"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

29 November 2011

Breakfast with the Big Sister

Like her brother, Bast wore her rust-colored hair in a set of dreadlocks. It was said this act alone showed how laid-back, and, in some ways, liberal, Levant County was, since she was the archivist. Like her brother, she seemed more feline than human. Although, the older Lankin was more of the domestic variety, not straying very far from Leeds most of the time, where as the younger was considered more feral, disappearing into the Backcountry on such a regular bases.

It was the accident up Deneb Gulch, five years ago, that kept her closer to home. The rollover left Bast paralyzed from the waist down. Timothy, her fiancé, had not been so lucky, being ejected on that brutally cold and snowy night. His broken body was recovered from the river of which it landed in a week after. There was speculation he may have actually survived were it not for the hypothermia.

Some of the old-timers, like Grizz, expressed concern for Lankin. The accident, and subsequent recovery of his potential brother-in-law, had a profound and devastating effect. It was whispered the last time he had gotten like that was when he recovered the body of Bethany Tabor, some years earlier.      
Bast shocked everyone, including her brother, with her recovery. The Denver doctors were continually shocked by her obstinate refusal to chained to her wheelchair. She worked on her upper body strength, and was able to use a pair of crutches to drag herself along within six months. On any given early morning in Leeds, she could be seen pulling herself along through the town park.

“I’ll summit the Death’s Head by the time I’m fifty!” She would defiantly proclaim. Some asked her brother if he thought if it was possible.

“Even if I have to carry her,” was his response.

Bast offered Ira a sphinx-like smile as she refilled her coffee. The jingle of the bell over the café door got her to turn to see her younger brother strolling toward her with his sense of predatory purpose. It was back in mid-March when they had last seen one another, and late April when they’d last spoken over the phone. Given their natures, the estrangement between them that others perceived was hardly noticed, and, were it to be, it would be embraced.

“I wasn’t sure if you were having coffee or tea this morning, Lazarus,” she said nonchalantly as he pulled up a chair.

“And I was hoping you’d surprise me with one or both,” he returned in a similar tone, sitting down. “I hope you at least ordered us something to eat.”

“Of course, our usuals,” Bast said before leaning closer. “Miss Milligan says you’ve not been disappearing as much, even though it’s warmer.”

“Ira Milligan is ancient and should not be counted on for facts,” Lankin shot back. “At her advanced age, her ability to recollect anything is suspect.”

He might have said more, but the ringing of the bell over the door got him to turn. Desdemona and Sydney walked in, chatting quietly amongst themselves. They both cast looks over at Lankin, and it was hard to tell which woman’s glance lingered longer. With a growling curse under his breath, he turned back to meet his sister’s amused smirk.

There’s why,” she observed. “Although Dessy and Marty have been married for twelve years, she still nurses a bit of affection from your time with her. And what of the dark-haired girl? She appears to have a defiant streak to her.”

“It’s nothing,” Lankin said quickly.

“Maybe we should invite them to sit with us?”

“Piss on you, Bast!” Lankin snapped before looking up to Ira, who had just returned to their table. “May I have some mint tea, please?”

“Of course, Lazarus,” Ira replied. “And Sydney wanted me to let you know she’d buy your breakfast if you’re willing.”     
“That’s splendid!” Bast exclaimed with child-like glee. “Ira, please send those young ladies to come and sit with us.”

“It’ll be my pleasure,” she said with a wink and a smile, although it was up for interpretation as to which Lankin sibling the wink or the smile was for.

“I want a divorce.”

“I’m your sister, Lazarus, not your wife.”

“There’s probably some law somewhere saying a brother can be released from his cantankerous sister,” he shot back.

“I wish you the best of luck finding it,” Bast said wryly as her gray eyes tracked across the café. “Now behave, our guests are arriving.”

“Morning, Lazarus,” Dessy said as she sat down. “And Bast, thank you for sharing your table. I swear, it’s been at least a year.”

“At least,” she echoed before turning her attention to the dark-haired, dark-eyed girl sitting down across from Lankin. “And you’re…Sydney, the nice girl who’s buying my little brother breakfast?”

“Yes,” She said somewhat bashfully. “I feel like I kind of owed it to him after the other day.”

“Oh, dear, what happened?” Bast’s inquiry, while polite, carried an edge to it.

“I stopped her from falling face-first into the Kirkpatrick,” Lankin said in a low voice that let his sister know there might be more, but not to press.

“Exactly,” Sydney said quickly. The look in her eyes seemed to one of gratitude that what happened at Magpie Jack’s was not being mentioned. “Breakfast seems so insignificant for someone who saved my life.” She allowed herself a slight smile and an unintended giggle. “My knight shining outdoor gear.”

“You give me far too much credit, Just Sydney,” Lankin said, noticing how Bast and Desdemona were exchanging glances.

Breakfast arrived quickly, which put an end to the invasive inquiries. Almost before she was completely through eating, Sydney offered to pay, saying she had to get to work. Lankin watched her leave with feline detachment, though he cast a quick glare toward Bast when he heard her snickering.

“She really does like you, you know,” Dessy said as she stood up to leave. “Just give her time.”

Left alone with Bast, Lankin sat back with his tea. He kept his eyes riveted to the outside, not wanting to meet his sister’s gaze. The idea of disappearing up into the tundra for the remainder of the summer suddenly seemed infinitely appealing. In his mind, he began to catalogue what he would put into his pack.

“What do you suppose she’s running from?” Bast asked finally.

“Most likely a who,” he muttered. “Someone who she hopes never finds her.”

“That someone might be coming, Lazarus,” Bast said. “You know that, don’t you?”

“It’s really not my concern.”


His head snapped around, gray eyes narrowed. Something looking quite like a snarl rolled across his lips. Bast gave a small smile and placed her hand on his.

“If, or when, that happens, she might just need you,” she said. “And you’ll be there for her before you even consider it.”

“You’re pretty sure of that.”

“Of course,” Bast chuckled. “You’re my brother, and, besides, it’s what you do, and there’s no escaping it.”  

27 November 2011

Fragile Monsters

Yes, I can admit to a bit of possible sadism; seeing Sabina's reaction, all but screaming at the sight of small spider is something I find really fucking funny. I march over and take the arachnid, turning it loose, where it can scuttle off. This isn't done to save Sabina from her irrational fear of something hundreds of times smaller than her as much as the spider, which many Homo sapiens would outright murder because of some addle-brained primal fear and zoological racism. The ultimate hate crime.

