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

28 February 2012


The gypsy's mother most likely has locked-in syndrome. The lights are on and someone's home, but not. It is more imprisonment. The stuff of penny-dreadfuls and nightmares. Ensnared in a breathing cage of flesh, bone, and sinew. It is rare as hen's teeth to walk away from something like this, and whether living or dying is preferable is a matter of aspect.

The gypsy tells of how her family does not look for paperwork stating what her mother's wishes were one way or the other. She speaks of her father's blinding rage, how he thinks some fairy-story deity will heal his wife. Blood drama; that, which is not as easy to walk away from because it involves blood, and blood is a funny fucking thing. I know this; not as well as some, but better than most.

Perhaps telling her what will happen will happen is a little caviler, but I did abstain from throwing in one of my favorite lyrical mantras of Roll the Bones. Besides, I have neither the gall, or outright idiocy to pretend to be psychic. That's just not my way. Be that as it may, what is sometimes called a gut feeling, but I've sometimes called the whisper in my ghost, is not positive on this matter.

There is a distinct possibility she'll be kiting to her homeland much sooner than the annual trip to visit family and renew her work visa. I offer my condolences and counsel, though I sometimes fear any conversation we have on the subject might end up being monopolized by my own emotional baggage over the loss of a parent. Still, just as there's a chance she might be returning to her homeland much sooner than usual, I suspect there's a chance I might be venturing down below to get drunk with her whilst we mourn the loss of our mothers. Although, I doubt anyone can even guess how badly I want to be wrong about that.   

27 February 2012


Not all oasis are in the desert and made of sand. Some are located in other in-between pockets of nowhere, composed of dirt and rock. Some of flesh and bone. Some of song and emotion. Something to bear in mind. I once marched out of the desert badlands into an African night to collect a kiss. That was my water and ambrosia, but my thirst has yet to be slaked.

The sun rises and sets regardless. The universe continues whether or not you're there to witness it. Possibilities are endless. Something or nothing, some might say. I'm not very good with black and white absolutes, instead seeing the beauty of Grey. The twilight and varying degrees of light and shadow. Some say my third eye is open, but I know it occasionally hallucinates. It makes me wonder who the more damned is; the one who sees all things and phantasms? Or the tragically blind? But perhaps it doesn't matter.

25 February 2012


It's getting to be that time of year when there's a certain sense of change in the air. A shift, which is almost imperceptible. Suddenly, the chill does not carry the same bite as deep winter. The light cast by the sun does not seem quite as harsh.

Back when I lived down below, I would wax euphoric at the realization that spring was just around the corner, and started looking for the seasonal omens to validate my belief. I used to think I could predict the way a season would be with a fair amount of accuracy, and maybe I could in that particular environment. Perhaps I was just too impressed with my intelligence, and, generally, when that happens, I tend to get a backfist of perspective, which I sometimes actively seek out.

Up here, I am more mindful of the chaotic weather patterns as the jetstream serpent slithers along the high peaks. The idea of making a prediction is almost as absurd as believing a politician's promise. I know, despite the chronological location of the vernal equinox, spring, in the flatland perception, for us is at least another month off. Maybe more, but that's just the way of it.

It has not been a bad winter in terms of cold, wind, or severe storms. In some ways, it's seemed almost like an extended late autumn interspersed with bits of early winter for spice. It's been a horrible winter in terms of snow. This late in the season, ski resorts are finally getting decent bases on their runs, but snowshoers complain the conditions are less than satisfactory out on the the trails. On walkabout, I've worn my gators, but hardly needed them. There have been omens of thaw, and I sometimes wear my mudding boots when walking to check the post. Mud, being mountain for spring.

As always, when I catch that shift, I become excited. Visions of hummingbirds and long warm days and shorts and sandals and afternoon rain dance about within the walls of my skull. I think it's the auspice of change. The cliche of renewal.

I can make my guesses of how soon it will be spring, and what the season might be like, but I've learned to not be so emphatic in my predictions. Those backfists of perspective keep me from getting too impressed with my intelligence. Here and now, the statement I'll make with confidence is the shift has come, and it is no longer deep winter.

23 February 2012

The Almost Snow Day

"How did you get here?" sempi asked when he first saw me.

"That's a question philosophers and theologians have been debating that since time immemorial," I started.

"I meant here, smartass!"

"I am in possession of an invention called an automobile, a horseless carriage, if you will," I replied. "I did this new-fangled thing called driving."

"But the Road..." sempi protested, the look in his eyes was somewhere between amusement and a desire to slap me for some peculiar reason.

