"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

28 June 2011

Hot Weather and High Water

In a little less than a week will be the day white man marks his independence and blatant tax evasion from the British Empire by virtue of the consumption of liberal libations, bar-b-ques, and the detonations of low-grade explosives. Because, after all, patriotism is defined by the blowing up of things, and not by the holding of alternative, and, sometimes, unpopular opinions, or being able to enjoy a conversation spanning the length and breadth of the Qu'ran, Kabbalahism, karma, tantra, biological evolution, and quantum physics, without having to worry about some doomsday zealot wanting to throw you in a hole, burn you at the stake in front of a lynch mob, or just shooting you in the back of head and having done with it.

For those reasons, I make a horrible patriot. Of course, by virtue of a spider's web made of cyber, I could be corresponding with someone from Borneo at the speed of thought. I hold some correspondence with a few cats across oceans and time itself. The old lines drawn in the sand by older empires seems rather irrelevant when one tries to look at the world as a whole. And besides, as an obscure British musician by the name of Bowie, would say;

"I'm afraid of Americans...
I'm afraid I can't help it..."

But that's another story entirely...

It's spitting distance to one of the major holidays of the summer season and there's still a fair amount of snow up upon the Roof of the World. The winter had been one not only of record, but of legend, in some places. Here in the high country of the pointy lands, rivers swell with waters the color mud and diamond as they race toward faraway oceans. In some areas, there has been bits of flooding, whilst in others, the threat of it looms like the specter of Rawhead and Bloody Bones, ready to spring at any moment, devouring the innocent without inhibition. There are sandbags and standing water.

This is quite the juxtaposition to places not but half of one-hundred miles and four-thousand vertical feet from my front door. Winds, from the deserts themselves, blow hot across the flatlands. There have been stories of great wildfires and places within the American Maghreb that have not seen rain in half a year. Even here, the mercury has read in the low eighties on the fahrenheit scale, which denotes quite the heatwave.

I like my juxtapositions and contradictions and paradoxes and dichotomies just fine, but I do find this state of things a little worrisome, perhaps bordering a little upon macabre...

It has been theorized that the reason we've not had proper floods, despite the high water, is the lack of rain. We're wet enough up here. A great many of us hope the afternoon storms do not begin their rounds until after runoff, which seems almost as unremitting as the winter that created it.

I am not the type to prey. Well, not unless it's in the context of the food chain. I do, however, allow myself to hope now and again. Presently, I do hope for rain, just not here. I hope that the afternoon storms do not form upon the Roof of the World, as is the custom, but a little further down, and that the water actually reaches those places of parched earth, instead of evaporating into virga phantasm long before touching the ground, giving the dry parts of the world a drink.  Prehaps even allowing for a little water-drunkenness.

After all, if for no other reason, there will be real live 'Mericians showing their patriotism by blowing shit up in less than a week, it would be a shame to see them catch the world afire by sheer negligence and by virtue dessication. It would also be nice to not hear meteorological doomsayers preach of end-times dry, but smile child-like at gentle drops and the sight of rainbows. Perhaps it is a small thing, but if I were the type to prey, in a context other than the food chain, I might just prey for, and upon, that.

27 June 2011

The Edges of the World

Here, there be dragons, is the old saying. Explores and travelers used it as a warning of going too far. Back then, there was fear and loathing to be found beyond the end of the world.

It was two days before Christmas, when I was seventeen, that I first traveled past the edge of the world. We were moving back from the North Carolina, and had finally made it across the snow-swept polar-cap cold wastes of what was once, centuries ago, called the Great American Desert, but is now called the midwest, through the city one mile high. My parents had purchased a home seven miles to the east of a small township called Parker. We were almost home.

Along the last road, along the second to last mile, there stands a hill. One of those rollercoaster types with sheer drops on either side. I was driving when my sister, grandmother, and I crested it. Motley Crue's Home Sweet Home was playing on the tape deck, and now, I realize how vaguely poetic, and a-lot-bit cliche, that was. It was early evening, a few hours past nightfall.

