"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

30 January 2011

In the Moroccan Shadows

Porcelain kisses from a China doll face. A kabuki mask of amore, even if only for the moment. A half-remembered dream from a very long time ago. I don't think I got the name, or if I did, I no longer recall, but her eyes were like abalone shells. The eyes are what I remember most, but I'm a sucker for a pretty and/or intense set of eyes. There was a silhouetted figure dancing to Moroccan rhythms through veils of jasmine scented smoke and multi-colored wall hangings and carpets.

Men supposedly smell manly. That's the lie the social construct of reality tells. More than one cat, mostly female friends, have remarked I don't smell like a man. Of course, detractors would more than likely slanderously say that's because I'm not one. Most often, the scent of incense is noticed first, then all the exotic spices I like to cook with, or perhaps tea. I might not smell like a man, but I do not require cologne neither.

Someone once remarked I had the bearing of faraway lands. Given to traveling in nexuses and the dreamtime, I thought this was a neat trick. Once upon a time, I was told I walked between worlds. That cat was tripping acid, but I catch myself wondering if she wasn't on to something, because others have shared that sentiment. To this day, I still want to know what more tastes like. More of what? Maybe one day I'll have a tangible answer to that mystery.

I knew someone whose scent was that of far away places, but that's because they'd been there in the waking. It was a scent I enjoyed. If they worn perfume, I never rightly noticed. Call me insensitive, but unless it's overpowering, bordering on marinade, I notice an individual's natural scent before anything they put over it. Often, it's that scent I go on. It can take me years to describe one's scent if queried. Sometimes, I get lucky, and know the right adjective off the bat.

Once, I fell in love with a girl who smelled of parchment and old books. How could I not? Her eyes were like those seen in a dream on a night of Moroccan shadows. That, and the scent, got my attention. An omen or coincidence, depending upon your philosophical bent. She once asked me where I'd been all her life until that moment, and I flippantly told her I was looking for her. That's okay, she said she was waiting for me.

Sometimes I dream of a cozy little places and remember silhouettes. The smell of good home-cooked meal. Adventures where time stood still or warps in pleasing ways. Moments in the Moroccan shadows. Messages in bottles, postcards, and love letters. Some real, some imagined. But since reality is, in fact, a phantasm, and I am wide awake in the dreamtime, it's all one in the same.

28 January 2011

False Spring

The first truly warm day in deep winter, the false spring, whispering of a true season, is like a tongue kiss from the Divine. One of those marmalade kisses that is savored and eternally hoped for. The kind of kiss you receive when you first fall in love. The type no fairy story in the whole of creation can prepare you for, not that you really mind the pleasant surprise of it in the heat of the first passion moment.

Here, in our Kashmir, which, like Morocco, is the land furthest to the west, at least until the Roof of the World, the mercury on porch thermometers read a quaint forty 'Merican degrees on the fahrenheit scale for the first time in a month. Packed ice upon the roadways turned into slush and running rivulets of water toward a slight-hopeful-thaw in the river. Out in the clear and uninhibited sunlight, it felt downright balmy. Coats were shed like the used layers of snakeskin. There were smiles upon faces. Playful snowballs were thrown by children with only a sense of whimsy. It was a beautiful day to be outside. It was a beautiful day to be alive.

Meteorological prophesy foretells of at least two more days of a false spring before the bottom falls out again. Another storm. Another couple of days of cold before warming up again ever-so-slightly, but probably not above freezing. Some look at the sparse false spring days with a certain fatalism, lamenting how they will not last, missing the lesson in impermanence.

Yet these days are more precious than the origami corpses of deified presidents or glittering jewels. The simple fact of their fleeting nature makes them so. Instead of wasting oxygen whining about the circumstance, one should take stock, even if it is to just step outside for a handful of moments to feel bright sunlight and warm air upon the face.

My eyes track across the valley to the rock formation along the northern border of the township; the Bull's Head. It's so close to home it hardly counts as a walkabout or being out in the bush, and yet it's one of my favorite treks. Perhaps because of its simplicity and closeness, and, by virtue of living in a funky mountain township on the borderland fringe of front range and high country, we pretty well live camping. That's why I refer to this place as the Sahel, the shore. In between. Maybe it's because I can do the trail in an hour, and it's enough to fill me with the same kind of reverence some get stepping into temples.

