Carrion

I wrote this as a monologue for myself.  Haven’t performed it, not sure I will. It does express my sorrow and despair and disgust, really, at the increasingly militaristic direction things have taken. Really, isn’t there a better way? Really?

I admire the carrion eaters. I respect them. The ones that pick the bones of the dead. They do us all a great service, do they not? Imagine what the world would be if there weren’t the buzzards and the maggots and the carrion crows and all the little microbes that feed on death. Would there be any open ground left to stand on? Would we be walking on top of, I don’t know, a mile high pile of corpses? Just take the war dead, just that, everybody dies a natural death, their bodies go poof, gone, like Catholic Mary, zippo, straight off to heaven. But your war dead, the millions upon millions of soldiers and sailors, and babies and mothers and grandmothers, old men, young men, women of all ages, all the dead. Think about that pile getting higher and more staggeringly obscene by the second.

I think that would be a good thing. Really, I do. As a reminder, as a stark reminder. This is who we are, this is what we do. This is what we worship. You think not? You think this is too harsh? Then you, you, are deluded. You’re blindfolded. That’s why we need this pile, this statue of the uneaten dead so that you, and the millions like you, can see what you love, what you revere with your nationalisms and your closed borders and your voracious appetites for resources and your desire for control, control. This mounting avalanche of the dead is the idol you bow down to but never see because we have the cleaners to make it all sanitary for us. The cleaners and the gleaners to make it all go away. What was that that happened? That was for honor, that was for territorial integrity, that was for democracy, Islam, communism, a greater Russia, racial purity, a Crusade, a Holy War, not ever recognizing the oxymoron that that is.

The pile of dead would show you who you are. What we are, what we do. If we had to wade through these torn and twisted and shattered bodies on our way to work, grab a coffee, a hot date, maybe the going would be so tough it would slow us down enough to notice, hey, look at all the dead, all the lives cut short so I can gas my car, eat a cheap banana, get my dividend check.

Yeah. I admire the carrion eaters. They take care of us, they protect us from ourselves. Pity.

The Tick

Yes, I share my life with a dog, and she is prone to getting these nasty little creatures attached to her. I probably have been thinking about them too much.

With apologies to Eugène Ionesco and Franz Kafka

The tick seems to be growing larger. I mean the tick in general terms, the tick as a species, not a particular, individual tick. Isn’t it really a dazzling multiplicity of species? Many, many differing kinds of ticks? I don’t know if all of them are getting bigger, or if it’s just the ones I see. Maybe they are a specific type, I’m not sure. But I see them getting really big, whatever they are. But the problem, the problem as I see it is I think I may be the only one who has noticed, noticed the great swelling of the tick. How these things can be, the growth of the tick and my apparently isolated observation of this phenomenon, I couldn’t possibly say.

The other day I pulled a tick from inside my dog’s ear. Nothing unusual in that; she gets ticks regularly. I pay attention, you know, because of tick born diseases and such. But this one was different. This tick. Did I say “the other day”? No, this particular event was some time ago. I don’t know, months maybe. I must have said “the other day” as it still seems so fresh, so pertinent, and it was, as I’ve said different. Larger. And not just because it was engorged with my dog’s blood, it was big. Fat, ugly, grayish brown.

They have always repulsed me, ticks, and yet they fascinate as well. I have had a horror of finding them on myself. Fortunately, I live alone, well, just me and the dog. I think I said my dog before but I reject that construction. No animal can be “mine” or anyone else’s. These animals share our lives and we assume a certain degree of responsibility for their well-being. That’s why I check her for ticks many, many times a day, even if we haven’t gone out. Better for her, better for me. This one day sometime ago was a bit of a shock. It was the largest tick I had ever seen, up to that point at least. Fat repulsive thing. It seemed to stare back at me as I tweezered it from inside her ear. Do ticks even have eyes? I don’t know, but I think this one did. It put up even more than the usual struggle, due to its size. At least it didn’t burst and spray me with dog blood as some of them have done. I nearly vomited as I watched it swirl around in the flushing bowl and vanish from our lives.

Nothing much happened for a few days and then I saw my first tick on a human other than myself. This was an even bigger shock, as you might well imagine. We were on line at the pet store getting dog food when I saw the woman just ahead of me adjust her neck scarf and there it was. Huge, bloated, the largest tick I had ever seen. I was too stunned to speak: what does one say, “Madam, there is a monstrously large thing on the back of your neck just below the hairline”? Anyway, I couldn’t say a thing; I turned away and put the food back on the shelf and left as surreptitiously as I could. I would share my food with the dog for a while.

I don’t work, that is to say I don’t have a job. Checks arrive, I cash them and I live. When I cashed my next check I saw another one. How the teller didn’t notice the thing attached to her cheek astounded me. Against my usual bent I spoke up, this time. I said, “How are you today?” She said, “Fine sir,” as she handed me my bills with the briefest of nods. I left.

I thought about this for some time. I thought about perception, visual stimuli, and sensory experience. I would have thought about evolution and entomology but I know nothing about those subjects. I read St. Augustine on consciousness but he was no help. What was happening? I fell into restless sleep after searching the dog for vermin. Fortunately, nothing.

I didn’t go out for a while after that, being afraid of what I might see. Eventually hunger put of both out the door of the flat. I could see the dog had lost weight and that wasn’t good. I have no mirrors so I couldn’t tell about my own state. As soon as we hit the street I knew it was a mistake. The vertigo nearly put me down but what is one to do? You have to eat to live, and I am responsible for the dog. But I could see what was happening. Everyone, but everyone, had a tick, a really big tick, about the size of a backpack, and in about the same location. People were walking around with a giant, living, blood sack attached to them and that either didn’t notice or didn’t care. The world was spinning I was spinning the dog was barking and no one, but no one seemed to think anything about any of it.

It was then I noticed that the people were looking at me. At me, as if there were something wrong with me, not them! Some of them were so rude even as to point. A little girl in a red dress with a bulging tick on her shoulder started to cry as her mother turned her gaze from me and they moved off. I looked at the dog and the dog was still barking but barking at me, at ME! Ungrateful bitch, what have I done but care for you I thought I could suck the life out of you but the sense of falling increased and then I really was down, all the way down, on my belly, as my several thin legs with some difficulty hauled my bulk in the direction of the screaming running people and I was overwhelmed with a powerful and seemingly unquenchable thirst.