What we saw at the top of that hill was darkness. An expanse of utter blackness, peppered with just a few lone monkey lights as far as one could see in any direction, before touching the horizon, and giving way to the vastness of the cosmos. This was the badlands. My sister and I drew sharp breaths at what we saw, which caught in our throats as we descended the hill.

"We've just passed the edge of the world," I said. There was genuine reverence in my voice. "They say there are dragons out here."

"I believe you," my sister said. My grandmother, who had been napping, or pretending to whilst her grandson played his rock and/or roll music, chuckled softly.

Years and lifetimes later, that place around the dawn edge of the world has become a little more populated, though it's still rustic. The hill stands almost as a silent sentry to what lies beyond. My sister told me once she never saw the dragons I spoke of, but to this day, has no doubts they're out there.

My parents eventually moved further and further east. Their Kashmir was far beyond the edge of the world, into the Rub 'al Khali of the badlands of eastern Colorado. They never feared the dragons. After all, my father has probably stared them down. Of course, once, long ago, my daughter and I had a dragon for a pet, but that's another story.

Once my mother died, the Rub 'al Khali, so far past the dawn edge of the world, was no longer Kashmir for my father. I helped him return to the world. These days, he lives in one of the western buroughs of the greater metroplex.

In the kingdoms of Islam, Morocco represents the edge of their world, or it did once upon a time. It was called the land furthest to the west. The edge of the world.

My Kashmir is a sort of Morocco, but an acquaintance once told me we have our own Africas. An odd parallel to Kashmir being different for everyone. The township live in is the last settlement before the Roof of the World. The Small Tunnels, fifteen miles down valley, at the eastern edge of our Sahel, represent the twilight edge of the world.

"What's beyond the edge of the world?" I was once asked.

"Dragons," I said. Whether or not I'm believed these days is another matter entirely. Once upon a time, I was.

25 June 2011

Bats and Swallows

Down below, in the greater metroplex, once summer came, my daughter and I would take walks in the deepest blue of evening. In that twilight time between the last fading of the day and the coming of true night, we would spy bats. It was great fun. A hobby we would call bat watching. Our highest count was one-hundred sixty-five little brown bats, the most common of species in this part of the world.

Now, many, many lifetimes later, I still watch the dusk skies. The ting of light and its shades upon the daylight's fading clouds. I am a sucker for sunsets, but perhaps I just suck.

And I still look for bats, although, up here, I know a little better. In a season, I know I'm lucky if I see twenty, and most of those of those are in the late latest of summer, upon the precipice of autumn, just before the turning of the aspens. So it goes.

Up here, as we prepare to enter a dubious time mentioned as, high summer, that, which flies, of which I see is not Pipistrellus, but something bearing feathers that devours insects as well. It is a swooping and graceful thing, which is the butt of many a locker room joke; a swallow.

I do not count these as my daughter and I do the bats, but I still catch the same smirk of joy at the swallow's prescience. They do, after all, eat the mosquitoes. In high summer, and, even and especially, in the wetter places by the rivers, like the House of Owls and Bats, this can be a boon. 

It was a particularly warm evening when I first noticed the swallows dancing over the river against the backdrop of the deepest blue of evening. An omen, perhaps, of the coming mosquitoes of high summer. Still, I raised my glass to welcome them, with the most most wicked smile of joy upon my face. The swallows themselves were an omen to me, after all. Not of high summer or of the mosquitoes, persey, but of something that comes later, of which I can enjoy counting with my daughter. To me, they foretold of the bats.

18 June 2011

A Bus Ride Romance

She wants him so badly, she can taste his kisses. Licking her lips like a succubus in a rock and/or video. The way he arches his back when he draws near, he's imagining her liquorish nails running down the length of his spine. There's a look of cool confidence in his eyes one normally sees only in moving pictureshows.

As they speak, their lips lightly brush against one another. Near kisses. Promises and lies. Their figures are enshrouded in a near tangible cloak of pheromones and musk. There's nearly a flavor of it in the air.

Silhouetted on a bench seat, there but not, they have their little love affair. The rest of the world does not exist beyond their deathlocked gazes. Nothing else matters. They start to all but coil around one another like serpents.

