Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Life is an enigma. No one knows what it is, where it comes from, what to do with it. Sleep and reproduction are partial solutions. But what can one do about diphthongs, or feverfew?
Wildcats roam the cotton fields. I find myself in revolt against nearly everything. Where does it come from? This agitation. This beard of hinges. This flow of arms.
There is the sparkle of literature everywhere. It helps. A form of thick syntax rolls toward the end of the sentence and explodes into Weltanschauung.
The earth smells rich. It’s an unmistakable odor. I and the world are two, yet we are one. I can tell. Because the coffee is locally roasted, and if we can suspend thought for a moment we can also provide rides, games and food concessions.
I need new shoes. The soles are getting worn. This is a sign of determination. The transcendentalist’s desire for something more is understandable, but for now, new shoes will fit the bill.
Consider the lilies. Here is where we find spars and mistletoe. I hear someone singing. My head explodes. Hey now, don’t dream it’s over. Even if a stiffened grammar drops dead there’s still a certain feeling in the breeze, the way the cypress leans into the land, distressing the ocean, which really doesn’t give a shit, it’s just there, waves rolling in, smash splash tumble tumble froth shine, then roll out again.
The smell of desire informs us that we must look in the right places for a solution to custard.
The circus taught me how to throw knives. Conversation taught me how to construct graphs and charts. In the end, the most important thing you can do for yourself is finish reading this sentence.
There now: was that so bad?
My book is bleeding. The one over there, bubbling on the coffee table. It’s a book about how to think. It says that thinking is frisky. You know? Like hydroelectricity.
Or plums.
We hammer our denim into instruments of anonymity. Then we walk around. It feels anonymous, like streaks of cirrus sprawling against a China blue sky as the glow of dawn attaches itself to the mountains.
What do we mean when we talk of home? My hands left imprints in the carpet after doing push-ups. Home is where the heart is, so they say. Nobody mentions the kidneys, or dialysis machine, or Hillary Clinton grinning at you on a plasma television.
I stand among cans of paint lost in reflection. I imagine the Phantom of the Opera languishing in chiaroscuro behind stage. Someone asks if I found everything I was looking for. I can’t remember what I was looking for. Was it Clipper Ship Blue or Benton Harbor?
I’ve never been very good at math, but that never held me back from creating equations in words, things like fingers and pizza deliveries.
Ever since it was washed, the throw rug in the hallway has had a tendency to bunch up in the middle. It drives me nuts. I just thought I’d mention that before the dead rise and the Age of Reason reaches its final end as a dirty hot dog and a crumpled shako.
Which reminds me. I’d like to tour Belgium one day.
I walk among giants. Keats, Shelley, Ginsberg, Dylan.
Emily Dickinson.
I inhabit poetry like a drummer inhabits drums, the streets of Céret abandoned to moonlight, the local bus steeped in a mythology of its own.  I thought of the river, how quietly it moved. How like a swan it moved through my mind.
The poem on the page is petulant. The smell of sawdust flavors its words. I’m captivated by your interior heaven. A reflection blossoms and is approved by my head, where it seems to live, and garner respect. We believe it’s haunted, my head. It could be. It’s full of ghosts.
Is your reality my reality? Consider the dream of the collar stud. A prodigious stirring shook the cemetery ground. It rained. We dried ourselves by the fire. Have you ever met someone so vaporous you could slide your hand through them?
Life is hard enough without making things more difficult, and yet it is precisely these kinds of judgments made privately and weighed publicly  -  or weighed privately and made publicly  -  that gives presumption its sweet taste and heady aroma.
I will sometimes find a daub of red on a daub of blue and feel taut and itchy as if a surge of life were stretched across my willingness to experience life.
And sigh.
Yesterday at our favorite Mexican restaurant there was a fly in the window. I couldn’t hear a word it said. Or even if it said anything. It just seemed focused on the glass. On getting out. On finding release. Welcome. Welcome my friend to Planet Earth.