So, I watch the itsy-bitsy spider clamber away, fascinated by its movements. Something I remember from when I had tarantulas as pets. Any biped would've been more than a match for it. Size not withstanding, spiders have no coagulants in their blood; with a simple nick, they can bleed to death. Few know this. They are actually quite fragile monsters. I cannot fathom why any monkey would be scared of one.

There was something I heard once, which I think is a grand backfist of perspective; you think a spider is scary when you look at it with two eyes? Imagine what it sees when it looks at you with eight...

25 November 2011

The Ballet of the Frightened Rabbit

Three beers in, Sydney realized the giddy feeling she was having might be exacerbated by a buzz. Maybe, had she not spent the afternoon exploring the ruins of Glasgow and other related trails, she wouldn’t have wanted to drink so much beer so fast. Perhaps, were it not for the company she was keeping, she wouldn’t have been so eager.

To her frustration, Lankin, for all the fun he claimed to have had during the afternoon, was calm, cool, and collected. He drank his red wine, the first glass in a gulp, but, the second, patiently, and seemed completely unaffected. If queried, he may have given one of his aloof looks and mentioned something about living at altitude. She wanted to punch him to get a reaction. She wanted to kiss him.

She wanted …

They were shooting pool. Lankin ordered food, though Sydney could scarcely remember what it might have been other than something to eat. Having something on the stomach besides trail-mix and jerky might be a good idea. Something that resembled hunger pulled at her belly, which conflicted with the other sensations running through her body as she played pool with him.

He was just…Lankin. Nothing else. Up on the trails, out in Glasgow, Sydney tried to get a little further, but it was akin to asking a sphinx for a glass of water in a burning Egyptian desert; an enigmatic smile, if that, but little else. One had to content themselves with the riddle.

Food arrived; burgers, fries, and salads. Lankin made a gesture to eat, but said nothing. Instead, he watched, patiently, predatorily, as she gorged herself. She felt like such a pig eating like that in front of anyone. If he was offended, his gray eyes betrayed no reaction.

He ate slowly, almost in a reserved manner. Every so often, he made a motion offering Sydney more, which she declined more out of not wanting to appear gluttonous, than not being hungry. Lankin cleaned the plate, his manners nothing short of immaculate.

Their pool game resumed. From the speakers, a song from Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers came on. They both smiled. Lankin mouthed along flawlessly with the opening lyrics;

“Will you be my Mary Magdalene?,
Would you be my American dream?
Will you mix your perfume up
from diesel fumes and gasoline?”

With a wide, unthinking, smile Sydney’s hips began to sway. She found herself dancing, pulling herself closer to him. It seemed so wonderful to be dancing up on him.

In that same moment, something else happened; something deeper and defensive became aware. She was dancing up on some strange man in a small mountain bar in a small mountain town in the middle of Colorado’s High Country. Suddenly, her situation became very dangerous. She needed to stop. She needed to pull away.

“Baby ain't we a beautiful disaster?”

She was blocked. An arm; Lankin’s arm, came down over her probable escape route. Her gaze met his; her deep, dark eyes showing a primal fear she could neither explain rationally or try to talk about otherwise. His gaze showed only that damnable feline curiosity of his.     

“You would like to get closer, but something holds you back,” Lankin said as if he was noticing the outside weather. “Strange.”

“Lazarus...?” Sydney tried, feebly, to start.

“It’s likely someone,” he continued, unconcerned. “Someone has given you reason to want to run like a frightened rabbit when you even think of wanting to get close to anyone. It’s why you ran away from Prague.”

She shuddered. There was nothing she wanted more than to get past his arm, even if she knew how strong and sure his embrace was, which was something she remembered with fond reassurance from Glasgow. But, there at the pool tables in Magpie Jack’s, all she wanted to do was run.

“I am not that person,” Lankin stated flatly. “Neither is anyone here. It’s rather unfair of you to put that on anyone other than the offending party. You need to remember that, Just Sydney.”

Without warning, he pulled away. He was walking away from her, grabbing his pack from one of the nearby chairs, and moving toward the door. At first, she was too shocked to react.

“Lazarus…!” She cried finally.

“You know I love
to watch them angels
fighting over you,

Heaven knows
they left me long ago…”

He spun around. The look in his eyes was that of when he pulled her from the Fitzpatrick Mine Shaft; one of anger, frustration, and disappointment. She felt very small under his predatory gaze.

“Please?” Was the only other word she could manage.
“What?” His gaze held her. “I could tell you I’ll look after you, that I’d never let anything bad happen to you, but that would be a lie. I’ve lost more than I want to count on my watch.” It was then he stepped forward. His movements ferocious and feral in their purpose, it was enough to get her to jump back. “But I cannot protect you from everything.” She almost fell over when his long finger pointed toward her brow; “I cannot save you from that.”

23 November 2011


Back when you were twelve, it was perfect. When you were twelve, there was Adam Warlock, Spiderman-back in black from the Secret Wars-Elf Quest, Cystar, Robotech, Dreadstar, Thundercats, Transformers, and GI Joe. Everything made sense when you were twelve.

There was zoology and archeology. The Galapagos Islands and the must-even to this day-go to Africa. Staring at the stars and wanting to see the edges of the cosmos. Twelve was magic and mystery and kook-koo-cachu.  

When you were twelve, it was established that Darth Vader was the Devil, but what a cool Devil he was. He was dressed head to toe in black and was really tall and could barely breathe, but he could choke anyone with a glance. Just because. You were always tall and had the asthma. When the bullies, those you would later call the si li nan jen, would hurt you for being different-freakish, they might say, at best-you wanted to hurt them with a glance, if not more. Darth Vader, the Devil, was your hero, and nothing could take that away, even what happened to Darth Vader long, long after you were twelve.

Back when you were twelve, your best friend's hair fell out. There was a lump on his neck. You would find out he had something called Hodgkin's Disease. Your best friend, when you were twelve, who would only be your friend when no one else was around. Outside of the neighborhood, he called you all the names all the other bully-boys, all the other si li nan jen, called you. When you were twelve, you were the only one who went to see him in the sickhouse, to wish him well. He was your friend.

Years later, when you saw him again, he still dismissed you. Is it strength or weakness that so many years and lifetimes later you wonder whether or not he's still alive? Will you ever answer that riddle?

Does it matter?

When you were twelve, thirteen was really, really, really, fucking scary. Thirteen meant you were that much closer to getting old. Old meant that much closer to death. Lights out. Nothing more. So many years away from the immaculance of twelve, the concept of lights out still terrifies you, and no amount of Buddhism, or anything else, you've surgically studied can change that.

