Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Artist

She knelt among the rocks, on the uneven ground that led up to the main road. She was on a corner, where the busy main street crossed over the park road on a flat wide bridge with arches of brick and rusty lamps hanging from its underside. From where she knelt, she could look over the road to the treetops on the other side, she could look at the trees that were right next to her, covering the edge of the road with shadows and green, she could look at the people passing under the bridge, in bikes and cars and on foot, sometimes looking up at the cars whistling by or at her, but mostly looking straight ahead while talking or listening to music on headphones.
She spread a wide fragile piece of thin paper over a rock and traced the edge with a soft pencil. Then she looked up again. The sky was bright blue above her, and it covered the day in softness and hope. Her own hands were a bit scarred from the hard work of many years but they felt soft and young on a day like this, when the wind blew through the branches just enough to make them sing and the sunlight came down upon her like a gift that never ends. She made another trace with the pencil and looked up again. The cars on the main street had stopped momentarily and she could hear the thumping of a loud bass coming from a long red Chevrolet. She made another gesture with the pencil, trying to capture the sound in a quick movement of her wrist. There was laughter coming from another car and the sound of loud children screaming coming from another. She looked up again and then the cars moved, and there was a blurry parade of faces in profile, of metallic colors and spinning wheels, all drenched over the placid and static figure of the bridge that stood solid and heavy underneath it all. She looked down at the park road where a young girl in a bicycle was riding by. There was another quick gesture of her wrist and a very light marking on the paper that she held and then the girl in the bicycle was gone.
She stood up momentarily, looking over at the couple just around the trees. The dark haired woman was on her back and the serious looking man was above her, looking deeply into her eyes. She knelt again and made another quick gesture on the paper. A strong wind came by just then and the large paper wiggled and waved in her hands. She held it tight and looked at the couple again. The man was slipping away and the woman was looking up at him with a trace of anxiety. One more flick of the wrist and something remained, a quick reflection of that which was already gone. A bird perched on a branch several feet above her. She looked up and the quick staccato sound of its melody came to her through the brown web of the branches. Again she looked down at the paper and made a quick gesture, leaving traces of melody and wing and beak and tiny bubbles that were eyes on the yellowish paper that she held in her hands.
She looked further down the road, towards the west, where the road curved away by the side of a wall of jagged brown rocks. A little stream ran next to the sidewalk there and she saw two women walking slowly by the water, smiling and trading words and phrases like bits of soft bright sand. She looked down at her paper, which was now getting crowded, and she made a few more gestures, trying to catch the slow movement of their steps, the ease of their voices, the watery music of the stream next to them. She looked a bit to her left and there were two men riding up in slim sport bikes. She made very quick gestures on the paper that would capture the silver of the light upon the wheels, the lightning icon on their helmets, the strong solid eyes that looked further down the road.
She took a deep breath and surveyed her work, a scattering of quick curves and marks over a large yellowish paper that still rustled in the wind, eager to fly away. She nodded and started to roll it up into a smooth even tube. The meaning was unspoken, the representation was obscure, the transmission was complete.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Below the easily penetrable surface of tissue and skin deep veins, the molten force of red rage continues to churn. The energy is easily replenished. As the visions of metallic structures and vibrating roller coasters still linger in my consciousness, my body is awakened to the sound of glass bottles being dumped into a large container. One by one, the little man sorts the colored glass. Clink, clink, the monotonous rhythm continues. The sound is familiar, twice weekly he comes and stirs my slumbers with the sound of bottles crashing. Today, each sound reverberates strongly. Each clink is a tap on the structure of my sanity. The solitude of my chamber is affronted…sounds come from all directions. A man walks up and down the ramp beside my window. The ongoing construction project has lasted more than a year, and today, he is here, with power tools and saws and a Spanish speaking assistant.
I hear the jingle of a brass bell, it’s the sound of Marlyn coming through the garage door. When she’s here, it’s her musical accompaniment. Through the closed door in the hall, through the closed door to my room, I hear that light tinkling, then the ever-present sound of her voice… "Danny….Daniel…" The boy doesn’t answer. He’s only ten feet away from her, but he doesn’t answer, and she calls him again, only this time louder. "Daniel! What do you want to eat?" No response. He is playing with his legos. Sorting through big plastic tubs of assorted pieces. He throws unwanted parts onto the wooden floor, they bounce and go flying across the room, littering the living room with dings and clacks of sound. He makes police siren noises as he plays. "Danny!´ she shouts.
My door is closed, the hallway door is closed, and I can still hear everything. The construction worker has entered the house, his deep voice calls for Marlyn; a moment later he is opening the hallway door, shattering the remains of my silence. His footsteps are loud, echoing. He needs the electrical outlet in my hallway and strings the extension cord through the open bathroom window to the ramp outside. The bathroom window is open, and the two workers are only steps away. I am too shy to use the bathroom, not wanting to create perverted fantasies for them. The Russian already caught me midway through my morning routine, he walked up and down the ramp beside my open window. I could feel his presence as though he were inside, watching me like a flickering movie screen. Anger rises.
This is my home and I’ve nowhere to escape these noises. I try to move forward, lighting incense and practicing my music, but the sound of their hammer tapping on metal distracts me from the beat I am following. I want to cry, I want to scream.
Instead, I walk to the kitchen with a sour face, spewing negative emotions in my wake. I walk, I take my camera and I walk. I stop to smell some orange roses in full bloom. The water fountain has especially strange moss patterns. Halfway down the block, I can still hear the sound of the electric saw. I can sense the smell of tar. My head begins to ache. I cannot see them, but somewhere close by, there are men repaving the road. The smell has carried on the wind, and its toxic power rolls upon me like black waves.
I feel my sadness returning. I turn to a crack in the road and admire its shape. Every street I turn down, there are sounds that assault my sensitive senses. A motorcycle whips through the corner, its muffler cut to create the maximum amount of noise disturbance possible, he accelerates and I jump with a sudden surge of fear. I get in my car to find some sanity, perhaps the beach would be good, nothing there but crashing waves…ahhh, but this old man in front of me, he drives without purpose, slowly and aimlessly, causing me to catch every red light on the way. I am boiling, cooking in this redness.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Have you heard the news friend? The good, good news? That Jesus was white and they shot Oscar Grant to commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr.? Have you heard? That sound like africanized bees buzzing, zip zang zinging around your head, that sweet sound of helicopters of reporters running off at the mouth and neighbors shouting "What’s going on?", and young black folk crying, that’s the sound of democracy. That’s freedom bells ringing. We thought we were coming out of the Dark, but now we find ourselves tumbling in a free fall, looking to kiss the deepest darkest most depraved depths of the human soul. We find ourselves outside, because we’ve always been outside under the Great White Glory of America, we find ourselves outside and we loose ourselves out side in a great anguished howl, in a roar, in an apocalyptic disco brightened by searchlights and the blue and green glow of cell phones. The good, good news. The news that there is one right, the right to might and that supremacy is to be found in the color of your skin, which corresponds to your rank and contrasts nicely with the midnight hue of your baton and your Glock. You are right because you are white. Jesus is white and god is white and the virgin is white and when good niggers die, they turn white and go up to heaven, but bad niggers, the ones that RESIST ARREST, THE ONES WHO RUN AMUCK, RIOTERS, they meet a tar baby at the crossroads and she grabs them by the arms and swallows em up and shits them straight into the devils mouth. That’s right, the devil eats rioters for breakfast, and meanwhile Jesus likes his corn flakes with just a touch of half and half to make that white, white milk even creamier.
Friends, the day of judgement has come and we’re all going home, I tell you, I have heard the call. We are all going to sit in our cars and do nothing while innocent black men are gunned down in BART stations and we’ll wait for the mob to come and flip us over and set us on fire. Sure we’ll suffer a little, but then we’ll join Jesus for breakfast, and he’ll say: "It hurt a little when I was crucified, but lands! It was worth it to save all you pretty white folk from eternal damnation." I like strawberries on my corn flakes and that’s the truth. I tell you one thing, I won’t miss them in heaven because I never did meet a colored person that I liked, no, no, white’s just so pretty.
I buy my daughters coloring books, but I’ll die before I give them crayons or a paint set. There’s nothing worse than watching young Americans mix their colors. We ought to organize a RALLY, yes, a good Christian get together where we can burn all the crayons, just melt them right down so that our children don’t grow up thinking it’s okay to be colored, or have anything to do with anything that is colored. Yes, I heard, I heard all right. I heard the great big happy, happy birthday we wished Dr. King. Take your peaceful protest Martin and trot back into the kitchen to fetch Jesus another pint of half and half, he’s worked up quite an appetite this morning making sure that the bullets fired at white soldiers make a U-turn and land right between the eyes of democracy hating Arabs. Bring him a carafe of orange juice while you’re at it, bending the trajectory of a bullet to answer the prayers of a fat, pasty, potato salad making mamma is thirsty work.
The ones outside, the ones we left behind, the dark ones, the ones running through the night screaming for justice, let them eat cake. Let them weigh the heart of the man that pulled the trigger against the weight of a feather and watch the filthy thing tip the scale and slide off the table into a crocodile’s smiling mouth. They have distilled the tears that croc cries each time that she sups into an electrolyte enhanced elixir which is bottled and sold to the privileged so that they can shake their heads at the TV screen and then shed a few tears themselves.
We thought we had left the dark behind us. We weighed our heart in the fall and it was light as a feather. We made a black man our man, our face, and we all wept together, black and white and yellow and brown, we all cried crystal clear tear drops. And now I hear the sirens wailing. RESISTING ARREST! RESISTING ARREST. Yes, I heard the news. I heard it. Jesus was white and liked to eat wonder bread with mayo and provolone and they shot Oscar Grant dead, shot him where everyone could see, to start the new year off with a BANG! They sent us all a message; that they were right and he was the wrong, wrong, wrong color. So I’m sorry Dr. King, I really am. It’s your birthday and the man that did the shooting is walking free as a blue bird, and we turned some cars over and lit some fires and it did no good and I’m sorry. I hope they give you the day off up there, and maybe a little birthday cake too, (chocolate’s out of the question, I’m sure) We will take the day off , and we’ll play video games and drink beers and then Tuesday we’ll all assume our usual positions. The mighty will crack their whips and preach their right, and the good news will spread once again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Invisible World of the Random

