The Vitreous Surface of Grief: And, a Death on Halloween

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“Will I always feel this way?
So empty, so estranged?”
From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne

Shadows spill in green tendrils across oiled waters. I probe the murky, moschate depths with a long, soggy stick. My hands are black and muddied. Reeds whistle beside me. A seagull mews somewhere far away. Minims of sweat glisten and drop from the end of my nose. I can taste the paracme, the tongue-slitting, nascent edge of the end.

A frog burbles to the vitreous surface. Two aurific eyes shimmer at me, bright as egg-yokes. With a gulp, they vanish. I can smell slime. My fingers balter through the mud. I am waiting. I am always waiting.

The sun spits in my eye and I turn away, longing for the tenebrous clouds of the foggy North to sidle down and cast me in a casket of embalming gloom.

I am addicted to desolation. I ache for darkness, cold and decay.

And then a cool wind finally came. Its chilled fingers ruffled my hair and it made the back gate moan plangorously against its flaking hinges. I reveled, I pranced, I forgot my little pain.

A mouse came in the night. He settled himself in a soft, grey ball beside my feet, nose nuzzling the coarse, back-door rug. I watched him take slow, solemn breaths, his sable eyes squinting, mordant. He died in the wash of a final sunrise that milked across a violescent sky, on the dawn of Halloween. Creatures come to me to die, sometimes.

The ants are burrowing into his raisin eyes, now. In a week or three, his tiny white mouse skull will be decoration on my desk.

There is always a glimmer through grief.

“Walk on down the hill
Through the grass grown tall and brown
And still it’s hard somehow to let go of my pain
On past the busted back
Of that old and rusted Cadillac
That sinks into this field collecting rain”
– From the song “Empty” by Ray Lamontagne

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Craggy Fool

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A hairnet of pink lightning
Flames across glum skies
Shadows saunter, charcoaling
The Sea’s velvet skin


October wind coos
Across ruffled iron peaks
The Brine percolates
Each heaving sigh beckoning

Where the Seashells Go Galloping
Violently out of place
Craggy Fool remains
Askew at the tide-line
Like a lazy sketch

Sea Wheeze
His bulged back still aches
From last night’s dune-pillowed sleep
Nascent rain oozing
Down the minefield of his face

Tender Little Sea-Monster
A lifetime of anomie
Stings in his shoulders
His nails chew through leather palms
His eyes cloud with Storm


He envies the clams
Where dungeons feel like Home
And little mole crabs
Soothed by every ruthless blow

Hairy Waves and Feathered Thoughts
Silent moments
Rarely come
Through the ocean thrum


From cinder plumes
Scavengers plunge
Ranting, brash and loud

Where the Ocean Embalms
Tearing out his thoughts, like guts
Twirling filipendulous

Spotted Only with a Magnifying Glass

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onlyseenwithamagnifyingglass She is spotted only
with a magnifying glass,
an animalcule
with limescaled wings
And a dusky face.

migrainemosaics
Clinging to
a breathing blade
of dancing
chloroplasts,
she sees
the fractals flash
in a fury of green-
the mosaics of her
shieling sea.

fingersofprairiewind
The dawn scatters
in a migraine of hues,
the aurific daal’mist
sibilant around this
unseen and muted thing.

fractalsflash
Waiting to be flicked
by a snapping finger
of prairie wind,
she watches the world,
as listless as a carcass,
through a cage
of tangled light
and vying stems.

Every Crushing Step

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flowerb-0559A humble path,
furry with
emerald moss
and splashed
in blue shadow.

A shiny-backed beetle
suns himself
on a cold
molar-sized stone,
then shuffles off
into a copper sea
of leaves.

flowerc-0317So many
roving feet
traverse here.

A horse gallops by
bold and solid
his chestnut sides
heaving.
He is followed
by the stab
of deer hooves
swift in flight.

leavesb-0243Now comes
my own restive shoe
hole-pocked
and pebble-filled
to bumble through.

Yet there you grow
tiny purple bloom
as if every crushing step
will always miss you.flowerc-1104

Another Twilight Hanging

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AHangingAtTwilightI saw a coyote last night. There was a tattered hole in his left ear. I almost missed him, perched there on the porous sidewalk, his lemon eyes glazed in the orange glow of the streetlight, his tumbleweed tail thumping soundlessly.

I shuffled on, my shins swishing like plastic bags.

