Posts Tagged ‘Mel Green’

 

 

Mel Green at the WeHo Book Fair 2011 – Signing books between Dave White “Exile in Guyville” great guy check him out and some chick with a skanky book that should have remained just a t-shirt.

Meet Mel Green at the West Hollywood Book Fair. He will be signing books from 1-4 at the West Hollywood Library.

For more information about participants, parking and stuff go to:  http://www.westhollywoodbookfair.org/

Buy Marker Now!

at the Byrdcliffe Theatre, Upper Byrdcliffe Road, Woodstock

Mel will be reading an excerpt from his new book Marker.

For More information go to: http://www.woodstockfringe.org

Descant is an internationally lauded  Literary and Arts Journal. A quarterly, it has featured such writers as Margaret Atwood, Dennis Lee, R. Murray Schafer, Timothy Findley, Michael Ondaatje, Anne Michaels, artists like Geoffrey Pugen, Ryan Burghard, Balint Zsako and many others.

This collection takes a daring look into the world of the dead, sometimes beckoning to it, even daring to interact with it. Also featured in this issue along with Mel Green are Richard Rosenbaum, Jennifer Oliver, Kate Cayley, Douglas Curran and Daniel Zuckerbrot.

Get a copy of Descant #152 “Ghosts and the Uncanny” or a list of bookstores that carry Descant at: http://www.descant.ca/

For three days I carried my friend’s unhappiness like a bag of dogshit I could find no place to set. Goodbye breakfast at a diner, my tongue came loose with the caffeine and broke the air between us. “When was the last time she said ‘I love you’?” He shook his head to find the memory, but nothing rattled down.

Leave her I said. He cleared his throat and chuckled into his coffee—an animal that won’t leave his cage.

We’d met at fifteen over a pack of Luckies at military school and marched through it together, though he with a lighter gait than me.  And years later, as promised, he threw the rope that tugged me free from the swamp of Houston, West to San Francisco, into a converted attic off the Haight. Twain had it right, cold as hell. But he’d just gotten off the Appalachian Trail and gave me the bed preferring to sleep outside on the landing where he would proceed to get drunk and rail against his high school sweetheart, a red-lipped stewardess who dumped him for a guy that sold calendars. FuckYou! He screamed over the fog horns. FuckYou! Yanking hard at the trap of her memory. The next morning, always the gentleman, he apologized.

The first to leave, he returned to the South with his architect’s degree. Back to mama and three sisters. The only man in the family. The second cry came over the phone, wedding cake still on his fingers, “I think I married the wrong woman.”

“Why didn’t you stop it?”

“They were all coming. It wouldn’t have been right.”

And so, the sons came one at a time to make a lanky pair. And he disappeared into the woods with them; scouts and the rites of deer hunting—mapping for them the dangers of the world outside while back at home a mean-ness grew and dropped from her. So his steps were always considered and the sudden prick stinging and real.

She willed him out of the house each morning, his sacraments of instant coffee and oatmeal clutched in Styrofoam cups. Banished each day to his office, returned in the evening to something covered and once warm on the counter. One more beer, dazed by the TV and slide into the bed like double-wide coffin where any movement would be suspect.

She’ll dump you when they’re both out of college. I said.

An odd smile rose up over his coffee mug, floated out the window of the diner, off  into the woods escaping among the trees.

And I recalled that morning, making my way down the hall of his perfect tomb of a home to find one son had returned from college late in the night, the door open as I passed the boy’s room, startled to come upon such intimacy: there was my friend leaned over the bed, intent as a farmer bent to a hand planted furrow, arms around his half-sleeping son holding him in an embrace as if he were breathing him. And I understood the odd smile, the look out to the green woods beyond, I understood for the first time what I had always wanted from my father.

Toss aside those reading glasses. Measure the distance you’ve moved from clear print and that much closer to the grave. Senses muffled by age. Been said and sung how, “it all fades.” But that’s only half the story, for there is an abiding sweetness though that’s a lollipop word hardly up to the task: it’s as if the heart, born mummy-like within the body’s tomb, sheds its wrappings layer by layer even as the eyes dim and the teeth wobble—layers unraveling until the heart rises unfettered, a ghoulish joy, arms outstretched to embrace everything it sees. Happy Birthday, Death!

