The Sacrifice of Summer to the Fish Gods

19 May 2010 § Leave a comment

I used to pick fiddleheads for dinner every night, when I was living next to the sea, on my own private beach with giant cliffs on both sides, and the world was at my feet. I tried to appreciate it then, with fervent desire to truly make the most of it. Not was I unsuccessful, but perhaps I was not able at the time to take in all that I can now, to be able to look back on these experiences from a filtered perspective, dividing all that I really loved about them from the things I would have liked to have been better. Now, I can edit these moments in my mind, certainly because there was no one else to remember them, and recall a sombre moment as one of inspired contemplation, or a slow and sincere appreciation of a place or a time – talking to the quad-driving sheepherder in Scotland as his sheep dominated the road, looking out over the cliffs at Cape Wrath, empty and colorless under the ominous storm clouds. Waterless and fighting for daylight, running over the crevassed moors and rappelling down a rock face with a stretch of rusted fence wire seemed like good ideas at the time, even necessary, and I was not thinking of how I would remember these things later.

The ferocious wind at Sandwood Bay, transporting much of the beach’s sand back into the sea, creating from waves of deep blue and heavenlywhite legions of galloping stallions who would never reach the shores they seemed to crave, I do not remember so well the piercing needlepain of it on my face as I walked down the beach of my temporary home. The discomfort of wet shoes I mentioned to the sheep on the opposite hill on my way north? It is less familiar to me now than the sheer joy of seeing a herd of deer and running with them over the treeless hills, adrenaline flowing as easily and quickly as the streams from the mountains descending into the black sea to my left.

The North being my home and foreverdestination, the moment when there’s nowhere to go but south is a moment of genuine education on the Self. It was the chance I had to let everything fall away from me, to let go of the tension and offer it to the wind as a gift – it would take it gladly as it would anything, and I took that chance and shoved it into my sandblasted sleeping bag, where all important things were kept safe in my tent in those days. I pull them out once in a while and they take the form of train tickets and foreign currencies, coasters of good beers taken from rural pubs in Ireland – card game rules in French drunkenly scrawled across them.

And now it begins again, this process of new experience, with the new summer’s dawn, and I am back to the same innocence and appreciative inability I had the last go around, to feel as if my travels were not a once-in-a-lifetime experience – what a dreadful thought it is to consider that one trip out into the unknown, into the world would be enough to satiate a lifetime of desire, of wonder and hopefully the need to explore and learn about the places we do not live in and could not imagine without being there and eating their food and butchering their language with our untrained tongues. I am ready for it again and again, until I collapse not from exhaustion but from death. In my own human experience, there has been no better feeling than that of seeing something I never have before, learning a culture utterly unlike my own.

It is the next step of modern evolution, the desire to learn and to appreciate. Fortunately, some of us have tasted this and with a bit of determination, it can be shared with those who would otherwise only be a satellite to such curiosity.


smoking roses with horoscopes

13 May 2010 § Leave a comment

there are the girls with classy earrings
earning trust with sarcastic lips,
creating love from their saucy hips –

they’re smoking roses with horoscopes
and giving those brothers there
too much attention for their wild hopes.

