Thursday, December 20, 2012

Epistle. To: Berlin Film Actress

   If I possessed two coins of happiness, and if those coins were true, and were valuable enough to never have a market for them, then I would take one of those coins and pay you to look back at me. And with the other I'd bribe you. To simply take a moment and and just tell me something. That after all the eternal validation we have for one another, how we've expressed that year after fucked up year like we were just throwing it away in the telling of it, how we posted our lives to be viewed in the news and weather so to speak, what does it come down to? I suppose my question is do you think enlisting in hope is a losing cause? How endless does this seem?
   For me I'm sitting in a room where the first green light of the morning rushes through the trees outside and flows down along the windows till it reaches the floorboards like a paint and showcases the strange and difficult fruits for the day to come. Who wants to stop? Even if it was built within us from the go who wants to roll over?
  Here's what I think and what I think is founded on what I see. There's a opossum walking across the yard. Late night out looking for food I guess. That and whatever opossum kicks are out there to be found in the night! Before it crawls underneath the shed - because that's where it lives and because that's where I've seen it go in days before - walking silently mindlessly absently across the yard toward a little ditch in the ground that it's made - I swear the opossum looks around and checks out the world around it and then does a small animal double take like some private detective - and then slides under the building in a simple fluid motion - the air of poetry - and finds rest in whatever frightened way that it knows how.
   Ah. The nurse is up and stirring and humming a tune that she often does when she wakes up. It's not really a song nor a melody but sounds more like a southerly wind that comes up and shakes the plants.
   There are certain blanks I need to fill in. I often feel like waiting for the opossum to show up and scaring it. Here's the day! But then, wouldn't it just roll over and play dead and hope I went away? Because that's what it does to get along and that's what it knows how to do?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Epistle. To: Wolstonecraft

   Something funny's going on. Woke up with headphones still around my ears. The surf crashing off the dune from my campsite in the woods. It's illegal to sleep here but nobody's caught me yet. I'll probably die from tick bites and poison ivy before that happens and I spend a night in jail. I guess I plead guilty to successful vagabonding! But it's such a place to sleep out in the open. Pine trees and oak trees bent and twisted like old ink drawings. Some low crawling bush that I can't identify on my phone. Aren't phones like god? Don't phones know everything? Whatever lives here gets its due from the weather. Atlantic winds. Piercing salt. A coast shifting whenever the winds howl. Hey so far it's been great!
  But did have a nightmare.
  No matter what happened - all night long - a face kept appearing across the clouds in my head. Like having a threat for a name almost.
   Glad I woke up.
   But. Remember the monsters we used to draw in school? Remember the time we snuck back into school and drew monsters across the blackboard and never got caught but everyone knew that it was us?
   I've always felt that I would turn into a monster. And what do you do with that? Like some character made from spare parts?
   Must be the drugs. How to think about the peculiars. The confusion of samsara as belonging on a grid with drugged birds and drugged trees. Or drug induced nonchalance when faced with the sweep of life. Were you scratching your chin while sleeping or not? Maybe it's the way a page doesn't focus. What do we do with this gift of electronics? Or not. Clouds rolling over. Maybe it's just hanging out doors all day. Maybe it gets odd and you think all nature loves me. The air keeps dropping. The air keeps rising. Wait for thunder. Wait for a single hand. Children in bright orange jerseys run along the beach. Do you want to go for a bike ride? Watch out for the thunder that hasn't happened yet. Must be the drugs when something tells you to believe in everything you see. Refreshing snap off a crisp apple. The old in/out. Union of opposites. Keep searching. Get to Friday and turn in another phony script. Look helpless so strangers turn into big hearted neighbors. Too bad about the weather. A slice of pie left. If someone else were around we could have a party. There's a party in my head. All kinds of bands. Monologue winters  in the coming sky of the eyes. Reflections from central casting. Great amounts of waiting. Waiting about on drugs. Maybe it's the drugs but it feels ridiculous to doubt. Cooler air. Clouds moving the heavens like romantic balloonamania. Lighter than air. Crows seagulls the usual suspects. Huge military planes like infected enthusiasms. Need a shower. Radically. What have we done? Can we turn this back. Take a pill and you just have to wait and see. When did focus shift to the long trailing shot? Can't stay still any longer. Need another sleep. Deep tranquil movie from the day bed of the woods. Messages from other humans moving about on the phone. Yea. Bring food. Information. How we're doing. You gotta see the dancing troupes.
  Anyway yesterday bay side I ran into this guy. He stood in the water like he owned the place and was catching blue fish on a fly rod like he knew how a fish thought and he was just an extension, like how the ocean worked. And as he hauled them in -  hand over fist - yea I'll be among those using shop worn cliches in an attempt to describe things - but hey when imagination fails! -  but that's what he was doing! - he shouted out to anyone passing -  take a fish! who wants dinner! It was almost like watching a murder.
   Afterwards - after I took my fish to cook up later - I said hey that's kind of amazing.
   No he said they're just after the little shits that run in on the tide and then they throw themselves up crazy.
   Yea I said but you still have to catch them.
   Any fool he said can fish in a frenzy.
   Been here long I asked?
   Over two hundred years was his reply.
   You look pretty young for that I said. You know I thought trying to be friendly and not make it sound like age was a category. Or even something to fucking endure while you got on with life. But over two hundred years? Was this guy a vampire?
   He shook his head at me and laughed. A little three step cough of a laugh that was barely recordable and that seemed to suggest there were bigger things in the world to laugh at than at me. He rigged up his line and secured it in the fishing eyes of his pole. My family he said. We've been here for over two hundred years. Settled this place actually.
   Holy fuck I said. First thought was to search it on my phone but then thought whoa this was instinct instead. Roll with it and check it later with verifiable means. I think I got it. Mayflower and all that I asked?
   Don't let the heritage fool you he said.
   Right I thought. If you can't fish then fuck them all because you're fucking dead if you can't. But you know I said there was this one time I was reading something and got it all wrong. It was a book on Greek philosophy and there was this chapter about a goddess who offers the narrator two paths. I read it wrong. I thought the narrator was offered two baths by the goddess. And you know who would't want a couple of baths with a goddess? I mean I'd take one. One bath. One goddess. But two? You know what I mean?
   No he said. I don't.
   Maybe he was right. Maybe it's just another kind of ladder leading up to nowhere to care about except where you are and that's it. The washed up seaweed on the shoreline though twists me around how beautiful it gets left in place.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Epistle. To: Bernadette Wild Garden

   Had to continue this because I was distracted by that old one-armed surf caster guy and I said to him maybe I'll run into you some evening because I planned on hanging around for a while and you never know what happens. He thanked me for the coffee and pie and was off before he answered what I considered to be my fundamental question. What did he think? Does the ocean have consciousness?
   Ever hear the one about the slinky that fell in love with the escalator he asked?
   No I said I hadn't.
   Good he said and then left and walked off along the beach.
   If I wasn't such a fan of extreme comfort just lying around across the morning and letting my head fill up with the day I might have gone after him and pressed the issue. What's in it - what's in it to be some lonesome figure who wanders the beach? And so I'm trying to think this out - been here a few days now - talking to no one but an idea I have. An idea who's left me with like a blister on the mind in mid-air trying to figure it out. Armies of gnats start flying around my head. Somebody back up in the dunes in the parking lot guns a big truck engine. Clouds settle above the horizon line and underneath those clouds a fine gold light shines like something beautiful that would kill me if I might simply rise up into them and just let go. The light spreads across a solid green line of water and settles beneath a long timed and reliable star rising out of the sea to give us hope, with complications naturally, even if that hope fucks us all up with small talk about surfing and jobs. Further south there's a slowed down motion with pale greens and charcoal pinks losing eventually to an immense blue sky, burning into something crazy and solid that no matter how long you live you'll never live long enough to grasp what it is. What is it that wipes away the traces? Takes the shadows of the night away and leaves you alone?
  What prospects to enjoy.... what a place to enjoy it if I could let go...
  But that's not my style. If anything I'm a total hanger-on. Remember that place by the river we rented? How everything from out the window looked like an oil painting? Common enough to be on a museum wall and that meant a dazzling landscape saturated with chemicals and mood swings to the eye and filled with throws into your head and it was like let's first be fools arm in arm and then go along together struck from longing till we end. I might have died there. But we didn't. The woods where we walked together along that path... and remember that time when we were splattered by goose shit from above? Do you ever think about those woods? Like maybe you could reach back into them? Just by being there once and nothing else again ever need be involved?
   Maybe I'm headed in the wrong direction here but hey and maybe that - what makes me different on some level from all these waves crashing before me I can't exactly say. Some level, down in the storms that come up and crash after the beautiful sheen of days that went before - you and I failed. But truth be told to power we tried to haul in a fucked up rope that life dangled toward us. We tried to make a knot around a cloud of adolescence and take it away from there. Something secure because time is so fucked up but hey - what our hands were able to hold onto our spirits appeared ready to betray. How it goes and how I hate to say that because I have my hands threaded through that knot and then that cloud threaded through my hands...
   And here with the day rising on my head it is not enough to phone it in and it's not enough to write something down on a phone. Because it can't be captured as such as a word and hey that's too heady and deadpan a word to capture. So I sit here in a tiny space in the dunes ready to leave and have a swim. Tumbling beneath a laugh circled above by gulls pecking at the waves and diving for leftovers.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Epistle. To: Bernadette Wild Garden

