Sound is a negotiable medium. Loopy morality on a Möbius boat. The muscles twinkle. The thick hit makes a thin sepulcher. Trees fall. The muffin there fulfills its own drool. Here’s a palette for the explosion of morning tomorrow. This reflects a knife. The gasoline in the garage. The mink Cubist and his monkey gospel. A drop of will opened the mailbox. And out walked a letter from John Keats. I folded it and put it in my brain. An orthogonal hump shot lightning out of my back. Strength is the cinnamon in my spice rack. I behave like a bloom and push eating at my mouth which excites it into chewing. A yellow blister unrolls a hassock and gets ready to appear in court. I skulk around the cabbage circulating blood in the manner of a true king of syncopation. Teeming with sails, I check for damage and fulminate. Age is a trap. Don’t get old. Get young. Find a travel pump and put it on the dashboard. Metamorphism looks lovely today. Show me your hand. Hold it up. High. It should look like a tentacle. Hunger is a pocket still dripping with ovum. Redemption swarms with thresholds. We must expand it to include doors. It’s summer and everyone is eager to walk outside and discover the beauty of blunder. Our motion rattles with nothingness. I dwell in a jug of white lightning. The house under my swollen thumb trickles a fretful story. Bite the wild copper and take a dive into the pigsty. You will come to an understanding. Treat it like a stork. Apprehension makes me stiffen until I’m opaque. Rub me, and I will give you a sound to remember. The snow drives the scales to weigh the sky. Diversions cry for harps. I go out to hunt the orchid of my dreams. Our hunger strains to find its shape in food. I feel like unraveling in a painting by Corot. That soft Italian light is all I need to complete my testimony. The stars collide in a sexual gut and the horses run off into the night. My belt buckles and pulls the buffalo toward the sun where my energy happens and the tabernacle hisses with intensity. In the background a copse of aspen is just barely visible through the steam. And as the dream of life awakens, the pretentions of the night die a pretty death. The tents come down. The stakes are lifted from the ground. And all of this has a sequence. And a quiet sound.
Monday, January 17, 2022
Thoughts are ghostly things until they get spoken. Ghostly energies. Fueled by what? Desire. Displeasure. Rage or laughter. The need to counsel. Give advice. See this? This is earth. That big round beautiful ball of marbled blue and white it’s where we live, it’s what gave us life. And it’s going. Which is to say we’re going. It’s not going. It will continue to go. Continue to spin. Continue to orbit. Spit fire and lava. Twinkle its little light back at the stars. Bothersome, finding words to burn and heat the air and put light in somebody’s head, enough light to create a motion, a movement, action. It’s that feeling of empowerment that language brings. That towering figure of Prospero on a cliff by the sea watching the storm he created. Which results in a series of moral actions. And which turns out to be a hilarious fantasy. The vanity of language is also a shelter. A refuge for when the void becomes a little too visible, a little too lucid, clara como el tequila. The inutility of it has a certain attraction. Like Meret Oppenheim’s fur teacup. The perfect foil. The moment the glory of someone’s rhetoric has lifted you into the sky you realize it’s useless. The ghostliness of thoughts become the splendor of unrealities. Metaphors. Spaceship earth. A soup of antonyms. Cynicism & faith. Certainty & doubt. Absurdity & reason. Speech & silence.
Next time I write something I’ll begin with a good idea and then blow it up with a stick of language. Then when the words come falling down they’ll make a new sentence with the same idea. But would it be the same idea? Wouldn’t be an entirely different idea? What am I thinking. When the words come toppling down they’ll break into smaller chunks of idea. When ideas break apart they create other ideas. And when the ideas are arranged in neat rows on top of one another they become walls. And these walls are called dogma. And if a succession of walls are joined and create cells this is called prison. For which there are guards and exercise yards. Though some might call it grammar. And some might call it a song. For which there are melodies and vibrations and large emotions which morph into flags and speeches. And the speeches are sometimes luminous and long and sometimes sticks of language become a bonfire. The darkness is pushed back and the riot of the ocean blends with the voice of someone singing.
