"I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with the nonhuman world and somehow survives...Paradox and bedrock."-Edward Abbey

31 December 2010

Snow Devil Dance

There's a Himalayan motif to the day here ten miles east of the Roof of the World, where the North American continent splits in half and the rivers flip a cosmic coin by virtue of gravity to decide between flowing east or west. Tibetan gusts whip up snow devils atop the high peaks, along the mountainsides, and even at the valley's floor. Phantasms of the day before's storm. A lingering memory of an Arctic kiss, of which the snowbums savor like an erotic encounter.

I sip the last of my mourning jasmine and contemplate scrambled eggs with Tunisian tabil spice for breakfast. Black-eyed peas soak upon the stove, slowly getting into context to be cooked the next time the sun rises. The dogs lay in various places around my feet and near the fire.

Milarepa, the youngest of the three, normally loves to be outside, no matter the weather. Often, I indulge her. I left her out for an hour and half after they all ate. When I came out to get her, a snow devil embraced us, the ice crystals a caress of tiny talons and barbs. Milarepa looked up at me, her canid glance seemed to say;

"Fuck this noise!" But perhaps I antropomorphize.

Luna and Shuja lay on the couch. Mother and son, coiled around one another more like serpents than cats. They alternate between cleaning one another and sleeping. Eeeva Tiny Voice finds the bed a much better spot to nap. Felix, Phoebe, Emma'Weee!, Burleigh, Pandora, and Ashbee all huddle together in a single sleep-sack, looking like a slumbering mustelidae hydra. I'm sure there are those who would find the sight cute beyond words. The hominid female I live with would most likely be one of them.

Days like this and times like these, when Tibetan winds whip up the snow devils and Arctic kisses have given the very atmosphere a quality of kerosene, spun glass, and razorblades, it's a good thing to not have any obligations. One might even go as far as to say it's a blessing. There were things I had considered doing, but the weather outside is too frightful, whilst the fire inside is nothing short of delightful.

So, instead, I look out the window. The snow devils dance along the gusts, substantial, if only for a moment, before fading into phantasm. A reminder of impermanence. Of how every moment is unique and should truly be savored. The tall peaks, half-shrouded in mists of ice and cloud, are no less majestic. Like the stars, to look upon them, is to gaze upon the face of the Divine. And in that, even on a brutally cold day, there is a sense of peace and comfort of which the clumsy language of half-bald monkeys cannot fully describe.

28 December 2010

Black-Eyed Peas

As the Gregorian calendar prepares to shed its chronological skin from one year to the next, I catch myself becoming increasingly excited. It's not because of that silly illusion of one year ending and new one beginning with a particular form of timekeeping, although tradition is involved. For me, I catch myself becoming increasing excited about the prospect of black-eyed peas.

My father's southern, and, in some places within the Confederacy, it is believed eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will bring luck and prosperity. As long as I can remember, that is the one day, without fail, we would have them. There have been times I have looked forward to the Gregorian new year more than any of the other winter holiday just to enjoy this dish.

The bean actually originated over in western Africa. It follows that southerners were probably introduced to black-eyed peas via their slaves. Me, being the fan of African cooking, I do have a recipe from that part of the world.

The southern/family recipe is pretty straight forward; black-eyed peas, garlic, onion, ham, salt, pepper, and Texas Pete sauce. My version does not have salt, seeing as I rarely cook with it and I also use either cajun spice or a creole blend I acquired. The African version includes tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, berbere spice, turmeric, coconut milk, and nit'ir qibe spiced butter. Having made both, I can say both variations have their merits.

This year, because of lives and professional obligations, it is dubious as to whether the family will be gathering all in one spot for New Year's Day. Part of me is depressed about the prospect. Another aspect accepts it with a sort of shrug along the lines of something John and Paul-the Beatles, not the Biblical prophets-might say;

"Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
life goes on hah,
how the life goes on..."

So, I look to make my own batch of black-eyed peas. My daughter will be visiting, so she'll at least get to enjoy them, which she often does. Although, if I don't convince Sabina to make her famous red beans and rice, I contemplate making a batch of the African-style as well. Given how much I enjoy black-eyed peas, it's not like that would be an imposition.

Two batches of black-eyed peas? On New Year's Day? Oh, no! Please don't throw me in that brier patch!

I can hardly wait...

24 December 2010

A Winter Stroll

The thermometer read seventeen quaint American degrees upon the fahrenheit scale. Pristine white snow glittered along the mountainsides and high peaks of the valley, casting highlighted contrasts within the folds of vertical landscape. The sky was that perfect turquoise blue with a slight smattering of wispy clouds, cream in color, almost clashing with that pristine white of the snow below it.

After breakfast and those subsequent chores, mourning coffee, and a yerba mate latte, I decided to go check the post. A walk seemed to be in order. Inhale the crisp winter air and feel the crunch of snow under the soles of my German mountaineer's boots. Feel the majesty of being within the incorporeal gaze and shadows of those high peaks.

Thus far, it has been a something of an odd winter. Warmer than previous years. The river is not nearly as frozen over. I noticed this in more stark resolve as I crossed the footbridge over the Grand Canal by the gazebo. Although the dirt streets have their seasonal snowpack, there are bare spots where the dirt and gravel peeks through. There are icy spots from the thaws and freezes of several days of getting above freezing, which is a bit queer for this time of year.

Even the Long Loch, five-hundred vertical feet down-valley is not completely frozen over yet, which I find vaguely disturbing, given observed patterns of past freezes and thaws. Not that it's stopped the ice fishers. I question the wisdom of that pastime anyway. But on a not completely frozen mountain lake? Madness. I wonder if there will be the ice races this season.

The post was standard fare; bills and propaganda to be thrown away upon receiving. I traded pleasantries with the post mistress and got myself a handful of chocolate. More than anything, she just seemed pleased to be able to talk to someone on a brisk winter mourning. The township is quiet in general, but it being mid mourning in winter, it seemed especially silent.

Bundled in my boots, jacket, scarf, and cap, the crispness didn't really cut as deep as it could have. In past lives and other places, the idea of willingly walking somewhere when it was seventeen quaint American degrees on the fahrenheit scale would seem like madness, if not just unnecessary. Living in the mountains, I've developed a certain understanding of the cold, even if it sometimes exacerbates the pains in my twisted skeleton. The view of those high peaks makes it worth the price of admission.

Something that drew me into the mountains is something I find fascinating about deserts; the landscapes of extremes. A place of harsh beauties, which is not for everyone that can potentially kill you if you are arrogant enough to believe you can bend it to your will. Most only come to such places for holiday. Outback slumming. It takes someone with tenacity, quirkiness, and perhaps a slight bit of off-kilter to actually live in such a location.

Such were the equations within the mathematics of my thoughts as I walked back home. The sky, the mountainsides, and high peaks sang out in the otherworldly octaves that you can only hear if you both know how, and, choose, to listen. Every so often, the very shiny-real surrealism of the place, and the fact I live here, hits me between the eyes like a two-ton heavy thing.

Upon walking in the door, I put on the kettle for an infusion of keemun. There was checking the fuel for the fire and the lighting of an incense stick. Pleasant musics were on the radio. The dogs and cats all took their turns in expressing how happy they were to see me once more.

I was calm. Reptile zen. That certain sort of peace that language cannot fully describe, but still leaves a smile across one's face. Once upon a time, I was told walks are good for the soul, and I really do believe that, even if I am not sure if I have a soul to begin with. Walks like that, after all, are like the ones where the touch of the Divine is the most tangible. Stop and pay attention, and you will feel it.

21 December 2010


It is the longest night. A full ghost moon shows phantasmal through a thin gauze of cobweb clouds, remnants of an earlier storm. Snow glitters like diamonds, giving off an eerie, supernatural glow. Despite the fact the fact it's winter, and ninety-one sixty above the surface of the world's oceans, the night air is only a little crisp, but not that cold at all.

Teenagers, immortal and arrogant in their adolescence, zip down the snow-packed lanes on snowmobiles. At this age, they know everything, including the fact they might be impervious to the dangers of zipping down the icy winter lanes in and around a small mountain township. As an older man, perhaps a little envious of their invincibility, I want to tell them to take notes. To realize they are only immortal for a limited time.

But I know better. The young never listen to those they see as old. And old at that age is anyone over the age of twenty-five. I'm thirteen years past twenty-five, and know full well at that age I'd have not listened to someone my age trying to dispense the advice I'd give.

I sip genmaicha tea and enjoy a bowl of chili, bidding my time. A freshly purchased bottle of wine waits patiently on the table. In about an hour, once Sabina gets home, I will be heading out the door.

We have been invited to the annual Solstice party. There, on the longest night, amongst friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and possibly strangers, we shall rage against the dying of the light. Orbital wisdom dictates the sun will take a little longer to set the next day, incrementally moving toward the longest day.

It looks to be a fun time, and I am excited to go. But I bide my time, just as I do for the days to get longer, and longer, into the next Solstice. So it goes. It's okay. My patience is formidable.

