Friday, March 30, 2018

Notes From The Terminal

Fingernails are amazing. Earlier tonight, on our way home from Chinook's, I discovered a new use for them. With my left hand on the wheel of the car, I was able to use the fingernail of my right index finger to scrape away the dried salsa on the cuff of my jacket.
Is there anything more convenient than a fingernail?
The salsa had dripped there from a previous evening. We had gone to Señor Villa in Lake City to meet with D & H, who were a no-show. D texted us minutes after we’d left our apartment to let us know he had a migraine and he and H couldn’t make it. We received the message shortly after sitting down in the restaurant. We told the waitress the other two people we were expecting weren’t going to be there. She asked if we were going to stay. We said yes. I’m glad we did. The food was terrific. I had enchiladas with salsa. The salsa must’ve dropped from my fork en route to my mouth as I speedily caused my dinner to disappear into my stomach.
Chinook’s has become our favorite restaurant, which is a little ironic, as their specialty is seafood and I don’t normally care for seafood. I do, however, like crab cakes and fish and chips. It is the fish and chips that we look forward to at Chinook’s. That and the garlic bread which comes speedily and free to your table almost as soon as you sit down. The bread is moist and warm.
Chinook’s is located at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal on Salmon Bay, a little over a mile east of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and immediately west of the Ballard Bridge. The terminal serves more than 600 vessels, most of them commercial, though there are now some pleasure craft moored there as well, which has been the source of ongoing conflict between the commercial interests and the wealthy, recreational boaters. The main point of contention, dating back to 2009, was over the possible removal of the storage sheds the fishermen use for drying their nets with a view toward boosting their value as real estate and rendering them attractive for redevelopment, i.e. gentrification. I don’t know what has happened since. So far as I know, the drying sheds are still there.
The view from nearly every table at Chinook’s is that of commercial fishing boats. The bay is mostly calm, and the late afternoons  -  which are our customary time for dinner -  see little activity. It’s mostly just people leisurely strolling by or a few gulls wheeling and spiraling above the masts.
They offer three types of fish: salmon, halibut, and lingcod. We order the lingcod.
I’m always afraid to ask where the fish comes from. The ocean has been so fouled by garbage, nanoparticles of plastic, fertilizers, mercury and oil that it seems like a miracle that anything is able to live in it.
This is true of anything we buy. You can’t escape it. Everything has a sad history of pain and suffering and exploitation behind it, destruction and exhaustion of natural resources, overworked and poorly paid workers, habitats lost to urban development and climate change, species driven into extinction by pesticides and noise. Species are unable to communicate when the environment is too noisy. Reproduction declines. Populations disappear.
And yet people continue to use leaf blowers and power-wash their driveways. It’s mind-boggling how destructive the human animal can be.
The meal arrives with astonishing swiftness. The fish is good. It’s moist and tasty, and very, very hot. I almost get a second-degree burn pulling a steaming morsel of pale tender meat from my mouth.
I don’t taste anything like plastic or mercury. Which is not to say it’s not there, it might be there, but it if is there, I’m not tasting it. Like everything else which is sure to have a disturbing narrative attached to it, I’ve learned how to enjoy things by drawing heavily on my ability to produce a state of cognitive dissonance. I try not to peer too deeply into the reality of things. I have to. It would be overwhelming otherwise; I would be crushed by the weight of too much reality.
My favorite brand of illusion is a phenomenon known as “optimism bias.” Optimism bias provides the illusion that you are somehow less prone to negative events than you would otherwise more realistically conclude. This makes it a silly and potentially dangerous illusion, but without it I’d be stumbling around in a leaden existential funk.
It’s largely a dishonest psychological mechanism. I would prefer honesty, but honesty comes at a very high price. Honesty means acceptance of the fundamental temporariness of life (I’m fairly good in this department), but it also means putting an end to the filtering out of a lot of information because the knowledge is ugly and implicates you in a ubiquitous web of global predation. It means you accept your role in global malfeasance and exploitation, even though it is mostly involuntary. It means maintaining a high level of awareness at all times. If you agree with Buddhist philosophy and the idea that all life is suffering, you can see how this might be a difficult position to sustain. You might want to take up the actual practice of Buddhism and learn to live with the inner chaos, torment and contradictions of a modern identity. This burden is significantly lightened by two things: a sense of compassion, and the awareness that the self is an illusion. One’s core reality is the void.
But let’s say Buddhism isn’t your cup of tea: is there a way out of this web? One might, I suppose, go live an autonomous, self-sustaining life in the wilderness, provided that one can still find a wilderness. The one person who most notably attempted this in recent history was Christopher McCandless, who inspired a book by Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild) which was developed into a movie by Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch. McCandless spent 113 days living by himself in the Alaskan wilderness, eating edible roots and berries and finding shelter in an abandoned bus. Things did not go as planned. His body was found in the bus on September 26th, 1992, by some hunters nineteen days after he’d died. It was surmised that McCandless, already in a seriously emaciated state, had eaten the seeds of the wild sweet pea, believing it to be the wild Eskimo potato, which are toxic.
Me, I get by with a little help from my friends: optimism bias and cognitive dissonance. And when they don’t work, there’s always salsa. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