You're still twelve; afraid of the dark. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of not getting to know what happens  next.

So it goes...

When you were twelve, it was immaculate. Halcyon. Everything was so prefect.

It was so complicated. Your best friend was only such when no one else was around; after all, you were so weirdly tall, and so skinny, and your eyes were so big. Owl-like. There was the bit of Hodgkin's, showing we all might only be immortal for a limited time, though it wasn't until you were eighteen that you heard that lyrical mantra.

Twelve, for all its perfection, was the precipice. The borderland between childish innocents and the ugliness of adulthood. Twelve was a Sahel. Childhood's end.

But maybe that's not quite right. You grew up on a farm. You knew what death was in its cold, hard reality by the time you were six. A film you saw when you were twenty-one proclaimed childhood was over the moment you knew you were going to die. You figured out that back when you were six, which is half of twelve.

So, why twelve?

You have the benefits of years and lifetimes of history, memory, and stories, but yet, the answer eludes you. It is its own riddle; why was twelve so bloody perfect? You can dissect those memories down to nightmares you bury any other time and still the answer evades you. A tormenting phantasm. To you, who so hates surprises and otherwise being caught off guard-despite your lover's embrace of chaos-this will not do.

But, admit it, boy, you've gotten used to the erotica of the mystery. Twelve was one of those times, perfect, for all its flaws. There are a few other times in along your quantum stream that are the same. Pristine, but not. You know the ways past the veils, and you have inspected every chink and flaw with reptilian objectivity. Those flaws make the perceived perfection infinity and paradoxically interesting.

And you were twelve, it was perfect. When you were twelve, there was Adam Warlock, Spiderman-back in black from the Secret Wars-Elf Quest, Cystar, Robotech, Dreadstar, Thundercats, Transformers, and GI Joe. Everything made sense when you were twelve.

And you mourn for that sense of halcyon. Those days. The innocence. That sense of perfection, in which everything made sense.  

But, you know now, the flaws, the chinks in the pristine armor, is where things get really interesting. And you, being you...would not have it any other way.

22 November 2011

100 Words; The Argentine

Whistler standing all majestic mountain-dog like at the ruin of Pavilion Point...


Once, it was part of the narrow-gauge railroad, which snaked up Leavenworth Mountain to what are now the ruins of Waldorf and beyond a bit. The tracks are long gone now. If you know how and where to look, you'll see the remnants of railroad ties.

The grade is under hard-pack. In a month, month and a half, it'll be perfect for snowshoeing. Today, I wear gators over my boots.
"Ready to go?" I ask Whistler.

He gives an approving chomp and lopes ahead of me. We can reach the one ruin in an hour, and I know a shortcut.

20 November 2011

Lady Wore Red

The lady wore red and had a predator's gleam in her eye. She was hunting, but it was not for a mate. She was out for blood. A sacrifice, like the old tribes in the primitive parts of the world. What she required the sacrifice for was anyone's guess. She offered no answers.

It was beautiful and terrifying to watch. Her movements sleek and graceful. The way she would sniff the air for her prey. Every step and movement was deliberate. Cold methodical calculation showed in her huntress eyes. When she licked her lips, there was nothing erotic about it. She could taste the blood of her victim.

Once she found her prey, and the hunt was joined, there was no stopping her. An intricate ballet of circles and straight line pursuits, to wear her victim down. She wanted blood. Needed it. A sacrifice.

Her victim stumbled, fell, and it was all over. She sprung with the ferocity of predators told of in nightmare stories. Her prey only had a single chance to look up, to see her feral eyes.

There was rending, kicking, clawing, gnashing, biting, and punching. Blood sprayed everywhere. Ran in thick rivers along walls and the ground. She licked her lips in satisfaction, tasting the blood, holding her victim's heart like a trophy. She raised the organ to the sky, her sacrifice fulfilled, just before taking a bite of it.

Then she disappeared into the night, leaving behind the mutilated remnants of her sacrifice. Blood was smeared everywhere, yet she was spotless. Immaculate. The lady wore red. It helped to conceal the bloodstains.

19 November 2011

In Pendleton's Shadow

And then there comes the day when sun's rays, peeping over the southern ridge line of Mount Pendleton, do not chase away the long cold shadows of winter. It is as unavoidable as day and night. Part of the cycle. The long dark, which lasts until deep, midwinter, has begun.

I, for one, welcome the perpetual mountain shadow and borderline seasonal-affective disorder. Much in the same way, sometime in the very latest days of autumn, I start to look forward to the longest night, marking the winter solstice. Why? Because it means there's that much less time before the sunlight returns and our little place beyond the end of the the world will warm once more.

Sabina finds this rational irrational, and gives me a look as though I have descended into the type of madness spiced with psychosis, instead of the happy kind, flavored with whimsy. But, I have seen her praise the first day of winter, much like I have, under the auspice of the days beginning to lengthen once more. Sometimes, there is even a smile on her face because of the fact.

For us, winter means fewer walkabouts. Sometimes, it is just too cold, no matter the layers, or the winds whipping down from the high peaks and mountain passes are that of the great maelstroms, which have leveled coastal cities without a by or leave. Out there, in the bush, the danger of an avalanche can be much more intimidating than the thought of some other half-starved predator looking for an easy mark.

That is when we hole up with a fire. We have mulled wine or hot tea. Those are the days when we might play more African or reggae music and have a more tropical-flavored meal, in blatant defiance of the season all around us. Fun times.

It is effectively winter in our little Sahel and has been for nearly a month now. I do not foresee the snow melting from the high peaks and north-facing slopes anytime soon. In our funky little township, the dusty streets have become quiet, and the river starts to freeze over. The last of the seasonal residents have fled to their warmer climbs, only to return with the trill of hummingbirds and the whistle of the train engine as it echos across the valley.

Mei fei tsu. This is the way of things. The snow. The long dark. It is unavoidable as the one star visible during the day and the billions visible during the night.

I accept and embrace these aspects of the cycle. After all, it's a matter of balance. Like fire and water, chocolate and peanut butter, one cannot exist without the other. It's not only weakness to try and deny the existence of one of these aspects, but also kind of boring. A lesson I learned myself long, long ago. I take in the long dark and winter with a bit of a death's head cheshire cat's grin, perhaps a sign of that madness Sabina occasionally worries about in me.

