Saturday, December 22, 2018

Being Is A Feeling

Sunset is protected by distance. It can never be caught and put in a jar because it’s always running away into the night. As soon as you think you’re there you discover that you’re not even close. Keep running after the sun fast enough and you’ll find that one person’s sunset is another person’s morning.
The sun stumbles over the horizon in search of something to thaw. Thousands of snowmen melt. Definition arrives in a jeep. It’s another lonely day. But not for everyone. For some it’s a raw reckoning and a tight grip and for others it’s a yodeling competition. Each jar is labeled, each aim is solid. Charcoal drinks the seclusion of rue.
Power is obtained by rope. Rope is obtained by thought. Thought is obtained by energy. Energy is obtained by sunlight. Pronouns are obtained by thumb and forefinger. I am the least interesting thing about me. And then comes wrestling. We must wrestle the thoughts that are the most literal. Metaphorical thoughts are matters of absorption. A paper towel is a metaphor. A worm is not. A worm is literal.
I think I see a feeling. Or does a feeling see me? Am I the feeling or is the feeling one of nature’s divine prodigies still water skiing in my briefcase?
Is being a feeling?
Being is a feeling. It’s also an occurrence. It feels mongrel and atmospheric and ticklish. It feels like being when being is a matter of struggling through life and mud as a worm.
Or not.
Worms live in dirt. Words live in spurts. Which is dirtier, dirt or dandruff? Dandruff isn’t dirty. Dandruff is messy, but it’s not dirty. It doesn’t flash like a road sign. But it can be quite embarrassing at a dance club on a black sweater in a blue light.
It's the wild hour of allegory. Let’s build a bonfire of buttermilk leaves. It takes heat to experience the power of language. The knee glue diver comes up with a chestnut chewed into birth. This makes everyone totemic.
Birth is a matter of perseverance, said the first lieutenant of sociability. Armies of sociability travel the night in search of the social. The social inhabits the jelly of affability. The debris of surrender flops down on a canvas and assumes a posture of divine hysteria. Everyone talks about Norway, how rocky it is, how rapturous in beauty, how topographic and blunt.
Outside of Oslo, I don’t know of a single driveway that doesn’t relish its being, its ontology of necessity and convenience locked in an embrace of imagery and wheel.
The control of cubes is occasionally brick. There’s more than one way to wear a stream of water. My argument is bathed in milk, not description. I see a development of this theme that slithers across Cezanne seething with harps and oboes. I see another rolling into auburn creating diversions of pink and brown. I don’t know which of them is authentic and which of them is arranged in pleats.
Or should be arranged in pleats.
Morality should be arranged in pleats. There are heights of the soul from which even tragedy ceases to look tragic. It looks more like fish. Thus the pleat, which is suffused with sunlight at a certain time in the afternoon, lingers in the mind as a form of overtone, an inflection of air if the window is left slightly open, a puff of palliative, a stirring of cotton, a bulging of fabric that reminds us – however haphazardly - of scallops. Cephalopods, gastropods, polyplacophorans. Elegy, laughter, Montmartre. We are alert to nuance. There are no polarities of yes and no. There are no clear answers. There is only the mania of milk-secreting glands and the pantomime of excuse.
In other words, communion.
No admonition is vexatious if it is made by a sad man on the corner of a street. Money isn’t food. It isn’t even pretty. It's a medium of exchange, like folklore, or power. It’s in the sneeze of process that the dollars of heaven come raining down as potash.
The hour of sleep is upon us. The toad is welcome. Welcome to Being. Welcome to the garden. Welcome to squatting. Welcome to underbrush and description and flies.
The sediment of a word lifts the toad to our mouth and we say it as a refund. It’s a mechanical maneuver, mostly, with a little pulp to incite it into category. The oyster is my comrade, but the pillow is my gym. My head is full of seashore. But the hay is easy by the lake. I will go there. This is the place where fingers exhort the palpability of rings to shine more energetically, as if syntax could mimic the properties of glass. The fresh spin of thought has been sewn together by insects. I know what shouting is. Shouting is solid and loud. The quiet simmer of language absorbs the light and fondles our elbows.
I’m sorry. Am I being obscure? I meant to be snow. I meant to be obvious and bones. I meant to push these luxuries forward where they might be seen by pilgrims. It’s so nice to have a diversion. Bugs are signs. They rarely shine now. They stopped increasing and began decreasing. Autumn isn’t what it used to be. Consciousness isn’t what it used to be, either. It used to be rocks but now it’s more like horses. All urgency and play, glistening and breath. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Ballad Of Zopitty Bop Bop

I am sometimes amazed at the pain in my right shoulder. And arm. It used to be content to reside in my shoulder. Now it’s occupied my entire right arm. I give it high marks for protraction. It's so persistent. It’s been there so long it has formed a personality. Think of the grouchiest person you know. The way they look in the morning. The way they look when you talk to them. When you ask a simple question. Did they sneer? Look askance, as if to say, my God, what an idiot! You know the type. Patrician. Intolerant. Jealous. Constantly seeking attention. Insisting on their importance. Their gravity. Their greatness. Their nobleness and rank.
