All Hail the Coming Night!

29 January 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s midnight in this cold Alaskan landscape I am forever bound to be a part of, whether I want it or not. It has me by the neck, and gives a good shake now and again to make sure I continue to fear it, to feel it, to be fooled into loving it. And what love I have. I am a sober fool.

Books are finished with the quickened grace with which they were completed, and most of them provoke the sentiment: You are a Failure. You Will Not Achieve This. My revolting attitude is one of relative innocence, giving in. The Rules are steadfast now, in this secure and digital world where most of the loopholes and personal freedoms have been given up. The powers that be, pretending that they were not of the generation who took advantage of improvisation as younger men, swiftly carried those baskets away from us. Perhaps when the internet wrapped its binary hands around our essence, our being, claiming to be the web of life rather than zeros and ones.

We’ve given up Dignity for speed and ease of communication. Yesterday in the streets of San Francisco, a young detective politely asked a priest to use the telephone. His request was granted. Tomorrow in the alleys of Kathmandu, an opium dealer will consult the beam of light embedded into his wrist about the currency exchange for the British pound so that he does not feel cheated by a group of university students. Laptops are obsolete, typewriters all but forgotten. What is a pen, grandfather?

The world I want already happened, and I’m not sure I can reconcile it back into being. My words don’t know the right people to have that kind of pull. A strange man is tugging at my coat-tail, luring me into his existence, and I’m looking for the bar, toward the hills, thinking that it’s already too late.

The moon arrives promptly by five in the afternoon, a massive white rock playing children’s games between snowcapped passions on its path across the stars, saying hello to the lions and the giraffes and all the royalty and beautiful women of the not-quite nighttime. For his consorts are the honorable breed, not running from murder raps and police of foreign and hateful nature.

My hate is vanished with the grooving bass notes of the nineties. They linger with me, the sadness overwhelming sometimes, but the hopeless climax will sound pretty and convincing, and I’m an easily influenced romantic. There is no jigsaw that could destroy it, no labyrinth monotonous enough for me to lose it but for fleeting seconds, and in those moments I am a scoundrel, my thoughts betraying. A savage thirst for a previously shunned excitement and loose grip on control is beginning to take me – I can feel the cool tingling rush, and addiction has sway here: we have only known one another by sight, passing in hallways and maybe we saw eye to eye at a party once, on a rare and obscene occasion. Perhaps it is what I fight daily, or it is what I knew in her arms, when I was alive and pulsing and lavarocking. It is elusive. I am perseverant.

While chances and trust are foregone, replaced inevitably by Policy and Procedure, I am on the unseen sidelines, tracking down exceptions and making sure that hope is still in my pocket, providing a bit of guidance when the map is lost, or abandoned altogether. My patience rivals only the Thirst. And these days, there doesn’t seem to be enough rum to go around.

speakerbox scribbles

28 January 2010 § 3 Comments

If in my boundless wandering I find a definition of you,
rest with the wisdom that the focused corners
will be explored with human precision,
shadows of soundwaves, avenue parades,
rhythms and earthquakes, and unlearned truth.

After that, you may stumble upon my solitude –
surrounding it are threads of misplaced chaos,
pensive revolution, thoughts of home, indecision –
all sadly deserted at the peak of a fabled reign.

Create with them what you may sustain faith with,
for there is only a violent end to ferocious winters:
the angles of heaven are slanted, serpentinesquare,
and all of its armies of angels are already here.

B Flat Rested Peacefully

23 January 2010 § Leave a comment

On the shoulders of the giant musician in the sky, at the top of the Stairway, or the purported Beanstalk, B Flat rests. I’m not buying either route, but Joey said he’s been there, and I’m sticking with his story. It’s a blue place, he says, awfully decorated with unpopular images of famous composers (like the portrait of a confused Dvořák in the middle of a modern Times Square – he never knew what was coming.) and jazz musicians – there’s this one of Coltrane, with a steam engine flowing across the sheet music, gracefully en route to his delicate human head. Even though a few pieces were cool, the guy collects some hideous little trinkets from across the ages: a carved troll here, a melted GI Joe figurine over on the coffee table (which has more latté stains than burn marks, which was kind of a surprise), and dreamcatchers. Lots of dreamcatchers – from the nicely made Navajo ones to the plastic Sesame Street Elmo-is-the-capturer-of-babydreams noisemakers. The suite sounded nice enough, and I promised I would drop by if I ever had the time on my hands.

