Friday, September 27, 2013

D is for...

In the morning I had a phone call from my mother. My hands were covered in egg whites so I didn’t answer right away. Instead I finished making breakfast and then listened to the voicemail that she had left. It was strangely brief.
“Hi, it’s mom. Call me back when you are not busy.”

Her tone was dark and I wondered whether something specific was bothering her or whether it was the same general note of depression her voice usually carried.
I went to open the garden gate to carry out some bags of garden waste and discovered numerous black widow webs. I could barely make out a dark form behind a panel of wood and knew at least one spider was hiding there. I shivered all over.
The day before I had turned over an inverted flower pot and moved some bags of stone unearthing five of the deadly arachnids. I killed them with my boot heel when possible and the shovel tip when my foot couldn’t reach. I had been fairly brave in the moment, but now, knowing that there were more sent chills rippling through my body.

While I brought the pickup truck around to the gate my friend started carrying out the bags of leaves and weeds. We drove over the mountain and I kept my window rolled down, breathing the ion charged air.
At the county dump we pulled up to the scale to weigh our load and I noticed a trio of plastic skeletons arranged in a bush. I admired their creative placement.
Our county dump is full of artistic talent. An enormous installation of fascinating rubbish has long graced the hill behind the chemical waste shed and there is always some fetching creation to greet us when we reach the main warehouse. I smiled. The installations were spreading.

After purging ourselves of leaves and dead grass we headed towards home. Paused at a traffic light we watched palm bearers struggle to unload a coffin from a hearse. I was enjoying the bright orange of the flowers atop the glossy casket, the picture perfect ensemble of men in dark suits struggling under the weight as they carried it awkwardly into the yawning doors of a church.
“That’s intense.” my friend said.
“What is?”
“Somebody died and those five guys are carrying the body in. I guess we don’t have a lot of opportunities to confront death in this culture. We’re not usually face to face with it.”

At home I called my mother back.
“I have sad news. Jimmy’s daughter died last night.”
“I didn’t know Jimmy had a daughter.” I said.
“Well you know, I think we told you that just before Shanna was born Jimmy had another baby with another woman, Pam... and when he told her Kelly was going to have Shanna she took her baby, D’Laney, to Oregon so her parents could help.”
I digested this. I had been thinking of my mother’s other cousin Jay. I wasn’t sure if he had any kids. I knew about Shanna. Shanna had been to our house a number of times while I was growing up. But I had never heard the name D’Laney. I had never met her or even seen a photo.
“It’s so sad. She was only 34.”
“How did she die?”
“A cat bite. Isn’t that weird? It was her own cat. Apparently if a cat bites you it can lead to an infection and cause systemic failure.”

After I hung up I found D’Laney Ford’s Facebook page. She liked Philip Glass. I also like Philip Glass. Some of her friends mentioned her tribe. I figured she must have been a groovy burner from Seattle.
I felt a little emotional and looked out the window. A neighbor I had never met was standing in his backyard which is directly behind mine. He was wearing only a white bathrobe. I tried to write something .

“Dear D’Laney,
Why didn’t I know you? My mother called this morning to tell me that my second cousin D’Laney had passed away last night. D’Laney. Now I’ve seen your Facebook profile and I feel like we would have liked one another if we had ever had the chance to meet. I wonder if you ever knew I existed. I didn’t know about you. We never played together as children.”

I stopped. I really didn’t know what else to say. I looked at my neighbor in his bathrobe. He had something in his hand. What is that? I wondered.
I watched him for a few moment and felt a wash of surprise when he lifted his arm and started swinging a machete. What is he doing? I wondered. He was swinging it in a leisurely half hearted way, swinging it at nothing at all. Then he wandered a little and hacked briefly at a bush before meandering back into his house.

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

He Died For Our Sins

“Oh my God, this thing is from the 90’s!”
It seems so close, so far away. Roller skates and corduroys and neon colors.
They are making weapons out of electric green Bendaroos, organizing complicated games in a home for deranged ex villains. My man is there, looking bad but meaning well, poet in black jeans.
The shadow of a black widow in a thicket of web nestled in a long forgotten Easter basket, still wrapped in plastic.

I can’t believe this passes for technology. It should have been replaced ten years ago. Give it a tweak. Flash of lights red and green.
They’re only games, but they look like violence, like evil schemes plotted by insecure misogynists. They know not what they do, and so they know not how to take responsibility for what they’ve done.
But it gnaws at them. Something feasts on their gut, making them feel dirty but they don’t know what they did. How did they get like this? Were they not innocent boys when it started?