That’s my pain. I should give it a name, David or Mark or Bruce. Or how about Arthur, for Arthritis. Or Harald Wartooth, the legendary king of 8th century Denmark who was a fierce, indefatigable warrior. His memory could radiate in my arm like the thunder of the waves crashing against the cliffs of Skara Brae.
Why do I suppose the pain has a masculine gender? It would be hard to think of this pain as an Olivia or Emily, but there’s no reason not to believe this pain is female. It’s a mistake to believe that women are inherently sympathetic whereas men are not. It’s been my experience that neither sex is more compassionate than the other and could not be identified with a merciless, arthritic pain. What characterizes masculinity? What characterizes femininity? Let’s not get into that. It will only lead to more pain.
This is a sharp, pinching pain. I feel it at night simmering in my arm like charcoals in a hibachi. Throbbing, stabbing, ceaselessly agitating. If it were a book, it would be a long book. It would be War and Peace. It would be Ulysses. It would be Les Miserables.
If it was a trip, it would never reach its destination. It wouldn’t even have a destination.
If it were a planet, it would weigh more than Jupiter. It would have gravity and attract objects. Our furniture would go into orbit around my arm. My arm and its planetary pain.
Am I exaggerating? No, I'm not. I do not speak for myself. I speak for the pain. I lend my mouth to the pain. Here is what the pain says: you have arthritis. You're getting old. I am the sign of age, and wear and tear, and inflammation, and joints losing fluidity and cartilage, of bone grinding on bone. That’s who I am. I’m the voice of deterioration. I’m the voice of wreckage. I’m the one in the choir gurgling glockenspiels of dissonant steel.
This is the song of the pain. This is what the pain sings in my arm at night. These are the shrill high notes of the pain when I lift my right arm to hang a shirt or a coat in the hallway closet.
I think about going to the doctor. I think about surrender. I think about giving myself up to a merciless and extortionate healthcare system. Astronomical, incomprehensible bills. Bill following bill following bill, ad nauseum. I think about MRIs and arthroscopy and synovial fluid. Technology in the service of the healing arts. Expensive technology. Wonderful technology, ingenious technology, but very, very costly technology.
I think about learning to live with the pain. Making friends with it. Learning from it. What is there to learn from a pain besides its denotative function as a warning of disease or inflammation? Can I learn the ways of the Stoic? Can I learn how to interpret unpleasantness in a different light, from a different aspect?
Is there a philosophy of pain?
Most definitely. There is indeed a philosophy of pain. Many philosophies of pain. Ancient Egyptians believed pain other than that caused by wounds was the result of religious influences or spirits of the dead. I’m not sure you can call that a philosophy, it’s clearly more in the nature of superstitious belief than an inquiry into a phenomenon that does not yield its treasures easily to logic or reason but must be coaxed into expression with tortuous inquiry. Examination. Investigation. Empirical study. Research. Sleepless, distraught, time-consuming experimentation. This is the equipment you’ll need to extract a truth from an enigma, a serum for a disease, a balm for the worries of the mind.
Plato believed pain could restore order to the soul. He viewed pain as in conjunction with pleasure. An unbridled quest for pleasure leads inevitably to pain. It’s all about balance. If our being is in harmony with nature then we will be rewarded with pleasure. He puts a moral spin on it. But the morality of it eludes me. I don’t see arthritis as the result of pleasure-seeking. I don’t see it in relation to anything, except a ball-and-socket joint worn into a state of constant friction due to nothing other than long use over a long period of time. Yes, it indicates a disharmony, a disintegration from a natural state, but it’s a disharmony born of endurance, enduring longer than what nature intended, perhaps. Is that what Plato means? I don’t know. I should investigate further. I find it frustrating that he doesn’t focus on pain in and of itself but conjoins it to pleasure, or that he avoids treating it as a quale, as a mental entity responding to a physiological or phenomenal condition. He makes no appeal to a mental intermediary between the object of pain (pain as a simple somatic response) and the subjectivity of pain, the interior theatre of our private dramas.
Aristotle viewed pain as a matter of the soul. Pain was primarily emotion and that it could be overcome through logic. I would have to assume that Aristotle managed to go through life without experiencing much pain.