I wonder about this urge, this desire to put words together. What does it ultimately lead to? I wonder what this activity would feel like if it actually made money. Give a big kiss to Missouri. I’ve never been there. That’s one reason I write. Another is that moment in a gift shop when you realize you’re the only one there and you’re just passing time you have no plans to buy anything of the silly items they’ve got on display and self-consciousness sets in, do I look suspicious you wonder, does the clerk think I’m here to shoplift?
The idea that anything can happen is exhilarating. The poem leans toward purple. Prince waiting for a prescription, riding a mountain bike in a Minnesota parking lot. Let’s drop anchor. Let’s take a look at what’s out there. What’s really out there.
The staircase hugs its own shape. Autumn gleefully does its thing. The train goes by. It has purpose. Can I include your dream? Your dream of the train? It’s so sweet, the way you open a jar of strawberry jam. There are many instances in life in which measurement does not apply.
My hammer speaks German. Did I mention that? The highway argues with the landscape. Volcanos spew fire, meteors streak the sky. There are many of us who seek transformation. Nothing happens by itself. I try hard to find meaning in everything. I never met an armchair I didn’t like. Life is a problem solved by fable. Make something up. Tell a story about picking leaves up one by one in the window well. You will know the right story by its trajectory. You will know the grammar of shoes by walking in them.
The poem complains of too much alliteration. The big bearded borborygmic Bolshevik wore a big blue bolo tie. Royal rutilant ruffles remedied the mangy echo. We stood aghast in the bathroom. Bright lights big city lights going to my head. Even the mirror has a pulse.
Wyoming flies out of my mouth. What can I say? I’m attracted to antique stores. Genetics in the heat. I always say, each of my failures is a huge success. Angst is good. Don’t scare it away. Don’t brush it off the table. You’ve got to hold on. Just hold on. Grab something if it helps. Write something down. Make it talk. Make it swim. Make it bleed.
Our knives gleam in the bloom of day. I see the potential of water just by moving the oars. And I move ahead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Phantom Cry

Heidy heidy hi. Heidy heidy ho. Listen to the chop of delicatessen Joe. Chick chunk plunk and a bumpety bump bump. Snip. Snap. Snoop. Holy befuddlement of the cheese grater. Little slices of Choctaw stump. Sioux City bristle on a fallible yarn. Dwarf star croak. Buckthorn buffalo clambake cracker. Cavefish bicycle bloom. Word salad fricassee. Feed these words your mind. Feed it rhyme. Feed it wine. Feed it a chair and a table and a Venetian blind. Feed it philosophy and blood. Employ the graceful stride of Yul Brynner. Impressionism deathwatch lamb. Deploy a reference. Gather hay. Murder snow. Squash the languor of comprehension into lush confusion. Seed the air. Grow a pack. Hang a sound of kitchen words. Excite the crisis of silence. Construction rains ash let’s crash through it. Go for a tangential stroll. I abandoned the palette and went straight to autumn. Antique smack of the moonlight reflection. I guzzle an eager beat. Exult in cardboard. Shatter the potato mirror. Glaze your denim. Enamel a configurational myth. Do it with an oat leg. Unpredictable salvation cinnamon. Caress your flutter. Euclid’s sting is close to a square. Paint this swell with heft and passion. The weight of the pumpkin chops into pulp. Cartwheels control the materiality of the Fauve octagon. Oblige me to arrive flowing through your buttons. Siege bread. Subtlety’s port exceeds the envy of earth. Trek glue. I steadily persuade my moccasin onto my foot. Fix this dynamic. The slide of my mouth occurs to a dish. The mirror spins listening. Let’s exchange streams. Exemplify absence with pharmaceuticals. Bubbles guide my hand across the paper. This is my impersonal predicament sternum. Punchbag veins. Red eyeball inside a white skull. The zipper’s reach mingles with a collar stud. My eyes grapple with a strangled coat. Vowels remedied the lost consonant. Drop and bend. Grope cod opened in jingles. Ask the escalator. Sensation’s hymn thrums through the Alleghenies. Unprecedented adaptation in slouched despair. Secrete wire. Gray enhances the sting of the tongue. Let it happen. Let it all happen. Happen and happen. See it all urged into change. Every antique knife. Every abandoned affection. Hear it cry. My phantom cry.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wild Einstein

My innocence has been pierced by deceit. Nothing new there, eh? I struggle with my scruples all the time. Who doesn’t like going to bed? I mean, come on. If language is an hallucination, then cactus beards the desert sky as the philodendron fills the dendrites of a finger as it rises and falls.
