Suddenly he’s conscious of himself as a being with a history

The moon and stars hang out in bars just talking

The most normal shit has taken on a foreboding air. Birds are out here fucking and sucking each other off all over the trees because it’s springtime and not for any other apocalyptic reason and yet it’s frightening now to hear them scream at each other in their idiot sky language. Maybe it’s scary in part because they seem capable of carrying on very well without us either way. Last night I sat on my stoop in the dark on the quiet street near the rushing river that splits between the Dunkin Donuts and the McDonald’s and leads to the big old wool mill from 1847 that they rebranded as corporate office space a few years back and I smoked a cigarette and thought about the final song on John Prine’s last album which will now be his final album forever where he goes like this:

When I get to heaven, I'm gonna shake God's hand
Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand
Then I'm gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band
Check into a swell hotel; ain't the afterlife grand?

And then I'm gonna get a cocktail: vodka and ginger ale
Yeah, I'm gonna smoke a cigarette that's nine miles long
I'm gonna kiss that pretty girl on the tilt-a-whirl
'Cause this old man is goin' to town

and I thought that all sounds nice besides the vodka and ginger ale part. Just because you’re a genius songwriter doesn’t guarantee you’re going to have good taste in everything. Hold on there’s a text buzzing across the room I gotta get up to go look at you have to check your texts now right when you get them because you never know how bad the news could be ok never mind it’s just my college friends texting about how our school finally decided to refund room and board costs — prorated to the day the students left campus of course — but not tuition since classes are still be conducted remotely. Now the phone keeps buzzing and they’re talking about various buildings on campus that could be used to house the sick if need be and I remember the names of most of the buildings they’re talking about but not what they look like or what it felt like to be inside of them. The last text before that I got was from my older sister the one I didn’t meet until I was like thirty five and she said she has the shit and is exhausted all the time and that she’d keep me updated and she needed to sleep now but she hasn’t in a day or two. Ma is planning my funeral she joked haha.

All of your weird methods of blocking out the sun have been terrible Michelle just told me after we got the curtains set up here. We were talking about the various shitty apartments we’ve lived in over the years. Our last one we just left I moved into when I was twenty eight which is a child’s age. I wonder what I thought about back then I said. I have no idea. I have no idea what sorts of things were going through my mind that long ago. She said when she first met me I had curtains duct taped over the windows because I gather I was either too poor or too stupid to figure out how curtain rods worked at the time.

The point I was making earlier was that when I was on the porch last night a couple appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the street just over there to my left and I think we startled each other and then they said oh hello and I said oh hello and they were standing there staring up at the sky and I guess there was a noteworthy moon of some kind transpiring last night that they were very invested in. I went to look myself after they had gone because it felt weird to go stand and stare at the sky just because some other people were doing it and also there is the distancing matter to consider and then there it was some kind of moon with a name I’ve never heard of. A big moon in any case. I’ve had enough of new types of moons if I’m being honest like when you stop becoming interested in new music at a certain point in your life that’s how I feel about moons. I know all the moons I’ll need to know at this juncture I think. So I stood there and thought See the moon? It hates us. which is a line from the Donald Barthelme story See the moon? that I may have mentioned in here at an earlier date which is sort of impossible to summarize in any meaningful way but has passages like

What do I look for? A work of art, I’ll not accept anything less. Yes I know it’s shatteringly ingenuous but I wanted to be a painter. They get away with murder in my view; Mr. X. on the Times agrees with me. You don’t know how I envy them. They can pick up a Baby Ruth wrapper on the street, glue it to the canvas (in the right place, of course, there’s that), and lo! people crowd about and cry, “A real Baby Ruth wrapper, by God, what could be realer than that!” Fantastic metaphysical advantage. You hate them, if you’re ambitious.


A call tonight from Gregory, my son by my first wife. Seventeen and at M.I.T. already. Recently he’s been asking questions. Suddenly he’s conscious of himself as a being with a history.

