What is a mind? Three bananas and an avocado. Noam Chomsky’s old tired voice. The tinkle of the little bell when I take my shirt down from the hook above the bedroom window. The ghost of a pimple. The anguish of angels. The limp of worried teachers.
Onion rings and hamburgers in a brown paper bag.
I will feel differently about all this when I get my shoes on. It is age and experience that pull the mind into philosophy. The smell of those old corner grocery stores you don’t see anymore. That always smelled of fruit, and gum, and the hushed silver quiet of rain on the window.
The economy has changed. Capitalism is out of control. I want to build an eyebrow. An eyebrow big as the black hole on the computer screen staring out of its pixels like the omniscient eye of God. And unleash the eyebrow onto the world and its prodigal disasters. A monstrous eyebrow leaning into a divan with monstrous detachment in a Victorian salon. For what else can one do? One can make shadows. Huge representations of a world gone awry, humid and mutable.
Little girls make shadows on the sidewalk shorter, observed Mr. Jack Kerouac of Lowell, Massachusetts. Dead now forty-three years. As if that mattered. Which it doesn’t. He made a life of words and the words live on. Like a diamond in the mind. Like the intense cough of young girls in love. And camels and stains and hills of lights twinkling in Sausalito mist.
There was a time when writing meant something. Now it means any moment golden with emptiness. Old Frisco wood. Buddha’s golden belly. And dry men’s bones.
Youth never completely disappears. It evolves into forbearance. Long fat yellow eternity cream. Bracken saltwater slapping against the barnacle encrusted piers on the Seattle waterfront. Allen Ginsberg in Life magazine.
Sometimes a pronoun will tie a sentence into a knot and disappear. It walks around in my head. It gathers other pronouns. He, she, them, they, we, you, whomever, whatever, someone, anyone, everyone, us, and ourselves. They hurry forward with the force of conviction until a new sentence is built. Trucks fart and grumble up the street. Slabs of butter melt into the square shaped cavities of a waffle. The sentence grows into a paragraph and steams out of the nose.
It’s always wet in Seattle. Chilly and damp and grey and solemn. It is little wonder that the Salish cultures built totems. Totems are tall narratives of wood. That was before the repeal of the Taft Hartley act. Before the Space Needle and Bank of America. Before J.P. Patches and Kerouac visiting in 1956.
When the woods were primordial and moss hugged the trees. And mist went drifting through evergreens. And a big red fire hissed and crackled on the beach. And stories were told and snow fell and a man sat down on a decrepit couch in a decrepit room and sipped his wine and stared at the wall.
Words grow fat with infinity. Like railroad ties soaked with creosote. Gladiolas beaded with rainwater and a snail making its way across flagstones via the mucous of persistence.
Have you ever seen a chimney lean and wondered what kept it up? What kept it from tumbling down in a cacophony of old red bricks? Sometimes it is just age. Simple age. Time and reticulum and funny fat cherubs on a restoration ceiling.
Traffic has a rhetorical side. Hardjawed hardware man inching a Volvo forward. A big red bag of blood contracting and swelling behind his ribs.
William Burroughs looked bony in plaid. Looked bony in anything. Slouch hat and cane. A patrician of the brain.
Which is where the mind resides. In its cabbage convolutions. Monks in a room doing illuminations. Making occasional little remarks in the margins. I am very cold. The parchment is hairy. The ink is thin. Oh, my hand. Thank God it will soon be dark.
Conversation with Chris
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