Metaphors deform the sink. I’m ready for just about anything.
The Jolly Green Giant smashes a teacup in rage. The clitoris purrs and is properly deified. An arm moves. Jewelry clanks like a thermostat. The deeper angst of meaninglessness and bewilderment is transmuted into the desire to accomplish, to triumph over insipidity.
Bubbles of meaning flow from my fingers. I scatter the ashes of worry on the waves of enlightenment. I’ve got a reason now to like overalls.
Anguish blurs vision. Logic doesn’t do that, but it doesn’t go that far anyway. I want to name this wine Wild Einstein. It involves the immediacy of steam, the seductions of chocolate, the embrace of drama, the push toward dreams.
I sat on the bed with my left leg tucked under my right leg and listened to Bob Dylan sing “Not Dark Yet.” “I ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes. Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear. It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin’there.”
I’d like to visit Greece one day. I’d like to see the Parthenon at dusk. That philosophical mood in the air just as the sun beds down on the horizon, disappearing bit by bit until the stars brighten and the night brings its ideas of infinity to bear down on the sad cold ground of planet earth.
Nothing in mathematics is ever literal. The rock is literal, but the river is not. Whatever happened to the idea of virtue? Why is it always so dark in here? I say: the more pockets, the better. You can never have enough pockets. What if you find writing on a bone and have nowhere to put it? Pockets make us marsupial and friendly.
Envy is the bitter fruit of dissatisfaction. Certain things invite touch, others not so much.
I mounted my horse and mused under the Sonoran sun. Cactus relates the hidden resources of the desert. I can understand that. What I can’t understand is twine. Is it string? Is it rope? What is it?
And please, tell me, whatever happened to the bill of rights? Habeas corpus? Free speech? Elvis Presley?
There’s your democracy, crawling into a skull. The plot has been sliding toward punk rock. There’s nothing quite so beautiful as the legendary mud disease. The theorem of plums stumbles out of a wild sorrow. All the clichés about old age are true. You get cranky. You don’t understand things.
A capable individuality sometimes capsizes in outrage.
There’s no formula for raw experience. Experience is experience. Hearing, seeing, touching, feeling. Mistakes occur. The buzzing we thought was coming from the Comcast box turned out to be my Gymboss Interval Timer vibrating on top of the bookcase.
The real basis of life is what? a blob of protoplasm? I would like to explore this jelly further. I can do that merely by living. Think of me as a blob of protoplasm with fingers and thumbs. Hair. Complexion. Feet. Walking from room to room. Opening and closing the refrigerator. What do we do for food if the economy collapses and food disappears from the grocery store and the dollars in my pocket are worthless paper? Life will be hard to support. But there will always be 7-11, right? 7-11 is as old as Rome. Did Julius Caesar shop at 7-11? Did Hannibal water his elephants at a 7-11 after he crossed the Alps?
The 7-11 closest to us closed up. Boarded its windows. That’s not a good sign.
I grew a beard once. Nothing in my life changed significantly. I didn’t become another person. I stayed the same person, but with a beard. Which I had to maintain with a pair of hedge clippers.
If something doesn’t work, sprinkle a few vowels on it. I need emotion in order to say something. Emotion grows big out of vowels. Consonants give it dignity. Even when I had to get up in the middle of The Magnificent Seven I maintained my dignity and when I came back Denzel Washington was taking a bite out of the heart of a deer.
Morning blends with the river. A staircase walks through itself. Energy divided by the speed of light squared equals licorice. On the other hand the truth of the cruet is unassailable and definitive. No table should be without one. The table alone is impressive. Or should we toast the CD player? The harmonica holds a long blue note proving that everything is sad and lonely. People are sometimes so introverted they pop open when you least expect it and fill the room with butterflies.
