Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Emperor Of Macaroni


Speed is aromatic when it becomes lightning. Who are you? Ribbon is one solution. Moccasins are another. Density is magnificent with mermaids. Think of this as a phenomenology of reaching and reading and reaching for something to read. Of pianos and cockpits. Syncopation and garlic. Wax and honey, which are lieutenants of bric-a-brac, and dare to matter in a world of geeks and grossly inflated salaries. Even though, when you think about it, the sponge is every bit as brilliant as a whale, and a crisis such as this can loosen our frosting. I think it's wonderful that things exist. That the nose is naturally Zen and that one’s chains are imaginary. Break them. Drop them. It’s wonderful that magnesium can be a waitress and that the color gray can fall into the hands of a dwarf and televise the chlorophyll of a milkweed. That lips have their own brand of chivalry. That success can mean so many different things to so many different people. This hour will dissolve within the limits of another hour and various sensations will hatch out of that and become words in a sentence. Drop everything and run into the sky. Pasta is sensual because the streets are full of wasps, not because hope is cruel, and it takes courage to foster a load of despair. Hope is a delegation from a future that doesn’t exist. Don’t go there. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Nothingness Wins Again


Enigmatic reverie package that comes from sparkling spray. Gotta buy me some fire and a bear, some foliage and a bell, a pair of pants and a nice green pump and a warehouse of suede. Anything that models the cylinders of a pretty nickname. I will be the meaning I want, lavender buttons and bliss. Antenna gum that stretches all the dust of life and a cricket singing from a high edge of facts about brackets, which are delegations of pearl. Wild abstraction with a reason to open a bean.
Oil and turpentine and a shade to undertake the lassitude of ash.
If space is within space, then spatiality must have something to do with recompense. I will call it a dollar. Which expresses the camel hiding among my nerves. The desert, the wind, the dunes, the drift of detachment. And this is happening with a claw and a negligence of rocks. Acute crumbling of a cabbage sorbet. Bienvenue au Palais Idéal.
This is my electric yellow pin. I am in the east licking the power that is nature. I smell sweet from my locomotive stomach but I don’t really care about the friendliness of furniture unless it starts talking like sparrows, which reminds me of Hamlet, and the sweet beginnings of stars, and then I cry the long thin tears of supplication and collapse to the floor and become a chair.
What is causation? Does anyone really know?
I have been talking about what is ready-to-hand. But what about assemblage? The sandwich on the counter at the diner? What about jaws, and brightness, and indigestion?
Equipment, too, has its place, or it just lies around collecting dust. The nosegay doesn’t  appear at random. It is there in accordance with its involvements.
Allegiances are further complicated by disagreements over what events, facts, and these other creatures are. Some seem precise, like the praying mantis, whereas others are whiskered, and whistle like steam. How is it possible for one mind to know another? Is there a phenomenology that cooks like rice but is better than caviar?
I believe that there is gold in the cave and that it doesn’t harm the glory of being a little lost among the shadows when they bring a little reflection to the glitter of its veins. Listen to the bullish scrap woman who does ironing on the sidewalk of a rose. The thorn clock piloting the edge of a wave at the monastery. These are reasonable and sipped. Indications assembled to accommodate the decipherment of cause.
As for causation, let’s explain it with quarks. Binoculars and breakfast. Causation is the cause of cause. The cause of giants lifting the ocean into rain. The cause of hope, which is appalling in its constipation. The cause of the cashew, which is expensive, and the cause of the peach, which is lips. A hammer causes itself by hammering.
Exclaims nothingness, which is now a nail in a two-by-four of an insect cycling around an apple.




