It’s a relief to see that the quality of the air is good today. Those wildfires in British Columbia have been raising havoc, days so hazy nothing is visible at fifty paces and the sky is a clumsy shock-absorber sitting at the far end of the bar. The sun got lost in its way east and had to check in at a Motel Six in Bozeman, Montana.
I don’t take the air lightly. I need it for making things. Moths and crustaceans, breath and laughter, chickadees and rust. The taste of things. The taste of raspberry jam. Bananas. Bread. Peanut butter.
Hummus. Cucumber. Hope.
Hope is bittersweet, a little like truffles, but with an angry aftertaste, belligerent and earnest, like a hardware store.
But let’s not get lost in the clouds. I don’t want to spook the cattle.
Some things, however, must be combustible in order to invoke the spirits. The spirits of the air, the spirits of the river, the spirits of fire and earth. The spirits of the absurd, which is laughter, and the spirits of breath, which are words.
Breath and laughter are rubbed together to produce poetry, which no one reads, and that makes it grotesque and private, the way it should be. Poetry fills the air with images and that frightens people. Images conjure thought. Association, interrelation, correlation. Nobody likes to think. Why would they? Thinking subverts the flat and literal and quarrels with the given, the monolithic. Life ceases to be a faked wrestling match and assumes the grandeur of trout.
Dexterity in the civil war wasn’t just a stylistic trait, it was a means to survival.
We all want to pull things out of the air. Rabbits, frogs, Manhattan in the 1870s. But no one wants to risk fragmenting circumambient space. That’s not what the armchair is for. The armchair exists for the quiet parable of our times.
Pulling things out of the air isn’t natural. It leads to enchantment. Enchantment in a disenchanted world can be a thorny predicament for anyone, but it’s especially hard on opera singers and postcards. For others, the goal is elusive, but simpler: it is writing well and taking the inner oak of oneself and floating it among the thieves of social conformity.
We must defend what we love. Enthusiasms are rare. My father gathered glowworms and put them in a jar so that he could read at night. Brancusi carved a bird in flight. Georgia O'Keefe painted orchids, hundreds of them. Enthusiasms are what happens when the universe smiles in our blood. Capitalism doesn’t like that. Capitalism wants you to buy things. If you’re happy and you don’t need to buy something to make you happy, capitalism gets nervous and does something to take it away from you. Capitalism gives you a job.
Imagination gives you everything. A white-feathered dream-catcher in a white Ford sedan. Atmospheres and maps. The solace of fire, the requiems of fog.
I gaze at the Seine flow under the Pont Neuf in Paris on my laptop screen while I wait for the blood to re-enter my leg so that I can get up and get something to drink.
Imagination is what happens when ripples move to the shore in Shakespeare’s sonnet, each changing place with that which goes before.
Water and waves are one, observes Shunryu Suzuki. Big mind and small mind are one. When you understand your mind in this way, you have some security in your feeling.
Me, I like to float.
I like to go underwater and hear the world and its funny burbling sounds down there close to the sand, which is rippled, and glittery in places.
And then pop back up and there it is: a row of poplars bowing to the wind.
I haven’t done that in a long time, not since the lake became polluted, and I spent a day in the hospital with an infection, nobody knew what, I never heard what appeared in that petri dish they kept down in the lab as I imagined it, something like mildew on the surface, I don’t know, they never told me, they just pumped me full of antibiotics and morphine, until it was over, I was released from quarantine, got dressed, and re-entered the world.
Climate change: it’s made the microbes meaner and tougher and more prevalent. So there’s that.
XRDS in Clarksdale, Mississippi, is on my laptop tonight. Blues roots radio in the birthplace of the blues. That’s the trade-off, I guess. All this technology, all this circuitry, has led us into hell while also giving us twenty-four-hour blues. Which is heaven to my ears.
Heaven isn’t a place. Heaven is an iris in the eye of a cat.
I feel the carpentry of the sky in my knee. I slide a cranky nerve through the weight of the sunlight. The lawn is a big friend.
So is morning. Who doesn’t like morning? People who like the night.
August is the month of moths and hummingbirds, the pulleys of the clouds, the distillation of myriad sensations, the tiaras of configuration, the sparkle of intrigue, the recommendations of trees and the portfolios of the sun.
I rub Athena’s black furry head and listen to Sera Cahoone pluck a Gibson guitar.
The rest of my day is a postmark predicated on circumlocution. Two mugs of coffee and a long wide sentence leading nowhere.