The cellphone rang incessantly on her lacquered wooden nightstand. The light was just beginning to creep through the bubbling clouds, the bulbous blue shapes that defined the horizon of her dreams. The clouds had a touch of soft gray that whispered threats of rain and wind, but they were still friendly enough and rays of sunshine played at their edges and interrupted the whispers with small smiles and flirting eyelashes. The ringing barely disturbed her dreams and her round, pale face was relaxed and soft upon the feather pillow. The phone rang and was then followed by a couple minutes of silence, then it began again. Brrinnnnnggg! Brrriiinnnnng!!! She rolled over and pulled the pillow closer to her chest. Her mother was on the other end, overseas, feeding gold coins into a pay phone every ten minutes. She stood at a glass booth on the edge of a large blue lake that was surrounded by granite boulders. Sunbathers rested on the soft, organic shapes. The boulders were smooth and round, each one a unique interpretation of an oval or an egg. They were gentle giants, caressed by the water and wind for millennia and ending up here, and her open eyes surveyed the shapes with both awe and a small amount of panic. She had called her daughter six times this morning and four times yesterday. The tone of her child’s recorded voice, which sounded familiar, yet alien, entered her ear each time and sent a trace shiver up her spine. She was calling to ask about the letters, she was wondering if they had arrived at her daughter’s doorstep yet. They had been sent several weeks ago, had they crossed the ocean yet? Or where they among the thousands of other parcels in a bin somewhere, perhaps in Britain or New York, in a cold, white room waiting for a further reshuffling. Was a mail officer looking at the address right now, determining which route it will travel, which airplane it will enter and which man who would bring it to the door? "With the help of god", she thought mechanically, "the letters will arrive." As she hung up the cool plastic receiver of the pay phone, a sinking feeling mounted in her stomach. She was not a woman of chance. She did not like gambling, she did not enjoy being a houseguest or to be under someone else’s charge in any way. She controlled her life, no one else. The mail system was one of her biggest fears. It was chance. There were too many odds, too many hands that the letters passed through, too many machines, too many chances for error. There were too many opportunities for mistakes and she did not like the odds. She believed only in the certain, the things she could see with her eyes…the apple on the tree, the taste in her mouth, the words on a page written by a careful hand. The invisible was far from her world. To touch the invisible was a gamble, a universe with qualities and characteristics that were beyond seeing, beyond the absolute rightness of her senses. She had lived a short life of hunger and fear, at four years old, she had a moment of realization and from that, she determined she could only believe in things that were immediately in front of her, there was nothing else beyond her perception that could be trusted. Her third daughter was nothing like this. The pain of childbirth had brought an alien into her arms. A small piece of flesh with a full head of red hair that projected the energy of lightning bolts. The child had never cried. The little baby grew up to be the woman’s exact opposite, both in looks and personality. The dearth of their commonalties grew ever wider as both women aged. The young woman grew to appreciate the world of chance, seeing it as a mystery that continued to unfold with each breath she took. She never asked for explanations. They both lived among the reshaping of an old system, each reacting differently towards it. Humans had just built the first community on the moon and the girl was scheduled to depart in three days for her first lunar experience. Soon, she would take off, looking back at the dwindling landscape of America, seeing it clearly as a dot in the infinite expanse, her world one of millions of worlds among countless stars.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Little Church and Its Purpose

The sunlight was late in coming, it was early afternoon when it finally broke through the clouds and scattered the low hanging gray masses that had accompanied me through the morning. I walked along a suburban street that was tinged with noise and dirt by its proximity to the big city that loomed just over the bridge. A pit bull barked furiously as I walked past the chain link fence, the thin barrier only made me walk faster, knowing for sure that if this dog escaped, it would tear me apart in minutes. Long after I was out of sight, I could hear the vehement barks and wondered who would be the next victim. I reached the corner, quiet except for the growls that continued.
There was a coral hued church, massive in the neighborhood of one story houses and small lawns. Its roof was a high peak that had a thick metal cross at the very top. Biblical scenes were sculpted into the front façade. I wondered if nuns lived in the back, something about the long hallway that ran from the front door to the small building along the side reminded me of the Sound Of Music, which is the foundation for my knowledge of nuns and Catholicism. I mounted the row of fifteen steps that led to the 2 sets of white double doors. They were open and I stepped inside. Immediately inside was a foyer, a very narrow and small room which presented me with another set of four white doors. In the center of each was a rectangular stained glass scene from the Bible. On the far left was a picture of two young children kneeling and looking forward. Next to it was a simple brown cross with diamond shapes creating the background, there was a scene of Jesus on a hillside with three small children at his feet, and on the far right was a cluster of white robed angels. The scenes were mostly made from stained glass, but there was a strangeness on the depicted faces, Jesus’ face was too detailed and the children’s faces were too placidly expressive. It might have been painted or been an appliqué, but the overall feeling was thick and sweet and unreal. The colors were brilliant and they radiated in the light streaming from the room beyond. There were some fliers on a table near the front doors and a bulletin board with an advertisement for bible study.
On either end of the foyer, there were closed doors. No one came in or out. The whole place was silent except for the sound of my footsteps. My hand reached for the handle of the door bearing the cross, curiosity pushed me through the door and I entered the inner temple. It was a very long room, filled with 60 rows of wooden pews that were separated by an aisle in the center. There were two wooden confessional booths on either side of the back doors, the ones I had come through. Their dark wooden doors were carved into trellised designs. I tried to open a small door that was attached to the booth, I wondered if there would be a priest inside, waiting to hear my sins…what would I say? I turned the silver knob to the right, but it opened to a small broom closet. I tried the more ornate door in the center of the booth, where I imagined a priest would be waiting. I tried to turn the knob, but it was locked in place.
I began to walk down the center aisle. I slowly took out my camera and began taking pictures of the stained glass that covered the top of the walls. The room was long, 4 or 5 hundred feet, and at the top of the tall walls, except for the back wall where I had entered, were long and narrow biblical scenes. Each one was its own unique chamber. There was a bloody Jesus, a group of bearded men…one by one, the panels colored the room in light. I kept snapping pictures, the click of my digital camera echoed loudly in the room and I wondered if I was breaking a rule.
I realized that in my experience, I had only ever walked into a church as a tourist. I had gone into a few in Italy, and one in Chiapas that had been taken over by the indigenous population who had taken out the pews and replaced them with mounds of pine needles. In that church, chickens walked around waiting to be sacrificed while mountains of soda bottles were stacked against the walls, a beverage they drank religiously to get the devil out…he escaped with their burps. This was the first time I had ever been alone in a church, without the crowds of tourists or indigenous believers.
I tried to adjust the manual lighting of my camera, the photos were coming out a little dark. I was looking at my camera when I heard the squeaking of the doors opening behind me. I turned to see two adults stepping inside with a little girl at their side. One was a young woman, perhaps 23 years old. She wore blue jeans over her thick legs and a baggy sweatshirt covered her wide torso. Her skin was a light brown. She walked down the aisle on my left, along the side of the wall just below the panels of stained glass. She did not look at me, she walked solemnly towards the front of the church. Behind her was a little skinny girl. Maybe seven years old. She was wearing light blue jeans and a pink T-shirt. Her hair was shoulder length and smooth and brown, it was styled in two pigtails that hung on either side of her centered part. I assumed the little girl was the daughter of the young woman. Behind the little girl was an older woman, about forty years old. She was the same height as the young woman, no more than 5’1. Her body was slightly more slender than her daughter’s. She wore blue jeans and a loose button up blouse. All three walked silently past me, just beyond the long length of pew that separated us. None of them looked in my direction.
I sat down in the pew, noticing the pads people knelt on to pray. I watched the women climb two carpeted steps in the front and approach a large painting of Mary that hung on the left side of the wall. The painting was five feet tall and very simple in execution. The colors were slightly faded. The three women knelt in unison upon the step that began three feet from the wall, constructed for this exact purpose. The little girl’s head was turned to the right, watching her mother as she crossed herself, the little girl followed along, lagging a couple seconds behind in each move. All three bowed their heads and remained in silence. The little girl held her head down for a minute, then she looked up at her mother who was deep in prayer. The little girl turned to her grandmother, who was also busy in prayer. She put her head down again, she kept it that way for a couple of seconds, then she began to walk on her knees towards the alter that was just a couple of feet away from the step. The grandmother looked up and shook her finger at the little girl, who seemed to freeze in place for a minute, fearing authority, but as the grandmother hung her head again, the little girl began walking on her knees again. Then she crawled down the step, walking on all fours over the carpet and down another step. Then she turned around and crawled back up. The sound of her limbs making contact with the floor was loud and I tried to time the sound of her movement so that I could turn on my camera and take a picture of them, but the sound of my camera seemed too loud to be discreet and I was reluctant to intrude on their private moment.
The little girl crawled back onto the step where her mother knelt, her mother looked up and wagged her finger at the girl in anger, another warning to be quiet. The little girl remained still for a moment, then started to crawl down the step again. Her legs were on the step behind her and her hands were on the floor below. She suddenly stopped and looked up at me. I was watching and we held contact for a second. She raised one of the hands that supported her body and waved at me. I smiled and waved back. She held eye contact with me for another second, then began to crawl. The two older women stayed kneeling for another five minutes as the girl crawled on her hands and knees across the carpet, finding a playground in the quiet church. The younger woman released her posture and sat back on her heels and wiped tears from her eyes. I wondered who she was crying for. I wanted to ask, but although we were in the same room, I felt we were separated by something strong and palpable, a barrier I could never cross.
The three of them stood up and walked out the church the same way they had come in, in the same order, without words and without eye contact. When I heard the door close, I looked back to see if I was alone. I turned my camera on and began to take more pictures. Like the little girl, I would find my own purpose and my own work in this little quiet church in the suburbs. And there was nobody there to wag their finger or say no.

