What's wrong Mr. Dudley? Do your temples ache a little?
Maybe you had a little too much to drink last night.
Could that be it?
You remember when you didn't need to drink at night,
Don't you Mr. Dudley?
You use to be able to go home at night
Enjoy the wife and kids, and go to bed a happy man.
But the wife and kids are all gone now,
Aren't they Mr. Dudley?
They were driven away by the frustrations of a man
Slowly being crushed to death by the weight of
Time and misfortune.
What's that? Another wrinkle on your brow?
What put that one there, Mr. Dudley?
Was it worry about man's increasing animalism towards man,
Worry about the Greenhouse Effect,
Or worry about our vanishing resources?
That would be just like you Mr. Dudley,
Always worrying about things you have no control over.
But you still you worry, and still it does no good.
True you had tried to work for some solutions,
But time, defeats, and apathy quickly ebbed your desires
And you gave up.
You look a little heavier today, Mr. Dudley.
Are you gaining more weight?
It doesn't really matter anymore does it Mr. Dudley?
The girls all stopped looking years ago, didn't they?
They all want lean, handsome, virile young men.
The kind you see in the commercials
When you watch your TV at night.
No woman wants a Mr. Dudley any more, do they Mr. Dudley?
Men like you are anachronisms, things of the past
Like love-ins, peace signs, and psychedelic music,
You and they are all retired to the museums of the mind.
Does that make your stomach burn a little more, Mr. Dudley?
But then you were always a stubborn idealistic one,
One who stayed with the values your generation
Once held so dear.
But the rest of them don't care anymore, do they Mr. Dudley?
While you still try to cling to those lofty ideals of
Peace, love, and equality for all men,
The rest of your generation has sped forward in
High priced cars and high technology while
Grasping for anything that a dollar can bring.
And now you're beginning to waver,
Aren't you Mr. Dudley?
All you ever wanted was love and friendship.
All you have left is yourself
And your shaken ideals.
What is man like you to do Mr. Dudley?
You're too old to start over,
You're too tired to fight anymore,
You're so beaten down that you no longer care.
So what can a man like you do, Mr. Dudley?
What's that you say?
You're just going scratch, yawn, and go back to bed?
The next generation can save the world, eh Mr. Dudley?
Yours tried and failed.
But you all survived one way or another,
You all had your chance at the good life.
If no one else gets this chance, who cares?
Well, with that attitude you've now joined the other side,
Haven't you Mr. Dudley?
So good night Mr. Dudley, sleep well Mr. Dudley.
Bed is surely the best place for you now
Because in cold light of day,
Your generation was never anything more than
An Aquarian Dream.
I ran from my lonely cell,
Fleeing out of doors clad only in my
Socks and underwear.
The morning wind blew through my graying hair
Raking it like the hand of reason while
Cooling my furrowed brow and calming
The raging thoughts within my brain that were brought about
By the words the image had spoken.
As my skin began to resemble goose-flesh,
I reflected on what I had heard.
The man in the mirror had told me that I was useless.
He said that my ideals were no longer necessary,
That my generation had abandoned the future
For the Present.
He said our Aquarian Era was a dream that has
Now passed into a nightmare age of greed and egotism.
My body reeled under the weight of the accusations.
My mind pictured me as the last rat on a sinking ship.
Should I stay and hope the water stops rising,
Or should I jump and swim for it like the rest of my kind?
To stay meant certain death,
But to jump meant the death of my ideals.
Was it better to die in the flesh or to die in the mind?
In the water, the other rats beckoned me to join them.
I could see them climbing on top of each other
Each trying to keep their head above water.
The bottom rats were drowning in the confusion
While other rats climbed on their carcasses to stay afloat.
As they called to me, I could feel my tiny clawed feet
Gradually slipping away.........
In a reality far distant from the scenes in my mind,
The sun broke through the gray fog that had enshrouded my morning.