It was then I checked with the Department of Transportation. Sure enough; the Road had been closed. As far as official people in official costumes were concerned, our Sahel, and, a forty mile stretch in either direction, was snowed in.

"Well, ain't that annoying?" I asked rhetorically, but then shrugged. "Mei fei tsu."

The snowstorm, heralded by strong winds for days prior, didn't really give us much in the way of accumulation, which has been a bit of a problem this season. At a guess, there was been four and five inches of fresh powder at the House of Owls and Bats. Of course, men have been known to exaggerate about measurements and women can't tell six inches to save their lives, so perhaps true accuracy requires a ruler and something beyond such gender bias.

Two hours later, the Road reopened. So it goes. A snow-day-that-wasn't in the mountains. The idea of a lot of traffic seems dubious. Local media outlets wax doomsayer anytime so much as a flurry occurs, which gets the travelers to stay in. When you live in a place that puts a fair amount of its economic faith in travelers from the world over, this can be frustrating, if not frightening.

I shrug and watch the traffic cams, listen to the scanner, and wait for the few brave souls who do traverse the Road to perhaps swing by so I can tell them where to go and perhaps suggest what they do when they get there. Part of me is annoyed at the weather; the drive up and down the hill in the name of leaving or going home, the barometric shifts hurting my twisted skeleton. Despite that, I do catch a smile a seeing the fresh powder, grateful for the four, five, or whatever objective amount we got.

21 February 2012


My wind-chimes sing in a cacophonic symphony as gales banshee howl down from the high peaks of the Roof of the World. Tibetan bluster in my own land furthest west, like Morocco. A girl in a carnival mask once told me we all have our own Africas, much like my concept of Kashmir; one's place in the world. Home. Perhaps it's funny, or at least interesting, that my Africa, my Kashmir, is in its own Sahel, far and away from the Mother Land. Although, there are those who would say this is an example of a paradoxical nature I supposedly have.

That girl in the mask? I about wanted to marry her for that bit of prophecy, but perhaps we were both drinking, and maybe even to excess, at the time, although I've always found that a chickenshit excuse. It would later play out it was just her mask talking, not her. Aside from that, she lacked the fortitude to contemplate whiskey with me, but that's another story.

This is a day I normally go on walkabout if the meteorological omens all line up. Having gales that blow with the intensity of a maelstrom, I find myself not so inclined. Out in the Backcountry, the avalanche danger is so stupid-high a mere sneeze could prove fatal, and finding out the exact limits of my mortality does not sound amusing, despite the itch to go wandering.

With a resigned sigh and big gulp of tea, I realize I'll be holing up for the day. The sky is deceptively clear, but that otherworldly choir of wind and watching the trees and my prayer flags sway reminds me of why I've not bothered getting my pack ready. There are documentaries I can stream and the latest issue of National Geographic arrived in the post, making this my favorite day of the month, despite the bluster. I reconcile there will be other days, when the meteorological omens will line up in a more conducive manner. It will be those days I'll be out walking, and a message can be left at the beep.      

13 February 2012

'Member When?

If someone had told me, years and lifetimes ago, that I'd be sitting in an Adirondack lawnchair sipping cocktail-hour wine kept chilling in a snowbank on mild midwinter's day, all after a walkabout with a striking woman of regal bearing, I'd have probably told said cat they were smoking crack through a light bulb. Being an aberration, I don't usually get picked for this sort of thing. To this day, I'm still amazed I didn't have to drug her.

I can remember the night we first met vividly. Actually, I was looking for another girl at the time. Sabina, who I would half-jokingly refer to as the Vampire Queen-even sometimes to her face-was holding court with her then boyfriend and smoking a clove. One of my friends was talking to one of her courtiers.

"Can I get one of those?" I asked her, in reference to the clove.

"Oh, sure," and she handed me one. I lit up.

"Thank you, Ma'am," I said politely and with a slight inclination of my head.

"No problem."

"Cool shirt, by the way," I said to her boyfriend at the time, noting his Motley Crue shirt.

"Thanks," he said, somewhat dismissively.

Vampire snobs. The gothic aristocracy. What are you going to do?

And I slinked off into the juke joint shadows to monkey watch and maybe find that girl I was looking for. It was probably another six months before Sabina, who wasn't much of anything to me way back then-we weren't even rightly acquaintances, let alone friends yet-and I exchanged a single word or acknowledgment of presence. So it goes.

That was almost ten years ago. Quite amazing what came to pass in nearly ten orbits around the sun. How much has changed. Where we were then compared to where we are now.

I remember finding her one night in a vampire den looking tired and burned. Her relationship with the musician was in its death-throes. I'd spent the better part of a year trying to help her salvage it, despite the fact the whole relationship was built upon facades.