 We’re hairless for the most part. There’s a few of us with hair, bristly, fuzzy, shaggy, going clockwise in corkscrews or ethereal as halls of hallelujah in the summer picnic clouds, enough to appear mammalian, like a monkey, I think you get the picture. But mostly we’re black and pink and various shades of brown and our skin is bare and tender and soft. The skin cuts easily. Bruises easily. And so we build shelters to prevent ourselves from bumping into one another, doors and windows and rooms to do things privately, unobtrusively, things like eat and shit, take showers, enjoy sex, watch TV, and keep from getting hurt, keep from getting shot or stabbed or stepped on or cut. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. And as we near extinction I have to wonder: will there one day evolve another species with enough curiosity and arms and fingers or appendages resembling arms and fingers, appendages with the suppleness and sensitivity to maneuver implements like shovels and trowels to come dig us up and reassemble our bones, put us back together like Humpy Dumpty and stick us in museums, position our anatomies in big display cases to do whatever it is the species taking our place imagines we might’ve been doing in those two-legged bodies with osteoblasts and osteocytes, little finger bones and big thigh bones and a big round skull to house and protect a squishy globular convoluted brain and tree-limb arms and beanpole legs and funny elegant bones of the feet. How do you walk on those?
We didn’t just walk, we danced. Hard to believe. But there it is. A species that danced.
Will we be remembered? Will we have counted in the infinite reaches of space as a narrative of survival and civilization whose records indicate vertiginous odysseys of thought?
Or will we be forgotten, obliterated from the record, our bones reduced to atoms, our quirks reduced to quarks, our valentines crunched into neutrons? Was it all a charade? A masquerade? Does it matter? Not really.
And what am I doing? What’s all this firefly chasing chimerical vermicelli?
I don’t know. Trying to write it down. Life down. Put it in letters. Words. Sounds that make meaning. Sounds that make images appear in the brain. I don’t know why. It’s a compulsion. Amber beads strung together for a necklace. Why, I don’t know. For decoration. Or more importantly conveyance. The conveyance of ribs. Drums. Fireworks. Emissions of truth, if you want to call it that. An attempt to be truthful.
Why? Why be truthful? Truth matters. I believe it does. And that’s the truth. The truth for me.
I sound dark. I often do. It comes with age. It's hard to be buoyant when you're old. You cease developing and cultivating looks. A look is what you call an attitude. This would be poise and sunglasses. I did a lot of that when I was young. I tried looking cool. I looked at Miles Davis and thought, that's it. That's the look I want. How can I be cool like him? Like Miles Davis?
I don’t know, but the end result was Gabby Hayes.
You’d have to be my age to know who Gabby Hayes was. Gabby Hayes was an American actor best known for his roles as a hairy sidekick, a goofy old guy with a wink and a howdy do. He starred alongside William Boyd as Windy Halliday, but then he got into a dispute with Paramount over his salary and went to Republic Pictures and changed his nickname to Gabby. He got a gig hosting the Quaker Oats Show. He’d sit on a bench whittling or sanding some little object, wearing a big black floppy hat, its brim gashed in several places, and speak in a creaky old man’s voice about the sundry oddities and flaws of life, how he just couldn’t remember what it was he was not supposed to forget and hold his hand up revealing a big black ribbon tied around his index finger. “Just look at that,” he’d say, “now what have I got that doodad on my finger fur.” He wasn’t just a bedraggled clown of the windy old west, he had wit and fire, there was brimstone in him. He was handy with a gun. He hosted Quaker Oats for four years, 1950 to 1954, did a one-year stint with ABC in 1956, and then, in 1957, his wife died. He ended his days managing a ten-unit apartment building in North Hollywood.
Quintessence, some cosmologist say, is a hypothetical dark energy that is implicated in the accelerating expansion of the universe. It is fine-tuned to explain the cosmological constant problem. According to the cosmological constant, the universe is static. But it’s not. The Hubble telescope showed that the universe is expanding more rapidly than expected. Astrophysical data shows that this sudden transition in the expansion history of the universe is marginally recent. That’s a bit spooky. What’s going on? Will any of us ever know, ever find out?
In real life, Gabby Hayes, whose real name was George Francis Hayes, was well-read, well-groomed, serious and highly philosophical.
There’s more matter to matter than mass and density. There are also doodads and fur.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Theorem Serum

