30 June 2011

Damaged Cortexes

If music is the food of love,
what is the drink of hate?
Is it the absence of understanding
or dearth of empathy?
Questions occur as the ticker
scrawls slowly across the screen
on a backdrop of talking heads
looking vexed as the explosions,
the blood stains their complexions
All the while tut-tutting and offering
little in the way of solution
Replacing it instead with reasons
why the audience can shake their heads
and believe that They are not like Them
while the money rolls in on a tide
of munitions and exported force
Insulating the body politic with the
blubber of self-delusion

29 June 2011

Small Bang Theory of Love

Desire, suns at dusk
swirl around the galaxies
of our hungry hearts

28 June 2011

On The Importance of Knowing Where To Find Your Hammer

One of the most important rules of carpentry, especially that which puts the humble nail front and center, is to always know the location of your hammer. 

Come to think of it, that is good advice no matter you do in life.

Keep an eye on your hammer, no matter what form in which it manifests.

27 June 2011

Light Reading

A tribunal of candles sits atop the dresser, pale golden dancers washing the plaster walls with delicate light.  Their warmth, even in summer, a welcome addition and delight for the mind's palate.  Behind them to the left, tucked in the corner sits a small stack of books.  Journals, the handwritten relics excavated from a mind in search of its anchors.  The books glow in the light.

Shadows cling to the journals.  Profiles writ large on the wall behind them.  The pages themselves are orderly, but sport encrustations of tabs and sticky notes like bibliographic barnacles on bookish pilings.  The notes are but placeholders marking words, sentences, paragraphs that at some point in the past were deemed significant enough to warrant commemoration.  But in the now, they fringe of notes seems a reminder of thoughts unfinished, of tasks incomplete.  They have their own nostalgia.

The candle flames waver subtly in near undetectable currents in the close air of the room.  For a split-second it may have created the impression that ghosts walk in this room.  The notion does not seem so far-fetched.  After all, the journals tell true stories about bearing witness to spirits that were not for this world.  The tomes contain passages describing what it is like to have traveled out of the body and brought back sights and sounds and memories of love and pain from the other side of the astral glass.

The shadows dance gracefully around the journals.  They shimmy with a sensuality all their own.  Contemplating them thusly it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the shadows themselves are their own stories.  New tales from the heart whispered softly and with deep respect for the past from which they grew.  It is the candles that have brought out this quality, this idea of stories as entities existing in light.  The eye watches the flames move.  The mind considers the physics and optics involved.  The heart follows the shadows and calls out for a new epic of love, to be written in the edges between light and dark

26 June 2011

It Was A Simply A Walk In The Park

We strode the path
treading leaves and roots
two shadows pursuing our bodies
where the air was thick and languid
along the river, keeping company
on a day meant to assure
me that the word father actually
had a definition, but this,
this I already knew, truth
known to me, there in the park
the instant she took my hand
and said I love you, daddy.

25 June 2011

Recalibrating The Threshold of Simple Pleasures

I told myself I wasn't in the mood to write Thursday night, because of an excess of fatigue.  I wasn't going to do it, but then I made dinner, ate it, and discovered that I had some mojo working.  I had hit the nail squarely, and was doing a slow-motion dance, all on account of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.

It was the third one I've made this year, and the first two were edible, but...meh.  This third one, though, well that is a different story altogether.  It was the rule of thirds.  As in third time is a charm.

I'm not certain of what I did, but I did it proper.  Proper. I don't know if it is the Absolute Bestest BLT Ever, but it was perfect right then.  It tasted good.  It filled me up.  It made me content.

Sometimes, that is all we really need out of life: a tasty sandwich, balm for the soul.

24 June 2011

Friday, Friday, Gotta Get...F*%k No I Don't!

For all the hoopla over Rebecca Black's video for "Friday" I can say I have successfully avoided having watched it, although I feel like I have based on all the chatter that has besmirched the interwebs since it hit YouTube. And at this point it I doubt I ever will.  After all, with all the stuff I've read about it, I feel like I don't have to see it.

One thing I've learned, from all the time I've spent on the internet, reading, writing, catching up on current events and just plain goofing off, is that time is definitely precious.  It doesn't behoove me anymore to waste time on stuff that appears to be blatantly crap.  I have a feeling that, just like with William Hung of American Idol fame, the commentary on the content is, in the main, more interesting than the content itself.

