"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 May 2011


I cook a frittata of an Mesoamerican flare. Coffee brews and I finish the last of my mourning tea. Keemun. There is already sense of accomplishment for the day, having mowed for the first time this season. Milarepa and Whstler kept me company amongst the trilling of humming birds cool mountain breezes.

My daughter cat naps on the couch, rousing occasionally to see what's going on or answer a question. The two us are going on walkabout. A research expedition, as it were. Sabina, having obligations, does not get to join us, and she lets her displeasure be known. I suggest feigning leprosy, telling her obligations she needs at least a day to try and keep herself together. She shoots me a playful glare, damning me for my attempts at temptation.

I promise that my daughter and I will have a miserable time. We'll be bored to tears, most likely. My research is for some of my own obligations. Sabina's means of income involves getting swag of natural and organic on occasion. One of mine involves being able to report the field conditions of various trails to those not familiar with outback of our Sahel. Unfortunate, perhaps, but I find myself willing to take this bullet and be tossed into the metaphoric brier patch, for the team.

Making a frittata of an Mesoamerican flare is something I can do on autopilot. Against a reggae backbeat, I work on breakfast, check my correspondence, and prepare both my daughter's and my own packs. Sabina packs a lunch and makes a fruit smoothy for her and my daughter to have with their frittatas. I intend to have a seven grain mixture spiced with curry, thus making breakfast hearty.

At one point, mixing in the eggs with the meat, peppers, onions, and garlic, I hear Sabina humming softly to herself. I neither recognize the tune nor interrupt her to inquire, but I do smile to myself. Her back is to me, humming and mixing up fruit into a liquid beverage. It doesn't bother me. I'm too busy enjoying listening to her hum a tune I do not recognize, the whole time feeling a familiar sense of amazement.

...She spends her time with me. I didn't need to use roofies or duct tape to achieves this. Wow...

Breakfast is served. Coffee is poured and we all toast and set to eat. Bits of dialogue fill the atmosphere between moments of mastication. I pull back a moment to watch Sabina and my daughter. My girls. My little family. Another smirk, brief and impish, steals across my thin lips before I take another bite of frittata. In that moment, I find all I can think is how wonderful it is to simply be alive.

30 May 2011

An Education on Perfect Duffant

I once met a man, with a feral look and a skull full of busted wiring, who claimed he was the Devil. He did not react well when I laughed at him. There was really no choice. I had to school him. Educate him in the mathematics of the cosmos.

When I said he was not the Devil, he was just thick enough to ask me why I thought that. To which, with a maniacal smirk, a growl, and a predatory gaze, I said;

"Because I fucked the Devil's wife. And after I left her, fucked into unconsciousness, within the bowels of a dingy back ally that smelled of cinnamon, rotten apples, and sticky-sweet sex, in the last position I had her in, I paid the Devil a little visit. I beat the Devil out of several souls in an invigorating game of gin rummy.

"I have met the Devil, and he bares his jugular to me. The Devil knows I will eat his liver, grind his precious empire beneath my heel, steal his wife, and make goo-goo eyes at his daughter. I have met the Devil, and you ain't him!"

There is a certain look Homo sapiens get when they are truly broken. And the man had it. Oh, yes. And, trust me, every last word of it is true, even and especially the lies.

25 May 2011

Kashmir Day

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where the trouble started, but I like to blame it upon pangs of wanderlust, a once off-handed suggestion of picnicking, and lilacs. Shortly before or after Sabina and I had gotten together, I'd spoke of the divinity of picnics with the incoming warmer weather of spring. After all, we'd both endured a long and brutal winter, both meteorologically and metaphorically. It seemed with our leaving the vampire caste I'd been consumed by wanderlust. The historic district, where I lived, the greater metroplex itself, was not as fun as it once was. I wrote it off as going through a time of transition as opposed to having lost that loving feeling that was gone, gone, gone.

Whoa, whoa, whoa...

And of course, the matter of lilacs. Sabina loves that particular flower. Her tales of collecting them as a child and my memories of her expression when seeing and smelling them have inspired me to string together words like a spider spinning its web to tell a tale. Perhaps, in that context, she is my muse, but I'd hate to burden her like that.

But it was her idea to strike west one fine spring day to have a picnic, going deeper into the American Maghreb to the great Rocky Mountains. I still remember the point along the Road I refer to as the Border, because that's where one is afforded their last glimpse of down below and the metroplex, the badlands beyond and the first glance of the real mountains. Even after so many years, I'm still impressed by that point of aspect.