If you cut a word in half, does a meaning spill out?
How might I describe this world? I would say it’s the graffiti of a two-stringed guitar. A drawer full of socks. A young man named James Newel Osterberg growing up in a trailer park in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He insisted on being a musician. His father, a high school teacher, stood in the doorway, blocking his exit, then realizing the futility of it, moved aside and let James Newel Osterberg enter the world to become Iggy Pop.
Salvation doesn’t always come in a box. The realities revealed in drama are more than emotional luxuries. They provide insights into our own dilemmas.
Which is one way to look at it.
Another is to follow the pornography of odor to its ultimate conclusion.
Snow falls on the fields of Minnesota. The ecstasies of the staircase result in pearls. Darkness lowers its tapestry of stars and headlights. The subtleties of life converse with a loaf of pumpernickel. They exist in order to teach us something. Something about compote, and compound eyes.
Folding laundry in Hollywood. The coagulation of blood. Fred Astaire sitting in a chair tapping his feet. The movement of snakes, the wetness of veins, the vertigo at the top of the tower.
The sound of salvation in the rocking trees.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Debris of Pain

Words propagate like blood on my sleeve. Consider the hum that sleeps in the heart. Our chowder of insinuation. A magic belt of thin drawings is haunted by the grace of witness. I’m milked for falling. Heaven’s dots chime through the centuries. I’m slammed into fireworks with sour folds of convolution. A paper constellation to occur must twinkle fields of description. Pleasure imagines pulling us into Baudelaire. Ok. I need a copy of my ears. I’m the rocks that hop into paper. Light is a monstrous sky. I bake with railroads. I wear indigo that a brain decorates in algebra. I carry fluttered raspberries. I’m tense like Byzantium. The radio fingernails cooked the ganglions of an apparition. I saw it all happen in my wrinkles. Idleness is a gift. Here I am painting by shoes. The weather sits beside me. I listen to a berry. It tells me meaning is delicate things. The interior is badly carried until the end of the day when it slops out of the door. I slapped it to happen. Velocity murders distance. This is how Iceland has its variations. When we’re alone the sounds have a structure that might be called music. I think of kelp. A brass bell in a courtroom. The basement of a tattoo on somebody’s arm. It enlarges in the sag of time. I’m learning to lean on banishment and not exclude it but magnetize it all the way to Wisconsin where I can fill it with pickles and watch it climb the walls and dance on the ceiling. A berry is so many things. It liberates cork. It bristles with thorns and is a cause of conversation. I’m a social being. Any day now a glamour will thud on my gloves and convince me that towels are cooperative. Don’t worry. This is just imagery. The keys cry to say that copper is what my adjectives require if everything else continues to be Pythagorean and naked. Naked, yes, but naked in an abstract, Dubliner kind of way, drawing on the past and awakening syllables of fire in order to warm the room a little. Change in a blaze shatters into reality and is so appealing it energizes the consonants. I like to paper palpability. This is infinite in camaraderie. Thrust your eyes into this sentence. I do that every morning and it makes me cardboard. I gurgle anguish. Bubbles punctuate a house to powder and yardsticks perform by semantic obstetrics. We know that. We also know that to be a simple man isn’t as easy as it seems. The climate confuses lightning with turnstiles. But I don’t. I know a turnstile when I turn one. It’s in squeezing your subtleties that I find the enticements of the hearth. Infinity dangles from your fingers. Corot drifts through a fly. I flip to expand it. Time collapses on life and bleeds sandstone. It granites our world as a hothouse gauze rides a beard to Scotland. The war ends. The castle climbs into itself. The emptinesses are filled at last. I saw this was going to happen and so I wrote it as consciousness culminated in mountains. Dishwashing does this. Writing is, after all, the debris of pain.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


I think of my father in October. His birthday is in October (October 24th). He passed away in late August of 2001, a few days after my birthday and a few days before the collapse of the World Trade Towers on September 11th, and so this period of early fall, this transition from summer into the first whisperings of winter, is associated appropriately with death and transformation. The mood is there, the chill is there, the skulls and pumpkins are there. Kerouac’s Dr. Sax. Macbeth’s cackling witches. Enraged villagers driving Frankenstein’s monster into a windmill with torches and pitchforks.