The words will never be what I want them to be: boats, pumps, seeds. Random fluctuations. A renewed polar ice cap. Fireflies. New Mexico. Horned lizards everywhere. Enhanced anarchic relations. Intestine ceremonies. Buildings of frothy coincidence. The mathematics of cake. A scorched teasing stretch of spin shop. Venerated murmuring geriatric centaur. Thinking grows a head of repurposed make-believe. The window aims at pronouns. The smell of testimony in a sleepy caricature fused to a manipulated nasturtium bounces through the sentence creating images of paradise. Ears steeped in the myth of the oboe bloom in a jukebox omelette. Eggs of sound hatching out into incandescent yo-yos. Exercise joined to crying in the mailbox. Grope rope. Spatial metamorphic hat of delicately assembled wire. So moving, so palpable, all truth and light, it’s so emotional that rashes break out and everyone tries to understand the pretty putty of time as it holds space in a wormwood sombrero. It hurts me little darling through the morning through the night. I swim through everything you say. Progress performs its suspensions in a sphere of dynamic sprints. Mindfulness in the steam house. Metaphysics folded into proverbs. A bottle of evergreen and wind. The mountains dripping conceits of rock and height. The charm of water changes how I see the world. There are paths around the lake. The enthusiasm of the Etruscans protects the twinkle of tangibility in a hammer. It should be a worldwide thing. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’ve used a lot of hammers, but this is the best one I ever used to build something, an emotion, a landscape, a place for the words to pullulate. And why won’t they? These words, these nerves, these ivories of sound. Why won’t they gather at the deep vertical opening that is the origin of the world and concede to the lips of such an explicit wisecrack? Why do they elude our twists, our convulsions? Why? Why do they wink with lechery? The symbolic learns to melt into insemination. Inseams of unseemly bargaining. A woeful doleful account of life in a leer. Balzac in Paris. Her majesty a cat sitting by a window. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Solace Of Hands

