Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Letter From The Matrix

Sometimes I like to imagine myself high on Benzedrine and whiskey sitting in front of a manual typewriter like Jack Kerouac or Anthony Burgess and the thought of this makes me high whatever it means to be high I’m not sure how to define what it is to be high and this makes me high high in vitamins high in emotional altitude I believe it’s a form of well-being as well as what the French call dépaysement being out of one’s familiar realm and somewhere foreign somewhere a tad unfamiliar and this is stimulating

R is in the kitchen making me a cherry pie it’s my birthday I’m 75 a formidable age I should buy a wig and have it powdered with pixie dust and wear a knee-length coat with gorgeous embroidery expensive lace in jabots and cuffs and Rococo buttons of German silver with rounded edges and delicate engravings

Because it is how I feel anachronistic and ill-adapted to the sanctions of the zeitgeist

I prefer the din of words to the explosions of bombs though I must say when words react chemically to one another and explode it’s marvelous

I see a wind sweep its broom over the surface of the sound rippling in melees of foam as the chest of a man drools from a notebook and a flood of turbulent thought inundates our carpentry

When I say carpentry I mean wood and nails a design pieces conjoined measured assembled dovetailed kissed and hammered I mean anything with a solid form anything structural anything with glue anything with horses standing in it or cows with hanging udders and soft woeful looks in their eyes for they need milking the great relief of milk released and squirted into buckets and this is what we call the architecture of farming and it smells of straw and burlap and manure and the bellowing of bullfrogs

Trip to the grocery store for bottled water and eggs was a tad dystopic you have to park underground it’s dark and smelly then ascend a steep flight of stairs the store used to be so inviting everything glittered all the products looked tantalizing as armchairs shiny democratic and proud now everything looks sad desultory and barren and a lot of the shelves have gaping holes where the products used to be and are no more due to so-called supply chain problems only one checker left the rest is self-serve people slavishly checking their own groceries nobody smiling nobody talking just robotically checking their groceries and if like me you comment angrily on the docility and stupidity of the public the security guard puts you in his angry worried focus hello agent smith

People often ask me what should I do and I say you should do what excites you this isn’t true I never say this nobody asks me what should I do but it’s true you should do what excites you and if the medicine is a hit you should thank science not poetry poetry is a different kind of pharmaceutical it never finishes what it starts it’s always on fire always bristling with syllables big fat vowels that spin like wild grouse out of the mouth and explode into tepees all the roads are exuberant and muddy all the fields open to the horizon

Sunday, August 14, 2022

A Clear Case Of Automatic Transmission

I like to get all bubbly and explode into glial cells. You could say in most instances time is on my side. But not this. These explosions are abbreviations of a more elaborate embarkment. The warp of lobsters burning up the town with the quick agility of their antennae. This is what we used to call Abstract Expressionism until we discovered that the bruises on our arms weren’t caused by scaffolding but maracas. There’s an aesthetic excitement in getting grants. But it’s even more exhilarating when the world ignores you completely. That’s when you know you’re on to something. Wisdom comes packaged in thunder. I see loops everywhere now, laces and lacerations, slides in parks and experiences waiting to shove us into life like a dicey automatic transmission. Those clunks are motivations. But what do you do with a motivation if you’re not feeling adequately motivated to motivate it? You see what the problem is: a bad CV joint. The push is gargantuan. Fulfillment is but a Tuesday away. Each dollar is a leaf on the money tree. Whose trunk is rooted in nothing. The paradigms are spread out on the coffee table. They’re easy to shift about. You’ll see in the end that the beginning is always beginning it never stops it surges forward carrying a tsunami of misconception with it. Blisters are little explosions on the skin. Friction brings them into being. The damaged upper layer of skin tears away from the layers beneath and fluid collects in the space to create a blister. The fluid is called a serum and should be taken seriously. Don’t laugh. We’re not talking about pimples here. The texture of these walls take time to deliver their secrets. Don’t give up till I reach the other side. I’ll give you a call.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Wah-Wah Man

I can never be rid of the image. I see it when I’m not looking at it. It pops up in my mind at unexpected times, triggered by nothing. George Harrison on the cover of his third album, All Things Must Pass, sitting in a chair on a huge lawn with a stand of evergreens in the background, his estate I’m assuming, and I know he loved gardening and landscaping, and to judge by the big rubber boots that are foregrounded and disproportionately large, he’s been working. The garden gnomes surrounding him are a nice, jocular touch. His big floppy hat seems well matched with the abundance of hair tumbling down and over his shoulders; it seems like part of the garden. I like the image. It feels at home in my head. It always had a weird familiarity for me, having done a lot of yardwork myself. And the misty English cold seems familiar, as that’s the same weather we have in the Pacific Northwest. I once invested money in an upright piano invention and found out he’d made an investment in it, too. So I felt a little connected. And to this day I never think of him as dead. His music is still going strong. For me, anyway. Occasions to discuss music with people in their 20s are slim. I did have a casual conversation with a twenty-something guy once that didn’t know who Led Zeppelin was. I used to wonder when I was in my 20s if I’d swing with the times, flow with the zeitgeist, morph into different identities as I progressed with the times. Didn’t happen. I still listen to the Beatles. I have no idea what the current hit songs are. This disinclination among the young to work shit jobs for peanuts, I do understand that.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022