20 December 2010

Tea Leaf Catharsis

Perhaps the best place to start the story would be an early spring evening a few years ago at Netherworld. Word had come down from on high and it was official; Sabina and I were to be closing on the House of Owls and Bats. We were leaving the greater metroplex for the a funky little mountain township beyond the end of the world. A place, like Morocco, was furthest west, where the wind sometimes blows Tibetan. It was our place in the world. Our Kashmir. After a little less than a year, through tenacity, strange luck, and devil deals, we were about to make the leap.

So, we were out celebrating. It was our last night out before the move. A sort of farewell shin-dig, which came together at the last moment. I can dig that sort of thing. The best plans are when there are none, because chaos ruins plans. My favorite joke states the quickest way to make a deity laugh is to have a plan. For that reason, I prefer to scheme.

Madam Lung cried that night as we said our farewells. It all seemed so final despite the fact I refused to say goodbye, because goodbye does mean done and over. Madam Lung is one tough chick. Lung is Mandarin for dragon. I've known a few cats who like dragons. Some have tried to incorporate that into monikers. Madam Lung likes skulls and cross-bones, and yet there are few others I think have the right to be called dragon.

That night, as we bid farewells to all of friends there, we spoke of getting together again. Sure, they were supposed to come up and visit, and a few have. But we were also going to make an effort to get together their amongst the neon and night music of the city and its surrounding borough townships.

We never did quite make it back. Our Kashmir, the Sahel it's situated in, was infinitely more interesting. The juke and gin joints down below no longer sang to us with such a siren's song.

The story goes that Netherworld is no longer Netherworld. Apparently, it's frequented by those who wear ball caps with tightly rolled bills, who seem to think one can find cosmic truths within the lyrics of Dave Matthews and Coldplay whilst watching whatever sports franchise on the telly. I've never been curious, or masochistic, enough to see how much truth there is to that story, but much like what I've heard of Paris on the Platte, I've written it off to the truth that nothing ever stays the same.

A year ago, the bruja and the colonel got married. My mother was having her last days in the in sickhouse, and the bruja told me if I needed to be with my mother, than I needed to be with my mother. Her wedding was nowhere near as important, despite the big deal she made of it.

I went anyway, although I was a bag of broken glass. There, for the first time in a few years, I saw Madam Lung and Fu Jen Felis. I did not stay for long, just enough to witness the ceremony and pay my respects to the happy couple, and then I was off again into the pointy lands. Part of me feels bad for not staying longer, and not having more of reunion with my friends, but I also recall my mental state that day. I doubt I'd have been the best of company.

It was recently, at one point or another, the bruja and I talked about getting together for tea. Nothing to spectacular. Perhaps when I was down below doing something, a few of us could meet up. It seemed simple, and we resolved to do it soon.

For all the times I might have thought I might be indulging a little too much in intoxicants, the only sort of drinking interventions anyone has ever wanted to do with me involves water or tea. Sure, I might average six to nine cups a day, but it's not like I have a problem. I can stop anytime I want, although, if you touch my teas, you might draw back a bloody stump. And I know saying I've been drinking all day just does not have the same resonance when I'm referring to things like keemum, rooibos, or jasmine. But, at worst, I drink tea all day, I might have to make a few extra trips to the water closet. So it goes.

Well, anyone following along at home knows what happened to the bruja almost a month ago. I still have a hard time trying to figure out how to approach the subject. On the day official word came down, Fu Jen Felis and I spoke on the phone for hours. Tea came up in conversation, and how we should all get together for that. Soon was once more the buzzword.

Well, what the fuck and how soon is now? What was it going to take? Would another friend have to walk on before we all finally met somewhere for a cup?

And that's how I started looking for tea houses to meet up at...

I admit, I was a little nervous about it. Not these friends of mine that showed up were suddenly going to mutherfuker me for having fucked off for the mountains all those years ago and being so distant. I think it was the auspice of it; our beautiful friend was gone and that was part of the reason for this get together. Something I always meant for her to be a part of, but, as a roll of the bones, it never came to pass, and I think there's a part of me that might always regret that.

Of course, it was not bad at all. There really was no pall of a lost friend that hung over us as we sipped from our cups. We spoke of our whelps and told stories. The gypsy and Madam Lung were going dancing later, and I asked them about how that old haunt was. My daughter got me a copy of The Onion to flip through. It was cathartic.

There was talk of doing it again. The Tea Room in our Kashmir has closed for the season, but there was the idea of coming up for a cup in the spring when it opened once more. The possibility how this could become a regular thing.

I left the tea house feeling a lot better. It was nice to see my friends and hang out once more. Just because we have our own worlds and lives these days does not mean it should only be every few years we see one another. It is sad it took the loss of one of us to reinforce that lesson, but, sad to say, that seems the only way something like that can be taught.

15 December 2010

Slides Along the Spiral

One year to the day, my phone rang. My father told me my mother was being checked into the sickhouse. She was in a lot of pain. Seventeen days later, my brother and I were gazing upon her cold shell. To this day, I wished I'd had two coins to put over those half-lidded eyes.

I have been trying to avoid thinking of the date, but memory and internal wiring have not allowed. The realization has hung like storm clouds upon the event horizon. It's been a year to a day since that final slide along the downward spiral, and my mother is no less dead.

Those feelings of impotence and hopelessness. Similar feelings I had with the bruja a little less than a month ago. It's all so fresh. Saying it's almost too much would border upon melodrama. Still, there are moments it does seem a bit overwhelming.

I sip my tea and go about the day. Life does go on. It's just some are no longer a part of it. A sad thing, to be certain, but it's a fact I remind myself of, one day at a time.

14 December 2010

Orbital Angst

The last time I was so eager for a calendar year to be over was the Year of the Dog, 4704, on the Chinese timescale, which was 2006CE in Gregorian timekeeping. Sorry, the western calendar has never used another species to mark the passage of orbits. Perhaps Pope Gregory liked to kick puppies. Or he was just plain homo-centric.

That year was a time of transition, and those are never easy. There were some good things, but there were also some really horrible fucking things too. I remember as the world froze over with an especially stormy early winter, I was so anxious for the calendars to slough their chronological skins, like when timekeeping said it was 2007CE and/or the Year of the Pig, 4705, everything would suddenly be all better.

I know better. Even back then, deep down, I knew it was all just a dog and pony show. A symbol. A fetter. Delusion. But I was allowing myself to be hoodwinked. It's amazing the little lies we sometimes tell ourselves in order to maintain a relative level of sanity.

Sure, things eventually got better. Or at least more tolerable than the events that had convinced me to despise a stretch of monkey-made time. Perhaps it could be debated that there was a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy, or things just evened out. Choose your superstition and worldview to find the answer that suits you and get ready to debate it until the stars fall out of the sky.

The last time my daughter visited, I mentioned my angst toward the calendar year. She could remember the last time I was so anxious for the calendars to slough their chronological skins and how thoroughly deluded I was by human timekeeping. She even spoke to that point.

"Didn't you tell me time is an abstract?" She asked. "Doesn't that make the new year just a symbol?"

Yeh, out of the mouth of babes. Well, a sixteen year old. Be that as it may, all I could do was thank her.

Like that last time 'round the sun, this has been a time of transition. There has been some good things, but there has also been some really horrible fucking things. That's just the way of it. For me to place so much stock and faith in a calendar, be it Chinese or Gregorian, is pure delusion. Time, after all, is an abstract.

I know better. Like, deep down, I did back then. The difference being is this time I refuse to allow myself to get hoodwinked. After all, things have only the power one gives them, and find myself refusing to be thrall of monkey-made time keeping.

Here and now, the awful things seem to overshadow the better. Memories and recent events. I meditate upon the reptilian, allowing the cold blood to wash over me, to try and look at things in a more objective light. Aside from the lyrical wisdom of Roll the Bones, a set of Live song lyrics have played within the walls of my skull like a mantra;

"I'm burned to the core
but not broken..."

In the past I have said I am unbreakable. That I've yet to encounter the force in the universe that can do that to me. I once thought about having unbreakable tattooed upon my flesh, but find myself no longer in such a hurry for such things. A little bit of spite and punk-rock angst, perhaps, but it's kept me going in through the tougher times. Get kicked, get back up. Adapt or die, the imperative of biology.

Perhaps through the prism of orbital distance the angst of this time of transition will fade. Either that, or I will laugh uncomfortably and try to change the subject. One can never be too sure until they are there.

I do know that here and now, I attempt to take joy in those little things. Soft flurries and mild days when wandering about in the bush. The majesty of the tall peaks of the valley and the brilliance of the stars at night. Brewing tea and home-cooked meals. Music and books. My daughter, Sabina, and the three other species of quadruped we share the house with.

These are the things, which keep me from screaming as I listen to the rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos. Sometimes, those winds of chaos can be bumpy, blowing with the gale-force of a maelstrom. Sometimes, it can be just a gentle breeze that playfully ruffles one's hair. Flip a coin and roll the bones, and ride it out. It's the only thing that can be done.

