Sunday, September 25, 2016


I love nostalgia. I’m a nostalgia junky. Nostalgia becomes a refuge in old age, a place to go for resource and renewal in order to meet the challenges of a time that no longer make sense.
But then I have to remind myself that nostalgia isn’t a place or a time it’s a mood. It’s a feeling. With images attached.
Many of the images have faded over time. One of the strongest is completely inconsequential: I’m listening to a Donovan album and gazing at a ridge of the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. I’m living in Los Gatos, California, and attending San José State. I’ve been married for about a year though during this particular interlude of window-gazing, I’m alone. I’m alone with a window and the Santa Cruz Mountains and Donovan’s angelic voice singing “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” and feeling wonderful, one of the few times in my life I remember feeling that good.
Probably because I was also drinking wine. I loved drinking alone. I was my favorite bar and bartender. Drinking alone was wonderful. I got a lot out of it. It’s how I became an alcoholic. Alcoholism became a vocation from which I eventually retired.
I had to. The hangovers were excruciating. William Blake said that the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. He was right. Sobriety became my palace of wisdom. Though much of the time it feels drafty and weird.
I miss wine. It’s one of the things I’m waxing nostalgic over.
I miss my youth. That is quintessentially what I’m feeling nostalgic about. Who doesn’t? I mean, come on! Your body is supple and strong, the skin smooth, the eyes clear, the ears alert, the future ahead of you limitless.
Or so it seemed. When you reach 69, you realize down to the marrow of your bone that time is fleeting and cruel.
In the future I’d imagined for myself I was another Richard Brautigan. I was writing imaginative, playful, eccentric prose and selling millions of books from which I derived a comfortable income.
That didn’t happen. I didn’t begin to earnestly submit work for publication until I was in my mid-40s. I don’t like rejection. But if I didn’t start handling rejection, I’d never achieve anything. I got a lot of rejection. It got to a point that I dreaded hating opening the mailbox. Finding a response from a publisher, feeling that combination of anxiousness and excitement that comes with opening an important letter, then reading the rejection, however courteously framed, was like getting punched in the face.
I did, however, manage to publish a lot. None of it sold enough to make a living. Not nearly.
Nostalgia slices through me exquisitely when I hear a song that was released when I was in my late teens and early twenties.  “You’re Gonna Miss Me” by the 13th Floor Elevators. “Paperback Writer” by the Beatles. “Get Off Of My Cloud” by the Rolling Stones. “Pscyhotic Reaction” by the Count Five. “Hey Tambourine Man” by the Byrds.
It was a colorful time. Feelings were intense. Intensity itself became a value. Exultation, delirium and a carnivalesque atmosphere of jubilant freakiness à la Arthur Rimbaud were celebrated. It was often drug-induced. I remember buying some Dexedrine from the drummer of the Count Five and falling in love with the Unseen Power of Shelley’s “Hymn to Intellectual Beauty.” I had a relative, my mother’s cousin, a big man with a walrus mustache who lived in Cupertino and at whose house I stayed for several weeks in the summer of 1966 who worked as an engineer at Lockheed and to relieve stress worked in the garage on building a sports car from the chassis on up to the windshields and steering wheel. I sat in the living room reading about Buddhism and immersions in the transcendent glories of the mind. It was all about consciousness. Raising consciousness. Expanding consciousness. Liberating consciousness. Squeezing alchemies of golden luminosity out of the brain.
Always  -  ominously, sinisterly  -  the war in Vietnam and the prospect of getting drafted permeated everything with a poisoning anxiety. It was obvious the war had nothing whatever to do with defending the United States from the threat of communism and everything to do with war profiteering.
And here we are again. Endless War. The more things change the more they remain the same.
How can an ideology be a threat?
It can’t. Ideologies are to be argued and weighed and evaluated and debated. I think of Hugo’s hunchback embodied by Charles Laughton laughing maniacally as he swings back and forth on those giant bells in Notre Dame because he’s discovered romance. Ideas can be more intoxicating than any drug. They’re powerful motivators. But they can also imprison.
Walk anywhere in the city these days and all you see are people in zombie trances staring at smartphone screens. There’s no courtesy. No sense of shared experience. Only in the rock stadiums or political rallies where spectacle arouses the masses.
What happened?
Shit I don’t know. A paradigm shift. Commerce triumphed over spirit. Commodification triumphed over intellect. But I’m still fighting. Still resisting. Here in my own personal underground.
Her name is G, L, O, R, I,A. I’m going to shout it every day. Gloria. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tawny Again

