You are driving and trying to find a place to stop. You consider something called The Sea Power Museum, but when you pull in to the gravel driveway, it is empty, and there is a house with a shirtless man on a porch. There are three hound dogs on the porch, too, and as one they raise their heads to look at you. The cheeks on one of the dogs flap. You are listening to the radio, not feeling too good myself, but interpret this cheek-flapping as a bark. It happens again, this cheek-flapping, but they are the cheeks of a second dog. And then it happens to the third. The dogs do not get up, and their tails don’t wag. They just look at your car, and flap their cheeks at you.
The shirtless man is in a rocking chair, rocking toward you and away from you. His dogs flap their cheeks, and he rocks, and the whole thing is far too Deliverance, like your life has ended in reality, and gone off to a tangential world of movie clichés.
This is sometimes how you view life: you are, day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, second after second, given choices to make, and you make them, and off you go. And also, you don’t make choices, but those possible paths move off on their own ways, anyway.
In some of those possibilities, life becomes a movie, or it turns out it’s all a book that lives with its own rules, its own relationship to, say, Newtonian physics. It’s a cartoon and you might get hit on the head by a falling anvil.
You look at the shirtless man and think you have jumped from the normal life to the life that is made up of movie clichés, and so you put the car in reverse, and you back slowly away from the man and his flapping-cheeked dogs.
You get back on the road and wonder why Wyoming has a sea power museum. You drive until you hit Interstate 25, and decide you are no longer happy driving west, and will now drive south.
You drive south.
This is a selection from A Jello Horse by Matthew Simmons, which was published in May 2009. Matthew Simmons is also the author of The Moon Tonight Feels My Revenge, recently published by Keyhole Press.
November 2010 marks four years of PGP, and Everyday Genius is marking the occasion all month by publishing work from its archives as well as IsReads, Chapbook Genius and excerpts from some of PGP's books.