What is it about a big fire on a beach that makes people so convivial and happy? It can get cold on a beach at night and the fire is hot to warm depending on where you stand. And let’s say you’ve got a bottle of beer in your hand. And friends surrounding you and the fire. And the ocean laughing softly every time it curls up and crashes down on the sand and flows up and comes to a slow hesitant stop then recedes in a long seductive whisper. You an hear the mingling of water and sand and the tiny granules rubbing together giving the ocean’s receding whisper a certain sparkle. And it feels pagan. The air is electric with it, and blue and gold. Pagan rites are romantic because they’re elemental and enacted in the world of nature before they get snatched by a religion and given mannerisms and tones that obscure the bright metals and fires beneath. Somewhere between the lacquered pews of a church or the mosaic patterns of a mosque or the raked sand of a Zen monastery is the immediacy of experience laced with invitations of incense. But none of it glorious as a bonfire on a beach at night spits hot to the skin & warm in the blood.
That expression, “warms the cockles of the heart,” what is that? I always picture a heart encrusted in barnacles. Cockles makes me think of barnacles. The heart makes me think it’s a ship. It’s a full-rigged ship sailing emotionally, assuming emotion is an ocean, or oceans, emotions are oceans in which the heart pumps blood from the ballast and keeps moving ahead with a maiden at the bow. Those figureheads were put there not to entertain the sailors but to coax the favor of the sea gods, pleased to gaze upward from their lair in the deep to see a big-bosomed female looming overhead. And they were heavy, superfluous pounds of oak or elm. Cockles are mollusks with ribbed shells. It’s a matter of etymological confusion: cochleae cordis means ventricles of the heart in Latin. Cochleae morphed into cockle. And thereby lies a clam.
Saturday, January 15, 2022
I’ve always liked the sound of the tambourine. You find a lot of tambourine in the music of the mid-sixties. “Mr. Tambourine Man” sung by the Byrds is the very soul of the tambourine. Jingly jangly little drum. Reminds me of the green man in the Matisse cutout “The Sadness of the King,” playing the drum next to the king. Can’t make out either face but the king wears a black robe sprinkled with green clover. He’s playing a guitar. Although his hands aren’t holding the guitar. They seem to be floating next to the guitar. Maybe that’s how it feels to play a guitar. Hands floating through a sea of string. Or should that be notes. Sea of Notes. Noteworthy Sea. Not to mention frets. Fingers sliding up and down. Is that floating? Looks more like a concentrated effort. Focus, not floating. No reason to fret over it. I remember that first little of music in grade school. “Do the Hokey Pokey.” Catchy little tune. Silly lyrics. There’s a vigorous tambourine in “Things We Said Today,” by the Beatles. Must’ve been Ringo. Strong rhythm. He was a sickly kid. Look at him now. 81 and he looks like a kid. Always seems so happy. Wonder if that’s for real. Our social selves are never quite the same in private. Shakespeare was right. All the world is a stage. We don’t have to memorize our lines. But we do have to create them. Write our own dialogue. Or wouldn’t that be monologue. Every conversation an improvisation. All the revisions come later. Drives people crazy. French call it l’esprit de l’escalier. Wit of the staircase. It’s always after a visit with a friend or attendance at a party or argument with a neighbor in the hallway that the perfect comeback occurs to you. When it’s too late. This is precisely the kind of frustration the spirit of the tambourine is out to quash. Great combination. Metal jingles. Called Zills. And a drumhead. Circular wooden frame. Simple thing. Dates back to 1700 BC, at least. Probably goes back further. I’ll bet the shamans loved it. If I were a shaman I’d love it. Sound like that is bound to bring in the right spirits. And if they’re the wrong spirits a jingly jangly sound like that is bound to perk up anything and bring out their inner shine.