Time has made me a liar. I blame it because time is an unbreathing animation,  with its robotic hands (sometimes pictured as the suspiciously gloved mouse with red pants) or multi-colored beach sand from the shores of Oahu or Madagascar, flowing mysteriously down, with gravity instead of with the tides it had grown accustomed to over the last few millenia. What audacity it takes to capture sand from its habitat, divide it from its brethren and melt the more unfortunate of the bunch, before encasing the rest in the final product of its fallen family members! Can we as humans even relate to the hourglass?

That’s why I haven’t visited yet.

Instead, I have been biding my time/sand/elmodreams, witnessing the interior of conversations taking place in pubs and winter cold. They are tests of my tolerance to Remain, these encounters, and so far I’m holding a potentially worthless hand of aces and jacks because I don’t know what to do with them.

This technique is showing evidence of failure. New strategies may need to be implemented in order for the beat to go on. It is possible that orangetipped snowpeaks will make their contribution before the weakness becomes more entrenched. Their filters have outlasted avalanche and blizzard, nightmare drug deals and superficial summer rain, and still keep the notes sustained. They can be counted on, lettered on, and sentenced to conquest or execution. And they will endure. As will I.

A Week in Mexico

19 January 2010 § Leave a comment

Copy that rhythm down on a post-it note and keep it on the front of your notebook or ipod as long as you’ll need it: these appointments are necessary, and we should very much like to not become mixed up with tenses and verb conjugations. The disc will skip and that’s why we’ve converted our most important files to single entities: mp3’s and seawaves, aiff files to satisfy the fruitmongers.

While you’re a resident of these stocks, the apple will be rotten and when it gets thrown by the renaissance version of Nolan Ryan at ten years old, it will stick in your teeth and twist them in cruel directions. There will be no windows, either, for the castle is kept well vented and glass has not become so popular yet – they need their sand, because it is courage and balls that get them through the evening feasts and daily carnivals, cheery and deadly as they are. The punishment is not so severe these days, what with all the regulations for humane practices bearing down on us from the emperor, but how long will he last? Let’s get to some scheming – there are coups to plan, governments to overthrow. But all they really need is to be reflected upon – you’d never imagine one would reach the desired effect of shining a sunbleached mirror in a specific direction, but it works. The way it did in Mexico a few years ago. Remember that trip?

On the plane, they said I couldn’t drink the beers I bought at the airport. It is forbidden.

– but we’re going to Mexico! And these are Corona! Am I not aiding your economy by drinking on this plane?
– this is American Airlines, sir.
– I bought them in America!
– it is forbidden.

gulp.

Everyone on the aircraft was a bit sweaty on account of the air not working properly. I sweat more than most, and it seemed that the higher the plane was, while the air is supposed to be colder up there, we were moving toward the sun at 545 miles an hour. I got up to use the lavatory, and I found the reason for its nomenclature: it was backed up. Fucking blue lava leaked from the steel toilet and onto my shoes. I stood there without a shirt in disbelief. It was too bloody hot to wear clothes.

Now with blue and brown shoes, I exited from my claustrophobia and found the second class cabin smaller than when I had arrived. The sun was shriveling the plane into a sardine can, but we were all raisins sweating blue lava. I moved to the front of the cabin, saying hello to all those in first class. One of the businessmen was complaining about missing his Jack and coke.

Setting the miniature glass down on the galley counter, I finally reached the portal to enter the world of Cool. I pulled up on the long white lever and read the red letters IN CASE OF EMERGENCY. This is a fucking emergency, I thought calmly. Out of nowhere, the door disappeared and I was savagely sucked and warped into a vortex of screaming nuns and excited little girls, mad men (not just mad, but hysterical!) and crying middle-aged women, one of whom was birthing a flame at the time. The blue lava swirled, and oak trees floated through the cabin, carved themselves into baseball bats and suddenly I thought I’ve been watching too many movies. Just then, the ding blares into my ears and some stuttering monkey hops on the intercom to let us know about his recent experiences linking happiness to LSD. I get up to use the lavatory.