Sunday, November 12, 2017

Out Of Control


I enjoy the sensations of things, doorknobs, laundry warm from the dryer, spider legs scampering over my palm, water when I’m thirsty, symphony strings, Buddy Guy doing some straight up insane things on his guitar, the weight of a book in my hands.
Did you know that horses are able to identify emotion in human facial expressions? I can’t even do that. What I can do is reveal or conceal an emotion depending on circumstances.
There are landscapes I could never describe. Not with paint, not with words, not with echoes or inclines or swamps. The whole is always going to be greater than the sum of its parts. This is especially true of landscapes, fjords, inlets, lakes, clouds, late afternoon light on a Tuscany hill.  
I like the feeling of the word ‘seethe’ as it seethes through my teeth. As this from Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, “go, suck the subtle blood ‘o the grape till the high fever seethe your blood to froth.” Or this, from Pencillings, by N.P. Willis, “Cold meat, seethed, Italian fashion, in nauseous oil.”
Do you see? Each word is a history, a palimpsest, a landscape. Cold meat seethed in nauseous oil. The workings of wine in the blood, turning it to froth, delirium and groping. Daydreaming. Musing on the grain of the wood of an old dark bar. Big arguments with the hands waving. Voices raised in speech, or singing, or the flutter of syllables on the ear in a foreign country, where the weight of what is being said is hidden among its vowels.
The word ‘landscape’ comes from Old Saxon ‘landscepi.’ Old Norse ‘landscap.’ The word was later introduced as a technical term by painters, a picture representing natural inland scenery. Or as I like to call it: the language of earth as it is spoken by wind and rock.
The loose dirt of the Palouse is called ‘loess.’ It’s soft and fine and nourishes the soft white wheat of the Palouse, which goes into the making of pastries, apple strudel and cinnamon rolls.
Since consciousness seems to be localized within my head, I always have the feeling of being in an airplane, in which case the landscape I’m looking down at is generally a carpet, if I’m barefoot in our apartment, or the sidewalk, one of many sidewalks, here in Seattle or in Paris or Minneapolis, which is a little like Paris, in that it has a river running through the city, about the same size as the Seine, but called the Mississippi, and is legendary, and full of catfish.
I remember standing on the Pont Neuf in the winter of 2015 looking down at the Seine, which looked wild and turbulent, weirdly green in color, heavy with French dirt, French landscape, paysage as they call it.
My eyes fill with the light of a thousand bright yellow leaves stuck to the sidewalk at the top of Highland Drive. The temperature is 45 degrees and is invigorating and moist. The sky is gray. It’s mid-November and Seattle’s skyline gleams below. I feel good, but can’t shake the sadness caused by hearing Guy McPherson’s grim predictions. McPherson was a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona until he left his position to live on an off-grid homestead in southern New Mexico. He has since moved to Belize and put his property in New Mexico up for sale. He is best known for his talks on imminent mass extinction due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in earth’s atmosphere, a situation he deems long out of our control. He states a paradox: if all industrial production stopped this minute and no more pollution entered the atmosphere, the heating of the planet would be accelerated since the pollutants in the atmosphere act as a filter, diffusing the sun’s heat.
McPherson delivers his talks in a calm, measured, eminently rational voice. He supports his claims with compelling facts. He has a warm presence and emphasizes the importance of enjoying life to its fullest, living in the present moment, seeking excellence in a culture of mediocrity and continuing to floss one’s teeth. He tries to put a redemptive spin on our imminent doom by urging us to do what we love, disburden ourselves from the encumbering shackles of false hope and the oppressive tyranny of jobs and money and live to the fullest while we still can. But it doesn’t work. Extinction sounds horrible. The death he describes sounds awful: when heat and humidity rise to a certain level, we behave drunkenly, because our organs are boiling.
Other climate scientists, such as Michael Tobis at the University of Wisconsin, say McPherson’s claims are incompetent and grossly misleading. I don’t know what to think. I tend to think Tobis is correct and McPherson is wrong. I want Tobis to be correct and McPherson to be wrong: way wrong. I’m not a big fan of human beings, they’ve been responsible for a great deal of ruin and savagery and pain, but I don’t want to see humanity go extinct, any more than I want to see other species go instinct. I mean, didn’t the dinosaurs do better? They managed to stick around for 165 million years. Think of it: big old walking Walmarts of bone and flesh. And what about dinosaur farts? I don’t get it. Is it all this cortical activity that’s gotten us humans into so much trouble in such a short amount of time?
It would be so much nicer if I could just reject McPherson’s claims wholesale and get on with my life. But I can’t, not quite. I can’t shake the sadness nor the truthfulness implicit in McPherson’s words that easily. It will take more than Tobis’s rigorous mathematics to do it. The wildfires and hurricanes and droughts this last summer were horrendous. Clearly, something very, very wrong is occurring to our planet. And it’s just the one planet; there aren’t any more available when this one is finally, irreparably lost.
Flash drought destroyed half the wheat crops this year.
But enough of that.
Why is it that the things over which I have the least amount of control are the things hardest to let go of?
I think the answer is right there in the question: no control.
Most of the time, the only thing I truly have control over is how to respond to things. And even there I have to separate instinct from intellect.
I have no control over the maniacs using leaf blowers in the rain when everything is sopping wet and stuck to the ground, or the jerks whose leviathan SUVs and four-by-fours won’t fit in their driveways and stick out over the sidewalk blocking everyone’s way, or the ongoing looting of the American population by their “elected” officials, and their cronies, the banks.
Making money out of thin air. “Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money,” said Voltaire. Amen to that.






Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Elegance Of Leaving


Why are ghosts always represented as bed-sheets? Death is nothing. Nothing without England and its historical debris. Nothing without a fugitive understanding of life’s most basic courtesies. Sleep and nuance. Umbrellas and cows.
The invention of thirst comes to us dressed as a mythical taffeta in the tenacity of an ant. Red feathers on a white table. Certitude. Incertitude. The philosophy of yourself.
An X-ray and the light behind the X-ray. Bones. Prisms. Gregorian chant.  
Nothing beats the elegance of leaving a job. A party. A bad marriage. An excruciating eulogy. A firm decision. An endless war. An ideology gone sour.
Death is nothing. The fragrance of a casket is unaffected by its mystery. It is sometimes sudden, sometimes long and inquiring. 
Death is nothing but hoes in a row in a pink garage. Brian Jones smiling at Howlin’ Wolf. Letters thrashing around in a sentence. Nothingness is underrated. So is the shine on the shell of a crab. Eyebrows are incidental, like molasses and papier collé.
The poet is a nomad with nowhere to go. The United States has become an open-air prison with an extortionate hellcare system. I’m old enough to remember streetcars. So when I say that the poet has nowhere to go, I mean nothingness articulate as a gravel driveway. I mean clumsy indications of death walking through the eye of a needle. I mean camel. I mean rich man. I mean crinkly old dollar and words in a process of waves moving up and down a cobra neck-tie.
Poetry is an engine of ice, helter-skelter at a Cincinnati gas station. Caress the spine of a dragon. I will tell you what it’s like to eat lobster on a private jet. I will tell you how to articulate the gravel of a driveway without using nails or nutmeg. I once corresponded with a cringe. Which I later pumped to the surface of my skin and showed it around town like a tattoo of shadows boiling in the midnight of a woman’s fingernail. I’m sympathetic to most vibrations, but I’m mostly favorable to the forehead when it’s lit up by a crown of electricity. It’s a good look. I agree to nothing but what goes on in my fingers. Golden oarlocks on a red boat. Think of it as symbolism, something out of the late 19th century. A huge barroom metaphor that answers the demands of reason with a tiger’s head and a snake between its teeth. I feel the exclamation of stalagmites in my guts. Opinions slam the door on discussion. If you have an opinion nail it to the wall and shoot it with a .38 caliber toad.
Do you like cream in your gridlock? Feathers are marvels of engineering. Can I offer another version of myself that explains these things? Some people like to punch the air when they dance. But I’m not going to pretend I’m Mick Jagger. You don’t know who I am. Who am I? I am you. I am us. I am her. I am him. I am everyone. But mostly I’m a guy looking for a way out of here.
Gravity is a cure for science. But nothing cures a heartache like the bone black in a painting by Rembrandt. No amount of logic can explain a clam. But I can tell you what a sparkle looks like in the eye of a monkey. Watch it dilate. The mind dilates. Did you know? Yes. And I’m hooked on polyphony. A crinkly old dollar. Zen mosquitos on a hairy arm. Bend the milk into asphalt. The forklift lifts a pallet of formaldehyde and so concludes: death is nothing. What is the source of this emotion? Flames thundering out of the bottom of a rocket. The lure of Titan. Buffalo on the plains in 1752.