Ibn Sina, a famous medieval Muslim philosopher and physician who is also known by his Latin name Avicenna, wrote numerous insightful treatises on the practice of medicine, most notably The Canon of Medicine. He classified pain into 15 types (itching, pricking, compressing, stretching, breaking, penetrating etc.), but ascribed several different causes, one of them being the temperamental change produced by “an incongruous stimulus.” It was an interruption, a rupture in the general harmony that generates pain. He also wrote extensively about brain anatomy and its role as a center for pain sensation.
Descartes defined pain as “fast moving particles of fire” that pass along nerve filamentation until they reach the brain. I hurt, therefore I am.
Nietzsche believed pain was the only way to achieve self-growth and meaning. It was the source of great art. I’m reminded of some lyrics in Bob Dylan’s song, “Not Dark Yet”: “My sense of humanity is going down the drain / behind every beautiful thing, there’s been some kind of pain.”
Pain is a universally felt sensation, but our relationship to it is personal. Life without pain would be as empty as life without pleasure. Pleasure can sometimes be derived from pain, and pain is quite often the result of over-indulging in something pleasurable. Pain is erratic, chronic, and weird. It can appear as suddenly and mysteriously as it will sometimes disappear.
My relationship with the arthritic pain in my right shoulder is anchored in reflection. How can it not be? It’s in me. I can’t run away from it. I can’t return it to the manufacturer. I could lull it with pain-killers, oxycontin or Vicodin, but that leads nowhere good. I can only do one thing (outside of surrendering to the crime syndicate known as the U.S. healthcare system), and that is to make friends with it. Give it a little respect. Enjoy some conversations with it. Give it a name. Yolanda Squatpump. Shit Fun Chew. Doo-Doo Zopitty Bop Bop.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


It began with a cream. Cannabidiol. This is a compound found in marijuana plants that relieves pain, reduces anxiety, and helps sleep. The product I use comes in a small white canister with a dial on the bottom the lifts the cream to the surface much like a roll-on deodorant. And it works. Not as much as I’d like – it doesn’t get rid of the pain entirely – but there is a significant reduction in the pain, which is a nagging case of arthritis in my right arm, exacerbated by dislocating my shoulder after a fall over two years ago. I rub the cream on my shoulder and biceps right after stepping out of the shower to maximize its effects. The skin pores are more porous after a hot shower. Within several minutes I can feel the effect of the cream, cooling and soothing the pain. The real benefit, however, is how the cream makes me feel once it has been absorbed into my bloodstream. It relaxes me. It gives me a pleasant, overall sense of well-being. It helps me sleep. It helps me write. It helps me read. And listen to music and gaze at the wall and a million other things as our planet and its once teeming life glides distressingly into the sixth mass extinction.
And so began an exploration of other marijuana products.
Marijuana was my least favorite drug in the sixties. It made me paranoid. My heart would beat so fast and so intensely that I was sure I was about to have a heart attack. The simplest, most banal and ordinary statement that anyone made would be wrapped in an enigma with slightly sinister overtones. I read omens and prophecies in everything, most of them bad. It was exhausting. How could anyone get high on this shit?
But most everyone did. Almost without exception the people around me were having a good time. There was laughter and brilliance and flashes of wit. Conversation would often turn toward wildly speculative and colorful topics: extraterrestrials, metaphysics, the occult. Even when the conjectures seemed a little paranoid no one seemed particularly paranoid. Except me. Catastrophes of all sort seemed imminent. I would have to contrive expedients to calm myself down. “Just ride it out,” I would tell myself, “if you can stay calm a few more minutes the murk will settle to the bottom and I will see things clearly once again.”
Which was true. The panic never lasted long. A few minutes later I’d be right as rain.
Years later I would discover that I suffered a condition called GAD: Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s important to know this about oneself because marijuana – like all the hallucinogens, of which weed is the mildest – don’t provide a buffer from your feelings the way alcohol and the benzodiazepines do. Au contraire: they will increase your awareness of them. They will, however, also alter your relationship to them, which makes them so valuable therapeutically. You can distance yourself from the emotion and ponder it reflectively, as if it were an item of curiosity, a strangely gnarled root or the shell of a Florida crown conch. Your emotional life and consequent perspectives become a cabinet of wonders. Goofy, engrossing, a little less threatening and tyrannical. You begin to realize that it’s all about being alive and experiencing things and not being able to make your mind up right away. One’s judgements become as intriguing as they are suspect. Most everything unpleasant is ego-driven. Diminish the ego a little and feelings of isolation and alienation recede like a red tide. Blake was right: when the doors of perception are cleansed, everything becomes infinite. Infinite in perspective, infinite in aspect.
