“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
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.
Olitory 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.
“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…”
Bunched traffic left in a puddle, behind.
What am I doing? What have I been doing all these years?
Unraveling like an old sweater.
All 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.
How pretty mold can be, as it glitters in the rain.
She 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.
I have found it- another abandoned place to jauk about, dispensing disheveled, nullibiquitous thoughts out into the ether.
Let the leak in the dysphoric sky wash me like a houseplant. How lovely to watch each drop scatter the dust.
That liminal phase- I wander through a succession of tropical depressions, a soggy bindle sagging over my shoulder.
A golden-eyed hobo toad searching for a secluded little hovel- preferably filled with mud and rain and, preferably, beneath a mossy stone.
A snort of lightning- a sniffle in the clouds- a sneeze of wind.
When is that point at which the pain of change is less than that of remaining the same?
“You’re beautiful,” she said, “and as gentle as a gale.”
The other day, I noticed that I was missing another tooth.
I keep digging under that same old soggy fence, searching for her bones…
I scuffle away, lutose and mildly bemused. The usual state.
Time 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.
(Some experimental refractions. Thank you for drizzling by.)
The 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.
Sometimes, Silence is reckless.
My 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.
Thorny 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.
It is easy to forget the threat of a wave’s smooth caress, that its languorous massage of oblivion is still a form of erosion.
When I was a child, my favourite thing to draw was a noose.
He 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.
How 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.
Sometimes, love is just impotent rage that is a little too tired to bear its bulbous face.
What an obdurate knot Shame so deftly creates, twisting away, as the years smoothly slip by, pressure mounting against my spine.
Regaining 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.
To let the cherry rivulets of pus and water drain from the self-inflicted punctures.
I 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.
Sometimes, though, Silence can be much deadlier than the noose.
I loomed beneath a dark feathering of sea-oats, pointed tips glazed with recent rain. I listened to the subdued murmur of little waves. The fetid and russet beds of sea-wrack had been washed away, leaving the sand barren and strange. A forlorn gull loitered at the swash line, analyzing the crinkling water as it fizzed in and out.
Distant lightning lazily branched from the moody-blue squall-lines and spidered across a sullen sea of herbal green. Coy ghost crabs emerged, removing dark masses of dripping sand from drowned burrows. They built little, lumpy mounds around the entrances to their small, black holes.
The storm was leaving me. How I longed for it to stay.
I was tortured the other night, seized with the memory of my little Siamese cat squeezing her eyes tightly shut for the last time. How swiftly she was gone, her soft, cinnamon cheek resting upon a colorful, flowing blanket that masked the metal slab beneath. I had never seen an animal euthanized, before. I understood, logically, that it ended the physical misery of her little, bony body.
Yet, how troubled I am by that last image of peace…of life tenderly released.
My mum died of a similar ravenous kind of disease. I remember that final image. Her face waxen and unreal, her mouth a small, black hole. She did not tightly close her eyes. She was not escorted quietly, through a warm wash of sleep, into the darkness beyond. Yet, I was not so disturbed by her image in death. And how vividly there lacked any look of peace…
I do not know what that reveals about me.
But I wish the storm would never leave. I want, forever, to hear its screams over this cold and fleeting sea of herbal green. How I wish there were no end to rain. Just as there seems to be no end to Grief.
“Darkness settles on the ground Leaves the day stumbling blind, Coming to a quiet close And maybe just in time” – From the song God Only Knows by Joe Henry
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,
(It was a bleary kind of day, today, and I finally summoned the courage to take the Polaroid Land Camera for a wee walk. Experimental photos below. Thanks for drizzling by.)Dull nolition chimes within his pebble eyes, staring limply into polished shadows. The frowzy sky curls up against the grey toothy waves. Metallic reflections fuse and break and scribble away. The air tastes like a bike chain. Cold and caustic, it coils about his neck. Steel hands chomp at the gargling shore. Water blinks, trapped inside asphalt ridges.
A drunkenness stirs; a kind of dizzying noddary. A vagrant smile flutters about his yarn-thin lips. He tries to lick away the sting of mist rising from the river’s snapping fingers.The swaddle of December wind nuzzles and kisses the little foundling’s wet, lutose face. The depths that loom beyond beckon. Only the Quiet awaits.
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…