   I remember sitting below the beach parking lot watching the sunrise come up like from way far away and eating smart food - the popcorn that's supposed to be good for you - and thinking I'm from far away also - variegated creamy clouds with the fire of gold light of desire underneath them -  and yea you would understand this because you and I have been there before - eating slices of cold pizza leftover from the midnight drive to the ocean - and tanked on coffee urns from when I left up north through a place called Sandwich which really seemed odd or fitting given that I was hungry and all that - when  I spied someone walking along the edge of the waves where they spilled onto the sand. It was a one arm surfcaster. I said to the guy hey how do you do that?
   He looked over at me - pulled the ear buds out - one at a time - put the rod down on the sand -  and said what?
   I said, how do you do that? And maybe I was ready for what he said next. Because it was a stupid question to ask a one arm surfcaster how he does it. I mean he's already got only one arm and a fishing rod. To my surprise he walked over and chowed down a slice of pie that I offered him. He said you get used to it.
   And I said what I mean is what's the technique?
He looked back and said well the possible responses could be: fuck you asshole. Or I did this with two arms long before I only had one. Consequently I think about phrases - like ocean pine - like wharf rat - like butt naked dune - but the amusement wears off.  When you think about it, and the only arrangement I have left is,  to go out and have the beach all to myself without worrying about what other people think.
   What do you catch I asked? And immediately after saying that I again felt stupid. But what the hell, feeling stupid's been a way of life that's suited me for decades and I'm still moving about it.
   I catch fish he answered.
   Well I knew that one was coming. So I said while we spin our wheels here on earth like we might figure out an existence you're out here looking into the ocean and trying to find dinner -
 Yea yea yea he interrupted -
  No no no look I said maybe think about yourself as being on a grid. Were you scratching your chin or were you falling asleep... know what I mean?
  Not really he said. Don't confuse me.
  Far above the clouds was the electric blue sky shinning off the first day's light and turning into a color that seemed best reserved for some ancient sensibility. I gave the surfcaster another slice and mentioned this to him.
  What ancients he asked?
  Whoever it was that came before us I said.
  Well that could mean the people yesterday he said.
  That's not what I meant I said.
  No shattering insights there he said. Do you have any more coffee?
  I did. I mean who doesn't have more coffee? I had a big gulp for the moment from some doughnut heaven store and a thermos to brace the rest of the morning and a backup thermos with the rest of the gear in the truck to combat the end of the world and the shifting sands of time so to speak. And I've always felt that staring into the ocean was like having the lens of these senses turned back toward you. That in particular was what I saw in the first blue sky. I said to the surfcaster this is more than a conceptual project. More than what we do and what we don't say much about. We assume there will be light to see by and then darkness to rest behind. Does the ocean have consciousness? What do you think?
  I think he said that usually I don't talk with people in the morning. Mostly I talk in the evenings. You got the day under your legs and that's better.

Monday, October 22, 2012

obsessions are maybe like songs

   Can't get over it when I see all these people in the morning walking to work and in a sense I envy them how each day they're off and about. Not only are they walking without a limp (!) but they seem to have a place to go and something to do. ( I'm hurt and unemployed with no job to return to). And I know it's just my impressions guiding me, even these people might feel lost, but they're all off and after something. At the circling back point where a day layers upon the day before, don't we wish, don't we won't, the little pieces of physical evidence we have to start grabbing onto a void of sorts and contribute to something done with? At least for me it's that way. I hark to the object.  And to make a sentence out of one's life - to take living as language and to lose the appeals of authority for that life -  like to forget that frothy dictate I am who am -  that leaves a subject to dissolve in the making and a verb in the action word sense to make the thing presentable to see. Manufacture suits me. Something rather than nothing I guess and yea I add to all the layers of material stuff that overwhelm us. But I find it unsettling to do nothing. Give me a tool, a baking pan, a paintbrush...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Epistle. To: Elisabeth Bardo

    Don't we all crave? Somehow to be loosened off the screws of disappointment and be left off to float? Float on a world we didn't make. Float on a world that might not exist if we did not make it up?
   Relax the nurse thought. It's just another bad night's sleep.
   Yea I said there's nothing like it. Something picks me apart and rolls me around like a piece of dough.
   Wasn't it you she said that said get rid of the anxieties in life and then what's left?
   Alright I'm not alone I admitted. But without a decent night's sleep what's left in the morning?
   Oh I know the nurse thought. Isolation. Dread. Weird fears. But listen. There is no condition working against you. This is just a bad night's sleep is all.
   But where's the super glue that's supposed to hold things together?  Where's that voice? The one that's like a backup plan. The one that tells you it's just the mind of your life twisting you around and so don't pay attention to it? I'm out of context.
   This is just another surgery she said. This is not out of control. This is what happens on a long list.
   Maybe we should leave I said. Go out for a drive in the truck and never come back.
   You need to be put back together the nurse thought. That's life in the really slow lane.
   I want to imagine heaven I said. But I'm nowhere close.
   Heaven is impossible the nurse said. The minute you say the word your head starts to fill up with junk. Even if you're nowhere close the place still exists far away and you can't get there.
   Why? Why is it impossible?
   Because she said. And if that's not reason enough then you just keeping thinking butch because that's what you're good at. You know what happens then? Then he and Sundance get blasted by the Bolivians. Great photo. Fade out. Cue the raindrops keep falling on my head music and then you leave the theater stepping on all the wasted popcorn that got spilled into the aisles.
   It just needs to be easier is all that's what I said.
   Here the nurse said. Take these pills. You're do. Find some happiness for the moment in chemicals.
   I guess she was right. But we only get to see what we see. Isn't that a kind of problem? I fell back on the couch and ate a slice of grilled eggplant like I was born to do this. Like I was some kind of by-product of my own ignorance and it just kept coming back to this. Don't get me wrong. The eggplant was fine. In fact we grew it outside the door.  Also there was salad from outside and flatbread the nurse made and as ever a plate of deer meat from the cousins up north near the border. And despite knowing where our food comes from, and how a meal was put together, do we know what we're talking about?
   The nurse thought - geez - just enjoy what you're doing and deal with things later.
   That's all fine I said. But the shit does get thicker.
   Tell me something else she said. Be the nobody you can be.
   Alright I said.
   And she was right. Falling back on a standard did seem like a cheap way to go, but who cared? Who was scoring? But I couldn't help feeling like all I wanted to do was to run away, run away and forget the whole mess, and in turn be so easily forgotten that no one's head would ever spin no matter what happened. Flatbread though is excellent. And fucking simple. Flatbread eggplant deer meat oh my. I felt like a champion taking on rewards. Late sunlight on a squirrel's profile on the willow tree. A few small birds like a gang outside the window on the roses. I saw a dragonfly this afternoon buzzing around the potted plants like one of those zen precepts we take to mind but find it hard to live against its influence. Flatbread though is excellent and so are the pills and who understands where anything goes? Yea. That's simplistic... I know that... it's like some ace to have and play or a hand to fold like a trick... and so tries to split a line of obsessions square through the middle... But I've been told to let go and forget the markings... which I can't... which is what I think I should do...  
   Alright I said. But there was nowhere to go. That's not so frightening as such, but as I wanted to speak there were these walls, they appeared in the distance of my eyeballs and seemed blown closer in around me the longer I stared at them. Alright I said and I saw the nurse looking back at me. I rode through the park the other day. But it couldn't have been the other day since I've been this way for months and haven't been on my bicycle since then.
   You're just a creature the nurse thought. And you're remembering. Don't let it get in the way.  
   Alright I said. Everyone in the park was stretched out. On the grass. On the rocks. On the beach. It was like everyone was lying conscious in the sun and hardly anyone moving. Like they were bombarded from the air by some massive lazy ray that put everything extra out of reach. All the sunlight... little humidity... there was a breeze drifting over the picnic tables and the lines of trees that make for a soothing natural edge at the water... and you go there to have no worries for a time... and that small breeze that seemed banked off the mountains across the lake from the west... there's something about being in the park... any park really... that's why parks are built... to let loose emotions... something we have that's at ease and that we have something inside and you know maybe stays buried during all those tortured and personal agendas that make up our day and slowly destroy us and keep us locked together because there's employment and love and jokes and places to go that don't add up... and then when you get out to the park you kinda feel a sensuality that might understand and give back to you why you're here to bail out on what your own head has already done... and that's like you said I said I think I said it might might stay hidden during the rest of the day and so I said to one of those kid micro-cops on loan for the summer from a criminal degree major patrolling the lanes for excessive fun and dog shit that wasn't picked up I said to him experience accumulates and it's like having an account here every time I come over...
  What did he say the nurse wondered.
   He just looked back at me with this extra credit smile that meant nothing.
   Maybe it's just another beautiful evening the nurse said. Or do you often think of yourself as to what you've failed?
   I get so frightened by time I answered. That the minute I think about something I have to be off and into it.
   Oh lucky man she thought. Thinking big about nothing.
   Often there's this intersection I said. Between stasis and why you consider it worthwhile to get up and leave a chair. Either way it's like stepping into an avalanche of your own thoughts... either way if I don't do it now worlds collide and the orbits go wrong...  
   I'll tell you a dream the nurse said.
   Alright I said. Still waiting. Still waiting for development to arrive...
   I had this dream where I was in places that I'd been before, in another dream. I was running back home and had a long way to go. There was a store where I stopped to talk with someone in a town, on a main street with lots of cars going by. Then there was a narrow farm road overgrown on both sides with weeds and trees and rusty fences. I had run up this road before in another dream. The licorice red ant colony was still there woven around an old fence post. I passed the same two kids on bicycles again. I was running well. I seemed able to do it with ease. Came to the big fast river with the empty power station nobody used any longer. Busted shale rocks all around. Kept running because I was going home, to something, or someone. There was this barn around the curve and I recognized the farmer and his wife. They waved back and smiled. Same cows. I ran through the barn, past a new door that's been built, the old one was falling apart and was off its track. Was I in the same dream? No. Different dream. Same places. I went down a flight of steps and into a large wooden room. I was stopped cold in my footsteps. Stunned. I felt happiness.  My mouth wide open. I had been here before. In this room. In another dream. In the current dream I tried to remember when that was and who I was after at the time. And I grinned like a fool in the dream. Looking around the big wooden room. Having been here before I kept asking questions that could only be answered from that other dream. I knew I had to keep running. But it was so wonderful to stand there. To sense.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Epistle. To: Lady Kimono Clan