The drama I had been watching began to fade with the haze.
I now saw myself transmutating into the form of an eagle
As my thoughts rejected the accusations of the mirror image.
Who was he to know the reality of my world?
He lived in a backward place where
Wrong was right and where love was hate.
As his words became a distant echo of my past, I knew my destiny.
I reached up, spread my wings and flew off to find
The true children of the Earth.
My new found wings bore me into a womb of darkness
Only occasionally lighted by passing celestial moments.
My forward eyes searched these bodies
For places where a man, a human man,
Could make a new life, on a new planet.
Heading for Sol,
I sought more warmth than I could find
On my old planet.
As Venus appeared on the horizon,
I realized that there was much more heat here
Than a Earthling could ever fully understand.
I flew past Mercury wondering how
Solid rock withstood the
Intensity of Sol from such a sort distance.
Perhaps the planet was merely liquid,
Just a drop of the Creator's blood, suspended in time and space
Like an uncompleted thought in a lonely person's mind.
In a high flying arc,
I soared upward and around old Sol.
As I catapulted out of its gravitational field,
I gained great momentum that put me instantly
At the doorstep of my old planet's closest relative.
Mars beckoned to me like a bright shiny apple
Beckons to a child.
But superstitions and prejudices from my past life
Made me veer away from this great crimson god.
Jupiter suddenly hung before me like a brightly painted face
Of a one eyed clown.
I wanted to dive into the great swirling colorful orb
But I new that in all its beauty there was nothing for me.
Saturn's great ring was icy cold
And provided some relief to my over-heated wings.
It's face stared impassively at me like I was a mere puppy
Who came to frolic for a time with it's children.
Uranus, the small imitator of Saturn,
Seemed to hide behind this great planet as if in fear of discovery.
I did not want it to be frightened, I wanted to calm it's fear,
But I knew not the words a planet would understand.
Neptune tried to tell me what to say
As it had been born from the same mother.
But, so like a child, it couched it's words in riddles
That no grown person could understand.
Then there was Pluto.
Cold. Lonely. Friendless. Pluto.
So much like my past life,
That I shuddered violently at the similarities.
As I came to the outer edge my old solar system,
I turned to gaze for the last time on that faintly burning
Blue star in the night sky.
A feeling of remorse touched me gently.
I almost wished that I could go back,
Back to the green fields,
The creamy skies,
And the blue water so deep.
But I knew this was no to be.
As I turned toward the vast Milky Way, I knew that
I would miss this planet that gave me life,
And I would miss the new life that I had produced on the planet.
With other galaxies now calling to me
I prayed that my offspring's existence
Would prove to be more satisfying
Than the one I left behind.
So, good-bye Mother Earth,
Please take care of my young.
If someday I can return, I shall.
But for now,
Good-bye mother, good-bye.
The history etched across my face
Holds them not as it once did.
My diminished white crown
Echoes forth no more of their dreams.
Like the scattering of their shells,
I too am cast aside, forgotten,
A thought of what I once was.
They climb aboard their gleaming bullets
To ford the new oceans that are not mine.
Wandering near and far and ever farther,
Until even my great eyes can see no more.
They are reaching out, ever outward, to my rivals.
And like a jealous mother, I weep.
Yes children, I weep.
My mother tells me I am a child of the Earth,
But I do not feel like an Earthling.
If I am suppose to be one of them,
Why do I not feel like them?
Why do I yearn to spread my wings
And fly like an eagle away from them?
Are we Earthlings not suppose to be as one?
What of the Other People on Earth?
How can I rationally explain these Many Others?
I can claim they are aberrations of true man,
But then why are they so numerous while I am but one?
On this great, fertile, planet Earth, I feel totally alone.
My mother once hinted that my father always felt as I now do.
Though she speaks little of him, she once commented on his death.
He was an alienated and forgotten man
Yet his last desire was to find the true children of Earth.
In this attempt,
He imagined that he was an Eagle.
