29 July 2016

Electric Potsherds, or Fragments of a Mind

This is a story about a...no. No, it isn't. A story has characters and a plot. What do these fragments represent? Characters, surely. But plot? Perhaps about as much plot as plastic shopping bags swirling around in a dust devil. This is what happens when ideas come without focus. 

It is a wonder to me how the human race, and in specific the human that is me, manages to survive these days. I have written of this before, many moons ago. Existing in a flurry of information, data, numbers, feeds, stats. How do we keep our eyes on the road when the road is overlaid with avatars and sigils that have no bearing on the task at hand? I ask myself this on a daily basis and give thanks that I have driven many miles without hitting anything or anyone.

Kola Superdeep: no, it is not some weird Japanese soft drink. It is a borehole completed by Russian scientists after beginning drilling in 1970, ultimately reaching a depth below the surface of the Earth of 40,230 feet. That is a deep hole, folks. It is called Kola because the Soviets established the drill head on the Kola Peninsula. Some facts:

Latitude and longitude coordinates:  69°23′46.39″N 30°36′31.20″E
Years drilled: 1971 to 1989
Year abandoned: 2006
Depth reached: 40,230 feet (12,262 meters)
Temperature at bottom: 356 °F
Why they did it: Because why not?

He was imprisoned for the crime of being normal, without formal charges or a lawyer. A rented mule. They beat him like a rented mule. He bore the stripes on his back for decades until one day the scars turned him inside out. It was then that he saw there had been a hole in the bars the entire time of his incarceration. His blood is on the steel to this day.

The experiment is not going as hoped. En masse the Others are expressing doubts about Subject's humanity. Trending data suggests that the mask is faulty, or that the laboratory-applied veneer of civilization is sloughing off. If such deterioration does not reverse itself, our attempts at integration will be exposed. This represents a potential setback of years. 

An emergency meeting of the Human Reorganization Committee has been called. We cannot risk the loss of decades of painstaking work.

"We all come from divorce!" he says. "This is an age of divorce. Things that belong together have been taken apart. And you can't put it ALL back together again. What you can do, is the only thing you can do. You take two things that ought to be together and you put them together. Two things! Not ALL things."

-Wendell Berry, in The Seer

I saw a murmuration of starlings against the sunrise on the morning I sent her home. They fluttered and swirled, living pennant in the hands of a master gymnast. It is not often that the universe stirs the spiritual in the cold stone of my heart, but that morning was different. My regret, beyond the usual, was that it was a machine to which I entrusted the star of my soul and not those starlings. I have no doubt the birds would have cared well for her. The machine I grudgingly trust, a melancholy but necessary trust.

Wonderful they were, those plump sparrows frolicking in the fountain below the balcony of the inn. How alive they must have been to leap headlong into chilly water on such a crisp fall morning! A New Mexican cerulean sky and argentine light on the Sangre De Cristo implored us to do the same. Briefly a sparrow fluttered in my heart, warmed by sips of tea.

According to a number of sources, there are an estimated 110 million anti-personnel land mines left in the ground around the world. 110 million. That is roughly one mine for every 52 people on Earth. In more colorful parlance, that is a shit-ton of land mines.

It is a safe bet that none of those mines is hidden in American soil.  Think about that the next time you go digging in your yard to plant some flowers or vegetables. Sustenance without fear of getting your legs blown off.

Little breathy gulps as the child feeds in your arms. The scent is in the sweat, the taste of it is dark and burnt sweet in the back of your throat. Do not bother coughing, convulsive spasms will not clear it. Not that it should. The one true remedy is to drink deep of this bright matter. Swallow that, earthlings, it is the proof of life. Gazing deep into those eyes of indigo and coal it will be inescapable from you that the child and yourself are made of stardust and rose petals.

16 April 2016

Spring Madness: Irrational Angers and Other Curiosities

Dear wannabe triathlete/sniper/adrenaline junkie/gun whore/whatever: Changing the last letter of your plural business name from an 'S' to a 'Z' does not increase its hipness. All it does is prove a lack of imagination on your part and induce a burning desire to deface that stupid sticker on the back window of your tired-ass SUV. 

P.S.: Pry open your wallet and shell out for the services of a pro graphic designer, you hack.