I make no claims for the quality of my own stuff I've put on the web, but I like think that I've given you, the readers, some quality content for your investment of time.  I also like to think that I have successfully avoided the self-delusion that just because something can be done, that I can do it.  Nothing wrong with playing to your strengths.

Perhaps the problem is that technology and the new media has made it so easy for content to be generated, that far too many think they can really generate it.  I wish, wish, wish that there was a way for technology to make people honestly assess themselves and their capabilities.

I'm sure there are a lot of pleasant people out there, who like to sing or dance or make videos...but desire in no way automatically translates to worthiness.  I daydream about a technology that can allow me to filter enormous amounts of content and make judgments about its quality before I invest too much time ingesting it all...wait...that tech already exists...

...and its called a "brain".  Imagine that.  Time to reset the filters.

23 June 2011

Work The Land

Soil so fertile
Banks of Nile threading the heart
Plant love, watch it grow

22 June 2011

Geode

From clattering day to library room, I walked through the door and into shelter, for the first time, it felt like.  The house was quiet, so quiet, the traffic non-existent, the birds muttering or chirping not at all.  The kids playing across the way were oddly silent, little mimes playing tag in the yard.  I nearly stumbled.

The briefcase still slung across my shoulder felt ponderous, the lunch bag dangled from my hand, almost forgotten in my sudden halt in the living room.  There was so little noise I wondered if perhaps my hearing had suddenly gone.  Small tik-tik-tiks in the floor and the susurrus of air in the ducts belied the sensation of lost hearing.  This house was no anechoic chamber, but the feeling was hard to shake.

I became quiet, somewhat timid and reluctant to move.  That kind of silence seems almost sacred.  It is so rare, so unexpected, yet engenders the feeling of being in a cathedral between services.  I did not want to disturb it.  There was a presence, here in the living room.  Not a presence of voyeurs unseen; more like a spirit trying to remind me of something.

I set my briefcase down slowly, holding my breath.  I stood still and listened without straining.  It was then, after a few heartbeats, that I had my revelation.

In the silence, sometimes, if you are fortunate, and care to listen, can be found the sound of yourself.  The whisper of blood tickling the ears and gently pulsing under the skin, the sound of your breath, the slow fireworks of the neurons firing in your brain; all of these tender reminders of what it means to be human.  Of what it means to unplug from the Machine and tap into the quantam currents of the universe.

Pop culture has made the idea of a "Force" somewhat of a running joke, and I suppose it will be that way for a long time.  Nonetheless, I like to entertain the notion that something like it exists, that we can channel sometimes and find ourselves connected, rooted and aware of the music of ourselves.

I heard that music, briefly, in a cool living room bathed in the light of northern windows.  I heard that music, and gave thanks for the taste.

21 June 2011

The Not-So-Unbearable Lightness of Being

So anyway its Tuesday or should that be tuesday, because really is it that important, that much of a standout that it deserves its own capital letter?  Seriously, man, it's freakin' tuesday and I'm not feeling the love, you know?  Sorry I know I'm being difficult, my bad. It's just that I was expecting so much more by this time in the week.  Too many weeks of the grind and the yawn...

Wait, hold that.  Yeah, yeah, the obligation of what needs to be done to earn the Daily Bread, that can be a royal drag, the ol' millstone and albatross many of us carry around and can I say, as as sidebar a digression even, perhaps said sotto voce ('cause you should know by now I can't resist those little sidesteps into Theater and Art and Screenplay language, yeah boy because (as the kids say) that's how I rolls.  or roll.  Or something like that.) that the Millstone & Albatross would be a great name for a pub, or perhaps a law firm.  Has a nice ring, don't you think?  Yeah, me too.

What's that? Oh, damn. Right, right, now where was I?  I was speaking of grinds and yawns and royal drags...but what I meant to say is that it isn't all gloomish and Sturm und Drang (there I go again off into Art), no no by any means no, there are good things too, my lovelies, yes there are and the trick the real trick, the meat of the matter as it were is that you need to know where to look for the good stuff...

...Because sometimes the good stuff, my friends, the good stuff can sometimes be right there under your nose or hanging out just behind your back, like when you try and turn around really fast to see if the good stuff is trying to sneak up on you, or maybe trying to keep the bad stuff from sneaking up on you.  Which I have to say is damn near impossible because joy and misery will find you no matter how  hard you try to catch them or avoid them, and they will do it most often when you least expect it.