Nails absorb the alpaca. The invention of extraversion helps the chemicals find their way to a deeper expression of sparkled organza. Point the calculus at the almonds. It’s where the exponents rescue the sad triumph of privacy. Age dazzles time because it’s tied to the belt buckle, not the balloons. Think of the choir as a cyclotron. Think of music as a soybean. Think of  your hands as within reach. Think of a peach on a beach and an owl on a towel. Think of a sleeveless one-piece jumpsuit extended into a sideboob tattoo of atomic theory. I think I know what thinking is but I don’t know what it is I’m thinking. Can it be oviparous? Can it justify beige? Can it groom its wings with shoe polish? Can it assume inscrutable shapes? Distractions are always soaked in language. This is because opacity justifies the clarity of the teepee. I need to cure the scratch on my elbow. Asphalt has a painting to develop. The cracks are harnessed to a summons of subterranean flutter. The roots escape the lake. Ambiguity arrives in opposition to algebra, though nobody knows why the kangaroo is wearing a velvet fedora. Smells encompass a swarm of noses. The contact has a natural interior known as the sinus, or crawling. My address is under a cap of galvanized tin. The brim is stiffened mass. The jackknife refines the thrashing of grass as the stars shave above the wind. I’m dripping now, pulling a piano played by a flock of sparrows. My thirst beats against the chocolate, expecting thought. Lines joined in circumference mutate into a junkyard. We plummet through our conversation setting thought a-jabbering. The stipples are a delectation of progress in the sphere of the hyphen where all the knights wear scrap metal and all the birds are liquid airplanes. I am hinting at the exploration of experience. The knobs maneuver the moose. The railroad hauls people east, to haircuts and jobs. Byzantium arrives by mail. Almonds rescue the bobble of despair. I ache in a stream I’ve approved by an innocent enjoyment of headlights. The chair is an abstraction of space sawdust. We’ve all seen it before: the eyes of the mailbox watching your every move as it discharges letters from all the Romantic poets. And then why, I don’t know, it all turns to succotash. No need to panic. Contact is good. Touch as much as you can. There is solace in the hands. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Whisper Museum

I like to squirt the warm treasure of words. I have sticks in my mouth and hills. It’s thrilling to watch the light travel through space. I like salt too, and colors and combs and the colors of combs.
I find consistency in skin. Skin is consistent. This is one of the characteristics of the skin and I like it. I like it because it’s consistent. And because it’s generally soft, soft in a general sense, and not like fire, which hurts if you touch it, or smell, which is inconsistent.
Creativity is an act of defiance, said Twyla Tharp. I like that. I like it because it’s true. And it’s all we have. War doesn’t work. Violence doesn’t work.
Or does it? Does violence work? Many works that include violence are quite good. The Bible, for instance, or Shakespeare. Violence makes a point. It excites the blood. It attracts and repulses simultaneously.
I’m often confused in my head. Confusion seems to be my natural state. It’s like constantly being entangled in blackberry vines. You have to stop struggling and move slowly to extricate yourself.
I also like the warm treasure of radio. And circulating blood while I crawl toward something twinkling and sexy. Perception is sometimes a ceremony involving the fingers as much as the ears. Or you can jump from a plane and open a chute and feel the surrounding air that way.
Whenever I move it’s like taking a dollop of space and spreading it around with my body.
I know that pathos elevates. It’s inherently noble. And yet fencing is expansive and pointed.
If you fall among oats on the way to the pump it’s ok. Some perceptions have a velvet understanding of extraversion and will have you rubbing up against fenceposts.
I don’t know what I mean by that. I think I meant cherry pie.
But I don’t know why.
Let’s go to the whisper museum and study the whispers in their glass cases. Whispers nailed to the air like words. Whispers thrashing around in reproductive frenzies trying to make themselves heard.
When the voice is engorged with a word like ‘glockenspiel’ it becomes suspenseful in the empty world of rain when sadness happens and the trashcans overflow in the alley and stories embroidered with skulls seem improbably congenial in ways no one expected and full of rich meaning.
The resonance of harps and guitars wrestle the hills into volume and bring the world closer to our hearts where we can hug it with our voices by singing and coordinate the sticks of language in dimensions of unprecedented wealth.
The coins of talking which fascinate the ears. The hammering of nails and making a point. The redundancy of junkyards and their peculiar romance with noise.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Muscle Beach Party