jazz moose

11 May 2010 § Leave a comment

Fingers dance on the keys with the grace of an escaping leprechaun, and I can hear the beat as if it was recorded through a window. The drum solos tell stories in the night, brightening every step toward the soft conclusion. The occasional snare hits rhyme with my heartbeat, and something outside. The snap of the metal and the rustle of the leaves are not so far removed from me. Fifty years is a holiday where I come from, our graffiti timeless poetry carved into tree trunks and healed into permanence.
The windows are open. I remember closing them, but I’m not sure when. A deep mahogany sound fills the room, and bounces behind the saxophone like something I could walk down the street to. The snares are louder in the mix, and I wonder who engineered the record. The dog barks – but he always does, trying to herd me around the house like he would the sheep in Australia if his ancestry was more intact. There’s a snuff outside, and I’m expecting a giant brown creature to pop it’s head through the screen to say ‘good evening.’
Thelonious Monk sets the mood tonight, providing enough flare for me to keep focused, but I can’t help but think that the moose outside is tapping his foot to the beat.  It’s a ludicrous idea, isn’t it? Just as birds don’t think musically when singing the most beautiful songs, a moose doesn’t have any conception of jazz, does he?
Or does he? I open the door, and there he is, standing just a few feet off the covered concrete patio in the tall grass I’ve cleverly avoided cutting all summer by fishing elsewhere in the state. He’s looking at me, his rack four feet across, easily. So there’s no calves around, hopefully. He doesn’t look aggressive. He’s staring at the window. At the speakers providing us with ‘Well, You Needn’t’ and I’m thinking just that. I don’t say anything to him, knowing I probably shouldn’t stand with the door wide open as a bull moose stands only yards from me. If he charged, though, his rack wouldn’t fit through the door. He looks at me. What logic, Sean.
The sax comes in over a simple beat. The hooves move. I step inside, listening to every sound making its way to my ears. The moose is tapping it’s hooves through the grass in time with the song. I imagine him with sunglasses on, a cigar in hand. No, a trumpet. A cool jazz hat in between his horns, and a deep, bellowing voice crooning rhymes about beautiful women and something about the tragedy of a car wreck. His fur is slick, less thick moose hide and more Django’s hair. Sunglasses in a dim lit bar; what an ego. I leave the door open.
People are talking and smoke fills the room. There’s a cloud of it above us, you can see it better than you can see the bartender, I think. The waitress wants to know if there’s anything she can get me. Nothing but some soul in this place, please. I need to hear something that will make my ears twitch like she’s licking them with bass notes. The blue and green lights are a start, but they remind me so much of the jazz clubs in LA back when Miles was still around. What an ass that cat was, but man, could that motherfucker play with passion and roll it up in a pennysleeve or what. Those are the days I miss.
Who’s the guy on stage, I ask the waitress as she sets down the martini. She’s working for her tips tonight, and I’m more than willing to oblige her. No, the cat on the tenor. James, is it? I would like to buy James a drink after the set, maybe we could talk a bit. Oh, that’s a good technique. He’s got the hot air and rust on his throat to give it some smooth tone. I’m waiting for the punchline. The greatest thing about jazz, I’ll tell you this, is that all the dudes got their eyes closed so often they don’t know what’s around them but the notes flying around their heads. That works out for me just fine, being in a world that judges less for looks than cool. I fell in love with the stories jazz told me outside houses, and I could draw the notes for you in the grass, no doubt about it.
The woods of southcentral Alaska have been my roaming ground for years, and there are a few places, just like in the old town, that I can frequent for a good show and sometimes a drink, as long as the uptight cats inside don’t start making a fuss. Always thinking of danger first – just play some jazz, man, let’s listen to this shit together and have a high no drug could complicate. Hear that, right there? Louie’s breathing. No mistake, that one. Here comes the look. How can I make it clearer; I’m here for the music. Yea, I’m tapping my hooves, I can’t help it. If you got off your high horse, you’d do it too, and you and the moose can groove until the beat drops, no question.


9 May 2010 § Leave a comment

he smells of tobacco heavy
and rich alcohol too,
as he runs his left hand
through his hair,
his right around you –

and you soak up the seconds
of his imperfections,
blindsided by sunsets
and poor sight, sensual
attention and passionate fights.

he is midwest purity, pious,
narrowminded with vices
that sometimes are blue and violet,
but he says he’s all right around you.

when you’re high and the colors
in his mind are flying, like
the swirling death of stars and
the nebula’s eulogy hymn about
him, whom, who
has the energy to love
and to move
but not quite enough to
seem human when he needs to,
take note of the room that he’s
given to you and write a poem,
write a song, there’s nothing
you can do – he’s gone.

yes, this hymn with that rhythm
is black magic, written and warned
by witches and lords the world over,
so let’s begin this once again with
his intent to listen, the future of him:

off he goes, with the rifts
he’s gifted with, your love
and origins, bright suns and
eyes that squint with
Shakespearean innocence,
a vile story of the tragedy he’s
delivered you in child form,
his violent version of reality.

Where Am I?

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