So stop chasing them.  Misery you don't need and joy?  Well, joy is kind of like that butterfly you ran after when you were a little kid and no matter how fast or agile you were, or thought you were, that butterfly was always one or two moves ahead of you, and you remember what happened? When you stopped running after it? Very often it would stop and alight on a flower or leaf or stalk of grass right in front of you and sit there, wings hinging open and closed slowly as if it were in a dream or it was pondering the dark shadows and lumbering footsteps that rumbled along behind it.

So the point of all this, the kernel, the "crux o' the biscuit" as my brother was fond of saying...is that joy can be ours, if we know where to look, know when to look, and most importantly learn to recognize what we are looking for when we see it.  Because that is how joy rolls.

When you see the butterfly, whisper its name, but let it fly free.

20 June 2011

Because Bird is the Word

The night before Father's Day, I was winding down from a relatively busy day for a weekend.  Chores were done, belly had been filled (spicy home-made bean and linguica burritos, if you are curious) and I had the luxury of some quiet moments with no agenda.  As is often my wont, I began to follow the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.

In this case, it meant a session on the interwebs and time in on the good ol' iTunes store, from whence I purchased some music.  What music, you ask?  Well, I'll tell you:

Stone Rollin', the new album from Raphael Saadiq and...the single of "Surfin' Bird" by the Trashmen.

I know, I know...you're probably wondering WTH?  How does that even tie together?

Honestly, I'm not sure.  I hear things and I jot them down on scraps of paper and napkins and stuff, so I won't forget.  The end result, especially when it comes to music, is usually eclectic mental flotsam.

Anyway, Stone Rollin' is an excellent album, Saadiq has talent and skill to burn, and discussion of it is a subject for another post.  "Surfin' Bird", well...it got me to thinking about Father's Day and my Big Bro, and how much I miss him since he passed away in 2009.

When we were kids, we heard "Surfin' Bird" on the radio, and we got a lot of hilarity out of it.  This was long before Family Guy got a hold on it (which, BTW, is one of the funniest things I've witnessed on television).  Big Bro and I could both do a credible imitation of the vocals.  Admittedly, that may not be much of a stretch, but we were good at it.

Hearing it again brought back some of the life he and I shared, so long ago.  It made me a little nostalgic for the silliness we could get into, and thinking of him made me think of what he was as a son, brother and father (to my nephew).  Big Bro was an imperfect person, but he had a big heart and an translucent soul.  He tried his best, straining against his limitations, to be the best dad he could be given the circumstances.

And we loved him for that.  Still do.

Happy Father's Day, Big Bro.  You still are the word.



19 June 2011

Shingle

Every year he came to sit by the sea, facing the Atlantic, at the far end of the island.  Every year he told himself it would be the last year.  The cycle had gone on far too long, but old habits, like the sea itself, are hard to quit.

The hat on his head, the battered blue windbreaker, the salt-stained deck shoes: all had seen the sun rise many times over the breakers beyond 'Sconset.  The clothes had become partners with the wind curling in off the ocean.  The mineral tang of salt water mixed with undertones of stone and decay as he drew slow, deep breaths.  Except for the languid motion of his chest and the occasional blink of rimed eyes behind the obsidian-colored sunglasses wrapping his face, he gave the appearance of being a statue.

The statue sat very still.  He amused himself with the thought that he had become one of those stone Buddhas he admired in Japanese gardens.  For  a few moments, he smiled, serene and and unflappable.

The waves smashed liquidly along the shingle, tinged with the salmon and peach of the newly rising sun.  A necklace of seaweed knitted a fish-scale edge along the sand.  Two seagulls pecked enthusiastically at one pile, and he could see the remains of a fish woven into the tangled mass of dying vegetation.  The sight made him sad, and he turned his attention back to the sun.

It oozed over the horizon, its royal face striped by three thin clouds.  The rich luminescence intensified as more of the disk rose above the water.  The blue-green mirror of the sea flared into a hammered sheet of rosy gold, and the man drew a sharp breath.  The aureate air surrounded him and he felt himself as weightless, rising slowly above the cool sand, yet rooted to the ground.  Small tears formed in the corners of his eyes, the sun and the sky diffracting into tiny rainbows.  His heart swelling, and for the first time in nearly a decade, he smiled.

Next year,  he said to no one, I'll be back next year.

Below him on the shingle, the gulls flapped and bickered.  The sun continued its low arc up the sky, and the beauty of the world engulfed him.

18 June 2011

On Seeing Things

Lucky, how lucky I feel sometimes.  Glad to be alive.

