“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am; stuck in the middle with you”.Stealers Wheel 

Ensconced in intimate accustomed comfort at Alley Cats, my fairy-tale towns time-honored espresso bar, same as every day, tattered rugged men commune reposed in cloistered arcade oasis. Banishing twitchy remnants of all-night acquired fogs in bits and pieces, tuned up on caffeine and camaraderie, an edgy restlessness jitterbugs between us.

Sitting abreast at the counter, a separate wiggling column; like a worm cut into many parts still alive; we are a collection of wild animals, paused in voluntary captivity; curios for the entertainment of our public other; our traveling show road game, a diverse, exotic unusual ensemble of natives in spa-like enclosure; on display for private, yet public, exhibition.

My comrade on the dais today, had, once upon a time I surmise, drank a good deal and held it well. Though his large inflamed nose veined with blue filament and voice hoarse thick with authority; it holds a bit of an air of fatherly friendliness. Like many hard men in this local, spawns of mother’s Midwestern Gothic, sparse in showing love or giving compliments, he has seen hard times; yet seems to have potential for being a good man.

Beneath our nirvana facade desperate lonely surface thoughts are masked.  Mutual descended angst is pealed back and the naked animal burdens all men carry, closeted with their bones, have been caged. For this performance we are in the present tense; in the now; always right here, right now.

Veils of personal miseries, those small deep sorrows held subterranean, over and above routine annoyances, hangnail to holocaust, fall away. They are cast off for these moments. Our bed of spikes alchemically transforms to goose down. No enemy is present here. Though this venue offers protection; a man’s hidden identity still hangs on him like armor. We are defined by the scars carried; tending to share losses over victories since losers know more about life than winners; each of us mangled and marked by the things we do to cope.

Holding forth, each a turn at the pulpit; a chance on stage, we suck on our auras. The topics skip nonchalant; to drone porn, the rise of the machines, and how that war crime is meliorated by the enemy with his constipated mixture of blocked compassion and wish for power; to whether it’s a prime time war crime or simply overblown drone moan matters less than our talent for the momentary subterfuge of omniscience.

Our fame and power, made possible by GOOGLE in the way Sam Colt made all men equal, does not change us; it amplifies who we are. We cannot but feel that here is something which exists only in this Rockwell painting clubhouse fortress; it belongs in the daydream of cinema or a novel. We are purple caped princes resplendent at court; defined by the topics we choose and the positions we take.

The women serve our portions like concubines, caressing us evenly with a friendliness color shaded with sensuality superior to wives or lovers. This kabuki ritual surrounds our mystic carnal thoughts splayed in torment. They are gleaming soft tissue lottery tickets we all find comfort in within our fantasy worlds imagining home spun ecstasies await when the sun sets.

Robert, emperor of the espresso machine, mixer of potions, liquid remedy tonic healer; poster of literary nuggets from which I steal, leaves vapor trails burning ecstatic machinations on his monarch scaffold. He is our master of ceremonies, keeper of the thread, holder of remembrances, perfect host, traffic cop and game show impresario; our triage surgeon.

Like fireflies we assembled princes of the day spin-off through the exit bound for separate glory or misery or mediocrity; just another glorious day in the service of our personal muse. Every day here is a holiday; every meal a banquet. When we flee they will play our theme songs and carve our names into the bar. We cast off our capes and leave them by the door; our daydreams sending us off to bed forever more.


About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

8 Responses to Menagerie

  1. Paulie O says:

    I’ve been pondering where the perfect venue would be for these writings. I’m thinking like a tattoo mag, art mag,

    some subterranean pulp


  2. Thanks for the interest and ponders. You’re close with “art” pulp-lications. I write, not like Buk or Kerouac as some have suggested, but rather the literary equivalent of Jean Michel Basquiat, graffiti artist turned painter. Please submit away as you have my impermater as my literary agent.

  3. James Mcfarland says:

    Holy shit, the rating meter blew up! A genus rises from a galvanized new genre, unheralded for the nonce. A Renaissance Radical, a Guru Guerrilla was born this day. Wow!

    • Thank you fellow falcon. Your words cause my heart to soar like a hawk.

  4. Reblogged this on Nick Masesso, Jr..

  5. robert says:

    Nick…tramps like us….looser like me knowing more than the winners, thanks for that thought and the reminder that more is always happening than meets the eye….mind is faster than the machine.

  6. Robert – My routine travels no longer send me past your cloister, yet I often daydream early morning memories fond and profound; centered by your Café’s permanence both safe and familial; a touchstone oasis where I unwrapped many days cocooned in its joyous bosom. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Great resend. A modern medieval classic !

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