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Cartoon Noises In A Kitchen Sink


Cartoon noises in a kitchen sink. Metal crabs tap-dancing on a China plate. Water running. Two pieces of meat stuck to a spoon. What shall we do with this loaf of elevator? Give it a little baptism. The biology of a feeling, which is soon felt going chromosomal, like a rattlesnake chandelier, or a hymn to the speed bump. Everything in life sooner or later gets to feeling reptilian, or naked, the way a fork throws itself into space.
Words are sticks of meaning soaked in pain.
I stood on the stepladder trying to open a little plastic sack with two little screws in it for the ceiling light mount. It opened of a sudden and the screws went flying. That’s how it always is. Just listen to Gregorio Allegri. Or the murmur of doctors focusing on a bone.
Breakfast explains nothing. I can hear the rustle of rain. It’s early November. I can see a discarded bikini in the Hall of Mirrors. The pulse of a sawhorse wrapped in cloth. How many pounds are in the ghost of a hammer? I agree with my spine. The Renaissance as mostly about music. The science came later, blistered and stubborn, like language. Except language isn’t very scientific. It’s more like swans perched on the top of a barn. You can smell it as it gropes for a coat, or enters the parlor goofy as a traffic cone and sits down on a concertina. Oops.
Concentration is the essence of the concertina. The dreams of a halibut are different. The dreams of a halibut resemble the furniture of winter. The reason is obvious as cocoa.
I wouldn’t characterize myself as jaunty. I fuss over the issue of subjectivity much of the time, but it leads nowhere testimonial. Nothing like an elephant, whose subjectivity is intellectual, and drinks experience from a waterhole of stillness and quiet, poised as a mosquito on a policeman’s arm.
What does it mean to be ambitious? I’m not pleased by the taste of oysters. Never have been. I see a mockingbird on a barbed wire fence and think about the many unseen gears of the escalator. Let your eyes carry this sentence to the end of itself. When you arrive at the end, you will find an abyss. You will see ice and snow. Pain floating in the eyes of a stranger. And that stranger is you.
Or not. Maybe it’s just another bend in the river, random and wide and full of reflection.
What do we mean when we speak of a music as “heavy metal?”
Consciousness is a rag of emotion, the crackle of feeling in a ball of thought. Stars in a jug of white lightning, the many doors to perception.
Did you forget to fall in love today? I didn’t. I just now fell in love with a Dutch apple pie. Oats are easily made, but the many subtleties of sleep are not so easily described. I would like to further explore the idea of Sam Elliott’s mustache. Has it been a boost to his career? Probably. Is it eloquent? Yes. Like a popped balloon, or a star hanging from a thread of music. Crystals sparkling in the arctic night.
My plan throughout life has been to evade too much planning. Stepladders make me angry. They never fold back up right. If I see puddles in a row I think of vertebrae. I think about singing in Montana. Belonging to a choir. I watch the cat as she rolls on the floor, exposing a white fur belly.
Can we bring some words into this sentence that usurp their own progression, that swirl back on themselves and duplicate the invasion of an eggplant? Sure. Why not. I don’t want to get too fancy. Let’s keep things simple and enjoy a sip of universe. It’s calm tonight and my needs are congenial to the employment of various prepositions. Sometimes it takes a powerful drug to walk through a wall. And sometimes all you need is a few prepositions and a warped sense of oligarchy. A jug of conflict and a jar of argument. The heart is an armchair for feelings. So sit back, and let yourself float. The ugliness of time is remedied by oak. And the swans on the barn are quiet as Sam Elliott brushing his hair. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Close Shave