Friday, January 23, 2009

From A Hungry Ghost

Wanting another…
Just one more
And maybe one more after that…
Your lips glide across mine
Igniting fire within ancient caves,
finally, the strange paintings are visible
and they glow with the magic of secret things
that have been forgotten.
I cry when it ends
Even as your lips touch mine,
I am thinking about the next time,
and then,
the time after that.
When will it be?
When will there be more?
My hunger stops at nothing
I feast on chocolate and bread,
ripe fruits and thick cream
Still, my stomach growls
The ghostly pit quietly begs
One more touch, feel my breast
One more kiss, taste my tongue
One more
Another, and perhaps I can rest...

But this machine full of trickery
takes the upper hand
Pulling me by my hair,
I crawl along the marble steps,
cleaning the floor with my desire
I consume the dirt,
grabbing handfuls of dark soil and sand
I lick the leaves
crunchy and crackling between white teeth,
they taste like winter in eternal fog
politely, the machine asks for more
without a smile, the machine asks for more
with anger, the machine screams for more
with tears, the machine begs for another
with hurt, the machine wails
sending rays of pain through the white walls that surround it,
into all matter that expands endlessly
in this vast Universe
in which it finds itself alone,
and now at last it lays
tired and drained,
devastated and consumed
frozen to stone and left to rot
and still

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I lost control of my kite, my precious kite. Back in the days of darkness when I lived in a cage and could not hold my own babies on their birthdays I dreamed that one day I would stand with them on a hilltop and sail a kite over the blue with them. Now I can fly a kite and we have kept it up on some bright clear days, but then, on some other days, windy days like this, I’ve lost my grip and it sails away without me. Goodbye for now, kite.
I want desperately to say something but I don’t know what it is that I wish to say. I want to tell you NOTHING. I want to growl like a bear, whine like a dog, and coo like a dove. I want to be plugged into the wall like an appliance and sing my electrified robot love into the dark jealous night. I’d like to live in you, fade into you, and drink from the blue vial, stage my own death, run wild through life rather than become such a meek shade that all I shall inherit is dirt and the taste of a master’s boot heel. I have longed, since before I gasped my first breath, to do something. I came screaming into this world with a purpose which I cannot put into words, a purpose that is a roar, and my intent for following through with this impulse to live is stronger than steel. For a moment I may wax feeble, then at the last moment, as I sink into the pillowy soft depths of sleep, I remember to make a terrible sound, a sound which will shake the earth to it’s foundation and cause the mountains and plains to be shed like a skin and the oceans to leap out into the black abyss.
I do not want to loose a moment, patience has been a hard won upgrade. Saying something, anything at all is better than slipping quietly from birth to death. I want to live. I want LIFE with the capital letters. Let me manipulate this tender dream flesh, this world skin, until I have achieved that mysterious something which I intuit cannot be achieved, but is my purpose none the less.
If I am chaos, if my words are chaos, then at least they are something. At least they are here. I lack discipline. Without it I will never be able to realize my desire. This heart filled to the brim with sloppy passions and fears like tiny bent paper clips- cold malleable things that cannot hold any thing together, the pages will blow away in the wind despite motions to the contrary, and yet I keep the bent paper clips as if they will somehow do me some good.
I do not think that I will have to die.
Then I accept that I will but I cannot believe that I might have to return to my dark cell someday, my cold dripping cage.
Anything I say is silly. Everything I say is silly.
I can’t seem to hold myself together. I cannot even find the glow right now, the warmth that emanates from within me and spreads out across the universe, a warmth that is you, a heat that I call love. My cup overflowed, I let too much wine spill out upon the cold stone steps.
Damn machine, damn animal.
Damn metal spider like staples trying to hold me together at the seems. My molar is vibrating and I can see myself as a crazy man on the streets smiling with empty rubbery pink gums teeth long since removed with a dirty pair of pliers.
When I see those people, I know it’s me. I know, I know. I can look into their eyes and say, "I Know. I know it was real. I know it because things like that have happened to me"
They are real and they are unreal, these strange dreams I am dreaming.
I burn my soup. I burn cookies almost every day, and every day I try again to make good cookies but I always burn them. They are lumpy when I wish they were smooth, and smooth when I wish they would be puffy. I can’t find the right recipe Every morning dirty dishes wait for me and I try to clean them. I clean them all day long and still they are there in the morning waiting for me. I can’t get a fresh start, I long for a clean slate, a day to dawn upon which I awaken and everything is set and ready for me to run.
But instead each day my running shoes are tied together at the laces and my gym clothes are dirty and wrinkled and I can’t get them out of my locker because I don’t know how to open the combination lock and no one can take the time to show me how.
Everyone else knows, they can all do it, but I can’t because I found a gold ring in the gutter walking home from school, clothed in my grandfathers military jacket and lost it a year later changing before PE.
I can’t do it because my parents disappeared so they couldn’t teach me how to do it.
I couldn’t do it because my teachers loathed me because everyone else loathed them. I think they liked to see me fail because then my peers could turn their jeers and criticism on me and forget all about the teacher who can now turn while they’re not looking and wipe the beads of sweat from their forehead unnoticed. Everyone I knew before you lied to me. I didn’t realize it, or I couldn’t believe it or I wanted to excuse them for it so that everything would be all right. Everyone before you wanted me to fail whether they admitted that fact to themselves or not. They wanted me to fail so that I would stay with them, be more like them, or give them someone to whip.
You bought me a kite. You put my dream directly into my hands. We bought it at a drug store off of mission and I took my girls to a cliff near the sea and we flew the kite until the wind acted savagely and tried to tear it away from us.
Today I lost it, but tomorrow it will be back.
Tomorrow I will fly it again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Family Picnic

There was a wide open lawn just south of the park’s northern boundary, where the sounds and the shadows of cars flew across the leaves of the bushes like ghosts and a statue was perched on top of a thick heavy brown rock, looking down at the grass with eyes of arrogance. There was a small circle of thick trees to the eastern side and a dark grove to the west. The park road passed by the edge of the lawn but it was higher up so the sounds of motors and honks got mostly lost in the wind. The grass was moist and uneven and there were no gaps of dirt in the whole green expanse. The place gave the illusion of isolation even as it stood right in the middle of restless city activity, desires that plunged through the street like ravens, dreams that fell from the sky like shooting stars. Here everything had the silence of undistinguished noises, here was the promise of eternity in a glimpse of shadows and a green shade of light.
On this particular sunny afternoon, a family of four had taken over the center of the lawn. They were an older couple, their son and their daughter in law. The father was a strong thick man with angry eyes and muscular arms covered in tattoos. He had full black hair and a bushy moustache that trailed over his fat lips. He wore a white T-shirt and rumpled blue jeans. He sat on the edge of the sheet that his wife had brought for them, and he constantly surveyed his surroundings for any sign of danger or intrusion. The mother was a full figured woman who looked older than her husband. Her hair was turning white and her round belly protruded over her waist like a basketball. Her face was lined by wrinkles, both etched in the flesh of her cheeks by the ongoing passage of the years and also newly pressed by constant worry. She wore light brown pants that came down to her knees and a leopard print faded shirt, a gesture to memory, a sign of better days. She stood by the food and looked over her small reign of three people, trying to make sure that things went as planned, knowing that everything could be derailed at a moment’s notice.
The son sat on the cooler as if to claim as his own private property. He had short black hair and a thinner body than his parents. His arms were muscular but not as thick as his father’s and he showed no signs of tattoos. He was hunched over in an easy expression of relaxed amusement, mostly looking at his wife who sat on the sheet directly in front of him. She was the only one of the four whose skin wasn’t white, instead she was the color of coffee mixed with milk. She wore a manta shirt with colorful adornments around the neckline. Her hair was solid black and it was straight and smooth as it fell gracefully over her shoulders. Her eyes were thin and slightly slanted, her breasts were small and pronounced. She sat sideways, resting most of the weight of her body on her left arm. This sideways position gave her a look of royalty, as if a queen had decided to spend a day among the peasants.
"It’s a beautiful day isn’t it?" the mother said with a touch of anxiety, an unsuccessful attempt to gracefully interrupt the cloud of silence that tended to descend on them like a black cloud.
"It sure is… we don’t have many of these around here…" the son said and nodded to his wife, urging her to make a comment.
She looked up at him and subtly shook her head, in an attempt to refuse her husband’s demand, but then she talked anyway. "It’s very nice to be out on a day like this… isn’t it?" and with the question at the end she turned to the father whose eyes were locked on the road above them. At the moment he was so focused on the small group of teenagers that were walking by that he missed the gesture of his daughter in law. The mother stepped in to accommodate for her husband.
"It really is good to be out on a day like this… right?" and she stepped across her husband’s vision. The father looked up at her and then turned to look at the two younger people.
"Yes, it is. It is a nice day." And he nodded gruffly, as if it pained him to admit that anything at all could have a touch of niceness.
"You two should come up here more often," the son said, looking at his parents but feeling the burning eyes of his wife on him. "We could spend more days together… more days like this…"
The mother nodded aggressively. "Yes, that would be very nice… family should be together… right?"
The father looked up at her and then at his son. "That would be good… I probably can’t you know…work and all… but it would be good if I could…" His head swiveled slightly and his eyes landed on his daughter in law. She looked back at him and attempted a smile.
"Family should definitely be together… " and he looked up at the road once again, as two men in bikes rode by. The daughter in law looked up at her husband and nodded. The husband looked down at her and pressed his eyes together and shrugged his shoulders, then he turned to his mother again.
"Whenever you can make it up here… it would be good to spend more time like this…"
"Yes it would… it really would…" the mother said as she felt another wave of silence descending on them with a dense heaviness that she wasn’t sure to be able to withstand and lift away.
"Shall we eat?" she said, smiling painfully.
"Yes, let’s eat…" the son said, and stood up from the cooler where he sat. The father nodded. The daughter in law looked away. The mother started to prepare the plates.
The statue looked down at them and the lawn continued in its endless silence, untouched by the cars to the north or the south, untouched by the sound of airplanes flying overhead, untouched by the strange singing sounds of the people sitting on its heart. The statue had seen many just like them. The lawn would hold many more again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Hidden Group