It's okay, though. See, I know things. One thing I know quite well is a bit sooner than a bit ago, the light will return and our little place beyond the end of the world will start to warm once more.

18 November 2011

The Days of Ghosts and Omens

This song was written after Neil Pert lost his daughter in an accident and his wife to cancer within the span of eighteen months. He also wrote a book of the same title in which he chronicled his grieving and healing and journeys all over. I lost my mother to cancer and one of my best friends to accident within the span of ten months. Although I neither wrote a song or a book, I've done a fair amount of wandering out in the bush and those badlands of the tundra. Perhaps there is only a parallel because I want there to be one.

Anyone playing along at home has come to realize how I am about the abstract of time that I really shouldn't have to go on about it again. This instant is one of those that validates my view point of time, but also some legalities. In some parts of the world, one is considered dead once brain function is declared non-existent, whereas, in Colorado, death is official with the cessation of the heartbeat. My stint dancing with the dead for money taught me these things, though it hardly matters; dead is dead, and you rarely get to walk away from that.

The day after my daughter's birthday, to a degree, her birthday itself, has been tainted by the death of the bruja. Although the date the pulled her from machines and her heart stopped is a few days off, for me, her death date will always be the day the rollover happened; the day after my daughter's sixteenth birthday. Fucking perfect.

The bruja was one of those cats who felt the words I purged carried a certain kind of magic. As I visited with her family, my old friends from down below, and her battered shell that only drew breath by virtue of mechanization as a formality, I was vividly acquainted with the fact there are limits to whatever mojo I possess. None of my stories could bring her back and make her better. I couldn't find the words to magic the incident into the tongues of fiction. It was all sickeningly spit-shiny real, and there was no way around or through that.

Don't think I didn't try...

It's been a year, nearly two for my mother, and Humptey-dumpty has been slowly putting himself back together again. Although, I never bothered to ask all the king's horses and all the king's men for help. Perhaps I am obstinate like that; I heal, I find salvation or damnation on my own.Within that space of ten months and the subsequent year since, in which psychic the fallout has settled, I've worked to reestablish my sense of equilibrium and reconcile my sense of belief, heretical though it is. It goes without saying, and I'd not recommend it to anyone, even if they wanted to sadistically test themselves.

Like my mother, I see little reminders of my beautiful friend everywhere. These omens of memory can get me to smile. To restrain tears or growls of psychotic rage at the very chaos, which permeates the universe. To remember. To wonder what if.

But mei fei tsu...

Those what if's and if only's that can drive you mad if you let them. And they hardly matter. She's gone now. All I have are the memories and the stories, and that will just have to do because she's not coming back anymore.

I meditate upon whiskey and wine. Beer and tequila. Coffee and tea. A thousand cigarettes and a million laughs. Those memories and stories. Secrets, shared and kept. Good and ill. Chaos and acceptance.

It's been a year since the bruja walked on. Almost two for my mother. Because of the proximity of  such events I am still more walking wounded than I'd like to be. Than I'd ever admit to, other than maybe to those psychic demons that show up late at night for tea. But I am stitching myself back together. Slowly but surely. I'd like to believe they'd have both wanted that, even if it's vanity and hubris to second-guess the dead. I find on days like this and times like these, it's the very best I can hope for.

And hope is one of the most precious of commodities, far moreso than rubies or even glass beads...

17 November 2011

Buying Happiness

The other day, I was bemoaning to an acquaintance how it was a day I wished I could've been born offensively wealthy, instead of devastatingly handsome. The acquaintance laughed and stated the tired cliche;

"Money can't buy you happiness."

I had to call bullshit and upped the ante with some who-shot-john. Coming from someone who despises money, this naturally came as a shock. My acquaintance asked me why I would say something like that. To which, I entreated them to a particular memory.

Years ago now, a Lee and I were leaving a concert hall along infamous eastern strip of Colfax. On the street, we saw a woman, professional in her bearing. She was talking to a man, a client, as it were. His name may have even been John, but I never got a chance to ask. They were haggling over rates of exchange for goods and services. The woman, professional in her bearing, introduced herself to the man as Happiness.

"So you see," I concluded with a demonic smirk. "It is indeed possible to buy happiness."

15 November 2011


There were only two ways to the old town site of Glasgow. The most common was a rutted four-wheel drive road, which tested the mettle of drivers and the axles of their vehicles. From the eastern end was a small trail that eventually led up to the western spur of the Death’s Head. Surrounding the remains of the town were several abandoned mines.

Although it wasn’t a grouping of Anasazi ruins, Sydney decided she wanted to check it out. It was a warm day in mid-June, and the snow drifts that had choked the four-wheel drive road had finally melted into great puddles of chocolate colored water. The road itself was muddy, giving her jeep a temporary paint job of brown splashes. She took this circumstance with a grain of amusement, remembering her grandfather’s lesson about such vehicles; they were not meant to spit-shiny clean. Anyone who kept one that way certainly didn’t deserve it.

She reached Glasgow before eleven in the morning. The sky above was a brilliant blue with only the slightest hint of puffy clouds. There was no threat of rain. Tying her long curly brown hair into a pony tail and grabbing her pack, she got out to explore.

The few old buildings still standing were certainly interesting, but she knew they had been picked over long ago. There were a few discarded beer cans and carved names in rickety walls. She made her way up one of the slopes toward a head frame she had seen on the road as she pulled into town proper.

It stood lone and imposing on the top of an outcropping. The tailings around it were grayish, a sign it had once been a silver mine. Sydney wondered if the any of the old-timers or the county archivist knew the name of it. As she got closer, she noticed there was an open shaft going straight down. Most of the time, she’d heard, the old mines were either gated, collapsed, or backfilled after a point, but the agencies that oversaw this process only had so much money and there were that many more holes. It was perhaps impossible to cover them all.

She came to the edge of the shaft and looked into the yawning and expectant dark. Grabbing a rock and throwing it, she listened carefully for the sound of impact. Counting well past twenty, she heard nothing, which she found exciting and a little scary. It was enough to get her to want to step closer.

Her foot slipped on some loose tailings, and she felt herself pitching forward. The gaping maw of the open shaft suddenly seemed that much wider, drawing her in. She wanted to scream, but even as she opened her mouth to do so, her breath caught in her throat. In just a heartbeat, she would be over edge, tumbling into the darkness.

Something stopped her. Strong arms encircled her waist. Now, she yelped; a combination of surprise and relief as she dangled on the edge of the shaft.