   The nurse was helping me clean out the basement when she looked over at me and asked, do you think it's important to defend your privacy?
   Depends I said, on how private.
   What if I were to tell you something she went on.
   Let me count the ways I said. And then so, let there forever be a ray of hope.
   I'm serious she said and squirreled her face at me.
   Okay I thought. And while we don't question the truthfulness of our thoughts back and forth, we were able to motor along and come to understandings of sorts without trying too hard. It was a kind of telepathy we've developed over the months and at times it was like being caught in a trawler's net.
   The night before I was to have this big church wedding she said, I was watching a baseball game on television, having several small whiskeys, and I just knew the next day my mouth would get me in trouble.
   You were married I asked?
   Only for a while she said. Now I've fallen out of trees. I jumped from roofs. Once I walked from El Paso to San Diego to get food at a take out joint.
   Why I thought.
   Because she said. But here's what I mean. The night before the wedding I was sitting with my cousins and we were all chain smoking these unfiltered cigarettes and worrying wether we should lock ourselves in the bathroom because we had these amphetamine problems and in my mind I kept hearing myself talking and saying what's wrong and I'll do my best and I don't wish to be vulgar but damned if the next day if I just didn't shut up and listen to something else and then I said I do.
   So it's regrets I asked?
   No. Not regrets she said. I meant everything. But suddenly it was hold on one minute. One minute I'm just this gal. On a farm. Loyal enough to cut teeth on the family. I thought for sure I'd make a house out of a granite mountain. And while I was at it, redesign electricity and make some money. But that night before the wedding we all went out across the border and I got a tattoo.
   You have a tattoo?
   Yea she said. On my left ass cheek.
   Whoa I thought... whatever those inked lines were... how they handled those sweet curves...
   Stop this the nurse thought.
   Okay I said back in the vernacular. What was the tattoo?
   She looked at me and laughed a little and said - no child, left behind.
   And I asked?
   Well she said, on the wedding night... as we peeled down to the biblical issues... the last thing I wanted was to take one for the team. At least not that far.  He saw the tattoo. He wanted a 7-Up. For months afterwards we celebrated a headache.
   And let me guess I asked, as a wedding present, your cousins gave you what, a vibrator? With ribs and all the latest attachments? Maybe it came with a small electronic fan...
  Where does all this stuff go the nurse thought?
   Oh. The basement. Over the past seven years the basement has become so filthy and cluttered and on its own like some mountain of shit unable to be moved and has sat there so much on its own that the things from the past don't even seem like finite obstacles anymore as much simple junk to be disowned and removed and then hauled to the dump.          
   So fuck the past you might say she thought.
   Yea the whole ensemble is just a great many trinkets from the yesterdays of importance. Moldy holdover smells from springtime's high water mark. Boxes of books photos letters - all belonging to other people - how did I come to be the repository? And maybe a decades worth of old christmas wrapping paper in tatters and degrees of unravelling. Ten thousand paper napkins the mice have made a universe in. Why all the chicken wire?
   On our honeymoon the plane lifted off from JFK and I was floored with excitement to be in the air and watch the skyline from the east coast begin to disappear. Going to London. See the sights. You need to start with quality. And of course there were contradictions. That's how I was feeling as we leveled off into the clouds. Never leave in a hurry. Never turn your elbows out. Maybe it was for the best to forget what I was doing. Or get out. It's only going to get worse. Save your rags. Always have a tin of canned meat. Write on scraps of paper because it saves trees. How do you live?
   This is how it works I said to interrupt things. Hold that thought. What we need to do is move a bunch of crap, and then clean out behind what we've just moved, and then move the crap back into place and then decide what to keep. Dried up paint cans. Spider webs stretched across the mouths of ancient tupperware. Bastard wood scraps that were too short to save one day but then too long to throw away on another day. And we're the ones where it seems like we end up being saintly to whatever reasons we thought about, but really it's a waste of time to have saved it in the first place and then to have to throw it away later on. A totally trashed bathroom rug and several cracked bicycle helmets - now that's worth saving!
   Decisions are tough animals the nurse said.
   And perplexing moral landscapes I said.
   Suddenly I was  in London. Having this street in Europe beneath my feet.  I wanted to carry it lightly as I walked about even though I felt like oh wow this is happening. But I had a duty to pay and I knew that. But what - I had a pain and wanted to shape that?
   I suppose it might be a sentimental thing I thought.
   I wonder wether it was divine she added.
   Maybe you were avoiding being alone.
   Maybe she thought all I had was an old bathing suit and some new green lipstick to put on.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

