walk in the snow, not in the streets.

31 January 2011 § Leave a comment

The powdery snow crunched underfoot. The clouds split into overdose pill-shaped symmetry as the sun set behind the cracked pepper hills laid in blankets of sea salt and calm. Meltwater streamed through snow caves and that singular flowing sound contradicted the valley’s freezing December silence.

The dog hopped about in glee. Off the hardpacked trail, the mutt sunk into the dry snow and burrowed a few feet before he popped up like a jack-in-the-box – half as colorful and twice as ugly. His boy companion only stepped on the snowshoe tracks left by more prepared hikers sometime after the last snow. He walked as if tramping through Elmer’s glue, the cold biting his nose and fingertips like a hundred miniature rabid weasels. The sun persisted in its descent, bathing the antipsychotics in the sky orange and yellow and red. The boy and his dog made their way through the snow, oblivious to each other’s plight.

In between his paw pads, ice gathered and formed itself to the shape of the crevasses that made up dog feet, and pushed up into his leg nervesĀ  as would a torturous insole. He ran about, jumping from one place to the next with the hope that the ice would dislodge itself so he could walk like a proper dog again. Why the boy was walking so slow, he couldn’t fathom. But he couldn’t be in nearly as much pain as the leaping beagle.

No, the vultuous expression on the human boy’s face wasn’t one of pain. It was despair: the city lights from the other side of the valley were replacing the orange of the sunset now, and created artificial agents of social destruction out of the immovable clouds in the sky, the atmosphere between them grey and sterile like the uncomfortable hospital ward on the day of his mother’s death. The wilderness, or some close (but not quite plastic) facade of it, didn’t serve any longer as a thought-purging source of inspiration, but as a farmer that cultivated dreams he didn’t want and manipulated the screenplays in his head to have sad endings.

The snowshoe tracks led into an open field past the reaching alders. They traveled in circles as if the person wearing them went in search of something buried under the snowdrifts. The boy’s weight kept him aloft on the crust until the dog created a faultline in the white mass, piercing it with his narrow paws. They felt a wave of collapse underneath them – it made a whoof sound like a giant pine collapsing in the forest, if they were there to hear it. Their existence dropped a couple of inches in an instant.

Three weeks later, the boy drank the last of the water from his bottle and trudged back to civilization.

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god was a good idea – until love came along.

29 January 2011 § Leave a comment

I was once told that if I was going to write, do it with an empty stomach. My stomach isn’t empty.

This dread will not take me over again. A positive attitude is my only ally now, and sometimes I can see it breathing fog onto the window when I start looking at the sky instead of the road. The road, the road, the road. Yes, we’re old friends, and I’ve found that part of the world, tucked it away into my zippered pocket, and I take it out like that old photograph in the little ziplock bag – because it’s fallen into the ocean a few too many times, has grains of sand embedded into in the emulsion, and when I need to get away from Now, there it is. The idea is there, to escape, to run. But that’s the easy part. I can do that whenever I like. I fear nothing about the road. The challenge is here, life, in the everyday that I cannot bring myself to commit my life of travel in order to avoid entirely.

Hip hop is keeping me afloat, like metal once did, except this time around, I know more – and my ear is more refined to ideas. It is not my PFD, that annoying, suffocating foam thing I wear when packrafting that occasionally saves my life, but it is banksy’s rat, running on the wheel inside my head that never stops. It is a rodent with endurance and perseverance, and it’s a wise one, like Splinter, that lets me know when I’m fucking things up so I can back off and fix myself. It’s the beat I tap my fingers to. Constantly. Ask me to stop again, facebook girl, and I’ll implode. It won’t be pretty.

I don’t need a telescope to know there’s no god up in the sky, and if all the laws that Mushroom Moses saw being written were accurate, the lack of lightning strikes now proves my point. But the point is not the point – the point is the idea. And I believe in what all that’s about. God’s not one of us, you sad, sad voice on the radio – god is us. godzai is my lazy eye when it focuses on you, when I’m listening to what you’re saying, and it’s the fear right before you jump south into the ocean from that bayside cliff.

