Jesse Millner: The Bus Driver's Book of the Dead

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  MEMOIR by Jesse Millner
Polish Wedding  
Devolution  Aliens Among Us  Eddie Jones  Dave   Tom MarionStarved Rock State Park  The Alcoholic Point of View   My Lost Season  Listening for God  I Remember a Pet Peeve  Hair Salon Panic Attack!  
Please Don't Bury Me in that Cold, Cold Ground


During the Paleolithic, hunters and gatherers believed that in dreams the soul left the body and wandered far and wide, a precursor of death. So, those stone-agers never woke a sleeper for fear of disturbing the body before the soul had returned. It all makes sense to me: I wander whole landscapes in my sleep, confront the occasional bear, but more often the ex-wife, the dead grandfather, or my own spirit lingering over that tavern in Chicago where a whole decade of my life was spent sleeping at the bar, if indeed profound drunkenness is a kind of Paleolithic stupor, a stone-age stupidity where the mind has de-evolved and lost the use of rational thought, and even the muscles in the larynx and mouth, even the limber tongue, have been clumsily reduced, so that my human mouth resembles more some ancient fish, dumbly opening, then closing and making no sound as it navigates the watery depths.

Yes, I was drunk as a non-verbal fish, lost in that dream so numb, the world shimmered a little, as though the planet was rocking on its axis, as though the moon had shifted closer and its tidal pull acted in concert with the booze rendering me as mute as the man on the moon, drifting forever through black space, occasionally distracted by a leaping cow, my only sustenance cheese and more cheese, my arteries long-constricted by milk and fat, my heart diseased and warbling like a fat, sick bird who sings one last sorrowful tune.

dividing line

All of us evolving, devolving, living, dying. Once upon a time I was a little Baptist boy living on the Southside of Virginia. Later I was a fallen Baptist dying on the Northside of Chicago. During my Paleolithic I wandered to Crown Liquors on Southport and bought duck decanters full of Jim Beam. During my own personal Paleolithic, I drank until my apartment on Addison Street became its own cave filled with a liquid dark. The walls crawled with strange animals and I cried out for my own big-hipped virgin who might ease my misery. During my own Paleolithic, I stumbled from tavern to tavern beneath the strange, dead stars, hunting for sustenance.


© 2010, Jesse Millner

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