notre jardin

      An odd little rainstorm shows up from nowhere and these sudden clouds rack up overhead and as such derail my plans. Only rains for twenty minutes or so and then the sun comes back out. Only it's like being in the middle of something etc. and now that middle is gone and it's somewhere else to be found and so gets lost in space. What to do? Start something else? Settle for tomorrow?
   But I wish not to hurry off to nowhere, especially in particular, (!) and so just sit here on the back porch - the back porch mountain of solitude hanging out in a small town of influences - and take in the air as it happens.
    A truck out on Route 7 is using it's engine brakes against the neighborhood streets and it sounds like someone stuttering. A rapid vocabulary of sounds, brokenness and hesitation, the more you apply the sounds the more there is a hope maybe...
   Everybody lives faraway... and it's only a phone call... and it's not like they are required at the moment or anything... but they just live faraway...
   Try and concentrate on what you were doing -  but instead look up at those clouds with their frosty white peaks like mountain tops riding atop the packs of twisted and layered gray mass that spin into a kind of wool that seems classic and penumbral and stupid and gathers shadows from the wind and has a storm packaged within - and you think you're never too old to engage in doubt, never too far removed to have a portal onto a problem...
   Get soaked in the process...
   Ah the first aster has bloomed...
   Today without fail I still can't ever imagine heaven...
   Hell is for suckers mom used to say...
   Everyday there's a need for something like a tissue in nature that runs way below deep and so rips out your heart and then hands it back over to you to begin again...
   And tomatoes keep rising from the garden like the fruits of paradise turned over and made into salsa and canned later for soups when the dregs of winter hit ...
   Last evening at the ice cream stand... the tourists took so long to either make up their minds or get their money out and get out of the way that the sun went down as though no one might notice the full difference between an ordinary breath and a small silent bravo. Fathers called out for gleeful mindless children climbing across tables and jabbing one another with cones. Mothers lost in phone calls called out to fathers to harness the children as dollars worth of chocolate went down to the fate of gravity. A silly thing really but utterly worth it. To have one's own chocolate and watch the sights off a summer evening... sitting on the stairs that lead down closer to sea level... as though practically invisible... gleeful mindless people walked over me to get closer to the lake like American meatball heros appropriated from a source of endless life like vacation idleness and the un-lived terror of their failings and split into a simple human mask that grinned and spilled cold soda on my shoulders in the process...  Gold blue light settled on the water. The ferry boat pulled into the harbor like some character from a picture book. A brilliant blue sky flared out into the sweet blanket of night and exposed those first few stars that grid the light in space like fireflies. Seagulls in teams went mad over a discarded sundae that lay on the grass all wasted rose and lemon and stripped mined sugar from those pleasant creeme machines.
   Get rid of the anxieties in life and what's left? Leisure? The screws of disappointment?
   It's that time of year when the garden goes unruly and you feel a little scared about it and the plants flop in whatever direction they take. Grasses take over like wands casting myths. After a long season you need to let go - but wasn't I the manager of this dirt just like three months ago and so was cheering on the natural order of things?  So you take a look one day. And the whole organism is on its own without you. There doesn't appear to be an I within this equation that you do anything about.
   Some years I take the time... I tidy it up.... stake the tall late flowers like the asters and wage a kind of mesmerizing air against the weeds that want so much against my own desires...
   This year I guess I'm inclined to let it all go and watch. It's all quite beautiful. And I really don't know why.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

soft vanilla

      Aint it like mad crazy, an eternal kind of set up, a kind of mad crazy happiness to boot... oh it's mid-August ... and crazy with it. Like the way the air of life possesses smells that bend you... tomatoes on a platter with cheese and oil and basil... corn in a pan steamed for six minutes and then spread with butter until the mouth understands what the brain keeps talking about...  the low feel of lake water on your skin after you dry off from floating at the park and forgetting about what made the day heavy... didn't all this happen just last year?
   It's mid-August and suddenly there's need to have that knocks you about like a few steps after a few cold beers and suddenly you need to fall in love.  
   Plenty of sunlight and no humidity to speak of. Beautiful afternoon even if the forecast said iffy weather. Walked over to Park Street to a reading because it was way too attractive a day to drive in the truck. Some poems. Some food. Lots of chatter. Flowers in the ground and also perfumed out of glass jars and books to inspect and a large bowl of popcorn for everyone's hands. An airplane did barrel-rolls overhead like a noisy ridiculous insect. Motorcycles roared on the street like some big balled confusion. Lawnmowers from across neighbor's fences  crashing through personal backyards. All folded into the din of a lively Sunday afternoon. Some poems. Some food. Some beer.
   Walked back home and on the way bought an ice cream cone and watched the sunset on the lake drop down behind the old rise of the Adirondack range to the familiar west. One could do worse and I guess it's hard to go wrong walking along and watching colors in the sky and eating ice cream in the evening heat. Like all the years we spend bring us new innards. What crashed into what over those years - fingerprints on the eyelids from what we know -  easy to settle upon the paper mask mystifications we invent for ourselves as a personality that sees death as anything at all but a clarity - as the years strip us down to a thin gauze from a horror movie you're afraid to peel off -  and I thought never post handsome photos on facebook...!
   Meanwhile back at the ice cream stand!  The mandatory turbulence of two kids holding onto one another, of adolescent introspection at a take out window, each wanting something they say, but maybe different for each other they say, the way they hold hands together while deciding what to order, what do you want their whole body seems to say like a question singing out for an answer, holding hands, looking at each other, confused, so solid, settling for sprinkles, one on a cone and the other on a dish...
   Got home. Has to be the best.
                                    things to do in August after cold beer

a closed spherical spacetime of zero radius
small round stones in pools of willow shade
mark shelly quotes
tomatoes in hand
why be astonished at all
treat every light as a yield    
watch an inning of baseball on television
don't even think about igloos
imagine there's a marilyn monroe apt for your phone
entertain bit player thoughts
keep in mind the word vesper and what pertains to the evening
have drunk dial questions at the ready in case someone answers
why does the world exist
should there be synchronized floating as an olympic sport
what's the unintended side effects if our memories are no larger than google

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Epistle. To: Berlin Film Actress

  I wonder how much that we have to play with in this life is spent rushing for sensations? Why is it, do you think, that we're not satisfied? Why is it, the grass always rises up greener somewhere else? Yea. I think I understand the expression you're wearing at the moment, and so, go on and have a laugh on me.  There's a quality to have. And I know how you often feel remarkable about it - you read a script and you slip into roles and afterwards you  call a taxi or hop a bus and that's the end of it.
  Anyway, I was standing on the back porch watching a storm develop from the west. Heavy thunder and crazy lightning and tree bending winds flying like the end of the world across the rooftops. The display threw me perfectly, like I was suddenly on a kind of holiday. I wanted  to be as near inside it as possible. But I'm not in the movies. Maybe I've always wanted to be. And maybe thinking that way has  always been a step away from all that heart thumping stuff that I want. So. Somehow real life figures to be a disappointment?
  The rain crashed into the sides of buildings in waves enough to feel like a tide. The wind tore up the plants like some angry blind hand throwing them aside against the fucked up rain. Sirens began calling out upon a static thick air, one that tasted like bad electricity filled with the metals from old explosions. A real ancient storm brewing above a desirable south end real estate locale where the mortgage company just handed me a decent rate last month. And I thought of you. Other than the appeal and the safety of illusions, what more do I have? A fierce wind rattles my bones?
   Maybe the appeal is simply passive, like a hand job in a porn film. You can always say, oh yea I saw that. Whatever happens in our heads and all that later on down the line...
   Large dark clouds piled up like so much material up above it seemed that the sky could not hold onto them and so became the chaos of weather... and if you can't trust the sky then shouldn't you be afraid enough to run away?... and then let loose in lightning streaks that scared the clouds like a knife fight across a face... all the difference in pressure and air temperatures and the combustion between hot and cold the way thunder slaps you ears down on earth and instinctively you shrink away... but  where's the move? The sky roiling above the ground like a sea driven from nowhere and about to dump a swamp upon your head.    
  Don't get lost might really be the application.
  Don't get lost enough to explode the little phone in your hands.
  Don't get lost - as the wind - my face - my thoughts of you - fly against one another.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Epistle: To Grace Nelson