The telephone rings. Then, without a greeting: Why did I have to take those little pills? What little pills? Little white pills with a “W” on them. Oh. Oh yes. You had some kind of a nervous disorder, for a while. How old was I? Eight. Eight or nine. What was it? Was it epilepsy? Good God no, nothing so fancy. We never found out what it was. It went away. What did I do? Did I fall down? No no. Your mouth trembled, that was all. You couldn’t control it. Oh, O.K. See you.

The receiver clicks.

Or: What did my great-grandfather do? For a living I mean? He was a ballplayer, semi-pro ballplayer, for a while. Then went into the building business. Who’d he play for? A team called the St. Augustine Rowdies, I think it was. Never heard of them. Well. . . Did he make any money? In the building business? Quite a bit. Did your father inherit it? No, it was tied up in a lawsuit. When the suit was over there wasn’t anything left. Oh. What was the lawsuit? Great-grandfather diddled a man in a land deal. So the story goes. Oh. When did he die? Let’s see, 1938 I think. What of? Heart attack. Oh. O.K. See you.


We talked about the size of the baby, Ann and I. What could be deduced from the outside.

I said it doesn’t look very big to me. She said it’s big enough for us. I said we don’t need such a great roaring big one after all. She said they cost the earth, those extra-large sizes. Our holdings in Johnson’s Baby Powder to be considered too. We’d need acres and acres. I said we’ll put it in a Skinner box maybe. She said no child of hers. Displayed under glass like a rump roast. I said you haven’t wept lately. She said I keep getting bigger whether I laugh or cry.

Dear Ann. I don’t think you’ve quite. . .

What you don’t understand is, it’s like somebody walks up to you and says, I have a battleship I can’t use, would you like to have a battleship. And you say, yes yes, I’ve never had a battleship, I’ve always wanted one. And he says, it has four sixteen inch guns forward, and a catapult for launching scout planes. And you say, I’ve always wanted to launch scout planes. And he says, it’s yours, and then you have this battleship. And then you have to paint it, because it’s rusting, and clean it, because it’s dirty, and anchor it somewhere, because the Police Department wants you to get it off the streets. And the crew is crying, and there are silverfish in the chartroom and a funny knocking noise in Fire Control, water rising in the No. 2 hold, and the chaplain can’t find the Palestrina tapes for the Sunday service. And you can’t get anybody to sit with it. And finally you discover that what you have here is this great, big, pink-and-blue rockabye battleship.

Ann. I’m I’m going to keep her ghostly. Just the odd bit of dialogue:

“What is little Gog doing.”


I saw someone say something recently like the family unit is the original and final source of oppression. You are born confined by the circumstances of your parents’ station and you are later oppressed by the pressures to work to provide for your children during their lives and leave something behind for the generation that follows you and that all sounded very depressing but mostly true to me.

Michelle is downstairs now conducting her third grade class over the computer which she has done the past few mornings while I lay in bed trying to think of a reason to get out of it and coming up short. Yesterday the class was on how to have proper etiquette online how to not be a troll and so forth and I thought haha I should probably take that class too. Or maybe she could have me come by in like a scared straight capacity like when they used to bring a recovered addict to talk to your school about drugs and you wouldn’t take it seriously because when you’re a kid addiction is like a mortgage or something it’s something that happens to adults some day far off down the line that doesn’t matter to you now. It’s like when you’re reading the instructions on the google map thing when you’re driving on a long trip and the third or fourth item down is a weird turn you’ll need to pay attention to at some point but not just yet it’s still forty miles away. In any case I have both those things now the addiction and the mortgage and I’d just as soon I didn’t but too late now on both accounts. When I woke up this morning Michelle was crying because she said one of her colleagues’ husband died and she couldn’t even go to see him in the hospital and then I hugged her and pretended that could never happen to us but I was lying.

