“Our eyes lifted over the rose-beds and the hot lawn and the weedy refuse of the dog-days alongshore. Slowly the white wings of the boat moved against the blue cool limit of the sky. Ahead lay the scalloped ocean and the abounding blessed isles.” ― F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Pages flutter in the wind. My idle hand shuts the words away.
Cloud-shadows shudder up and down the beach.
“Barefoot by the sea, stopping to scratch one ankle With one toe” ― Jack Kerouac, Book of Haikus
I get up, walk into a wave and disappear.
“All you are is a bag of particles acting out the laws of physics. That to me is pretty clear.” ― Brian Greene
(Oh the sharp taste of seaside repose)
“I looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid myself open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.” ― Albert Camus, The Stranger
Sun-blotted days have bleached my shoulders. My mane is turning white. Hunch-backed, I grasp a scallop-shelled walking-stick, ambling along on driftwood legs.
“My characters are drifters and searchers and they look for something. The journey is a state of mind for them.” ―Wim Wenders
Details peel from my face and trickle away into the citrus breeze.
(Sometimes, I can hear atomies skitter across the metalled sands of apathy.)
“The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” ―John Milton
A froth of dinoflagellates sparks electric blue ‘round my stubble-feet. Each step is measured, defying suction as I trace along the arrow of time.
“It all looks the same. You can’t imagine anything anymore. Above all, you can’t imagine any change. I became estranged from myself. All I could imagine was going on and on like this forever.” ―Alice in the Cities, 1974, Written by Wim Wenders and Veith von Furstenberg
(There’s a black maw gaping in the back of my brain.)
“Today was a gloomy, rainy day without a glimmer of sunlight, like the old age before me. I am oppressed by such strange thoughts, such gloomy sensations; questions still so obscure to me are crowding into my brain- and I seem to have neither power nor will to settle them.” ―Fyodor Dostoevsky, White Nights
“Some people turn sad awfully young. No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way. They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and, as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world. I know, for I’m one.” ―Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
Mewling cries swarm like midges inside my weltering mind. I turn away from the virason gasping off the sea.
Flailing like a killdeer, I struggle toward the lavender dunes. A wide yellow moon grins overhead.
“Sweet is sweet, bitter is bitter, hot is hot, cold is cold, color is color; but in truth there are only atoms and the void.” ―Brian Greene, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe
I can hear the wail of a train from across the lagoon, punctuating the still-water-night. The cloistered whine of mosquitoes quickly throttles the noise. And then, the sound of my quickening steps.
“A lot of people enjoy being dead. But they are not dead, really. They’re just backing away from life. Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt even. But play as well as you can. Go team, go! Give me an L. Give me an I. Give me a V. Give me an E. L-I-V-E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room.” ―Harold and Maude, 1971, Written by Colin Higgins, Directed by Hal Ashby
Steps that begin to rap like rain. And thunder through the frenzied lights of the howling causeway. Steps that are heading north.
“I’m glad we went to the Rhine. For the first time I see myself…as someone who’s gone through a certain time, and that time is my story. [Pausing] That feeling is quite comfortable.” ―Kings of the Road(Im Lauf der Zeit, “In the Course of Time”), 1974, Written/Directed by Wim Wenders
Determined to run into myself again.
“We all talked about leaving, but only one of us, one morning, without a word to a soul, actually left.” ―I Vitelloni (“The Bullocks/The Layabouts”),1953, Written/Directed by Federico Fellini …………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………………
A little over a year ago, I traveled north and did something I’d never done before. Toured a series of universities.
Here’s to new beginnings.
“I have to go on makin’ a livin’…so I can die.”―Pickup on South Street, 1953, Written/Directed by Samuel Fuller
The Swamp may one day claim my body. This past weekend I was found sinking into the muck, yet again. I never mean to deviate out into those gurgling and gushing, reedy and thrillingly mucid marshlands but something always draws me in.
In this case, it was vultures…
A great cluster of black vultures descended right in the middle of the great sprawling mire below and I just had to go tumbling down after them.
They wheezed and grunted and hopped about in a frenzy as I sloshed near. Then in a great charcoal gust they fluttered up and adorned the palm trees above, their crinkled heads bent with sharp, bilge-water brown eyes studying me, looking like dark-frocked, feathered judges scowling down at me.