       The seven o'clock bells ring out on an otherwise quiet Saturday morning. Small breezes shake last night's rainwater off the still trees. The lilies in the garden have gone away and it feels grand to look out from the back porch idyll and miss them for all they had and what they gave. More space for the brown eyes then as they cycle through the blurred hot days of summertime. Local is beautiful. That's what you hear anyway. That's what people keep saying. In markets. On phones. Any old web page has tips on how to stay right where you are.
   And that's cool. But it's like we want to belong so badly we forget what's opposite. How can you be sure? If no opposite is there to look into and find a reference? All the information on people's phones makes it appear like we could never be lonely even if we tried. Hey. Even my fingertip has started to heal and grow back.
   Who on earth wants a limit? Hasn't it been a hallmark that for over two centuries of American optimism the gig was to fake it until you make it? Local is beautiful. Perhaps that's a wish. What we know stays locked onto an endless dark unfolding beyond our influence. And maybe that wish is to possess something we know little about, something broader than ourselves, something we want and have to grasp at and that translates across borders and language to find us all rooted nowhere but in the present. Namely my guess is we need to live in order to fear nothing. And then we need to live again to tell someone else about it.
   But at this point I still feel like a ghost. Eerily distant, as though out of focus and lacking a good skin on my bones. You push against a world with all you have, but that world does not move for all the trying. Remember: young. Remember: luxury. Remember: sadness as an option. Years ago we had a talent for placing those emotions. Weren't we as bright then as the sun in the sky? Remember: young. Not sore muscle sets. Nor tired sets of thinking. Who's around to listen so you're crazy with it?
   The nurse said I brought you the last of last year's pickles my aunt put up last year. And this years onions.
   What about the recipe I asked?
   Can't have that she said. Family owned.  
   But what about sensation I wanted to know? How can I duplicate that? When I taste these pickles... when I look at them in a jar... when I hold one up against the window in the afternoon and wonder how they were made...
   Just have a pickle the nurse said. My aunt will never show you the recipe. She'll only give you the pickles.
  But what happens when she's not around, you know, to give the pickles away. What happens?
  Let's have hot dogs and cold beers tonight the nurse said.
  Ah. The very idea of joy I said. Who can have only one hot dog off the grill or only have one cold beer to kick at the starch in your head?
 She looked at me and grinned. Her face was like a hummingbird hovering for an instant and then finding nothing to match its appetite the wings flashed and were gone.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The two kite surfers the other evening - skimming on the ocean like a pair of mechanical toys chased through the waves - where were they were riding on - the water or the wind?

   Wide hot sunlight let lose and catching a stifling 90 degree mark. Bikini season in full bloom. High school graduates just off the block and what seem to be a kind of dance on the the crazy whims of happiness were hauling coolers and plastic footballs along the shore and yelling out each other's names as though if they did not make this effort then they might forget who they were. Coppertone smells on a small air moving inland... makes me think backwards... back to hanging out on beaches in Jersey when I was a kid... where mom was somewhere near an old blacktop access road to the beach and chain reading mystery novels and buried into a wide brim hat and sunglasses so as to be so little noticed like a blade of grass you might pass in the dunes... Tim was out in the surf fishing for blues and I remember him casting and reeling and casting and reeling... and just where  in this sweet world am I?
   And so am left standing, knee deep in the calm surf at Watch Hill. Staring across the water at the lighthouse. I guess there's a tonic here for the nerves. Falling beneath the sway of the summer air around your shoulders and the cooling brace of the ocean around your legs. You know for sure that if you blink in the looking nothing ever gets resolved.
   I keep looking out at the sea, past the lighthouse, and thinking there goes my family. Everything I've ever known as family - the blood links - the biology like connective tissues on earth - the names given to us at birth that keep us separate from the other groups we encounter - was now over. But not gone. Right? Because now that family was a part of the ocean. Can't go wrong there. Right? It's like a cosmic homecoming. But still gone right?
   Sadness makes me feel stupid. And I don't even know if that's just a guess.
   There is  a picture in my head... one that I hope I will never forget. What we have we need. And what we need we have all the way through and that way through us all and how that becomes a circle that we look to complete... first we dumped Tim's ashes overboard... then we did the rest of mom... they sank just out of reach... beneath the easy roll of the  parchment green water... the Rhode Island Atlantic they both loved... and stayed visible... swirling about... as though hovering in a place before taking off for somewhere else... like a powder from magic tricks.. like two ghosts kicking around a house... magnetic as we watched.. spreading out into the waves which meant they were lessening from what I knew about them ... but still recognizable from what I've known of them...
   Emma tossed flowers overboard. Yellow for Tim. White for mom. Al circled the boat to keep the lighthouse in view. Pete said goodbye my friend.
   The yellow flowers stayed over Tim. The white flowers stayed over mom. And it remained that way for several minutes. Ash pools rising and falling in the swells. Flowers marking the rise and fall and not leaving those pools. Like nothing was separate... like everything was separate... we stared in near narcotic silence... having a conversation without words... maybe afraid that this was so final and nothing more could be done... maybe we'd seen something... the other worldly tour guide who came around for the dead... and following those several minutes the ashes then began mingling in the waves... Tim and mom... turning into part of the Atlantic...
   I see those milky translucent clouds turning below the surface of the water... just released out of a cardboard box and a plastic bag from the funeral home... and perhaps were now living again in a strange way... like they swimming for the first time... finding peripherals... turning over to a different world... the ashes  becoming water... the flowers like our hands waving on top... like the flowers belonged to our world on land... and now the ashes were in the water and belonged to the water and were on their way... opened onto a great system... tidal and deep... something we only fetch at until it reaches us and we die... and back on the boat we try and fathom it but we really can't since we're not down there in the water... so we sigh because that's the consequence for the living and watch it all drift away... then we all started to laugh... I guess we recognized what we saw... we the living had our boat... in ways left to the imagination... Tim and mom had theirs...  

Thursday, June 7, 2012


           Back to R. I. for another truck load of stuff from my brother's apartment. A work bench that I can use. Odds and ends of kitchen things - there weren't many - how many pots does a person need to heat up a can of soup? That doesn't even seem like a question to me as much as a blank and satisfying statement. A small television used for sunday football games with take out pizza and a couple beers. And paper back books. A quick estimate in the stupid heat of a humid afternoon hauling them down a flight of stairs was around 800. Mostly political thrillers and the star wars books.
    And oh there was a house plant that I now remembered from two weeks ago. I watered it then before I left. My thoughts were someone had to have given it to Tim. Maybe after mom died. I can't see Tim as someone who bought a houseplant. Not that he wouldn't care for it. But I don't think he'd go out of his way to have a plant. Maybe I'm wrong. I said to the plant you look like you need a ride. Had to be the hottest day to haul shit away...
   On my way down the stairs one trip, a neighbor in the complex held the door for me and asked, are you still at it? Yea I thought. It's just a call that's been placed in my hands. Naturally, just as I rolled into town and was driving north on School Street a truck passed me and I said man that guy looks like Al. Five minutes later Al pulls up. Goes like that. The way it goes. You leave a phone message for someone and the next day they appear to help out... like magic, like technology, like love...
   So cleaned out two file cabinets and a closet. So weird. To pack away the flotsam and jetsam of another person's life into a truck with out of state plates and then haul it away - to recycling to the dump to storage to perpetuity. And what of that brings the responsible one, namely me, nearly bone close to the present? Don't know. And that thought was a little troubling. Had to leave mom behind though. The photograph. And why bring those ashes all the way inland to my home in Burlington when in three weeks time I'd just turn around and bring those ashes back to the sea? That's how I explained it to the plant. It was tired and withered looking. I gave it some water and fussed over it.        
    Anyway I said to the plant you're coming with me.
    I guess it was another phase complete. Truck packed. Sweating like mad on the summer earth and feeling crappy over the loss of the dead -  I grabbed cold beers and drove out to Watch Hill. With a peace lily riding shotgun. The guy at the beer store said you look like you could use these! So with two hours free parking to be had - it's a moneyed area and enforced as such or else - I went out walking on the beach. Threw a jacket over the plant against the windshield as a sun screen and the best shade I might offer. I think the plant understood. Better probably than I did.
   When I walked far enough I stopped and flopped in the waves.  And the weather in the surf was different. A sweet breeze. Less humidity. Ah. Salt water. What's about it that grabs you like a call and won't let go until you dive in? Perhaps it's nothing more than getting away from the heat... Anyway I've had this walk many times before. Out to Napatree and back...  with my dog Mckinley and mom's dog back in the day. Back when everyone was alive as I later said to the plant...
   It feels so strange to wake up one day and be the last one standing. Like suddenly you've got extra  gravity dumped on your feet.
  Checked into the motel for the night. A much needed shower. Another glass of water for the plant.
  And it was too creepy - like where's Norman Bates - and too boring - like who can I drunk dial -  to be in some motel room around six in the evening on a beautiful night with nothing else to do but watch the news and weather from Providence and wait around for pizza delivery and then watch a few innings of the Red Sox/Tigers game on television before crashing out. Creepy and boring are enough I said to the plant. So we went back out driving some more.
  Back to the ocean where all this began. Back at the parking lot at Sam's Snack Bar. Often the heavens are viewed as the ocean of space, so, adjacently speaking, why not the ocean as the space of heaven ...  Just looking out into the sea, the Atlantic, and I guess the end place where my family will ultimately be.
    What I was doing I guess was trying to gather some sense of Tim in the abstract and tried to bring it home to the evening where I was. He lived fishing. He literally died fishing. I guess I was looking for a blessing. But it's a fools errand to expect something back from your own gaze. Waves in. Waves out. The waves coming in had a slap crash muffle sound to them. The waves going back out there was almost a sound of crystal tinkling as they land and were pulled away and then got lost back into the big water in the pull of the tides. Maybe that's all there is. But I want to believe there's so much more.
   Sun going down back over my shoulder if I cared to look back over that shoulder toward Weekapaug and the salt pond where he died. I simultaneous felt like jumping off the world and falling in love with accents both on that one long sigh that gives us pause and has another breath for us for another day in the world...
   A good sadness will do that to you I said to the plant.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Epistle. To: Wolstonecraft

