“I have always shook with fright before human beings.” ― Osamu Dazai, No Longer Human
“Nothing like poetry when you lie awake at night. It keeps the old brain limber. It washes away the mud and sand that keeps on blocking up the bends. Like waves to make the pebbles dance on my old floors. And turn them into rubies and jacinths; or at any rate, good imitations.” ― Joyce Cary, The Horse’s Mouth
“The . . . sun was shining in at the smoky small-paned windows; sometimes an outside shutter swung to with a creak, and eclipsed the glare. The narrow door stood wide open . . . and an old spotted dog lay asleep on the step, and looked wise and old enough to have gone to school with several generations of children.” ― Sarah Orne Jewett, A Native of Winby
“It is a strange thing to come home. While yet on the journey, you cannot at all realize how strange it will be.” ― Selma Lagerlöf
“You know, David, if I could send a message to mankind, I would send them a New Year’s greeting. I would like them to dwell on a single New Year’s prayer: ‘Lord, please let my soul come to maturity before it is reaped.'” ― The Phantom Carriage (1921), directed by Victor Sjöström; based on Thy Soul Shall Bear Witness! by Selma Lagerlöf
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
“A solitary, unused to speaking of what he sees and feels, has mental experiences which are at once more intense and less articulate than those of a gregarious man. They are sluggish, yet more wayward, and never without a melancholy tinge. Sights and impressions which others brush aside with a glance, a light comment, a smile, occupy him more than their due; they sink silently in, they take on meaning, they become experience, emotion, adventure. Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry. But also, it gives birth to the opposite: to the perverse, the illicit, the absurd.” – Thomas Mann, Death in Venice
“-I visit this room every night… -Visit? -The blind always live in the rooms they live under.” – Peeping Tom (1960)
“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” – Alfred Hitchcock
I 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.
They 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.
A 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.
Some 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.
The 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.
A 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.
“Ah! the wet surface extends its clear broth!
The water fills the prepared beds with pale bottomless gold.
The green faded dresses of girls
make willows, out of which hop unbridled birds.”
– Arthur Rimbaud, from the poemMemory”Clear water; like the salt of childhood tears”
– Arthur Rimbaud, from the poem Memory“Prairie roses, two of them, climb down the sides of a road ditch. In the clear pool they find their faces along stiff knives of grass, and cat-tails who speak and keep thoughts in beaver brown.”
– Carl Sandburg, from the poem Memoranda “A lacrymal tincture washes
The cabbage-green skies:
Under the drooling tree with tender shoots”
– Arthur Rimbaud, My Little Lovers“To-day, let me be monosyllabic….a crony of old men who wash sunlight in their fingers and enjoy slow-pacing clocks.”
– Carl Sandburg, from the poem Monosyllabic “Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.”
– Carl Sandburg
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,
“Everybody is supposed to be quiet after a massacre, and it always is, except for the birds.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
“His dislike of mankind, of the mass of mankind, amounted almost to an illness.”
– D.H. Lawrence, Women in Love
“I want to confess as best I can, but my heart is void. The void is a mirror. I see my face and feel loathing and horror. My indifference to man has shut me out. I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams.”
– Ingmar Bergman, The Seventh Seal
“I had a dream. I was walking a beautiful street. On one side were white buildings with columns. On the other side, a park. And under the trees along the street was a dark green band. Then I came to a high wall, covered completely by roses. A plane came and set fire to the roses. It was not such a bad thing, since it was so beautiful. I looked into the water. How the roses were burning.”
– Ingmar Bergman, Shame
“It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.”
– Oscar Wilde, An Ideal Husband
Lovely song for some Sunday solitude- “Cayman Islands” by Kings of Convenience “There are very many places I would like to go, but I can’t find the key to open my door” – Kings of Convenience, “The Weight of My Words” album “Quiet is the New Loud” “Through the alleyways To cool off in the shadows Then into the street Following the water There’s a bearded man Paddling in his canoe Looks as if he has Come all the way from The Cayman Islands” – Kings of Convenience, “Cayman Islands” album “Riot on an Empty Street”
“The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place.”
― Rachel Carson
“In every out-thrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”
― Rachel Carson
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
― Rachel Carson
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.”
― Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
― Rachel Carson
“In nature nothing exists alone.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
“But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself.”
― Rachel Carson
“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.”
― Rachel Carson