Friday, July 17, 2015

What 68 Years on Planet Earth Have Taught Me

Revolt agrees with me. I cut cotton into wings and fill areas of conversation with humidity and kerosene. I dissolve in amber, culture pearls, light Colorado with my limestone piano. Structure collapses on the moon. My emotions smell of language. I feel extraverted and tangible. Life is not always quixotic. It can be rough. It can incandesce like a spinal cord. I can feel the medication kick in. Most of the carrying is sullen. Redemption will sometimes shake you to your core. Decisions are sharp and hard and riding the rails is full of thrust and steel. It’s better to bounce around in the United States like Neal Cassady than it is to arrive in a flying saucer. The mine is haunted but the gold is particular, like the legs of a tarantula. I must do some wash. There is always wash. Dishes, clothes, windows, chairs. The world is full of bananas and numerous subtleties of salt and dogs. The allegories take care of themselves. They reveal themselves in dreams. I’m dry now. People like to sing in church. I begin to think about eating. I think eating is silk. I salute my blood. I wave to my digestion system. Hello down there. How’s it going? I’m old now and have developed a wattle, much like the one my dad had, and his dad before him, and his dad before him, and so on. Grandmothers too. They all had wattles. It was Aldous Huxley that introduced me to the idea of a door and what a door is all about. Perception, you know? Like when a clock radio goes off and you hear a Bach cantata on KING FM and words fall through your mind in strings and you open one blood red eye and see a ceiling doing push-ups on your forehead. That’s what getting old is about. The brain reflects on its own reflections. And you feel like a rag on a shelf in somebody’s garage. And the garage smells of paint and turpentine and car grease. And that’s when it hits you: existence is soapier than death and money is lousy with symbols. But the funniest things in the world aren’t pimples, they’re fingernails.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I can’t get Pluto out of my mind. Tiny speck of light that it is, it sticks. I keep thinking about it. What’s there? What a fantastic distance this little rock gleams in the black void of eternity. My obsessive checking for images at Google News has partly to do with a sick cat and escalating veterinarian bills. There are other anxieties but for now this one is pretty big. And so I keep checking those NASA images. The first one to appear shows a faint ball of funny splotches and a black band across its equator the crew at NASA are calling The Whale. It’s not a perfect sphere, a big gash appears at the bottom. Or is that the eternal dark nibbling a part away?

It’s Pluto’s phenomenal distance that so captivates my imagination. At approximately 3.1 billion miles from Earth, give or take a few miles depending on its moderately eccentric orbit, it has taken the New Horizons space probe nine years at 36,000 mph to come within a few million miles of the planet, close enough to gather data about its surface, mailing address, and who lives there.
It’s doubtful that anyone lives there. Pluto is the very epitome of cold isolation. I imagine it as a place of magnificent desolation, high jagged crests of rock, bizarre ice formations, and an indescribable stillness. It’s a place that so resembles death that it is death itself. It’s exceptional in its inhospitable terrain. Not that Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus offer appealing real estate. Those planets are all balls of gas. Who wants to live in a ball of gas? Pluto, strangely, has a solid mass. My imagination can cling to it. Climb on it. Jump on it. Walk on it.
Pluto offers a place I can go in my mind to find relief from the anxieties of daily life. Mars performs this function to a large extent, but Pluto offers something different than Mars, which is a seclusion so perfect in its remoteness and so supreme in its stillness it’s a summons to the imagination. I can see myself walking on Mars. It’s unlikely that I have enough years left to train for an actual mission to Mars, not to mention a crippling inadequacy when it comes to math, but it’s doable on some level. Pluto is not. Pluto is strictly for the imagination. Like death, or the afterlife.
The New Horizons spacecraft, which is the size and shape of a baby grand, contains a portion of the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto’s discoverer. Tombaugh grew up on a farm in Kansas in the 1920s. He made his first telescope in 1926 after plans to attend college were ruined by draught and crop failure. He ground the lenses himself. In 1928, he put together a 23-centimeter reflector using the crankshaft of a 1910 Buick and parts from a cream separator. He discovered Pluto in 1930 after noticing the movement of a tiny speck of light among a pair of photographs containing over 150,000 stars.
The latest image (July 9th, 2015) shows a planet that looks like a reddish marble with swirls of white, or the clouded, cataracted eyeball of an old wizard. Off to the side is its moon, Charon, a mottled little ball of brown and grey with a few bright spots towards its bottom, which may be impact craters.
Saturday’s image (7/11/2015) shows Pluto from a distance of 2.5 million miles looking a little like an orange that’s been sitting in the refrigerator a bit too long. It has black splotches on the bottom and a surface that looks porous, perhaps riddled impact craters.
Today’s image (7/14/2015) taken yesterday from 476,000 miles away, reveals a sphere of ocher and burnt crimson with a heart-shaped splotch toward the bottom. Impact craters are visible. It looks like an impossibly isolated place. Lonely it is not. How can anything be lonely if nothing inhabits it? As soon as something is discovered, human emotion rushes in to define its features, its atmosphere, its character and soul. An entity as isolated and remote as Pluto baffles and excites the imagination. To think that it exists at all is cause for wonder. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Study of Oak