Not in the sense I survived a life-threatening event, like crashing a tractor-trailer into a guardrail on a bridge and hanging over the side until rescue came along.  Glad to be alive in that the body and the mind, fatigue combined with stress notwithstanding, feel good about being alive.  This sensation is not unknown to me but I can say it is not like a best friend who comes over to my house everyday.

Yet, it is here.  Has been for some matter of days, now.  How to explain that?

In part, it is a result of my vision returning.  My inner vision, mind you, not my actual eyesight.  (For that matter, there can be a difference between 'vision' and 'eyesight'. But I digress)  This inner vision I fancied to be a set of mental lenses and filters that allow me to shift focus, zoom in and out, try different colors on the fabric of the world, all without leaving the confines of my admittedly big head.  These filters allowed me to see things.  Good things, wonder and beauty.  One day, a few months back, I woke up and I could not see those things.  Or if I could, then not very well.

I would have panicked, if I hadn't been emotionally wrung out and physically exhausted.  So I didn't.  Instead, I simply sat down and reckoned that I wouldn't see those things again.  The creative process began to ebb, and finding those things of beauty increasingly became harder and harder, to the point where I thought I might give up. What vision that was left to me was gradually losing its light.

Yet I didn't give up.  That I kept going, even if the going was glacial, is truly a wonder.

Things have begun to turn themselves to the sun.  I feel the warmth on my face, and color has returned to the landscape. I am seeing rivers as rivers and mountains as mountains, for the first time in months.

To see things for what they are, is to know beauty.

17 June 2011

Rabbit Becomes a Jaguar

I told myself to behave
to sit quietly, and wait,
good things surely be mine

Winter came and winter went
I sat, still, as a frightened rabbit
while the sap rose in the trees

The heart kept beating, nose twitching
blossoms swelled, died and fell
Equinox had me rocking on my heels

Limbs growing thin and weak, sagging
I watched the animals eat the jungle
while I sucked my thumb and mewled

Sleeping to the solstice, heat rising,
A pounding heart finally awakens,
talons outstretched, grabbing life

Rush of blood to the paws
Ripply hide sheened with life
Roaring challenge to the heavens

Eyes clear and bright, deep lungs
inhale the mineral tang of winter,
Vowing to never freeze again

16 June 2011

Heliotrope

McCann sucked a lungful of thick tobacco smoke, the sludgy byproduct of the Disque Bleus he could not bring himself to quit.  The pungent fumes mixed with the dry, mineral tang of the broiling desert, leaving the sinewy Irishman with a sharp stab of nostalgia for the peat smoke of his youth.  A grimy bush hat perched on his blocky head was all that kept his head from melting in the heat.  He wiped sweat from his eyes, adjusted the binoculars mounted on the low, sand-colored tripod standing on the sandstone ledge before him, and bent to squint through the eyepieces.

Aside from a low-slung, coyote-shaped ball of dust that loped along the canyon floor, nothing moved.  The track leading away towards the horizon remained empty.  There was no sign of her, or her bodyguards.

McCann sighed.  He leaned back against the rock wall, the rough stone like small teeth digging into his back.  There was no telling how long he would have to wait.  He stared down at the faint lines of the circuitry glowing bluish through the skin of his wrists.  If not for the implants, he thought yet again, I'd be dead.  I'd be free, no doubt...but dead.  And I'd never see her again.

McCann waited.  He dozed standing up, slow trickles of sweat tracing tiny rivers on his dusty skin.  He dreamed of an alien shore, of flowers that wore the bodies of humans, and of a love that scarcely differed from serfdom.  He dreamed of removing his helmet to better hear her voice.  A voice of an angel, with the teeth of a viper.  It leaned to him, and bit.

The jolting memory started McCann out his doze.  His heart raced, and he saw the long shadows on the canyon floor.  At the far end, a cloud of silken dust oozed across the landscape.  Someone was coming.  McCann knew without looking through the lenses, it was her.

His pulse accelerated, a low subsonic thrum rising up from the rocks beneath his boots.  She was near.  McCann turned his face to the sun, content, with salvation only minutes away.

Author's note:  I don't know, dear ones, where this story came from.  To date, it is one of the oddest I have written on this blog.  I'm not sure what, if anything, it means.  It was in my head all day long, and it wouldn't let me go.  So I had to write it down.  If you have some theories or interpretations, I'm curious to hear them.