"You need to get away from here," I said.


"Because you look like a fucking burnout," I growled. "You're going to die like this; if not here than somewhere just like it."

I remember the first time she kissed me. It seemed as though it was done on a dare. I was giving her a hug goodnight when she planted a peck on my cheek. We both looked at each other in utter shock, as though a taboo had just been broken. That final line between friendship and something else entirely being brushed away.

"We all have free will," she said to me as she climbed into her vehicle, her eyes never leaving mine. "What are you going to do with yours?"

I remember our first kiss. Our faces were not very far apart. Her scent was that of fear, anticipation, and pheromones.

"What are we going to do?" She asked me, and I used dialog for a story I would tell years later.

"I don't know, but I think we're both doomed."

I was lips and she was tongue. Her breath tasted like wine. I liked that a lot. Especially when I kissed her.

I remember when she picked me up after I got back from North Carolina after I'd help my father put his mother in the dirt. That day in the artifacts boutique. The time she told me I made her feel more alive than she had in a very, very long time. When she told me she feared elves and the fey might steal me away and that was why she insisted on holding my hand. That first time she played a song on the radio for me. The first cocktail hour as well as our first breakfast on the porch of the House of Owls and Bats. I fell in love with her all over again when she was standing at the front gate, taking in the view and the house chanting;

"Mine! Mine! Mine!"

I remember when she was first moving to what we called Nostalgic New Orleans up on the Hill, and we were speaking of all the things that lead up to that. By now, her relationship with the musician was ashes and ghosts, and, like a phoenix, she was rising from the ruin. We spoke of light and dark and what needed to be done. I almost growled at her at one point.

"I will not be thanked or blamed for any of this you realize," I said. "That's the deal."

"The only thing you ever did was tap me on the shoulder and say; 'wake up,' " she said. To this day, I'm not sure if I want to believe that.

Once, mentioning that, she had the audacity to say I rescued her. Me. The aberration; being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face. Nothing. I am not saint or a superhero, but, I guess to her, I must be something.

12 February 2012


Some attempt to grow and change. Some stagnate and fester in the security blanket of it's always been that way. Some going walking after midnight, listening to mournful acoustic African songs in the half-light of firefly lanterns. Some proclaim their affection for another in invisible ink and poems written in the riddle tongue of dragons.

A minstrel mantra;

"Some got to go,
Some play the role,
Some scream in horror
just for show 
Some got no reason,
Some got no hope,
Some like it loud..."

There is the rising and setting of the sun. Building and dissipating clouds. The movements of the stars and halcyon days. The snake's tails and rabbit holes. The passing of great storms and times of smooth sailing. Moments of true goodness and unspeakable fucking evil, all seen through the subjective eye. A stairway to Heaven or highway to Hell. Two sides of the coin. Sit under the bodhi tree and figure out the Tao. Either kiss the face of the Divine or hit the downward spiral.

I'm not a joiner, but all the same, I might just be going up or down, side to side, with the rest of you...

11 February 2012

Flame Dance

To say it is fascinating to watch fire would probably invoke insinuations of being primitive. Of course, I have been accused of being either American or rustic primitive before. I'm not sure if such attempts at labels were meant as insults. In any event, I tend to let it slide, labels being oh so limiting.

Watching the flames as they tickle its fuel is something primal. There are thousands of stories, which supposedly answer how, when, and why hominids got fire. Some of these tales are quite entertaining. Despite  superstition, apocrypha, and other forms of mythology, I tend to think of the lone, or pack of hominids, finding a literal burning bush; set alight by lightening or perhaps a volcanic eruption somewhere in the Rift Valley of eastern Africa.

Light. Heat. Protection. It gave an interesting taste to the food held over it. Predators would not come near, for fear of the flames. Those primates had come across one of the oldest magics.

Fire, and the manipulation of it, is what sets the hominid genus apart from other species on this planet. The civilization and technology has been built upon this knowledge. A 'puter and the ability to finally step off-world, to touch the very stars themselves, comes from that time in Africa, gathered around a literal burning bush.

When stoking a fire, I sit for several moments, captivated by the flames consuming the fresh wood. I feel like I'm in Africa, millions of years before the first kingdoms of Man.

It's hard to believe fire is not alive, but I have read that scientist say since fire does not evolve, it is not alive. I have encountered people who do not evolve. Interesting.

For not being alive, fire is the womb. Destruction and creation. Equal sides of the cosmic coin. Flames of wild fires have laid waste to entire continents. Yet, on the other side of that cosmic coin, were it not for that moment in Africa, around the literal burning bush, none of what has been accomplished, good or ill, would have ever come to pass. Those flames are one of the oldest magics.