And in his socks and underwear,
He stepped off the face of the Earth
To try to find others who were like him.
When he fell to the Earth for the last time
I was left alone with many questions.
Do the people he sought truly exist?
In his final moments, did he find them?
If he did, where are they, and where is he now?
Is he somewhere where he can see and hear me?
Are my questions and observations that of a fool?
I am not a fool!
Yet I have no answers and
This race inhabiting Earth continues to be as alien to me
As if I were from another planet.
I often sit in public drinking places
Looking for a sign, an indication,
That some others such as I exist.
I make notes of their behavior,
Trying to equate theirs with mine.
All I see are caricatures of true mankind.
The Bimbos and Jockos parade past me
Playing obscene games that have no winners.
Angry and Suicidal Men hover in dark corners
Watching these games while problems
Leak from their eyes.
The Animals share the darkness with these type of men,
As they patrol the murky recesses searching for easy prey.
Of course the Yuppie Puppies hog the light,
Chasing anything that is bright and shiny,
Of great value or of little,
While unable to communicate with anyone but their own.
They yearn to be stars on TV raking in wealth
From ardent admirers.
The ones I call Foreboders live in a gray area
That no one else wishes to populate.
They are afraid of the dark, but cannot find the light.
Someday, they will all cower in the dark.
What type of race will then emerge?
I cannot predict.
But until that time, I will continue to my alien observations.........
I race down the highway in my gas guzzling,
Smog belching, status symbol and still
The feeling overtakes me.
I look at my precious offspring, I see the
Uncaring, dying world that I am leaving him and
This feeling.....this feeling of Foreboding
Slithers up the back of my neck, choking me,
Stupefying my once useful brain that is
Now awash in an apathy shower
That leaves behind only
The earth trembles, and the fear,
The fear of this feeling, shakes me...even more.
Storm clouds gather, the daylight sky turns to night,
The man at the Big Switch is a uncaring fool,
Vultures gathers in the stifling heat of desert
And the feeling engulfs me. Overwhelms me.
Mankind must take it's final course
And be done with it!!!
I must be free of this feeling!
The hot sweat that bathed me in sleep
Is now a cold shower in this waking moment
Brought on by the scream of my alarm.
It was another nightmare, (another vision?),
Another time, another place created in a swirl
Now to get through the day.
The face I see in the mirror has eyes hollower than
The day before.
The razor stings the face. The cologne helps create
That the face will wear today.
Workaday drudgery follows shallow greetings.
The clock is frozen.
People start running, running into the day, running
From the feeling.
But they can't escape it.
It chases them in casual conversation,
It leaps at them from the newspaper,
It blares at them from the television and radio.
Staying busy helps.
To think, to have an independent thought,
Brings on the feeling. Best to empty the mind,
And smother the feeling with action.
But it is only temporary.
There are times when
Will not be denied.
- Idle times, between work and play, moments
Before drifting off to a fitful sleep,
Times denying the conformitism---all are prey
To the feeling.
Best to be one of the confused, relentless, majority
Then to be alone
With the feeling.
I am weary....but I do not wish to sleep.
Idle thoughts are blown up to biblical proportions.
My mind must keep working under my control.
To lose command of it means.......
Vertigo! It threatens to seep into my being.
I am standing on a cliff, not wishing to jump.
Dizziness, in my eyes, in my mind!
Then I am falling, falling into the feeling.
And the feeling is a hot bath, swirling like....
Here I am at work............
The good old boys are all here
In their five-hundred dollar suits,
Pants held up by fifty-dollar suspenders,
Their hair, what they have left of it,
Moussed and dyed so it looks twenty years younger than do.
They strut around leering at all the cute office tail,
Dreaming of sexual victories while knowing
That they will go home only to defeat.
Meanwhile, the workers who make the money
For the good old boys
Are sequestered away in little fabric lined boxes,
Telling lies and knowing truths that, if told,
Would give the good old boys the boot.