“It’s all right. You’re okay,” A voice whispered in her ear. It took her a few seconds to realize it was Lankin. “I’ve got you. I won’t let you fall.”

“Where the hell did you come from?!?” Sydney exclaimed, her eyes were still riveted to the expectant darkness.

“This is hardly the time for such questions,” Lankin hissed. “I need you to start stepping back, unless you’d rather want fall into the Kirkpatrick here.”

“No thank you. Really.”

“Okay then, step back,” Lankin ordered. “One…now two. Good. Three. We’re almost there. You’re doing good. Four and five.”

He then let her go. Despite the circumstance, Sydney found herself somewhat disappointed by that. His embrace had been so strong, so safe. There was no doubt in her mind that he wasn’t going to let her fall. As she turned to thank him she was greeted with a vicious scowl.

That was foolish, Just Sydney,” he chided. “Walking up on an open shaft like that? Men are usually that kind of stupid. And what exactly were you thinking doing something like this all alone?”

“This coming from someone who disappears into the woods by himself for weeks at a stretch?” She fired back, her cheeks reddening with embarrassment and resentment. “Fuck you, Lazarus Lankin! I’ll have you know I’ve gone out plenty of times on my own before.”

“You’re no longer in New Mexico,” he said firmly, folding his arms across his chest. “Different environment, different dangers."

“I’m not one of those inexperienced daytrippers you rescue from the side of a mountain!” She snapped. “Give me a little bit of credit.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Lankin said. A slight smile played across his lips as he cocked his head to the side. “By the way, has anyone told you you’re a kind of cute when you get defensive?”

“Keep up this self-righteous scolding, and you’ll see me get really fucking adorable,” Sydney grumbled.

“Fair enough, Just Sydney,” Lankin said as he started to turn away. “But do be careful. I might not be around to save you from the next mine shaft.”

“I’d like to believe you would be,” she said, and immediately scolded herself for her choice of words. He spun around to regard her with a mixture of curiosity, amusement, and annoyance.

“Contrary to what Grizz and some of the old-timers around the county might say, I am not a superhero,” he growled. “It was luck I was here and saw you. It was luck I grabbed you in time.”

“That’s all you believe in?” Sydney inquired. “Luck?”

“I believe in the mountains,” Lankin replied. “I believe in the power of the summer thunderstorms and the fury of the winter blizzards. I believe in the stark tundra and the gentle streams.” In a flash, he closed the distance between them, leaning in close. “The Backcountry is my god and my devil, and it does not play favorites.”

Sydney found herself speechless. The look in Lankin’s gray eyes was that of predatory intensity. This was not the man she met at Magpie Jack’s and shot pool with a month ago. Here was the feral creature that only looked sort of human of whom she had heard of in the stories. She was frightened and fascinated and excited, because she felt like she held this creature’s attention.

“Since you don’t think I should be out here by myself, do you want to stay with me?” She asked finally. Her voice sounded very small, and part of her wondered if he would start laughing at her.

His head cocked to the side and his gaze shifted to that of being inquisitive. He folded his arms across his chest once more as he considered her offer. She was right; she wasn’t inexperienced at being out in the wilderness, even if it was the Colorado High Country and not New Mexico.

“I was trekking down from the Death’s Head,” he said finally. “It’s still two hours on foot back to Marrakech. Although it’s good exercise, I suppose a ride back down wouldn’t be so bad.”

“You can buy me a beer instead of gas money when we get back,” Sydney quipped with as much confidence as she could muster, which got him to chuckle.

“And I was worried I’d have to buy dinner,” he said off-handedly. “Beer is far less awkward.”

13 November 2011

Knife Blade Vindication

Back when I was an adolescent and was growing my hair long and listening to that thar heavy mental and punk rock music, my mother decided I must be doing drugs. Maybe it was guilt by association, given the looks and actions of some of the cats I'd sometimes run with. Perhaps she just figured I was my father's son, he'd been dancing with Mary Jane as long as I can remember, even though my mother would remind him the substance was illegal. During one of our discussions on my presumed drug use, I double-dog-dared my mother do a blood or urine test on me.

"My, my," my mother said somewhat condescendingly. "Thou doth protest too much."

It was then I figured out how that game was played. When you got defensive, when you tried to justify and do damage control, you were guilty. I should've figured this out before that debate with my mother by virtue of what was on the television screen; evangelical preachers being caught red-handed fucking their whores of Babylon whilst parting the gullible from their cash, the whole time denying it until their tearful confessions were squeezed from them like filthy sponges. I would observe the same things with politicians and show-trial murderers.

When I was eighteen, I was coming home from a night out. My parents in the parlor, having fallen asleep attempting to watch whatever film together for the umpteenth time. It being a rule in the household at the time, I announced my presence.

"Did you do any drugs?" My mother asked me.

"Whatever, Mom," I said. "I'm going to bed."

My mother might have been ready to say something, but then my father, having been awaken by the exchange, jumped in;

"Goddammit, woman! Back off!"

Apparently, I won that little game. With my father's words, I was vindicated. My mother never questioned whether or not I did drugs ever again.


Ever since I was somewhere between eight and ten, I've always carried a knife of some kind on me. Sometime, during my adolescence, when I was growing my hair long and listening to that thar heavy mental and punk rock music, I somehow gave the impression that I might know how to use such an object as something other than a tool. I'd not read Sun Tzu yet, but, as someone who had been horrifically bullied growing up, I found nothing wrong with perpetuating this particular bit of deception. Maybe that's sociopathic of me, but I still find nothing wrong with it.

"You always look like your ready to cut someone's throat when you pull that thing out," one of the waitress at the restaurant I once cooked at remarked once whilst she was watching me break down boxes with my knife at the time. Some almost fifteen years later, another lifetime away, the sempi made a similar observation as I broke down boxes with my present knife.

"Usually I'm convinced you're one of the most gentle souls in world until I see you pull that thing out," he said. "Then I wonder if you're not one of those scary guys who collects knives and dreams of eviscerating people."

"Just dreams?" I said with a smirk, letting him wonder. Sempi has heard some of my being bullied stories and knows I have The Art of War all but memorized.


I could've handled my break-up with the jewel-eyed girl better. Even shortly after the fact, I realized that, but I was much younger and not nearly as clever as I solopsticly gave myself credit for. The first time I saw her in a vampire den, Madam Lung took me aside and implored me to not sleep with her.