Muscles stir to establish themselves as unions. I sleep in a skein of hair to shave this point and make it register as a guest to materialism. I have faith in ginger. I have faith in immanentism. I have faith in the mundane as well as the transmundane. The toads are harnessed and pull us into Capernaum. This is a messy place. The houses are full of legends and bright shiny coins. I lend a thin ignition to the suffering of the piano. Even the music gets down. It lies on the floor in a miasma of swooning melody, and then begins to snore. I became a man that day.
Stars are won in neon. It is thoughtless to scold a table. The French fries ooze commas of vigorous percussion and the sentence fiddles its way into obscurity like a Chinese junk on the South China Sea. We rest below deck balancing the scent of musk with eggs and syntax.
Well-being has a way of combing its plumage that knocks down all the doors preventing the magic of rags, and so the odor of creosote murmurs its nonchalance to whatever train happens to be moving through the wall. There was a time when one could wander the aisles of a hardware store and find things that mattered. Things that were useful. Things like nuts and bolts. Things like shovels and hoes. The seagulls gathered at a point in the sky and then circled one of the many islands that occurred to me just now. The gliding of swans is an altogether different matter. It’s ok to whistle like a teapot if a jet of steam meets a pressure pulse and there are words adequate to describe the ambiguity of success and the romance of failure. If the words are boiling you might consider expanding them into a warehouse full of noise. Noise can be gardened. You can feel it in the shoulder. The bones and furniture. The segments and grammar. The cartilage and wasps. The thorniness in the language when it’s knocked into luxury and even the chairs seem flirtatious.
Sometimes the grazing of animals reminds me of things that echo the cravings of the spirit during sports events. It’s easier to use an eraser than to go away and comb your hair. People can tell you what happened later. I have no idea what Nietzsche means when he says that morality is instinctual. If I were you I’d just get a hot dog and worry about it later.
Wealth can mean so many things to so many people.
The intuition of legs approves the promenade in a suggestion of feet. This has been proved by the fact that things in this world change. The coconut palm has a sensual squirt. I have the wasp’s thorny tongue for a furniture of flames and the curious effect of language on a flight attendant. The lushness of remedy in a simple frequency can accomplish eyes. And a library is the perfect place for the gyrations of a fish.
The flair of seaweed remedies the carpet with a regatta of tattered memories. The fog bends itself into a retina and commits to a long sweet silence. You’d think logic was a bath of warm water and dreams carried blood to the heart. There are regions of the mind that no one explores. We dream of a ratatouille of words, a catastrophe of words, and then begin to speak, hesitantly at first, and then with a rush of ash and fire that billows all the way to Omaha. You can say it’s the rain. You can say it’s the thunder. But you can’t make the world go backwards. You can’t take something you said and put it in a vase and expect it to mean more than what it is. And who knows? It might get watered, and it might not. It might get up and walk away. It might arch itself into grief and play a mean guitar. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Glockenspiel Milk

Turpentine unites in sensation. The spirits split the paper into thinking. Thoughts are butter, just pull the string. I adjust to life as best as I can. I drink glockenspiel milk. I feel the seclusion of blue which is simultaneously reached by stumbling. I thrash around in bed each night looking for sleep in a hilly oblivion. I sweep the punches into a paper sack and go clanking around the house in the armor I welded by spark and anarchy. My buttons groan controlling opinions of my shirt. The thermometer trapped a temperature and ate it. Now it’s cold in my sonnet and the lobsters adjust themselves to an ocean in the making, a basket of water charmed by correspondence. Can you hear the echoes of Spain? The airplane invents itself. The air endorses our injuries. If we linger among the clouds it’s because there is a certain prominence in locating a friendly pie. We at the Théâtre Montmartre understand ourselves by speaking in metaphysical geographies, little smells like incense, big smells like grease in a motorcycle shop. I’m not responding to the liquor today because I didn’t drink any. I’m too fond of glockenspiel milk. You squeeze the udders and pull. The rest is music. The delectation of sound in an aching expansion of logic. 

