24 September 2009

Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...

A clipping that fell out of an old folder of mine...do you ever have that feeling that someone is trying to tell you something?

21 September 2009

On The Ocean Voracious, Epilogue

It was the screech of a seagull, perhaps, that awoke me. A high, thin keening that set my nerves on edge and had me gritting my teeth.

Grit was in my mouth. The banalities of everyday life intruding in the form of phone calls, bathing, eating. All the simple actions we take for granted when there is no crisis to confront. Simple they may be, but akin to mountain climbing while schlepping a sixty-pound backpack. Scuba diving in gelatin. Pushing frozen molasses with a snow shovel.

Blackstrap molasses, at that, so it fails to even offer the warm comfort of an oatmeal cookie.

My eyes fluttered open into the stinging kiss of a stiff salt breeze. Sand crusted my face, which was mashed into the cold shingle of the beach. A few feet away stood a feathery blur which slowly resolved itself as an enormous glaucous gull, standing guard over the beat-up carcass of a codfish. The gull shifted from one foot to the other as I slowly raised myself up on my trembling arms. The pungent reek of the deliquescing fish assaulted my nostrils. My aching belly heaved, and I vomited memories, hot, bitter, acid.

Days, months, years of anger and sadness spilled out onto the bright sand. The sun sparkled on the slick of sickness like filthy rubies and emeralds; gems made obscene by years buried in the muck and slime of my ravaged psyche. The stench was unbearable and triggered another torrent of spew which seemed to last for days. I feebly scrabbled backwards to get away from the toxic waste lying on the beach. The sand rasped my hands and knees, growing damp as I neared the tide line, toes tangling in the clammy rubber of decaying seaweed. The heavy seas of my heaving insides slowly settled down as if sprayed with crude oil. I leaned back on my heels and spat to rid my mouth of the taste of steel wool and quinine. The world was condensing into a familiar shape as I closed my eyes, rocking gently in the saline breeze.

Days later, tears seeping down my salt-crusted cheeks, I opened my eyes. The seagull was still there. peering at me with what could only be termed professional disinterest. A cock of the head, and it casually bent down to peck at the codfish melting into the sand. The sulfur-colored bill held something red and stringy, which quickly disappeared into the bird’s gullet. The gull screeched at me, a glasscutter blade on a cosmic windowpane. I shivered.

It was cold in the wind, but the sun behind scudding clouds offered some small warmth. My body and my mind ached with the fading pain of having run beyond my limits. Gingerly I flexed my arms and hands, rolled my head about my neck, and made to stand.

A fortnight later and I was on my feet. Now that the pain had faded somewhat, I took stock of my surroundings. The gull was gone, leaving the pathetic outline of codfish bones under a thin layer of sand. I averted my eyes from the evidence of my illness, focusing instead on the granite boulders that marched themselves up the beach to melt into a dense forest of slatey-green trees. Pine, fir or cedar I could not tell but the herbal sweetness of conifer sap coiled into my flaring nostrils as the wind blew gently offshore. I breathed deep and relaxed, ever so little. Gazing into the forest, unblinking for what seemed days, I realized that the only way out of the prison of my tragedies was to venture inland. There could be no going back to the sea. Not now.

Tragedy notwithstanding, I felt I could not truly abandon the waters that brought me here. Survival so hard fought, I had come to respect that which used to be a mortal enemy. I turned to face the liquid jade vastness that had spat me upon this not so alien shore.

There was no trace of the vessel I had once sailed upon this troubled ocean, and I was not so foolish as to expect it. The sky overhead was shocking cerulean, pocked by clouds of icy white and steely grey. Their etherealness congealed into a dense grey smear that seemed little different from the water, out on the far horizon. The sea and sky along the curve of the earth stirred slowly, a darkly grey serpent portending storms and heartache to come. Perhaps they would find me, perhaps not; for now I was on dry ground with little reserve to fight against that which had not yet come to pass. I turned on my heels, trudging slowly but steadily up to the trees.

Behind me, the glass shards and tumbled gravel of a million heartbreaks rolls back and forth in the ceaseless play of surf. Water mutters and hisses over the shingle, the voices of my beloved urge me forward into the balsam green breeze, and my chest grows warm as the splintered remains of my heart begin to stitch themselves anew.

19 September 2009

Snack Trends I Can Get Behind, Volume 1

Just so youse guys know?

Oreos dipped in Guinness taste pretty damn good.



18 September 2009

On High Steel

“In his every movement a man of great virtue
Follows the way and the way only.”

--Verse 65, Tao Ching, by Lao Tzu

“What is this by itself in its own constitution, what is its substance or substrate, what is its causal element, what is its function in the world and how long a time does it persist?”