A careless hue expresses dyeing. A beach bonfire crumbles in the lung kite. I go frisking past scratching my right leg. The wind is melting in an ebony crate. I’m floating in the weather of a bee making words come together.
Mechanical rain a dragon in my head. Neon money for a ruptured chocolate. I see a solitary radical ball that stuns the value of grease. The expansibility of shoe ash excites the senses like a swamp that jumps into an old New England spoon and begins varnishing oats. The lush spring of a streaming friend powers a tug of antique sugar as it journeys across space and time and so begins another rag with which to solace the groan of coupons burdened with impersonating raspberries in the butter Marie Laurencin spreads across this particular slice of bread.
Of course, when I say particular, I really mean bulky and round. You shouldn’t have to think of this as surrealism. It's more like undressing a landscape of sage and smelling the sexuality of noon. Surrealism is for banquets and airports. This is more like lunch with a Q-tip. Anarchic chairs pondered in wild benediction. Fingers on an open G tuning.
It’s almost irritating the way shaving lather keeps coming out of the can when I am sure it must be empty. But let’s face it. Facial hair is intrinsic to the dominion of ivory. It’s not like heresy, not entirely, despite some obvious resemblances. A beard must be worn as a portable device for heroic deeds.
Sometimes sitting in the garage chattering to the shelves about mutiny is the closest I can come to unbending the fizz of lacrosse.
This is where flirtatious 35-year old Charlotte (Laura Prepon) stumbles into the poem, explaining that she has a thing for older men, along with the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
I tell her she has the wrong poem and open the door to let her out.
My allegorical knee has a carpenter’s scratch. I win everything by throwing chocolate at a bureau drawer and selling pineapples to a hoe. I attempt to do the same thing to an authoritarian tattoo. How cannot it not know what it is? Who doesn’t like hats? The mission fails miserably and I console myself with ichthyology. I can always try to sputter a few opinions later when the meaning of being reawakens. I’m not going to argue with a menu built around augury.
Holes pause for an eon in a Mediterranean hamburger and the world gets sliced into turf. Nebulous and soft, I sift an obscure hill of dormant tinsel and thereby welcome butter, which is good to me, and simple like sleep. Later, when the proximities loom, luminous insects display their emotions in elevator eyebrows and an aromatic silverware creates a craze for openly indiscriminate music.
Which is the best kind of music. It dreams it’s a cupboard with a canine tooth and plates crashed together and is the sage way to the salt beard. I am bitter about frozen agitation. I like the hint of flexibility on the street, the pendulum of tomorrow mingled with loops of iron like the crashing of words in a foundry. Anything else is just structure, a profession brought up on the hind legs of a uterus.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Paint With No Name


