October 13, 2013
Cautiously, I begin at the end. Above the city giant cranes quietly point north. They sleep standing like ballet dancers holding a pose they were taught long ago not to forget. The dim lights on their heavy boxes show that their eyes are closed. Two tired spotlights, waning, succumbing to the closing curtain, fading into the applause of raucous leaves and the melodies of boisterous drunkards shouting aimlessly at the ghosts tormenting their minds. Even though the day’s show is over, many feet still wander through the twisted streets. They search for quiet places, loud places, places where their worries can become part of the city, lightening their burdens until dawn. Serene sodium lamps show the roughness of water discontent to lie still—searching itself for a peace it will likely never find whether or not the theater is running. Apartment lights find reasons to excite their filaments or gases and in turn find one more, causing each to slip back into the blank faces of their buildings—another portal to nowhere.
Chapter 14, Facade
It was the 25th of July, the month of Caesar. Today I found a pen in the street. A fine slender thing clad in grey and chrome with a pleasant heft. I came upon it amongst some flotsam huddled near the curb. I was walking, strolling really, enjoying the air that had had its dust beaten down into the streets and sewers by the rain. The whole city was taking a long relaxed breath as if it had encountered some dire malady and survived unscathed.
I suppose that is what I would have said if I knew how I had acquired it. A strange thing happened last night, the details of which are not entirely clear. I can recall there had been a tremendous storm. The sky was alive with the fire of swirling electrons, gathering up in small rooms as if they had all been invited to the wrong party, a masked ball and that once they had revealed themselves to one another they had been blown apart by the materialization of their mutual hatred, flung out across the sky and into other small rooms only to find they’d been fooled again.
The night had revolted in anger, disgusted by the heat and the thick moisture. In a rage, it had thrown itself about its apartment, waking all the neighbors, screaming intolerant melodies disharmonizing against the clashing sounds of broken devices. A white flash had opened my eyes. The clock, ever aloof, was casually pointing past the three, its slender hand lazily catching up. The air was quivering around me, waking the things it was touching.
The rain came in ecstatic spasms. Billions of self-contained droplets suddenly existed far up in the sky and wanted down— leaping unconsciously from their high perches, plummeting through the darkness, they came alive in the swift electric light that was breathing in and growling. Further they plummeted, wanting, finding one another on rooftops and balconies, sidewalks and streets, on awnings and plastic chairs left out for the night, gathering in gutters, all of them searching—searching for some lower place, drawn mysteriously to the core, consuming all of the discarded things of some other incomprehensible world.
I looked out my window, drawn to it. And then it struck. It was one of those thick straight to the ground bolts—the kind that have fooled grown men into believing in angry Gods. It followed the exact path twice, hundredths of a second apart, like the shock of a heartbeat.
Now I am here with a burn on my face, the scab of which tells me is at least a week old and yet I have no recollection of receiving it. If you were here on this morning and asked me how I arrived next to the river I would have to reply, ‘Sometimes we find things useful and do them without thinking.’ This would be a quote from Mr. Memru. Meanwhile I would be constructing a plausible route to have navigated myself to our current position. The building opens up onto RUE GEOFFROY L’ASNIER. I turned south towards the river, then east against the current, voilà. And this would be true, but you weren’t there and we’re past that now.
What I can tell you is somewhere along that constructed path I found a very real pen. It could’ve been anyone’s pen. An impatient diplomat, unwilling to coax new ink into the bearing, could have thrown it from her office, not far from here, sitting in a chair of fine brown leather, cursing a stuck window and her lack of ingenuity while the rain poured in. It could have slipped from a man’s bag while he shuffled through his belongings, feeling the pull of his life calling from inside his phone, unconcerned with those lesser creatures, the manual articulators: the pen, the pencil. Au revoir stylo! Allez vous crayon!
It could be anyone’s pen, but I know it is not. More importantly, I know what that means. There will be no more words from Memru. He doesn’t need them anymore. I am crushed. I know it had been coming but it’s not something you can ever be prepared for. I know what happens next. I’ve seen it in my dreams. I need words now more than ever. I need their structure, their steady hand to guide me into the knowledge of what to do next. I have lost the only other path, my only friendship. I pick up his pen and begin to write.