Miliarepa and Whistler will come with. Chevy has been sentenced to arthritis, and walkabouts into the bush, even and especially during colder times, have become a no-no. This saddens me, but there's nothing I can do. Getting old, much like being born, growing up, and dying, happen. So it goes.

A walkabout, however short, seems in order. It would be simply impolite not to bring at least two of the hounds. The prospect of warm sunlight and snow subtlety turning to slush underfoot is intoxicating. Perhaps it's environmental; the fleeting days of false spring appearing to help ward off the potential madness of deep winter cabin fever. On days like this, and times likes these, this can be, indeed, the most wonderful time of the year.

26 January 2011


Have you ever tasted sunlight? Perhaps that sounds absurd, and I can understand it. Up until a few years ago, I would've looked upon someone presenting me with that inquiry as though they were mad. After all, if you've never been near, or at, the poles, or just stayed where it's flat, the question makes no sense.

Here in the mountains, in our Kashmir, situated in this Sahel, watching the interplay of light and shadow can be quite something; checkerboards of clouds and sun and silhouettes or sheer vertical terrain. I've seen similar phenomena when traveling by air, looking down at a patchwork world from over thirty-thousand feet above the surface of the world's oceans. Also, out in the badlands, where the land and sky seem to go on forever and ever and ever amen in all directions, leaving one feeling so small and insignificant against the background of khaki, I've seen the sun and clouds create intriguing designs upon a canvas of the land itself.

I have mentioned the long dark. That point, right around my daughter's birthday, when the world's tilt upon its axis and the virtue of orbit sends the sun hiding behind Mount Pendelton, along the valley's southern ridge line. For six weeks after, no direct sunlight falls upon the House of Owls and Bats. It seems then that winter really kicks into high gear. That is when it feels winter is at its coldest.

And for almost the last month, filled with steady snows and harsh cold snaps, we've been reminded of the fact it's winter here in the highlands of Rocky Mountains. Plows have pushed up drifts along the roadways that vary in depth only because of the elevation they occur at. At its deepest point around the house, I'd estimate we've had eight inches of snow since it started with steady earnest.

But one day, always imperceptibly, there's that...sensation. Something in the deep winter air has changed. Perhaps it's something within the orbit, which is felt way deep down within the biology. It is then, if you pay attention, you can catch the taste of sunlight, warm and golden, honey and wine, upon your tongue. Someone who's never been where sun does not always shine cannot fully understand, but this is the sweetest and most intoxicating of ambrosias.

In the days before, the nearing dollops of daylight look like lemon meringue upon the snow. Saliva builds within the mouth. Then, as subtlety and quickly as the long dark began, it is over. The sun, warm and bright, shines directly down once more.

Here it is; the backside of winter. Day by day, those dollops of direct sunlight upon the house will last longer, growing more and more, until the entire section of the valley is entirely illuminated once more. Eventually, the layers of winter snow will melt. Then, it will be spring.

The very thought of it brings a smile to my face. A big old cheshire cat's grin. I find myself content, feeling that life is good.

25 January 2011

An Afternoon of Not Being

He sat on a porch on a warm and lazy afternoon. Mournful bluesy music played at a loud, yet comfortable level from the radio. Cotton candy clouds ambled slowly across a deep blue sky. The occasional chirp of a wild bird complemented the underlying hum of insects, providing an other worldly sort of backbeat between songs.

The taste of an exotic cigar and a smooth tumbler of whiskey went perfectly with watching the sleepy world go by. He thought of them as half remembered kisses from a forgotten dream. A tiny slice of the Divine and a joke only he knew the punchline to. That was the way it often went.

There were a few hours before suppertime and really nothing else to do but simply be. The telescope at the end of the porch carried an unspoken suggestion of something to do in the deepest blue of evening. He thought of it briefly as he glanced in that direction during a small sip of whiskey. There was a book, older than his oldest relatives, which sat open on next to him. When not gazing out into the warm lazy day, his eyes would pass briefly over the page, sometimes even reading the words.

No tangible thoughts coalesced in his mind. Time hardly registered as anything more than moment stretched into an eternity. If he thought about it, he might have mused how it really didn't matter. Days like the one he was in were the best for simply being, even if it was by not being there at all.

24 January 2011

Agents of Chaos

Sabina did not take it well when the tanker rollover a mile from home closed the Road. Oh, but she raged, saying horrifically vicious things about the driver and their family, despite not knowing this cat from Adam, Eve, or Cousin Juan. Hoping for all sorts of nastiness to befall them, beyond, or, perhaps because of the accident.