I noticed a glint of black blood on the pavement. Just a drop or two.

ThisGardenofAleThey shoveled up the rest of my remains, yesterday morning. I listened to profanities slung by the strident tongues of the Grey Men. They chipped at the concrete. I listened to their shovels scrape and scratch.

“Smells like hell but at least I’m not coughin’ up flies,” one said to the other, his shovel dripping.

“I ain’t seen a single maggot,” the other agreed, and nodded, digging back into the heap.

There was a groan and a metallic suction and crunch accompanied by the blinking back-up beeps of the garbage truck.

I felt a seizure welling up.

Bramble-3767A mockingbird attempted to conquer the din. Ten years swam by. Hoarse and vanquished, I watched him fly against the watery-brown sky and vanish.

I once held a baby bird, a couple summers ago. The tiny creature, lighter than a fistful of sunflower seeds, quivered violently with life and burned my hand. I dropped it. Just before the cat pounced, I plucked it up again and set it in the sink.

Its eyes, like two drops of midnight, leered up at me, its pale neck of string nearly snapping- and with a peculiar rictus grin splitting its face apart, it commenced its screams for sustenance.

No harm done.

ShunnedbyScavengersSome scraps from my corpse never quite made it into the truck. Some pieces were never going to budge.

A slurry of vultures descended for inspection. They poked and rasped and then looked at each other in disgust.

I watched them shrug and mount the bilge-water sky in a flurry of razor-black wings. Even the scavengers reject my remains.

WhereTheCoyotesSleepThe sun is pooling on the horizon now, in the garden of ales. Bottles glitter, poking up from the mud like stakes. Another wistful twilight hanging, the air sharp with the scent of broken twigs.  The faceless doll in the background keeps spinning, dangling from the thumb of a branch.

The moon sweeps over. Distant lights yawn. The clouds are shorn by a gust of oven wind.  I see the coyote again, stretching in the middle of the road, his ear whistling. I whisper a muffled apology to him- though, I know not why.

He gives me a lopsided look, his lemon-ball eyes in slits. A carnivorous smile swims across his inky lips.

EveningShornApartA hiss of headlights reflects on a fleck of bone. I become encompassed in a warm deluge. I stare up from the bottom and allow myself to drown.

The ripples above never seem to end.

The Potency of Words

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Spring-0705I am not a conversationalist.  I go through life as monosyllabic as possible.  I greatly prefer to listen.  I lead a mostly silent existence.  Just the way I like it.  Mute and demure.

Ages ago, when I was wee, however, I fancied myself a micro David Attenborough and would wax on about all things Nature- to any poor sap that would listen.  Happily, I quelled that odious impulse as a craggy old adult.

But I was rattled, recently.  A rambunctious lad, the nephew of a friend, challenged my stance of stolid silence.  Oh, he did all he could to crack through my laconic exterior.  And now, since then, things have not been quite the same…

Spring00-0647It had been another blazing day in the furnace, I mean Florida, when we picked up my chum and her nephew (an unexpected addition) for a jaunt down to the nearest freshwater spring for a swim in the scintillating, gemmy waters amongst the gars and the manatees.

The Lad, a boy of nine years, was quite a force to be reckoned with, and was also armed with a gargantuan bag of sweets…a child-shaped tornado, thus, swirled around in the backseat all the way to the spring.

Right away, I saw the child was bent on destruction and found imitating a demolition truck to be his favourite hobby.  When released from the car, he immediately set out to ravage the local plant-life and spurt apple-piece projectiles at squirrels.  Then the child became distracted by something shiny and sharp and moved on to that.

Spring-0648

Here he is, attempting to tear off this innocent manatee’s flipper

Well, I had to divert his attention, somehow.  His auntie (my chum) was hopeless. And Sir was terrified of the child.  Sir, wide-eyed and staring, quivered there like a soldier just returned from the trenches.  Up to me.

The human-shaped tempest then plucked up a massive palm frond and began poking at people, plants and now insects.  A palm frond is very stiff and sharp, I will have you know.  It is a joy to be prodded by one.

“Right, time to go gator-hunting,” I said mildly, handing the lad my pack with two giant lemon-and-black flippers poking out.

“Wear this, it will make you look like a pro-snorkeler and very cool,” I said.

He put on the pack and applied the goggles I had handed to him and we trotted toward the aqueous solution up ahead.