Even though the Dragon Lady was one of my best friends and my adopted grandmother, I was impetuous. Copulation with the jewel-eyed girl was infrequent in the waning years of our relationship and I was jonesing. Besides, Madam Lung had once waxed erotica about the fun of x-sex and I decided to ride that bit of snake's tail for all it was worth.

Some of my nightmares stand as testimony to the price I've paid for my hubris...

When it all came down between the jewel-eyed girl and I, the air between us was that of tigers and cobras. There was broken glass and me forcing her out of my home whilst phoning the constabulary. For my trouble, I spent an hour in manacles whilst the men in uniform tried to decide if the one who called for help was at fault. After all, I was the male. I have long hair and tattoos and hoops in my ears, and both of us were more than a little drunk. Besides, the social construct of reality dictates it's always the boy's fault, even when it isn't, and who would dare question the social construct of reality, let alone defy it?

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name...       

During the altercation, the jewel-eyed girl became cut on the broken glass. The same glass she tried holding to my throat as I slammed my door. As someone who cut herself willingly in the past, it wouldn't have surprised me if it was a self-inflicted wound. Maybe she fell down, because she was drunk. I honestly do not know. I only closed a door.

First, her story was that I pushed her. Then, because I've carried a knife of some kind on me since I was somewhere between eight and ten, that I stabbed her. There was a certain number of friends I gave my side of the story to and then let lie. Strangers who had at least the courtesy to ask would get a curt no and that was it. Remembering that lesson I learned from my mother about protesting too much played heavily into my approach of being thrown smack in the middle of a game of Machiavelli. Madam Lung advised me on a tactic I was already taking; don't rise to the bait, but rise above.

One night after the juke joint with Dragon Lady, I did vent. All the anger about the circumstance of the break-up from the jewel-eyed girl and its subsequent shrapnel bubbled to the surface in a beer and whiskey-lanced rant. Madam Lung for the most part just listened, allowing me to purge my ire to small hours shadows.

"And I didn't fucking stab her," I growled.

Madam Lung gave me her soft and sardonic smile as she reached over to draw me in with a tight embrace. It was then, from the mouth of a dragon in tones of liquid silver, I received one of the most profound statements of vindication I've ever had;

"It's okay. We all know you. You wouldn't have missed."

10 November 2011

Prologue; The First Warm Day in May

It was the first really warm day in May. One, which brought with it the promise of the season to come, even if there was still snow glittering atop the Death’s Head, Hell’s Watchtower, and down along the north faces of the surrounding mountains of Gaia’s Backbone. As far as anyone was concerned, it was the first day of High Country spring, and that was cause enough to celebrate.

Sydney moved to Marrakech toward the end of February, when the air was at its coldest and the snow at its most frequent. She would go to her job over in Petra and get her groceries in Leeds, but, otherwise, kept herself holed up inside her new home above Ira Milligan’s café. The climate of Colorado’s High Country was a little bit of a shock after living in New Mexico her entire life.

It was Desdemona who convinced her to move up. They had been friends since college, and Dessy was the only one who was privy to all of what was happening down there the last five years. She convinced Sydney it was best not only to leave Prague, but New Mexico altogether. Dessy was always going on about how Colorado was a pretty neat place, especially the small High Country town called Marrakech.

Because it was the night of first warm day in May, Dessy all but dragged Sydney out to Magpie Jack’s for a few drinks and an attempt to get her past the depression of having to leave New Mexico and the self-imposed cabin fever she’d been in since the end February. For a Thursday, the place was packed and the atmosphere was festive. Dessy explained the weekends were more for tourists anyway. The weekdays were when the locals had their fun. Sydney accepted this new paradigm with a smile that only widened when she heard one of her favorite Devil Makes Three songs playing from the speakers.

But I don't come 'round here
 to meet nice people anyway.
And what the hell am I doing
drunk in the middle of the day?
And I can feel the departure
of all of my hard-earned pay,
But with the shades drawn
everything just drifts away

As they sat down with their drinks, Sydney overheard one of the old-timers telling the story of someone named Lazarus Lankin, a name she’d heard once or twice since moving to Colorado. In her estimation, apparently, this man was somewhere between a rockstar and a mythological figure around the entirety of Levant County. When she would hear his name mentioned, she would shake her head and chuckle, thinking how one of the locals were talking about their own Paul Bunion.

The particular tale that was being told involved a nineteen year old Lankin disappearing into the Backcountry around Gaia’s Backbone for three weeks. Outside of a sister in Leeds, he had no family to speak of, but someone got concerned and convinced mountain rescue to go looking for him. Somewhere around the Death’s Head, William Connelly, the head of the county’s rescue, fell, breaking his leg along the scree. He was still tumbling toward the edge when someone grabbed him. Connelly looked up to see it was Lazarus Lankin.

“And you know what Lankin said?” The old-timer queried his audience. “He says; ’I was going to be home tomorrow. Did my sister ask about me?’

“It was after that, nobody ever worried about Lankin again. I even told him I wanted him on my rescue teams,” Connelly, who was standing by the bar added. Laughs resounded throughout Magpie Jack’s.

“Jesus Christ,” Sydney muttered with a slight smile. “Who is this guy?”

She was starting to look out the window, sipping her beer, when she heard another commotion erupt from the bar. The old-timers were whooping and hollering as though a game-winning point had been scored during a very important game. She looked up to see a man with chin-length rust colored dreadlocks grabbing a glass of red wine.

“Natty Dreadlocks,” Sydney mused loud enough for Dessy to hear. Pointing, she said; “There is bravest and most secure man here; drinking wine in a mountain bar.”

“Sydney, my dear,” Dessy began with tone suspended between admiration and arousal. “That is Lazarus Lankin.”

Perhaps the shock was obvious, because she could hear her friend giggling at her reaction. There was something to Lankin, this much was true, but he certainly didn’t come across like a rockstar or Paul Bunion. His angular features gave him an almost otherworldly appearance. He seemed to view the gathered parties at the bar with a sort of feline detachment, only responding when it seemed to suit him.

“The man behind the myth,” Sydney said, trying to regain her composure. “Not too bad, and I generally don’t find dreadlocks attractive on someone with his skin tone.”

“You and every other girl in Levant County’s found him a looker,” Dessy said. “I’d wager even Ira Milligan’s had a crush on him at one point.” She noticed how Sydney was looking at her. “Hey, Marty and I haven’t always been married.” She paused again to take a deep, almost excited, breath. “Those eyes…”

Sydney felt those gray orbs burning into her before she glanced over to notice that Lankin was looking right at their table. He excused himself to the bar with a quick smile and the slight raising of his wine glass. His movements were fluid and sure. Predatory, in their purpose. He closed the distance between the bar and the table effortlessly. Sydney found herself thinking of Himalayan documentary she watched once featuring snow leopards as he approached.       