--Chapter XI, Book VIII, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius


Who do you want to be today?

Can you answer that question quickly, directly? Do you really know, or have you known just who you want to be…ever?

It is not as easy as one might wish to be a human being of any stripe. The difficulty lies great in living life as a boundary condition, always riding the untidy fringe of chaos between unblemished states of order. Look at the swirling edges that demarcate the cloud bands on Jupiter; try not to blink while entranced by the shocking stain of the Great Red Spot on that mighty planet. Turn your attention to the microscopically ragged border between the oil and vinegar of the dressing you are about to pour on your salad. As the liquid anoints the leaves, consider that we as human beings are not so different than those fluids trying to coexist side by side, but never quite melding except under the duress of great force or sudden violence.

We walk the high steel that forms the skeletons of our lives, blinded by the actinic glare of an arc-welder sun and buffeted by ceaseless winds. We pray that we do not go blind. We pray that we do not lose our balance, such as it is, and fall off the beam.

But fall we do, always.

Where one lands depends on many things beyond our absolute control. The true desires of our hearts may guide us, with unconscious control, towards the strange attractors embedded in the soil of love and virtue found beyond the indeterminate surety of our foundations.


You may be asking yourself, what’s gotten into him? What prompted this sudden bout of navel-gazing? I can say it wasn’t the usual barstool philosophizing that seems to go on in my head all the time. The kind fueled by a beer or three in the belly of anxious loudmouths who can’t seem to stop talking, even to themselves.

What knocked the chocks out from under my wheels was something I read today, that I had the good fortune to stumble upon. It was a blog post that stunned me, made me think and unlocked some long-buried recollections of mine. Thoughtful, well-written with depth of feeling, this post, in its generalities, could have been written by me years ago. Only the author, a young man of twenty, elucidated matters of the heart and mind much better than I ever could have at that point in my life. The congruencies with my own state of mind raised the hairs on the back of my neck. In its specifics, it represents someone experiencing quite clearly the razor edge of choice distilled, infinite promise spread out like a meadow full of wildflowers. Fretting, dithering, the pain of deciding which flower to pick often blinds the mind to this:

The flowers, no matter which ends up in the hand, are beautiful.

Consider the mirror into which we gaze. Please, go read, and meditate on the flowers you picked:

16 September 2009

Love Poems About Everything

My lovelies, come to me...

And into my heart, whisper amour...(sigh)

14 September 2009

Vox Vocis Pacis

The rush and clatter of modern life overwhelms us…

Ambushed by sorrow, overrun by anxiety…

Occasionally a flash of insight penetrates the clouds…

The soul knows to seek relief…

From that which would tear us down…

From that which would cause collapse…

And turn away from the machine…

which growls but cannot follow…

Soul cleaves to the mother-spirit, calling, seeking…

Diving into the balm of good shadows…

Through earth, water and leaves walks the body…

Coming to rest in a refulgent center…

…where listening closely to the sibilant whisper of water, trilling birds and the conversations between rock and stream…

…listening closely…

…it hears the voice of God.

11 September 2009

Pensive, with Rain...

The weight of the day falls heavy, and we all seek relief...

So happy to just be home. Time to sit down with the tools o' the trade. The radio was blaring out the Allman Brothers' "One Way Out" (the live version) from Eat A Peach...it was just what the doctor ordered on this, a rainy day of the soul.

Join me, won't you? I have an extra glass or two...

07 September 2009

Fireman, Ring the Belle

Is that toast?


Did the heat come on?


Smells like hot dust or something. Hmm.


"What, sweetie, I'm almost done reading the story."
"Where's my Belle doll?"
"I don't know, what did you do with her?"

(small voice) "I dunno."

"Well, we'll look for her tomorrow. G'night, sweet pea."

(goes to turn out bedside lamp) "AIIIGGGGHHH!"


The black-brown oval in the center? That used to be little rubber feet. Fortunately, the rest scraped off the light bulb pretty easily. No one was injured, no open flames. But, man, it stank.

06 September 2009

So Much For Getting My Grump On...

I was just bringing a big, pungent pot of gripe stew up to full boil when I read THIS POST.
If you aren't yet acquainted with IB, go now. Read. You will not be disappointed.
And he did not make me cry. Much.
Peace to all,

04 September 2009

Peachy Redemption

Standing in the dim coolness of my kitchen this morning, I ate a ripe peach at the counter. I did not bother to sit down, it was too good. I chewed quietly, juice trickling over my fingertips. In a sweet burst of concentrated summer, it occurred to me that sometimes the blind indifference of the Universe is swept away by a glimpse of the Divine.

It was an excellent peach.