The world is really not such a great place, when you think about it, What with all the people clambering across the pile in pursuit of shiny objects and sweets, Lawyers and doctors and prostitutes of every conceivable description. They all have your best interest at heart, in a twisted sort of a way that tends to involve money. How much of the friendliness and fellow feeling you wring out of an average week transmutes itself, by Sunday, into a sales pitch? Half the time I answer the phone (and that’s not often) it’s some absurdly happy person trying to fleece me. The news is full of muggings and robberies and graft, I don’t get it, it’s like reporting on the sound of footsteps in the street. The burglar, the insurance man, the alarm company, even the police and their incessant balls—they’re all in it together. The CEO of the company I work for makes millions of dollars a year and smiles like a masturbating adolescent. I’ve met him twice. The first time, he came into the store to use the bathroom and made more money while he was in there than I’ll make in three months. The second time, he was harassing a waitress in a restaurant, she was too slow fetching his Budweiser. Company party, you understand, I work hard, had the privilege of sitting at his table, got to listen to him eat. And that’s a rich guy, imagine what it’s like with all those schmucks who’ve got good reason to be bastards. But I’m off on the wrong foot as usual, greed being only the scum on the surface of the human soul. Today some politicians signed a piece of paper declaring that nuclear weapons give them hearty, wholesome boners. Did I ever tell you about the time I gouged out my senator’s eyes with a grapefruit spoon? The world is really no damn good at all, when you think about it. And I think about it. But I go on anyway, isn’t that strange? I was whining like this—let’s see, last week—and someone cut me off, asking why, Why do you go on, you miserable little man? And it’s a good question. Walking home, a mid-October afternoon, I got tired of thinking, tired of muttering, tired of chewing on the dog meat of my spleen, And immediately came up with the perfect answer. Three reasons, you pugnacious lunk: The reckless swath of bright red leaves on just one side of a huge green tree; The tumbledown ruckus of shapes and shades of weathered wood, which is an old fence in a back alley; The single, short hop a crow makes right before it takes off from the ground.