“Desdemona,” Lankin began as he came to the table, reaching out an arm to scoop her up in a hug. “It’s been a bit. How’ve you been?”

“Since right before it really started snowing, Lazarus,” she said as she reciprocated his hug and stole a lingering kiss along his darkly bronze-colored cheek. “I’m happy to see you.”

“Better watch it, Marty might get jealous,” he quipped. “The fact he’s not here to accompany a lovely young lady such as you is nothing short of a shock.”

“Poker game with Orin down in Leeds,” Dessy replied. “Enough of an excuse for a girls’ night out with an old college pal.”

“Whose name is…?” Lankin’s gaze focused upon Sydney. She wasn’t sure if she should feel flattered, Dessy’s level of excitement, or fear at the intense curiosity directed at her.

“Sydney,” she said, gingerly extending her hand. “Sydney Pollock.”

“Nice to meet you, Sydney, Sydney Pollack,” Lankin’s grip was firm, but strangely friendly.

“Oh, it’s just Sydney,” she giggled without even thinking about it. The heat in her cheeks told her she was blushing.

“That’s a very exotic name, Just Sydney,” Lankin teased as he slowly released his grip on her hand. “Where are you from?”

Sydney,” she insisted, catching herself giggling again. “I just moved here from New Mexico. A place called Prague. Doubt you ever heard of it”

“I’ve been there,” Lankin said with a sort of off-handed civility. “A lovely place. Great canyoneering.” His gaze became suddenly even more intense and predatory as he cocked his head to the side inquisitively. “What is it you’re running and hiding from?”

She felt herself go cold. In the stories she’d heard, Lankin possessed a certain knack for figuring things out. Secrets were supposedly impossible to keep from him. Some locals guessed it was because his sister was apparently psychic, though Lankin would dismiss such things as mere luck.

“I needed a change,” Sydney said defensively. A lie neither she, Dessy, or her inquisitor believed.

“The way you’ve holed yourself up in one of Ira’s apartments all winter would speak to the contrary,” Lankin said as if he was discussing the weather. “But hopefully the coming of warmer weather will draw you out.”

“And what about you…?” Sydney began.

“My name is Lazarus Lankin,” he replied, almost unconcerned. “But I’m sure Desdemona already mentioned that. You can call me either Lazarus or Lankin. I don’t really care.”

“Well, what about you, Mister Lankin?” Sydney started again in a formal tone. “What do you do?”

“Many things,” he said, his eyes locking with hers’. “Amongst them is giving straight answers to direct questions.”  

“Hey, hey, hey!” Dessy broke in. “As much fun as this is to watch and all, do you two want to go shoot some pool? There’s a table open, and, Lazarus, Sydney here could give you a run for your money.”

“How could I possibly turn down an invitation like that, Desdemona?” He inquired rhetorically before returning his inquisitive gaze to Sydney. “And yourself, Just Sydney?”

“I’d love to,” any defensiveness she’d felt previously melted into anticipation. If nothing else, she wanted to get to know this man behind so many stories.

“Well, I require more wine,” Lankin said, finishing his glass. “I’ll get your next rounds as well, unless Grizz decides to.” He started to walk away, pausing only briefly to look over his shoulder at Sydney. “Rack them up, Just Sydney.”

She watched him walk back to the bar, purposeful and predatory in his movements. Her face was flush and she found herself trembling slightly, although it had nothing to do with fear, either old or new. A hand on her wrist, Dessy’s, got her to jump unintentionally. There was a look on her friend’s face she recognized from back in college; one of playful knowing.

“You’re doomed,” she giggled, like a very young girl privy to a very big secret.

08 November 2011

100 Words; Assam

You introduced me to assam many, many years ago. It was the last autumn my grandmother was alive. Back then, I would imagine a civilization that was tiered and terraced. Ancient, but perhaps not.

I return from walkabout and put on my whore-red kettle. She screams to me whilst I whip myself a bowl of daal. Assam steeps in the boiling water. It seems to be in context.

These days I live somewhere tiered and terraced. Ancient, but perhaps not. I still have assam now and again. My grandmother has been gone a very long time now.

Same as you...

04 November 2011

Getting On

It must be getting on to be winter. The snows have started to fall. Along the highest peaks, in the shady spots of open areas, and on the north faces there is a base coat of white, which will last until the earliest days of summer. There are places up on the tundra where it never, ever melts, and that's just the way of it.

My daughter thinks I delight in frightening tourists. Perhaps this baseless accusation comes from when I've spoken to some of them during a snowstorm. It's always someone from somewhere that snow is something seen on screens and told of in fantastic stories. They think it's supposed to be all fluffy and pretty like some greeting card. The idea that snow could have a more menacing aspect seems unfathomable.

"It was so slippery and scary driving in it!" One might all but cry. "I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life! You should tell anyone that thinks to get out on the roads to turn back or take tranquilizers!"

"Maybe," I say off-handedly. "But there's always the next storm."

Their eyes widen and their jaws go slack. Sometimes, you can almost catch the scent of urine. A sadistic man would find this amusing.

"You mean there's more?" They'll ask, like our conversation is some sort of infomercial. I may or may not chuckle. I might or might not growl a little, the sound crossed somewhere between a feral snow leopard and a very hungry crocodile.

"There's more!" I say. And, despite remarks to the contrary, there has never been a demonic smirk on my face when I've uttered that phrase, because I am not a sadistic man.

It must be getting on to be winter. Fires are a daily occurrence. The scent, and, on cooler days, the sight, of wood smoke is as expected and the khaki coloring of the south faces between the evergreens. Heavier coats and sweaters are worn with more sincerity. Only the truly eccentric and woefully unprepared are seen about in things like shorts and flip-flops. Those of us who experience pains through our frames become increasingly aware of the shifts in barometer and temperature. My own twisted skeleton snaps, crackles, and pops like the foundation of an old, old, house and brittle old black widow webs.

It must be getting on to be winter. The cast of light has changed. Gone is the softness of summer's glow. The daylight seems thin and distant and brief. As the world tilts upon its axis with the shifting of the seasons, the sun hides behind peaks longer and longer. Where I live, it will not be long at all before the sun does not emerge from behind the ridge line for six weeks of long dark. This is the closest I will ever come to living in Alaska, and I know there are friends of mine from back in that past life of the greater metroplex who are convinced I am insane because of this.