Yesterday we went for a walk in what we thought was going to be a lovely nature reserve due to when you look at it on the google map it’s this giant green space and when we got there there were lots of trails and paths and things but it looked more like a place teenagers would go to drink exactly one beer and finger each other for a minute then get nervous a guy with an axe was hiding behind a rock. Are kids still afraid of men with axes coming around in the woods like we used to be or is it just the guns now. You used to have to be murdered in the woods when I was young now I guess it can happen anywhere. The land we were on was of course home to Native Americans originally then taken by colonists in the 1600s and then Thoreau fucked around nearby some time later and wrote a poem about it that went in part like

When the spring stirs my blood
With the instinct to travel,
I can get enough gravel
On the Old Marlborough Road.
Nobody repairs it,
For nobody wears it;
It is a living way,
As the Christians say.
Not many there be
Who enter therein,
Only the guests of the
Irishman Quin.
What is it, what is it
But a direction out there,
And the bare possibility
Of going somewhere?
Great guide-boards of stone,
But travelers none;
Cenotaphs of the towns
Named on their crowns.
It is worth going to see

and I guess a bunch of Revolutionary War shit happened around there who can keep it all straight. When you live in Massachusetts every other fucking thing has some grave importance to the founding of the country. Then during World War II the government took the land around there by eminent domain because they thought it was in the national interest to do so and they built a bunch of ammunition bunkers that were close enough to the train lines to get to Boston but far enough away from the water that German battleships wouldn’t be able to reach them. They call the bunkers igloos and I saw one yesterday as I was jogging by and people had spray painted Fuck Trump on it and penises and so on all the usual stuff people spray paint on things and it just occurred to me now I have never lived this far away from the ocean and maybe that is what is wrong with me lately. Typically every night I wake up about two or three times and have to put a relaxing TV show on the laptop so my brain doesn’t have one second to go where it wants to go if I don’t stop it but last night I remembered you can listen to soothing white noise things so I found this video of the waves and the wind on some beach in the French Mediterranean and it actually worked the fucking video of the waves and the wind tricked my worm brain into thinking I was somewhere safe and calm and not on a mattress on the floor in a strange bedroom that’s mine but isn’t really with curtains properly hung.

“If things get crazy, I will just live in a tent on a beach in Galveston and fish and surf the rest of my life,” someone commented on the video of the waves and the wind about a month ago just as things indeed did get crazy. “Be careful out there,” someone replied. “Things have changed at the Beach. I lived in Galveston most of my life. Used to love fishing.  It's amazing what comes crawling out at night behind the big boulders.”

“Am I the only one terrified of this deep watery abyss creeping in on us?” someone else wrote. Some people are just so negative all the time!

The other night I watched a movie called I think Galveston where Ben Foster is an ex-con or a veteran or something someone who is good at violence in any case and it was one of those movies where the rough older guy saves a beautiful young teenager from drug dealers and so forth in this case Dakota Fanning I think it was and then the guy has to refuse to have sex with her long enough even though she tries to and then kill enough guys in her honor so that we won’t think he’s a creep for falling in love with her eventually. But she got killed before he got to even do that.

I just went outside and read some tweets. “Hotels around the world are illuminating vacant rooms in shapes of hearts to inspire hope and thank health care workers,” one said. Thank you to the hotels for the festive shaped window lighting arrangement I think we can all agree.  “Just reminded of when Boris Johnson looked like David Foster Wallace and actually had a sick fit” another said. “Michelle Money holds bag of daughter Brielle’s brain fluid: ‘A lot of wins’” read one from the New York Post and I don’t know what any of that means and I won’t be investigating further. “Ariana Grande Posted A Video Of Her Naturally Curly Hair In An Iconic Ponytail And Even Her Fellow Celebs Are Shook,” Buzzfeed wrote. “One side was like an orange, the other side was normal. I was like ‘Something is wrong here,’” wrote some guy who was listening to Tom Brady on Howard Stern and now I’m thinking about Tom Brady’s injured scrotum.

I guess the wildlife refuge we went to yesterday was designated an EPA Superfund cleanup site in the 1990s due to there was arsenic and pesticides and other shit all over the place but now I’m sure it’s all fine. There was a young family there in the parking lot when we were leaving the girls were probably like seven or six or something and were all excited to have a picnic and they jumped into the back hatch of the SUV they had and the mother said hold on let me set it up nice and she laid out a blanket on the tailgate thing so it would seem like a realer type of picnic to them and it broke my heart a little bit and it made me think a lot of parenting is pretending things are nice for the kids who are generally too stupid to know any better.