Donald Trump’s Aryan hair and bloated orange face sneering in arrogance.
Hillary Clinton’s toothy rictus as she points to a billionaire contributor at a rally.
It’s a very strange time of year. Like the body of the dead crow we saw this afternoon, feathers splayed, body mangled. What killed it? It’s rare to see dead birds. And why is that? Why is it so rare to see the corpses of birds? You’d think there’d be hundreds.
In the Lushootseed language of the Puget Sound Salish people, October is known as the month when many leaves fall. Their sense of time was sensual, observational, not abstract. Time itself is a mystery. There’s nothing about time that doesn’t puzzle me. Why does it move forward? If the universe is eternal, why should there be a sense of forwardness, of chronology?
Seasons are easy. Those are big changes. None, however, affect my mood quite as much as fall. The very word  - fall -  says it all. It’s a falling. But it’s also a rising.  
What baffles me every October is not just the bittersweet memories surrounding my father but the feeling of exuberance and vitality. Where does that come from?
Maybe it’s that bracing vigor in the air, that vitalizing chill that begins imbuing the heat of summer with slow, insinuating degrees. It’s more of a suggestion at first, an evolving awareness, an emergent realization supporting a melodic progression, a visceral substratum like the bass line in “Something” by the Beatles. It’s a paradox: the low is uplifting, the opaque is illuminating.
Or maybe I just think too much. It’s getting cold. It’s a fact. Summer is ending. Shit. I begin wearing long-sleeved shirts for my runs. By the end of October, I’ll be adding wool gloves and a wool hat to my gear. October is the one month in which seasonal changes are evident. There’s still a bit of summer left at the beginning of October but by the end of October it gets earnestly bitingly cold and the trees are bedraggled with at least half of the leaves still hanging on but turning yellowish and dry as old parchment for the poetry of elves.
Whenever I wonder why things exist and try to imagine things not existing I realize that it’s impossible for nothing to exist. It’s impossible to imagine nothing existing. I mean nothing. You can’t. You would have to imagine a universe without space or time or gravity or worms or kayaks. Nothing. Not even space. How can there not be space? And this is an October thought.
“Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys was released in October, 1966. Fifty years ago.
“The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel was originally recorded in October, 1964. It was a commercial failure. It wasn’t until it was remixed in the spring of 1965, re-released, and by January of 1966 had become a major hit. I remember hearing it on the train I took from Seattle to Minot, North Dakota with a black eye and Hamlet on my mind.
These are the sort of reflections that stir up late in life. Hit songs from 50 years ago. Hit songs from a time when I was young and experimenting with drugs and discovering writers and artists and expanding my mind and feeling a combination of excitement and fear and frustration and joy.
Those days turned crinkly and yellow and fell from the tree of my spring. I’m in my winter now. The winter of my discontent, to give it a Shakespearean ring. Believe me, discontent is no exaggeration. I stand in relation to discontent as discontent stands in relation to full, forward-tilting unabridged rage. There are gradations of discontent on a daily basis running from irritable to furious, crotchety to raving crazy mad. Picture King Lear in rags in the middle of a lightning storm shaking his fist at the heavens and daring them to blow harder blow harder you fuckers blow harder.
That’s me.
Why is it some old people are jolly and some old people (like me) are embodiments of gloom?
Life did not turn out the way I had hoped. No sir.
But why dwell on that? Diverge, my friend, diverge. Turn the wheel. Go off the road. Go elsewhere. Travel into the secret cities of October. The graveyards, the junkyards, the backyards. The piles of raked leaves. The crunchy sound beneath your feet when you walk at the side of the road. The scrape of leaves, the speech of leaves, the leaving of leaves.
Think of a chestnut in mid-October and the size of its trunk and the tangle of its limbs and the sheer stubbornness of its persistence to exist. 
This is my October tree with a few scraggly leaves and owls and ghosts and a fat full moon glowing through the limbs.