It is overflowing, and god is playing tricks on me. But since god and I are on the outs, I blame it immediately on the stewardess.

– Did you cause this eruption?
– No sir, it was the pilot. He just came out of there.
– You mean that loopy motherfucker with the yellow fur coat and the giant smile?
– It wasn’t yellow yesterday, sir.

Someone was losing their job, right that minute, and I was there to watch the whole thing. I stomped my way up through the classes (noticing the distinct patterns of dress, hairstyle, food and beverage choice and amount of saliva dripping from chins as I progressed) to the pilot’s door and rapped on it. Hard. There was some scuffles on the other side I heard something about terrorist, bomb.

– I’m not a goddamn suicider! I’m deaf and beerless and my shoes are now blue. I want to see Big Bird right this fucking minute!

Some kid started crying – not just crying, but more of a blubbering wail that violated every one of a person’s senses, rising mercury levels to untold amounts. I asked the pilots for a syringe to extract it so I could give my mercury to the kid. There was some loud whispers about heroine and marijuana.

– you don’t inject bud into your arm, dipshits! Where’s Big Bird?

I continued complaining at the closed door for another few minutes. By the time the kid ceased asserting his reasons for existing, I rummaged through the galley and poured myself a couple of drinks before sitting back down. I was kind enough to offer a glass of gin to the old lady next to me, and in return for my enormous favor, she handed me a makeup mirror.

– what the fuck do I need this for?
– Look at yourself, you idiot! Your hair is disheveled, and there is drool all over your chin. It’s on your shirt, too. You look like a goshdern hooligan!

She tossed back the gin in one gulp. Clean and clear – no constipated, “I will show the world my disgust but still swallow” faces. Then she asked for another.

– Do I look like Tom fucking Cruise to you? Are we in Mexico yet? That shit is forbidden!
– Not in first class, it’s not.

Looking around, I saw Armani suits, iPhones, and one short red dress massaging Stretch Armstrong, post-dissection by a ten year old. I had arrived to the upper class, and I was now exempt from the flight attendant’s adverts for smokeless cigarettes, perfume, stale cookies, and tap water. Six dollars a pop. But we were still offered, as part of the luxury package, a bottle of Elegancia and Lucy, the dead stewardess in the cockpit. For more information, see ‘Happy Joe’ in 16B. Six dollars a pop.

There has never been a life like it. The seats are bigger, more comfortable. Robot servants in funny hats treat you better (but you’re expected to tip, and not knowing that a 512 MB DDR stick was an insult, I was slapped around a bit) and it is not forbidden to drown in copious amounts of free alcohol. On Big Bird’s next trip to the lavaroom, I made an arrangement with him – something about him giving me his coat and I give him a boot in the ass. With squinting, shaky eyes and convulsing pelvic movements, he agreed – ashamed but proud to have communicated his feelings to a new co-conspirator. I carefully divided the three sheets of blotter into fair amounts – two for me, one for everyone else – and stared into that makeup mirror for the next three hours. I discovered two and a half new galaxies, one and three quarters of which have been since named.

Landing in Mexico that evening, head throbbing from seatbelt dings and scotch (and maybe the bump to the head suffered from the low cockpit clearance), I was fairly certain I had realized the American Dream. The secret – are you ready for this? – is to wipe the fucking drool from your chin and wake up.

But this was Mexico.

An Interview with a Mountainscape

18 January 2010 § 3 Comments

You know the story – a person looking for a job, a school, a social circle of chess players, adventurers, or dog trainers, and running into the inevitable difficulty of qualification: experience, education, skill, money. The things we’d like are just outside the gate that moves over you instead of you moving under it: it strips you to nothing, sprays its pressure and accumulated stress into every cut and crevice your body has to offer, and any idealistic association you once had with such entity is first gently touched by this amalgamation of Truth.

It is caressed, and you feel yourself looking down at it. This notion is in your hands, and you are holding it with great conviction but Truth reaches out, lifts your chin up with a delicate finger and with the other hand firmly grasps at whatever you have and pulls it away. Slowly at first, and after you’ve helplessly fought it for a few moments, the passion in your eyes flickers and dims (but only be a shade, for the war is not yet won), Truth smiling into them with ridiculous confidence and steps away, with your ideals tucked behind its back. It stands stoically and leaves you be.