The bell rings. It's time to stop. Perhaps it's for the best. Before things go too far and someone gets hurt. He stands up to leave. Whether or not they know how to get in touch with one another for another little rendezvous, whether or not they even know each other's names, hardly seems relevant. The bell has rang. It's time to stop. He walks off the bus without a backward glance, to her heartbreak, but it's probably safer that way.

15 June 2011

Say Nothing

It was years ago, when he phoned from half a world away to leave her. She kept him on the line, draining his calling card in recompense. I sat with her in a gin joint, commiserating over cocktails. Cheshire cats' smiles and talking, but saying nothing.

He came back, almost a year later, all circling and slithering. Dressed in a rumple suit of hipster intellectualism and a grunge boy goatee. The scent of want was his cologne. Intention played obviously across his words and actions.

At one moment, she looked interested, and the next mortified. A mix of playing once around the dance floor and fear of almost a year before. Others made comment to the fact. On one such occasion, she got up, and disappeared into the crowd. Whether it was from mortification and discomfort, or the need for another drink, was up for debate.

I found her when she returned, and asked her if she was okay. For all the eloquence I might possess, that simple inquiry seemed to be the best. She gave me a wry smile and wink.

"It ain't no thing," she said. "Let him try. He knows I'd still rather go home alone."

I smiled right back at her. A cheshire cat's grin. Without saying a word, I told her;

"That's my girl."

Later, I saw her harmlessly making out with a friend who was always just that. Some of the others wanted there to be more to it, but why queer and complicate things? A little game to be played at the juke joint. No one gets hurt. I smirked as I disappeared into the hot shadows of an early summer night. She might have gone home alone that night, but I knew she'd be okay.

14 June 2011

The Period of Brief Green

It perhaps comes as no surprise that the two types of landscape, which fascinate me are mountains and desert. Actually, I think the two have much in common. Both, no matter how the day was, can get rather chilly once daylight has fully faded and darkness truly descends. They are harsh environments of extremes, with a sense of beauty that is not always easily understood. And they are not for everyone. You fuck about in one of these stretches of geography, if you're lucky, you might just get metaphorically chewed up and spit out by the very landscape you arrogantly trod upon. Worst case, your bones are swallowed whole, and if you're even remembered at all, it's as a cautionary tale for foolhardy travelers from far-flung locals looking to do a bit of geographic slumming.

I like to believe if I'd not found my Kashmir here high within the bosom of the great Rocky Mountains, that I might've found it out in some lost and lonely desert, but, perhaps that is another story...

"We have mountains where we're from too," tourists, mostly from the east coast, will often say. I suppress the urge to laugh uproariously at them.

"Oh, I had the misfortune of living in North Carolina for about three and a half years," I've been given to say. "I've seen what ya'll think passes for mountains. Pretty? To a degree, but still barely foothills compared to out here."

Of course, I've gotten my backfist of perspective about living up high before. It came in the form of Sareta, a little Nepalese woman who runs Himalayan import store down below, in the greater metroplex, not too far from where I used to live. She's a sweetheart, and I still attempt to call on her maybe once or twice a year.

"You are moving to the mountains finally?" She asked, astonished, when I told her Sabina and I had purchased our house.

"Yeh, right along the edge of the high country basically," I replied. "A little over nine-thousand feet. We'll be close to a couple of fourteeners."

"The highest mountains in Colorado are fourteen thousand," Sareta said. "Where I come from, that is not very high at all."

"Yes, yes, I know," I said, all but bearing my jugular, which I do for no one. "Bloody fucking foothills. You win."

Another thing I believe our mountain Kashmir has in common with deserts is a matter of coloration. Green, unless you mean the evergreens-or cacti, in the case of a desert-is not a color that sticks around long here. In the mountains, most of the time, it is a study of khakis and whites. There is a brief few weeks in early, early autumn, when the aspens turn the hillsides into tapestries of spun gold, fire, emeralds, and rubies, but it is gone almost as quickly as it started.

Down below, and in warmer climbs, spring, green, seems to unfold slowly. Giving one a chance to ease into turn along the seasonal cycle. In our Sahel, there are the slight omens; a little more green in the khaki of the grass, bulbs threatening to come up through the thawing earth, reddish orange along the scrub brush, there is a scent of green along the trails when on is on walkabout.