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
The mink incident was fierce with fuzz. Impulse. Mania. Cooked palette. The library made our flaps unthinkably amethyst. We dreamed it on rocks. I’ve got Cubist muscles. Propellers. Bend against buying flies. We engage our muse by fattening our amusement with roadside attractions. Fastened against bombs. Jump the abyss. Deviate beyond. I attack the nail. Slither around a Platonic cave. Then we walk the mockingbird grid. My sonority stuffed with volume. Anything pink. Meat. Swollen ankles. Breasts. Unrolled into gas stations. In the morning, my electrons orbit a grapefruit. And in the evening, my quarks all gather into sympathies of form. That’s my thermostat on the wall anchoring apparitions in warmth. I seep with embrace if served an emotion in a bowl of hope. I slash inside explaining things. Beside the rope of the swinging trapeze are indications of daring and scrutiny. Go. Fly over a wandering elevation. If the world tilts we will widen the firmament, our binoculars stirring with vision. I’m the correspondence lingering in glass. Our happening is your lucky strike. Eczema on a pyramid. I engage my car in accommodating rubber. Play Hamlet in a rocking chair. I cause a crustacean on an easel to discover its inner stadium. I see the sanitarium and bite an echo. A propane emotion sings. I dance in the house and the house dances in me. And this is called real estate. Because the bomb flaps around the hole that the investors bankrolled in utter convection. I robbed the perforation so that this would somehow seem parliamentary. Magnetically pertinent, like a dissonant sugar. I felt like an incandescent dot. My parabolic gaze looking up from the book of love. A gratified pulse. A railroad consciousness. The intellect is eager to correlate. It wanders indentation on a set of amazing wheels. My firmament propeller is blue and wobbly. My library curls gently around this. I can hear Dante’s inferno hissing. And consider alternate ways of being in the world.
Sunday, January 9, 2022
I like the liquid geometry of snow. There’s a carnation in my simplicity. It squirts water when you lean in to look at it up close. There are patterns a spider will display that hypnotize by extension and weave a web with words. Lignite is mentioned in the nursing home and this sheds light on the birth of a god. I see a man dancing alone in his room and wonder if the jetsam surrounding his life will give an epidermis to the grandeur of night. I can see things dance that aren’t even hammers. A waltz is not a lacquer but it will shine out like a shout of ovation. I decipher a jig and position myself somewhere south of an ideology based on a daydream. I can ovulate anything if I have enough time and a good reason to sit down and play the harmonica. Eggs lay at my feet. They hatch little mothers of mist and suction. Nobody knows what to do with the teacher. She came in a blue ’61 Pontiac Bonneville and pulled out a gun and shot holes in the space-time continuum with a 9 millimeter Smith & Wesson. Then she sat us all down and taught us how to break out of a Mexican jail with a rhythm and a paradox. She keeps us busy learning things. Decorum, forensics, spectroscopy and woodcraft. Sooner or later a mania will arrive on a seahorse and hang from the ceiling like Sardinia in July. If that happens you can be sure that the personal is plausible that prances around in leather with a feather boa and a leopard named Larry. For all things have a name, except the unnamable, and they shall remain nameless. Next time I write something I’ll begin with a good idea and then blow it up with a stick of language. I’m going to start the engine now. Let’s see what happens when the sentence lights up and we see an oriole flying toward us with a momentum that shakes lightning out of the clouds and a convincing pretext, or wings, which are ways to plead with the air and rise into the sky.
Friday, January 7, 2022
Not all languages are composed of phonemes and grammar. There is also the rhetoric of rock and the syntax of roots and branches and leaves. No one edits the thunder. No one censors the sun. No one proofreads the wind. Everything is expressed in interrelation. Everything is a language. Chromosomes and nucleotides and phosphate molecules and cytoplasm and hydrogen bonds and magazine subscriptions. Sometimes there is a disturbance in the water and you wonder what’s down there what form of energy is agitating and convulsing and disturbing the water maybe it’s just an idea that hasn’t fully formed and is gestating wildly and rapidly so that it becomes a fully fleshed postulate. Who can tell? It’s hard to see clearly, hard to ferret out anything coherent when the metaphors turn umbilical & there are riots in Malta. Nothing ever made sense at the roller rink, except the floor, and even that sometimes seemed mootable, a little too smooth under the power moves. There’s something to be said about chaos. There are patterns within chaos that elude perception because they’re obscured by a predetermined system based on linear models. Fractals, for example. Or garage sales. Jokes. Arguments. Methane. Swirling colors on Jupiter. The word ‘gas’ comes from Dutch ‘gas,’ which comes from Greek ‘khaos,’ which means “empty space.” The Butterfly Effect, an underlying principle of chaos, is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system – a system in which the change of the output is not proportional to the change of the input – can result in large differences in a later state. A metaphor for this phenomenon is the fluttering wings of a butterfly in Brazil creating a tornado in Texas. Imagine the effect a sponge squeezed in a Brooklyn apartment might have on a wedding in Barcelona, or an enzyme in the brain of a toad. A quarry of old wind making a white hour turn taffeta with undertones of Viennese waltz. Mountain brooks led to fulfill the ceremony of waterfalls flying upside down in the eyeball of a Martian. Nothing ever turns out the way anyone expected. That’s impossible. Because nothing is impossible. Muddy Waters at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 1968 has only just reached the Ort clouds. If I get lucky and win my train fare home I believe I’ll go back down to Clarksdale little girl that’s where I belong. And this creates a ripple in the space-time continuum that comes quivering back from a D minor 1958 Fender Telecaster & a very bad hair day on top of my head.
Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Is language the adequate expression of all realities, Nietzsche asks. Well, no. I think we all understand that. But what, one wonders, what would it be like, no words in my head? Nothing. How would that affect perception? Would I see, hear, touch, taste with greater acuity? Does language blunt our perception? It does increase awareness. There’s something about putting names on things that makes them more defined. Clearer. Keener. Finer. How many different ways are there to see – to appreciate – a chair? The chair is a product of language. It was built using words as well as nails, pegs, glue, and lathework, the chair legs becoming spindly fluted and knobbed appendages, the flatness of the seat puffed out a bit with whatever they stuff under the upholstery to soften the hardness of it, make it amenable to the buttocks. It took language to bring the conception of the chair into concrete reality. Not necessarily English. Any language: Portuguese, Javanese, Bengali, Russian, Bhojpuri, Yoruba, Igbo, Sindhi, Dutch and on and on and on. All capable of producing a chair. Which is la chaise in French, la silla in Spanish, cathair in Scots Gaelic, Isu in Japanese, Kurasī in Punjabi, sandal in Mongolian. Sitting is oturma in Turkish, synedríasi in Greek. All these different sounds, do they make a difference? A shift in perception, a different angle, a different sensitivity, awareness, realization? Though maybe it’s more in the grammar, the way different people structure reality by structuring their language, as if language were a medium as palpable as stone, dependable as bricks, rough as sandpaper and supple as the tongue of a cat. Are all languages structured around the idea of a noun – a thing, a non-thing, a phenomena – and a verb, which is a kind of engine – and an object and a position in space all oriented with a sprinkling of prepositions? There are grammars I can’t imagine, but if I were exposed at some level, learned enough for a shallow immersion, that would so shift my outlook and proprioceptive occupation of time and space as to help bring about a new being. Identity is a fiction, must be the easiest thing in the world to change. But no, I’ve seen very few people change over time. Same with opinions. People never budge on opinions. Something there is in the language that sets like cement. Takes poets and musicians to shatter that hardened bone and let a little light in. What is a word, Nietzsche asks. The image of a nerve stimulus in sound, he answers. I think it’s a small lacquered netsuke. Nougat. Nugget. Cordial cherries. 10 pieces. Net Wt. 6.6 oz. Artificially flavored. Classic good taste. Dark chocolate. Lift to indulge, it says on the box. Real cherries. May contain pits or pit fragments. Viking remains. Helmet and sword. The bones of a dog. The wings of a dragon. But to infer from the nerve stimulus, Nietzsche continues, a cause outside us, that is already the result of a false and unjustified application of the principle of reason. But why bring reason in? We should leave it outside to soak in the rain.