Study oak, I tell myself. Press your nose against it. Smell it. Touch it. Feel it. There is a god inside.
Beatitude is the steel of well-being. Which is itself fragile as an antique cut crystal English condiment set. Don’t wiggle this sentence. Everything depends on it. Including the sounds of Rome. The opacity of light in a dusty old caboose. Words twinkling and swarming around an hallucination of gravity salt.
The myriad narrations of life are polymers of being. Protein chains in serum albumin. This is called a residue. It’s a residue of thought. My body is engorged with the enigma of the stars. And I felt compelled to write that down. And now it’s an arabesque of gold and rattlesnake blood fluttering in the thorny truth of blackberries.
If I plate breaks in Africa, I can hear it in China.
The mountain pulls itself into a thought with a serenade of cedar and pine. I walk to the end of a promontory and look out over the valley. A song of thread pulses in a violet sky. Death is a glissando of snow falling on the river. Life is a cartoon drawn by creosote and grace.
I wonder what’s the best way to experience a philodendron, grip a revolver, or put something down on paper that will shine and spurt. I like things that spurt. The last bit of mustard from a plastic bottle. Water after you twist the nozzle and all that pressure gushes out onto the driveway where little incipient weeds twist their way through the cracks in the concrete.
Life makes me dizzy. There’s so much of it. So much possibility. So many choices. I’m always indecisive. Don’t know which way to go, what to do for the cat, best way to get to the bank, which bank, and what’s money anyway but a form of language: this paper means I spent X amount of time laboring for humanity, this is my share, my portion in the struggle to attain well-being, which is what we’re all after, all trying to achieve, all trying to figure out the best way to go about it, there are no maps for the future.
Sometimes money just falls into people’s laps. There’s no pattern or predictability to it whatsoever. Hence, the popularity of casinos.
So many fragrances in the air this time of year. Things blossom at different times. It begins in May, and by July I’ll start getting nosebleeds from all the pollen. Fine ocher dust collecting on the paprika red of our Subaru.
Don’t get me going on clouds. Endless fascination there. I’ll get a crook in my neck from staring up at the sky all the time.
My absorptions spin and shine. I’m haunted by antiquities of gold and granite. There’s no wave whose form and direction is entirely predictable. The wind can adjust things in less than a second. I feel the universe spread its wings. If I speak in metaphors it’s because the intimacy of the moment has become pink with affability. Even the cement solicits a reciprocity of spirit. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Halibut Today with a Chance of Bubbles

A find sucks Scotland. I feel planets and scrub. The weather appears halibut. A steep relation chirps invisible black participles. Civilization’s stars exult in churning perspective. Severity is air and how it becomes spectral. Driving is diving is tears when there is sheer form and velocity hangs in the mind like a raw geometry of vapor. The Parisian snow articulates clothing. Parabolas of taproot attitude statements are singing and clouds are mouths of heavy ships and rope. There is a grease for the propeller and strolling and axles and subtleties of abstract garage. Words in a sentence protecting things like grammar and baptisms of combinatorial arms carrying popcorn and metaphors. I like your touch. I don’t mean to seek approval, but the elegance of your feeling is just like saws or powwows. Get wet in the city dude. I mean babble. Bubble. Click together like spatulas. Presence tastes of heat. Ice cubes melt into experience. Lucidity floats in my head like a world. Hospitable trapeze tubs for quitting bad habits and mitigating dye. The water is a dime that indulges the eyes in a parable of metal and little bronze hats for the elves. French ocher impact kings playing at a swamp. I want to know more about you. Can you send me your name, number, and a sample of your wings? I like being abstract, you know, and writing things that bare themselves with an automatic awkwardness. Language cuts the air and unfolds by finger and aching desire. Winter is everything cabbage. This is how we fold ourselves. Cogitation is just a fancy word for consciousness. Description prowls behind the painting in blue tennis shoes and eight years in Ethiopia. Bob Dylan pays a visit. He’s old now. He owns his snakes and shivers from so much poetry that the beauty and grace of Italy compels my tongue to speak in time and twigs and arouses the good sense of fire when it’s sleeping to get up and walk around in a dusky migration of age and semantic mustard. Nothing pleases me more than knobs and a great many words so many words that silence eventually ensues and curtains and brushwork and incongruity. Can you imitate a box? All I need now is a little dynamite. All the letters do is excite my personality. But what can you do? If morning drops my heart I know the night will pick it up and carry it somewhere good.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Lonely Gaze of Men in Nightclubs