I suppose I could've been hyper-sensitive and mentioned that friend recently killed in a rollover accident, but I did not. After all, Sabina wanted to get home and was angry about this little bit of chaos. By her own admission, she's a control-freak, and this was a situation beyond that. When one is angry and not getting their way, one is not given to rational thought. I did, however, mention that the reason such things are called accidents is because they are very far from being intentional.

It was chaos. That force of nature, which can strike down out of a clear blue day. Always without warning. The sort of thing that ruins plans. The social construct of reality has sometimes tried to paint this force of nature as evil, or at least mischievous, but that's anthropomorphizing. Forces of nature do not recognize or care about such trivialities as good or evil or even whimsy.

Chaos just is. It can be as horrific as a storm or a terrible accident or mortifying as an especially loud release of flatulence during a time in which decorum dictates control would be in order. Of course, by virtue of chaos, things like control and order are but mere illusions. Jokes. In the hominid context, things that were invented to try and deal with what can sometimes be the horrifying reality that a great deal of things that happen are just a roll of the bones.

Looking for rhyme and reason is merely seeking a pattern, which is something hardwired into the monkey brain from primordial times. Patterns helped the species survive. Chaos, that random break in the pattern, is, was, and still is, terrifying, and, in the end, who likes to be frightened? Thus, the construct was born.

I always liked the term chaotic neutral. I guess because good and evil have never been so cut and dry for me. Perhaps it's wiring, but I tend to notice the shades of Grey. Maybe I'm even drawn toward it. Black and white is not only fiction, but it's rather boring.

Of course, there's another construct I've observed; the chaotic types being the bad guys. The sociopaths and scary people. Well, in the stories, they get the cooler costumes, neat weapons and powers, and better lines, but those are just stories. I've encountered cats who would say they are agents of chaos and I find myself stifling a laugh, because they've been hoodwinked by the same stories; all trying to be spooky and disorderly, most often in the hope of not being fucked with and perhaps scoring with something warm and soft that's sucker by the bad-whatever facade. After all, as I stated, chaos is a force of nature. One might as well go and say they're an agent of the wind, and the only time that might be even somewhat believable is when a plate of beans is involved.

There I go with the flatulence again. How puerile of me, I realize. Although, I think I have a point. You don't hear of someone claiming to be a disciple of oxygen or a follower of space time, for example.

I have mentioned before that I truly came to accept this fact of the cosmos by the time I was twenty-four. It became a very real part of my way of thinking and being. A religious individual might say I converted, but how does one convert to a force of nature? Something that just is? One cannot be an adherent to the universe in that context, I don't think. I find it better to say I accepted chaos.

Perhaps that makes me chaotic in the social construct of reality, and I shouldn't go bragging about such things. After all, those who dig on chaos are the villains and other forms of sociopath, or at least that's what the stories, created and perpetuated by the social construct of reality, say. And who are we to question the social construct of reality?

Anyone who knows me or has been following along at home might have figured out my answer to that inquiry. I accepted chaos long ago in all its terror and beauty. Living by the rolls of the bones can be simultaneously annoying, frightening, and liberating. If that makes me chaotic and invites the accusation of sociopath, then pleased to meet you and hope you guessed my name. 

21 January 2011

Dinner with Dad

It perhaps seems odd, but going to visit my father is a bit like going to the cool rebellious kid's house to hang out against parental wishes; a bit of decedent vice. An opportunity to do things one does not usually do. Smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. I can even have a toke or two if I so desire. My little brother, quite the stoner in his own rite, jumps on that snake's tail, riding it for all it's worth. My father, sixty-three, and having smoked the stuff as long as I can remember, is more reserved, having a toke or two here and there, but never getting lost to the full affects of getting stoned.

I've had some marijuana once or twice in my father's presence since my mother died. Just a toke or two. I found out the hard way I am somewhat allergic to the substance. To get stoned invites hallucinations. Sometimes my sleeping patterns are wonky and I see things. I don't like it when that happens, and getting fucked up to see things is far from my idea of a good time. I told my father this was why I didn't smoke pot the next time I saw him after my mother had walked on.

"Then don't get stoned," he said. The answer was so obvious. I had a toke, caught a buzz, and then moved on, having hit my dinger.