I look away, distracted by an errant feather, a short soft down feather dirtied and white. It flutters about anchored to a half green leaf by an invisible thread. I am drawn down to the edge of the river. It is swollen with run-off and debris, the old surfaces of things slowly making their way to the bottom. The clouds are still gray in their bellies but have become thin and light, spaces have begun to open between them.
I continue east and pass by the painted steel chairs of a floating restaurant, no one has been enticed enough to fill even one of them. Beside them a man is sitting on the curb. He smokes a cigarette next to a stack of pamphlets still wrapped in a rubber band. Higher up along the wall, there is a group of ringed water misters. They hang like flattened tea strainers making steam. The wind carries the mist to my face. It is not an unpleasant refreshment. Yellow and green trash bags line the walkway, hanging like low banners from streetlights and other erect objects.
The Paris Plage has opened for the day. Blue beach chairs and white umbrellas line the cobblestone bank. I decide to sit and rest. Around me tall maple trees have burst through the cracks in the stone. Their bark looks like the harvest site of puzzle pieces. The Paris Iena, her top deck loaded with tourists sitting on wicker chairs as if attending a cinema, rambles by, her bow and then her stern casually swallowed by the center arch of the Ponte Marie. Feeling the coming lunch crowd closing in I decide to keep moving.
There are people reading under white hats with wide brims and black bands, others talking around bites of apple or mouthfuls of sandwich, casually glancing up as a police boat speeds down the river manned by three animate figures wearing bulletproof vests. One of them is intent on delivering a walkie-talkie to the pilot who seems equally intent, to the dismay of his comrade, on devouring some as yet unknown prey. A baby sneezes next to me in a parked stroller while a fluffy dog, lost behind a mop of eyebrows, searches methodically for morsels below her owner’s feet. In the water a black leather satchel floats like the shell of a dead snapping turtle, its upper surface drying in the sun—another message from Memru. There’s no doubt now.
I come to a bridge, its green painted steel ribs arched at an angle, skewing them slightly, as they fold themselves into the sub dermal brickwork beneath its lutecien stone surface. Forged into the iron is the stamp of the architect and the forger and the money. It looks like this:
A powerful smell of urine is drawn out from the latticework by a gust of wind. I walk below and into another layer of the city. Between the ribs, built on grated platforms are peoples’ homes. They are constructed with soiled sheets and discarded bedding. Cardboard walls are supported by weaved vinyl signs like the kind you might find tied to a chain-link fence, boasting about the coming construction of a new waterfront apartment building or condo complex. Held within are clear plastic bags containing keepsakes and other lonely necessities.
Another tour boat passes, its wake riding up the slanted bank like a greyhound chasing an imaginary rabbit. I see dried yellow raisins and date seeds on the ground farther up, also a few drops of red paint next to the stenciled initials JDV among other bits left by previous creatures. There is a pair of abandoned jeans. I wonder if their owner decided to go for a swim. Maybe they ran off on their own and have tired. On the stone wall above the docks, two bronzed shirtless men are sitting. From the back it’s easy to imagine their ass cracks having a debate about the weather, not having the precise words as their view is generally obstructed, but today since they are getting a rare but excellent show, they have begun to deliberate.
I walk past arrogant yachts with names like Excellence, Cashmere, and Don Juan II. Red carpets cover the wooden planks of their docks. A large man in a small life vest, from the relatively certain safety of the dock, hoses down the port side. It all seems highly unnecessary. They are the Yachts of Paris according to the sign, and they apparently group-bought the walnut stained wicker chairs and glass top tables they all share. The river widens here and I turn towards the canal.
An ash tree lies on its side pointing straight at Notre Dame, which looks like the stone crown of a dead queen resting on her tomb. The ash tree’s roots are sad stubby things stunted by the heavy cobble work around them. I continue past the lock, the mossy doors unable to hold back the force of the canal entirely, whose surface stands three meters above the river below. I walk over the gate. The beams of the bridge above are receiving a shiny new skin of uniform gray. If you squint it almost looks silver. When I reach the other side I notice two large shiny fish with red fins cruising through the green water. I think of my grandfather and his journal, but let the thought pass.