Monday, March 5, 2018


Does nudity feel strange to you? Ever? I don’t mean taking a bath or a shower; that’s routine. I mean doing something that doesn’t require nudity, vacuuming, or painting the ceiling. If you answer yes, it does feel a little funny, a little odd, there it is: the magnificence of being nude.
Which is also a little weird. Why does nudity feel weird? I don’t know, but it does. It feels strange. Especially when I'm in the public. The world is lucky. I don’t go into the world naked very often.
There’s something flagrant about nudity. That’s what’s strange. Why should nudity be flagrant? Or outrageous or shameless? We’re animals, after all. Wind the clock back 800,000 years and what do we look like? Short, muscular, and tough. Hairy. Did we wear anything? Can’t say. All the artist’s depictions have us covered in animal fur. I’m guessing that’s probably right. I’m also guessing that thoughts on nudity were non-existent. We were more animal than human at that point. Civilization obscured the mammal in us. Descartes removed us further from the honest physicality of our mammalian bodies into the realm of the abstract. Archaic humans, I would imagine, did not have a sense of being that radically different than the creatures they hunted, the creatures they feared, the creatures they depicted on the walls of caves. Perhaps they sensed a difference occurring inside them, and felt so weird about it they felt they had to go deep underground to give that perception representation and shape. It might also have been something utterly practical, like keeping their artwork out of the rain. The possibilities are as fascinating as they are abundant.
But that’s the problem with guessing. It’s not the same as knowing. Knowing is conscientious. Guessing is fun. Guessing can take you anywhere. It’s all speculation, conjecture, supposition, shot in the dark.  And it’s fast. Your conclusions don’t require proof. They’re just a guess. Nobody is depending on the accuracy of that answer. The judgment is open to further revision. The way is open. The choices are broad.
True. But (in the realm of the nude there is always a ‘but’) guessing is unsatisfying in the long run. The mind begins hungering for more reliable information and guessing only provides air. Volatility and ice.
What was life like 800,000 years ago? Was it cold? Was it warm? Was the night full of stars and animals? When did language begin? How did that get started? Who was the first person to point at the sun and make a sound come out of their mouths that a small group of hominids would all agree from now on would refer to that big yellow thing in the sky that makes us feel hot on certain days and on other days just wanders through the sky making light come out of it but not much heat? Did everyone mutually agree, yeah, wow, you know that sound sounds just like that that big shiny yellow thing up there. Good job. Thank you.
Here is what we know: 800,000 years ago, when the first humans began to appear, earth was a lot colder, rained a lot less, and England was still connected to the continent. Continental ice sheets extended down from the arctic to North America and Europe. Wooly mammoths, mastodons, moonrats, giant ground sloths and flightless birds such as ostriches, rheas and moas roamed the forests and plains. Boreal forests of spruce and pine towered above an underbrush of salmonberry and devil’s club. Nine-foot bears weighing nearly a ton lumbered hungrily through stands of oak and cypress. Life was brutish and simple. It killed you, or you killed it.
Also, there were no grocery stores. Or car mechanics or badminton.
But I can’t really be sure about badminton.
I’m fairly certain there was no opera, rock concerts, parking lots or canned soup. Or spring mattresses or shower curtains or hot and cold running water. There was probably a lot of nudity, though. Nudity at home, nudity in the wild. Absolutely no need whatever to carry around a wallet or a purse or a set of keys. All you had to do was stomp around with a stick or a basket and collect nuts and fruit. I’m guessing the diet for most hominids was elemental: not much in the way of trout almondine. Just trout.
I feel more attached to the earth when I’m nude. I feel the air around my body. I feel enveloped, and the envelopment acts a membrane, connecting me to the world. Clothes add identity and separation.
Nudity provides a finer understanding of life. Clothing prevents contact. Look how armored the police have become. This is the contrary to nudity: not just the body, but the whole being is entombed in a sinister casing: insect-like. An exoskeleton.
The less an idea is clothed in words the more convincing and powerful it becomes.
Why has there always been more magazines of naked women than naked men? Why does this fascination with women’s bodies persist?
When men display their bodies there is a natural tendency to flex their muscles. Muscles are a sign of power, of dominance and autonomy. Women seem mostly grossed out by these spectacles. Women are also much more at ease with sensuality. They seem at home there. Men seem inconvenienced.
The Journal of Happiness Studies claims that people are happier when they’re naked. Taking your clothes off around strangers is good for you.
Nudity and the absence of clothes are two separate things. Nudity confers, infers, and invites openness. It is the essence of openness, of candor. It’s not just a matter of revealing our skin and muscle. It’s a gestalt: raw sensory experience wholly accessible and dehiscent.
Peeled, unfurled, unobstructed.
You see yourself. You can be yourself. There is no self. The self is skin and blood. Subject and object distinctions disappear. There is a new grammar, the syntax of knees, the predications of cartilage.
Nudity is all about touching. It’s like walking around with your eyes in your hands.
Why would a dream about being locked out of a room while naked in a hotel and having to go down to the lobby to get a key to one’s room have a nightmarish aspect?
The nose is its own tale of nudity. The face hides its nudity in smiles and frowns. The eyes become I’s because identity is a vitreous bath in a ball of jelly and nerve. It’s soft to be a cat but hard to be a human. I get dressed in the windshields of a past cracked by detour and gravel. The brain is clothed in mood, a blue velvet of electrochemical sparks. I pick up an agate that the beach and know that somewhere inside, it’s nude.