It’s not infrequent for something very small to get on my nerves. Such was the case in our bathroom. I was taking a shower one day when I noticed the paint in the upper corner had blistered and flaked just a little and that there were a few mold stains along the ceiling where it met the wall. It wasn’t a big deal. I tried to dismiss it but I couldn’t. Once something gets on my nerves, it grinds down and stays there. It would have to be painted.
And why had that corner flaked and blistered? What was going on there? I worried about a leak. Were there any pipes in that spot? I hoped not. I got a small stepladder out of the hallway closet of our building and got up there and poked softly and felt around with my fingers for moisture or gumminess. It didn’t feel like anything was leaking. Maybe it had been the old showerhead that I replaced, a huge bulbous thing with little nodes and holes all over it that sprayed water everywhere. I hope that’s the explanation. So, no plumber (knock on wood) would be required, but it definitely would need to be painted. How was I going to find a match for this paint? It was an off-white with a soupçon of yellow. I didn’t have a name for it. It had been fifteen years at least since I had painted the bathroom. It was probably called something like eggshell white or water lily blonde or coronation champagne. Who knows. I had not been prudent and kept the can. Or written it down.
Finding a match turned out to be embarrassingly simple, albeit a tad pricey. After I scraped some paint away in the corner I was able to collect the flakes that had fallen into the tub in an envelope, which I took to a paint store on Stone Way called Daly’s. A pleasant young man at the counter explained that I could get a mix, but the smallest they could sell me for doing that would be a quart. A quart would be way too much, but if they could find a good match, it would be worth the price, which was around thirty bucks. I picked the paint up a few days later. The match was perfect.
I asked the clerk (this time a young woman) what the name of the paint was. She said it didn’t have a name. It had a number. I looked at the number. It was big, a formidable number. The tint had been calculated with such perfection that it had entered the realm of science, astronomy and quantum mechanics. This wasn’t just paint, it was a Schrödinger equation.
I got the paint home and got everything ready to paint, newspaper and stepladder in the tub, can of paint on the floor also on a sheet of newspaper. I had a critical decision to make. Should I find a small container that I can hold in my hand, or should I dip the brush in the paint and hold it so that the paint does not drip on the tub or floor?
I decided on the latter. It was riskier, but simpler. If I was careful, I would make less of a mess than if I tried to pour the paint into another container. I donned a pair of surgical gloves, opened the can with a screwdriver, and dipped the paintbrush into the smooth white surface of the paint.  There is something very sensual about paint. The gooeyness, the viscosity, the weight of the brush, the richness of color in liquid form, slowly turning the brush in my hand while the excess paint drooled back into the can, then slowly and gracefully raising the brush while positioning myself simultaneously on the stepladder in the tub, all these actions performed with great concentration were a form of meditation, an immersion in a medium of sumptuous stickiness.
Mistakes were made. Mistakes are inevitable. I forgot about our cat, Athena. Athena came wondering in and was naturally curious about what I was doing. She’s fascinated by the shower to begin with. She loves to get her front paws on the edge of the tub after I shower and gaze with great fascination at whatever it was that just took place. She licks herself. She doesn’t see us licking ourselves, but we do get into a shiny place and make water fall on us. In her world, that’s phenomenal.
Roberta had been outside raking leaves. When she came in I hollered to her to remove Athena from the bathroom as I had paint on my hands. Unfortunately, I forgot to warn her about the wet paint on the corner of the wall by the door. She scraped past and got paint on her fleecy blue bed jacket. I told her the paint was not water soluble. She would have to toss the jacket. I would buy her a new one.
And, inevitably, I spotted a few places that I missed, went to reopen the can, got paint on my hands and realized that I’d forgotten to put surgical gloves on. Getting the paint off with rubbing alcohol and soap was the most difficult part of the job. 
       Whether it was the tension of doing the job or the smell and fumes of the paint in an unventilated room I don’t know, but I got a terrible headache later in the evening. My brain felt like it had swelled in overall size by about an inch and was pressing against my skull which was beginning to crack. If headaches  -  like hurricanes  -  had names, I would name this one Vercingetorix after the Celtic warrior king who proved to be such a headache for Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars. It was tough and stubborn and shaggy and unruly. Celtic to the core. A mean headache. The kind of headache that brings down empires. I could name it that, or I could name it Jon Brower Minnoch, the heaviest man in medical history, who weighed over 1,400 pounds when he was admitted to Seattle’s University Hospital in March, 1978. Two beds were lashed together and it took thirteen people to roll him over for linen changes.
I took some ibuprofen, and the headache dissipated some minutes later. That’s always such a good feeling. It’s as if Jon Brower Minnoch lost 1,211 pounds and strolled out of the hospital at a trim 189 with a smile on his face.
The next day I removed the painter’s tape from the upper wall by the ceiling where I’d painted. It was riddled with paint, which hadn’t yet dried. I tossed the tape, got out the rubbing alcohol, and went to work on my hands again. Paint has a genius for getting and going everywhere. There was even some paint under the tip of my thumbnail. I solved that with a pair of clippers.
I was happy with the result. The bathroom looks great. That yellow tint, the indefinable hue that put the off in off-white, that required calculations as formidable as those assembled at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena or the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, brightens things up, makes it seem like a fun place to be. Showering and shaving and brushing my teeth and other ceremonies performed to maintain my hygiene are not activities I generally choose to celebrate, or characterize as fun (I would choose very different words), but it’s nice to perform them in a space that’s been augmented by a nameless color of paint, a paint whose hue is so specific in its charm that it eludes the syllables of the mortal realm and hovers somewhere between transcendence and dream.