She sat with two long metal poles in her hands, knitting on the subway. As the emerald green yarn glided effortlessly through her fingers and the needles, she occasionally raised her eyes and surveyed the semi-full car. It was just past rush hour and there were enough orange plastic seats available for everyone, although a single man in a black leather jacket stood by the doors, waiting for the next stop. Sometimes she looked up at just the right moment and could see through the window another speeding train. It was illuminated in the dark underground, full of people like her, moving at the same velocity, though the same territory. They were so close in those moments, she could almost make out the title of a book that a young man was reading, she could feel the sadness with which a middle aged woman looked out the window into the tunneling darkness. They were so near, yet, they were on a slightly altered path, just a hair’s difference than her own at that moment, but within a matter of minutes, the trains would curve and they, all of them, would arrive at completely different destinations.
Her knitting needles moved quickly along, moving more out of habit than intellectual direction. Her mind wandered as her slender fingers moved… what neighborhood was she under at this moment? What moved in the night? She imagined a young black woman crying as her lover turned and walked in the other direction. She imaged a man holding onto the leash of a large white dog, walking slowly as the animal stopped every couple of feet to smell a bush or wall. Maybe there were couples walking arm and arm down the city streets, watching for the taxis that rounded corners without mercy. She imagined it all as her body was transported further by the second.
The high rents of the city prevented her from living there. Her destination, her home, was in the industrial wasteland that clung to the edges of the city like a lingering cough. The void, as it was called, stretched for miles. Warehouse after warehouse stood like lifeless block soldiers, one after the other in dutiful formation. Their shapes were the only remains of a once thriving port…that, and the air of ghosts that sometimes moved between the buildings on cold, quiet nights. She lived there, in a huge warehouse with thirty other people. They had come together like an army of grateful rats fleeing the city, happy to have a place to call home. There were other communities of squatters in the other buildings, little communities of young artists and travelers and hobos. All of them kept a low profile, keeping up the appearances of decay from the outside; they let the plaster fall, they let the weeds continue to grow, they let the scattered trash mount and add needed color to the land.
But once, she had defied the normal code and she had taken a midnight stroll. A mile from her home, she saw the white lettering of a banner flapping along the side of a warehouse and the constant thumping of drums. She remembered that travelling shows and groups would occasionally rent the warehouses from the city. She had her explanation, but she still walked towards the building. The resonant beat matched the time of her steps. There was a glimmer of yellow light coming from the huge sliding metal doors, someone had not shut it all the way, or perhaps had not known to close the latch. She came closer and curiosity compelled her to look, she approached soundlessly and put an eye to the slit with a faint tinge of guilt that excited her even further.
Inside, she saw a long line of drummers forty feet away. They were topless and sweating, each man’s firm chest glimmered like moonlight on a dark pond and she beheld them in awe. A dozen arms raised in unison, then came down, beating the taught skin of their drums with such delicate precision that it seemed as if the earth would open with the sound of their demand. A cold, icy wind brushed past her back. The night covered her in its dark wings, its hard kiss stayed firmly planted on her shoulders as it pressed in on her heart without mercy. She stood, barely breathing. Her hands were numb and her nose was stinging in the wind, her lips were nearly frozen in an inbreed expression of ecstasy, awe, and fear.
The women were naked, save for the black lines and dots that decorated their skin. There were at least twenty in a large circle. Their arms were free and they swung wildly with grace, creating long streams of golden light with the flaming poi. Their faces were alive with flickering shadows and their hips moved like spiraling snakes on an ecstatic journey though time. And although their arms moved unhindered through the air, their ankles were tightly bound in thick silver cuffs. There was three feet of thick metal chain that separated each leg and each woman was connected to the others at her sides by another six feet of chains. They moved in slowly together, closing the circle with each careful step, each foot moving in precise time with their men who watched attentively from behind. Each drummer seemed intimately connected with a dancer, each dancer was held firmly to the woman beside her. As a whole, they seemed bound beyond matter and the surrounding walls, held tightly beyond the flesh of their bodies or the fictitious borders of their minds. Their eyes were half-closed, almost droopy, but their bodies appeared fully alive, moving with a knowledge that seeped from a deeper brain, from the hidden consciousness that flowers while the machine clocks off. They moved with the force of moving planets aligned with many suns.
She watched through the crack, wondering what they would do if she was caught. Maybe she would be cuffed by the ankles and forced to serve them. Would she be kept in the lion’s cage, a mistress to all, licking the beads of sweat off their skin through the black of night? Would they paint her in stripes and teach her to move like a serpent with legs? Would this group become her village? Her tribe? Would she take on their scent and comb their black hair? Surely they came from a place of pure blackness, a world were sounds take the shape of colors and movements light the night with their brilliant vibration. She watched them, knowing that this was the dominant force in the world, that everything else was a shadow, a long distant relative that perhaps had a memory of where it had deviated, but had no idea how to retrace its steps, to find itself once more. She heard the clang of metal on asphalt and turned to see a single sardine can tumbling in the wind. Above her, the lights of the second-floor came on. There was a silhouette in the window, a slim man with a long head of black hair piled in a bun atop his head. The man looked out into the night, to the small group of stars that flickered softy though the sky. A rock came towards her, a small pebble landed at her feet. She looked up to find its source, the man in the window was watching her, the tables had been turned.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Kava Speaks

What they gave me to love? A man doll, a rag of dirt, a thing in the image of, but not alike to, the lords, the Elohim, the crowd from heaven that sometimes come down to earth. A puppet, a joke, an experiment. A companion. Adam. My Adam. They would scorn me because I loved an angel, loved an angel more than a man, an Adam. Because I have climbed the tree, climbed it and descended it in company they might never hope to have, they would make a scandal of me. Let them scorn. Let them despise me and shut their windows against me and blame all of their woe on me and call my best works a sin. I gave their "good" Adam two sons, I gave them their shepherd. To my angel I gave Cain. To the power and the life of the heavens I gave the earth, the cup, a grail to hold the ecstatic wine of the unknowable. To him, the half brother of your shepherd, the son of an Angel, the grandson of an angel, to him the kingdom belongs.
Upon him I look with admiration, yes, with pride, which is noble though those who are not so would make nobility a curse. Who was jealous of whom? Those whose lives are so tightly knitted to the earth that they are drawn to it like metallic dust to a lodestone, scarcely able to look up from it to blink drowsily at the stars, they have ever feared that which was not so earthbound as they, that which rises far above them, reaching higher and deeper, touching lights and shadows that they would never dare to brave, enslaved as they are to instinct. They would make evil those who are masters, masters of themselves, masters of the word, masters of the illusion that shrouds us like an absurd raiment. Their curse is a blessing. To be shunned by them is the greatest possible honor considering the baseness and vulgarity of that which they prize. They may run the noble born to the ends of the earth with false claims of supremacy, with their shouts that they are the chosen of the one true God. But for those who know better, their stomping and shouting will be laughable. Or at least it would roll like water off of a swan’s back if it weren’t also so wretched with resentment and jealousy, that it burns through the protective oils like acid, and finally sinks that graceful bird that once knew both the depths of the waters and the heights of the sky.
I have known Gods. And I am aquatinted with this God of theirs, who is one, but not the only one. To a jealous God, a jealous and desperate people. This is… they are what the Gods have given me to love, rag children made of dirt, sons and daughters of Adam, of Abel and Seth. Can they help what they are made of? Is it their fault that they have been made only half as good as their brother? Is it their fault that they haven’t enough strength to pull free of the lodestone and fly madly into the abyss as angels fly? I cannot hold them in contempt for their weakness, but nor should I deny the greatness and worth of true strength. I will not hang my head for scaling to the heights and the depths with angels. I defy the people of dirt, I challenge them. Chase my better children to the ends of the world as you are want to do. That is as far as you will be able to pursue them, but they can go farther still and will leave you far behind. Even now, they are dancing madly where you cannot see them, and they will rise and fall beyond the limits of your pale perceptions. To them the kingdom belongs. You are the ivy which eats at the tree. When the tree has fallen under your advance, what will you inherit? More and more dirt. To the noble born goes the kingdom. And to Jehovah go the unwashed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Species