07 February 2012

Skid Row

This is an old one. Positively ancient. At one point, I considered rewording it slightly to use as a song in one of my stories, or even the self-published book I did once. As it stands, this is what I purged one night in black India ink at the old Saint Mark's coffeehouse within the monoliths of downtown of the greater metroplex.

Coffee and cigarettes
cloak the air,
Steamy jazz rhythms
play in the background

Young lovers fucking
on rusty stairwells and in back alleys,
Desperate copulation
pleas for affection or attention,
First time?
Last time?
What's the difference?

The smell of rotten apples
and cinnamon sex,
Muffled cries
and whispered promises,
It's all forgotten by morning...

Neon and moonlight
methane and steam
Forgotten faces-
Forgotten promises-
Broken dreams

Does the sunlight
wash it all away?
How easy is it
to hide from our sins
during the day?

Until then
try not to think about it,
It's just another neon night
here along skid row...-7, February, 1998CE

03 February 2012


Despite all my questions, evolutions, arguments, hints, allegations, and things better left unsaid about the matter of faith/belief, one thing has remained a bit of a constant; belief is what you feel head, heart, and gut. Things like temples, holy days, and ceremonies are stage props. The dog and pony show one engages in to make sure others, and themselves, know, they are are getting in touch with the Divine.

Curiosity drove my theological studies. Curiosity has driven a great many things in my life. Curiosity has gotten me into all kinds of trouble and led to grand adventures, but that's a whole other set of stories. It is said curiosity can kill a cat, but I've often figured since a cat has nine lives, a single death can hardly be scary.

Once, during my initial delvings into Buddhism, but when I was also reading the Quran, I asked Jezebel if my spiritual nature bothered her. I know how I felt about those who seemed overly religious. Jezebel, being my friend, just snickered.

"You haven't got a spiritual bone in your body!" She laughed. "You're like a mad scientist. You want to dissect and know how everything works, and that includes philosophy and religion."

Mad scientist sounds so, well, angry, and I do so try to avoid the concept of anger. How about ironic scientist? That sounds good. I would say paradoxical scientist, but that would invite baseless accusations of me being contrary, of all things.

But the fact my very bestest friend in the whole of creation said I wasn't spiritual was probably one of the reasons I found myself inserting the prefix of heretical into my theological descriptions...

It was curiosity that got me to meet Gen Kelsang Losal. Oh, I had read about sitting meditation. I was well versed in the theory behind it. The application of this theorem was a horse of another color. Often, I have said my mind does not shut off, and the whitenoise and psychobabble would continue when I was focusing on the sensation of breath and trying to skinny-dip in Nirvana.

Oddly enough, I've always been able to do walking meditation without effort. Exercising in Mindfulness is the term Gen Kelsang Losal used when I told of her of this. This is certainly one of the reasons I find going on walkabout one of the most zen of activities.

So, I went to sit before sangha to learn how to sit. I'm sure there's a joke or a blues song in that. It was during those classes I was invited to take my refuge vows. Curiosity keep me going to classes, and subsequent visits to the Avolkiteshvara Center over the years I lived within the greater metroplex. Curiosity got me to take my refuge vows. After all, outside of meditation classes, I'd never been to a Buddhist ceremony before.


I have not seen Gen Kelsang Losal in half a decade now. Once a year, I go on pilgrimage to, I joke, get my heretical Buddhism reset at the Great Stupa. For the most part, my meditations occur when I am off wandering the trails of our Sahel, getting holy out in the bush. But, sometimes, I go through my phases, and I attempt to sit.

This is not without its comedy...   

It usually starts with the hounds; Chevy has to remind me he was once a therapy dog, and crawl his massive frame into my lap. Whistler will chase him away, but wants to either have me pet him or sit very, very near me; as in nearly knocking me over. Milarepa just wants to make sure my face is clean, and will therefore lick every bit of dirt, real and imagined, off.

Then, the cats get in on the action; both Luna French Kitteh and Shuja wanting my lap, since Chevy was oh so kind to warm it up. It's not unusual to hear a slight mother-son growling match. Eeeva Tiny Voice often decides this is the time to show me that she can actually meow at octaves above a whisper, thus belying her moniker.

My contemplations seem to focus on whether the quadrupeds have Buddha-nature or are they just fucking with me...

"Thank ya'll very much," I say once I have finished with my attempt at sit-down meditation. "I was almost to perfect serenity, but every single one of you just had to fuck it up."

They all look upon me with a serenity I have yet to achieve, unable to fathom they could've been doing something wrong...