And we say good bye to them then, the beetles and all the dust on their rainbow shells, as they ascend like helicopters, beating the long grasses down all around them, stop a few yards up, turn one hundred eighty degrees and fly off over the mountain and very far away. Goodbye. They always seemed like aliens, when they sat with us at the dinner table. None of us could get a read on what was going on inside, some sense of emotional life. They always performed daily routines mechanically, some thought they were sad inside there, others thought they were angry. Others, often drunk, would say they were teeming with goodwill. Those bulbous eyes, glinting in the diningroom lamp, those pincers, working at a leaf on a plate. They certainly followed protocol to the letter, and I couldn’t remember a time when I heard them say anything to anyone. If they refused to perform in accordance with what was happening at that second, they would simply turn around as if they hadn’t heard and walk directly away. They were excellent baby sitters, though. All our babies, all of them, sitting in a row in the sunlight laughing at the beetle doing cartwheels for them, jumping rope, miming sections of Hamlet, playing dead, playing guitar (not very well, but the babies liked it) and flute (beautifully), alternately. Sometimes the beetle would fall in the pond and float around, trying desparately to get out again, to find an overhanging tree branch to grab with its flailing jagged limbs while we all laughed. After finding dry land with its feet it would trundle off for some alone time, no doubt to dry its wings off in private. One time at dinner we thought we might have heard it sigh, toying with a leaf of its dinner as if it were a windchime. But it didn’t have any lungs, that’s the odd part. Then it got up, pushed its chair into the table, and thudded off to its room, climbed up to cling to the ceiling and stayed there for the next few days. When it finally emerged again, it was clinging to a painting of Jess, from her last week of kindergarten. It laid the painting on the kitchen table and that’s when we saw it had corrected the part where it was pictured to make it look like it was flying. That’s one of the last things I remember about the beetle. Aside from its dramatic exit.
Exciting news and flavors of billions of stars inside the galaxy drink at the drive-in fast food explosion bowel mercy crying. Skiing backwards into cheese curls, chocolate fondue, curling greenglobe drops of weird rain, and flaming angel swords, all for one night only, at the hub of commerce downtown. A spectacle of Last Day, a violent scene where the chosen will rise and smite the unchosen, the unfetterde, unwashed, unclassy, unlistened-to, unravelled, untoward, unbetter. The crime is not being cool, and it is punishable by death. Or at least life in a prison of squareness, getting to know your fellow hell-citizens. Driving your dumb cars and wearing your dumb clothes, and easing into your dumb days with a dumb pint of alcohol. Turn the light on in this room so we can see each other, so we can build up to something, so we can make sure we know where the fabric is, where the sugar has hardened, where the doorway leads, where the daylight went. Every so often I want to hear you listening, I want to see you watching, I want to smell you smelling. Then I will know that these dreams I spent so much time designing were the kind of horsepoop I could believe in. Horsehair I could listen to. Horseshit I could excrete. Horsehalo I could ascend to. Horsehoof I could tapdance in. Gleaming like a nitrous ferriswheel at a Paris midnight, the smile inside of Daves mouth was trying to get at something I couldn’t get the flavor of. He had been sporting it for weeks, trying to get people interested in his cryptic interest, I don’t think he realized that you have to say things out loud if you want people to get your meaning. But he persisted for a few more weeks until finally he exploded one day while drinking coffee (there, we thought, was his problem, though none of us were likely to spell that out to one another, and certainly not to him). He burst into flames, and roasted before our eyes, until we realized he was not on fire at all, but just dancing some crazy disco moves, and they were so fast we could hardly see where his limbs were, but that smile was bigger than ever, it had taken over part of his nose, and had crept over his chin, and may even have wrapped completely around his head. Even if he was not engulfed in flames, but rather alarming dance moves, the papers around him were starting to catch on fire due to the immense air friction he was generating, as the space shuttle encounters on its reentry to the atmosphere, and he was actually moving so wildly that the fire was joining him, it seemed to understand him perfectly, and as they melded together, Dave glowed much brighter, more a smile than a body, more a star than a planet, until we could no longer look at him, and the fire didn’t spread, exactly, it followed him into itself, and he rose in increments to the ceiling, and got smaller and smaller until we realized we were outside, looking up at lots of stars, and we couldn’t figure out which star was Dave and which star was Jupiter. Somebody snorted and said Jupiter wasn’t a star, and then we were all quiet for awhile, and then someone else said, but isn’t it a failed star? And no one really knew what that meant, but someone else said, Jupiter is a planet. Ah but a planet of gasssssss that never lit on fire. It just didn’t have the spirit, the need to become a star. It bowed out. All the advil in the universe couldn’t take its pounding headache away. It just sauntered off to swirl and turn and storm and coldly mark it’s discontent. The king, in a tower, poisoned by science fiction, eating a small fig spreaded cracker.