Besides, I find the consumption of beer, whiskey, vodka, or the occasional small tumbler of sapphire gin on the rocks and the burning of tobacco leaves far more interesting. Technically, I stopped smoking two and a half years ago. Not quit, my mother didn't raise no quitter, but abstinence. When I see my father, for the space of a few hours, I'm a smoker once more. Depending upon the visit depends on how many I have, although the upper limit always seems to be four.

"I want you to meet my new girlfriend," he tells me, and brings me to the water closet, where he looks into the mirror; "Hello, gorgeous."

"How sweet," I say.

"You've got to be comfortable with yourself before you can be with someone else," my father says.

"You hold up one of your hands and I'm leaving," I tell him.

We listen to music and watch films. Not having a television, I get a chance to see what the rest of populace considers popular entertainment. Talk about my brother, sister, their spouses, Sabina, my daughter, and nephew. Sometimes, he asks me about friends of mine I used to run with that he knew. He'll ask me about life in the mountains, fifty miles away and four-thousand vertical feet higher, and the three other species of quadruped we share our household with. We talk about other relatives. One's we've not seen or spoken to in years. Those who have since walked on. Inevitably, my mother comes up.

"She could be a contrary bitch, I tell you," my father might say.

"And if she was here right now, she'd say she wasn't," I mention, which gets my father to chuckle.

"You're just like her, you know," he says. "Contrary."

"I am not," I argue. "Besides, I'm taller, she had the darker beard of the two of us, and I have a chin."

"There you go, being contrary."

"Fuck you."

We've known each other thirty-eight years now. He's been the individual who would appear after week-long business trips during my childhood to the authority figure of my adolescence. The man who shook my hand and restrained tears the day I got married to one who told me to pull myself up by my bootstraps after I got divorced. We've raged against one another and contemplated whiskey into the small hours. Roadtripped into places where neither would rather go by both virtue of geography and memory. In those years, I've gotten to where I can say fuck you to him and not be fed my orthodontia.

"I miss her..." he says, a wistful look in his eyes I've gotten far too familiar with.

I want to tell him me too, but I don't. He's talking about his wife. His confidant and soulmate. The love of his life and mother of his children. His best friend. I just miss my mom. We share two different vantage points of the same vista.

"But I'm getting better," he says finally.

"Well, that's good," I say simply because there is nothing else to.

We eat dinner. Raviolis and Italian sausage. Another indulgence. Whilst omnivorous, I do not always have meat for dinner. Eating organic and game makes the proposition a little more expensive, and, therefore, something to be done every so often. We talk and smoke after supper, relaxing before doing the dishes. He washes, I dry. I clean the rest of the kitchen after the fact whilst finishing my last libation of the visit.

Then, the time comes for me to take my leave. I'll not smoke until I see my father again, which can be months. The next time I imbibe in a cocktail might be a few days, the same can be said with meat for dinner. I leave him a few bags of tea, since that's what he likes to drink first thing in the mourning. A small recompense for the dinner and company. If I could pay my way in this world with tea, I would truly be an aristocrat.

We speak of how nice it was to see one another. How we must do this again. My father tells me to drive safely and asks me to let him know when I get home. Tells me to give his granddaughter a hug the next time I see her. The last thing reminds me that despite my initial description, this was not like going to the cool rebellious kid's house to hang out against parental wishes.

"I love you, son."

"I love you too, Dad."

18 January 2011

Most Precious Treasure

There was once a couple, that by look, word, and action, one could tell they were in love. In fact, they were completely devoted to each other, willing to lavish affection on one another until the stars fell from the sky. There was tragedy to this, wrapped in the cliche of how they could never be together. It was a matter of station. She was a princess, and he was a mere peasant.

Despite station, they found ways to be together. To share one another's company. She had no inhibition of telling him her feelings. Of wishing for a life together with him. He would sometimes behave cruelly toward her and try to push her away. It was a coping mechanism. The pain of looking at her, of a shared moment without being able to have more, was too painful.

He swore he would never kiss her, fearing it might complicate things. Intensify the sweet pain he felt in her presence. That oath was dashed one night under a full moon during a festival. Her lips were the sweetest thing he ever tasted. Both of them wanted more. Her husband, a prince, though he never knew of their secret amore, forbid her from associating with him. Someone so beneath her station.

This made their bond, their love, stronger. The forbidden fruit. She took every opportunity to see him. A gamble she felt was worth the risk of losing her station, her husband, and her fortune. Those had all come to mean nothing to her. Only one thing mattered anymore, and it was him. He was her most precious treasure.