Spring-0780“Drop the palm sword and you can wear the snazzy flippers,” I said as we mounted the cold metal stairs.

He agreed and we lapsed into the refreshingly cool depths.

Of course, he picked up another, later…

After I inspected the fish-life darting about the shallow spring bed, I showed the lad how to get within a few inches of a massive, half-blind, leopard-banded gar fish.  Then I showed him where gators had made depressions for sleeping and where a snapping turtle was most-likely to be found.

Spring-0728Then we swam to the spring-head, where the gurgling waters splashed the deep, crumbling sides of the blonde limestone surrounding us.  I took him into a misty alcove where the walls of the limestone were black and especially dank and murky- and where the spiders loomed.

spider04“That one is bigger than my hand!” exclaimed the lad in bulbous-eyed terror.

There is no greater joy than scaring innocent children.

I rambled on and on, by that point, about the flora and fauna of the spring, not realising that I had not blathered that.much with another human being in years.

Day-0655It was in that moment that I noticed something was different- the tempest child was no more.  He had been replaced by a polite, soft-voiced micro-scientist.  He was transfixed by my babbling nature lecture and was not only respectful and courteous, but absolutely fascinated with the wonders surrounding us.

…Huh?

In that moment of realization, I was reminded of a quote from David Attenborough-

Spring-0887“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
– David Attenborough

Spring-0761My chum and Sir were long abandoned by this point, unable to keep up with the two science-heads conducting their research up and down the spring, as it bled into the tea-stained river at one end, and gurgled up, fresh and clear, from the inner depths at the other.

Spring-0681We chattered incessantly, analysing and absorbing every detail of our surroundings, until a coy mist swathed the now chilly waters.  The solemn light slipped away and we were forced to clamber up out of the watery wonderland before a canoeing ranger could pummel us.

As we dripped back toward the exit, the young scientist suddenly stopped and turned to look up at me and said something quite disturbing.

Spring-0904“I have never met anyone who thought science and math were cool, before,” he said.

I stood agog.

“What, not even your teachers?”

“No, they hardly teach anything about it, and no one thinks it’s cool.  But I think science and math are awesome!”

And that is what left me rattled.

Spring-0882My thoughts recently turned back to those words when I was reading the blog of a blogging chum, Rebecca Budd, and I came across a tribute she wrote to a pioneer of animal rights- Humanity Dick & The Donkey

I found the article affecting and enthralling and wrote a comment to Rebecca, to which she left me this grand reply-

“What I found most interesting was that Richard Martin’s determination to fight for animal rights had its genesis in his childhood. His mother’s love of animals ignited the spark of compassion in a small boy. It is a reminder that one generation transfers ideas, values, dreams to the next. Our actions and conversations DO make a difference now and in the future yet to be formed.”

Spring-3231I do not know if what the lad and I discussed that day left an indelible mark in his life but his words certainly affected me profoundly.  He cracked through.

shell-bw-8402Perhaps, adding a few more syllables to the conversations in my life, here and there, will not kill me, after all- every now and then.

Beach- bw-9070

Home at last

“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced”
– David Attenborough

Happy wandering,

Autumn Jade

Fade to Grain…

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Rain-9284Olitory rain; a rain-forest in the kitchen, again. Time for a change. Time for an adventure. Time to let the ceiling-cascade water the counter-top-basil-and-sage.

Time to escape.

RainReflection-9160“Time runs along a linear plain, they say. Nothing remains the same. Thus, we can never turn back, again.”

Pompous, highfalutin windbag…

Another dull interplay as Traffic Light refuses to change.

“You see, this is known as the arrow of time, which describes the asymmetrical nature of Time, and…”

Please…Eat your…GREEN.

Bunched traffic left in a puddle, behind.

What am I doing? What have I been doing all these years?

Unraveling like an old sweater.

Rain-9318All my life, pushing quaint little notes under the slouching fence.  But I see no familiar, vibrant-faced recipient peeping back at me through the shadowy gap in the moldered boards. I only see darkness.

She must have grown up and moved away.

Rain-9346How pretty mold can be, as it glitters in the rain.

Rain-9389She used to snack on fistfuls of buttercups in the field and make her eyes turn white.  She liked to snarl like a mountain bear and play basketball on roller-blades.  And how she loved wild toads.

RainC-9494I have found it- another abandoned place to jauk about, dispensing disheveled, nullibiquitous thoughts out into the ether.