The first time we jumped off the twilight end of the world and entered our Sahel, I recall the first township we encountered reminded me of the historical district, where I lived; a juxtaposition of quaint Victorians and newer builds, sometimes stacked cheek to jowl. The lilacs Sabina sought were in bloom and she picked a few sprigs.

"I know of this place about fifteen miles west of here," she said. "It's a funky place you might enjoy. Would you like to go?"

"Let's let our destination find us," I said.
And so we headed west. The township, like Morocco, in the land furthest west, before the Roof of the World, where the North American continent splits in half and the rivers flip a coin by virtue of gravity to decide whether to flow east or west, caught my undivided attention. All along Rue Main were strings of Buddhist prayer flags. We were listening to music of a Himalayan flavor as we found a place to park.

There was purchasing tea from the Tea Room and bread at the bakery. We hiked the short distance to the picnic table at the eastern ledge. From there, we could see the Road, the train depot, and look west toward the Roof of the World. Sabina popped open a bottle of the good, good south African wine we so love. I was in awe.

"It's all so magical, isn't it?" She said as we toasted.

Perhaps it was the memory of a southern friend once proclaiming we were on the road to Kashmir. In his mind, Kashmir was not as much geography as a mental state; one's place in the world. Like falling in love, only you could really know when it happened. As we sat there, having a picnic on a lovely spring day beyond the end of the world, I found myself being enraptured. The realization hit me between the eyes like a two-ton heavy thing.

...This is Kashmir...

"It would be so nice to live here," I said as we were leaving to return to the city.

"Well, let's do it," Sabina said.

"Really?" I was gobsmacked, knowing how much she enjoyed being downtown. She took my hand.

"If we can figure it out, let's go for it," and I fell in love with her all over again.

It was amazing how quickly we decided we were over the greater metroplex. The very things that drew us in began to repel us. At every opportunity, we ran for the hills. Sabina would introduce us to locals as residents in waiting.

Less than a year later, we spied what would become the House of Owls and Bats. Our story, our tenacity was the stuff of local legend for a summer after. Although our determination to come to our place in the world is still the subject of admiration, it seems equally impressive that we stayed. The fact we've weathered the long dark winters here, just ten miles east of the Roof of the World.

I have mentioned before, Sabina and I have a lot of anniversaries. This day upon the calendar is one of them. It is the anniversary of when we found our place in the world. Kashmir. It's a given at some point during the day I'll take Sabina by the hand, pull her close, and say;

"Happy Kashmir day..."

21 May 2011

The Ghosts of Antiquity

"This place is ancient," the man with a Social Distortion tattoo on his forearm said one night before Sabina and I mounted another walkabout to the various ruins along the 730.

We were swapping stories of ghosts and demons. Gods and monsters. The myths, history, and legends in between of our little pocket of nowhere.

He was right, of course. It is something one can just feel in the air, even without seeing all the various ruins that pepper the mountainsides. An almost taste in the thinner air. It could be said one cannot take a step without following the footfalls of someone from another era altogether.

To be fair, I have lived in old places before. Down south, the township I lived outside of once housed a Confederate prison. Only one structure survived when the Union army marched through. In the greater metroplex, I lived in one of its oldest districts. An ancestor of mine designed one of the temples within the monoliths of downtown.

Still, the overall vibe is different here. The ruins remind me of all the books and documentaries I have read and seen about Egypt and India and China and Tibet and the Kingdom of Kush and the Near East. The remnants of structures that were ancient back during antiquity. I see that here; the remains from the Antiquity of the American Empire.

Although, I believe it goes deeper than that. There were tribes of the First Nations who wandered the passes of these mountains long before the mines. And those tribes had their ghosts and demons. Gods and monsters. They told stories of myth and history too. Some of those tales have roots in that nameless primordial time when the world was still encased in ice and the first hominids had taken a walkabout away from Africa. A time of dragons and titans.

The part of me that wanted to be an archaeologist if I ever grew up, whose sucker for the esoteric and exotic from bygone times, loves all this. The very fact we live somewhere that is designated as part of the National Registry of Historic Places is pretty fucking cool. Well, it least to me, but I am just about nerdy like that.

A few years ago, I heard tell of World Heritage Sites. This seems like a neat concept. A small seed of an idea  found purchase in that maggot's nest I call a mind and has slowly germinated into a full-blown scheme. I kick around doing more research and maybe, just maybe, actually work up the gumption to be will talk to those with a little more push and pull.