He swore never to sleep with her, fearing it would make things worse. The thought of her loosing everything because of him was something he could not bear. This oath was dashed during a storm, when they hid in the ruins of an abandoned monastery for shelter. It was then he confessed that he loved her too, but he never told her he wished things were different, so they could be together. That was the one oath he kept.

Years later, he sat at a bus stop in a foreign land, telling me his story. An older man, he spoke in mournful tones about his princess. His treasure. The true love of his life. He left his homeland the day she ascended the throne to become queen, her imperial robes the color of the clouds during twilight.

As she stood there with her husband, now the king, his imperial robes the color of the deepest blue of evening, she wept. Certainly, there are those who would say it was for joy, but the truth was she not standing with the man she wanted to stand with. Her kingdom meant nothing to her. Her most precious treasure was leaving.

He spoke to me of the great monsoons, trinkets made of jade, and the scent of lotus blossoms. Those stolen glances in secret places. Though he was far older, and his tale could have taken place in the days of the First Emperor, when he spoke, I saw a man my age, if not younger.

Eventually, he fathered children, but he never said whether or not he got married. One of them was a daughter. He named her after his princess, his treasure, though he never told the mother why. The pet name for his girl child was treasure. I curse myself that I cannot remember how he said it in his native tongue. He thanked me for listening to an old man's tale.

After that, whilst I stilled lived in that historical district, down in the greater metroplex, I would still see him on the bus or walking down the street. I'd incline my head or say hello. Sometimes, I'd see that wistful look in his eyes when he thought about her, but I'd say nothing about it. There were no words. I felt for him, though, despite the fact I am not in possession of even the slightest ting of romance. His feet may have been there in the city, but his heart was still a million miles away.

16 January 2011

The Last Infusion

Lapsang souchong has come to be my smokey black tea I drink on those days with a Himalayan motif. I still have just a little of my Nepali black left. Probably enough for one more infusion, which can do me for about three cups. Four, if I'm exceedingly lucky.

But I'm holding onto it for certain time. A time, of which I'm not sure when it will be. Perhaps the perfect storm of Himalayan motif; Tibetan winds and Nepali snows with an atmosphere of such profound silence, it all but begs for one to contemplate emptiness and everything. After that, the Nepali black will be gone. A lesson in impermanence.

Oh, I know by the grand wonders of modern technology I can slip out along this spider's web of cyber and find Nepalese tea. Most likely, many fine varieties. Some, perhaps even more smokey or more delicious than this treasured last bit I have sitting in a jar upon my counter. By virtue of the tech, I can correspond with someone in Nepal in what is buzzworded as real-time if I so wanted to.

Ain't it grand? Oh, I think so. The world, so large and wondrous, simultaneously made so small, rendering the old lines drawn in the sand by older empires irrelevant, by one specie's tools. It's humbling, if you really stop to think about it. The sad thing, perhaps, is so few do.

It's a nostalgic fetter, though. All those other teas are not the same as the one I seek. The one I still have but one infusion of left. This nameless smokey varietal that came sealed in a plastic bag on a small wicker box, which simply read; Nepali Tea. I could only get it at the one import store, down in the metroplex, in the historical district, where I used to live, that also sold the Thai print t-shirts I am so partial to. That one store has been closed almost four years now.

The last time I was there, the last time I purchased a box of the Nepali black tea and a t-shirt, was a warm mid-spring day. Sabina and I had been publicly together for perhaps a month or month and half and still piss-sloppy-falling-down-drunk upon infatuation hormones. My memory fails me on exactly how it happened; a brush across the shoulders, a goo-goo-eyed glance, a quick stolen kiss, or perhaps me innocently, wholesomely, grabbing Sabina's ass, but I saw the proprietor of the store beaming at us. We'd been patronizing his shoppe on an almost weekly bases, sometimes only to window shop, for almost a year.

"I always knew you two would make a good couple," he said. To say he was the first hominid to say that to us would be a lie, but that's another story.

That's when he told us he was closing down. No more t-shirts. No more tea. No more artifacts, nick-knacks, patty-whacks, or other curiosities. His profits could either put food in his belly or pay the high rent along the strip of road his shop was on. He liked to eat.

He told us he was going to string his business up along the spider's threads of cyber. There he could make a go of it. We gave him the ways and means to get hold of us. Nearly four years later, we've yet to receive correspondence. Every so often, I go crawling along the spider's web looking for him, but it has thus far been fruitless.