But the workers won't tell these truths
Because of the baby-with-the-bath-water theory.
They know that if the good old boys go, they go to.
So the corporate black mail goes on.
Hell, it's the American Way!
Here I am at the city council meeting......
These damn politicos are all the same.
Just a bunch of inept whores
Who promise you a night in heaven
Only to go cold and limp when the covers
Are pulled back.
Today they are fumbling around with a
Matter that is sure to stick it to some one,
Before they get done screwing it up.
I try to not give a damn anymore.
I've been stuck by these yahoos so often
That anyone sitting behind me at the beach
Will surely tan spotted.
And for making a pin-cushion out of me,
They get to go climb in their
Over-priced Coffins-on-wheels and go to
Their over-priced mini-mansions that afford them
What little status and prestige they have.
Not bad for a part-time job!
Here I am in the nightclub.........
On one side of the room is the Jockos.
Shirts open to show the gray on their chest
That they missed with the color rinse,
Pants so tight that the only bulge they show
Is the one over their belt!
But hey, someone has got to drive those coffins-on-wheels.
That way the car salesmen can hang out here too.
On the other side are the bimbos.
Skirts cut up to their ass,
Fronts cut down to their navel,
And never the twain will meet.
They look freshly wilted under their layer of make-up
Applied just after their anti-wrinkle facial that failed.
They lift their legs to adjust their fish-net nylons,
Flashing beavers that promise all and give nothing.
They bend over to adjust a shoe,
Showing lots of round and a bit of brown while
Knowing the reactions that they are causing.
Across the room the Jockos will look and drool,
Wiping their mouth frequently,
So the bimbos will never know.
Slapping the other Jockos on the back to show
Their manliness, while making lewd remarks under their
Beer stained breath.
They all know that the night will soon die by the day
And they will all go home alone.
They are just to cool to start something hot.
The heat might weld them together and they are all
Too hip to get into something like that.
But that's okay.
Just imagine what their children would be like!
Here I am at home, alone.....
It's late, I drove like a madman to get to the
Damn City Council meeting before it ended,
Now the nightclubs are all closed.
I'm watching "Batman" on my VCR,
The stereo sound on my TV is uncanny.
My beeper is turned off,
If I ever get a call,
I can screen it on my answering machine.
I am comfortable in my all cotton shirt,
My coffin-on-wheels sits alone in my two-car garage.
I committed suicide a while ago with the prescription drugs
My doctor gave me for stress.
As the warm cloak of death enshrouds me
My hope is that when they find my body
He discovers that these damn pills finally worked.
For the first time, I have no cares.
Do you say you want to be in good with the Lord?
But then you also want to have a little fun?
Then get a ministry on TV
And let people turn you on!
Let me be the answer to all your prayers.
For I am one great gospel teacher.
Yet I still can sin like the devil
Because I am a video preacher!
Oh yes, I wear five-hundred dollar suits,
No sir, I do not drive a Ford,
It seems the Almighty wants me in a MercedesBenz
And for that I praise the Lord!
Now you to can do as I do,
You to can cash in on people's trust
But hurry and get on the band wagon
Before this whole scheme goes bust!
Some people will think you are a fake,
And a few will even think you are funny,
But then you are not trying to be popular,
All you want is their money!
So listen to the things I say brother,
Believe me when I tell you this scam works.
And all that's needed is a smiling face
And about 10,000 jerks!
So just hand over some money
And I will send you your video preacher kit.
Then you too can find religion
While making a few bucks off of it!
So write down the address you see on the screen,
And send me your check or your cold cash
I will tell you how to raise a one million dollars
By saying that God was threatening something rash.
Oh yes, I have a sexy maid,
I bought a house in Beverly Hills.
So the sooner you get off the couch and write to me
The sooner some one else will be paying your bills!
I don't need sweetness,
I don't need honey,
I don't need you;
I just need your money.