I sifted about looking for a corpse. To no avail. Disappointed, I continued on. I was soon slopping along in happy oblivion until the mire became a river and the reeds turned into mangrove trees; and even then I ventured further. A tiny gator slipped away and a flurry of silver bodies slapped the surface of the water as they swam away in a fast flash. Little black minnows danced in the golden, tea-stained waters bathed in warm sunset.
Suddenly I remembered that I do not live in the Swamp and that these ruddy parks always have a blasted time-limit. I turned and squished back toward the great sprawling knoll where the path was. I clambered and crawled up through an impenetrable green fog of knotted grass. A merry wind casually chucked vulture feathers, globs of yellow pollen, sticks and burrs into my wild, tangled mane as I clawed along like a blind bear.
At last I popped onto the trail, adorned in Swamp.
I was surprised when I heard a squeak pierce through the meditative hum of honey bees that I had just walked through as they danced from flower to flower at my muculent feet.
I began to concoct a haphazard smile, realizing the squeak had issued forth from a wide-eyed dog-walking lady that had been startled by my sudden appearance. I guess she had no idea someone had been crawling around in the somnolent mire below all this time. She rapidly gathered up her canine companion and shielded the small and thoroughly fascinated terrier from my ghoulish and slovenly sight. The pair darted away as I said with a stumble, becoming entangled in some gigantic weed I hadn’t noticed, “Lovely time for swamping, eh?!” She didn’t reply…I don’t think she heard me…
I immediately became distracted by the lake on the opposite side and soon found myself in the water, yet again, joyfully fiddling with the camera. Time was forgotten yet again as the sun was swiftly hoovered away and squeezed to rust. The phone deep in my pack tootled but I couldn’t be bothered with attempting to dig it out, so I continued to film as I slowly made my way back.
Then I heard a great booming cry warble across the glimmering waters glazed in purple dusk, “PARK CLOSING!”
It seemed to be coming from a tiny dancing dot on the shore across the way…where the park entrance was…
Oh dear…THE TIME!
I tried to assure the little black dot (that was an irate ranger) that I was hurrying as I called out, “I AM COMING! DON’T WORRY! BE RIGHT THERE!”
He was miles away…well, perhaps just one mile.
I wasn’t very near and the wind was probably erasing my calls, so I gesticulated wildly in order to encourage the ranger that I was hurrying. He continued to hop up and down.
Then I started splashing back as quickly as possible.
And then I crouched down in the water to film a rock.
“PARK CLOSING!!!!! PARK CLOSING RIGHT NOW!!!” came a very jarring, caterwauling cry.
I decided I should put the camera away…this was a very difficult chore as my arms suddenly weighed about 18,000 lbs.
I managed to make it back and even avoided being pounded by the red-faced, snowy-mustached ranger as he crammed me into the car and Sir rapidly peeled away (well, rapidly for a tortoise, that is, as Sir is a very sedate, I mean careful, driver- to the outraged ranger’s dismay…). I was able to obtain enough footage for a few wee videos featuring some minute creatures. Here is one below, shot at Pine Island Conservation Area in Merritt Island, FL. Thanks for drizzling by,
The harbour lay bare and waiting. I strayed from the Sun, looming in the underbrush, gazing out at bony masts and old tattered umbrellas, dangling in the languid breeze. The wind turbines purred softly as towers of crisp white cloud dripped into dark sinuous waters. A blue darner hummed beside my ear, my mind strewn with white petals, my eyes reflecting mischief. I waited there, hidden, beside the chafing dock, and watched as boats groaned in and out, as the dolphins played and the clouds grew dark and bruised in the distance.
And at last I crawled out, and was overtaken by a Sea-Faring-Man. He gazed at me with soft, sagging eyes of crackling blue, shimmering through a russet, canyon face. And then he stepped into his lopsided vessel and slowly glided away without a word, sunlight pounding into his white-cotton back. And as I watched him, snaking reflections dancing along the rim of consciousness, I perceived something all too familiar in that depth of grief, that lesion of sadness, that seems to ever-dwell in Beauty…
“But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope”
-From “Middlemarch” by George Eliot
“When I left my home and my family
I was no more than a boy
In the company of strangers
In the quiet of the railway station running scared
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters
Where the ragged people go
Looking for the places only they would know”
-From the song, “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel
“Even death has a heart.”