...We should spray you with some mace. Seriously, asshole, with the too big, cheap mirrored sunglasses on your head, back the hell off my bumper. You know how I can tell your sunglasses are cheap? Because you are TOO GODDAMN CLOSE to my rear bumper. Are you stoned or just stupid?

There is no dearth of shabby stores peddling alcohol and tobacco here in many areas in which I have to drive while shaking my own money tree. "We may not have good roads or decent schools, but by God we claim lung cancer and cirrhosis as our birthright!" I imagine the hawkers of business licenses around here to be saying. There are too many to name, but today for some reason the one that caught my eye and crystallized my disgruntlement was a store named (simply) "CHEAP SMOKES AND LIQUOR". I realized that it was actually one outlet in a small, local chain of outlets selling (you guessed it) cheap smokes and liquor. My god, man, have they no pride? Can no one do better?

Driving around here can be a distressing experience, what with all the people trying so hard to be polite and thoughtful while driving slower than the speed limit and playing endless games of "After you!" "No, after you!" "No, really you go ahead" "Okay, I'll stop in the middle of this busy road to let your ONE car turn left across traffic from a side road during rush hour with bumper to bumper traffic piling up behind me because I don't want to be rude..."OHFORFUCKS'SAKEEXERCISESOMECOMMONSENSE.YOURNEEDTOBEPERCEIVEDASNICEANDPOLITEISSERIOUSLYFUCKINGUPTRAFFICFOREVERYONEELSETRYINGTOGETSOMEWHEREYOUMORON!"

I arrive home, pull in the driveway, and kill the engine. Fatigue washes over me and I could fall asleep on the steering wheel. But there is work to be done, pipers to be paid, and no one will do it for me. I slouch out of the car and gather my things. The sunlight filtering through the trees across the street feels good. Some of the roads I drive suck the life out of me, but the most important thing (I whisper to myself) is that I always find the road that brings me back to home. I am home.

03 April 2016

Sunday Meditation #47: I Heard the Meadowlark Sing

I heard the meadowlark sing to me
From upon a roofline high
Tall grass whispered back in chorus
Breathless upon bended knee

Azure dome of heaven
Wheaten cathedral of earth
Wind an ethereal Mass
Sunrise upon my soul

Lungs fill with coolish air
I drop my small machine
Thanks escape parted teeth
I heard the meadowlark sing to me

28 February 2016

Sunday Meditation #46: Lost Tribe

In the course of my daily bread earning, I spend much time on the road. I drive a lot. Probably a fourth of that time is spent behind the wheel of a not particularly large automobile. This lifestyle affords me much time to think. This in itself is not a bad thing, but it does lend itself to excessive time spent thinking of things I'd rather not think about.

I am somewhere in Missouri, and even though the sunlight has made the day much more bearable, I harbor this irrational dislike for the state. I cannot put my finger on the way of it, all I know is that my presence in this heartland state is cause for irritation. It is illogical, I know. I cannot explain it. I suppose it is no coincidence that Missouri is not far from misery in pronunciation.

I am driving in between assignments. Par for the course. This drive time affords me a lot of time for contemplation, which is a necessary part of the daily diet for an introvert like me. What makes this different on this particular day is the music I am listening to as I drive.

For the record (pun intended) I have a CD in the car stereo. An oldie and goodie, "Joe's Garage Acts I, II, and III" by Frank Zappa. I have to on CD,  and on cassette. A relic from days long gone by. A relic of my brother.

My brother and I could almost sing the entire album from memory. We knew the lyrics. We could see past the surface of it all, the juvenile lyrics and the obsession with sex. We understood there was a deeper commentary going on, sometimes lost in the double entendres and clever words.

But that did not stop the cascades of memories. It did not hold back on the sadness and the pain I felt at rocketing down the highway and knowing there was no way to bring my brother back to this mortal coil. He has been gone over six years now, and the unreality of it all is persistent. He left us almost seven years ago, yet it seems sometimes that it happened just now.

What does it matter? you may ask. To that I say I don't know. Perhaps it does not matter to you. That would not surprise me nor would it pain me. All I know is that I am hurtling down the road and I miss my brother. He was a good man, in spite of the pain.

It occurs to me, in the watery sunlight of a Missouri afternoon, that I miss my brother. Terribly. He is the lost tribe, and I wander the forest in search of him.