But then, one day and from out of nowhere it seems...boom! Everything is green and lush and there are flowers and foliage and the wind is not so cold. Tourists and snowbirds swarm to the pointy lands like ravenous locusts. In that one day, shorts and sandals become more acceptable. In that one day, it is summer once more.

This period of green is very brief. Only about twelve, maybe thirteen, weeks, before the landscape begins its fade to a study of khakis and whites once more. I've heard tell flowering, blossoming, green times in deserts are as short, if not shorter.

After quite a few false starts, it is summer in our Sahel. Shorts and sandals and sangria or beer out back on warm afternoons after a walkabout. I've even gone as far as to tell tourists that it only began a few short weeks ago after an unremitting winter. It's not a lie, and some locals wonder if we still might get snow as low as eight-thousand feet above the surface of the world's oceans before autumn.

Although I make quite a few comparisons between the mountains and deserts, I do know better than to totally discount the geography of one place by what I know or have heard of another. Serta's backfist of perspective about living in high places not withstanding, there have been other times where I've been humbled by the reality of landscape.

I used to compare humid and/or rainy days down below to my memories of North Carolina. That went on for years. Then, when my siblings and I went back, for the first time in sixteen years, to help our father bury his mother, I once more felt the weight of Confederate air. I thought I was going to drown.

"I've lied to everyone I've ever met for the last sixteen years," I mused to my brother and sister. My sister giggled, and my brother said something about us being more of a desert people, what with being natives of the American Maghreb.

I used to refer to the places I knew in Colorado as bastard desert and wanna-be savannah. Short-grass prairie and high desert are indeed used as descriptions of some of the regions around here. Then, Sabina took me to Arizona, to the true deserts of the American Empire, to visit her parents. Given my fascinations with deserts, I was all kinds of excited. This was when I still smoked. As we waited to collect our luggage, I opted to step out to burn a fag.

"Are you sure you want to do that?" Sabina asked me. "It's hot out."

"Woman, I have survived southern summers and hot days in the badlands," I said. "I can do dry heat."

And then I stepped outside. Kilns in artist collectives are cooler. The only other time I was given to sucking down a cigarette so quickly was when the air was polar-cap cold, turning to napalm and spun glass in my lungs. The sensation was queerly similar and not something I'm really in any hurry to repeat.

"How was that 'dry heat'?" Sabina asked with a smirk me when I came back in, my face flush, my breath somewhat labored.

"Fuck off," I wheezed. It was the best I could for witty banter at the baggage claim.

Those memories kaleidoscope through my skull as I take in the brief green. They keep me from embellishing in the tongues of ignorance when my obligations put me in the positions of speaking to tourists. It reminds me to enjoy the uniqueness of the landscape I have come to inhabit.

Which I do. Grilling outdoors and longer days. Shorts and sandals may have become more acceptable, but, I tell you, it fills me with the most wicked sense of joy to feel green grass, no matter how brief it may be, under my bare feet.

12 June 2011

Vino Kisses

She really didn't want to leave, but her ride insisted. He was something she found herself enjoying, perhaps even wanting a little. There were some soft and civil words, before she gave him a quick kiss, leaving him pleasantly shocked with the taste of wine on his lips.

He went for a walk whilst his head swam. It was really a shame she left so quickly. Certainly, such things are cute in the movies, those dramatic exits, but he wanted her to stay.

It was a pleasant surprise to see her talking to one of his friends...

The initial reaction seemed less than favorable. She looked shocked. Said it was not expected. The word hate came up in conversation, though her eyes betrayed that statement. Perhaps more would have been said, but she saw her ride dashing out the door.

"What are we going to do?" She asked, leaning closer, not but a breath and a heartbeat away.

"I don't know," he replied. "But I think we're doomed."

Their lips met again. Softly, at first, then their tongues touched. An enchanted moment. It could be said that here is where the trouble starts.

But it ended too quickly. It always does. He watched her walk away, disappearing into the crowds and out the door, licking the taste of wine from his lips.