12 December 2010

Reptile Zen and the Tao of Chaos

I first really came to accept the concept of chaos when I was around twenty-four. Between my own experiences and personal tragedies and observing a world, which could be simultaneously beautiful and horrifying, it made perfect sense. Order was an illusion.

The first tattoo I ever got was of a yin and yang within the star of chaos, surrounded by flames. The symbolism was simple; trying to strike balance within the reality of chaos. Those flames spoke of how fire and destruction are the very womb of creation. The universe was born in an explosion, after all.

Fourteen years later, that symbolism is a truth I still cling to. I was once told if I was going to get drawings made upon my flesh in black India ink, it better be something that means something to me. There is not a single mark on body that doesn't still hold some degree of meaning.

Philosophically, the far, far eastern schools appealed to me. Taoism, with both Sun and Lao Tzu respectively. Buddhism, was the more spiritual aspect of it, although, that at its heart is just a philosophy. I can still remember the dreams I had with a decided Buddhist flavor to them and I would say for years after that was my religious experience.

I've always been solitary in my spiritual/philosophical practice. Well, I'm not an establishment kind of guy, for one. It also seemed to me such things are felt and experienced head, heart, and gut. The rituals and temples and other trappings were merely stage props. Fetters.

It was around a year ago I was reading John Muir, along with some scientific works, when Sabina first made the crack that when we were out on walkabout, we were in church. I found that made sense. There was a certain kind of peace I could find out on the trail, which certainly seemed to border upon a kiss from the Divine. This is when I started investigating Pantheism again for the first time since when I was studying theology.

I was finding that this was when my spirituality/philosophy was starting to go through a bit of an evolution anyway, which is something I believe a thinking individual does; reassessing and reevaluating their position and viewpoints as new information becomes available. It seems the only sane course of action. Stagnation leads to extinction, after all. Along with the acquisition of new bits of knowledge, I think some of this was brought on simply by the experiences of growing older.

Then my mother went and got sick, sick and ultimately died. Almost a year later, one of my best friends was killed in an accident. Those two things alone are enough to have one question their perception of how things are and reassess. My sister, in context of my mother, would speak of being angry with her god, whilst I spoke of chaos and the Noble Truth of suffering.

I could be called a Taoist, because of the concept of wuwei. Non-action. Effortless doing. Going with the flow, but not disturbing it. In using my own words; sitting back and listening to the rhythms and rhymes of the cosmos. Or, perhaps that proclamation I made to the empty small hours atmosphere as I traveled through the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands of eastern Colorado when my mother died;

"I cast my lot to the winds of chaos."

I could be called a Buddhist, because of understanding and accepting impermanence. Practicing mindfulness and understanding suffering and samsara. To me, there is an empirical practicality to the philosophy, which makes such perfect sense.

I could be called a Pantheist, because of the perceived divinity as nature and the universe. Feeling in touch with the Divine whilst on walkabout, or gazing upon the peaks or the stars. Nature is amazing. The universe is awesome. Its magic is always there, if one knows how to look, even though it's not fireballs and thunderbolts spoken of in mythologies and other fairy stories. Here I see a sort of synthesis of mystic and science, faith and reason, I've always tried for.

However, I do not like labels, and establishments offend me. These are dog and pony shows, which are ultimately unnecessary. It is naive, silly, and insulting to try and pigeonhole the Divine beneath a single Voodoo mask. One, which, in some belief systems, plays favorites with a species of half-bald primates. Its much too big for that.

The three I've mentioned I can groove with and synchronistically incorporate into my liquid mercury-shifting spirituality/philosophy. I no longer think theology is an appropriate term, because what I strive for is more a way of thinking and being. A way of life.

Were I pressed to conceptualize the this into labeled Voodoo mask for those playing the home game, I would call it Reptile Zen and the Tao of Chaos. Such a title, aside from maybe being a little catchy, seems to make the most sense. Well, at least to me. And somehow, I find myself at peace with that.

11 December 2010

The Pilgrimage to Heaven's Needle

A warm sun glittered down on ancient buildings. The remnants of a civilization, which had stood since before time began. No one lived in or near the ruins nowadays. Sheppard's would sometimes bring their flocks to graze on the plentiful vegetation, hoping they would not be stolen by the predators, which stalked the plain. Travelers and pilgrims would occasionally camp the old shells for a night or two, at most, before leaving for their final destination. Others avoided it, believing it to be haunted by the jinn and hungry ghosts.

These remains sat a quarter of a day's travel from any sort of civilization. They were known more as a landmark along the way than anything else. A place between to stop and rest and marvel at what had stood before.

He came to the ruins seeking answers. Or perhaps it was just escape. An oracle in the city had pointed him in this direction after dispensing a bit of prophecy. The stories of jinn and hungry ghosts never bothered him. For some reason, he always felt safe when he camped in their shadows. There was more of a concern of an accidental snakebite, or being attacked by an old or sick predator than anything from beyond the veil.

Upon clambering to the tallest standing tower of the ruins, the one sometimes called Heaven's Needle, and setting up camp, he lit an incense stick and began to meditate. His gaze fixed upon the sky and distant mountains along the horizon. As the day progressed, his eyes did not flinch. Around twilight, he stopped long enough to eat a light meal, before resuming.

He meditated upon prophecy and the tales of old emperors in older empires. Tests and trials. The whispers of the gods and the motion of the stars. When he finally fell asleep, late into the night, the full coin-like moon showed ghostly through a bank of phantasm clouds. Despite having a head full of questions, his slumber was restful.

Upon returning the city, he was at peace. The oracle was nowhere to be found. That was fine. It was something he accepted about their acquaintance. He knew when it was time to have his meditations interpreted, like a warm breeze and a pleasant dream, the oracle would appear once more.

05 December 2010

An Afternoon Meditation Upon Kilimanjaro

Perhaps one of my favorite images of my personal Kilimanjaro...

The sun has dipped behind the valley walls, shrouding even the tallest peaks. Outside there is but a slight breeze and the temperature hovers just below that of frozen water. There is a certain still-quietness, which indicative of small places in the early days of winter at ninety-one sixty.

I watch the scene from my window, listening to the Tea Party and sipping hot assam tea. This is perfection, or at least as perfect as it can be without being boring. The song Coming Home is playing, which always gets me to think of late afternoons in the mountains.

My gaze follows the sheer vertical ascent of terrain to the summit of the twelve-thousand foot peak along the northern rim of the valley. This mountain has a name. A proper one given to it some time in the past by those who first mapped this part of the world. I call it Kilimanjaro, because there is something about that peak, which speaks to me in African rhythms.

I have wandered around that mountain a fair amount whilst on walkabout. Either from the window or the porch I have gazed upon its summit. Their is a certain tranquility I find in gazing at it, which I have a hard time putting into language. I have never been possessed of the urge to climb mountains, persey, but one day, I truly want to stand upon the summit of this one.

04 December 2010

Walking Wounded

The story goes that the bruja's family wanted to have a private funeral and then a friends memorial. Understandable. Similar things were done with both my grandmother and my mother. Granted, burying someone twice, even by way of metaphor, can be trying. But I think it is good to have that bit of privacy, as well as the inclusiveness.

The bruja's definition of family went beyond who she was married to or shared genetic material with. This too is understandable, if you knew her. In our circle, when we were cutting loose, rocket-fueled on either too much intoxicant or too much coffee and too little sleep, I was Dirty Uncle Bob and she was Skanky Aunt Shelly, despite the fact Michelle did not appear anywhere within the mathematics of her given name.

I was really, really, looking forward to teaching her son to address me as Dirty Uncle Bob, but so it goes...

It was two days before the funeral when the gypsy phoned and told me the colonel had invited Sabina and I to the bruja's funeral. There was a limited amount of seats, and he hoped he could accommodate these close friends and the family.

Two days was very short notice, and I told the gypsy that. Both Sabina and I had our respective obligations we were unsure if we could rearrange. My daughter, who had known the bruja since she was six, wanted to pay respects too, and it was unlikely I could have convinced my x-wife to pull our child from school to attend the funeral of one of my weirdo friends. So I declined, passing the message via the gypsy to the colonel to give our seats to one of the blood relatives, we'd go to the friend's memorial. I felt bad about that. I still do. But there was so little I could do otherwise.

It's hard to say exactly who I feel worse for in this situation. Sure, all of us friends knew and loved her, and this is crushing for us. But I think of others, like her first child, who after eighteen years and a for-the-best-adoption was finally getting to know her mother. She was going to see her half-brother be born. The bruja's mother, because common wisdom states you're not supposed to bury your own babies. Then there's the colonel, who not only got out of that accident with minor physical injuries, but is now faced with burying both his wife and unborn son.

I'll say the colonel is the one I worry the most about. By virtue of what came to pass with my mother, I've had nearly a year long ringside seat to watching someone grieve the loss of a mate. It's a heavy thing. Then, of course, the loss of the child they were going to have together. I have buried two grandmothers, a friend, and a parent, but that's something I lack the spine to contemplate.