-Markus Zusak, “The Book Thief”
“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”
-Carl Sagan “The old ones called it ‘the hour of the wolf’. It is the hour when the most people die, and the most are born. At this time, nightmares come to us. And when we awake, we are afraid.”
-Ingmar Bergman, film “The Hour of the Wolf” (“Vargtimmen”)
I believe one could be accurately classified as adequately tolerant if one is the sort that will allow onslaughts of slimy, smelly cadavers to be tossed onto one’s head in a great, heaving torrent from the heavens above.
Well, let me back up a bit.
It began as a glorious morn. The sunrise pinching the sky, rosy light playing on the edges of perfect little waves. Seagulls sailed above, pelicans lumbered contentedly along the swell. It was a fine and chipper morn, indeed.
Then, I became possessed with the idea that we had to go romping to the inlet to get some pelican photos. This struck me as a most fabulous plot. So, after the usual tottling about with errands, we were soon humming along on our way to Sebastian Inlet. And how beautiful it was, smiling away, water scintillating, dinosaur-headed wood storks sauntering up to us like teenagers with their wings jammed in their pockets, hoping that we may be crawling with fish heads to bestow unto their clanking bills. A nice breeze tussled through the palms, and I noticed a gopher tortoise shuffle by, munching on some fresh, sun-baked grass. It was a fine day, indeed, but no sight of pelicans.
I meandered over to the rocks that separate the tidal pool from the channel rushing into the sea. Scrabbling onto the great rocks, camera almost colliding with shattering death as it oscillated back and forth from my neck like a pendulum (I always forget it will do this…), I became conscious of a permeating dead-fish odour. Promising. I clambered along, just below where the fishermen greatly enjoy cutting fish, and poised on the rocks were my lovely brown pelicans, blue-eyes smiling away at me. About 12 of them were clustered there, males, females, and juveniles. I nestled within inches, all crumpled up, and in position. The birds were a bit nervous, but overall, accepting of the giant, black eye clicking in their faces.
Was entering dream-camera-pelican-loving land, delightedly, when suddenly I felt something very small, very wet, collide with my head, and the eyes of a nearby pelican glazed over and seemed to be debating whether to lunge forth and swallow my head. He thought better of this, however. A sea of giggling also fell down from above. I began to gaze up, when another smelly little wet thing slapped me on the shoulder and then spilled onto a rock. I grabbed at it. It was the corpse of a little shrimp. Poor shrimp. I held it out to the pelican. Suddenly, my whole hand was inside pouch of pelican. This was an odd experience. I had always wondered what it felt like in there….rather rubbery…hand somehow made it back to freedom. Hmm…not slimy either. Shrimp was gone. Pelican looked at me with tilted head and backed away slightly. (This is one weird human, mates…) Huge guffaws of laughter spilled down from above. I looked up, only to be met with a sea of dead corpses sailing down, and squabbling pelicans all flopping about frantically to seize the things right off of me. It was fabulous.
“She’s taking photos!” the wee lads chimed from the heavens.
Yes, that’s generally what I do…don’t know why…look at all one must endure…
Harrowing world, photography.
I grabbed some stray corpses and tossed them to my birdly companions.The lads seemed to like this. Nutter crawling around snapping photos on the white-splotched, scale-glazed, slightly blood-stained, fetid rocks doesn’t mind having dead-bodies thrown right onto her head in a torrent at all, and even sticks her hand into pelican pouches- we like this one! Oh bother….
And following that adventure, I endured chattering youths following me about like those cheeping baby chicks that run along behind the harassed hen everywhere she flees. Ended up drenched, of course, rushing after phantom manatees that rush by like champion swimmers, and vanish, then being splashed by grinning dolphins. Almost bitten by a wee crab. Yes, he wanted to bite me, love bite I imagine. A wave nearly took me under as I was snapping away….more laughter from behind, above on the jetty, and all around. I guess I’m an ambulating sack of amusement.
No better life than this. And to end it all, the sunset was glorious.