Now that marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, you can choose a variety of tinctures whose intensity can be controlled. Indica, for example, is extremely mild. I’m glad that you no longer have to smoke it. I quit smoking cigarettes 27 years ago. I don’t want that habit rearing its ugly head again. The tincture is applied by dropper. The CBD tincture tastes awful, but the THC Indica has a very sweet and pleasant taste. It kicks in almost immediately: a heightened awareness accompanied by a feeling of light-headed glee.
Another product I like is Deeper Sleep capsules. These are gel caps that come in a blister pack. They contain Indica cannabis concentrate oil, myrcene and linalool terpenes (a terpene is an aromatic organic hydrocarbon derived from isopentenyl phosphate), ashwagandha, theanine, passion flower, white peony, magnolia bark, chamomile and coconut flakes. It takes about 30 minutes to kick in. The effect is a highly relaxing sense of well-being accompanied by a heightened response to color and music. The Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio show is particularly fun to listen to.
Until last September of this year, I’ve been able to tell people that I have 28 years of sobriety. Not that that comes up in conversation very often. It does not. But it is strange that this development has occurred with so little feeling about it on my part. Using THC recreationally with the deliberate intent of getting high (whatever “getting high” means) is not the same as getting drunk. Alcohol numbs. Marijuana sensitizes. They are two vastly different experiences. Alcohol will probably always continue to pose a threat to me. It still has a powerful allure. But I feel completely safe with marijuana. It doesn’t give me a hangover. I wake up the next day feeling better. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Pickled Ripples

Time to write simply now, simple like Beckett, Beckett in his elder years. I want Beckett’s craggy old face, the eighty-something Beckett, a face of crags and crabs and wrinkles and runnels and ruts. The eyes of a hawk. The bristle of a thistle. Simple dimples. Pickled ripples. Giggly tinkles. Piano keys in olive sonatas, refractive galactic galvanic octaves, emotions in notes, phrases in stages. Words in herds. Herd heard by the ears in an acoustic chew stick. The ear of the seer is here to hear. The stick is to chew. The chew is to strew the stew to the throat. And what’s a way to say swallow.
So much for keeping things simple. I don’t know how he did it. It isn’t simple to keep things simple. Each moment should be a haiku, an instant of stunning lucidity. Uncomplicated as a cat asleep on a blanket. A glass paperweight with a yellow flower frozen inside. All the morbid disturbances of the intellect crumpled up like a sheet of paper and tossed into a recycling bin. Detachment from circumstances. The mind like a puddle in which the limbs of a tree ride the shine of light on a misty winter day. Until time. And wind. And money and worry and anxiety for the future intervene.
How small. How vast. How if not boundless bounded. Whence the dim. Not now. Know better now. Unknow better now.
Time is a slime in the grime of a dime. A penny is plenty if you have more than twenty and a nickel to trickle into a meter when the cost of a space is softly and calmly valid. A salad of curb and chrome and asphalt and verb. A verb is either a noun phrase or a blaze of Motown. A verb is a word that expresses being and what does it do it does nothing if there’s nothing to do. Otherwise a verb must work its way forward through a sentence undulating in the nudity of a moment. We’re in a continual dialogue with the world. Can there be such a thing as an objectified subjectivity? Yes. I believe there are ways to objectify the sauce of my secrets, my secret sauces, which are bogs in a bag or a bag of bog, either way, a knob or a stratosphere. Weight, density, volume, heat. World haunted by cream. A subjectivity crammed with yolk.
Change is either something that alters or is a gob of metal in the hand.
The modern quarter is 75% copper and 25% nickel. The profile of George Washington is on the obverse. An eagle is on the reverse. E Pluribus Unum is inscribed above its head. Why an eagle? Why not a pigeon? A sparrow? A turkey? A robin? A crow? A heron? A pterodactyl? A spondee? A trochee? An anapest?
I believe the image that best serves the object at hand is a dirigible. A fissionable pyramidal cetacean of the air. You might picture it as a hat, or a half sister named Render.
Or a ramble through the ways and trays of life as it throbs in utter effusion.
When the whisper is whispered the engine is in session.
I feel everything with a pair of eyes, a nose and a head of steam. I might also mention argyle. Argyle is a pattern. I trust patterns. I trust my senses. I trust the pattern of my senses. I choose not to argue with smells, sights and textures. But I am a little intrigued by dreams. Dreams are a fascinating way to experience alternate realities.