I don't need to scream,
I don't need to holler,
I know what I need;
I need the all-mighty dollar.
I don't need no lectures,
I don't need no books,
I got what I need:
I've got good-looks.
I don't need no brawn,
I don't work in the dirt.
I just need my fancy car, and
I need my all cotton shirt.
I don't need school
I ain't no fool
I know it just takes greed to succeed.
I know in my world it takes greed to succeed,
greed to succeed, greed to succeed,
GREED TO SUCCEED!
Running within, I hide in old adages
And memories of past places that were
The sayings are wrought with wisdom,
The places are crowded with human forms
That were once myself.
But now, all the forms are looking to run from
But no escape can be found within.
Only outside is their freedom.
In a flurry of hidden anguish,
Festering hatreds, and delirious rage,
The darkness breaks loose, trapping the light within.
Now the animal that was once caged in my psychi,
Is free to roam.
I see the human prey, as always,
But with animal eyes, I now recognize many of my new kind.
They are more prevalent than I, as a human,
Ever suspected they were even in my darkest hours
They gather in packs on the street,
They hold offices of great power,
They hide behind facades of innocence and well-meaning
That only other animals can penetrate.
We sniff each other out with subtle looks and nuances
Detectable only by one of our kind.
We are an army of dark soldiers, enlisted by our emotions,
Ready to battle the light wherever it exists.
And we will emerge as conquerors,
For everywhere there is fear and despair,
Everywhere the world recoils from the dawn of the animals.
The conversation taking place on my TV
The low hissing drone of my VCR
The lights from the other caves that had shown dimly in my window,
I arose to check the events of the outside world on my radio,
But in the dark I could not find it,
It would not have worked
I looked at my watch and could not see the time.
I tried to remember what I was doing,
The moment this confusion set in.
But I could remember little!
Who am I? What was my name?
Am I a married? Do I have any children?
Do I prefer books to movies?
What kind of car do I drive?
What is my favorite food?
Remnants of these memories remained
But the ability to fill them out and piece them together
It was as if I had existed at one time,
But now I existed no more.
In an instant my life had been scattered like
The spilled contents of a jigsaw puzzle.
The thought of this terrified me,
I only wanted to wake up to the
I began to strike out at the darkness that held me.
I kicked violently.
Then somewhere in this ebony field
I felt the gentle reassuring touch of a strangers hand.
This calmed me.
So I sat back down and hugged my knees.
Other than this I could do no more.
I went back to the womb
And awaited my call to light.
I just wanted to tell you that I have lived through
The Darkest Days, those days that overwhelmed you.
I now see a Dawning Light that I never new existed.
Even so, my life was not easy.
I had the same urges as you.
Many times I wanted to fly off the edge of the Earth.
I wanted to soar up to Mars, walk in the red clay soil,
And commune with the inhabitants of this planet.
I still believe they exist.
But I never did Dad.
I guess it was just my dogged curiosity
That kept my feet on the planet of my birth.
All the chronicles I wrote about the Other People
Made me wonder about the diversity of these souls.
I wanted to see how many I could record for "prosperity's sake",
Whatever the hell that is.
I guess that when you were alive,
You never had this urge.
That's right Dad,
I know you are dead.
I've known you were dead since I was a child.
But I still write you letters,
And I will probably write until I die.
I know that you jumped off the roof of the house
And crashed to Earth so many years ago.
I know that you were looking for something,
Or someone, that did not exist in your life at that time.
Mom and I were not enough, and I am sorry for that.
It could be that your curiosity was truly greater than mine,
It may have been so great that it could not be bounded
By Earthly means.
I have lived with this hope all my life.
You had different expectations of your generation
Than I now have of mine.
For a long time, I tried to fit the hopes of your
Love generation, which I read about in books, to my
Greed generation, which I read about in my newspaper.
The pieces did not fit well
Even though one generation spawned the other.