Go to sleep on midsummer’s night and I’ll conjure up the stars again. I waded through that passive mess to come out on the other side, at my wit’s burning end, refreshed. The labyrinth isolated only those who were alone, and the pantheon of ice in the artificial night made me realize what I’ve been missing all this time: I’m one of you. And I can change everything else, and hold on to the music that collects dust up on the shelves, revise my speech a hundred times in hopes that you would notice, discern the differences between joy and love and pleasure, but I can’t take myself away from this, to call my self something else ’cause I felt like I deserved it.

I have to wonder if there’s a single moment that an idea becomes a belief, an epiphany in which I’m supposed to actualize what I keep telling myself, like those moments when we read a fact and for whatever reason, it gets stored in the long-term “I-know-this-and-will-defend-its-truth” memory. Until then, it represents a hope to the contrary – that no, I don’t have to believe this, I can hope that it’s not true, and that’s where my heart is.

That last part will keep the epiphany at bay.

Patience.

18 January 2011 § Leave a comment

This is going to be intense. How many times can I say ‘I miss her’ and how many different people can I be talking about before seeming like a needy slut of a man who never really got over his sexual hangups until the past few months or so, when everything has fallen apart, burned CDs riddle his timeline with excessive emotion, her writing, her handwriting, beautiful as it was, and at times it was the only beautiful thing about her, after the days had gotten so long and filled with smoke and bones and skeletal faces, hollowed out with alcohol and starvation. find the unequivocal reply to the things we discussed over all that pot and wine in that little apartment I paid for in pennies and sometimes dimes. steal the cookies from the grocery store so we’d have something to eat that night, so she’d have something that she said she wouldn’t throw up. but i was ignorant or hopeful, forever too trusting. i knew what was going on but refused to believe it for a moment because things had to be better than they were. I was working for the moon and I was stuck in a sewer with a once beautiful girl who wanted nothing more than to die a prolonged and delayed death. suffer. hear them suffer, like the walls in zadar.

she came to me, I came to her, we learned about the world, we taught each other what we knew and discovered music from the screen and the beersoaked floors of tropical summer shows. let’s just sit out here and sweat for a while, we’d say at midnight, at three in the morning, let me just have you for a moment, let me believe that I can do this forever, that we will do this dance forever, this pretending to be elegant, this life of lies and maggotgrease. I wasn’t lying when I said I loved her more, with my whole heart and all I had to love with – I was sucked in and even the spider would let me go before I would have let myself escape that shit with my life. god damnit, I loved her. and when i finally realized that, i had to let her go, because i couldn’t manage that passion anymore, I couldn’t be the caretaker, I couldn’t be the unwilling boss and doctor, ignorant psychologist, motivational speaker and wine buyer all in one – i had to break free and read my journalbooks through and pay attention to what I was writing. take those wishes and pitch them at the brick walls with the fresh black windows and that little balcony I stood on, not far above the street, and I wonder what would have happened if I jumped from there with a semi coming down patton avenue – I could have ridden on the roof to the other side of the world if I timed it right, otherwise I would have been bug splatter on the grill of those delivery trucks, and at the time neither seemed better or worse than the other.

so I can look back now and know what was what and what needed to happen when it did – and while I’m sure I was a little late – I’m 24, and because I’m vain and ridiculous, I consider that too old for many things I wanted to do – web design, vagabonding across the US for a couple of years – what am I to do with all these anticredits to my name? I can’t pick a friend that won’t fuck me from behind with compulsory lies and worthlessness, I can’t NOT be taken advantage of because it seemed to be what I needed, to learn my lessons, to take my beatings, to be the whipping boy – remember that fatalist story – dark and foreboding, self prophecy and the bright yellow moon across the too perfect navy blue sky on the cover of that book. when did I read it last? A wrinkle in time had nothing on that shit. a wrinkle in time. when did we hear that? sociology? mrs. graham. katie was in that class, that hippie girl with the orange hair that I got paired up with involuntarily but then willingly. her skirts and my trenchcoat went well together, but my pretentious mind had me in a caste system of rage of odd complexes. i loved her then, and I knew it then, though I would never have said that word, probably never thought it – and then,. standing in my room, under the green and black lights, near that shrine and the writing on the wall that I took from some movie about a demon, it was all too perfect, it was all too insane, and I couldn’t have a part of it because i didn’t deserve it then and I don’t deserve it now, though this girl was in the back of my mind for half a decade and more recently gave her whole heart to me so I could fumble it away and not talk to her for an entire summer. oh, what were you thinking? how much more had you to learn, and what was it that motivated you? unwilling? jesus fucking christ. no, you can’t go back to her and say you’ve changed, even if you have, because how could she believe you? what else haven’t you told her? but also, what else does she want to know?