Rain-9475Let the leak in the dysphoric sky wash me like a houseplant.  How lovely to watch each drop scatter the dust.

Rain-9545That liminal phase- I wander through a succession of tropical depressions, a soggy bindle sagging over my shoulder.

Rain-9522A golden-eyed hobo toad searching for a secluded little hovel- preferably filled with mud and rain and, preferably, beneath a mossy stone.

Rain-9574A snort of lightning- a sniffle in the clouds- a sneeze of wind.

Rain-9420When is that point at which the pain of change is less than that of remaining the same?

Rain-9441“You’re beautiful,” she said, “and as gentle as a gale.”

The other day, I noticed that I was missing another tooth.

Rain-9450I keep digging under that same old soggy fence, searching for her bones…

I scuffle away, lutose and mildly bemused.  The usual state.

Rain-9265Time to face the traffic.  Time to shuffle on back, back to the swampy garden on the counter-top.  Back to unraveling into a stringy bundle on the floor.

Back to Entropy.

Fade to grain.

Sometimes, Silence is Reckless…

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(Some experimental refractions.  Thank you for drizzling by.)

MentalErosionThe clattering waves. The intractable sky. Mute again, with gloomy grey eyes. A bit of bone cuts into my thumb. A touch of wind whispers through decaying feathers. I do not remember the last thing I felt before the embalming.

AbandoningSometimes, Silence is reckless.

PurgatoryMy mind is fossilized. As lively as the oldest stone. I lean back on the retracting cushion of Entropy, and gaze blankly toward the heavens. How dazzling is this thatch of scattering sparrows; how enchanting their dance of dewdrop shadows.

RelapseThorny bliss is this mindlessness, oblique amongst the dried thistle and snapping bramble. I can vaguely hear it, somewhere wrapped in gauze; a little Life fizzing at the bottom of the quiet stream, beyond.

Like a mosquito, I insert a needle into it, now and then.

RecklessSilenceIt is easy to forget the threat of a wave’s smooth caress, that its languorous massage of oblivion is still a form of erosion.

Breathing2When I was a child, my favourite thing to draw was a noose.

TheMomentBeforetheFalterHe rang the other night. I could hear that his lips were cracked and bleeding. He wept and begged forgiveness, but I had never felt slighted to begin with. Yet, my response was blank-eyed silence. There was only the sound of the restive wind moaning through the eaves to answer for me.

PugnatiousSkiesHow stealthy a foe is this stifling captor; like a cashmere cloud, its downy coolness yawned over me. Its strangeness seemed safe, nestled inside its gossamer embrace, bound in a world without senses or thought. I am far too gone to feel alarm, now.

TheBreathofEntropySometimes, love is just impotent rage that is a little too tired to bear its bulbous face.

TenacityofGriefWhat an obdurate knot Shame so deftly creates, twisting away, as the years smoothly slip by, pressure mounting against my spine.

FlyingonaFeversBackRegaining a pulse requires resurfacing. To drag the bloated body from the turgid depths. To pry open its chalky eyes, exposing them to the bone light of the wild ocean sky, above. To kiss its mucid, slimy visage and blow through its cold stringy-white lips.

DejectionTo let the cherry rivulets of pus and water drain from the self-inflicted punctures.

HoldingOnI do not know if I will dry out, chafe these wrists, and feel again. I despise the sound of my own voice, the rattle and scrape of my defunct brain and the trepid rasp of my rusty breath.

LayDowntoCompostSometimes, though, Silence can be much deadlier than the noose.

“Every Sin is an Attempt to Fly…”

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Night-0387“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always gotten there first, and is waiting for it.”
– Yousuf Karsh

Night-0450“Night does not show things, it suggests them.”
– Brassaï

Night-0393“Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.”
– Simone Weil

Night-0457“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out?”
– Rene Descartes

Night-0480“Very hopeful faces always seem on the edge of despair.”
– Alasdair Gray, 1982 Janine

“To The Artist There is Never Anything Ugly…”

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SkinnedElbow-BW“If reality fails to fill us with wonder, it is because we have fallen into the habit of seeing it as ordinary.”
– Brassaï

AnOldStare-BW-1179“Even the most miserable life is better than a sheltered existence in an organized society where everything is calculated and perfected.”
– Federico Fellini

Drowning-BW-5628“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.”
– Auguste Rodin

SilkenContemplation-BW-0674“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.”
– Albert Einstein