All you’re left with now is a will to survive and maybe the hope that Truth was wrong this time, that you’re somehow a unique design and did not recently step off a conveyor belt. And so we march together.

Perhaps they are looking for a perfect candidate to fill the missing hole: with the various degrees, paper and of interest and motivation. Experience must be had (because they forbid themselves to be the first. Forgive them – they are human (maybe), and over the generations, we have spent much time with sheep, learning their ways and adopting these traits unconsciously) because you cannot have only recently decided to change professions or hobby: it must be instilled in you like i before e except after c, the memory of the girl or boy who first rejected you, or how your parents taught you how to do the dishes and how you still tend to do them that way.

That same high school self made every important life decision within months of an immature graduation into the world of the tiger’s economy, where humans and lions and dogs all lie in wait for an enemy, a gazelle, a housecat. Upon their arrival, our sleuth will reveal himself as the king of the local terrain, the IRS man, or simply bark. A toll must be exacted, and the process of removing your head from your shoulders will be lesson the first in Anatomy 510 (you took the prerequisites, Right?). That education is necessary, required!

But we may be willing to train you.

Another theory is that they, unlike your own self, have had their direction and ways set in stone and not the Dalai Lama or Genghis Khan could dissuade them from their path from the suburbs, left on the freeway, thirty-six and one half miles, exit right at Long St., and off to work again. That road is silk, and will persist for lifetimes. Somewhere along it, however, there was knowledge in a jar, and when they were fixing a flat tire, that airholepunctured jar rolled under the car and hit them in the foot. Apprehensive at first, this commuter tossed it in the back seat and after a few weeks opened it up, and now … now they look for what comes naturally.

It is with this hope that you hold that little glass container of idealism, out of sight now, and with it you feel strong: a scholar again, an advocate of change (which tends to be a gruesome issue in autopsy rooms and courtroom witness stands – where one sits), a renewed being that looks at the sunrise as being less symbolic than usual: it is there, and it knows what it’s doing because it does it every day. The horizon is no longer surprised when the sun sneaks up on it every morning, around the same time…

wait.

We can’t think this way! We are the lovechildren of originality, and those affairs were later applauded by the scandalous parade of those who sought to destroy us. We have taken the road not taken and it bemused us to no end. And then, in a moment of chaotic movement, we spun like a troupe of  Taz’s pub mates, and sprinted off in the other direction. It was then that the compass was lost quite intentionally, and that abandon we held dear, cooing it and blowing oxygen to fuel it. Those lungs produced wildfire, and despite the efforts of helicopter pilots and scuba divers, that forest’s determination did not falter. It burned like acetylene hearts, bright blue – the sky behind the sun at noon. And this rebirth will be jotted down with a scribe’s frustration. Recorded by a liquid medium, flames spread out with jagged wings, fueled still by the poet’s ink, and across the avalanchecollapsed peaks, where trees no longer venture. They learned this lesson yesterday, on time, and decided not to stay for the entertainment later.

the winter has arrived.

It’s pandaemonium, it’s chaos. It’s Poetry.

14 January 2010 § 3 Comments

It’s pandaemonium, it’s chaos, it’s poetry.
It’s madness in motion, blood flow in
gutters, wide open ocean.

It’s remembering the lines
when leaves are left behind,
cultural amenities traded in
for rhymes, and waking,

walking, kicking cans
over mountainous land –

he’ll be waiting there,
shotgun in hand. Hey,

what have we got for him,
here, offer some prayers,
for his girl, off in some war –
strong and passionate soul –

and offer some more
condolences for her beliefs,
like a subtle death by mortar blast,
blast, blast, and backlash a little
’til the murder rage has passed.

Reinvent the squire’s page, now
that the knight has fallen.
Night is falling still, but
when will it sky, and
what will it sea,
where will it land?

And the queen,
how is she feeling today?
Her city-states abandoned today,
and by a hand’s design are
consequently failing today…

it’s pandaemonium, it’s chaos,
it’s madness. it’s poetry. emotion.
a wide open ocean by which
we scale our protest.

