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Rant #339
(published July 19, 2007)
Just the Facts
by R.J. Bullock
Yes, Monica's sense of self-preservation via financial security is very strong, and I have not paid it enough respect, and I have underestimated its vector force in our marriage. I have and continue to fail to grasp that her fear of economic insecurity is, for her, embodied by me and my non-economic callings. Her father was a charming alcoholic who cared not for things fiduciary, owned a drugstore and pharmacy for a while that went under, according to legend, because he'd open it after hours and give people medicine they needed and let them owe him which they rarely repaid. He drank his own fortunes away, and then started in on his wife's, Monnie's mom's, inheritance from the late husband of the sainted Grandma Minnie (Philomena), who a couple months after the old boy died, found brown paper grocery bags crammed into odds spaces in the heating ducts (she had lifted a floor register to clean under it) full of paper money, which it took her all night to count on the kitchen table, after which she paid cash for a ten foot tall Italian marble statue of Saint Monica to be erected in front of their family parish church, St. Monica's, and was able to help and keep helping her children, among them Mon's mom, Dottie, whose husband, Gene, Mon's dad, had lost his drug store, then his neighborhood bar, his voice, his ability to eat food, by too much smoke and drink, so that by the time Monica was in junior high, her dad was at home all the time, breathing oxygen and then eating from a tube, though he still drank and smoked whenever he got the chance, and Dottie had to go back to work full-time as a nurse and Monica, of her marble-statue namesake and her parents' first-born after many years of non-conception (4 more siblings quickly followed), had to be the big-girl around the house, though she loved poetry and all things literary and articulate and would have been a professor of comparative literature had she not had to live at home and tend her father's feeding tube while she put herself through college, and then graduate school, paid for her own orthodontics, learned to dress like no one she had ever seen, and talk circumspectly and wait for those more impulsive around her to make the first move before deciding what she would do next, who married a local boy who was kind of funny and liked to have fun, not read books, didn't need to go to college to sell appliances at the furniture store and do pretty good at it too, though she cried the day of her wedding and her sisters told her she didn't have to marry him if she didn't love him, but her mother told her no-one's perfect, in time you can learn to love in a better way, which she might have been willing to do for a year or two but couldn't sustain, and began to lose hope and faith, and then this guy looking like a cross between Buddy Holly and Charlie Manson shows up to help her set up a disease-model intervention program at her school, and she sits across the room from him and crosses and uncrosses her legs in the light of his kind of brilliant way of presenting the info and influencing her peers, in a kind of vulgate full of metaphor and euphoria, a newly recovering fellow from this disease of alcoholism that she really just as well would settle for all the knowing about it she has as knowledge enough, but his passion about it and the way he looks at her when someone needs to ask a question that gets straight to the point and it's nothing for her, she's been doing it forever, though she's just started with those candy-apple red 3 inch heels and the guy needs to work with her in more detail about the policy issues to back the intervention program they're building, and he sits closer every time he comes to her office to work and she lets him and asks what that cologne is he's wearing and he says, well, just some old spice soap or something, which about kills her because he smells like homemade bread in the oven and though he's apparently married to a sort of crazy woman, he's sober and got three kids he always talks about when they start working on developing another program at another school so they have to ride around the roads toghether alot, talking about God and poetry and their lives before they knew each other, and her laugh comes out of her throat like quail startled in a thicket and he's never met anyone like her, so sensitive and gentle but also with a downright wicked streak and a penchant for quoting some jazzy poets of the modern era, and then he spots this beat-up copy of the Brothers Karamazav in her car which she demurs to admit she liked to re-read every year, and he's nearly blind with her bathtub gin of Doestoevsky and Calvin Klein, and he starts having trouble thinking when she's around, seeing anybody else in the room when she's there, hearing anyone else's laugh, especially his duly married wife's which sounds like it's coming from a horse in comparison, which he knows is odious and despicable, and which he's beginning to believe he is as well, unable as he is to stop thinking about this emanation of light he has to see and smell and brush against at work everyday, and though his priest and his sponsor and his good friends tell him not to sweat it, it'll pass, just a little infatuation with the grass on the other side, he tries to tell them he's not so sure but he doesn't try that hard because he can tell they really dn't want to hear it like that, and anyway why sell himself out on this, for god's sake, he's never known what such an attraction to another person felt like, not in all the songs or drugs or roadtrips or puppyloves or crazy sexes, not even in the ecstasy of prayer which he thought he had a gift for, no feeling ever and how could he deny it, squelch it, kill it where it lay like a babe in its cradle, the truest feeling for, thought about, desire of, dreams toward he had ever known for another human being, he certainly couldn't be expected or asked to pluck this out of his heart's eye, to sacrifice this lamb of beauty, to run away from the window of the turning point she sat by reading, looking up now and then, crossing and uncrossing her legs.

This rant is our second in an intermittent series on poetry. If you would like to submit a rant, essay or other substantive statement about poetry, whether contemporary or ancient, whether from this culture, or from a dimension beyond time, please see our submission page for all of the details.

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