Ahead a young couple is kissing passionately while more modest boats sit quietly nestled next to one another with shades drawn over their windows. I look up and see that I am at the PORT DE PLAISANCE DE PARIS-ARSENAL. In a window near the water a man is shaving. I begin with a keen eye to examine the diversity of still boats. There are barge like houseboats and beautiful wooden maidens with more stories than I imagine any one person can have. There are bay yachts that look like the heads of blue jays, small flat bottoms with nothing but a motor, zodiacs with their puffed jowls, and low-jawed fellows with names like Pandora II and Late Adventure that look like drowning pelicans.
Some are beaten-down and tired, cracks in their exteriors; others are young and impatient, tugging restlessly at their ropes. There are ever more boats of increasing variety, like those you might see in a scroll describing a Japanese port in the 17th century. There are low flat-topped single-masted vessels with desperately small wooden wings tucked to their sides like floating ducks. I walk on, watching the boats as they watch each other.
The bank begins sloping upward toward the street and the canal soon disappears under the weight of the city squatting heavily above. Here I come to a large circular intersection of many streets. In the center stands a great column clad in weathered copper, its color a milky green. It is decorated with the names of dead people written in gold. A winged figure, also a fiery gold, leaps from its top, a broken chain trailing from its wrist, a torch held defiantly by the other hand. Although the wings suggest flight, I notice while stuck in this position, it is unclear whether the figure is taking off or touching down. If only I could look into his eyes, then I could be certain of his intentions.
I walk down Blvd. RICHARD-LENOIR. I see two dogs sparring with one another merrily while a group of old men wait on a bench for the natural course of events to bring about the next round of petanque (you may know it as bocce ball). The gray steel balls wait with equal patience on the smooth moist dirt. A man with very lively shoes walks by another discarded pair of jeans under a maple. In the street, next to a dumpster, a man lies folded up in a faded yellow mattress like the filling in a crepe, his untied shoes twitching to an unheard rhythm.
In the strip of earth between the streets there are caged holes in the centers of small square gardens that you can step over and look into. It’s like looking down into a tomb. I picture my corpse floating down there, decaying with the rest of the city’s filth. I am surprised by my level of acceptance. I begin to let go of the apprehension of dying. If it is to come in such a way then it will have been far from my control. ‘It’s not all that complicated. Everything lives. Everything dies. That’s it.’ I work his words over in my mind, embracing them, eased by their simple truth. And if it comes another way, at another time, well…it’s all the same.
As I turn away from that hole in the earth, I feel a lightness in my stride, as if my pockets have been emptied of a large number of heavy coins. I continue down the street, evermore entranced in the literary world I am building. I pass by shops selling motorcycle helmets and wraparound goggles like the ones you see the Nazis wear in Indiana Jones movies. A hardware store with a neat display of power tools in the window hides a maze of disorientation that was once organized in the mind of a long dead owner. Now the son, too daunted by the task of rearranging and in a memorial to his father, of which he has convinced himself, ambles around haphazardly searching for a box of square headed screws.
I come upon some mysterious place with one shelf of old handheld cameras, on the others are pieces of projectors laid out in no discernible order—sought-after collectibles of a poignant moment in film history. Through the window I can see several open boxes scattered on the floor and a small middle-aged woman with her brown hair tied up, wearing black rimmed glasses, sitting behind the counter unconcerned by the disorganization surrounding her. The curiosity of old things insists I enter.
Bonjour. I don’t know what else to say so I turn my back to her and begin to examine an 8mm camera, a Bell and Howell like the one that saw Kennedy’s skull break apart on that hot Texas day. I think about all his truths and all his lies, the red ink of the words that built his world, spilling out onto the backseat of a Lincoln, no longer legible. I put the camera down and walk out. Au revoir monsieur.
On the corner there is a real estate office with computer printed pictures of houses in the south of France and flats in the city taped to the windows. They have extravagant, generic captions, which I can’t read but know what they say. Underneath, something anyone can understand, the price: 560,000 Euros, 410,000 Euros, etc. Happy reminders of things most people in this city will never have.
I pass by wine shops, TABAC shops, a fabric store with a third scale automated figurine cobbling shoes with a wooden smile and a tack hammer. The ever dutiful employee never tires—the only Parisian who is always happy to see you. There is a store of safes, their keys lying on top of them unknowingly negating their entire function. A key shop is strategically, or suspiciously, depending on your half-full, half-empty outlook on life, placed next door. A pharmacy with its glowing green cross pulsates with the promise of relief for what ails me. There are pictures of near naked women in the windows that seem to suggest another form of relief entirely.