Conversations in parks, in bathrooms, on Christina ct. Were we not being punished for something?
I hoped so, because if so then redemption was possible. If redemption was possible we could do the right things and escape this misery.
However, redemption philosophy required that we all began as sinners and he would say:
“I can’t believe that. What could I have done to deserve what I got? I was just a little boy. I didn‘t deserve that.”

I feared that going back down I might fall. I considered crawling the rest of the way up and breaking through a window.
By now, however, I had learned that crawling through a window would likely result in a rebirth, and then big sis and I would never finish fixing this thing.
I could see the shadowy form more clearly; definitely that creature that I feared. Should I attempt to stab it with the scissors? Should I trust that film of plastic to be a satisfactory barrier between us?
Those flashing lights seemed to be a bad sign. I might have to stay up here with it longer.

Existence is suffering. All beings suffer. I had read this.
I didn’t want to believe it, despite the fact that it seemed likely. If we could have understood that concept, perhaps we could have shed our guilt and shame, the hope that we could escape our unknown crime.
Despite the fact that his objections to it were strong, the ideology lived in both of us. Perhaps it was even better rooted in him.
He was an earthy sort, and in the act of fierce rejection he had become locked in an embrace with it, like a bull whose horns get lodged in the opposing structure. 
I was in a process of accepting it and synthesizing it. I would have dreams that something horrible was coming towards me, and instead of running, or fighting, I would try to hold it and transform it by making it a part of myself.
Sometimes it destroyed me.

In the end, he would sacrifice himself.
It would be hard to look at. It would be impossible to remember whether he had been a villain, an innocent boy, or a hero.
The flash created by the sacrifice would be so blinding, it would obscure the past. The power of it would send me hurtling into unknown terrains.
It was a gift.

There was nothing further that could be done. I slid down, dangled from the ledge and jumped. It was easier than I had anticipated.
Sis helped me stand and dust myself off. She checked for spiders. We were about to walk up the path back into the house when we heard it, a ghostly voice from above.
It was a tech agent responding to my prodding of the device. In his far off phone voice he issued instructions for troubleshooting.
At first it seemed like I might need to go back up, but after listening for a moment it became clear that, like the device, the instructions for its operation were obsolete.

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Monday, September 02, 2013


Some things begin and never end, waiting like an open door, wind pushing bits of broken leaves over the threshold. Time crosses and re-crosses itself and one time lives within another.
This idea of end is a desperate wish for the hurt to stop, for the satanic temple to rise and the world to burn and nothingness, still, cold, and silence, to reign.
But it is a silly idea. When nothingness reigns supreme then we will be that cold silent stillness, and that too will be painful. The end is only skin deep.

Winters come and winters go. Springs too are there and gone. Eternity lives beneath it all, a brilliant burning thing, a crystalline dragon whose scales are the temporal eruptions we think of as ourselves. 
A temporal eruption might be described as having been caused by a short circuit, by a block of some kind followed by an explosion or slow leak, a kink, a tension, that leads to an experience of human consciousness, a desperate attempt to flee from the discomfort of being forever.

Maybe there is a useful opportunity in such eruptions. Should they be avoided? Can they be?
If so should they be allowed? Should they be embraced and utilized?
If I find that I am experiencing such an existence I choose to explore what can be done with it. The knowing of purposes, explanations, justifications for methods and patterns of life is unnecessary, just another means of avoiding the pain of being.

Exploring is difficult active work. It involves channeling the energy of the sleeping serpent beneath the world into this temporal eruption and making creative choices.
There is no mother or father. There is no rule. There is only choice and consequence.
Consequence as in result, not punishment. There is no great punisher. Heaven and hell live here together, they are one state experienced  as either torment or bliss depending on the posture of the subject within the state.
The posture defines the subject. The subject defines the state.

Some things begin and never end, waiting like an open door, wind pushing bits of broken leaves over the threshold. Time crosses and re-crosses itself and one time lives within another.
We will not always be as we seem to be now. The subject changes. The state changes to reflect the subject.
But we will never end. New chamber, new wings, new levels will be forged in a labyrinthine game of pop goes the weasel.
The dragon coiled beneath the world suckles at its tail and burns on and on.
We will never end.

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