It was hard on me Dad.
I had to use every means to cope.
Drugs, alcohol, womanizing, false religions.
None of them worked to well.
I even tried on the lives of the people that made
Both of us crazy.
I was a fake nearly all of my life, Dad.
My only excuse is that most of the time,
It beat being lonely.
But I know that the greater burden was on you Dad.
You and your peers set out to change the world
And you did.
But when it started to change on its own,
In ways that were dissonant with your original ideals,
You were one of them who could not cope.
You refused to compromise your generations promises.
Instead, you chose to stand alone in a world
Now populated by strangers.
I know how you felt Dad.
There were so many times I felt unloved
That I swore I was going to visit the same roof top you did.
But I had a fear of flying.
I could never ascend the height
Or face the unknown like you did.
Now I am glad that I did not Dad.
It turned out that there was someone for me.
I call her my soulmate because our minds are so much like one,
Even though we did not start out this close.
We were both just afraid and lonely people looking
For a hand to hold.
I am very glad we found each others grasp.
She came to me and told me that I must cry no more
And I believed her Dad.
When ever Mom sees us together,
I know she is thinking about you and remembering
Your early years together when you two were like us.
She tries to think of how she might have been able
To make things turn out different,
But I know she could not have Dad,
For I have faced the urges that pushed you off the roof,
I know how devastating they can be.
I tried to explain these feelings to Mom,
But talking about them only upset her,
So we never speak of them anymore.
I can tell you that Mom is finally happy.
She never met another man like you Dad,
So she never remarried.
Most of her life was an empty void
I was never able to fill no matter how much she loved me.
But now I have a son, Dad,
Who has become an inspiration for all of us.
She is so happy to be with him that
She treats him more like a son that she does me.
But that is fine Dad.
I am glad that I have finally done something
That has broken the grip of loneliness.
Which held her all these years.
There are many things I wish Dad.
One of them is that I wish you could see my son.
He is happy and healthy
And he will never have to face the feelings
Of being unloved
Like you and I did.
Another wish is this Dad:
I wish that I can speak with you someday in death
Like I never could in life.
It would have been easier to have you with me in life,
But I do understand why this was not possible
And I do not hate you Dad.
I never have and I never will.
If I had, I would never have written these letters.
I hope you are somewhere Dad,
Somewhere where you can read these letters.
Because the problem with them Dad,
The big problem with them Dad,
Is that I never knew where to send them.
I never knew where to send them.
No doubt, our weights will compound with theirs,
and some of them, like some of us, will to soon drown
in the currents of time....but,
We must cry no more.
For life, such as can be lived by ephemera's, is
an evolutionary product refined by the needs of the
ages, a product fueled by the wants of man....and,
Not by his tears.
Some have stood up proud and tall,
Some have been doomed to be shallow and small,
But of all these kids, young and old,
All these kids, proud and bold,
I've yet to find anyone that didn't need a hand to hold.
Even the ones who snarl and attack,
Always grew docile with a pat on the back.
For were all Earth's children under the skin,
We all need some one who we can believe in.
I'm an old man now, kind of set in my ways,
My life is now limited to a number of days
And as often as I met men who cursed their fate from above,
I never met one who didn't need someone to love.
No. No depth man's of hatred could stem this desire,
No devil from hell could equal love's fire,
For, love is the one thing we all need.
It is the root of mankind; it's our common seed.
Now, loves has been good to me in my long life
I've had some great children by a wonderful wife.
But I know there are those who have done without,
Those who have lived their lives in silent doubt.
They suspect that they will never find
The kind of love that has spurred mankind.
It is for all these people that this I take time to write,
Hoping my words will provide them with light.
For I once thought just like they,
I never thought that I would be loved in any way.
With my words I wish to bring these souls hope.
Because if you can just stay alive, if you can just cope,
Love will find you, weather proud or small.
For love won't be denied, love finds us all.
Brautigan Virtual Library