11 June 2011

Dreamtime Moment

We are having chicken, done two ways. My brother is going on about how much money he's spent recently, but, apparently, it's completely justified. Only the best.

Then I see her. She's healthy and vibrant. A warm smile crosses her face as our eyes meet. Her movements are steady and strong. A sense of confidence and aristocracy she inherited from her parents. Something I hope to one day acquire myself.

My embrace is so tight, so violent, it threatens to steal away breath and crush bones into powder. Her scent is that of the badlands. Of farms and the dogs and wisdom and protection. I cannot anywhere find the reek of the sickness, which ate her alive so very quickly.

"It's been a long time," she says.

"Almost two years," I say. "Not since the sickhouse, right before..."

And the perfection of the dreamtime moment is thus shattered by cold, hard, reptilian fact...

She pulls away slightly. She smiles at me again. It is one of acceptance. I am seized by an urge to cry, but do not. She nods and kisses me upon the brow.

"Oh, my sweet boy," she whispers. "I know."

My eyes fly open to the darkness of the small hours. Around me are the sounds of quiet breathing. Sabina, in the bed, on one side. Whistler lays on the floor next to my side of the bed, reminding me to be mindful when I first get up.

With a heavy sigh, I close my eyes again. I realize this is an effort in futility. The dreamtime moment, like my mother, is lost and gone forever. I cannot get that back no matter how hard I try, wish, prey, or beg. And, perhaps because of that, I know I'll not be sleeping anytime again soon.

09 June 2011

An Act of Hairy Defiance

Years ago, on the first day of my mother's chemotherapy, the day my father shaved his head, my mother made a statement of defiance. Upon seeing my father, sans his ice-white hair, my mother kissed his brow. She told him she loved him and he that had done a sweet thing, which was truly appreciated. Then, she looked him dead in the eyes and set her jaw.

"I am not going to lose my hair," she said to him.

My brother related this tale to me when we spoke on the subject. At the time, I have not seen my mother with my own eyes in over half a year, and had wondered how her won battle with malignancy has left her. What scars she might have borne. At one point, she told me she was skinnier than I am. It was only given to assume my mother lost her hair.

It was my father who taught me the lesson I of assuming when I was twelve, but, in this context, I must have not been paying attention...

My mother and I finally spoke again. She sounded upbeat and otherwise cheerful. Other than the memories and the stories, it was hard to tell, by the sound of her voice, that she had ever been ill. Back then, this added to a growing feeling of hope. That she had beaten the illness, instead of months later phoning me in tears to tell me she was terminal. Naturally, I asked her about the tale my brother related to me about keeping her hair. There was a brief heartbeat of silence. I imagined she was setting her jaw in defiance.

"I didn't lose a strand," she said.


Years later, I can still smile remembering that. Even with her gone now, in those moments, the feeling of hope was as tangible as a gentle touch. It has been that sense of hope I hold on to, because, simpy as it sounds, even in the face of the bleakest, hope is a more precious commodity than folding paper, jingling coins, rubies, or glass beads.

08 June 2011

Tea Time with Demons

Let's talk about rock and/or roll...

Okay, not really. Instead, let us speak of demons. Those shadows things, which voices taunt us in the dark. That, which there is not not drink or drug enough in the whole of creation to burn them from memory. Don't think it hasn't been tried.

I was sixteen, and my parents were having a...discussion. It was one of those, and if you have to ask you'll never fucking know. My father had pinned my mother to ground, and, as fate would have it, I knew the exact location of my father's forty-four. My scheme was simple; one shot in the air, as a warning, the second, between my father's eyes.

...I thought about this. I was going to shoot my father between the eyes. And I love my father. I always have. He's my hero...

...I didn't do it. Think of that what you will. Did I love my father too much or not hate him enough? Was I a coward or mindful, even at sixteen when I knew everything, but how to deal with it, punching a barn wall in screaming recompense?...

I did what I did. Fuck you. That's how the story goes...