When my daughter and I met some of old, old friends down below for tea recently, we happened into a shoppe that sold Thai-print t-shirts. This filled me with joy as I looked at a few designs I liked, musing how I might get them the next time I was down that way with paper to burn.

The tea, in that little wicker box is another problem. I've looked. Sabina used to say you could find anything on the Internet. That was before my searches for obscure South African bands, Space Team Electra lyrics, and a particular varietal or Nepalese tea turned out to be so futile. I never did it to specifically prove her wrong, but she has since modified her assertion to say you can find almost anything.

Meteorological prophecy foretells of snow coming to the mountains. It could possibly be one of those nasty storms where accumulation is measured in feet, instead of inches, in some places. Whilst the bright sunshine along the mountainsides and mild temperatures get me to question whether we'll see any flakes here, I can certainly feel the shifts in the barometric pressure within my twisted skeleton.

If, or when, I see the first flakes fall, I'll set my whore-red tea kettle to a boil. Most likely, I'll be brewing an infusion of lapsang souchong, which is fine. It's smokey and delightful for when this little pocket of nowhere picks up on a Himalayan motif. Still, as with every storm this winter, I wonder if this will be the one. That perfect storm which all but begs for me to have that treasured last infusion, sipping thoughtfully whilst contemplating emptiness and everything, the whole time relearning a lesson in impermanence.

10 January 2011

Sunshine Placebos

Sunlight bathes the valley in chilled radiance. Freshly fallen powder reflects in jewel-encrusted luster under the pristine turquoise blue sky. There is the familiar still-quiet of a deep-winter mourning. Not even the slightest breeze stirs along the mountainsides.

The ambient air temperature is three quaint American degrees below zero on the fahrenheit scale. Meteorological prophecy foretells it might get to two above for a high, the teens and twenties, a day or two off. Freezing, or a above, just a little longer. Another kiss from the Arctic regions.

It doesn't feel as cold as the last time polar air pushed through. The sunlight acts a something of a peculiar placebo. Perhaps that stillness, the decided lack of even the slightest breeze to cause the slightest windchill, helps as well. Somehow, amongst the frozen and silence, it's rather pleasant.

As I watch the cold sunlight expand across the valley I am filled with a sense of comfort and excitement. By observed memory, in roughly fifteen days, the tilt of world along its axis will be such that the sun will peek once more above the southern ridge line of Mount Pendelton, and there will be direct sunlight upon the House of Owls and Bats again. The six weeks of long dark will have ended. The mere thought of it can get me to at the very least smirk.

It's another placebo and I know it. Once direct sunlight falls upon the house again, the winter ceases to feel so dark or so cold. Suddenly, it feels as though the season starts to enter its swan-song days. The first signs of thaw begin to appear, though sometimes, it's just hopeful hallucination. When those first rays of direct sunlight bathe the House of Owls and Bats I am inclined to play happy musics at loud volumes, seeing an omen by virtue of orbit; when the sun comes back, winter is almost over. It's not really that long at all before it's spring once again.

06 January 2011


No one likes to brag about having a bad temper. Think about it; if you hear someone saying they lost it over being unable to open a jar of peanut butter, and therefore, not only smashed the jar against the floor, but punched a hole in the wall, kicked a puppy, and maybe even went on to rockstar-like trash a room, are you impressed to rocket science? Most likely not. In fact, you might even feel sorry for the cat. Well, that and avoid them, lest a sidelong glance, no matter how innocent, send them into a fit of murderous rage.

Once, someone I knew made the observation you can only loose your temper so many times before you stopped getting taken seriously. That whole case of such-and-such is on a tear...again. Just let the baby just tucker themselves out. My own observations of the human affliction have shown this to be fact.

Strangely enough, I've encountered those who have been a little leery of me, because I take great pains to not get angry. It's as if such behavior is frightening for the supposed time I do go and loose my sweet and otherwise charming disposition. There have also been a few cats who have tried to make me angry, just to see what I might do, which seems petty, if not just a little addle-brained. I guess it has frustrated them that I'd not rise to the bait and feed their metaphoric dragons.

This was not always the case. Oh, but did I have a vicious temper once upon a time. Late childhood into early adulthood. Some of this, I'm certain, is genetic. My father can become angry quite easily, and my little brother has not only inherited that, but seems to embrace it. But I also think some of it came from the bullying I was on the receiving end of so much growing up, and the anger at being picked on, the wondering why I was singled out, and the impotence towards the si li nan jen, even after I learned ways to defend myself, because there was always more of them than of me.