It must be getting on to be winter. My thoughts turn inward. More philosophical and introspective and metaphysical. Out on walkabout, I can feel the Divine much more intimately than when curled in front of the fire with a hot cup of tea. It is not that during winter I feel detached from it, but I am not out in the bush as much. My meditations are different. Colder. Darker.

It must be getting on to be winter. I find myself thinking more and more of the dead. The first anniversary of the bruja's death is in but a couple weeks, and what would've been Jibril's forty-first birthday is at month's end. The second anniversary of my mother's passing and eight years for my grandmother occur in the deepest of winter. Depending upon the year, Jibril died right before, or on, the vernal equinox. It will always be winter to me. I can think of others who have walked on during the cold times; my great grandmother, my grandfather, and my father's mother. Yet, hypocritically, I find it difficult think of the birthdays of those I care for who still draw breath; my daughter, my father, Sabina, Madam Lung, the gypsy, and Lee.

But perhaps my hypocrisy knows no bounds...

It must be getting on to be winter. I catch myself wanting to sleep more, despite how often my biologics will only allow for a few very short and fitful hours. Hibernation holds a certain sense of eroticism to those with fucked up sleeping patterns, or maybe that's just me, and I'm a different breed of cat.

It must be getting on to be winter. There is anxiety. I worry we'll freeze. That we'll starve. The warmer times are so bountiful, whilst winter is the lean time that tests you; not by blood and fire, but by ice and sheer force of will.

All of us, even those ardent snowbums, wonders at one point or another if it'll ever get warm again. Spring, summer, and autumn are all so finite. Winter is much like the dark and airless void behind the stars; vast and infinite and cold and unforgiving.

I pull away to look out the window, catching the sky as it shifts to the deepest blue of evening. There is another storm on its way. I can feel it down to the marrow of my twisted skeleton. As I take a sip of tea, every joint from my shoulder down snaps, crackles, and pops. With a growl and chuckle somewhere between resignation and acceptance, I lean forward once more.

It must be getting on to be winter. But so it goes. It is getting on to be time to hunker down.   

01 November 2011

Eyes of a Stranger

Sometimes, I like to joke I've always been Buddhist, but the realization didn't dawn on me until my early twenties. With that joke, I've gone as far as to say Siddhartha stole my perceptions, therefore breaking one of the precepts. Never mind that, if there indeed was ever such an individual, he was around some twenty-five hundred years before I ever drew breath.

Thinking back, my first meditative zen moment was probably was probably when I was seven or eight. I was sitting in class at that private school I went to for whelps with special needs. Retard school, the neighborhood si li nan jen called it. I was seated by the window on what was either a nice autumn or spring day, watching the clouds.

At that age, clouds to me where these landmasses, which lumbered across the sky that sometimes resembled shapes. On this particular day, I noticed a puffy one, which kind of looked like a ram. Suddenly, right before my eyes, I saw it start to change shape. To dissolve, and, finally, fade away altogether. I was mystified. It was the first time I beheld impermanence. I began to watch the other clouds, noticing the same thing, and began to lose myself in the singular moment between the memories of the past and the dreams of the future.

A sharp tap on my shoulder broke that moment. My teacher. I had been staring out the window. Daydreaming. It got me in trouble. Still, there was a calm I felt, a similar sense of peace I would get during moments afterward, the larval stages of my reptile zen, which no one, not a teacher or even the si li nan jen could take away.

"You saw god," a neighbor kid, of more religious upbringing than I, told me later when I described the moment.

As a child, god, well, the Christian one, bore a striking resemblance to a puppet on one of those children's telly shows. King Friday, as I recall. Even as a kid, it was more than a little difficult to take that deity seriously.

Now, when I saw the film Clash of the Titans, and beheld Zeus for the first time, I saw a god I could at least be a little leery of. By molding clay, he could turn a mere mortal into something that looked like a satyr. I found that to be pretty impressive. Sort of like how Darth Vader could choke someone with just a look. It was the first time I found myself wondering if there might be more than one god, and some of them might be far badder than the one I thought looked like a fucking sock puppet.

But, I have always had a questioning streak of heresy in me, so I have never been god-fearing, no matter what deity it is. And, nowadays, the idea of one, or many, anthropomorphic beings that look upon Homo sapians with kindness, malice, or indifference is laughable. We would hardly rate in that kind of context.

Ever had one of those moments, looking back, when what you think was you is a total stranger? When you wonder how or why you were where you were or why you did what you did? Sure, it looks like you, but you cannot identify with that being whatsoever.

I have. Sometimes, during those moments when reality shifts and warps and reforms on me. I see that stranger, who looks frighteningly like me, and wonder just what in the name of almighty fuck happened. How or why. It feels like, from the standpoint of a perpetual watcher, I am observing someone else's life and trying to make sense of it.

Of course, there was a lesson and story in it. Those what-was-I-thinking-and/or-doing? moments helped shape this monster that is me. It was all important in some form or fashion. Part of how the story goes. I have long since let go of the concept of guilt. Guilt, like anger, is something, which can feed a dragon.

"What if I'm not the same person you met five years ago?" Someone asked me once.

"Isn't that a given?" I wanted to say, but it was a cold night. The words, hot in the back of my throat, froze and caught at the tip of my tongue. But perhaps those words did not need to be said. Such a concept should simply be understood.

In looking through the eyes of stranger, through my waxmoon reptile eyes, I realize the phantasm of self. During such meditations, I realize, in the singular moment between the memories of the past and the dreams of the future, it is kicked the fuck down to make way for a rebuilt and reinvented construct of the illusion we all call me. Such an insight gets me to give a little more allowance to the shape-shifters and chameleons of the world. They do the same thing all of us do in the cycles of samsara, just on a larger scale.

I can never be that little boy who was so amazed by a changing and dissolving cloud ever again. The one who thought there might just be many gods after seeing a film. The being who first purged these words will be slightly different than the one who proofreads and revises them. Such is the way. Every moment brings a new incarnation and perspective that wasn't there a moment before. We all revise and renew with every heartbeat and breath we take.

All things change in a dynamic environment. Even those who so stubbornly cling to a rose-colored incarnation, lifetimes before. They change too, as their ch'i rots, slowly drifting toward entropy. Unfocus your eyes, even if they are the eyes of a stranger, and, in the singular moment between the memories of the past and the dreams of the future, you will see it.