15 June 2011

The STFU Files: On Not Being A Weiner

Begging your pardon, dear readers, I must veer off into current events (of the American political variety), so please bear with me while I get this out of my head. Kind o f like passing a mental kidney stone.

(Ahem)

First of all, let me say up front that Anthony Weiner (you know the one) is a dumbass of the first order.  But it isn't so much for the "media transfers" he made.  To me, the pictures and the texting aren't the main issue.  It's the lying about it that really kills me.

Have none of these guys learned anything, anything at all in this era of New Media and the 24/7 news cycle?

Lots of things get texted and sent that, in the hands of someone with malice or righteous justice on their minds, could have a lot of hay made out of them.  Agendas abound in the information age, so its best to make yours clear and stay ahead of the curve.  Or the pack, if one has reason to believe one has a lot of ill-wishers out there.

I reckon a lot of people are horrified on moral grounds, too.  And a case can be made for that, I suppose, if moral purity were the sole arbiter of fitness for office.

But.

I. Don't. Care.  It's fruitless and boring.  Boring.  

If one is looking to politicians for moral role models, perhaps one should recalibrate one's notions of a role model.  People will argue that poor decision making in personal life automatically translates into poor decision making in professional life.  True?  Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the individual.  Just because someone is imbued with a supposed true moral compass, by themselves or by their followers, does not mean the decisions they make are the right or good ones.  Don't believe me?  Then refresh your memory by looking back to all the bad decisions based on bad and wrong information (and right information that was flat out ignored) that got the country involved in the mess that was Iraq.  That people lied and so many died...Somehow, that's more obscene to me, in light of the lives destroyed, resources squandered, in a war that was prosecuted on falsehoods.

Nothing Weiner did rises to the level of national security risk.  He needs to apologize to his family, friends, the women with whom he was involved and to his constituents, not the world.  This is why the nature of his offense doesn't really interest me.  I don't expect anyone to live their lives without doing something that will most likely be considered as stupid, especially in the political arena.  What I would hope they wouldn't do, is lie about it if confronted with something, justified or not.

After all, isn't it supposed to be an admirable trait, to own ones' supposed transgressions?

To paraphrase Dieter from Sprockets, "This habit of exposing yourself has become tiresome!"

14 June 2011

Magpie Tales 69: Hard Truth of DNA

Photo by Tess Kincaid

Hear the ocean, they say
which is a lie, mostly
all he hears is whispers and sighs
the remains of her breath
through the helical exoskeleton
that became a life bereft of meat,
a shrunken soul in stygian depths
tumbled to lapidarian perfection
by Neptune's hands, casting the husk
onto shore, to be found by innocents
and marveled at, that such beauty
came from such mystery,
and they, never knowing the price

13 June 2011

New Day, Monday and Gratitude

Life here in the People's Republic of Gumbolia, and for yours truly, the President-For-Life of said republic, has been breathtakingly busy lately.  Between that which I do to earn my daily bread, personal biz and of course the writing...oh, and matters domestic (like lawn care)...my head is spinning.  I'm real dizzy, dear readers.

Part of that busy-ness is correspondence.  I get a reassuring amount of personal emails, many of which are the result of comments left by many of you kind folks out there on the hot mess that is Irish Gumbo.  I am grateful for the connections, and it has been a grand avenue to getting into the thoughts of others, exchanging perspectives and ideas, and sometimes just plain silliness (more of which I could use).  As many of you may already know, I am almost pathologically incapable of not responding to the digital equivalent of a letter.  I like to answer as many as I can, and most of time I do, within the limits of time, energy and technology

However, even with that success rate, I regret that I haven't been able to respond to all, especially in a timely fashion.  One thing that has compounded that in the past week is the pleasure and honor I had to be selected as a BLOG OF NOTE, which certainly surprised me.  I was amazed and astounded by the number of comments and new readers and new followers that joined me on board this strange and wonderful trip.  As you may imagine, I haven't been able to keep up with responding, and with the current level of activity (see first paragraph) I have a feeling I will miss getting back to some folks.

So if you don't hear from me, know that it is only because I'm caught up in a mad stampede running downhill on the Mountain of Life.  Please know that I am humbled and grateful for the attention, and when I catch my breath, I'll try and stop by and say hello.  Thank you, from my heart.

Happy Monday, one and all!