Oh wait I forgot the reason why I brought up the couple in the street last night that startled me with their moon-looking was that since we haven’t really been able to properly meet any of our new neighbors everyone is suspicious to me and whenever one of them lumbers into my perspective or trots by with an unbothered dog it’s unsettling. In a city you see strangers all the time and it’s normal they become invisible you bump into them on the street and on the subway without even noticing what they look like we all smash around like blind bats using our other senses to echolocate trouble but in the suburbs any new person you see you think ok who’s this fucking guy. Maybe I’m just on edge because I went to sign into the wifi the other day and I saw one of the nearby networks was named TRUMP2020 and another was TRUMPKAG and now on top of worrying about which of the people around me might be carrying the invisible coronavirus I have to wonder which one is carrying that virus too.

It took me like thirty minutes to figure out what KAG meant in this context and for some reason I thought jesus does that mean Kill All Gays? but no it means Keep America Great.

My friend Joe Keohane wrote a fine piece for Gen about how much he misses strangers in the city.

As a lover of cities, and a resident of New York, my fear is that even when the threat of the coronavirus passes, the memory will be so vivid that the behavior of New Yorkers will be altered for the foreseeable future. A person moves to the city because they love new people, new things, and new ideas. A plague, then, is not just a grave physical injury, but a psychological one, too; spiritual, even. A wound to the soul of the place. That wound will require care as well, in cities all over the world.

Here’s what I want I want to walk into a bar and sit down next to some fucking guy and be annoyed by every single little movement he makes and every comment about what’s playing on the TV. I want me to want him to shut the fuck up. I want to have the bartender ask me how I am and I want to tell them not too bad man and mean it. I want to wheel my carriage down the aisle of the grocery store and find someone standing in front of the vast array of Cheez-It options taking their sweet ass time deciding and I want to think hurry up with the Cheez-Its Jesus Christ. I want to peel off my clothes in a room full of gross old man dicks and balls and climb into my shorts and walk to the pool and hurl myself into it even though it’s monotonous to me and swim back and forth going nowhere just moving through the water. I want to be dragged to a dinner party I would prefer not to go to and sit there on someone’s stupid couch and reach a pita chip over and scrape it across the bowl of humus and say ha ha that’s wild when someone is telling me a story about whatever cute little job they have and I want to go meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while and sort of not feel like it all day but then realize half way through the visit that I love them and there’s a reason why I still know them even after all these years. Then once I’ve done all that once I’ve talked and talked I want to go home and be alone for a little while like it’s a pleasure I’ve earned not a punishment we’re all suffering through.

Then maybe a year or two from now I want to come down with a fever and think ah fuck I’ve got a very normal and regular fever and crawl into bed for a day or two and guzzle some Nyquil and watch stupid movies on my laptop and not think it’s the end of anything rather just how things go sometimes and then many years after that perhaps thirty five to forty of them if I’m lucky I want to come down with a worse fever or something and think ah fuck and crawl into a hospital bed and die with my wife being allowed to stand by my side thinking about how nice all those years were even though we didn’t live near the ocean anymore.

Summer's end's around the bend just flying
The swimming suits are on the line just drying
I'll meet you there per our conversation
I hope I didn't ruin your whole vacation

Well you never know how far from home you're feeling
Until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling
Well I don't know but I can see it snowing
In your car the windows are wide open

Just come on home
Come on home
No you don't have to be alone
Just come on home

Valentines, break hearts and minds at random
That ol' Easter egg ain't got a leg to stand on
Well I can see that you can't win for trying
And New Year's Eve is bound to leave you crying

Come on home
Come on home
No you don't have to be alone
Just come on home

The moon and stars hang out in bars just talking
I still love that picture of us walking
Just like that ol' house we thought was haunted
Summer's end came faster than we wanted

Come on home
Come on home
No you don't have to be alone
Come on home
Come on home
No you don't have to be alone
Just come on home