The colonel and I do not know each other very well. We only met but a few times in the last two years. I never rightly got a chance to make an honest assessment one way or the other. Be that as it may, I know the bruja was retarded for him. She married him, after all. I am not a romantic, nor do I believe in fairy stories, but their tale came close, and might have once gotten my eyes to be a little misty, but that might've just been dust and pollen in the air.

Because of our lack of closeness, other than telling other, closer, mutual friends to watch after him, I really do not know what to say. What is their to say? In moments of crushing grief, the well intentioned I'm sorry of a stranger is so hollow. What the fuck do they know about your loss? It is something said out of awkwardness and courtesy. And it is equally awkward and hollow to acknowledge that socially expected condolence, leaving the taste of bile and cobwebs in the mouth.

Three and a half years ago, I helped my father bury his mother. On the day of her funeral is when Jibril died. Although I was not close to my father's mother, there were quite a few within the circles I traveled who wondered how I was doing. Two deaths in such proximity must be hard. The snake chases its tail and déjà vu all over again, if I haven't had a cat or two ask how I was holding up through all this by virtue of the loss of my mother.

Almost four years ago, over whiskey shots, a wise man from South Africa spoke a sage-like truth I've often repeated as an almost dysfunctional mantra; we're all messy. Indeed. We are the walking wounded. Messy. Some of us are just messier than others.

If I could, I would like to get hold of some of the bruja's ashes and scatter them in locals like the Bull's Head and the necropolis. Places we went when she came up to visit Sabina and I just before she got together with the colonel.

I do not know if she was cremated for certain. I feel it would be rude to ask the family for remains. Perhaps, since such a thing is but a symbol anyway, someday in the near future, I might strike out for those two locals, letting the mountain air and the mists of memory wash over me. Maybe that will be my memorial to my beautiful friend.

The when and if of the friends memorial is when I'll bury my friend for the second time, even if it is just in metaphor. Or I'll at least show up to grieve with others of her acquaintance. That is the social construct, after all. These sort of things are for the living, not the dead, and anyone who says differently is either daft of selling something. But, perhaps then, I'll know what to say to the colonel.

01 December 2010

The Demon's Claw

"Weapons are tools of ill omen, despised by Heaven..."-Chinese proverb

It was by accident that he found his old sword. As with a great many things, he came across it whilst looking for something else. So many years had passed since he last saw or even thought about it, he'd all but forgotten it. Those memories stowed in the same cinnabar trunk as the blade. Dusty, and covered in cobwebs.

As he reached down and grasped the handle, those lost memories came flooding back. Another life and another time. Before the scars and nightmares, which years of meditation finally quelled. Before he shut the sword away in an ornate trunk of cinnabar to gather the dust and cobwebs.

There was a time when he fought under a banner and was respected and feared for his prowess with a blade. He was like a wild demon and the battlefield, and his sword, an extension of him, was the Demon's Claw. It was said he moved like fluid. Like the wind. Like fire and the shadows of a moonless midnight. None could best him.

But he put the sword away. The Demon's Claw had tasted blood and was ever-hungry. And after the campaigns, he found there were other pursuits and appetites to slake. The way of the blade no longer suited him. He cast aside his allegiance to the banner and trekked far and wide to find a quiet place where he could quietly contemplate and find peace with the destruction his demon wrought.

An older man now, he pulled the sword from its scabbard, its blade gleaming in the lantern light. It was still sharp to the touch. He could feel its perfectly balanced weight. His hand, now unsteady from years without practice, shook as he worked his way through a few basic forms. He remembered how easy it once was. The sound of the Demon's Claw slicing through the air with the same ease as it did with flesh and bone.

Perhaps once, he may have been disappointed with how clumsy he'd become. But now, he found himself chuckling. Amused at how alien the blade, which once such a part of him, was. In a moment of nostalgia, he brought the blade close to his face, feeling its dull side against his cheek. He shut his eyes, remembering how many times in battle, before making that first strike, he would do such a thing.

When he opened his eyes again, he saw himself. Or rather, he saw the man he once was. The warrior. The demon, moving like fluid and wind and fire and the shadows of a moonless midnight. The sword, the Demon's Claw, showing like molten silver in the lantern light.

At first he was startled by the apparition of his younger self. Then, a strange sense of calm flooded through him. It seemed only fitting, after all. He had pulled the old sword from its resting place in the cinnabar trunk, covered in dust and cobwebs. Besides, it was nighttime, and it is at night when the demons come.

"Look at you!" The phantasm hissed, its breath a hot wind of the battlefield carrying the screams of the wounded, the silence of the dead, and the scent of blood. "You can barely handle the blade! You have grown soft!"

"I put it away. I have studied," he said calmly, lowering the blade of the Demon's Claw to the floor. "I have learned when I draw this, when I use it, especially in anger, I have already lost the battle."

"You are pathetic!" The demon growled, raising its sword, and slicing down. The blade made a humming sound as it cut the air as easily as it could cut flesh and bone.

It was met with a deafening clang! The apparition stood in shock at his quarry, the man it once was, standing perfectly still, stone-faced, with his sword, the Demon's Claw, blocking that of his attacker. He locked eyes with this ghost of his past, his gaze unwavering.

"I have learned a new way," he said in an even tone. "I am no longer you." He then pushed the phantasm's sword to the floor. "And you will never be me."

It is said, when standing face to face with a demon, one must maintain eye contact. The slightest blink could spell death, or thousands of things worse. He knew this bit of wisdom and did not flinch from the demon in front of him. The apparition sneered and spat, but he held his ground. His sword, the Demon's Claw, kept his opponent's blade pressed to the floor.

"You are not welcome here," he said finally.

In that moment, the demon smirked. Defiant, but still carrying an air of respect for the man, who was once a warrior, but had put his sword in a trunk made of cinnabar to collect dust and cobwebs. It bowed its head, and faded into memory and the shadows between pools of lantern light. Finally, he allowed himself to blink.

He looked at his sword, the Demon's Claw, for a long time. The phantasm reminded him of what he once was, and that he could not simply hide his past in a trunk made of cinnabar. It was important to remember it so as to be mindful of why he had become the man he was now.

The next day, he set the sword out to be displayed. Sometimes, when engaging in quiet contemplation, he would focus on it, remembering what he once was. He never saw the demon again, but he took its lesson to heart; one cannot hide their past away, and when one tries, its specter will come back to haunt one in the dark.

30 November 2010


The fact that one holiday's decorations begin to appear in retail settings before another holiday has even ended has been happening for so long now, it is often regarded in the same way as bad weather, shitty mass media, or even the shape of modern politics; something, which is grumbled about, sometimes to the point of borderline psychotic ranting, but nothing is ever really done. Perhaps there's a feeling of powerlessness there. Maybe it's that some just like to bellyache to hear their head rattle and auditorly masturbate to the sound of their own voice.

Now, when the holiday decorations appear that early on private residences, it just becomes offensive. Almost more so than the decorations that stay up for months after the fact. Or, worse yet, the ones that never, ever, come down, either out of sloth or forgetfulness. I have noticed an increasing amount of this in recent years.

The other mourning, I was walking to the gig in the darkness of the hour before dawn. The route I took was along the western end of Rue Main, just past the cantina. It was one of the newer houses, dysfunctionally kitty-corner to the park, that was strung with lights. Gaudy, multi-colored flashing things, which could have very well been an epileptic's vision of hell. Well, if they didn't just drop into a seizure straight away.

And I growled. The memory of the previous holiday was but a few days old. It was too bloody soon. On the rest of my walk, I saw two other residences with lights. To their credit, they were a little more tastefully done.

I got to thinking about it, because my mind never shuts off. Initially, I figured my vitriol toward the holiday season had to do with my mother, and the fact it was the first one without her, and remembering those last two before. I reasoned it may have had to do with the knowledge that Jibril would've been forty if he'd not died on the last day of winter, three and a half years ago. The fresh wounding of the bruja of my acquaintance dying right before a holiday figured into the equations within the mathematics of my thoughts.

But, I realized, as true as those three factors were, they were not the sole reason. I had to be honest with myself, and even backed up my supposition by checking over previous years' observations; I have been a humbug for a long time. Almost twenty years in fact. The holidays had long since lost their luster, and, if anything, it seems to be getting worse as I get older.

Initially, it was adolescent angst. Spending time with family is all gay and fine, but when at that age of wanting to taste the world, beyond the reach of one's parents, it can border upon torture. Even and especially if one is fighting with one or both parents on a frequent bases.

Of course, there's the theological expectation of some holidays. As I studied other belief systems, and found I was not of the one, which framed some holidays, I didn't have much desire to be involved. Some of that I equate to just being a angsty twenty-something. Spitting poison at a Christian holiday made of the same type of bigoted prick as the doomsday zealots who would condemn my Pagan friends to a Hell they didn't believe in for not believing in the supremacy of the Holy Bible.

The social and commercial expectations observed also added to my growing ire. Even especially around Christmas. Despite all the propaganda about joy and peace and goodwill toward one's fellow biped, I observed some of the most blatant and brutal examples of man's inhumanity to man. Often, over perceived valuable gifts and prices.