The Art of Leaving

10 January 2010 § Leave a comment

I know why they call the season following summer fall, at least in this country. Everywhere else, it is autumn, which is a beautiful word that begins to describe the thing it represents. Summer’s fall is exactly that – a descent into the normality of complaining about the cold (with respect to those in the Southern Hemisphere) and school, the season of beginning again.

It would be painstakingly typical of me to point out the irony there, so I won’t. The fact is that my summer has lasted for eight months, and I have not traversed the equator. The living dead of winter will be upon me in a few short hours – these hours being very relative to lifetimes – and will freeze the tropical weakness from me in moments. A silver alien that is not used to the sun stares at me with black eyes that seem full of wonder, curiosity, condescendence. His games are those that have been played for centuries –  the act of bouncing between fortitude and humility, where status is required to reach some emotional parity with peers, regardless of one’s beliefs in his or her Self. It is watching this seesaw parade of achievements and misadventures that we begin to work out a balance of morals and use this scale to measure our calibre against the influences that landed us right here.

The arts and sciences were not developed in New York studios and university laboratories – they developed from a conscious need to experiment with that same wonder and interest I see in this snide little alien face – a Martian made from Mercury, Hermes from Ares, War created from the consequence of Mischief. It was Darwin tossing vegetables into a saltwater aquarium to see how long they would float, to see if they would still germinate after crossing the sea, it was the painter melting popular beliefs into human life to make them less imaginary and more authentic, more sensible to the simpleton kneeling to an otherwise bland and empty altar in thanks to _____ for allowing them to wake up that morning, providing rain, or later, keeping the plague at bay for a few hours longer.

Other arts, such as that of music, war, sex, and apathy have surfaced also, in the names of Expression, Pride, Passion, and many others. My personal contribution goes wistfully unappreciated much of the time, and I would not change that. Understanding is not sought, but it is hoped for and under drastic circumstances, wished away like an inevitable tide that will come and go again. If only it was always night, so we wouldn’t have to see every sparkle and glimmer that the sun gets to see. But noontime often holds the best goodbyes.

Like the ones that produce poetry from rooftops and photographs of a single shade of blue, which would appear to be stars if you looked at any other time of day. Simplicity is a good rule to leave by. Numbers that have singed their way past the skull and into grey matter will soon have their spellings broken by the perseverant hour hand, whose fingers scribble away at the future, much like we would as children, whittling at the stick with a pocketknife until it was a spear, then a useful tool, eventually the elaborate carving of a gull that bears no memory of its life as a twig. After all, trees do not fly – I do. With the trust and determination of those convinced that a jet engine weighing thousands of pounds can participate in flight above mountains and rivers and oceans, I keep a bag packed in anticipation of that flashing light bulb above my head, given that I look up now and then, for a chance at the unimaginable, the unknown, an opportunity to seize fear by the throat – because covering it with a pillow simply will not do – and choke the arresting tension from it without killing it, lest I lose interest in further adventure.

The high lasts for days. And like some drugs, perception is heightened to the point of exhaustion. Colors are more vivid, signs more clear, the sun and snow brighter than they will be when the inevitable crash strolls next to me as I’m walking, taking in the sights and sounds like any traveling soul, and it will replace that anti-intoxication with Complacency, which the police and the Normal are much more favorable to in everyday life. The filament flickers and dims, and suddenly memories are more demanding to recall, the feelings associated with them progressively less consuming. But when they do come, it is a concentrated whitewater assault that is dynamic as it is powerful, and it will last for ever. Again.

This is the sort of happiness that some prefer to the tedium of national dreams or the maintenance of organic creation. These, too, have their rightful and beautiful place high up in the hills of heavens, and eventually the tides may wash up on their shores the bewilderment and omnidirectional chaos felt by artists of my trade when that stubbornbroken compass wants to be itself again, and feels the magnetic pull of the north singing with the resolute passion it had been invariably attracted to for as long as it could remember. Perhaps that tide will come soon, and the surf will serve as that border between one lifetime and the next, which is more often than not the time between a goodbye and the next bout of confusion. This is where I live.

Where Am I?

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