Dirt, dirt, and dirt. O, but I could have gone with fire! Should have, I believe, probably. It was a choice available to me, once. To you, too.
With fire, you see, there would be no voices, nothing at all, whereas now, with the dirt, there is nothing but. Babbling, babbling, and babbling, without end. One does not think of these things, though, not when it matters, ahead of time, when the choice is made. Only later does one think of these things and later is too too late.
If only I could raise my little hands to my ears, I think, were that still possible, what a dream, I would shut out the voices forever.
Off on my right (what I take to be my right, somehow) a voice makes itself known. Speaks to someone perhaps much farther away than I am, to it, and much too loudly, for me. It is one of the voices I know, or knew, from before and from what came before. It is an East Texas voice that calls itself Pirkle .
Pirkle says, “I shit you not.” He says, “I mowed the hell out that grass. No one did it better than I did. For forty years. At Meyer Park. On a riding platform mower.
“On Monday morning, I’d start in with the mowing. Start at the northernmost point. At Meyer Park. On my riding platform mower. Down to the tree with the lightning marks. No stripes and not a blade of grass left unmowed. On Tuesday, I’d start at the tree with the lightning marks. I’d mow, moving south and east. I’d stop at the pavilion so that, by Friday, in the afternoon, I’d reached the southernmost point of the park. Down by the creek.”
“On the next Monday morning,” Pirkle says, “I’d start in with the mowing. From the southernmost point, down by the creek, and head northwest. No stripes and not a blade of grass left unmowed. To the entrance of the nature trail. On Tuesday, I’d start at the nature trail. I’d mow to the soccer field, by the street, so that, by Friday, in the afternoon, I’d reached the northernmost point. Where I’d started the previous Monday.”
Pirkle says, “Then it would be time to mow again. At the northernmost point. At Meyer Park. Round and around. Week after week, year after year. For forty years. It’s just what I did. You can’t think too much about it, these things.”
“There’s more to life than mowing!” a second voice, somewhat further afield, says. I’ve been hoping for some silence, after Pirkle, but no. The second voice, which calls itself Nura , I believe, is coughing up dust and taking its turn.
Nura says, “There was a time when I lived for my daughter.” She says, “I was a mother. But there had to be more to life, so I got into realty. There was a time when I lived for realty. But realty wasn’t right so I lived for politics. Then religion. There was a time when I lived one hundred percent for farming. But farming wasn’t right, and by then, it was too late. I never found it. O, I could have found it! I don’t know who to blame.”
With Nura done, I am possessed of high hopes at last that perhaps, for a moment, at least, I might finally –
“You were doing the wrong politics!” a third voice, uninvited and unwelcome, from somewhere off to my left (what I take to be my left), says. And what a voice! Charismatic and inspiring. It must be the voice of one freshly interred.
“I was David Cobb ,” the third voice says. “I was going to start the revolution. I was never bored. There was never time to be bored. Each year, I’d set off upon a new campaign. I’d work day and night on the year’s campaign.”
Cobb says, “I lost every one. I failed without fail. But sometimes, after I’d failed, I’d look at a calendar, and the calendar I’d look at would read November. November! And no matter how I tried, my brain could not come up with a thing since March, I’d been so busy. In this way, all my life went by, almost painlessly, while I was busy with other things. While I was –”
The monologue, which up until now has been gaining steam, ends with a kind of gargle. If I knew of such things, which I do not, I would guess the gargle to be the sound of the speaker’s jaw dropping off. I’ll never know.
Perhaps he was not so freshly interred as I had imagined.
Despite my better judgment – despite my yearning for silence – they’ve got me thinking, Pirkle and Nura and Cobb. How long has it been since I blogged? Impossible now, but I really would like some comments. I say, “I  did not mow and I did not marry. I did not watch football on the television. I did not go to celebratory parades.”
I say, “I sat in my room and I thought about the time I was wasting. I read books in which people wrote about the pointlessness of it all. I listened to music where singers sang about the pointlessness of it all. I wrote blog posts discussing the pointlessness of it all. I was bored but unafraid. I was —”
“Busybodies!” a voice that sounds like metacarpals across a pine box because it is the sound of metacarpals across a pine box says. It says, “Busybodies and wimps, all of ya!”
If ever a voice were raspy, it is this voice, which seems to carry into my box from all about, and from which worms and other slithering things try to make their escape. This voice is the voice of my grandfather, I know it, Charlie Hamid , and time has not changed its tenor in the least. Even the cough is the same.
Grandpa Charlie says, “It was 1937 when I walked into my backyard, a cigarette in one hand, a bottle of whisky in the other, sat down in a lawn chair, and waited for death to find me. I didn’t write about it, I didn’t cry about it, and I sure as hell never sang about it. There was no reason for singing and nothing to sing about. I just looked into the night and got drunk and waited. And when death finally did find me, still in that lawn chair, fifty years later, in December 1986, I looked up and I said, ‘Took you long enough, you bastard! Where in the blazes have you been?’”
I say, “That’s hardcore, man.”
And Cobb says, “A-a-a-ack.”
And Nura says, “But there’s got to be something…”
And Pirkle says, “I hope they routinely mow the grass that’s above us…”
And this is when, there being nothing left to be said, we are all silent, finally. For now, at least, there is silence, at least down here there is. From somewhere up over us, though, we hear the muffled sounds of whistling and laughing and the clinking of glasses.
You sure keep busy, up there, above the dirt.
 a former co-worker, John Gomer Pirkle, Jr.
 my Aunt Nura McIntosh
 former Harris County Green Party Chair David Cobb
 Harry Hamid, Jr.
 Charlie O. Hamid (1919-1986)