Is that what we want to call them? Alternate realities? Isn’t there just the one giant reality of push-ups, thermometers and trying on new clothes? Isn’t reality just an idea? A word? A mode? A way of being? As quantum mechanics says, reality is what you choose it to be. But that doesn’t sound simple. Or real. It sounds like a glib and rather distorted view of quantum mechanics. Atoms are real. Quarks are real. They carry a fractional electric charge and come in six flavors: up, down, top, bottom, strange and charm. It’s a mistake, however, to assign reality to something because it has matter. Are there realities without matter? Are there realities that don’t matter? Aristotle would argue that motion, time, void, and change are all aspects of reality, as are mind, soul, intuition, imagination, potentiality, happiness, virtue and friendship. Nor is Aristotle alone among philosophers in believing ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being.
“I am certain that I can have no knowledge of what is outside me except by means of the ideas I have within me,” said Descarte in a letter to Guillaume Gibieuf dated January 19th, 1642.
I believe that whatever reality turns out to be it will include pickles. Tidepools perturb the mailbox. Junk mail anemones. Pins and needles. Ripples and pickles. Health insurance. Real estate. Invitations to cruise the Danube or the Rhine. This is it. This is not it. This is and isn’t what reality is about. How could it be? Reality is the slipperiest eel in the bucket.
Beckett would, of course, express all this in much simpler terms. But the reality is, I’m not Beckett and have never been Beckett. My bucket isn’t a Beckett bucket. My bucket is a plain bucket. A bucket bucket. Bucket of buckets. Pickles. A bucket of pickles.
A jar of pickles is a testament of age. Ripples of light. A lake in the mountains of China. A man guzzling a beer in Munich. A rapier on the wall. Chiaroscuro in a painting of devotion. A garden sent through the mail as sunlight. Anything preserved in the vinegar of words. The vigor of words. The veracity of words. The veneer and ventilation and adventure of words. Jiggle and swivel and ripple of words. Ripples in pickles. Pickles in ripples. Drizzle on a nickel on a nipple of tender human skin.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Problem Of The Many

If the truth is bland, we verify it with salt. But is there such a thing? Does the truth exist? Does a truth exist? Are there truths made of taillights and tea? Are there any truths delivered by Amazon? Is your truth my truth? The truths that have emerged in my life have all been symptoms of a higher reality. I know this smacks of romance, but it's too late to embed it in a parenthesis where it can linger quietly and unobtrusively in pink. I'll have to leave it here where it can harmonize with the other guitars.
Does this mean we’re still friends? Good. I don’t want to rattle anyone’s cage. I just want to get a few points across. Here comes one now: pandemonium ensues. So what’s my point? My point is this: creosote is an exercise in resin.
The glockenspiel crushes the air with explosions of sound and the flags continually clacking in the air reveal the nonsense of borders.
Are we a dream? I believe we are. We are dreams dreamed by chemicals and ghosts.
The chemistry of ghosts may be sensed while progressing through the guts of a king.
That’s gross.
Don’t be gross.
My staff is lost among the stalagmites. I can’t help it if the rascals are hungry. My problem isn’t with birds. My problem concerns wax. Perception and mind have been arranged for moments like this. If I move fast enough, I can extend myself into fiction. This is where free will gets its willingness to be free. I can’t control the lighting, and I most certainly can’t control the darkness. But somewhere between extremes of turmoil and fat is a metaphorical dividend consisting of sparks and geysers. I have plans to imitate a helicopter.
This could be important if it weren’t already crammed with eyes. They look at me as if noise were important and snow was another way of pleading innocence in a world gone wrong. I arrive at a nipple and watch it chatter. Clearly, the club doesn’t want me. I will go elsewhere. I will find other examples. I will find a uselessly panoramic grievance and replace it with mushrooms.
England is another way to do push-ups. You begin with a bias and end with a bang. I do handsprings in my spare time and challenge bursitis with an unpredictable climate. I will serve other objectives when the new catalogue comes out. Until then, let the words spread into various shapes and frame their dreams with a speedometer and a little quartz.
It’s a rumor of thought when the exhortations rumble. Tendencies become anthologies. Roots clutter the kitchen. The maples are sharply outlined against the sky and the controls are lost among their own reflections. I have no intention to chain myself to a configuration. All I want to do is dance. The circuses are gone. But I feel a new stimulus stirring in the sweaters. Let’s fold our sheets together. The scenery has been altered but the power is still on. We can send out for more autobiography. The odor will not rob us. The bazaar will stop at nothing. We will humor the world with blimps.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gooey Evolution

Examining and consolidating his affinities with nineteenth century French painting, Matisse painted with a new subtlety with which the nineteenth century painting received new illumination. Ocher walked in a stratosphere of grace. Yellow grew an orchestra of jingling bells. Black became a zone of placental navigation. Green plugged into a surge of telepathy. Blue agreed to disagree. And then parachuted upward into a realm of clashing cymbals.