12 June 2011

Early Summer Poetry Slam #5: New Blossoms

He thought they were gone
Petals fled before the wind,
In shadow, hint of pink

11 June 2011

Early Summer Poetry Slam #4: The Messenger

Grackle on the sill
Questions raised by gold-rimmed eyes
falling on waiting ears

10 June 2011

09 June 2011

Early Summer Poetry Slam #2: Voodoo

Thunder rattles walls
Tongues whisper in secret hearts
Hands hold spirit glass

08 June 2011

I Interrupt This Poetry Slam To Say...

...that gosh and begorrah, it seems that the Google Blogger Team's "Blogs of Note" page has gone and selected...


...as the Blog of Note for June 7th, 2011.  Click on the link just to see, and to browse some other good things out there.

How about that?  Irish Gumbo: It's not just a blog, it's a digital Post-It!

(Poetry slam continues tomorrow)

07 June 2011

Early Summer Poetry Slam #1: Summer Morning, with Companion

Dew, honeysuckle
Pale sun gilding cool blossoms
Sweetness on our tongues

06 June 2011

Time To Grow Up: Addendum #1

Having had some time to meditate on my post of Sunday, I realize I may have left the impression that the life-altering events that shaped my transition to 'growing up' were all of a negative or traumatic nature.  While it is true that a lot of powerful and heart-breaking things did happen, it is also true that good, great things happened.  First and foremost among those was the birth of my darling Wee Lass.  There may be some close seconds, but that she came into this world is the first on the list of Great Things What Happened To Gumbo.

I bring this up because events of great joy, like those of great trauma, also take a certain level of maturity to fully process and enjoy.  It is certainly easier if it is something happy, because those happy things don't hurt.  But to fully internalize the joy, to really appreciate it, takes a certain amount experience because experience gives us a way to compare and contrast what we we feel in the present with what we have felt in the past.  It helps one to truly understand what matters.

When I was younger, nice things could happen and I could be happy along with them, but perhaps I was too casual about joy.  Because our parents worked to protect us from petty slights and from the worst the universe could serve up, sometimes it was difficult to understand that joy, like pain, is transient.  Enjoyed or endured, they pass.

Once I had the "benefit" of experience*, though, I wrapped my head around the bittersweet.  I learned to temper my joy with a memory of the pain, and vice versa.  It sounds weird; after all, who really wants to be reminded of hurt and trauma?  I was afraid of that at first.  However, as I have practiced it, I find that the joys have gotten better, and the pains easier to endure.  Things balance themselves.

Understanding that, I think, is a key component of growing up.

*I once told myself, in the midst of some of the worst pain I ever experienced upon the deaths of my first two children in 2003, that if knowing pain is in some guise what it means to be wise, I'd much prefer to remain a fool.  While I would never deliberately go back to a situation like for the sake of learning something, I do have a greater appreciation for what I learned.

05 June 2011

Time To Grow Up Now


Many years ago, back when I was College Boy Gumbo, I had the occasion to head out one night for some carousing with some friends and acquaintances.  And by carousing, I mean pizza and copious quantities of beer.  Not that pizza and beer is unusual for a night out in college.  Quite the contrary, it would almost have been weird if we had not consumed mass quantities of both.

No, what made this particular night different was what occurred in the aftermath, as I was walking (read: stumbling) back to the dorm, trying to navigate my way to a horizontal surface.

The path back to the dorm went straight across a wide, open field.  I recall it being a cool night, and babbling the inanities one typically does when cousin Ethyl has stopped in for a visit.  Nothing noteworthy there, either.  Until we were about halfway across the field.  My friends told me later that I stopped, looked quizzically at my hands, and said:

"Time to grow up now, and get a new wallet."

I shook my head, and then we continued on to the dorm, whereupon I achieved blessed horizontality and managed to sleep it off with only minor effects the next day.

A great epigram it was, and it achieved minor myth status in my social circle.  On the surface it appears to be nonsense, silly but without real meaning.

Decades later, though, that bon mot has come back to me.  This time, it actually made sense.  The one in the picture above, I had so long I forgot when I bought it.  It was falling to pieces, ragged, threadbare and grungy.  Today, while out shopping for some new shoes, I saw some wallets on sale, and knew it was time.  I finally got a new wallet. 

The old wallet I bought long ago, in a time when my life was very different.  The boy (and I use 'boy' deliberately, even though I was in my 30's then) I was had no clue what was in store for him as he strolled in blitheful ignorance into his 40's.  He had no clue the tragedies awaiting him, the emotional hurricanes and the deep blacknesses lying in wait.  He just kept stuffing money and business cards and plastic in that wallet, never noticing just how much things were fraying and tearing.