But one day-despite my memory, I cannot recall the date or my age at the time, though I chance to say maybe seventeen or eighteen years ago-I just stopped. Somehow, I grasped how futile it was to punch a wall or throw things whilst blaring speed metal and punk rock. Fighting, of course, seemed counter productive. From a zoological standpoint, sure, it could establish one's place within the pack or maybe score a mate who got off on watching monkeys beat one another up-a bad scene in its own rite-but there is that whole auspice of rising above those bestial impulses.

It was around this time I was studying theology, and came up with my first personal mantra, which was bastardized from the Book of John; I and the beast are one. I would eventually get that tattooed across my back in black India ink. It matched up with the tattoos under my collar bones; demon, on the left, and man, on the right. This was supposed to denote the twin aspects of being; the demon, being that animal of primordial memory on the African savanna, fighting for survival against not only other predators, but sometimes even those of its own species. Man, was supposed to represent the perceived higher self, what the monkey became like after fire and agriculture, the written word, and digital watches. The mantra meant I was working toward balance; having these two aspects work in concert, not conflict. Being in sync.

For the most part, and most of the time, I have found this has worked. Oh, I'm in touch with my inner predator and understand the auspice of jungle rules, but I no more submit to that than to auspice of denying the demon. That would be madness. To deny an aspect is deny the whole, which observation has taught me, is ultimately self-destructive.

But, sometimes I fall out of sync. Sometimes, the temper becomes too short and the demon lurks just beneath the surface of my eyes. I growl at the slightest thing and even sometimes, punching a wall or throwing something holds a appeal of friendly violent fun.

I confess to this being one of those sometimes. Perhaps it is the shadow of the season. As winter has worn on, I've found myself more and more out of equilibrium.

Sangha of many a faith would perhaps speak of such a thing as being a test. Annoying, given I stopped engaging in institutionalized learning so I'd no longer have to take tests. Girls who've done the petty relationship test thing have found me going in the general direction of away.

An alienist would search for a cause, which is always useful. That, at least, is somewhat simple; my mother's death a year ago and the death of a dear friend a month and a half ago. That's the meat of it. Everything else is just a detail.

A recovered junkie would say the admission is the first step. After that, it's gravy by comparison. The fact I've acknowledged I'm out of sync makes it easier for Humpty-Dumpty to put himself back together again.

Me being me, who has fallen out of sync before, also knows this is just a passing phase. One of my bad days. This has happened before, and, granted, not on such a scale, but I've gone through these periods and eventually once more reestablished that equilibrium. It's not always easy and it takes a bit longer than anticipated or wanted, but it does happen.

So, here I am; realizing I've fallen out of sync and working to bring the twin aspects of being back into concert, instead of conflict, once more. I have always been one for finding and maintaining a balance. What I face nowadays might seem like a bit of challenge, but I'm not too worried.

After all, I and the beast are one...

04 January 2011

Silver Coin Spotlight

***This is an older tale from back in the metroplex, done about five years ago. A gentle blend of sleep-deprived fiction and field notes from a monkey watching expedition...***

The moon looked like a silver coin spotlight. Its gaze saw through the pettiness of sin and salvation, recognizing it as trivial. Under such impartial clinical light the masks of the saved and the damned became transparent, showing them for what they really are. They are, in truth, one in the same. Sides of that coin.

The sound of footfalls on cold naked pavement resounded across the nameless wastes on non-time and counted centuries. A little warmer and it would have been perfect for stargazing. A darker place to look at the celestial candelas and that silver coin spotlight of a moon would have been preferred, but a rockstar philosopher once mentioned; "you can't always get what you want." He also reasons;

"But if you try some times
you just might find,
You get what
you need..."

Ain't that the way?

Matching om tattoos on collar bones were very impressive. Brands of demon and man were shown in recompense. It was supposed that it was becoming fashionable to have the collar bones inked. Maybe so, but some of us have never bothered with fashion. Others are slaves to it. I have a tendency to make fun of the fashionable. Ask a few of my friends who are in its thrall. We're still friends anyway.

Pushed, pulled, or drug, it didn't matter. Exhausted and sore. Pops, creaks, groans, and bone rattles at the slightest movement. Stay until Billy Idol sings his Generation X classic and press on.