who knows that for sure? I can only account for what she says and those rare moments in conversation when we’re going forward and I say something unexpected because I wouldn’t normally admit something like that, and her eyes widen just a little because she knows this is special, like the other day down by the port, with the sun coming up over the buildings from the glass and the cold nipped at our lips, which hadn’t seen each other in a month or more, which was far too long for both of us, but cultivating passion that whole time. not for a day I didn’t skip out on the thought of her while I was gone, in fact it was train ticket this and katie that, oh shit look at that ravaged building there, i wish katie was here to see that, and it never stopped, but time is supposed to heal these things, time is supposed to make me not think so much, it’s supposed to, it promised to settle my debts and be done with things, so I didn’t have to write about her every sentence in this punishing medium, this finely tuned intrument of torture, of course, a freewrite is whatever is on your mind, sean, and guess what’s there, guess who’s there, and how are you going to get her to go away from being there because are you Really going to go to her to say that oh, you’ve changed, you can trust me now, I want to travel with you and go the the edges of the planet with you – is that REALLY what you want? It can’t just be about the sex or that wine connection anymore sean, if you go and say that shit, you’re done for – you have to follow through on something in this newfound life of yours – not like you ever did before, but now you’re without all that independent dignity you once pretended – paying bills and having a place and taking care of shit like you did, driving and stealing and lying and working and throwing yourself into all those crazy things, asking for things you had no right to – but they were given to you by people who had seen you work your magic, and what did we accomplish with that, then? let’s see. some money, a little bit of self-respect, certainly some value, knowledge. lots of lung and liver damage and quite a bit of experience you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. keep up the thievery, that’s good for you, the think doors provide the inspiration, the shielding when you need it, and there she is again, hanging from the rafters, and every one is watching now as you’re filing out your millions of minutes and the cables wrapped up in the room with the piano and the organ. the guy with all the ego that breaks things to his left wasn’t so particular about his coffee, remember that? and the people from alaska, grey hair and camera ready, they didn’t eat well at all, if you remember that, but you’d rather not – but what are you trying to fall back on now? something you first attained by lying? but you were good at it, and you could be good again, if you could focus, stop jittering, maybe stop drinking but that’s probably not going to happen now – europe was a landfall, a missed opportunity of landmarks and fireworks, cellos and perfumes, what about that club with the pop anthems and the teenage girls with the tequila and the miniskirts? we had to get out of there, quick, before the sight and sound would damage us and forget to place us back into reality on holiday. that’s where we were, on summer’s new year’s eve, but in the northern hemisphere. the greeks fought over this town and someone once called it beautiful, while we were warned not to climb the hill because there might be mines there. take the bus and never talk to her again. london with the rebels and the riots, she’ll go there to be amazed and I hope she does because after the stories that we told each other, I told we’re both human now and wrenching all the juices and the oil that make our mistakes worth retelling. walking disaster, that we are, every once of us and we’re both worth the discovery.

the graffiti here is beautiful.