Monday, January 3, 2022
I keep checking the temperature. It’s become an obsession. As long as the temperature stays above 32℉ there’s a chance the streets will be clear tomorrow, maybe slushy, still a slop of dirtied snow on the ground, bits of ice, but mostly gone. The joy of regaining traction cannot be overstated. Gets cold in the room at night. But when I turn the heat on it gets too hot and has to be turned off again. It’s like dealing with a yo-yo. A very slow yo-yo made of temperature. Odd thing, temperature. It fluctuates so quickly in a gas. Funny to think of air as a gas but that’s what it is it’s a gas gas gas. Mélange of gases: nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, neon, and hydrogen. The scientists say the oxygen is the result of bacteria. Cyanobacteria. Blue-green algae. Breathing is lovely. Puts to the lie any notion of individuality. We all breathe air. It’s like sharing the same membrane. Protects us from meteors. Never ceases to amaze me to see a 910,000- pound plane fly through the air. Wave your hand in it and it feels like nothing, a whisper of molecules on the hand, gentle perturbations, the softness of a cat’s belly holding mountainous clouds and jets and planes and helicopters and drones. Even that drone on Mars flew. The atmosphere on Mars is 1% less than earth’s. Mostly carbon dioxide. Trace of oxygen. Still. I can’t help fantasize wandering those plains of red dirt and jumble of rocks. Tarzan leading an army of warriors mounted on pterodactyls. Can still see Carl Sagan laughing heartily on Johnny Carson. What happened to him? Myelodysplasia. Bones stop producing mature blood cells. I wonder if he’d been exposed to anything as a scientist that may have brought that on. The need to find some explanation, some cause, some reason for such an early death is powerful. If I were to surrender to a nihilistic view of the universe it would undermine an already wobbly sense of well-being. But there it is. Even as eloquent and amiable a spokesperson for science and the ability to see wonder through the precise and quantitatively exact lens of science as Carl Sagan, a rare exemplar of unpretentious rationality, did not lead, as one would anticipate, to longevity. Where does it come from, this compulsion to find a moral hand in everything? Diseases are random, cruelly arbitrary. Never know when they're going to strike. The Covid pandemic has condemned the world to constant surveillance, division, poverty and death. Except for the billionaires. They’ve profited hugely from this pandemic. Where’s the morality there? We live in a fallen world, to put it biblically. Nietzsche claimed that an ordered society put the passions to sleep. Is it possible such egregious wrongheadedness, psychosis, and bloated self-interest might result in something radically beneficiary? A keener sense of being alive, an incendiary Byronic blaze ignited by an “offense to the pieties?” Wonder if that’s why everyone is so fascinated by outlaws. Rebels. Or they used to be. Those Peckinpah movies reveled in disorder. The “overthrow of boundary stones.” Warren Oates shooting holes in Mexican wine kegs in The Wild Bunch. Outsiders used to be so much fun. To watch, at least. This was a different kind of sociopathy. The outcast. Outcasts are sexy. Were sexy. A society on the verge of collapse isn’t such fertile ground for outcasts. Billionaires aren’t outcasts. It’s a different sociopathy. More lethal. Bank robbers are one thing. Bonnie and Clyde were seen as heroes. So was Machine Gun Kelly. People knew who the real thieves were: the banks. Billionaires aren’t a rebel class. They rise to their fortunes on the backs of workers, who are often abused, treated like slaves. Billionaires are more like the villains in the James Bond movies: they steal it all. World Domination. The wealth of an entire planet. It's a villainy so huge it can't be comprehended behind the face of a placid rationality, as it is in real life, where a dulcet manner hides a viper.
Saturday, January 1, 2022
Went for a run again today, cloaked in guitar cloth, the silk of music, blood running warmly to the skin as I get going, making of my body a furnace, a fire in my being, my being a fire, and I say guitar not for precision, nor for imprecision, but because I like the word, and the snow under my feet went crunch crunch crackle, or no sound at all, most of it silent, white, brilliantly white save in patches of beige, don’t know what causes that, something to do with the way it gets mushed by cars. R followed carrying a bag of peanuts. A few crows made themselves apparent, either by swooping down and landing in front of us, or cawing loudly from a phone line or tree branch. The cars are the biggest annoyance. One wonders what’s so important someone anyone has to get in their car and risk their life and everyone else’s life by driving in the snow, though perhaps I’m not being entirely fair, could be they’ve got four-wheel drive, and can handle it securely, the treachery of snow like the treachery of Loki, the Norse god of mischief. You can see where this is headed, the stuff going on in one’s head when one is outdoors doing outdoor things and the inner life drags behind, races to catch up, impose itself in the merry disorder of thoughts, ideas lissome and noisy as seagulls. Hungry, too. Hungry for combination, interrelation, the philosophy of contusion, blood rushing to the skin in the bruising air of winter, that giant season of sparkling lights and stinging cold. Constellations and corollaries galore move like school of herring among the molecules of texture, the text of texture in the ripples and crests and crusts and footprints in the snow. The cosmos has fallen to earth, has come to lie on the ground, sprawl there under one’s feet, slippery and wild, fugitive to fugitive in a race to the end, the final dissipation, the great thaw, the leaning back into the gaping maw of oblivion, and falling into the rise of it, the rising fall, the place where hoods do more for the head than steel.