I've recently been placed in a position where speaking to those kind cats might happen with a little more frequency by virtue of obligation. Perhaps it comes down to whether or not I want to play politics and risk a little Machiavelli. As with a few other things I consider, it may just come down to a fuck it and a flip of a coin to decide my course of action.

Still, perhaps another title on this little pocket of nowhere. Further insurance that all those ghosts and demons. Gods and monsters. All those aspects of antiquity could continue to dance here upon earthly feet for those who are willing to look and listen.

17 May 2011

"To All the Girls..."

Back in the last year of university, and the few years after that, I knew a half-Ecuadorian we called the Latin Lover. He reminded me of Ian Asbury, from the Cult, and was possessed of that smooth and sincere charm, which made him instantly likable. His ink black hair was far longer and thicker than mine. He had dark soulful eyes and an incubus smile. In the circle I sometimes traveled, all of the girls, and even a few of the boys, wanted him.

And he loved women. Loved them. He would wax infatuation and romance about the various females he would see on campus or that he'd take out on a date. We always found this quite amusing. In every conversation, a girl would come up at some point.

"Are you in love?" my x-wife asked once, when talking about a particular girl.

"I fall in love twice a day," the Latin Lover said sweetly, and we all knew he meant it. The ladies that were in attendance swooned at his remark.

Once, sitting out on the veranda of the flat my x-wife and I shared, the Latin Lover told me, if he had a theme song, it was that sappy ballad; To all the Girls I've Loved Before. Seriously. Seeing as I'm not romantic in the slightest, I groaned, rolled my eyes, told him he was a sissy and wore pink by choice.

"You misunderstand," he said with that big grin more than one girl had lost her inhibitions to. "I've been with a lot of women, and I've loved every one of them. That's why that song fits me. It's to every one of them."

"You're still a sally," I said.

I can remember a time when I thought it was a nice to give a song to a girl. The whole our song thing. In theory, it's great. Until the break up. Then, the song becomes tainted. Twisted up with all the bad and mournful memories, it seems. A long time ago, I gave up on the practice, with precious few exceptions, Sabina being one of those, even then, I've fought myself about it.

Besides, I have noticed the resonance of a particular song can change. A different set of memories or feeling might end up being affixed to a tune, which meant something different at different time. Maybe that's just me.

Although, I told the Latin Lover, and it's been true to this day, if I was to have a girl-song like his simpy ballad, it would have be the Smithereens' A Girl like You. For every girl I've been involved with, I can think of at least a single line, maybe two, that during that stretch of time, just seemed to fit.

Hey, if some charming half-Ecuadorian, who could make women, and some men, go all kinds of goofy in the slacks with just a glance, could have To all the Girls I've Loved Before, then I can have a Smithereens' song. It's like that...

"That makes a girl feel like they're not special," my x-wife told me. "Like they could be anyone."

"Reckon I don't see it like that," I said. "See, every situation is unique, just like every girl has been. Fuck, everyone I've ever known, period. If by nothing else, than by virtue of their DNA and fingerprints."

Of course, we didn't see eye to eye on that. We didn't see eye to eye on a great many things, and those things have increased in legion in the years since. The fact I don't like to dedicate songs to girls is something I don't readily talk about. Probably because of that discussion with my x-wife. My rational seems perfectly sound to me, but then again, I'm not a romantic.

The Latin Lover, however, understood. In fact, it made him smile. He did say that, despite whatever I might say, I really was romantic, just in denial. I told him I hadn't made it Egypt yet and he drank. He laughed at me. Over the years, a few cats have made similar ascertains, to which I've pointed out their respective drinking or drug habits, which might cause delusion. I've met those who profess to being romantic before, and I know I ain't that.

The Latin Lover never claimed to be a romantic neither. He just loved women. Loved them. I suppose, were I possessed of that kind of charm, I might have tried to be like him. Since I'm not, I just figured I'd be like me, for whatever that might be worth.

15 May 2011

Lilac Dreams

When the first lilacs of spring appear, she can sense them, much like a water witch can feel a hidden stream. Her eyes light up in the manner of a child beholding their freshly wrapped holiday gifts. A smile, simple, yet as warm as new sunlight, stretches across her face. This is when she is the most alive.

She skips down the lanes, playfully picking her favorite flower. Even on the strange streets and in hidden places, she knows where they are. She fills her arms full of lilacs. A bridal bouquet for her prince charming, who has been in her mind's eye and heart since before she liked boys, or even knew what they were.

