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When I Have Thoughts
That I May Cease to Pee

by Franklin Crawford

My brain, which I am very attached to even though we’ve never met, is doomed to liquefy and bubble out of my ears, nose and mouth, shortly after I am as dead as the DNC.

It’s not the most pleasant thought my mind ever conjured, given that I suspect my brain doesn’t like to imagine its post-mortem condition any more than whatever this self – this symbiont with whom I share my weathered hide – wishes to dwell upon.

I was prompted to dwell upon the body’s decomposition process after reading a piece by Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of “Nickel and Dimed” (Henry Holt). To my surprise, she holds a Ph.D in cellular immunology. Sexy! So I stole some of her language.

How I came across her piece called “Running to the Grave” is of no consequence. But reading it jolted me; I was just getting over a flu that robbed me of the good sense to peruse something light, like “The Making of the Atomic Bomb” or maybe Herriman’s Krazy Kat cartoons.

Ehrenreich takes to task the faddish anti-aging movement – from dieting and eating alleged super foods and exotic elixirs – to old timers like me who drag their pale fuzzy butts to the gym every day in the hopes of keeping death at bay and maybe getting laid again before their 70th birthday
She then gives a proper ass-kicking to our Beat the Reaper culture with some vivid particulars regarding the death process. We all die. And then things get ugly. It gets ugly for the good, the bad, the healthy, the ill, the aged, the young. 

This is not a synopsis of her piece (Harper’s March 2018 edition), but it’s Ehrenreich’s fault that I’m writing this.

I used to live for extremes. Extremes made an otherwise ordinary life interesting. I have a binge and purge personality and it does not discriminate across categories. Age has a way of interfering with that lifestyle though, and after about 50, I saw that extreme behavior, while certainly a terrific distraction, was the fast road to hell and beyond, sans bed and bath. Nothing new there.
I’m damn glad I didn’t kill myself doing crazy shit like binge drinking and drugging for weeks, binge exercising, binge caffeinating, binge insomnia, binge sleeping, binge juice fasting, binge purging, binge writing, binge bingeing.

But I miss it. I miss the extreme sport of testing the limits of mind, brain, and body. It got the ol’ encephalon up to speeds that I considered … professional, I guess. Or binge doping, to slow the roiling gray matter down to a simmer when it got away from me. Numb is a feeling, too.
What I always hoped to avoid was the deceptive instance when I crossed the borderlands of tolerance and Mr. Brain, this rumor between my ears, started misfiring, spluttering and taking orders from an angry liver, an ulcerated stomach, pissed off kidneys – times of crisis where simply deciphering the instructions on an Immodium label became a Dick and Jane exercise: Words ... hard … Me … stupid … Him devolve now, drag knuckles back to couch, cry.

Forget writing during such a fugue state. Writing is out of the question when the brain and body are in cahoots to survive: “Abstract thought? How about we just puke, learn how to breathe, get the heart beating steady again. Later for the executive functions okay? There’s a wildcat strike down below decks.”
Seeing the early onset of senility due to my bingeing put a halt to my going ape-shit over anything – up to and including – chugging maple syrup right out of the jug (my g-d is that good stuff!). Or trying to pull a collegiate drag ratio on a rowing machine 36 percentage points above what a college athlete would train at for twenty minutes. Exactly what am I trying to prove during those episodes? That I can suffer cardiac infarct just like any other geezer?
On the creative side, “running to the grave” is a good way of describing how I meet deadlines. Deadlines. Nice word for “get your shit done on time.”
Extremism rules my otherwise harmless avocations. I discovered picture-taking about a decade ago and binged-out on that. Now I am culling the results of that digital foray – which I add to almost daily. It’s kind of a rigged system, my own little Xeno’s paradox.
I became a digital image hoarder. My archives hold some 50,000 images and most of them don’t mean squat. The bulk of them are crap: A shoestring on the floor, the shadow of a parking sign against the sidewalk, someone’s prodigious belly sticking out beyond a corner behind which I am hiding; a blurry duck in a mud puddle; the mud puddle.
All of that stuff caught my eye. It was a good diversion. The eyeball is connected to the optic nerve which runs to the occipital and bingo: Pop the card out of the camera, insert into computer, voila! Instant fix. It got me high.
I’m not blowing any twaddle about moderation. F**k moderation. A person like me who works in spurts will never become a plodder – unless disease makes it so. I’m talking about death-avoidance by any means necessary; about trying to outrun The Reaper.
I met The Reaper a couple of times when I was very ill. She showed me her bona fides so I had no reason for doubt. The sick room got cold as a crypt and my body chilled and clammy and death was right there. You’ll know it when it comes if it ain’t sudden. BTW: The Reaper is called Grim for a reason: She and I (my reaper is not gender-neutral) do not share the same sense of humor: Doesn’t matter. She wanted a Green Card if she let me live!
During those dreadful hours, I was void of humor. Even though Ms. Reaper, who bore a striking resemblance to a Bollywood starlet, was not much for the one-liners. Mighta been my delivery. You try making jokes while your teeth are chattering and you’re about to crap the bed.
My job was to stay alive – or succumb to it. One of these episodes lasted more than a week until the Grimstress vacated the premises – with promise of return – my soul for a Green Card! Why would any Reaper require such a document?
Other meetings were of shorter duration, but no less menacing. 
Nope. I am not in a hurry to have that beloved jellyfish in my think-tank turned into a hasty pudding that dribbles out my face-holes. Please dear gray matter, stay intact for the duration, if only for old time’s sake?