For awhile, I really dug on Halloween, but five years of cavorting and monkey watching in the Vampire Caste kind of made that all anticlimactic. The lunar/Asian new year was fun from the standpoint of my fascinations with that, which I find exotic, the lion dances, and firecrackers, but the crowds began to get to me, and, like the Gregorian new year, it was just another day. I've always been a fan of my own birthday, it seems like it's the one time I can get away with getting piss-liquored and not get shot a glance from whomever, but I do not like getting piss-liquored and do not care for the liver sprain of the day after.

Therein lies the rub, I suppose; the holidays, whatever holiday, is just another day when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts. The sun rose and set on such affixed calendar date long before monkeys started putting some other special value to it. It seems as though it's the build-up is far more exciting than the actual day itself. Foreplay leading up to a faked orgasm, as it were. It's all a royal scam. An excuse to spend too much money, eat too much food, and/or drink too much intoxicant of choice.

Since the holidays have long since lost their luster to me, and I've documented it before, it's not as though I'm making any startling revelations. The only variable is I can add the mourning of my mother, Jibril, and the bruja to nearly twenty years of angst-laden emotional baggage. That very statement shows I have my own fetters to these socially constructed days, and, if I was truly above it all, I'd not note it at all. Maybe one day I'll reach that point.

It would be trite to say everyday one draws breath could be seen as a holiday. Cliche to suggest surviving another day is reason enough for celebration. Overdone to point out every single moment fucking magic. And yet, there's truth in those played statements.

I am not without hypocrisy. Fuck, I all but brag about it, because my hypocrisies are a source of great amusement. Well, at least to me.

I am a sucker for those small moments. Those little bits of simple humanity. For all my reptilian detachment when observing the half-bald primates called Man, such things can pull at my heartstrings and get me to smile. Sometimes, just despite myself. For all my angst and hoped for apathy with holidays, I'm sure there will something I see, a moment of some kind, which will hit me between the eyes and reach a soft spot. In that moment, the luster will return and the royal scam will be worth it. But just for that moment.

28 November 2010

Organized Anarchy

I was the one who started calling our next door neighbor to the east Mysterio. In a township of two-hundred hominids, which is maybe during high summer and not counting drop-ins and squatters, he is an enigma. He moved into the studio cabin a little over a year ago, and has never been overly social. Upon arriving home, he scuttles inside quickly and draws the blinds. He has two vehicles; one is a pick-up, which is so rusted out and beaten up, it looks as though it should be shot. The other is something sleek and sporty and sorry-about-your-dick.

Our encounters have been less than pleasant. The first time I spoke to him was a few days after seeing a bear nearby. I'd gone along our row of houses, letting everyone know as to watch their trash, dogs, and/or children. He listened dismissively, and I found myself hoping the bear might find itself in the mood for monkey meat and that Mysterio would be the monkey.

My theory is he's actually a monkey hunter; out there murdering hitchhikers, men hu, and nurses, placing their butchered remains in his refrigerator so he might gain their power as he gnaws at their flesh. In the if and when of him eventually being caught for this and the media descending upon our Kashmir like scavengers upon carrion, I wouldn't do the cliche thing of saying Mysterio was the quiet type. Oh no. I figured he was a psychopath and I'm just exceedingly glad he never decided to try hunting me.

Sabina figures he's a dysfunctional wildlife photographer. She bases this on the fact he does not mow his yard, has dug out a sort of pond, and takes great effort to attract the birds. For all either of us know, she might be right. But I like my story better.

It was Sabina who saw the carcass first. We were storing some extra pellets when I heard her making messianic proclamations. When I looked in her direction, I saw her pointing into Mysterio's yard. There, crumbled, as though it had been road kill, was the corpse of a deer, which the ravens were feasting on.

"I sure hope that doesn't attract a mountain lion," I said. Never mind that the cats stay up along the trails for the most part, my utterance was all that needed to be said to feed Sabina's dragons.

She went and spoke with our lord mayor, a warm, friendly, hard-drinking, and slightly lecherous man around my father's age. He is short, maybe coming up to ankles when I'm barefoot. Sabina also spoke to law enforcement and animal control for our Sahel. Fuck, to a degree, I almost got in on it. I was going to phone law enforcement too and make mention of being concerned for my wife and daughter and ask if we were going to be served and protected.

Law enforcement basically stated it was not their nachos with a cheese side of I-don't-give-two-tugs-of-a-dead-dog's-cock. They had bad guys to catch. Let the lord mayor and/or animal control handle it. I like the lord mayor fine. Between him and his wife, I've heard some neat tales of Africa, from when they lived there. But the man is around my father's age and maybe comes up to my ankles when barefoot.

The animal control officer, who lives across the river from us, and dislikes and distrusts Homo sapiens as much, if not more so, then me, said he wasn't going to get involved. It wasn't really his nachos neither, but the Department of Wildlife, and they'd only bother if the corpse began to stink or a mountain lion was sighted. Although, the animal control officer and lord mayor were much more helpful about the situation than law enforcement was.

Our Kashmir is what is called home-rule. We have no standing law enforcement of our own. When Sabina and I first arrived, we were told the open container law was you'd better have one. This was the type of place one could walk down the dirt streets with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other, and no one would even blink. We've done the walking about with a beer or a bottle of wine before. It was fantastic.

Law enforcement can only come within our borders if they are summoned. They cannot just drive through looking for someone walking down the dirt streets with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other. We exist in a state of organized anarchy, where we are left to police ourselves.

As someone who has called themselves a moderate anarchist, I can groove with that. I cannot say I've ever been overly trusting those who wear badges and carry firearms in open view, and I try to avoid them. There are too many instances, both apocryphal and observed, of those cats abusing the power their station grants them. There's also the very simple observation an overseer made when I was helping to count monkeys in the name of Empire; those of us come to the mountains, like those who go to any in-between place, do so because we want to be left alone.

All things for a price, that is the nature of the deal. Only that, which is cheap, can be purchased with jingling coins and folding paper. Blood and karma is the true currency.

The price we pay for our organized anarchy is a brusque next door neighbor with a deer corpse we can see from the kitchen window when brewing tea, grinding coffee beans, or making breakfast. Since it is winter here, it's not stinking, but we see more ravens than usual. When the mercury gets just a few degrees above freezing, the dogs become rather interested. I see their noses turn and twitch in the direction of Mysterio's yard.

"Not yet," I tell them. "Let the other scavengers clean it off first. Perhaps closer to spring, one of ya'll can sneak over there and steal me the skull to put up on the barn."

Chevy especially likes himself some carrion. He gives me a look. Perhaps it is to tell me he'll get me the skull. Maybe he's disappointed I won't let him, Whistler, and Milarepa go to get a taste of the strange. It could be I'm just anthropomorphizing.

Whether I get the skull of that deer corpse is kind of irrelevant. Even if I do acquire it and hang it on our barn, what the fuck is Mysterio going to do about it? Both Sabina and I can speak to effectiveness of contacting law enforcement. But, when it comes down to brass tacks and bedposts, we'd not have it any other way.

27 November 2010


My beautiful friend, the bruja, of my acquaintance. It had been a little over two years since she had the dreads, and she had some other aesthetics over the nine and a half years I knew her. Be that as it may, this is what my mind's eye perceives when I think of her...

Back then, when we'd all go dancing, she liked to shake her groove thing to this song. I cannot hear it without visualizing her dancing, and it's been that way for years...

We first met at Netherworld. She was acquainted with a girl Lee was trying very hard to get into bed. On that particular night, I'd run into the fucking psycho x and stupidly helped her back up. I found myself the darkest corner in the gin joint with a tumbler of Irish whiskey and a mocha, in which to monkey watch and chide myself.

Lee apparently told her it was okay to sit with me in the dark corner. I could probably use the company. She knew who my fucking psycho x was too and understood my disdain. The bruja introduced herself, and like the Devil, it was apparent she was known by many names.

"What did your parents name you?" I asked, and she told me. "Reckon I'll be calling you that then."

I can admit that was probably a bit dickish and more than a bit hypocritical, given how I am about names in general. That night I was in a bad mood, and, there was some stranger one of my best friends sent by, trying to talk to me. In inspecting the recollection of our first meeting, I realize I was nothing less than caustic, figuring if she wanted to share my company so bad, she'd have to work for it.

Giddy up, muthafucka...

And she hung out with me the entire night. Talking and, eventually, getting me to speak in something more than short, sharp replies. Years later, in a sickhouse, her mother would say the bruja was one of the strongest women she knew. I would reply I thought of her as obstinate, as in as stubborn as a half-starved ass. Her mother laughed weakly and gave me a hug in those dark moments of the small hours.

Nine and a half years is perhaps nothing on the scale of worlds and the lifespans of stars, and yet it can seem like forever and a day, thus showing how time is an elastic abstract. In that stretch of time, I saw her being one of the Vampire Queens, a mystic, an artist, a hippy, the ultimate event planner, and probably a few other things I'm either still not sure about or somehow got lost in the shuffle of watching her sometimes shed metaphysical skins like a snake.