16 January 2011 § Leave a comment

the lazy moon above zadar and the adriatic
is an unbalanced cyclone, tearin’ it up like
half a tornado in tall boots and and a miniskirt,
showing us the morning or the path to clarity
that we might have discovered already but

there’s tweety bird the pilot
rockin’ out and gettin’ high to
soccer matches on the tube –
and the cats are gettin’ blasted
like dynamite and sparklefuse.

the beach is being combed with a nuclear hologram
and it’s about time we told the truth about
what happened in LA with the lion and the lamb.

the world is done for –
we’re only going back to space
to make way for the catastrophic population
of what’s left of the human race.
the world is done for –
but we can use another shot
of the Glenlivet, and maybe blow our livers

but only with a scotch older than us –
then we can get away with saying
that our parents were the ones that did it.

the generation of chirping birds –
e- and iEverything addicts,
what has the mp3
taken by facebook and scorn?
the pirates are the responsible ones!
with plasma screens and sans serif typeface
fuck the sunrise, we got a raid in WoW today!

the world is done for –
writing what we like into the news
of our daily life, like who knows the
name of the dude Rosa Parks refused her seat to?

and what did Brutus say into Bell’s stolen telephone
about his friend who didn’t ask why he was being slain?

there wasn’t time,
with all the hip hop and accolades
that were going around,
to make up for all the lives we made.

and the architect of dreams,
cute as she may be,
creates belief to
the tune of crumbling cities.
and where does that leave
a world that’s done for,
and what does she see?

…and then comes the afterparty

4 January 2011 § Leave a comment

The blind spider marches on!

Or rather, he crawls on and into the mouths of dragons and such, in company of cats with likewise missing eyes, the fighting kind that makes lemonade in Croatian castles while lying in the sun, avoiding the old ladies who lean out of their windows while the tourists pass on the great wall of Old City Dubrovnik, smiling and waving her towels, long dry by the warm winter sun. The New Zealander and I lie on the tallest battlements overlooking the sea and behind us, our flat, which we got for three days at an 8 pm bargain Kevin Spacey would be proud of. It just happened to be on Ulica Bernarda Shawa, one who said something about Dubrovnik being ‘Paradise on Earth’. I do not think I would disagree.

So three days of relaxation, wine, sun, swimming in the sea, and it culminates in one supremely international moment, which happened to be midnight on 31 December 2010 – an American and a New Zealander drinking Mexican tequila in an Irish pub in the bowels of a Croatian castle.

More on that drink later, which I was very impressed by, despite Nardia’s insistence that no one she’d had try it ever liked it. We put away four or five each two nights in a row and I didn’t feel a thing in the morning. But Boris did. The poor spider went blind for all the alcohol! And how many others might have on that fateful night, after the sirenian sea organ and before that soulcrushing visit to Sarajevo – one night in a city where, despite the rubble some once called buildings, there are great pieces of art being painted every day, and the piles of aerosol cans next to them to prove it.

This is not a lonely planet, and the museums are in the streets! The spider called it a riot as he spied on the U.S. Embassy at six in the morning in the haze and darkness, but no one heard him. He was intent on getting up to Budapest, because he was feeling suicidal and crawled into the dragon’s mouth, against his better judgement. But the dragon had no taste for polyester, or whatever blind spiders were made from in the 90’s – yes, he’s got some years on him! – and did not bite down.

No, we were fortunate enough to find the labyrinth underneath the castle, and I think my life is better for it, though Boris was unaffected – the darkness in the caves where Atilla the Hun planned his attacks or the secret planning place of the cold war, the grotto and the endless fountain of wine (we enjoyed that one, but the music was maddening! how long can one stand paradise before the monotony drives us insane. we left Dubrovnik just in time, apparently, to find the cold and frostbiting air of Buda and Pest (and Margaret Island between them!) fresh with fog and laden with mattresses in doorways. We could have been there. We will be. We were.

Remind me this, good people of the world: there is so much music to be heard, and my excuse for not recording my aural excitement had something to do with a broken car in the far and frozen north – what sort of useless complaint…? I would sooner travel without a camera than without an audio recorder, an H2, an R09, a Sony , a Tascam, anything! again. The gypsy music must be heard again, the opera performance underground next to burger king. The train rocking back and forth, going much too fast, headed straight for the Big Dipper, that pattern written on my hand behind my new years resolutions and the time to catch that train…polaris is below the horizon, and we’ re headed straight for it. Find the leaky faucet, it’s spewing copper and platinum!

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