The species… as old and deep and dark and tangled as the craters and canyons of the cold blue oceans. Where one fissure connects to another via some long tunnel beneath the sea bed is a secret kept by the basic shape of things. The visible form hides the more important skeletal and neurological structure, acts as a distraction diverting attention from it’s more elemental self. Although their hair might shine like moonlight on the waters surface and their eyes glisten round and black, blinking with innocent curiosity, the species is not only as it appears. It is not only the pale mammalian curve of breasts, or the lips that can pout, pucker, or smile. Nor is it even the graceful blue green tail fin, not delicately scaled like the legends propagated by silly sailors would suggest, but smooth and slick like a porpoises. They swim with the swordfish and lurk about in kelp forests like the shark and the eel, but they also encircle their lovers with arms like wanton human women and wrap their long fingers around the throats of their victims like any strangler that ever stalked whores in dark alleys upon the continents of that exotic planet upon which they dwell.
The species. That is how they know themselves, all that they know of themselves, that they are the children of some proud horrific thing from the depths beyond time, their father, their grandfather, the white beast. Beneath the oceans gleaming surface, they live as they have always lived, from one moment till the next, feasting when there is suitable prey, loving their brothers, the whales, while they can, luring men overboard to satisfy their overwhelming curiosity. They have a talent for death, for bringing it swiftly and remorselessly and for avoiding it effortlessly.
The species will never die. There are thirty four, thirty four that will never be more. Their names; Euphore, Cele, Kelke, Rapha, Dimuine Foura, Clyte, Shona, Cres, Zyl, Xie, Aphini, Bluet, Welse, Rivune, Tores, Urite, Dra, Gern, Yelb, Sta, Nin, Lyl, Mach, Fie, Owre, Ade, Fleezle, Sheut, Brin, Pit, Clo, Vrifninya. They will never bear children though they might try, and in return they will be among the last things left roaming the earth, never wondering if there will be a tomorrow, never regretting a yesterday. The daughters of Ueyegat.
The Species. Their history is written by their cousins, land dwellers with a history and concerns all of their own, but with a language with which to mention the thirty four. They too are not what they appear to be, living among men and dying among men and sometimes even mingling with men. Unlike the species, they can watch the waves crash upon the shore and see the deep as a foreign and fierce thing, a devourer which does not have them yet in its maw, but will some day, in the far off murky future. If only the slow death weren’t eating away at their spirits, the civilizing factor, maybe then they would be as remorseless as the thirty four. Instead, as the albatross glides over the sea and land, they glide through life, and when they are weary, they will be forced to land beyond the face of the shape of the world.
I am Kulthru Rae. So I will live, and I will die. But the species will live on and on. The world will turn and perhaps someday, if I cannot live without time and words, I will at last be their master, and write the poems that will tell of these things and others. But first I will have to master the slow death in me. And in the meantime, they are there, thrashing about in the icy, dark, and turbulent waters, as happy to be there as a babe at its mother’s tit.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Under The Sun

A young woman leaned on a towel on one of the wide lawns of the city park. She had taken the day off from work and she had decided to walk a few blocks and spend a few hours under the hot rays of the sun. Bright sunlight was rare in this city of fog, so the few days that were sunny had to be treasured like golden nuggets in a mountain stream. Laying out on her white towel, she wore only a white cowboy hat, a gift from an old boyfriend whose name she had already forgotten, and a light green bikini which covered her breasts, her crotch and most of her buttocks. The rest of her white skin was bare and covered in a thin layer of suntan oil and sweat.
When the young woman looked down at her own body, in full display in a public setting, every detail amplified by the unforgiving light of the afternoon sun, she couldn’t help being critical. Through her own eyes, her skin was too white, all from month after month of living and working indoors, and it would take more than one afternoon of sunbathing to change her pale coloring. Her breasts were too small and, even at her young age, she could tell that they were already starting to droop. She knew in the back of her mind that sooner or later she would have to get surgery, she would have to get bags of silicone implanted under her skin to give her an appearance of robust abundance. Her smooth belly showed signs of slight wrinkling and she perceived the wrinkles as fat, and so she worried that she had been eating too much. She made quick ephemeral decisions about eating much less, eating better, doing more exercise, doing whatever needed to be done, all decisions that would quickly be forgotten and put away like old clothes.
She poured some more suntan oil on her hands and started to rub it over her shoulders and her arms. She wished that her boyfriend was here, the one whose name she could remember, the one that she had met only a couple of weeks ago. She wished that he could be the one pouring the oil over her body. It would be easier that way and much more pleasurable. Her body ached for the touch of his firm rough hands. It had only been two days but it had already been too long. She already needed the silk of his lips on hers, for his finger through her hair, for his arms around her shoulders once again. Just as her hands were covered in greasy oil, steaming hot under the sun, her cell phone rang. She hesitated for a second to answer it, she didn’t want to get the device all greasy, but she quickly realized she had no choice. She grabbed the phone and flicked it open with a practiced move of her right hand. She brought it to her face and said a simple: "Hello?"
Two men rode their bicycles down the sidewalk, about twenty feet away from her. A group of teenage girls were laying all together in a circle to her right, sunbathing like she was. A couple was laying on a large brown towel near the trees behind her. Cars drove by in quick succession and a pickup truck was parallel parking across the street. The young woman’s eyes grew wide, digesting all this movement with her eyes, perceiving it all as a strange background to the words that the tiny metal device whispered into her ear, a movie with a strange voiceover that was sliding unexpectedly into slow motion and distress.
"I don’t understand… why today? Why right now?"
There were more words and more whispering. Two women in flowing light brown dresses walked by, talking excitedly as they moved in the direction of the tall brown building a few blocks away. A tall woman in loose gray shorts ran by on the sidewalk, gasping for breath, grunting with effort. Two more men rode by in thin stylish bicycles. The pickup truck finished parking and a large man with colorful tattoos on his forearms stepped out of the cabin.
"Shouldn’t we get together… it would be better if…I would really like to talk in person… it’s just that…"
A family of four walked by, a teenage girl in black walking ahead of them, a little boy in shorts running in circles around their feet. A tall bearded man walked by with a camera. A slim Asian girl rode by on a small bicycle. The teenage girls on her right were now laughing loudly and turning over onto their backs.
"I would rather that… but listen… I…"
The laughter of the girls seemed like an offensive intrusion. Two little boys ran ahead of their father in the direction of the restrooms in the northeastern corner of the lawn. The man with the tattoos was taking out a large bicycle from the back of the truck. He put a cap on his head with the figure of a colorful eagle and closed the bed of the pickup truck with a loud bang.
"Ok then… yeah, later we’ll… sure… ok… bye."
She closed the phone with a soft click and stared at the clouds and the sky. The landscape seemed to shift slightly each time one of the teenage girls laughed. The little boys screamed to their father from the door of the bathroom. A car honked in the distance and a motor rumbled as it started. She put the phone away and looked down at herself. The sun was no longer as warm. The park was no longer as inviting. The rough hands would not be touching her again, there would be need to find new ones. Everything she had ever thought about herself was true. She was getting old and ugly. There was no other reason for him to do what he had done. She would have to go home soon. She had to take steps. She would call around for prices on breast surgery. She would call around for diet programs and gyms. She would face up to her problems and solve them, just like she always did. She would look at time in the eyes and emerge victorious. And she would soon forget another name, another gift, another night of passion, another day of sunlight and warmth. Many more had already been forgotten.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The All Seeing Boy