  All right. Maybe I was sulking.
  Last night I had a dream. I met a prostitute and she told me, those new shoes will give you a blister. What I asked? She was mesmerizing to look at, like a pine tree in a desert.  All ghostly and worn and a delightfully naked face. Even though a pine tree does not belong in a desert. Maybe this was desire.  Fake creamy hair with bold gray streaks. A set of high unvarnished cheekbones catching up to the small age circles below the sad moons of her dull brown eyes. We were having clams and noodles at some seafood joint. Do you mind if I change into civilian clothes she asked?
  You are too careful. That's what a psychiatrist at the hospital told me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Surf Rat

   Must be like fifty surfers out in the water this morning, maybe looking for something to call their own in dark rubber suits. Big windy clouds race through the sky like shreds from yesterday's storm. Spray rises from the waves and catches the sunlight in the air and the effects from each wave and the sunlight behind them and the air all around are like the fine needling of lace from old window curtains. So much depends on a take out coffee. So much is silence. So much like some guy parked next to me says - I don't know, I'm from out of town - when I ask him a question.
   But I do know what I'm looking at. Staring into the rear view mirror of my truck. Weekapaug. A salt pond where my brother drowned ten days ago. Out fishing. Tim was forever out fishing. And that's how he died. But that's also how he lived. I can only imagine how cool he was with that. Not dying. But living. Sometimes it's easy to confuse the two. And it's not my job to either blur the lines nor clarify the lines. I'm sitting in a parking lot at Misquamicut at Sam's Snack bar with a fuzzy head but a razor outlook. What did Tim want? The sand from all the rain was soft and rich, almost a thrill to walk upon, almost like your footprints slipped after each step and then with each step further you forgot about them.
   Tim was maybe twelve or thirteen. We took the bus out to the Schuylkill River. Tim with all his gear causing looks from other passengers and riding along in his quiet and taking notes on a flip over spiral pad. Tim was fishing for carp. I didn't really care that much so while Tim was out fishing I wandered along the banks hanging out with stray dogs and avoiding the toughs in the neighborhood. We both had a baloney sandwich on white bread with yellow mustard and a black cherry soda for lunch that mom put together. And I don't know what Tim valued more. That I remember this. Or that mom made lunch, because whatever mom did, Tim in turn revered. When I got back later in the afternoon, near the bus stop, Tim wasn't there. A kind of panic flooded over me. How do I explain this to mom? That I lost my brother? Plus he had the bus money!
   Then I saw him. Down off this retaining wall knee deep in the water. Fishing rod in his right hand above his head and in his left hand was a soda bottle that he was smacking the top of the river with. Like I said Tim was a quiet guy. But he wouldn't let that carp go. He knocked the shit out of that fish with a soda bottle. But that fish was his. And that moment, I think for us both, was enlightenment. I believe it at least because I saw it. He looked up and saw me and grinned and held up some gnarly looking beast that he pulled from the stank brown and heavy polluted waters of the Schuylkill.
   And watching all this was a reporter from the Evening Bulletin. He wrote a story a few days later in the sport's pages about what he'd seen. He also took a photograph of Tim holding up the carp. Tim smiling and tired with his head cocked and holding up a fish by the gills.
  Over the years Tim sent me photos. Here's a shark. Here's a tuna. Here's a tarpon. Nothing more than a little note with each photograph. But I know that inside each of those photos was the picture of a carp. That's where it began. What they show me is the same kid, head cocked, tired from the fight, smiling, with a fish that he caught for the world to see. And that's how it ends. Tim was out fishing. God speed.

Monday, April 30, 2012

View to the West

   Arthur Rimbaud said, "always arriving, you will go everywhere."
   Seong-jun said, in the voice over, a fictional character in the movie - The Day He Arrives by Hong Sang- soo, "I have nowhere to go."
   They say aging is a spiritual practice. The boxed set of the years so to speak. And I imagine we'll all find out how that works!
   But in the meantime life is on the move. With or without us. Always recharging like weeds in the ground after a springtime rain. It seems practical and dumb enough to say it without feeling you having any smarts about it. And even though I'm a rather domesticated being, with regards to what my daily habits are in the world - yea - you could almost set your watch by me - it's a sentimental notion to try and occupy a fixed position. I remember a few years ago filling out a credit application to buy a bicycle. Questions like: how long have you been employed? How long have you lived at your place of residence?  I've worked at the same job since 1978.  I've lived in the same house since 1987. Whoa. What does that amount to? A good credit rating?  Walking away from a store with the bicycle that you want?  Good thing - bad thing - indifferent thing.    
   I remember driving to Florida from Philadelphia and sleeping in the trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice circa 1972 in Key West next to a circus because that was the furthest point on land and that's all we had to do.
   I remember after a weeks' hike in the White Mountains saying fuck getting back and hopping in the van and driving overnight to Acadia and sleeping there against the rules and watching the sun come up from the parking lot on Cadillac Mountain with instant coffee and a bong.
  I remember a bus station in Savannah and an elderly woman stealing my book while I went to get food out of a vending machine and my having to ask her to please give it up once I got back to my seat.
  I am afraid to let go of the days. I want to let go of those days so bad I don't know how.
  So in the interests of standing someplace forever, the pursuit of happiness and knowing something eternal in the bones, I painted the front room over the weekend. The room was a little beat up and dingy looking. It's funny. First you buy a house and that's like having this step into some established order. You feel cool to be there etc. Then you fix up the house which is like having a tag for others to see as they pass by your labors and ideas and designs. Over the years you maintain the house, which as the house gets along in years well, so do you.
  Did I imagine in that last third of life I'd be cutting in ceilings and rolling out walls? (!)
  But when it's done the room looks good and feels clean - the way blue sky in the morning makes you   want to fly out an open window and loop around the trees.
  There's always something next to do. It's worthwhile to look at things in their opposite and float around in the moves and strangeness and beauty of one's peculiar space. A crack in a wall needs to be repaired, and you begin to notice, the cracks elsewhere, and how they appear to be wherever you look...    

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Free Mints

    Maybe it's a regret. Maybe a celebration. Or a combination of both. Or a combination that we don't yet know about? But when I read in the paper that Levon Helm died well that was a bit of a page stopper. So I played some Band c.d.'s later that afternoon in the studio. Everything goes away. Despite a life, and a career that I followed in his music, and the sing-along with respect that happens afterwards. That's the real time leftover from the object lesson when things change. And running corollary to the sad news on the obit pages were the first tulips blooming outside in the garden as a kind of welcome news. And there was a song bird perched on a rose bush. A little bird passing through the yards that I did not recognize and who flew off too soon for me to grab the field guide and glasses and try to identify.  Ain't that the way we compile the world? Or at least for me. What we see we forget. And what we forget we look up as information about a world already having been there for the viewing in the first place. It's like trying to catch up to the past, playing with  the future, in the hopes that you establish a present?
   Sure it might have all been different. But how? More importantly, to realize, it wasn't different. And the weird thing was to take someone else's obituary and then start to think about your own life. That seemed fucked up but I did it regardless. Like some kind of advice.
   And fitting in I guess was the weather. The day was alternating sun and clouds, cold pockets to scare you, warm light on the skin. It was like all these earthly adventures I never had, and having a queer feeling of nostalgia for places I've never been. But if you've never had those experiences, how is it possible to long for them? Don't you need to have something already in hand before you lose it?
   Perhaps I should make a list. It's an odd brainstorm indeed to imagine yourself as being attached to regret. The blow to memory and all that. A kick in the pants as the body wears down. However, as a open link, beyond the permitters, where we die how we live, it was his music and listening to it and having my take upon it that seemed to say foremost get out of the way and stay tuned.  