The jewel-eyed girl once held a piece of broken glass to my throat as I closed a door. I was no longer willing to let her have her way. The details to that story are one that should be given its peace. Thirteen individuals too many have heard it. Still, I spent an hour in manacles because of it. Right or wrong. Even though I called for the constabulary and rescue services. I still have the nightmares. Vivid horrible fucking things. I spent close to half a year drunk and another half being a teetotaler before once more finding my heretical middle way. It was something that fucked me up worse than my x-wife leaving me, and taking my daughter in tow; those feral blue eyes and piece of glass pointed at my jugular and sewer water tongue saying to me as I called for the constabulary;

"Shut up..."

I can see that too well. This is what happens in the darkest of night when the demons come. Here is what they have to say whilst one pours the tea of ambrosia and acid.

...Listen. Mark well, and remember. Learn the lessons the demons teach you upon your sins and shortcomings. If you do not, get used to the taste of perdition...

So it goes...

A few years ago, I told Sabina I was willing to give myself to her. A singularity, even and especially since I belong to nobody. And, yet, hypocritically, I belong to her in the same dysfunctional way she belongs to me. Funny that. Funny old fucking world. She is the only one; friend, lover, or otherwise who I could speak in full, dark detail and tell her of those whispers in the dark at the same time I cleaned up shards of broken glass and mopped away bloodstains, whilst the burn of the cold metal of manacles were still fresh upon my wrists.

I could ask who better? But if you have to ask than you will never fucking know...

07 June 2011

Beautiful Monsters

A sign of warmer weather amongst orifice parks and other professional places was seeing more working week whores and corporate predators, in search of capitalist prey, outside of the concrete, glass, and steel terrariums they normally inhabited. It would get me to wonder what nefarious dealings were happening within these companies. Perhaps, it was just with the advent of warmer weather, these creatures came out of hibernation.

They were elegantly sculpted beasts, pressed and starched, with sterilized innards. Getting close enough, I looked into their eyes, the windows to the soul, as the saying goes. Theirs were hollow and dead. Doll's eyes is the medical term. A symptom of brain death. The lights are on but nobody's home, to use another cliche.

In a way, it was kind of frightening...

I'd open up other senses, hoping, sometimes preying, there'd be more. The initial surface assessment was unkind. I could've be wrong.

It never seemed that I was. Scents of plastic and rotten meat. Maggots in the blood. Decay. Were I to have cut one, sewer water would spill from rusted veins. Sad, but not really that surprising.

Had I been so inclined, I'd have inquire if they were metaphysical stillborns. Or try and find out what event hollowed them out, suffocating their ch'i. But chances were I'd have been greeted with a blank stare.

"Kangaroo?" One might've replied.

It's okay, I knew what I was on about...

05 June 2011

The Balanced

It was during my last year of university, whilst taking a world religion class, that I came up with my personal mantra, which was paraphrased from the book of John; I and the beast are one. It fit. At the time, I my meditations focused on making sure the demon and ghost worked in concert, not conflict. It's all about balance.

Shortly after my thirtieth birthday, Lee tattooed my mantra across my back in black India ink, using Nepali script-the closest I could get to Sanskrit. The pain was exquisite. I felt it necessary, though. Besides, it balanced out the demon and man brands under my collar bones. Those marks symbolizing the twin aspects of being. Yin and yang. Light and shadow. Instinct and intellect. Chocolate and peanut butter.

Supposedly, I'm one of the balanced ones. At least some of my friends think so. I find this amusing, since I catch my moments of queer anxiety and know I'm not always good at the mundane things. Yet, strangely enough, some of the cats I've know over the years and lifetimes have come to me when they need to be reminded to breathe.

I've had my own friends I go to see to remind me to breathe. My gurus, dysfunctional though they might be. Funny how it's played out that there are those who see me in that role. I don't believe I'm a guru or a guide.

It's strange, because I've never rightly tried to be a saint, superhero, or even bodhisattva. I just do what I do. It's taken me a lot of years to accept I might wield some mojo as a storyteller. Whilst I do feel good when one of my friends tells me my words or presence helped, I still catch my wondering if it isn't some kind of secret joke. Proof in the pudding of the maniacal humor inherent in the universe, much like a giraffe or a platypus.