He had no idea just how badly things would fall apart, and when they did, he clung to that wallet because it was familiar and fit him and he didn't want to throw it away.

But today, upon pulling it from his pocket for the last time, to pay for the wallet that would replace it, the boy knew he had given way to the man.  It was time to clean things up, no matter how small they seemed.  It doesn't do to try and keep things in a container that will no longer hold them, from the holes and the tears that turned things into lace.

No, it would not do.  It is, after all, time to grow up now.  He has a new wallet.

04 June 2011

A Fine Plate


Awwww, yeahhh...those were some mighty fine shrimp.  Monday dinner, simple, boiled and served up with some melted butter, corn and a colorful bowl of giardiniera including carrots, cauliflower, brilliant yellow peppers and banana peppers.  The shrimp I boiled with some bay leaves, cajun seasoning*, cayenne and some lemon juice in the water.  Oh, man, was it tasty.

This was the first meal of summer, even though summer hasn't started, if one is following the official solstice dates.  Doesn't matter, though, it suited me just fine.  I was hungry, really hungry, and all that goodness fit the bill.

I think it helped that I had earlier finished some rather involved brush removal and grass cutting operations on my yard.  I was sweating like a flash flood, I was hot, tired and speckled with bits of dirt and leaves.  Once done, I went inside to gulp some water and get the pot boiling on the stove.  Since it took a while to get up to temperature, I had the luxury of a cool shower before dinner.

That is the life.  Pleasantly tired, hunger in ma belleh and some fine victuals on which to nosh.  Yeah, man, summer is here, and the livin' is good.  In the here and now, its good.

Dig in!

*For the curious, I used Penzey's cajun seasoning mix. It made a good shrimp boil.

03 June 2011

Tigre Real: Awakening

The wet robe of the jungle close around the boulders, and in a moss-dappled hollow Godl lay in the embrace of a feline Orpheus, dreams of blood and heat swirling its blocky.  Massive paws twitched slightly, the tips of claws peeking momentarily out from under the leathery pads.  Godl followed the hunt, even in sleep.

Godl slept.  On a table-like slab of rough hewn rock deep in the Yucatan, the jaguar roamed far and away from the earth.  There was no hunger, here, in this dream.  Fat, emerald leaves brushed Godl on the shoulders, the voluptuous hands of the Moon Goddess caressing the spotted pelt.  Powerful muscles rippled and curled as the jaguar padded along a path through the undergrowth.  The wet air was dense with the sweet scents of flowers and the rough pungency of animals.  Of meat and blood.

A low grumble rattled in Godl's chest as another scent slipped almost imperceptibly into his nostrils.  It gave the creature pause.  He stopped, sides heaving, mouth opening in a half sneer as he drew deep breath in over his tongue.  It was there, again.  Not quite the raw smell of food on the hoof, but something deeper, muskier...familiar but as if through the filter of long absence.  A weak breeze came up and dispelled it.

Godl growled, louder this time.  A troop of black howler monkeys took offense.  They scampered off through the trees overhead, nervous and relieved to be away from the underworld in their midst.

Godl blinked with eyes that shone green-gold even in the deep shadows in between the burnished shafts of sunlight that stabbed down from the holes in the green canopy above.  The monkeys were trivia to the jaguar, to be caught and eaten as targets of opportunity.  Other, better meals were to be had.  Godl resumed walking down towards the stream at the bottom of the valley.  There, he would eat, he would drink.

The stream was a thin band of liquid mahogany, its oil-like surface a mercury mirror to the rampant growth crowding its banks.  Godl padded quietly to the bank, head turning from side to side to scan for crocodiles or capybaras.  Seeing none, he bent his massive head to the water and lapped it up in surprisingly delicate touches.  The tannins tightened on his tongue, but the cool water felt good as it travelled down his gullet.  He drank deep.

On his third mouthful, lifting his head to swallow, the scent he had smelled earlier returned.  This time it was much more powerful.  Earthy and with deep, musky undertones, it caught the jaguar by surprise.  He froze.  The water he swallowed hastily in order to open his jaw to better breathe in the scent.  As he did so, it was then that he saw the eyes in the undergrowth on the far bank.