A silken air bends the greenery in a tangled mind. That would be the mind of the earth, which is a splash of calculus on the face of eternity. Which is chronology when chronology occurs and the lonely gaze of men in nightclubs. It’s the naked rupture of excursion when an excursion is called for and the personification of prayer in a radio vibrating with the definition of eyes. The eye is a ball of jelly. The human eye is an organ that reacts to light and allows vision and colors. It does delicate things and lives in the head. It liberates form. It does not completely answer why there is something instead of nothing but it does a good job drinking a canvas by Cézanne. Two eyes are better than one. Three is the optimal number. A third eye in the forehead drags winter behind it. A third eye in the head pushes the impact of an olive into the sag of time. Sometimes all it takes is a little concentration to discover sewing, or infinity, or a sale on light bulbs at the drugstore. Quarts of philosophy may be transacted by semantic obstetrics. Gravity thickens as we approach a planet or a headlight made of words. You must act like a cloth when the wrinkles of local emotion jerk forward churning in abstraction. This is the time to play a sublime accordion. This is the time to construct a symptom of rain. To open a suitcase in Wisconsin. To feel the planets ride their orbits in tranquil velvet space.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Joy of Insignificance

Last night during an interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Judd Apatow remarked that Jerry Seinfeld likes to tape a photograph of the universe taken by the Hubble telescope to his dressing room wall. It’s a reminder of how insignificant he is. He finds it uplifting. I know what he means. If the consequences of our actions are so insignificant in relation to the rest of the universe, the stifling weight of responsibility is lightened. It’s exhilarating. If a joke flops or offends someone, who cares? An ego is just a fragile egg of nonsense anyway.
This explains a lot, but not everything. It doesn’t explain hemorrhoids or toggle bolts. We must search elsewhere for clarity. There’s a book that rises with innocence and a book that breaks the chains of dogma. There’s no philosophy that doesn’t require a little sweat. At low tide the sea recedes into itself and furnishes the sky with indigo. Camaraderie floats on tolerance. Hope matures into coalition. And yet one has to wonder: what is the true spirit of evocation? The bow of our boat pierces the fog. Wine mellows the nerves. We construct a new paradigm by singing and invocation.
I have needs like anyone else, but no radar. I have to stumble around, feeling my way as I go. Timid creatures blink their eyes in the fog. Theories of undulation multiply like colors. A hawk hovers over Ireland. James Joyce lifts a bar of soap to his nose and sniffs. Certain things serve my needs, others show different ways to tolerate the world. Some things are simple pleasures, and other things shatter preconceived ideas. Take the bees, for example. What marvelous creatures. Sucking, humming, pollinating. Bees are parables of ecological equilibrium. And yet they’re dying. Sometimes the referent escapes its sign.
I go to the hardware store. I need some caulk. It comes in a tube like toothpaste. Squeezes out like toothpaste. I need it for the window in the living room. Mildew has invaded the space between the window frame and the wall. Yesterday I tried cleaning it as best as I could with a product I found under the bathroom sink called Method Tub and Tile Cleaner, which boasts being made up of non-toxic chemicals. What would those be? Curious, I read the ingredients on the back of the bottle: water, potassium citrate, ethanol, decyl glucoside, lauryl glucoside, sodium methyl ester sulfonate, laurel ethoxylate, polyquarternum 95, ethyl levulinate glycol ketal, ethyl levulinate propylene ketal, benzyl salicyclate, citral, linalool, methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. I spray it on the aluminum window frame and rub hard but it has little effect. I try some Comet cleanser. That doesn’t work either. I hope that the caulk will cover it up. I squeeze a line of white goo and run it down the window frame, then smooth it out with my fingers. It looks good. Some measure of equilibrium has been established in the universe.
The ghost of Picasso clanks by. I can tell what kind of day it’s going to be. Even the mint has a refractory taste. I feel the need for some speculation, for further reflection, for birds and words and rings and things. Why are we here? Where do we come from? According to the Bushongo of Central Africa, in the beginning there was only darkness and water and the great god Bumba. One day Bumba suffered a bad stomach ache. He vomited the sun, which dried some of the water up, and so some land appeared. Still writhing in pain, Bumba vomited the moon, the stars, and a host of animals, including the leopard, crocodile, turtle, hippopotamus, elephant and human beings.
A bomb of spit thuds on the ground. The sky is boisterous. I can feel the frequency of the philodendron. The pickle emits a metallic sound in the mouth. I stand next to a Cézanne which hangs in the air like a fever. My anonymity lodges in a stick. The water is sublime. Descriptions will stir if the weather holds. The universe explains my fetal position. The puddle explains nothing. It’s lost in its own reflections. An amiable distance flourishes under the chalk. Wonder rips the outdoors into moist circumferences of thought. I clutch the immaterial. I think of Apollinaire on the western front. I think of caulk, and chalk, and the joy of insignificance.