Red hands held a universe of clay.
The human form had become unmanageable. The human form could no longer be controlled pictorially. He had to let it travel. Male or female, clothed or naked, the human form stomped into glory.
Tickets were purchased. Suitcases packed. The human form sneezed the dust of centuries and dove into fresh new energies of rampant ventilation.
Feelings sailed through pineapple syncopation. Fairies gamboled about in the garden.
This explanation finds its source in the nineteenth century’s preoccupation with the medium of paint. Even pre-modernist painters such as Géricault and Daumier were more acutely aware of how the edges of a shape cut into the space around it. This was the problem that haunted Cézanne. His art arrived like a new dispensation.
Now we can begin to talk about painting.
Painting, what’s painting, painting is bristles and daubs and gooey evolution. Colors dwell in tubes. They’re squeezed onto palettes. They’re applied to a canvas. Schools of tuna glide through gradations of blue. A man eats alone at a solid oak table. A storm of red liberates fingers of black. A galaxy of suns emerges from a cloud of pink. A woman ponders a new pair of glasses. Spanish orange breaks out of a structured jungle green into armadillo brown.
Painting is images and forms. Painting is consideration and cylinders and searching. Milieus of tin attached to a salvo of gunmetal gray. Milk in a bucket. Books on a shelf. A door hinge pondered in dark Rembrandt rust.
Matisse leans forward and makes a black line flow down. Two lines, three lines, four lines. An arm appears, breasts, a white cap, tufts of black hair, a leg move forward slightly, a solid black line forms a gracefully alluring buttocks, a hand holding a towel lightly, so that it might drop at any instant, so relaxed, so informally poised is this woman, the carpet is red, she gazes at a vase of white flowers on a table, the light in the room is a mellow tint of yellow, two pillows – one green, one chartreuse and speckled with red – rest at the head of a red bed. The bed is a deeper red than the carpet. The difference in shades is subtle. But the sense of calm is not. It’s voluptuous as a woman after a bath.
Naked. Holding a towel. Gazing at flowers.
In a hotel in the south of France. In paint. In color and space. In imagination. In the warmth of an afternoon. The fullness in the way the towel flows from the woman’s hand to the floor. That’s called form, and is a manner by which something presents itself, manifests itself, as a man with a brush brings it into being, into light and vision, into the flowering of the mind. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Together In Alyssum

Sometimes I think of a trout garnished with slices of lemon and boiled potatoes and sometimes I think of trees communicating with one another via subterranean mycorrhizal networks: the fine, hairlike root rips of trees that join together with microscopic fungal filaments to form the basic links of the network.
Look at my forehead. You might see goldfish swimming back and forth. Fireballs, cue sticks, waves. I believe in imagery. I believe in the underworld and twinkles of subterranean pus. I believe in transformation and blood. I believe gravity is a brochure of translucent pratfalls. It walks around in my head looking for cognac. All it finds are towels and a few antiques. I moisten my hands with cornhusker lotion and hammer another nail into the aroma of Texas.
Not even the cold can stop the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Not that it matters. I’m off the grid. We all sing gospel now. It’s been a natural progression. Think of a creek. Think of a fool. Think of a creek and a fool and a pound of reverie. The story is ordinary but the bubbles are stunning.
And why wouldn’t they be? This is what the conditional was made for. To be able to intone someone’s name until they appear to be sensible and combed, like the quiet trudge of hunters in the snow. I would like to sit in chintz and say something startling, something that twinkles with carbuncles amid the debris of existence.
Some of us laugh, some of us cry, some of us work on a map. This will be a special map. The map will be similar to the Roman empire, but not so similar it will it linger in socialization, making the metal spherical and the muskrats lonely.
The map is not the cake. The map is baked in the cake. The cake is upside down. There’s no reason for this and so we call it a fugue. A fugue results from the mathematics of sound. The mathematics of sound is baked in the legs when dancing occurs. Dancing is baked in blood. Blood becomes warmer with age. Age is baked in maturity. Maturity is baked in cognition. Cognition is knowledge. Knowledge is what you know. Impenetrability is what you do not know. The drone of cognition clarifies the stutter of rain. Traditions are chiefly glass. If a tradition is upside down washing machines and talk-shows fall out of it. This creates gurus and duplication.
The awareness that human existence is both joy and woe is prerequisite to accepting medication for the effronteries to one’s insignia. My inseminations will sometimes be exaggerated, but I ought to do my best to adhere to metaphors rather than to heave the bulk of my language on you before it has been refined with a little tennis and statuary.