Deep, large and lustrous gold flecked with jade.  They looked at him, unblinking.  He heard a low rumble, the eyes widened.  Godl felt his haunches tighten reflexively, as if about to spring.  The rumble got louder.  From overhead a flock of macaws that had been resting on a branch over the water burst into flight and screeching.  The sound startled Godl, and he let fly with a sudden roar.  He felt himself leaping forward towards the eyes.  They turned, vanished into the emerald earth with Godl landing on empty warmth among the leaves...

On his slab of basalt, Godl jerked awake. The sound that roused him from his slumber was echoing away into the surrounding jungle.  Birds or monkeys or...something else, he could not tell.  Sitting up, the jaguar could feel his heart racing.  The scent from his dream was thick in his nostrils.  He recognized it now.

Godl was awake.  He was hungry, belly and loins tightening as he breathed.  Heat and life were out there, and he would find them.  Godl growled in satisfaction, stepping off the rock and into the hunt.

02 June 2011

On The Quantam Entanglement of Flowers

Stop. Hold it. Breathe. Try not to think for a moment.  Then, think.  Consider where you are, where your family and friends are, consider (if you will) where lies your love.  In that time the Earth continued spinning at a speed too great to fathom, moving you and your neurons and the thoughts and impulses in those neurons long distances you didn't perceive.

You thought this completely normal.  Rather, you didn't think it normal, or anything at all, because you weren't thinking.  Right?

In that time of non-thought, millions of others were going about their lives, not thinking about the speed at which they were really moving.  No one was thinking about how something we cannot adequately grasp was moving us and the non-things in our heads.  Non-things moving non-things with our minds as the bridge.

How many people were not thinking about you?  How many people were you not thinking about?  That number, too, is almost incomprehensible.  Easier to ask, How many were you thinking about?  In that short space of non-thought and long distance of space-time, who was it that manifested themselves in the neurochemical biosphere of your synapses and gray matter?

Did you think of soul? Heart?  Did you think of Love?

The physicists speak of entanglement, theories abound and arguments ensue, nothing is testable and provable that does not have a loophole by which its validity can be questioned, yet somehow these entangled states persist.  Periods of being where one entity cannot be fully described without also consideration of the other in which it is entangled.  This is perhaps a useful description of Love.  Love, this unifying force that binds the flowers that grow, hearts that swell, minds that somehow connect without truly knowing how or why. 

The sun shines and flowers grow.  Beauty appears out of mystery, causing the breath to catch and the eyes to open and the ears to strain, trying to catch that whisper they know they just heard.  It is that moment of walking down the sidewalk and seeing bright blossoms sprouting from the spaces in between, with a sudden smile spreading across the face without discernible reason...and knowing serenity of place in the world that carries us.

So...stop.  Hold it.  Breathe.  Tell us:  Did you think of Love?

01 June 2011

A Discourse On DNA

I read somewhere, don't remember where, it was a long time ago, but what I read was that two things that separate us humans from them animals are 1) the ability to curse and B) the ability to write poetry, well, shee-it, brothers and sisters, how about that? Guess that makes me one of the most human-like human beings I know...at least if more weight is given to the cursing rather than the poetry Yeah, yeah, I know, I write stuff that at least resembles poetry, at least in the same sense that a house cat resembles a jaguar, but to my shame I seem to be better at cursing and really, cursing gets so boring after a while its too repetitive Too narrow-minded...although i do allow that sometimes? In the right circumstances? A well-placed curse is the only thing that will serve to make ones true thoughts and feelings known.  Hmm.  Trick, the trick is to know the Right Time and the Right Place, you know?  No sense in dropping an F-bomb in church, you get my drift.  Dig it? I knew that you could.  But hold on, back to that idea of poetry, really, I try and I scrape and I bow before the words and it seems like I never quite get them to say what I really meant, the idea in my Gray Matter seems so grand and powerful, like the sun, but the words hit the page or the screen and its only shadows.  You might ask me "Why do you care so much? What does it really matter?  Its word, only words, and you know a lot of them so if it isn't right one time, you can always write more, try try again, yes?"  Right, yeah, I know I hear what you are saying (at least, I hear what the voice in my mind that I imagine to be you, is saying) and I console myself with the notion of writing something again and again, always trying to find the right way to describe the sun or love or heart or whatever is on the tip of my (mind)tongue...but I confess, my lovelies, I do, even though I am far from a religious creature, I confess to you...

...that if I don't ever get the words right, if I don't ever really write that thing called a Poem...

...I fear I'll not be able to convince myself...

...that I am more than just an animal, who knows how to curse.