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Epistle. To: Berlin Film Actress

       A morning dove was making its nest inside my neighbor's rain gutter. I watched the bird work from the bedroom window. And it was way cool to see the construction and watch little bits of twigs become the the overall pattern, but I had a thought, and the thought was, this is a bad plan. Making a home that's sure to be washed out?  Especially with all the storms we've been having...
   Must be that algebra of springtime again! Everything growing. Everything moving. Everything taking in light and giving back air. And then whatever. As long as you're engaged... Certainly the nurse said. But are you propositioning me about this she asked?
   Not really I said. I simply like it more when you're around. Than not I mean.
   Than not what she asked?
   A place I said. Somewhere to belong to and somewhere that's cool and somewhere kinda the opposite of trouble. If you know what I mean.
   Oh come on the nurse said. I can't be that.  What do you want me for, a situation? And let's say I enjoy the walks and talks. And maybe that's it. Maybe there's little more than that to get worked up over.
   Nature doesn't like a vacuum I answered. And so, what's rushing in to fill this void? So. Where is that?   And so, if there's nothing more to think about, but another bad night with more downpour rain for however many days counting that it's been falling down, and the cold air seeping inside at the windows that comes along with it, then this makes me feel like I have nothing else to talk about. In a sense I feel worse off than I did last week. And shouldn't it be the other way around?
   You have such a silly head the nurse said. Another day. Another bandage. That's how you take it. Now be still while I do this.
   Everyone's favorite metaphor I said is small steps.
   Not a bad thing to remember the nurse said finishing with the syringe.
   But I said that doesn't really get me anywhere. Where's that comic book sensibility? Able to leap tall buildings and all that.
   Look the nurse said don't let it work against you. At your recovery pace, I'll be around for over a year.
   I was afraid to ask and then what?
   Don't be sad the nurse said. Don't be the man who knew too much.
   Well maybe I was afraid to say it,  but I felt that way.  As soon as the bandage was changed, and the dishes washed, and the bed made, I'll walk downtown slowly for a newspaper and some peanut butter. Along the way I'll criticize everything I see as though I have something to say about it and live that way. And so I'll be happy to have gotten there and back again for having said it? Just curious I wanted to say.
Isn't that something we always want? The place after what we have and we don't get any further? A light hearted touch dedicated - again - again - to a moment and so folded over by the big sweet world that even if there was nowhere to go you might have the nerve to say I need to be here. To sculpt time from nothing but the air.    

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Epistle. To: Elisabeth Bardo

  Here's something else I remember from the past year. Christmas Day. Just a little snow in the air. Flurries and a gray cold morning lifted around the trees in the window. Glad to be here etc. But what's the catch?                
   Pancakes and bacon and coffee - what could be simple. James Brown's Funky Christmas on the stereo before daylight even!  And the kind of ritual that having a meal on an appointed day becomes as a year follows a year follows a year. I'm prone to wide angle thoughts on a holiday anyway. Maybe it's because the pancakes have a beautiful lazy feel to them after you're done eating. Maybe it's because bacon makes everything taste better like some wild enzyme running loose in your head. Maybe it's simply the end game of the year and so you sit back at the table and survey the past and wonder might there be a different plan?
  Ah. Another piece of bacon left!
  Later I went for a walk in the park. Even if we're on a short leash and considering a relative point of view to the world at large, and that means you have to die all the time when you think about it, it's better to go out that way than trying to conjure up a method where all the years seemed equal. I mean you can still have those doubts about what trips you up or how clumsy you were. The flurries persisted and the sky remained steely cold. Snow globe weather shaken around me... a brilliant e-card I received the other day on the computer with animated reindeer singing etc and how that makes the heart feel cheap and wonderful... the sound of my boots stepping along the dirt path and crunching on the frozen ground in the morning's silence like a hymn being sung by a choir. The evergreens sagging with long boughs falling around in tier after tier of needle green. The views out onto the lake thieved with a gray green light almost painted from the sky and so meeting the foggy condensed moisture boosted off the waves hitting the rocky icy shoreline in winter...
   Born to walk. And so in kind walk to be born.
   In answer to your question no I don't have a family. Maybe it's stupid and all that. But I'm digging in the earth for rare elements.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Epistle. to: Bernadette Wild Garden

  The nurse had to run back up to the big house for a few hours  - aka the hospital. That meant being off her sweet tether and in some other orbit that was my own making. For the moment I guess. I mean in that moment that goes and is eventually replaced by a hope. And then by another moment. Or what? Alas I asked her before she left. Then I'm not the only one!
  No she said. You're not.
 And that look in her eyes. That one. Yes. I saw it first off and still can't forget it. And I know, it's only been months. After waking up in the recovery room... it's still hard to figure I was dead... and was brought back again to life with the heartbeat of science that costs a fortune and those big electrical paddles you always see in those made for television movies. Else we take ourselves too seriously or course. Where did I go? And the first thing I saw on the way back were those scary eyes. Those beautiful eyes. Green-gray and fluid and set in porcelain and with an effect that seemed to rake in time . Like a crushing apparatus where used machinery gets thrown into for the scrap steel afterwards. I felt I had to move fast. Part lottery ticket if you chanced it. Part weather forecast if you believed it.  Maybe it's only a small testament to feelings but I did fear letting those eyes go and having them walk out the door without me. Even though that happened each day because she was the nurse and I was the client and she had to be on her way... you can't say don't go because that doesn't mean anything... and you can't say please stay...
  And so the wind started to blow. Alas. Like it should!
 And there was a sound outside the house.  And it was a sound that I did not hear. Or a memory of a sound that I wanted to hear.
 A few months ago I cut off a tree limb growing against the house, practically growing into the house, so now when the wind blows the tree limb doesn't scratch up against the windows. And so the sound of not hearing that sound  was the sound that I heard. Or did not hear depending. Yea. It can get confusing. (!)      
 When the tree limb was there it was maddening. Something desperate. Something larger on the outside calling for attention. It was like something grabbing against the house and hearing that was unnerving...  
 How many years ago was it that I planted that tree? There used to be a juniper bush out front. Gnarly and prickly and half dead. I removed that and put the tree in its place instead. And as a tree goes it is unshapely and bent and its crown isn't what you might consider calender material. But the tree grows every year since I planted it. It's like an unruly thought. Maybe that's the satisfaction. It's not perfect by any means. But what do I know? The tree will outlast me unless lightning or disease interfere.
  We should ask the tree and see what it thinks.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Epistle. To: Grace Nelson