The rest is guano. A little cut on the finger and it all coagulates into structure. Dollars of grotesque lucidity and florists languishing in pandemonium. The snapdragons are in rebellion. But the roses are big as suitcases and the black-eyed Susan and Heart of Jesus come together in sweet alyssum.  

Monday, December 3, 2018

What Vowels Do

What do vowels do? Vowels rouse consonants. Vowels are the faucets of the sentence. They fill the sentence with water. They float ideas. They slap against waves. They sleep in linen and awaken in curls. They’re bulbs that light the room with horses. Luminous horses. Luminous snakes. Luminous embryos of meaning. The sound of yearning. The creak of embellishment.  
What, for instance, can I do outside besides enjoy a conversation with asphalt?
I can manifest a little effervescence.
If I’m feeling effervescent. But if I’m not feeling effervescent, I can pump some gas into the car and go to Mexico. I can become invisible. I can be explicit. I can be implicit. I cam be illicit. I can exasperate someone. I can learn to fly an airplane. I can write a sentence. I can amplify it with adjectives. I can distress its meaning with fog. And why would I do that? Because I can. Because I’m wearing all these ribbons underwater and forgot to mention the depth.
It’s deep. I’m deep in hammerhead village.
Here comes another sentence: it’s wiggling its way across this field like a spermatozoon on its way to Ovum City.
Which is an imaginary realm accessed by drinking snake oil, or the placebo if your choice.
I like to yank sentences out of my mouth and toss them into the most immediate river, which is the gesture you’re making by reading this. Rivers flow. Reading is a form of flowing. Ergo, reading is a river whose oxbows are mental constructions made by popping ‘p’s in a microphone.
Palouse. Pamlico. Pasquotank. Paw Paw. Pawtuxet.
Pawtuckaway, New Hampshire.
The Pawtuckaway is only 3.6 miles long and feeds into the Piscataqua River watershed leading into the Atlantic Ocean. It joins the Lamprey River near the village of West Epping. And then it steps easily into itself and maintains itself as water, as current, as force and momentum, as something wet and inevitable.
I find rivers more fascinating than lakes. But not always. Lake Superior is a pretty interesting lake. It’s 1,322 feet at its deepest point and is the largest freshwater lake on planet Earth. It’s full of walleye and trout. Historian Mark Thompson estimates that there are more than 25,000 wrecks resting on the bottom of the lake. The Mystic sank off Long Point in 1907. The Sultan was lost in a storm off Cleveland in September, 1864. Think of them. Those hulks in the murk at the bottom. A rock sturgeon moving out of the wheelhouse of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
But don’t you worry: Insight will study the deep interior of Mars. And later this afternoon The Rolling Stones will arrive in a hot-air balloon and take a look around. It’s not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but if you look in the future you may find a hidden treasure outside the folds of time and space, dimensions beyond our limited view. The Rolling Stones can help with that. They’ve been around the block a few times. And London wasn’t always calling. Sometimes it just brooded in the fog, even as Shakespeare strode down the south bank of the River Thames dreaming of courtesies and suits.
And here I am, Seattle, December 1st, dreaming of Shakespeare dreaming of Hamlet dreaming of Ophelia dreaming of traveling by canoe up the Ottawa River. I’m warm and safe among the Huron. We sing. We chant as we paddle. Water slaps against our bow.
If I were to frame this moment in a single image, I would call it a wave and ride it into the infinite. Here comes Neptune: it’s a big bright ball of azure. We see the spirits of the dead ride on a roller coaster, and a monkey play a piano of coconut shells. Mermaids X-ray yaks. Being is a color of galactic splendor, a masquerade heaped into omelets of mad luminous contrariness.
But why does it take so long for my hair to dry? We walk around with oceans in us.
The Heart Sutra says, “all phenomena in their own-being are empty.” Everything is incidental. Nothing is permanent. Everything is interrelated. All formations are ephemeral. The quality of your being depends on the qualia of your being. Being is a wave moving through water. When it reaches the shore, nothing happens. It doesn’t get up and look for a job. It sinks like consonants into the vowels of the sand until the sun lifts it into the sky to become a cloud.
A painter mixes blue with green to make a turquoise knob. A bee lands on a yellow cosmos. A yolk diffuses into white from an imperfectly broken egg.
This nothingness of which we speak flows through me like the sound of a doorbell. I frequently don’t know what I’m saying until I spin around in the room a little and shape the air into words yearning for expression as boardwalks and clouds. One needs the strength of a mahogany before writing a treatise on the mathematics of light. The way a certain light at a certain time of day penetrates and diffuses through a cloud can be quite subtle. If our passengers are bored, we need something strong to stimulate the blood. The paragraph persuades itself that the monotony of most emotion can be fixed by provoking hysteria. But – being only a paragraph – begins to rain. The cypress on the steep rock walls of the coast reveal the caprices of the wind. Seagulls draw our eyes upward, to a sky of constant motion. At this point, the paragraph rises into the air and delivers an image of angelic lingerie.