Vagrants sleeping in door frames. A mask of the dead, flashing to corpses in places like Marrakesh, Kabul, or Calcutta. This is what desperation, pestilence, famine, and death, looks like. A sad and haunting lesson.

Watching the moon from a high place was what was important. Look up. That's the face of the Divine if you look close enough. Nothing else matters.

Sometimes, late at night and into the small hours, he'll look up his street, watching for her silhouette to come walking up and ask for a cigarette. The memory makes him smile. He waits for a postcard. He waits for a moment. Any moment. He waits for her to come home.

The whole time, the silver coin spotlight moon looks down. It does not pass judgment. There is no need.

03 January 2011

Year One, the Lament

One year and sixteen days ago, I finally got through. The phone to a sickhouse room had been ringing off the hook almost hourly since I had gotten the news. The individual I was trying to reach was not answering. My father encouraged me to keep trying.

Her voice carried the accent of intoxication; that point where one either passes into a dreamless state of unconsciousness or vomits the diced carrots they never even knew they ate. She sounded tired and worn. All but beaten, broken beneath the blade. There was morphine and a cocktail of other poisons coursing through her body. The disease that had been devouring her over the course of almost two years was in the midst of finishing its meal, though we all desperately hoped for different at the time.

"This is not my last rodeo," she told me.

"Ride 'em, cowgirl," I said.

Fifteen days later, my brother told me her kidneys were shutting down. The number was up. At most, she had another three weeks.

That day, I went for a walkabout with my daughter, Sabina, and a friend of ours. We went and got Himalayan food and listened to records from my childhood, which were recorded at Caribou Ranch, which was in the immediate area. Sabina and our friend would chide me for reminding them of how they were older than me because of my age compared to theirs when those albums came out, but my daughter made us all feel ancient by reminding us she wasn't even an idea back then.

I needed that. I needed to get my head together and come to grips with the facts at hand. It was cathartic.

I was trying to figure out how to get my daughter to see her grandmother to say goodbye. At the time, the sickhouse was quarantining against anyone under eighteen because of a particular strain of influenza. I found myself dealing with near-psychotic rage. Rage at the doctors and the disease. The perceived unfairness of it all, despite the fact death happens, and that's just the circle of life, and fair has nothing to do with it.

That night, imperceptibly fading into the next mourning, I raged about the house. Ranting, though it did not receive raves. The focus of my ire was my mother herself.

"She lied to me! She said this wasn't her last rodeo! My daddy always said women lie, but that's not supposed to include my fucking mother!"

In the all the time we've known one another, Sabina has only seen me that psychotically angry one other time, but that's another story. As with that other time, she stood firm in front of me, grabbing me by the shoulders, and shaking me. She fixed her gaze with mine, not backing down when I growled predatory at her.

"Hey! She didn't know!" She said. I found there was really no choice to accept that.

Thirty minutes later, my brother phoned. That was it. All fall down.

I went to the sickhouse. Biologically, what I saw in that room was my mother's body. But that spark that made my mother my mother was gone. I was looking at cooling meat. A shell. It was cathartic in the respect that it showed me beyond a shadow of a doubt she was gone.

My brother and I went with my father to the house he shared with my mother. In the cold dark of the small hours, we drank beer and listened to Miles Davis. Though it was such an awful time, in those moments, that listening of Sketches of Spain was some of the most righteous jazz I've ever heard.

That was one year ago, but it might as well have just happened. My memory is such that everything is still so vivid. It's days like this in times like these I despise my ability to recollect. The mental flagellation is not something I ask for, but springs up out of the nowhere of subconsciousness, like some primeval ambush predator along some nameless African river.

I look back over the past year and feel the metaphoric hole in my life where she should have been. It's cold, like the airless void between the stars. Despite what I saw in that sickhouse room, part of me still finds it all so surreal.

She can't be gone. She said it wasn't her last rodeo. She wouldn't lie to me about something like that. She was the one who used to say lying hurts.

But she didn't know. None of us really did. In retrospect, we can all pick up the clues we missed in the heat of those last moments. We had our suspicions at the time, but we also held unto our desperate fool's hope. So it goes.

Yeh, so it goes. Here it is; one year to the day later. The sun has risen and it will set. Life has gone on, but she's not been involved in any other capacity than memory. When it comes down to the brass tacks and bedpost, the memory is all any of us have of her. In that, is her immortality, even if we are only immortal for a limited time.