Empty bottles of esoteric wines become her flower vases. Her home becomes a riot of purples and whites. The perfume scent lasts long after the lilacs fade.

It's always with with heavy sigh and a bit of remorse when she bits farewell to her lilacs, once their time is finished. She never says goodbye, because that's too final. It's always an until next time. Then, she starts counting the days until she'll feel them bloom again. When she can harvest her bouquets and nostalgically dream of her prince charming she picks them for.

13 May 2011


It was a long time ago, my queer paradoxical ability to recall dates on a calendar fails me, when I made a comment to Sabina, who was not my companion yet. The comment in question was taken in the context of flirtation, which was not my fault. Odd, all things considered. It was only in a happy way. Completely innocent. Wholesome.

"I don't want to be your girlfriend," she said to me with a sly smile.

"All the better," I said. "I've done had girlfriends, and they suck. And not always in a happy way."

I have memory for those bits of dialog. Maybe it's a curse. Remembering dates, little details, and conversations. Sort of like I can recall every bully-boy buzzword uttered by any si lai nan jen, I have ever encountered, as an example.

"You're nothing," an oldie, but I reckon, as a classic, it doesn't go out of style, given I got called that within recent years. It was during one of my last break-ups.

To tell the truth, that's the insult I'll take as compliment. It's the Buddhist angle. The understanding of the concept of non-self.

Yeh? I'm nothing. And yet you're all kinds of hateful and resentful and making a big deal about it. About nothing. Dig it, you are making a big deal over me. Over nothing. Dwelling. You have given me all the power in all the world over you. Were I into slavery, I could say, and be spot on, I fucking own you. You're my bitch. How does that feel? My father would ask; who's stupid?

An amusing thought, but I digress...

At one point, some years later, Sabina, who was now my companion, and I were talking. About what, the details are fuzzy, but it hardly matters. In the midst of the conversation, she referred to herself as my girlfriend. My gaze locked on hers and I growled a little.

Yes, I know, better than most, but not as well as some, labels have only the power one gives them. Be that as it may, I have had girlfriends, been engaged, using that title, been married, therefore, having a wife. I have seen both the good and bad of those monikers, and I question if such titles are really for me.

"You told me you didn't want to be my girlfriend," I said.

"That was then," she said. "But we're dating now."

"We're not dating," I corrected. She gave me a look, which carried a bit of a pout.

"Seeing each other?"

"Obviously, given we're looking each other dead in the eyes."

"Mister Literal..."

"Mi amore," I said. "I have no doubt we are together. Bonded. But I have had my share of girlfriends. I've been betrothed and married. You don't need my stories to tell you how it played out." Then I reached out and took her hand. "You are my companion."

And it was said. See, I do not choose the monikers for those I know. The monikers choose them. Sometimes, it takes years, whilst others, it's upon the first glance. It is up to the individual to decide what the moniker means.

Upon utterance of her's, Sabina smiled. Soft and sweet. She wrapped her arms around me and gave me a deep kiss.

"'Companion,'" she repeated. "I like that. A companion is someone who travels with you on a journey."

"And we are on quite the journey, ain't we?" I asked her rhetorically. Her answer was a kiss in which the universe stopped to pay attention.

...Well, ain't we?...

11 May 2011

The Mist of Forgotten Words

Ever had something to say, whether trivial or profound, but suddenly language becomes foreign and nonsensical? Ever had the words, then they catch the throat an die, only to be exhaled as empty air, like autumn dead leaves on a blustery day? Ever had a tangent incubate, come to fruition, and then evaporate from the mind's eye like ice fog under hot daylight? Ever dipped into the wells of metaphor, only to discover it as dry as the remains of an Egyptian mummy?

Yeh? Me too. Believe it or don't, more times than I would care to count.
And yet, strangely enough, it seems when words are forgotten, that's when there's really something to say...

09 May 2011

Endings and Beginnings

For about a month, the way the jetstream was twisted and curled right over the the Roof of the World, the high country of the pointy lands was a cauldron of storms. When it wasn't precipitating in some form or fashion, vicious winds banshee howled across the peaks and through the valleys. There was fear and loathing it would never be warm again, a typical reaction caused by late-season burnout.

But nothing lasts forever, and, finally, the pattern shifted and storms broke. Warmth did begin to creep back into the high places and the mud began to dry. The omens of the mountain season of sun, which flatlanders would call spring and/or summer started to appear; insects and hummingbirds. Within a few weeks, there will be leaves on the deciduous trees once more.