This is what vowels do. They become crows. They come swooping down in a flock from haunts little suspected in the trees and eat the peanuts tossed out onto the grass. There, where the blades have thinned and there’s mud still gooey from the rain. Consonants are hungry for vowels. O sounds and i sounds and e sounds and a sounds. W wants two short o’s for wood. Wood wants air for the fair recreation of limbs in windy motion. Vowels can make a harpsichord moody as a moon and persuasive as sugar.
Vowels are cool. They ride around in consonants.
Ease feed eels. ʻO nā leo o nā hua'ōlelo e ho'āla i ka manaʻo o nā manu. 
The wind is its own vowel. It passes over the consonants of earth with fingers of rain. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Good Hotel And A Pair Of Dry Socks

Wrinkles explain the history of a face. They tell a tale of unappeased ambitions, weary compromise and popped bubbles of glistening illusion. But most of the time wrinkles just sit on your face and simmer and boil. They make you look soulful, weather-beaten, life-beaten, existence-beaten, hammered by ordeal but still standing, heart beating, eyes seeing through all the lies and prevarications hurled at you like curtains, blankets, wooly obfuscations. You get a face like Geronimo or Abraham Lincoln. This is good if you’re male, not so good if you’re female. If you’re female, wrinkles aren’t particularly a welcome feature, but they can give you a certain regal aura if you don’t fight them too hard with makeup and denial. Denial generally doesn’t do anyone any good, especially denial. Denial was born for better things than denial. The true impulse of denial is acceptance. It’s just slow to get around to it.
Human anatomy begins at home. It begins at birth. Birth and home aren’t necessarily synonymous, but they are in this case, because I’m imagining home as a planet with clouds and birds, and blood and mucus. Mucus is the music of the nose. But if you’re going to describe my nose, please soften some adjectives first and apply a little science. There are sinuses to consider, and density. Density matters. Density throws a punch.
I ooze my veins forward to explain the movement of blood and illustrate the distance of milk. It helps me relax to think about sewing. I walk into a religious crack and talk to the ghosts using a mouth of rubber and a grammar like bees.
And suddenly another paragraph wants your attention. The fish are in full horizontal swing. The comb keeps groping for my hair. I suppose the thing to do is to let things be what they want to be and leave the rest to the distillery. I will leave the soft bark for later analysis. The mud languishes in its own essence compelling the stepladder to step forward and hurry into play. There’s a drug that expands into odor and an odor that expands into steam. It may be understood as the consequence of an immense kitchen, and a mouth tossing itself into words.
What is most difficult in language is to render the tempo of its metabolism. There lurks beneath its decorum an animal thrashing in its cage. Long, difficult, hard, dangerous thoughts.
Yippee! I just discovered water. It was masquerading as a cushion.
 I tease people by forgetting they’re people. I try to convince them they’re eyebrows. But the joke is on me. I’m the eyebrow. I’m all eyebrows. But a little of me is also fast food. I may look like a diving board but inside is a man with arms and legs and enough authority to carry this procession to the end of the sentence where it will leap into cotton and become hair.
The front door portfolio is fused to a space held in reserve by a perception. Like most perceptions, this perception seeks the gold of paradise. It’s better to be awake than asleep when the generous reciprocity of the world awaits your basket of clouds. Sleep swallows itself while stirring in the bed. The harmonies of notoriety are not what they seem. Fame is a brocade that slams the door on anonymity. Never take anonymity for granted. Anonymity isn’t anonymous for nothing. For each and every embryo there’s an equal amount of chrome adjusting to the rigors of undersea exploration.
Is that what this is about? Beer?
Some of us prefer other beverages. I use the luminous puff moo to escape the spatial algebra of soccer. The tugboat drifts in the orange light of sunset. The hill across the bay translates the clouds as a Russian novel. Everyone insinuates knobs.
Hard to believe, but I noticed there’s dust on the hairdryer. Has it been that long since we’ve used it? Apparently, I could also use a haircut. But is this what is meant by testimony? Am I a fool? Or just another kangaroo?
The imagination will make its prison explode. Whose prison? We know whose prison. The prison of ownership and string. The prison of anguish and paint.
Drop the property on the ground where it belongs. Write a story about face-lifts. Deform everything. The wizard’s fanged envelope will arrive in the mail and offer a pretty bug. Saddle the bug. Ride to Paris. Enter Paris. Smile and wave. The mind is wild for resolution. A good hotel and a pair of dry socks.