Sometimes, that bothered me. It was as though she was a changeling. Something with no true form of her own, and not to be trusted. It took me a while to realize why that aspect of her personality got on my nerves, and it was because, in that regard, we were both rather alike.

Both of us could get into something, and I mean really get into something. Head, heart, and gut. It became the paradigm. But then, done and over. Whether it was that the novelty wore off or whatever we wanted to accomplish with such thing was accomplished, and we moved on to the next thing. Of all of my friends, she was the only one who didn't think I'd completely lost my mind when I announced I was done with city living and fucking off for the mountains.

"I've been there," she said. "I know."

Nine and half years can be a small eternity when it comes to all the memories and stories, I find. As I sit back, remembering my beautiful friend, I cannot think of a single tale that encapsulates our friendship; how well we got along, how violently we could disagree, how much we meant to one another. Language begins to become clumsy and useless. I would refer to her as family by neither blood or marriage. That might be the best way to describe it. I loved her to death, even when she was pissing me off.

The last time I saw her, was in the early autumn. The bruja and her husband came up to get a kitten from us. We had dinner together and talked of trivialities. I mentioned how sometime in the near future I wanted to meet her, and perhaps some of our other mutual friends, for tea somewhere in the greater metroplex.

Through correspondence, both her and I were discussing how our views of theology were evolving as we grew older, and by virtue of some of our experiences. In some ways, our beliefs very similar, although she had the Southern Baptist upbringing and Pagan viewpoint, in contrast to my underlying themes of Buddhism and Pathiesm. She would speak of Paradox and I would mention the Tao of Chaos. Along with Jibril, the bruja was someone I loved to discuss theology with. I truly looked forward to the discussions we were going to have.

But it was chaos that took her. Is there any other way to explain it? Chaos is also what makes it difficult to reconcile. I have dealt with death before, but, as much as it devastated me, it was expected. This was out of nowhere and unexpectedly, whilst cooking dinner, that the gypsy phoned. Suddenly everything changed. Wrong place, wrong time, bad things happen to good people, roll the bones.

I am going to miss her. There are very few hominids who understood my misanthropy the way she did. We both did things for one another, which endeared one to the other, and I sometimes think of her acts as bordering upon philanthropic. As far as the females I've been friends with, perhaps Jezebel is the only one I've been closer to.

There is a skull full of memories and stories. Some, which any within the circle of friends can relate, perhaps even adding their own perspective. Others are just me and her. A night at coffee. The time I took her for steak or all the dinners we shared. Our conversations whilst walking, riding the bus, driving somewhere, just sitting somewhere watching the world go by.


Someday, perhaps, I'll get to some of those stories. But I find that day is not this one. On this day, I suddenly find myself out of words.

25 November 2010

The Cold

I find myself grateful for my stands at the mill. Well, it's always nice to be able to jack my lumber, but getting paid for it too is wonderful. The small thing of a steady source of income does lend comfort.

The stands have allowed for distraction. Just throw myself into the zen of the gig. Sure, my mind might wander now and again, my mind never shuts off, but I try to keep focused on doing my part on keeping this experimental facility running and producing. That is interesting to me, and not just from the standpoint of income, but in doing a good thing. Dancing with the dead gave me my taste for altruism with the side benefit of getting paper to survive on.

The blizzard that was prophesied for my part of the world never materialized, thus, once more showing prophets don't know everything. It has been cold, though. The wind has been talons and blades, which rip through the warmest of clothing, past flesh, beyond bone, straight to the marrow. It is supposed to warm up. Well, for the pointy lands in this time of year. But I will still want a coat.

Somehow, though, the cold seems to be in context. Twisted, in its symmetry. This is not a time to be warm. Too much has happened.

I find myself so irritable as of late. Me, the one in possession of reptile zen, who it was so hard to anger. I find myself tired, emotional, and all too willing to stab something. It is as if the p'o, the animal soul that embraces instinct over intellect, the demon, is so much closer to the surface these days. The slightest thing gets me to growl. I bite my tongue from snapping. I meditate upon the reptilian, allowing its cold blood to wash over me as I try to reestablish my equilibrium.

One of my newest associates spent a stand talking about everything from religion to politics to space exploration to science to sociology to evolution. It was fantastic. I am a sucker for conversations like that. The cats I refer to as friends, talk like that as a matter of course.

It took me back to the coffeehouses and diners. Discussions over fine meals. Memories of Jibril and the bruja. Those two could give some incredible mind. This cat at the mill was like that.

Something that got me to growl; in remembering the conversation and those lost friends, that cliche about a door closing and window opening...

There it is. Cold air, which burns like kerosene and spun glass when one tries to breathe it. Wind that slices straight to the marrow and beyond. Somehow, though, it fits. Twisted, in its symmetry. I cannot say I enjoy it. Physically, the cold causes aches in my twisted skeleton. Metaphorically, the cold burns and sucks away everything as it freezes.

I accept it because it's here. Simple as that. It cannot be denied. It is going to be.

It will get warmer, because that too is the way of things. Physically, by virtue of the orbit around the sun and the world's tilt on its axis. But in metaphor and metaphysics, that part is a little trickier.

23 November 2010

Bon Au Revoir, Mon Ami...

My favorite scene from one of my favorite films. When my mother got sick, this took on a new resonance. When she diagnosed terminal, went into the sickhouse, when the word came down there was no hope, and hour before the call, it was my focus. Then, as with now, the wisdom of this scene helps to keep me from screaming...

Although, I think offering a bag of oranges to the family might get me busted in the mouth, at best, and I would probably deserve it...

I hate this band. I hate this fucking song. This is not about me. This was her favorite band. She was so happy to see them live, in their home town, no less. There were pictures involved.

This has been stuck in my skull since word come down...

Another one that's played within the walls of my skull, along with old, old recollections of Netherworld, back when we first all met. Besides, she always wanted to be a primatologist, and would laugh when I referred to humans as addle-brained half-bald monkeys. I can admit to be savagely jealous of the fact she met the first real girl I ever had a crush on; Jane Goodall.

Perhaps I should do a proper requiem, but perhaps I already have, and it was days earlier, whilst I reconciled the ghost had flown the shell. The shell now grows cold. There will be more words, I'm sure. Maybe a story or two. But, here and now, all I find myself really capable of saying is something another beautiful friend of ours, who has since walked on, would always say to me;

Goodbye, my friend...

20 November 2010

Sickhouse Waltz

I started the mourning with some easy listening; the smooth stylings of Ministry, followed by Bad Brains. Sabina gave me a strange look for my description of easy listening, but it's exceedingly easy for me to listen to Ministry followed by Bad Brains. Before we left, there was some old AFI and Bad Religion. On the way to the sickhouse, I played early Rolling Stones, Anthrax, and Stone Temple Pilots. The context of the day spoke of crunchy tunes.

I was not looking forward to what I was about to do. The night before, when the demons came for tea, I was reconciling a friend of mine had died in all the ways that counted the day after my daughter's birthday. All that remained was mangled meat, which stood as fetish effigy to her memory, and that was to be let go as well.

Things had apparently changed in the time from that darkest part of night and the rising of the sun. It had been decided her mental function needed to be more clearly assessed. She was in surgery again, but the paralytic medications were slowly being stopped. In another couple of days an MRI was to be done to see if anything of our beautiful friend was still within a mass of gray sponge.

And we had a reason to feel a little better. At one point, there was a reaction to base stimulus, a lower brain function. There was a small glimmer of hope. Some hopeful notes in an otherwise mournful tune.

It was not so long ago I dealt with those awful last seventeen days that my mother was in the sickhouse. I can still recall vividly the roller coaster of hope and despair. Those moments of light in the metaphoric tunnel that would be winked out by the darkness of another tragedy. Having played this game and danced the dance a little more recently than the others, the feeling we were experiencing was a familiar one to me. Perhaps it's because of that, I found myself being a little cynical.

I find I still think of her as gone. She's been dead two days now, even though her shell is still puppeteered through its basic functions. All of this is formality. Delusion the family plays out so they can feel they did everything. I feel horrifically bastardish for this, but I cannot shake that that's how it is.

However, I have not given up hope. Were that the case, I would've said my goodbyes to the mangled meat and left the sickhouse, telling those who keep me in the know to phone when the biologics cease. As it stands, I'm going down again the next time the sun rises. I listen for any scrap of news.

I have danced the sickhouse waltz before. Once, with my grandmother, almost seven years ago, and again, with my mother, almost a year ago. I have ridden this roller coaster and played this game before.

And yet I want so desperately to be proven wrong. For my friend to make an asshole out of me for figuring she's been gone since the accident. I want to be able to tell her this is the shittiest way in the world to get me to buy her a steak, but being meat-drunk on porterhouse is in her future. It is said no one likes to be told they're wrong, but here and now, I would welcome the opportunity.

19 November 2010

The Empty House

She's gone. Well, in all the ways that count. Sure, her body, shattered and ruined by the accident, tied to machines, still functions. But that bit, that thing of which we define, or try to define, as consciousness, that spark, the ghost, the soul, whatever Voodoo mask you want to put on it, is no longer there. As the old cliche goes, the lights are on, but nobody's home.