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Music Of Elsewhere

The café is in twinkle mode. I infringe on nothing but my own assembly of smell. I linger in invention, which is a metaphysics of aching acceptance. My injuries require a museum, dioramas of Fauve pioneers, a Nebraska in which one’s wallet charms the interior of a percolated airport. The thermometer reaches into its temperatures for a replica of paper. The pepper is an adjustment, but the salt is a sensation of mutual support, creating a bridge to the chronology of our buttons. Everyone swarms with opinion. It’s anarchic to do otherwise. Even the crows approve. The shovel clanks against the concrete floor of the garage and the glockenspiel collects dust in the corner where the shadows stumble through the music of elsewhere. The animals spread into the hills. The hills spread into the afternoon. The afternoon squeezes the world with its fading light and lifts oblivion into its warmer emissions. We join the butter and pull the string. Baskets of fruit tumble on our heads. I can hear Istanbul in the distance. It sounds like a glass of milk spinning with lobsters. I can’t control my opinions. I just let them wander around on paper until they become something I can throw over the wall and wait to hear them echo.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

All I Want To Do Is Root

There is a peculiarity of poetry, that when it becomes a habit of mind, it converts everything to poetry. Space, gyroscopes, tire tread. Somewhere there must be a poetry of tire tread. There is much to be said about tread. Tread is all about traction. Traction doesn’t come easy. The grooves are essential. The grooves are designed to expel water and keep the car from hydroplaning when it rains heavily on the freeway. Grooves are ingenious. Poetry is a groove. Grooves are a groove. Most poetry isn’t even a matter of invention it’s a matter of discovery. Observation. Traction comes with practice. Traction is a force. It has to be rolled on the road to get the scope of its grip.
Society wants us ground down so that we’re easy to deal with. Society doesn’t want complicated people, testy people, it wants easy people, obedient people. Productive people. People who render a service. Who agree. Who offer tangible goods.
Poets are the fools who tilt toward asymmetry and piccolos. What is this but saying that the task of the piccolo doesn’t end until the drums create the foundational rhythm we require to scale the walls of heaven?
The kind of traction poetry cultivates is designed to get us on the mountain roads, the rough roads, the roads where ice and ruts form. The tough roads lead us up and then they give out and we’re left with lichen and rock. Society’s smoke and hullabaloo are out of earshot.
But don’t get me wrong, friction is useful. Friction produces heat. The molecules rub the surface and get hotter and hotter until words resist the orthodoxy and spit fat hot moons of transcendent possibility at the zeitgeist eating its own progeny.
Poetry consists in its process, not its material. The material is immaterial. The process is unprocessed perception. The mess of living, which is a blessing, and an enigma. Anyone who can see interrelation in the unrelated is capable of producing works that grip the road like stigma.  
Think of it as energy conservation in a harmonic oscillator, sinusoidal oscillations about the equilibrium point with a constant amplitude and a constant frequency. The leaky bucket on the way to the barn, the trembling of strings on a Stradivarius.
It is the not the words themselves that form poetry but the smell of New Mexico in turquoise or the appearance of angels on the brim of a sombrero. It is the trembling in the atmosphere of the most distant stars, the digestive organs of worms, or the shawl of a single bacillus hunched over on its way to an important disease. The disease of living, which is a terrible disease, as it leads to more and living, and spontaneity, and loons.
I never set out to prove anything. I never set out to persuade anyone. All I want to do is root around in the earth looking for truffles. And then give it to you: a dark fungal lump of ineffable pungency crammed with the fragrance of death and earth and the secrets of Lascaux.