I can smell it. Smell the surge. Smell the truth of fire, which is charcoal, and smoke. Smell the sanguine layer of grenadine at the bottom of a glass of Pepsi. Smell the anguish in a glass of milk. Smell the raw umber in a painting of coral. Smell the carpet in a cocktail lounge. Smell the slosh of ice in Chicago in March. Smell the language burning in a final exasperated effort at absolution. Smell the crack of dawn in a field of sage. Olfaction is considered to be the oldest sensory system. They remain, nevertheless, the least understood of the sensory modalities. And I can smell it. I can smell the rotten eggs mixed with rubber smells of the laboratory. But why? How? How do smells become memories and memories become songs? Has anyone taken the trouble to dive into the neurology and emerge with a stick of incense and a plausible explanation? The olfactory system is thus unique among the sensory systems in that it does not entail a thalamic relay en route to the primary cortical region that processes the sensory information. I get it directly. Without mediation. This is what immediate means: it’s there. Raw and unprocessed. The smell of onions. The smell of broth. The smell of tea in a yurt, Suutei tsai, or Brick Tea from Georgia. The smell of suntan lotion on a Florida beach. The smell of Florida. Which is a broad variegation of perfumes & foods, of citrus and baby powder in Miami, of sulfur from rotting sargassum seaweed in the Florida keys. New Orleans is the olfactory capitol of the world. Here the air is laden, charged, mingled and hammered with the odor of manure, cigarettes, urine, dead fish, marijuana, vomit, diesel fumes, fried chicken, Confederate jasmine, old wood, coffee, Angel’s Trumpet flowers, mown grass, mossy trees, sweet olive, and life.


Monday, August 1, 2022

God's Spies

Who was it said writers are God’s spies? God being the corporation of the sky. Which manufactures clouds and dreams. And floats in people’s hearts like a slingshot. Full of stipends. These may be stipulated or stippled, like stilettos, or storms. But spies, yes. It was King Lear, talking to Cordelia: “No, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison. / We two alone will sing like birds I’ th cage. / When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down / And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live, / And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh / At the gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues / Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too – Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out – / And take upon ‘s the mystery of things, / As if we were God’s spies; and we’ll wear out, / In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones / That ebb and flow by th’ moon.”

Spies are skilled at observing things without drawing attention. They do it by blending in. They do it without letting on that they’re observing. Catching details. The quality and size of a sheet of paper, its thickness and texture, its fiber, its submission to the flow of a pen.

The tonsil, too, is a tool. And the tongue is utter poker. Menus are the chronicles of the food and predilection of our time. But the jukebox is rare, and hides in a corner, where the hits sleep in vinyl, until they’re awakened by a needle sliding through their grooves. Well, it’s been building up inside of me for oh I don’t know how long. I don’t know why, but I keep thinking, something is bound go wrong. Because it always does. Shit happens. So why worry about it? Worry, I’ve heard said, is like trying to solve a math problem by chewing gum. And the hits keep coming. I stuffed that monster with quarters. Teenage angst. Adult angst. And the angst of old babies, that nurse their worries in gin, and rock their equations on stools, and stare longingly at the mirror.

Gunslinger in a golden vest playing an electric guitar like it was the vagina of space.

Let’s all try to learn a few things and pick each other up when we’re down and not ever push nobody down because we’re up.

Stevie Ray Vaughn, October 3, 1954 – August 27, 1990.

What was I doing on August 27, 1990? It was a Monday, so I was probably feeling a bit glum about returning to work. Though admittedly, and to a small but discernible degree, I enjoyed that short wait at the bus stop by Jimmy Woo’s Pagoda on Capitol Hill, leaning against a brick retaining wall, amenable to the moment, mulling whatever happened to be fomenting in my mind. It was a pretty neighborhood, before the developers got there, and destroyed its charm with unaffordable apartment buildings with hard right angles and bland façades void of aesthetic play. That was an odd interlude in my life. It also involved going to a coffeehouse called The Last Exit, which was on Brooklyn, and had tables of marble slabs, which had once been stall dividers in the old King County Courthouse. There were always chess games going, hands bonking timers, and conversations by which you could obtain an education if you listened in casually. I’d read a little Kerouac, or Proust, or Celine, then trudge to work. The whole sequence functioned as an airlock, giving me time to ready my resolve, noodle my poodle, open the door, and do time. 

It takes time to kill time. So don’t kill all of it. Leave some for the time being.

Sometimes an artificial emotion is better than no emotion at all. Wear a plume and become a multitude. Gratitude goes where the current is swift and the bottom glares back in specks of gold.

When in Australia, out in the bush, be sure to clap your hands to scare off the spring snakes.

That’s the best advice I can give to the youth of today. That, and these lines from Rosie and the Originals: It’s just like heaven being here with you.

I will arise and go now, and go to the kitchen, to feed the cat, and visit the bathroom on the way back. There’s a towel there I’d like you to meet, I say to my hands, which are eager hands, eager to grasp, eager to touch, eager to fold and to be folded, like the shadows at noon, which are folded into shrubbery and disappear behind the barn, only to reappear a few minutes later, holding a genera of stem succulents, like the euphorbias of the desert, fixing CO2 almost exclusively at night, and trading it in on a horse & a carriage. I commend them for their bravery, for their nimbleness, and for their dexterity, which is a pretext for squeezing your pretzel, and stealing your watch. Legerdemain, man. It stole my city. And won my hand in marriage.