That’s why I’m here now, throwing this word salad together to beat a deadline, so that I may live to see another one. Otherwise, it will be time to call the Brain Drain folks and have that cranial vault sucked into oblivion. Place the remainders in the oven at 1,400-1,800 degrees until very, very well done. Toss ash into litter box. My cats will take care of the rest.
Until such time, ciao bella.

Franklin Crawford
Administrator/Writer/Photographer (on FaceBook)

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• David S. Warren -
Editor's Notes

• Georgia E. Warren -
The Test

• Sue Ryn -
I Never Imagined This

• Mary Gilliland -
Sky Dancer

• David S. Warren -
Poem to Archie

• Don Brennan -
Take Me To the River

• Peter Fortunato -
Surreal Really

• Peter Wetherbee -
Sinister Ballad of a
Middle-Aged Man

David S.Warren -
We are Nuts

• Rhian Ellis -

• Garriel Orgrease -
Evening Out

• Daniel Lovell -
One for Miriam

• Nancy Viera Couto -
Margarida, Jose,
and the Queen

• David Rollow -
Your Stuff

• Franklin Crawford -
When I Have Thoughts
That I May Cease to Pee

• David Rollow -
Review: A. R. Ammons
Complete Poems

• Chris MacCormack -
Packages (an excerpt)

Evening Out

by Gabrial Orgrease

The running joke had become that I was being passed off as Billy Gibbons from Zee Zee Top. I wandered the streets of the French Quarter with family and friends of family. Whenever anyone of the group shouted, “Billy Gibbons, everyone, Billy Gibbons!” I was to go “Har har har.” (go to story)

When I Have Thoughts That I May Cease to Pee

by Franklin Crawford

My brain, which I am very attached to even though we’ve never met, is doomed to liquefy and bubble out of my ears, nose and mouth, shortly after I am as dead as the DNC.
It’s not the most pleasant thought my mind ever conjured, given that I suspect my brain doesn’t like to imagine its post-mortem condition any more than whatever this self – this symbiont with whom I share my weathered hide – wishes to dwell upon. (go to story)


The Test

by Georgia E. Warren

As soon as I got back to my dorm room I remembered. There was no textbook, we were supposed to research the famous artwork of Milan. The test was to identify and discuss the Italian Renaissance art was located in Milan. It was late. The library was closed. I decided I should go to bed and try to get to the library before class.

But I was exhausted: I sat on my bed ready to take my shoes off and fell asleep in my clothes.

Within a minute a very nice Catholic Nun shook my shoulder and told me I should not sleep in the pews of the sanctuary. I told her the problem about my class. I did not tell her it was thousands of miles away
(go to article)________________________

Reiki: Just The Facts

"Take Me To The River"

by Don Brennan

“Whoa! Where did you come from?’’ I set it down on the picnic table as fragments of memories washed over me. It was an old friend that I had found as a child, on a family vacation, somewhere one summer. Even though it was still covered with bits of soil, it was easy to see that it was loaded with interesting minerals. “I’m going to have to hose you off.”
The next two mornings, I spent more time staring at the stone than reading my book. The words were creating images not from The Celestine Prophecy, but from the day this stone first came into my life.

I had glimpses of it sparkling
in a shallow pool of water at
the bottom of a riverbed.
(go to article)



Chris MacCormack
excerpt from
Packages (visit)

by David Rollow

The Muse came knocking at the writer’s window on a night of wild weather. Her skin seen through the windowpanes was luminous and pale, except for her flushed cheeks. Her green eyes glistened. Never had she looked more beautiful. Gladdened by this unexpected visit--for the page lay empty on his table and the pen lay untouched by the page--the writer stood and unlocked the window, his heart surging against his ribs as if they, too, somehow, were to be unlocked and his heart set free. (go to story)


by Mary Gilliland

Myth is longing. I lose myself in myth. When I would re-read the texts, or re-imagine them, myth led me out of family problems I could do nothing about. It contextualized the martyred strivings of Roman Catholic indoctrination. (excerpt, go to full story)


Margarida, José, and the Queen

by by Nancy Vieira Couto

Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria Julia, had just arrived in Ponta Delgada, having said good-bye forever to aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, the living and the dead.
(go to story)

The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be "Memory." (see full size)

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