Fucking perfect...

One of my old dear friends is gone. I realize I use old and dear with just about anyone I call a friend. There's a reason for that; I am a misanthropic bastard, and, just as the sun rises in the east, I do not make friends easily. When I call someone my friend, I've usually known them for some time, and given how hard it is me to consider someone my friend, it follows such a cat would be dear to me.

When the sun rises, my daughter, Sabina, and I will go to say goodbye. Goodbye means done and over. Goodbye means forever and ever amen. Sometime after that, the machines will be shut off and removed. Then, all that will remain is for the meat's biologics to cease.

I have shown solidarity and support as a good friend. La-dee-fucking-da. I still feel utterly useless.

I sip on a glass of red wine and notice, quite to my dismay, it has no taste. Not too long ago, I snarked to the gypsy about having cocktails on what would've been Jibril's birthday, as though the consumption of the drink would bring him back, because sobriety didn't seem to work. But my hypocrisy knows no bounds. I know what will happen will happen and whether I have a glass of wine or water isn't going to change it.

It is not okay. It is not going to be okay. It is just going to be, and what will be is not the outcome any of us hoped for.

I find myself remembering when my mother died, and I arrived at my parents' house. My father and brother got there a half hour before me. As I walked in, my brother offered me cigarettes, beer, and marijuana. I was in such a state of shell shock it all held its appeal and sickened me in the same heartbeat.

"What do you want, son?" My father asked me finally.

"I want my mom back," I said.

And there's the parallel, as I sit here drinking red wine with no taste, waiting for the sun to rise. I think of what I want here and now more than anything; I want my friend back. I want her healthy and vibrant once more. The tragedy, of course, is the reality of how want and get are different things.

Crunch Time

Terms like unremitting horror, chaos, and the lyrical mantra of Roll the Bones strobe through my skull like summer heat lightning. Equations within the mathematics of my thoughts as a mourning infusion of jasmine tea steeps. Once, it was said hot jasmine tea fixes everything, even that, which is not broken. In context, the metaphor seems like bubblegum and bailing wire over an impact crater from an asteroid the size of Pavarotti's ass.

A very dear friend of mine, family by neither blood nor marriage, lies in a sickhouse bed. Crushed and broken. Matted with the stink of blood. The details of how she arrived there are shrouded in a certain kind of mystery, although a tree and the rolling of a vehicle were involved.

I worry for her. For the life she carries in her body. The one she would jokingly call an alien bean and I called a parasite. If it survives, it will be named after a beautiful friend of ours who has since walked on. If she survives, I wonder if she'll want me to get her meat-drunk on porterhouse, like I did the last time she was in the very same sickhouse, although that was for very different reasons, so long ago.

In being encouraging, I want to refer to her with nicknames of champ, tiger, sport, and trooper. I used such monikers with my mother when she was so sick. Given the state of things in context of my mother, I dismiss inflicting those titles upon my friend.

Tired. Sore. Anxious. We sat in the waiting room into the small hours. The biology of habit and obligations to three of the quadrupeds in my household did not allow for many hours of slumber. Concern did not allow for it to be restful. I do not seek martyrdom in these facts, that would be petty, and I know there are those, related by blood and marriage, who have slept far less than me, if at all.

This is the crunch time. The most important of moments. Here and now could show the way to life or death. How scarring the damage inflicted could be.

I am hiding and waiting. I make breakfast more out of habit and the zen calm of cooking than hunger. Perhaps, through the prism of memory, I'll be able to chuckle about parking a space numbered 187, and law enforcement order's code for homicide. I have never been the type to prey, unless in context of the food chain. Here and now, the thought of any anthropomorphic deity of any mythology, invites thoughts of caustic anonymous graffiti scrawled across a bunkhouse wall in Mauthausen concentration camp;

"If there is a god, he will have to beg for my forgiveness..."

Yeh, it's like that...

So, I wait. Wait for news. Good or bad is a roll of the bones, and, rationally, I realize that. As a friend, who is family by neither blood or marriage, I wonder and worry. Part of me prepares for the worst I hope does not happen. Another bit wonders if I'll be committing to taking her out for steak at that one dive I took her years ago after another sickhouse stay to get intoxicated upon the cooked flesh of another species. I might not be the preying type, unless in context of the food chain, but a set of words resounds over and over again within the walls of my skull like a mantra;

Hang in there, mon ami, don't you dare fucking quit...

17 November 2010

Sweet Sixteen

The true love of my life, my daughter, standing atop Buffalo Mountain, a twelve-thousand foot peak she ascended with my sister, this summer.

Do you remember sixteen? That mystical time spoken of in story and song? The right to operate a motor vehicle, a fetish of ultimate freedom in some parts of the world, comes at sixteen. In Tibetan Buddhism, the bodhisattva, Tara, is depicted as a sixteen year old girl. Sixteen being the perfect time, when one is at the peak or their beauty, ability, and all the other kinds of y that count.

When I was sixteen, I had what might be called my first serious relationship with a girl, although, these days, I'm more inclined to called a comedy of adolescent errors. It was an interesting time, certainly. The Game Boy came out, Hurricane Hugo bitch-slapped the south, and Voyager II reached Neptune. I got braces and my family moved back to Colorado from that three and half year stint in North Carolina. For all it's mysticism, it wasn't a time of unicorns and fairies and rainbows and chocolate and wine and roses that the stories and songs made it out to be. It was an orbit around the sun.

My daughter has turned sixteen, and I am not sure how to approach the subject. I know I am not the first parent to look upon the event with a certain amount of fear and loathing mingled with hopeful anticipation. These days, my daughter is five foot nine, instead of the length of my forearm. She and I can have more adult conversations, which might say something, since some of my friends are convinced she was born an adult, or at the very least, a late teen.

It is said sixteen is magical time. Over the years and lifetimes, I have called my daughter fucking magic more times than I can count without the help of an abacus. Perhaps, for my daughter, this orbit around the sun will be a time of unicorns and fairies and rainbows and chocolate and wine and roses that stories and songs made it out to be. At the very least, I am certain she'll find it to be an interesting time.

16 November 2010

Reptile Romance: Part 3 But Despite My Best Efforts...

Just saying, with a healthy punk rock Oi!...

To say that there have been French films and equations of Chinese arithmetic that were less complicated than my break-up with the jewel-eyed girl might just be a little melodramatic. However, it certainly felt like it at the time. Even now, with distance of years and miles, it seems as though there was a lot more brain damage there than there really needed to be.

To be fair, there are things I could have done differently. Ways in which I conducted myself, that could have been better. I can own up to that. The same could be said for her. Some parts of that story border upon a nightmare I am not sure I will ever document, partially out of fear of giving those events more power than they need.

There were other parties who exacerbated and antagonized the situation, because apparently there is just not enough simple scandal and Machiavellian intrigue to go around on the average night of going out and painting the town fuchsia. Part of my reason for just watching, apart from the simple fact I like to watch, and not necessarily getting involved, is to avoid being caught in the fallout shrapnel of one’s personal soap opera. It was frustrating to have repeated attempts to drag me into one because of some splittail I was once involved with, and this kept on for a good six months. I found it to be perdition set to a backbeat of My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult.

During this social maelstrom, the gypsy and I made an attempt at something, which, in the end, was a whole lot of was-not-was. Sure, we had our mutual art crush we indulged in, but when it came down to brass tacks and bedposts, there was a matter of timing; the scandalous annoyances I encountered when going out to see my friends and monkey watch amongst the vampires, and the fact Jibril was still around, even if he was sick and dying. I fully believe if he ever once told the gypsy he loved her, she’d have married him on the spot and borne him a litter.

There was also the fact we liked to drink a lot when we got together. Our livers would have only been able to take so much before our skin and eyes took on the color of dirty gold and urine. My father’s father went out that way, and I refuse to share that fate.

Nowadays, the gypsy is with the man she calls her baby daddy. They have a daughter together. The story goes they are retarded for one another. Her and I somewhat antagonize and otherwise fuck with one another in our correspondence. I at least find this amusing.

The gypsy is the only x, if such a term applies, I still talk to. Perhaps the fact we were friends for four years before anything beyond platonic happened between us helped. Generally, I do not speak to x’s. Period. Whatever had attracted us was in the past is just that; past. My x-wife would be the exception, but that’s in the name of seeing my daughter.

It was also back then I was trying to help Sabina with a relationship that was more toxic than the bite of a black mamba. From the time I’d first met her, I could set my watch to the arguments she’d get into with her boyfriend. Nightly viciousness at the juke joint; just add whiskey and soda and martinis in liberal amounts. Perhaps it was because of my own bad luck with relationships I wanted her’s that had already lasted ten years to succeed into that fairy tale of forever.

The boyfriend was the jealous type who was convinced something was going on long before either one of us honestly contemplated anything. I have encountered such creatures before. The jealous type can be both interesting and annoying in the same glance. Their jealousy is spurred by a guilty conscious over where they’ve been spending their nights. I knew for a very long time the musician was less than true to Sabina, but my sources had taken me into confidence because I am more than willing to treat a secret as just that; a secret.