©Mel Green 2011

The Portuguese Bend region is the largest area of natural vegetation remaining on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in Los Angeles County, California. Though once slated for development the area is geologically unstable and is unsuitable for building. It has been described as a constant, slow-moving landslide.

I’m not someone usually found in church on Christmas Eve or, if I can help it, anywhere near La Grange, Texas. But Andy, my nine-year old nephew had called full of news: he’d been cast as one of the three wise men—the wisest—according to him or at least the one with the most lines. Any second thoughts or excuses I might have were quashed when Andy delivered the closer: there would a real live Baby Jesus.

It was clear upon entering the church that they had gone all out for this year’s Nativity: Volvos in the parking lot were missing seat covers so kids playing the lambs had woolly coats. The baby Jesus, as advertised, was indeed real and wiggling in the arms of the Virgin Mary, portrayed by a tall girl who seemed not only older than the other children, but also somewhat drunk … slack-jawed with an odd tilt to her head. She must have gotten into the communion wine backstage. The pressure of Christmas.

I too have always struggled with Christmas. The pressure of gifting. The incessant Christmas carols, the baby Jesus thing, Santa Claus—fairy tales, myths told to children so that one day they can feel lied to which I suppose is the real training for becoming an adult. My own childish belief had been shattered by a pair of cynical six-year olds and as I grew into a holiday hardened teen I remembered firing a question at the priest concerning all the frippery and seasonal dressings of the church, “How would Jesus feel about all this stuff?”

Father Vander was a sharp-tongued chain smoker rumored to have once strangled an altar boy. I braced myself, but he answered quietly, “The trappings of the church are merely reminders—an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”

Meanwhile, back in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were having some halting exchanges of dialogue when it became apparent that the Virgin Mary was not tanked. She was “special”. Challenged. The poor girl had a disability and was trying her darnedest to get her lines spoken while maintaining a grasp on an infant tweaking on sugar. The actual mother was easily located: front row, leaning towards her child like a hungry leopard.

Enter the Three Wise Men: Andy was resplendent in a purple robe, previously a plastic shower curtain. Holding his gift for the Baby Jesus, a foil-wrapped cigar box. The other Wise Men were also outfitted in shower curtains of watermelon and avocado respectively. The Baby Jesus, however, was not responding well to this color combination that was now moving towards him.

“I offer this gift of frankincense to honor the blessed child,” Andy said as he   extended his gift, and then Baby Jesus lost it: with one kick of his tiny legs, he broke free and we all watched the Baby Jesus execute a half-gainer, bounce with an audible burp on a padded step, roll over the wine-colored carpet and come to rest on his back, arms spread to the heavens.

A horrified gasp erupted from the congregation. No matter what you believe in, watching a baby free fall does affect you: your arms extend from hopeless distances. The infant’s mother sprang forward like a sprinter. But Andy, being nearer, swooped down and casually retrieved the Baby Jesus as if he were no more than an errant basketball. We all waited for the tears, but instead a big loopy grin spread across the infant’s face.

Unlike the Virgin Mary, who with hands clasped over her mouth, eyes brimming with regret, was sinking into her own private hell. And it was here that Andy did the amazing thing: he walked over and handed the baby back. Back to the girl that just dropped it! It was like watching someone tugged back from the brink of a life-crippling memory—forever marked as the girl who dropped the baby Jesus. Gratefully, she took the child from Andy and delivered her final line. The house lights came up to deafening applause while the lambs ripped off their seat covers.

I had that light-bodied feeling I get whenever I’ve forgotten about myself for over a minute. My eyes were still on Andy, and having just witnessed a child’s spontaneous act of generosity, I felt something like pride. Rather than blame—Andy had given the gift of a second chance.

I listened to the happy burble of humanity as the crowd moved towards the doors. Like I said, I don’t often come to these things, but there was something special in the air that night. In Father Vander’s words—an “outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.”   Merry Christmas, everyone!