The age of your son clouds my imagination. Why does a boy shorter than most doorknobs have gray hair? Under what stress have you put his body under? What has he seen between the cracks of doors? Is his reality colored by cartoon books and stuffed animals with squashed faces and missing eyes? Does he live in an imagined world of sorcerers and captains with missing teeth? Or does he fret about his missing breakfast cereal, long gone and another never coming. Does he worry about his cold hands that have cracked in the grooves where his fingers meet? Has he thought about soldiers dying in the field, their bloody mouths calling for Maria, the mother of all? Have you told him that lie too?
Take your head out from the foggy London streets. There are no virgins here. The signs are everywhere. It comes with every fifth thought. On the ground is a stick shaped like an aroused man. There, in the tree trunk, is a raised knot shaped like a pleading ass hole, forever teasing, forever waiting for a branch to plunge inside. This isn’t just the directing of a foul mind, it’s nature, screaming for death and finding renewal. Crying for release and creating another.
The Christian band cannot play another song. I refuse.
I have cut their plastic strings in my silver teeth and made men from their cocks. The cords are severed, their mics lay as dust beneath my bare feet. The verses from scripture have turned blond-headed flocks into pudding-headed dolls that deny the laws of matter. Logic lays lifeless in their hands. Science, beheaded long ago. Come to me dressed in purple satin and perhaps you may find the real mother of all. Her thighs are wet, her mouth smells of faint fish and sweat. Her torn garments hang from her neck like ribbons from a maypole, rainbow colored and spotted with red. Her loins are torn…and open.
Our need for death comes before our first word. There is no virgin. Purity is for those who shut their minds to our defiled nature. It comes as naturally as birth, and yet you hide it in underground caves. We can see it leaking! Your purity is black and red, coloring the clouds for miles with your subverted lust. I am a seed of their lust, a creation of two robots fucking for death.
And they did, yet…continued to breathe.
And I, before my first steps, sought for death as well. And though I have imagined better, though I have sometimes worked to elevate my knowledge beyond the first few words of the dictionary; I am still remedial, lacking vocabulary, lacking intention. My thoughts fade as another wave of music drowns my crumbling skull. And then, drifting…I remember.
Have you ever understood that the nights in London where nothing but a nightmare drenched in colorful glass and sequined lingerie that fell for the first customer? They poured a fifth of their liquor into the piss-stained streets and still, you were able to walk down the marble steps without losing your teeth. Without losing the rest of your heart. I saw you directing rats in the sewers. They came to us from underground tunnels coated in grease. They came from villages and attics clogged in dust and broken Christmas lights, from the baker down the street and the dream that still clings to my consciousness.
The band lies broken and used while rats feast on the remaining lyrics. Dressed in ancient clothes that smell of mildew and lavender, your boy sings a sad song, seeing it all, despite the window you have shut.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

About My Mother

I watched her from the doorway, helpless to relieve her misery or grant her a moment of peace.
"Should I go to the Civil Air Patrol meeting, mom?"
"Yeah, just because I’m dying doesn't mean everyone else should stop living their lives…. besides, I could live another five years."
I smiled at her and got my things. I left the house in the cold darkness of night. I don’t remember any stars. As I walked out the door, I knew it would be the last time I saw my mom.
In the meeting, I sat among many others. There was a lecturer who had long ago finished his opening points, yet the horizon of the end was too far ahead to see. A strange sensation moved through me, a palpable shift in my body that still, now, defies words with its opaqueness. I stood and went to the women's restroom. It was pitch black inside the small tiled room and as my eyes adjusted to the light, I leaned into the slick, cool wall. I slowly slid down, my shirt rising slightly with the downward movement until I met the floor. I drew my knees up to my chest and I buried my head in my hands. My eyes stung. I had the overwhelming desire to cry, my body felt the surge of stored emotion and the impulse to let it flow outwards with salty tears and waves of sadness, but I could not. I stayed on the edge, on the sharp, thin space between calmness and utter meltdown. It was painful, it was uncomfortable, it was unlike anything I had felt before. I knew, at that moment, as I sat alone in the dark, that my mom was dying.
There is a memory, a distinct vision that sticks out among the blurred clouds of early childhood. I was one year old, a giggling baby in my mother’s lap. I was on her knees and she held my little body firmly around the chest as she bounced me up and down. We were at the small airport across the street from our house and I giggled happily, excited by the motion.
One time she came to me like a mother cat for her lost kitten. I was very young and had been sleeping on the couch when I woke up very disoriented. For a moment, I wasn’t sure where I was and in my innocence and bewilderment, I started to cry in small whimpering gasps and my mother came, patient and loving to cradle me in her arms.
I remember the first time I thought of her death. I was about four and my mother was running the bath water. I suddenly thought of her dying, of her subsequent absence, of how much I would miss her. I started to cry. She turned to me and asked me what was wrong. "I don’t want you to die." She chuckled softly, "I am not going to die! Not anytime soon, I hope! Don't worry about that!" She hugged me and gave me a kiss and put me in the warm tub.
We used to go on family vacations. I remember helping my mom pack all of the items from her carefully written checklist. We went around the US, to places like Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Washington D.C. and Chincoteague Island, Maryland. We took our last vacation when I was fourteen and a half. Mom didn't feel too good, on the trip, she got tired easily. I noticed her stomach was getting large and distended. Soon after, mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"I lived a happy life, what the hell, if I die, I die."
Before my mother got sick, we would sit at the card table in my room and do small craft projects and 5,000 piece puzzles. We spent countless hours talking and listening to music and enjoying each other’s company while we worked together. She was a creative woman. She made Christmas my favorite holiday with her sweet pies and cookies and unique savory dishes. In the winter months, she brought our house to life with unique lovingly-made decorations and the hand painted ornaments she hung from our tree.
As time passed, she got sicker and sicker. She lost her hair and a lot of weight. I would lay with her in her bed and she would confide in me. "I hope I die tonight when I’m asleep. This isn't living!"
We lay in her bed talking, just like we once did at the card table over a puzzle. She told me about the recurrent dreams she had about flying. I flew in my dreams too. She said she always tried to fly over the woods but got caught in the treetops. She really wanted to see what was on the other side. I had the same problem, I got caught in the treetops too. She made me promise that I’d make it over the treetops one day.
"I lived a happy life, what the hell, if I die, I die."
There I was, alone in the dark bathroom, my head in my hands… I cried. It was a cry of frustration, a cry of helplessness. But then, as the tears had just began to roll down my cheeks, I felt a warm calmness come over me. I felt a golden light enveloping me.
"Mom just died." I said to myself. I felt warm and safe. I felt comfortable. "She's better now." I said in relief. I stood up and went back to the meeting and told them I had to leave. I drove home. I parked the car in the garage and my dad came to meet me outside. He was crying. "Your mother passed away while you were gone," he said as he hugged me. "I know," I responded. He told me he didn't want me to be shocked when I went into the house and didn't see her. I walked into the kitchen and saw all of my sisters sitting at the table, crying uncontrollably. I watched them all in anguish. It was like watching a movie with recognizable characters, characters I had known since birth. They all played their role and I watched them in surreal objectivity. I couldn't cry. I knew my mom was OK now. I felt….I knew that she wasn't in pain any more. A little while before, as I sat in the bathroom, she had shared the feeling with me, she had shared her experience, her journey onwards and I couldn't be sad for her.
For three days after her death, she came to me in dreams and shared what she thought I should know about death.I kept my promise to her, I made it over the treetops in my dreams. Now I know what’s on the other side. I have a feeling she knows what’s over those treetops too.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Argument and Counter Argument

A middle aged woman walked through a great green park on a sunny afternoon. Two teenage boys walked by her side. One of the boys was her son. The other was her son’s best friend. The woman had a warm face, already etched with the wrinkles and spots that signaled a quickly approaching seniority. She wore dark glasses to protect her eyes from the harsh sunlight. Her hair was curly and brown and the unruly curls reached down to her neck. She wore a wrinkled loose button up shirt over a red T-shirt and she had a black bag around her shoulders which hung from her left side. She was thick around the middle and her light brown pants hung loose around her legs.
The boy that was her son was only a little thicker than her and he was also taller. He had messy black hair that partially covered his forehead. He had strong dark eyes and a slim pointed nose. He wore a red T-shirt with a logo on it and light gray cargo pants. He walked decisively, with a sense of pointed determination. Although they all walked together, he seemed to always be just a fraction of a step ahead.
The best friend was skinnier than his two companions, his entire body seemed to be made out of a softer substance. He had long blonde hair that was parted in the middle and tied together in the back. He wore a loose long sleeved brown shirt over a white T-shirt and black jeans. His left hand was always in his pants pocket, as if looking for a solid foundation in the darkness of his jeans.
They walked together by a small playground where many children were playing, screaming and laughing as they ran into each other and climbed up, and jumped over, the complex and colorful structures that stood over a small circle of rubber mulch. Several women, the mothers of the children, sat close by on green benches, looking at their children playing and turning to each other to find an ear or a temporary source of disposable entertainment. The middle aged woman looked towards them and remembered seating like that, in one of those very same benches, while her son ran through the little tunnels and slid down the metal ramps. She looked towards her son, trying to ascertain that this big strong boy was indeed the same little thing that had run up to her one day crying, suffering from a tiny cut on his knee. Her son at that moment was not looking towards the playground or towards her. His attention was on his best friend.
"The thing is… look, I understand that the levels are important, there’s no question about that…"
"Well, then what is the…?" the friend answered with a very subtle shrug of the shoulders.
"Wait, the thing is that the levels are important and all… but they are not the only thing that is important."
"I understand that but…"
"But wait… we agree that the levels are important but if you focus only on that then the game…"
"Well, I never said that I only focus on that. I don’t want to…"
"I’m not saying you did… it’s that…"
They walked together towards a dark tunnel. A bride and groom, in full wedding attire, were walking out of the darkness. The bride had an angry look on her face and there were small trails of mud on her wedding dress. A photographer followed behind them, carrying two large leather bags. The middle aged woman looked at them and remembered the days when she believed in marriage, when for a moment her lover was all that mattered and nothing could be more delicious or more desirable than to be in his presence, to be close to him and to touch his face, his body. It was all so brief and his son was all that was left of that short flirtation with romantic happiness. She wondered what this bride would think a year from now, a decade from now, maybe even a week from now. Would she still love her husband as she did on this sunny day? She shook her head and the trio entered the tunnel together. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she could make out the form of a homeless man leaning against a wall.
"What I’m really saying…" the friend continued as he only barely noticed the tunnel around him, "is that we have to keep in mind the effect that each session has on…"
"That’s exactly what I mean… if you do that…" the son said in a loud voice that echoed through the tunnel. A little boy screamed from the direction of the playground. At this distance, it was impossible to tell if it was a scream of delight or of horror. "If you do that, then the game becomes about levels…"
"I don’t want it to become about levels, you know… but…"
"But that’s the thing, it does… look at the second table of powers and tell me that if you focus on that then you don’t…"
"No, I wouldn’t base it on the second table… it would be too limiting…"
"But then what would be left?"
They emerged from the tunnel and the sunlight seemed brighter than ever. The woman leaned her head back to feel the warmth spreading over her face and body. Above them was a light brown ledge of rough cement and beyond the ledge there was a large black sculpture. She couldn’t make out the details, but it was shining black in the sunlight and some people were gathered around it. A man stepped close to the ledge with a camera in his hands and took a picture. She briefly wondered what he had taken a picture of.
"There is plenty left… look that’s only the second table… what if you look at the fifth table? There’s a lot there that can be a guide…"
"You can’t base the whole game on the fifth table!"
"I’m not saying you should… I just mean that…"
The woman looked at her son again. His face was blushed with a rush of anger. His friend looked up at him, with the eyes of gentle shyness he had always had. He would never take the fight too far but he would never quite give in. She wondered if that was the nature of real friendship. Maybe she had never had a real friend on which to try it. Maybe she couldn’t do what her son’s friend did. Maybe friendship itself depended on that subtle skill and she never had it and so her son would never have it and he was just lucky to have found someone who did. She looked at them as they walked down the cement path that lead towards another tunnel and she felt grateful for her son and for his friend and for their discussion that she simply couldn’t understand. She felt the warmth of the sun again like a bucket of hot water pouring over her dry face and she realized that today she was satisfied. For all that was lost and for all that she never found, today, on this sunny gentle afternoon, all her real needs were fulfilled.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Labyrinth Guardian

