Louie

Louie didn’t think him self a strange man.
He would grab his marker with a fist,
pound the back with a hammer,
like any other nail,
deeper and deeper
into the paper.

He didn’t think himself deranged.
At night he’d curl up under the rug.
Like a forgotten smell.
He liked the sand against his ear,
his thin hair stuck in the cracks of the hard wood.
He dreamed away warmly,
the floor breathing.

No one said much to Louie.
He used to wait in the break down lane
of the boulevard
closest to the local emergency room
where the ambulances went crying by
and stand
giggling,
with his arm extended,
his thumb up,
hitchhiking.

Louie was no crazy person.
He had women over all the time!
And he’d show them how good he was
at hanging his pictures inside out,
running as fast as he possibly could
into the canvas on his walls,
battle scream,
arms flailing,
precise.
The painted paper face replaced by his own,
a proud showman’s grin,
and a new frame hat
for a night on the town.

On Tuesdays you didn’t talk to Louie.
He was very serious.
He wasn’t “fuck-ing around”, he’d say.
He would suit up
with his tall black grenadier hat
zip up his gray wet suit
and tie a fifty foot string
of empty soda cans to the wagon
attached to the back of the lawn mower
that he drove
standing
into market square.
He looked like a giant microphone
wobbling down the street
swiveling around
being sure no one stepped on the chord
and destroyed grocery day.

Yes Louie, do you remember Louie?
He used to glue his palms together
and go see the preacher
like a praying mantis
and tell him he had a problem
that God couldn’t fix.
He’d beat his high score
in Tetris,
fill up a bottle of Gatorade
and dump it on his neck.
Whatever happened to that guy?
He was in shape man.
He used to run suicides up his roof
and use his gutters as balance beams.
He’d put his glasses on,
spray his whole face with Windex,
wipe it off singing, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone”.

I guess they found him last winter
at the top of a tree.
He had those orange road cones
over his head hands and feet,
and he had a piece of paper
taped to his chest that read,
“I am 5 flavors of ice cream:
taste, touch, sight, sound and smell.
I’m going where I can never melt”.

You know he kinda looked like a giant star though,
up there at the top of that pine.
We never talked to him once
but these streets have been awfully quiet
without him dancing between the yellow lines.