To celebrate this change in meteorological fortune, I wore shorts and padded around the house barefoot. Sabina and I went on walkabout, taking a few hours to wander the bush, observing the waking world and mine ruins. The scent of green permeated the forests, which is like a tongue kiss from the Divine. There's already a fair amount of runoff. Both of us acquired sunburns, but, along with the good pain one gets after a long walkabout, it's all part of the price to paid, and all things have a price. That's the nature of the deal.

The ski resorts have all but closed for the season. Here, in our Sahel, the railroad has started for the season, and river rafting companies ramp up to start by month's end. As a rule, it seems, those who work at Loveland during the winter, work at either the train or one of the rafting companies during the summer, following  pittances the migratory species follow food sources, but perhaps it is one and the same.

And Last Day at Loveland is a big deal. The skiers and boarders party for days after the fact in celebration and mourning of the circumstance. Libations and other forms of intoxicant begin early, early in the day and go far into the small hours. I remember having that sort of alcoholic fortitude once, but it was long ago. Nowadays, such Sid Vicious partying-sans the heroin and horrible murder-invites liver sprain that can last for days.

This year's Last Day had a shade of melancholy to it. Well, at least for Sabina and I; Saint Christopher had Last Day be his last day at the cantina. Our funky little gin joint in our funky little mountain township is closed forever and ever, amen.

There is tragedy to this. Saint Christopher is a good man. I did some catering gigs with him a summer ago. His daughter and mine are quite good friends, and because of that, I got more free drinks than paid ones. There was the time, just a few months before we bought our house, which was Sabina's birthday, where he got us good and drunk and put us up in one of the flops behind the cantina.

"You've had two shots in hour," he said to us that night, whilst pouring another, quite full. "Make that three. I can't let you drive like that."

"You are an evil man," I said, taking a small sip from the glass.

"I don't see you saying 'no'," Saint Christopher observed.

"Sir, there are children in third-world countries that go to bed every night sober," I said, finishing my shot. "Children! I must think of the children."

Even though he had his local regulars, there was not enough off-the-Road tourist traffic to make a profit. Catering gigs could help during the summer, but those have been getting fewer and fewer, which is too bad, because he's an amazing chef. There were nights we'd sit around trying to figure out ways to get more business, but to no avail.

Sabina and I walked into the cantina on Last Day, feeling the heat of our respective sunburns to a crowd of drunken snowbums, the smell of marijuana, and a jam band rattling the windows with their pseudo-Grateful Dead stylings. Almost immediately, my misanthropy kicked into high gear, and the murder thoughts started. The fact there was barely any beer left was salt in the metaphoric wound.

I only spoke to Saint Christopher briefly. We both agreed our daughters would keep in touch, and he threatened to swing by the House of Owls and Bats for cocktails and dinner some night. At one point, I observed him from a distance whipping away tears and stepping into his kitchen as the the crowd hooped and hollered in celebration and mourning of Last Day. There is something heartrending about seeing a saint, however flawed, beginning to cry.

We only stayed for a two rounds. My growing aversion to crowds and decided lack of decent beer not withstanding, I did had obligations the next day, and I did not want to contemplate those through the haze of a sprained liver. Otherwise, it may very well have turned into one those kind of nights, in which Saint Christopher would be feeding me whiskey and I'd be stumbling home.

When we have libations, Sabina and I start with a toast. Trivial or profound, it's our custom. As we got our first beers, reflecting upon Last Day and day we'd had out in the bush, seeing the omens of sun, I raised my bottle.

"To endings and beginnings," I said, because there was nothing else to say.

03 May 2011

Survey Says...

Hey you groovy cats and chicks,

So, just the other day, a storyteller of whom I admire asked me quite politely to submit one of my stories to a creative non-fiction 'zine. This was very flattering, even and especially since I believe this gentleman strings words together in a far more articulate fashion than I. Perhaps I have gone quite mad, though, because I've found myself somewhat considering proposal.

Which brings me to my reason for this, and it is not without difficulty, for I dislike asking assistance of anyone; which tale should be sent to have powerful creatures smoking big cigars at said 'zine laugh at? I have a few considerations of my own, but I figured I'd solicit the perspective of those of you who sometimes look over these words I purge out of my skull.

Who knows? We all may even be considering the same stories. Wouldn't that be something?

Kai pei...