I am a Guardian of the Labyrinth, moss dripping from my mane, dew sliding from the tips of my ears to encircle my steely eyes. I stand at the outer edges where the stars touch down upon their own reflection like the dancing flames of candles set upon a black mirror. I stand and I watch. With unblinking eyes, I observe the creatures that go in. Half human and half beast, with the beak and keen eyes of a falcon, the purple breasts of a woman, and the tentacles of a squid, or with the face of a lion, wings of a dove and penis and legs of a man. They wind around the ever spiraling path with its vine like curls, twirls and flourishes, its dead ends and invisible passages. Each twist and turn is a twist and turn into their own innermost being, their darkest depths, their giddiest heights. I see them walking their own unnamed corridors. I see them crawl through their own suffocating tunnels and I see them cower in their own corners. I see them stride fearlessly over their own burning pathways and watch them flee down their own decaying stairways. They take on their beastly gate from time to time. They can't help it. The instinct to preserve the shape most familiar to them, to degenerate back into the most elemental form they can conjure is overwhelming. At other times, they walk heal-toe like a human; the crown of creation, the assemblage point for a distinct universe. They slowly, cautiously, proceed to the center, to the pulsing flaming heart of the Labyrinth.
Some creatures do strange things in the center. Some leave small gifts. Some stand in silence. Some battle Asterion’s son with his fierce horns, and others lay cradled at the mountainous breasts of Europa, while still others dissolve like droplets of water sizzling away upon the surface of a hot cauldron. There are those that stay for a long time, withstanding the heat and myriad of fever dreams that engulf them. There are also those that are thrust immediately away, pressed back to the surface just as a splinter is pushed up and out of a body by layers of new skin cells. What they do in the center is what defines them. It is the crux of the pattern, the point from which they spiral out into the cosmos. The reverberations are far reaching, eternal.
Then, the creatures, half human and half beast, make their way out. The twists and turns repeat in reverse order. This time, the creatures seem renewed, imbued with confidence. Their footfalls are like the beating of a mallet upon a taut drum skin, rhythmic, orderly, assured and commanding of presence. They return to the world with the deep wailing of a blow horn, glowing like a new baby after the tangled cord has been cut and bloody placenta has been washed away.
Out of the Labyrinth come the creatures, each in their own time, each in their own way, the way that makes the labyrinth all that it is for them. They somehow seem whole. After they depart, the question whose answer has always eluded me remains burning within my breast. Is this wholeness because the creature is now fully human or is the creature now fully beast? Has one twin strangled the other in the primordial womb? Or is it, perhaps, that the two emerge as one complete being, a synthesis of the bestial and the celestial. A creature now fully human and fully beast.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Web of Trust

They make trust with the people of the web, a makeshift arrangement that sets loose an army of powerful crystal giants. Like peasants born in El Salvador they dream of escape, and ultimately will do anything, even flee to the Evil Empire, rather than stay in their own ravaged country.
"We’d up and fly if we had wings for flying, can’t you see these tears were crying, can’t there be some happiness for me…"
Not in the Empire of the gods of sloth and gluttony, not under the dominion of the army of slow cold death. The rhythm will sweep you up, send you under a carpet to live in the eternal night. Then you might make your way through subterranean tunnels, an invisible something with tendrils, with a mouth, living beneath the lake at the heart of the mountains. Taking the wrong passageway, tromping down the wrong lane, dodging into unfortunate alleys where fear makes you her lover and grips you so tight with want that it suffocates your best impulse. Those tendrils stretched out in search of heat, of one lost fragment of warmth and light to steal away. The feathers weight is a fairy tale ending. Here we all end leaded, with feet submerged in tubs of dried cement pulling us down, down, into the murky waters. Sucking the liquid into our lungs, grasping for life, we are inviting death instead.
In this bleak end we trust, we count on it. And it makes us strong. It makes us kind. Hope is like a drug; abused, taken in excess, it leads to brain death. The misery is not in endlessly repeating the same toil, the same guest, the same day for eternity. The misery evolves from the hope that it could be otherwise. Accepting our lot, keeping to the trust that we know what anguish lies ahead. We merrily greet it, teeth bared in a grimace/smile. Trust guns. Trust regime. Trust weakness. Above all trust work, toil and work.
The big black Woman’s deep gaze earned my trust. I looked into the depth of her and let her look back into the depth of me. She saw something which she did not like, but I let her see it and I was unashamed. Changing shape is how I fuel this economy. I love the planet. I trust that Greenland will melt away and the three feet of water gained globally will make me a mermaid. If only we could sustain global warming. The creators of the Hummer knew that I would get a kick out of joining king Triton at the bottom of the sea, and goodbye California. The lost state of California. And down there in the briny blue I’ll swim with the polar bears that sunk with Greenland.
It could have been a musician, a painter, an engineer, a cement balloon. It could have been Frankie.
I love nature. I love watching everything decay and turn to shit all around me, I love watching myself and others grow wrinkly and wobbly, I love watching the silent hunter creep up on us all with her scythe in hand. But until she catches me, I’ll delight in the chamber pot. It’s not me. It’s you. Death is imminent enough, without us going around trying to hurry it. It’s not an option. We can’t hope our way out of it. At least not without microphones.
With a dime bag of hope, two turntables and a microphone, perhaps we could sneak over old man times wall. We’ll pick the fruit from his trees and swim in his swimming pool (I might find California at the bottom, which would be cool because I could grab some of that shit I lost when it sank) while he’s out working. He’s got a nice yard, built before it became popular to have everything covered in white quartz rock. There’s real grass growing there. Yeah, you know what I mean. The kind cows like to eat. Then they crap it back out and someone comes along and puts it in a bag and sells it to someone else in the suburbs so they can spread it over their yard and grow more GRASS!
Or at least they used to before the irrational fear that cows were causing global warming sprouted up. After that the government rationed out all of the available white quartz rock available. It became illegal to grow grass, sell grass, or even have grass in your possession. You could even get into trouble for holding someone else’s grass for them. The underground cult of the Golden Cow rose in popularity with the rebellious younger generation, spreading its pale roots far and wide.
Anyway, it’s a nice yard. His pet dog, Unknowable, lays in the shade of the trees where he tries to piece together a strawberry shortcake puzzle somebody bought for him at the 99cent store. The trouble, you see, lays in that the puzzle is so poorly manufactured that even the wrong pieces fit together sometimes. All he really has to go on is the picture. The best part about Unknowable is that he never barks when strangers hop over the old man’s wall. Turns out that he’s been on strike for a while now and refuses to resume his usual guard dog duties until Time gives him a raise. He’s totally cool with whoever creeps back there, just so long as nobody tries to take away his puzzle.
"Don’t Step on the Grass" signs are planted all over the yard. Unknowable once hunted for a promise, and it eluded him, so now anybody can break laws written on gator board signs and embrace the Proud Way. Someday. Hands at the ready, ashes in the mouth, we run barefoot through the forests of the future, lay gasping in the sudden present, die trembling in the past. The rulers of the world get together and corner peasants and slap them around demanding gold but get only wooden buttons to break their teeth on. Shit happens, its no secret.
When the great grand daddy of all floods came, it wiped clean all traces of peasant life, because food stamps couldn’t pay for a ticket to higher ground. The keepers of the Empire watched from the mountain tops, picking their teeth with the branch of an olive tree.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Journey Man