The Band was singing I Shall Be Released as the movie soundtrack ends, and I said to the nurse that's a great song but it always gives me the loneliness business whenever I hear it.
 Big sheets of rain snapped against the windows for the third day counting. The local baseball team cancelled a double header. And this was supposed to be a make-up game for the game that was cancelled earlier in the season due to heavy rains. I said to the nurse I want to sing along to that song each time I hear it but at the same time feel haunted by mouthing the words. Afterwards the song stays with me for days. Like I  hear that song and then get chills. And that's like having hope I said.
That's nonsense the nurse said. You don't sing well enough.
Maybe so I said but we do get caught in the middle. The nurse asked what should we watch now? The late news and catch up with that cute anchor and see how she continues to look silly and out of place and not in the studio and out in the weather in her perfectly creased yellow slicker? Or look she said surfing the remote like some goddess of the waves. An evangelical cooking show and that prefect recipe for fried dough on a stick!  Or what about this commercial bullet to the head? The nurse did a pretty cool obnoxious voice-over. She even morphed her face around to almost resemble this grinning weasel-like guy trying to sell us these spray cans of some rubberized shit.  Don't call a handyman! That will cost you thousands!
Maybe another movie instead you asked? Sure the nurse said, with a look on her face that was like a garden fading in the sweet last days of August, all spent and therefore beautiful in all its details for simply having done it. Sometimes I have no idea where I am. Maybe she said you're just watching yourself and that feels like it's somewhere else instead. Yea I suppose, but we do need to show up. That would be a necessity the nurse added. So what do you think: king fu car chase with an electric Hong Kong or a coming of age loser gets laid comedy? Sex violence irreverence - that's what we have in the stacks. All that sounds good I said. But I worry about being dead. You can't do anything about that the nurse said. You were dead. And there's a flat line screen on record to prove it. Just a narrow green line with no vocals behind it. What was silence like she asked? It was really busy I said. It was like going to the dump on a crowded Saturday and waiting in line and getting rid of this old piece of sheetrock that I had in the basement forever. It was way too small to save and maybe way too valuable to throw away. And that was silence she asked?
No. But it was more than you might expect. I had this dream -
When the nurse asked? When you were dead?
No I said, the other night. I was riding in a truck with Natalie Portman the actress. I recognized her but I didn't say anything. Like you might say hey I know you when you really don't. She was driving and the weather was warm. I touched her arm, her skin, because the weather was warm. She smiled behind a big pair of sunglasses and drove on wearing this killer t-shirt that only had me wanting to touch her arm more so for the looking. Outside the truck windows a river flowed past. On the river, or in it, all these household items flew past along a  strong muddy current. Desks chairs tables lamps. Going by in multitudes like a housing development upstream had been washed away. People came down by the river to watch and talk quietly. When I looked back from the river I was no longer in a truck driving with Natalie Portman and her killer t-shirt. I was standing inside a house and looking outside from behind an old window frame with these ratty curtains. Farmhouse curtains like from that movie. Days of Heaven.
Did you try and get her autograph or something the nurse asked?
No nothing like that. But it felt cool riding in the truck like that.
Maybe you have a punch list you need to go through.
Before what?
All these dreams she said. What do you think?
Well I said sometimes you try and account for your life and so what do you come up with? Comments about the weather? Or money?
I don't know she said. The porch deck you painted before you died looks good.
Yea thanks. But I had this other dream the other night...
You do have a stiff learning curve the nurse offered...
Yea... But I was standing with an unidentified woman and together we were placing the days on a sort of graph that was either on a chart on a wall or either the wall itself was a holograph. Whether the days were charted for ourselves or others was unclear. She had long red hair worn everywhere around her like a signal flare and wore a plaid shirt like she was a camper or something. Her fingers moved quickly across the graph placing a Tuesday over there or say a Thursday down in a corner. I seem to be her helper, handing her the odd Friday for instance. Fortunes might happen. Tragedy might happen. That's what I make out of it.
If we're watching another movie the nurse said then I'm reheating the tacos.
I wouldn't know where it all went I said to her through doorways and into the kitchen.
It's okay there's plenty left she said.
Another dream I had: I'm feeding chunks of wood into a stove that only has two sides. I'm worried someone has taken my vial of pills. I can look through the wood stove and see tree lines and fields. Maybe someone has eaten all the pills? Or maybe they just stole them? There are people in the yard but I don't know them. Maybe it's a party. I look through a serving tray filled with containers of pills. But none are mine. I worry. I keep looking. That keeps me going on.
Red or green sauce I heard her say. And then I thought about late night tacos... with the nurse serving them up... her hands like an artisan... her breath like a measured count that when you felt it against you it seemed to wind sweetly around some undefined still point between the hemispheres of the brain... and I liked all that... big time so to speak... but it's always scary... when you like something... because something else has to give... I wanted green sauce so I said that.
We're having tea the nurse said. And chocolate chips. Since you didn't make cookies yesterday...
I keep looking for something I said but don't know where to find it. Like the other night a woman sat down next to me. And then another woman sat down next to her. And they both began making suggestions into one another's ear. I seem to be missing something, like the proverbial boat -
Did you say you want onions?
- yea onions are great. And shred up more lettuce if you will. But suddenly both those women were gone. And I was walking down a crowded street with too many corners and they all lead nowhere in particular. And then suddenly again I was back in a hospital room. Watching a ball game to kill time. Some was calling me on the telephone but I could not get the in house connection to work so the phone rang and rang and rang... and rang... and then the ball game shifted and outside below the fifth floor, in the parking lot, there were all these kids turning the asphalt into a yard, and they were excavating the dirt with small versions of heavy equipment and it was like they were digging some foundation for a new building with toys.
Do you want more cheese or less?
And I don't remember the forecast calling for a thunderstorm today. And so in that sleepy semi-alert way between the worlds my eyes were surprised open. Where was I? I was answering questions to Japanese tourists about plants in a garden. Apparently this was a specialty that I had, although I had a deep seated feeling while speaking to them that I knew nothing at all. I was carving a piece of wood and the wood crumbled away like it was rotten. I cooked a piece of meat only the have the thing in the pan boil away until it was bright red. There was a rented room with too much furniture so a friend called management. At the parade a little girl made a seat for me from out of old tires and placed them near the street so I might watch better. Now she said. And walked away. A woman with fashionably short hair buttoned a tan blouse and in the process pulled off the top button before it got to her chin and handed it too me. Some guy in a Red Sox t-shirt said come on man you gotta check my math in the box scores.
I'm gonna open up a new jar of peppers. Okay?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Epistle. To: Mercy Hunt

Thanks. Got your old school cut and paste card. Delivered naturally by the dying empire of the postal service. Too bad about that actually. Taking one's time is not only a regime and a breath against the new empire - the instant archive -  but it  also comes in as a sensually deep thing, an embodiment, a surprise. And naturally, like a contradiction, this response is being delivered electronically! All the interior arrangements, like thoughts, like your card shows - having a room in the world is like sleeping out in the open - and as such being susceptible to things like lullabies whose childhood rhymes we often remember and those hints of pornography creeping in the shadows we so often desire.  What was the best thing you remember about grade school? For me it was recess! When you and I and all the other kids ran like crazy for fifteen minutes twice a day in the school parking lot. The only way in the world to have that taken away would have been to put us all in lock down! And even then, I imagine you, taking all the necessary measurements, staring at confinement,  and then potting an escape. Anyway I have a memory. From better days. Back in those days when walking provided me with the most constant reminder of a life I've  ever had... was like a kind of lost island to have... in step...  and to set up one's own view of paradise. Ah. To walk along. To have thoughts. Or to have no thoughts at the same time.  I miss that kind of walking. To be out in a warm breeze with little on and smiling at the chains of light in the air and feeling did the solstice happen yet? Or to be out in cold air and feeling there is no replacement for what might be gone if you don't keep moving when you're freezing. And it all feels equal -  from going around the corner to the movies, to taking the journey of a thousand steps etc. But I digress. I was walking in the woods one morning along the familiar contour lines of an old farm road - it's all logical and on the map in perfect sense - now it's an ATV road and a snow machine path in winter - and then took a detour onto a narrow trail heading downhill toward the stream. There was a broken tree where the trail dropped off and several birds were singing in what was left of its crown. A weather worn sign nailed into the tree trunk read Elivra Town in burnt letters. But there were no houses nor barns. Nothing left but way rusted plows like relics. A small graveyard with tilted chewed at headstones and hand chiseled inscriptions like omens of their own short times to try and farm out a living in the hills. But there were runs of these big stone foundations scattered about, holes in the ground now, like mouths like crying where lives once stood. Ferns and birch trees sprouted up in the holes like efforts to reclaim the soils for the forest. You could see into the outline of the things that were a landscape and if you looked out into the trees at some level just beyond eye contact you made out where the old meadows used to be. Imagine corn rows and vegetable plots and a grove of silent apple trees giving it up in the fall. Elvira town was gone, but wasn't I walking through it still? Do you think it's a cinema of petty miseries that makes us look for a game changer? Or are we at the tip of a big soft brush painting in the outlines of the  unknown? Maybe there is nothing like unfulfilled hopes to throw you for a loop. But don't we have to show up regardless? Maybe I need to learn and just walk on and mind my own business. But when I look around there's so much wonder... and I fall back upon a notion that I'm an intruder... I'm trying to side step entropy... and am left with many questions and the default of such imaging seems to be where do I belong? When I got down to a landing in the hollow of the mountains where I hoped to get across the stream, the stream was totally swollen from multiple days raining. The water was wicked fast moving and crashed across rocks in the stream bed, rocks that used to be from the top of the mountain back in the glacier days of furry hunters and magic charcoal, and it was hypnotizing to look into the water as it hit the rocks and sprayed against the air like this wild crazy desire to find the river and then keep on going to sea level. That's where it goes. The tintinnabulations  from nowhere... Just having an apple then to eat and then surrendering that this was the end of line. The crisp snap and juice from each bite. Bug dope as well as the humidity clings to the skin. Water racing across rocks that you won't walk across less you get knocked down from the knees and swept off like dumbness for the attempt to try and ride nature's ride unharmed. I suppose I might have followed the stream and looked for a better place to cross, but fuck it, I walked back up the small trail and back into Elvira Town. Picked up where I was and continued on. Back down to the stream where I knew there was a bridge in place for certain...
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