Limestone  provokes an interest in swans. Prodigies of concrete cram my brain. My head itches. The piccolos feed agonies of form. Grapefruit is proof that the moccasins on the hearth are universal. I feel cloudy. I feel kicked and gynecologic. I feel expectant and louche. Life contains ingredients that I can pronounce, although they’re a little gray and mute. They need a spokesperson. Is this why life was created? To provide speech for the speechless? Who was the creator? Who did this? The potato merits attention, as well as bikinis, dimples, shadows and yachts. Coroners are often svelte, but the spirit is vast and soft. The spirit contains nothing garish, nothing exclusive. The spirit contains nothing. Nothing.
At all.
What can be shown cannot be said. It requires two hundred harmonicas to demonstrate the square root of a cricket. The paragraph crushes its own cognition and becomes a machine for thawing emotion. Picture a mime robbing a bank. Enamel does a flamingo. The escalator insinuates a delicatessen. The whole world crackles with hypothesis. The stars push the night into wool. Marie Laurencin does the dishes. Colors surge from solitude. Fantasies engage the towels. Migrations season the kerosene of emotion and caress pounds of murmuring Picasso. The earth is a sensation of calm and consecration.
I feel immediate and pink. We produce our odors with honesty and science. I’m eager to explore what’s behind the canvas. An antique staircase obtains its charm by mutating into a wildcat and flopping on a wrinkled cherry. My nipples fountain igloos. I slide through each sentence feeling connected and step slowly across the flagstones as I approach the Palace of Tears. Cubism is within my reach. I can feel it. Shapes of air tumble into the sails of nearby ships and humor the sky. The Palace of Tears echoes with freshly revealed secrets. Cubism confesses to the evolution of the boardwalk and finds salvation in incongruity. This is a mean old ugly world. But where else can you find Hostess Cupcakes, horses, and introversion?
Snow sometimes enriches our spirits with its calm and beauty, but our dreams are often unsettled by the presence of gray as the fog wanders the streets searching for form and identity. Is that what it wants? Identity? Or am I making this up?
I think I’m making this up.
But maybe not. Maybe it’s making me up.
All that we know for sure is that when night comes, the temperature lowers, the wind chimes grow still, and the stars disappear as the first flake drifts to the ground.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Sweet Trouble

Words thrive. As berries they sweeten trouble. As vines they tangle into supposition. I wish I was a catfish. I wish I was a vibraculum enucleating sitars, which is pure Sanskrit in some circles, pedipalp in others, occurring in isomeric crystals as evidence of the pleasure principle and inclined to umbrella, warranting wash-and-wear for the young, pawpaw for the elderly, and in some instances nodding pogonia, particularly for those whose violins remain to finish the symphony in near or total darkness. The patina everywhere is chestnut to burnt umber on a y-axis, and effective and catchy, like a bug. You know bugs. They thrive like words.
I fulminate behind the neck and absorb Braque. A taxi imitates a noun. I feel my problem with the sideboard grow into syntax. I sway and sparkle. My heart throbs. My shouts engorge. Even the folds of skin spitting in rage on the bullhead dogma are like puddles of copper.
The whisper glitters and shatters. I can’t remember what it said. Its details shivered in the ring. Raw sienna churned in scales. I was riveted to a dream of tinsel. I dissolved into Christmas. The streets were dazzling.
When I’m empty of things to say I grumble beside the graves. The oboe murders a sonatina in a deep gathering of pulse. For example, worms swarm below a surgical incision and create an armchair. This can only happen in language. I will comb your hair I will do anything to prove it. I will open your chest to a mongrel abstraction and feel wonderful like a cracker. Have some confidence in your singing.
Autumn was physical that year, and mulberry and ape. I pinned a vowel to your favorite metaphor. We endured the sand by hanging in space. Waves rolled in. Waves rolled out. Silence ensued. Blue orchids held the world in ageless gravity, and seemed firmly rooted in zip codes nobody understood, even though everything dilated, and agitated like tongues at night, wagging in testimony to the thermometer’s fugues.
Pablo led a nebula of horses out of the barn. I cried for my pummels to vanish from this plump introversion. I rushed to relate to your touch. I backed away and wired Chicago for more money. Certain feelings emerged, coins and hedges and heavily enameled Spanish airports. I left the perforated hammerhead stuff behind. The words slept on the page until they were awakened by your eyes.
The fantasy produced a new reality. We wrote it down and sang it in plugs of circumference. I felt like a cabbage. I writhed in the linen at night. I felt the mutability of the oval and tugged at a breastbone. The afternoon teemed with your signals. I prowled around and waited until the cathedral was outlined against the night. Words hung like apples from the branches of my calamity, which was too sensitive for technical details, but swiveled lightly under a bombardment of neutrons and bark.
And what was it, this large thing thrashing around in the sentence? That’s the feeling I like. An existence that is is partly vibrational, partly neurochemical, and partly a manifestation of language. That is to say, T-shirts and planets. Language disintegrates when it eats itself. But the words come back. They always do.
The truth is full of hallucination. Paradigms, spurs and rubber. Mass is energy. Can you see it? None of these words actually belong to me. They don’t belong to anyone. They’re the property of ghosts.
Words are packed in images because science is talking. Grab a vapor and crack some syntax over mohair. Put a zipper on the drizzle. Mortgage your confusion. This sentence has 400 legs and is crawling into your eyes. That’s how serious I am. I’m surrounded by steam, and feel pink and happy with the ambiguity of it all.   


Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Eyes of Baudelaire

A pulse is good for the health. So they say. I have a pulse. I often dream of the prairie. It must mean something. The stars help me evolve. They’re humbling. Or so they say. Personally, I find them disconcerting.
          We shiver in the cold. The fire is hard to get going. Commas cry for a pause in the sentence but it never comes it just keeps going as the words continue to reproduce. The radio cooks them in a sauce of feverweed and mariposa lilies. It’s a new kind of radio. It operates on apparitions. Galactic noise, ponderosa pine, tragic flaws and scrollwork.
This is how we incite our whispers to rub puddles into glittery decoys.
Water walks through itself. The capillaries in my eyes burst from screaming. The apparitions describe the beginning of a solar eclipse with an arc and a mutinous slave valve.
I don’t know what to say about the guitar in the corner. It belonged to a gypsy. It’s emblazoned with emblems of fire and empire.
There’s a door in my mind that keeps opening and closing. I wish my thinking would make up its mind. I wish my mind would make up its mind.
One day I got old and started popping bubbles. One day sooner or later it happens to everybody. The forehead folds into a toaster and when the bread pops up the eyes tend to close. I would love to be able to resolve into a dew but that just doesn’t happen unless there’s some literature lying around. Fortunately, there’s always some literature lying around.
Here comes some now. A feeling of frosted glass eats the motel stationary and spits a novel out. I’m calling it Seeds in the Dirt.
Or Flowers of Depreciation.
I have a copy of Baudelaire and a keen sensation of being alive. There’s treasure somewhere in the streets of Budapest. Don’t knock the obstacles. They’re important. Just walk around them if need be. They’re not going anywhere. When I hold them close to my body I can feel their pulse. Most of them are covered in hand cream but a few like to display their plumage.
I must remind you that the estuary is boiling and tonight’s bingo game has been cancelled.
Sometimes the future arrives yesterday and yesterday hatches out of a tired eyelid. The clouds pulse with lightning and rain glistens on the prairie grass. A residual emotion stumbles through my blood searching for resolution. I pull on a sweater and assemble a piece of water.  Whatever you happen to see swaying and rotating is my interior. It does that whenever the wind is from the north.
Syllables unravel during the meeting. A cloud folds the sky into a molecule and rolls it through an air conditioner. Later we watch it slowly congeal and drip from the bottom. Ovals imply benediction. My shoes are old but the road is older. When your hope is larger than the map the destination must come into question. There are commas for that, and rainbows and aspirin. Things will come clear eventually. They always do. I stand beside my hunger and saddle my tongue. It’s time to get going. I’m going to hang some sensations in the greenhouse and see if they turn saffron. The apples are a mystery. I don’t know what they’re doing here. Is that a good thing? Let’s say yes and light the lamp.
Depth is implicit. Surface is cold and agitated by gossip. I stir a pot of chowder. My shivers make the granite seem singularly old. My clarinet is broken but my cries claw the clouds out of the sky. I polish the oarlocks until they shine. I live in a milieu of bevels and berries. We love the new pavement. There’s a moose in the middle of the street and a pair of green oars in the garage. I like to imitate squeegees. It’s chiefly why I’ve chosen to congeal around this melon and go mingle with the crowd.
Or not.
Sometimes I just sit and think. And sometimes I scour the world for a pair of glowing wings. People ask if I find these metaphors satisfying and I tell them no, of course not. They’re metaphors. Why else would I move downstage retouching my soliloquy with a revived consonantal emphasis?
It’s ultimately the icicles that capture my attention.
The way they drip.
And drip.
Welcome to the north. Welcome to the stepladders and engravings. To the doors opening and closing. The cat on the hearth. Which is gold. And whose eyes shine like the eyes of Baudelaire.