Count It Up II (For Rodolfo Antonio Martinez), by Rudy Martinez
Today, my father is to undergo some procedure I don’t fully understand. A procedure that’ll hopefully rid him of pancreatic cancer. He and I don’t talk much but I bought him a nice watch in Chinatown last week. I think he dug it. Well, my mother made him call me to say that he dug it—then he asked when I was going to law school. I lied and said it would take another 10 years to become a lawyer; that’s the nature of our relationship: Brief somewhat awkward conversations littered with harmless white lies. Anyway, I told my mother, who complains that, even as he nears 70, my father maintains a sour disposition, he doesn’t owe anyone anything. He gave my three sisters and I all the material tools one needs to survive in this country. And while, sure, I suppose emotional support is important, I’d lack my edge if I wasn’t always trying to prove his skeptical ass wrong. Here’s to the next time he gets home from work late and catches a fourth quarter of NBA basketball with me.
One, my mother calls me while I’m on Times Square, smoking, though I’ve ‘quit,’ two, father is sick, three, yes, that sick, four, a similar kind of sick to the one that robbed us of my brother, five, why didn’t I feel anything?, six, between 8th and 9th avenue, smoking, thought I’ve quit, I seek the bar with my namesake, seven, free hot dogs, one, first baseball game, two, free t-shirt, three, I can dig on Queens, four, she’s running towards you, five, a turn at the last second, six, no one will ever care for you like that again, seven, an insurmountable weight, one, off Fulton, two, MY MAIN MAN BOBBITO, three, I want my knee to work, four, to run, run from her, from him, from me, five, a bad son, six, I think to myself: “Am I going to miss Knick games because of this, seven, hold up, your father has cancer and you’re worried about the Knicks?,” one, yo, you trippin’, b, two, alienating labor, three, hateful thoughts concerning the young and the wealthy, four, “Have a wonderful day! I’ll see you soon!” (you’re soft), five, the Bed-Stuy Basketball League, six, two three-point plays in a minute, seven, keep the change, one, Union Square, next Friday, two, adjectives, I NEED ADJECTIVES, three, that’s an odd scale for this type of cancer, four, personal takedown, five, artboy archetype, six, Tarkovsky, seven, Klimov, one, I can’t stop buying books, two, if they reject me I want to leave, three, my father now makes for a good excuse to leave, four, I can be the “man of the house,” five, I want to take my mother and sister to mass, six, I’m 14 again, seven, my father is in Europe and I assume the role of the “man of the house,” one, long sleeves and slacks, two, communion bread and stoicism, three, the neighborhood mothers are impressed, four, 26 and two months in NYC, five, whether its your father, a rejection, or the knee, you aren’t going anywhere, kid, six, a projector, seven, a screening, one, save Jarmusch for the winter, two, keep Lynch in the summer, three, no, not that Lynch, this one, four, you’ll never have sex again, five, Ellison’s Invisible Man reminds me of Macon, six, RUN, MACON, RUN, seven, I was Macon once, remember?, one Marlowe wanted to be in a magazine, two, Kairos—or lack thereof, three, I want to see the Sinister Six again, four, but what’s there to do as a writer in Orlando?, five, enough with the Escapism (PLAN), six, Witness the Fitness, seven, “4:44,” one, I want to run, damnit, two, I will be the best in the city, three, leftism<wealth for your family, four, you can’t kill the Socialist, five, big guy, six, Radio Free Swahili, seven, it’s centered around this seeming betrayal and, within that, he just lightly tosses philosophical theses at you as if they were grenades, one, yeah, that’s what I meant, two, colonize your girl, three, “over-civilization” is the greatest word in the English tongue, four, thanks, Ralph, five, Sartre’s Waiter never looked this fly, six, oh my, seven, $89.07, one, fuck your Greenpoint-based orthopedist, two, three films have left me speechless, four, the footage should be of me running, five, “Why?,” because, six, they don’t understand, seven,
“How I feel about the funk,
I walk with the funk, I talk with the funk,
I eat with the funk, I sleep with the funk,
I live for the funk, I’ll die for the funk.”
Motherfucker, get it together! Ain’t nobody dying and you should be back out and running sometime next month. Come on, fool, I thought you was the street-savvy one, no? These mood swings have got to stop, yo. You said it yourself, just several months ago, about how you wanted to be ‘tested,’ and how you felt that you should have one of those SURVIVAL jobs. Well, here you go. Downtown Brooklyn, high-volume restaurant, working half the amount of hours Orwell used to pull while cashing in more than he ever did. Maybe it’s the heat, it’s gotta be the heat. OR, and this one cracks me up, you haven’t really gotten over San Marcos yet. The essential element of the comedy in this observation is that you were one of San Marcos’ biggest critics yet, and dig this, one of its biggest personalities. But, I feel you. There was never a Jeffers album, no one knows about the future of Marlowe, and you miss the low-key racist remarks from Grubbs while you stood behind the counter at Tantra.
Here’s to you, pops. The numba one Chief Rocka. El Rey de Baranquilla.