The prediction of a lengthy trial filled the television reports. In his own imagination, the possibility of a court battle was laden with steel doors that opened into caged terminals of a grayish hue. He remembered that it had been June when they knocked at his door. A certain conviction was already in their eyes, while a warrant was held in their hands. A doctor of animals, plants and invisible substances, his laboratory was covered in pencil sketches and colored photos of ferns and foxes. Did they have either of those in Iraq? He could not remember now. He had lived in the foggy Empire for years, coming here before he had learned to talk to women, long before he had ever mounted a porcelain skinned woman with painted lips and frosty colored hair, still smelling, as he leaned his face into the side of her neck, like chemical spray.
He was a doctor of unseen ailments, the kind the people behind windowless rooms complain of, the kind that are never treated. He would find them, he would go to them from the comfort of his padded rocking chair, projecting himself into the night sky when the world around him was asleep, yet awake with shining stars. In the ammonia drenched halls that would never lose their stench, he would wander unseen and look through the nurses desks and up their skirts. He might have felt a little guilty peeking into areas that usually required invitation, but the guilt added to his pleasure, it added to the bulging heat that pressed his cock to the front of his pants like an animal roaring to be freed from its cage.
Night after night, the conspiracy between darkness and his projections continued as he slipped into their sleeping minds. As their bodies twitched with dreams and their mouths drooled with backwards thirst, he poked inside, twisting memories and erasing old habits. Into the spongy fabric and folds, he sowed bright thoughts so that when they awoke, they were taken with the sudden urgency to write or draw or copulate. The nurses, thick legged women with large bosoms and a missing smile where often dragged into janitor closets, held steady and helpless with the aid of wooden broomsticks in at least one of their holes. Others were overtaken on the smooth Formica of cafeteria tables, spread-eagled and invaded while on-lookers in pajamas sipped their coffee and held onto the small Styrofoam cups with renewed strength and awakening libidos.
The conspiracy was silent, a combination of nature’s endless cycles and his own creative will. The minds he danced in were already bungled, warped by years of medication and outdated psychiatric methods. In the green hills of Glasgow, the patients exploded and pounded, gleeful and alive with rage and raw sex, pouncing upon small cats creeping in the night.
It was reported that the judge could not figure out what to do. The charges reeked of a time when the air was foul with the aroma of fires and burning flesh. Surely, they were beyond these sorts of accusations? This was a time for logic, for true science and detective work that went beyond the accusations of sleepwalkers and violated women still wet with sweat and semen. In the night, their sentences were vague and scattered. The patients in white, stumbled upon their words. The nurses, no longer white in their uniforms, gasped with each breath, each sound born with eternal pain while the cellular memories of flesh ripped violently apart, red and steaming were their words, each syllable plunging with cries.
Could the engineering of this plan have been so precise? Was it a plan? Or just a tinkering with pattern and light? A fusion of innumerable cords buried deep within the brain. Nothing died. No, perhaps something in the women died as their mental burns continued to eat through their failed power. The structure came down when roles were reversed, when the power of locks and needles and charts failed, it was this that ignited the long-flaccid army of cocks. The cylinders that had been protruding flaps of skin without the ability of attack.
Some nights, within the same district, he would watch from the rooftops of high brick buildings as bombs were abandoned in silver trash cans and metal canisters of mutated air where buried beneath trash heaps or the sleeping drunks that crowded within doorways. He watched as the nails of the city began to rust. Parked cars moved without drivers. The busy lights of intersections failed to light and attackers ran forward in zeal as the banks spilled money into the littered streets.
In that area, slightly less modern than the nearest city, there were still pay phones on every corner and every one seemed to be wired to his mind. From the comfort of his chair, he saw evidence of the mayhem. He could hear every call ringing, he could listen in on their conversations, thousands of them at once. Could all this be because of his two dreams? The timer was set, ready to explode when the signals from his body arose. Perhaps it would be in the morning, when he reached for his woman without another thought in his mind. Maybe it would come when the faulty plumbing failed him yet again and cold water burst forth from their tubes, a cold straight from the arctic. The bombs within him were ready, and yet, the codes were vague. Clouded from his waking consciousness like a wonderful insurance plan safely kept within his laptop.
And through this, he lived. Air continued to circulate within him, moving down and along each vein in a cycle that lasts only as long as men do. Perhaps the bombs would detonate on the moment of his last breath, as his body finally shuddered with its last release, or perhaps, on the precise moment of his next orgasm, just as he reached the cliff edge and toppled over the side, down, into the waters of sleep below. Extremists danced by nature, and he was indeed one. He intended to drink his wine, fuck his woman, laugh heartily and often, tinkering with it all until fear overwhelmed him. Until he saw the black mouth that awaited him, the colorless void that waited to swallow him once again. It would not kill, it was not a prosecutor. It only took back what was always One. From the height of his flights, he knew that he knew almost nothing. The crowds below him were large compared with his small scraps of knowledge. Could he even call it that? Entering their minds was a skill, an ability, a way to push around the day and play at night. But was it knowledge? He aimed for a discovery and he could take himself beyond the earthly confines of his skin to manipulate the tactile world, but he asked himself, was he indiscriminate? The third year into his initiation had commenced three moons ago. They had given him the title of "neurosurgeon," was it a joke? Perhaps this is why he took to venturing into sleeping minds, twisting and reorganizing their contents while their thoughts cavorted in other realms. The realization hit him like a brick, the title was so obvious, his tendencies so opaque that everyone could see his evolving tendencies but him. On that night, they had known. The health of his heart quickly spiraled into a void as he felt flush with embarrassment. They had seen him before he had understood himself, and this, being so naked, brought the blood out of his cock and into his face.
In his room, upon the soft sheets of his full bed, he remembered the charges against him. They were speculative at best. Cash would easily take care of the prosecutors, and perhaps he needed to counsel the defiled women as they slept. They would never know he had entered their dreams, they would only wake with a sense of finality, an overwhelming urge to release their resentment. Soon, they would be cooperating with his will. He would ready himself for his visit, he would focus late in the night, as his woman lay sleeping in a silk robe with nothing beneath to conceal her fleshy thighs. He would shower soon, preparing his body for the venture, although it would, as usual, stay behind. This night, the hot water ran from the pipes, scalding his skin with fires from Hell. The water washed away his doubts, his fears, his worldly life. He was loaded with pure intent, his mind fixed as firmly as a blackened terrorist. He sat in his chair, a soft yellow lamp faintly illuminated the far left corner of the room. He rose above the lawns of Britain, beyond the residential community, beyond the city. He had not earned their scorn. He had merely changed the tables on them without permission. He had brought up to down and down back up. Their university training could not have prepared them for the raw bestiality of men awakening from slumber. The bars of prison and the medications of science could not contain the twisted synapses of freed men. No, they were not really free, but momentarily, they jolted out of their stupor. For a brief time, before tougher men came with batons and needles, they moved down the halls like lions searching with hunger for prey. This is what the legal system would never understand. This is where all the verdicts in the world could never rectify the wrongs of cages and electrodes and pills that make zombies of men. He was a hand that twisted their contrived worlds, a wave of dark thought that turned the battle into a covert struggle of visible violence. They could not judge, they were the players of Britain, the small actors that blink beneath the bright spot lights high above the stage. There could never be a trial, these people were not subtle enough to prosecute a terrorist of the mind. Their world, which he was indeed a part of, fostered the need for this role. His was the player with risk tattooed to his forehead. Attack was spelled clearly across his chest. Suicide leaked from his penis. His body resided in this system. Within the mass of these people, he moved with a different sort of intelligence, at least some of the time.
His brothers had not warned him. His task now was greater, much greater than before he had swallowed their blood and piss, before he took their beatings. His ass was opened with heated poles, like the nurses he would one day see, his mouth filled with the thick cream from a dozen spurts of semen…but he withstood the pain, their inflicted wounds singed him with pleasure. While his ass burned, while his back was marked with a whip, while his legs were pried apart; all the while, his cock remained hard, almost steaming with heat. After the seemingly eternal night, his sisters came to lick him clean. A dozen warm tongues moved up and down like liquid snakes, an endless journey that, unfortunately, did come to an end.
Beyond the pain, discovered by another part of his mind that escaped the torture, that had, actually, watched his humiliation with innumerable tingling sensations; that part of him recognized a ghostly feature of the room. A light that slipped from his consciousness just as he reached to grab it. A hazy blue, a cloudy orb of purple that moved like feminine vapor past brutal raptors. His attention would involve itself with the color for a moment, then quickly jolt as a new blow to his back was delivered.
In his padded chair, as he steadied himself for the journey, he felt, in his deepest cells, the history of his body. The journey of his DNA from the mountainous caves, close to what is now known as Pakistan. His mind’s eye could feel the pattern that etched itself out of clear maps, his eyes, a part of that map…his lips, a part of that marked territory. The impending trials were based on the contemporary fear of Pakistan and its dark men, that he knew for certain. He was a terrorist, but not in the way they wanted him to be. Investigated by the police, he was devoid of any political ties. His only links to another society were the vertical scars across his chest and back, but these could be quickly explained by other agencies, other doctors. Pakistan was just another word for Other. He was indeed, Other. Within this population, within the population of earth, he was Other, as purely strange as the touch of the night upon the delicate flesh of the moon.