It was only after these same sources told her what I was already privy to that all bets were off with those secrets. She cried upon my shoulder for hours that night, thanking me for being someone who wouldn’t go spreading shit, but cursing me for keeping things from her. The only thing I could do was let her tears soak into my shirt and wish I could banish the violations of trust from her psyche.

Whilst I am not always the best at spotting onto the advances of someone with amorous designs on me, I caught on pretty quickly that Sabina had come to like me, like me. Over the years we had been acquainted, she had become another of my best friends. But, after the abortion that was my relationship with the jewel-eyed girl, and miscarriage that was the was-not-was with the gypsy, the idea of that kind of involvement with a female was seeming less and less appealing. The drunken rush of infatuation hormones be damned. So I started behaving cruelly toward her.

“You’re childfree. You do not have, nor do you like children. I am a parent, and you know how important my daughter is to me.” I’d say.

“She’s not some puking babbling thing. You know we get along really well.” Sabina would respond.


“You’re the Vampire Queen,” I said once. “Party, party, rock and roll. There’s no way I could keep you in the lifestyle you’re accustomed to.”

“That lifestyle was fun for a little while,” she confessed. “But it no longer serves me. I have more fun going to coffee with you or having dinner at your place.”


If, and that’s a really big if, we were to ever get together, my family, even and especially my mother, would want to know when we’re getting married,” I told her. “You think marriage is for suckers.”

“That way no longer serves me,” she said simply.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

So when the gypsy and I had our curb-kicking moment, I told Sabina she had a shot. Sort of like when I had innocently, wholesomely, told her I’d have stabbed her in the gall bladder were I not secretly in love with her, I half-meant it as a joke. Something of a defensive mechanism on my part; that if my words were not taken seriously, than no harm, no foul. It was never real. It was a joke.

My father’s mother died, and I went to North Carolina. It was when I came back I found I had new companion. Well, I had a pretty good hint the night my father’s mother died, and whilst making dinner for my mother, daughter, and Sabina, I turned to find Sabina in mymuthafuckingkitchen because she refused to be a house guest any longer. She sometimes jokingly calls that when she started to take over my life.

That was so long ago now, it does feel like another life. Our world exists within the narrow rift-like valley and the shadow of the mining days. The city and vampire caste seem more like stories we tell one another for a laugh or as a spook-story in the dark of night.

Every so often, love her as I do, she aggravates me. She can’t help it, what with being a hominid and all. I'm tempted to tell her I was getting on just fine without her. That I would’ve been zen and superfly being solitary when she decided she was going to come into my kitchen and help me start cooking.

I don’t, of course. The intoxication of infatuation hormones may no longer be there, but a different chemical high exists, which I have a hard time describing in the most clinically reptilian terms. Besides, I can see clearly the look she’d give me were I to say such a thing. I know what her retort would be.

You didn’t kick me out of your kitchen, did you?”

I’d have nothing, and somehow, that doesn't bother me…

Reptile Romance: Part 2-All the Damn Vampires

This song played the night of my thirty-third birthday. A birthday I was stood up on. It subsequently has became one of my favorite love songs...

So, a womanizing tattoo artist and a paradoxical misanthrope walk into a bar because neither one is clever enough to duck…

When I was in my late twenties, the Sisters of Mercy was one of my favorite bands. Although I never thought of them as necessarily a goth act. The way I’ve heard it, such a perception would’ve probably won me a kiss from Andrew Eldritch. With tongue.

So, I suppose it was somewhat auspicious that the gin joint Lee and I started frequenting played at least one Sisters of Mercy song an hour. This is where my friend hoped to socialize me and accomplish his mission of getting me once more know the company of a woman. Often, it turned into more me monkey watching at the bar whilst he caroused about, hit on whichever random splittail, and/or the two of us on occasion shooting pool.

It wasn’t that he didn’t try to introduce me to a girl or two. Maybe it was that he was hoping I might go for a similar taste in gin joint men hu as him. Perhaps I just made it a little difficult.

“Your friend says you wrote a book…”

“Your friend says you’re smart…”

“You have really nice hair…”

“You are tall…”

“What did you think of that girl?” Lee would ask me when said female scuttled off, and I quoted lyrical wisdom.

“I tried to tell her
about Marx and Engels,
God and angels
I don’t really know what for,
But she looked good in ribbons…”

After a few times Lee’s inquiry had changed to;

“Are you going to quote those Sisters of Mercy lyrics again?”

“Well, if you’d quit throwing things at me that cannot even grasp the concept of an opposable thumb!” I’d snap.

“Look, you don’t have to talk to them,” Lee reasoned. “Just have your fun.”

“With my wiring, unless there’s something there, sex is nothing more than a noisy, messy act done by animals in heat,” I said.

“Don’t you always bring up how we’re all animals?”

“True, but we like to believe we have the capability to rise above our more beastial natures.”

Lee kind of gave up on trying so hard to find me someone. As we hung around the vampire caste, we made friends and acquaintances. Lee had more than a few one night stands and even a girlfriend or two.

I had been cavorting with the vampires for about a year, when Lee introduced me to a girl with eyes that shown like jewels. This was not some vapid men hu one met in a gin or juke joint. There was genuine intelligence there. Something happened to me that had not in five years; I found myself interested. More to the point, intrigued. Jezebel has more than once told me my curiosity can get me into trouble, and not in the happy way that leads to grand adventures.

The girl and I became involved. Yes, I became quite enraptured. She was intelligent and well-spoken. Those eyes of her’s were amazing, and she had a nice smile and an interesting tattoo located in an interesting place near her left breast.

And during that time when we were both drunk on infatuation hormones, it bordered on mystical. Not fairy tale, because she was not a fairy and I am not in possession of a tail. I even kicked around the possibility of marrying her.

Then, sobriety came. Suddenly the chemical honeymoon was over. It happens sooner or later. First kiss, first passion, first fuck is done and over. Groceries need to be bought and laundry needs to be done. One of you lets slip a social vulgarity that leaves one or both mortified, and it is either the laugh or the cry of revulsion that decides what happens next.

Lee is one of those cats who speaks to my ability to tell a story. He’s always been frustrated that after I self-published that I stopped taking the idea of being a writer so seriously. That I wanted to move on to fulfilling new dreams. He thinks I have a sort of power with my words.

Yet, in his perception, there has only been one time he’s seen me outright lie. That was my three year relationship with the jewel-eyed girl he introduced me to. I lied that I was happy, both to myself and others. I lied that even though we rarely hung out, were still going strong. That I stayed with her because of the social expectation of not being perceived as broken, despite the fact I was happier when I was on my own.

Over the years and lifetimes, I’ve tried to figure out what brought on such a deception, even and especially against my own nature. How I got hoodwinked into thinking three years was such a good idea. I am not solipstic enough to think I’m the only one who’s been in a relationship like that. Every so often, I think I have the answer, but then, a few psychic incarnations later, I have a new set of answers. When it comes down to it, no matter what, at its most clinical reptilian; we didn’t work out.

I had met Sabina right before the girl and I started dating. Sabina was one of the popular kids. She had been with her musician boyfriend for ten years. Somehow, we got to be friends anyway, despite her gregariousness and my misanthropy. Her boyfriend and my girlfriend had been x’s, which seemed to just typify the incestuous nature of the vampire caste.

One night, under the auspice of shutting Sabina up, I went out with her for drinks. At the time, my relationship with the girl was in its death-throes and I was working up my escape velocity. I’d not been out much, preferring to drink at home. Like Lee, Sabina didn’t like the word no, and there was also the fact she offered to pay to get me good and drunk on cheap beer, which might speak to a whore-like aspect in my existence.

Several drinks in, she finally got out of me that things were less than rosy with the girl, and had not been for a very long time. Somehow, the topic of lists, those in-another-life-what-ifs came up. Apparently, I was on Sabina’s.

“I wouldn’t mind running my fingers through your hair,” she said.

I have thick wavy hair, which, even when tied back, goes about midway down my twisted spine. My personal joke is I am far too lazy to get it cut and deal with cowlicks that come after. Over the years and lifetimes, more than one individual has wanted to touch my hair to the point I let it happen if it means said cat might leave me alone that much sooner.

“Here you go,” I muttered, offering her a lock, which she touched gingerly.

“That’s not quite what I had in mind,” she whispered.

“Yes, well…” my eyes drifted down the bar where her musician boyfriend was whooping it up with friends.

So what the scent of Sabina’s pheromones was pleasing? So what she was in a relationship that couldn’t have been more about convenience if there had been a jerky rack and soda fountain in the bedroom? So what I was working up escape velocity from a relationship that had been dead for two of the three years it existed?

I am the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. Yet I didn’t take full advantage of what could’ve been written off as a drunken slip, were one to use the cop-out of drunkenness as a defense. In fact, I spent the better part of a year after that night trying to help Sabina salvage her relationship, because I saw it as what a friend did. Even a bastard like me occasionally tries to do the right thing.