear.
But he will grab his green card from a lower
left hand drawer when a knock at the door hands
him a subpoena. On a vice president's door, he
will Morse code his defiance, staggering in like
Swiveling in a vinyl throne, flanked by
diplomas and family photos, will be Fred
Flintstone, spurs dug in, easy chair squealing.
Fred of Lead will stroke his smooth head; talk
of upholstery, honorariums & heirlooms; trip
over euphemisms, while digging deep for those
certified witticisms that won't go soggy in
Having placed his eyes in a pocket
flask, Napoleon will hear only the heavy metal
of oceans crashing, that and the distant cry of
a humpback whale. He will panhandle his pride,
hump his past, stroke his favorite peninsula:
he, the hero; he, the misunderstood; he, the
martyr; the saint made to err in a world that
refused to go easy on him; he, an endangered
species; he, the rightful King of the Hill.
Flintstone will smile his knife wound,
revealing two row of perfect tombstones; a black
abyss gaping just beyond the canker sores.
Napoleon will tumble in as he is flayed by a
leather tongue as uncompromising as his dead
routine. Napoleon will give way to spontaneous
combustion. He will slam the door, storm the
shag carpet, stub his toe on the smile of Mona
Lisa who will later claim he hobbled passed her
On such an afternoon, he will slouch
over a barstool while Barney Rubble wipes the
counter clean. He will curse and cajole, parade
on shaky stilts before his buddies Johnny
Walker, Sgt. Pepper, J. W. Booth, Rasputin and
Jim Beam. Giving mouth-to-mouth to a deflated
ego, he will grow indignant at anyone who
refuses the wisdom he bestows them. When angry
tattoos toss him through what once was a window,
he will scarcely feel the wind shift.
Done in by don't walk signs and the
stubbornness of telephone poles, he will pound
into the pulse of traffic, pirouette to the
sound of brake squeals, collapse in the
neighbor's hedges, watch drunken stars attempt a
waltz as they collide into the ever-shrinking
horizon. Napoleon will laugh, not realizing
their dilemma is his.
It will be a moon the color of tequila
that will lift him and lead him to the moat
surrounding his castle, yet shine no light on
his missing key. He will beckon Juliet to the
balcony, see only Hamlet's father who dissolves
at one whiff of his stale, arrogant breeze.
Napoleon will shatter the rear door window,
watch the pane in shards break against the blue
lake of silence like suspended dreams.
On such an evening he will find
graffiti spray painted on Cinderella's absence,
spray painted on the absence of all material
things. There will be no place to sit, nothing
to lie on (or lie to), on nothing to trip. .
.only the poor masquerade of shadows and the
throbbing of deafening emptiness. It will be he
and a displaced cockroach, he and the echoes of
kitchen grease, the gnawing of an invisible
refrigerator, the low hum of a sorrow about to
give birth to a stillborn fetus. Napoleon will
collapse in a corner, praying for a six-pack as
Like flies to flypaper, his ghost will
wrestle with taut sinews of self-pity, disengage
like a woman clinging to an abusive husband,
wobble like a drunken sailor losing his bet with
gravity. It will crawl the cracks of his
cranium, step gingerly around dead brain cells,
igniting them into troubled, tossing dreams.
[Dreams.] Progression of bald
children dressed in black, his coffin a giant
ghetto blaster---him inside, pounding, pleading,
"Let me free, let me free!"---coughing,
wheezing, his feeble crying drowned by Perry
Como crooning, "Feelings ...nothing more than
feelings," behind an orchestra comprised of
everyone he ever loved...or hated---the
conductor leaning on a crutch, wearing the green
dress worn by Cinderella on their first
anniversary. He will find himself screaming,
"Forgive me, forgive me," as his coffin is
dropped in a chasm and dirt pours in like a
celebrating river. And then. . .silence. . .save
for the gong of one tear falling. . .from a
taller, Tiny Tim. . .who walks away . . .his leg
It will be high noon before a mail
carrier finds remnants of what once was a man,
sliced by the chainsaw of sunshine, drowned in a
pool of salty sweat, consumed by his own
resonance, begging for another chance to start
When blood is crushed purple by toes of
over-confidence, a star will tumble in the west
and the anti-christ will shiver with goosebumps.
Then, and only then, does Napoleon confront the
mirror. Then, and only then, does he utter that
most difficult of four-letter words: "Help."