There are bright blue doors shining as if freshly painted. There are tall weathered oak doors leaning on their hinges. There are open doors that seem to lead to nowhere, closed doors you wish you could open, promising mystery and intrigue beyond themselves: glass doors caged in wrought iron, doors with fancy round knobs, doors with mirrored faces.
An appliance store beckons with tiny top loaders. They are huddled like gleaned sheep, mouths open, hungry for their first load. In the long park above the buried canal, a tall ceilinged gazebo rests on skinny wooden poles—underneath, a ring of sleeping homeless lay head to toe. A carousel of souls floats above them tethered thinly to their bodies.
Suddenly the canal opens up emerging from its tomb into a series of locks. I see the roof of a tour barge descending below the walls. A group of passengers wait at the bow hugging the railing as the gates of the lock open and they prepare to enter the darkness, flashing photos with cameras strapped around there necks. Joseph Conrad comes to mind and I chuckle as the happy yellow stern disappears beneath the street.
I have always been drawn to the water. It never fails to contain an intricate mystery beneath its glossy veneer. I was born on the banks of the Mississippi, that great muddy divide between East and West. A whole world buried there beneath the wakes of barges filled with corn and coal. I pick up a metro ticket and think of her, the realness of her above all else. I think of whose dirty hands it’s been held in, how far it’s traveled— where my future self will take it, if I’ll ever have a chance to give it to her.
I feel words becoming ever more present, ever more necessary to order the underlying chaos into a coherent system of movements; to orchestrate a melody from so many independent, un-touching parts. The street unsatisfied now that it straddles open water changes its name to QUAI JEMMEPES.
I notice the sounds of a shutter slicing light as a cameraman takes photos of a beautiful woman with perfect teeth. I admit I have not met any such women in all of Paris. White teeth must be a model’s commodity, and they must hide in glass cases somewhere beyond my vision. I hear a saxophonist wishing his fingers to articulate the sounds in his head, stumbling over them, occasionally finding them aligned with the shadows of his thoughts. On the cement bank, each one with a slender leg hung over the edge, are two young girls and a boy, one kisses him awkwardly while the other watches, puffing on a cigarette.
My eyes move across the water, it has the color of Spanish olives. An old bearded fisherman is assembling his pole, apparently explaining the mechanism to a young bystander. Both of them, from behind their eyes, regret their loneliness for different reasons— an old man with no wife and no children—a young man with no father to speak of. None of this will change so the fisherman fishes and the young man walks away, his foot glancing an empty bottle of champagne, rolling about aimlessly, making sound from tiny stones too small to see.
Little moments make small noises that grow: pigeons walking on their toes, tic-tic, tic-tic, trash bags crinkling like windsocks, tires on blacktop leaving behind fine traces of themselves, the whining exhaust of scooters, the hum and putter of engines of all sizes, the timing of their pistons clicking accordingly, above all of us each leaf is taking note of the wind’s speed and direction then calling it out to those who care to listen. They are the city in all its glory and misery, all independently becoming themselves within it, a grand headless beast whose tentacles wrap around our roots and crawl out into the world like mycorrhizal hyphae, feeding on us as we feed on it.
I realize I am part of it now, folded up in it, another dimension in its space. I watch as the drunks sit sharing a slow story of hardship as they pass around a single cigarette. Further down the block there is some excitement about a dumpster where busy hands find an entire box of cherries outside a Marche fanprix. Necessity has the universal characteristic of lowering the threshold of satisfaction, and widening the acceptable ripeness of fruit.
I hear the hollow pucker of a ping-pong ball and a pleasant shout of triumph, while the algae filled water of the canal feeds on the discarded nutrients of taller creatures. I see a sign, on it a portrait of a salesman of signs, his smile seems unnecessarily dubious. But then again, what do I know of selling signs. It’s usually what’s on them that I find dubious, promising all manner of absurdities. Maybe this salesman has simply chosen the portrait that will attract the widest base of clientele—another clever man with suspect morals. If I try, I can even hear the arching eyebrow of an equally clever boy waiting to pick a pocket as he spots his next mark, and then the curse under his breath is a shaggy white dog steals from him his opportune moment.
My used blue sneakers carry me forward, a twenty euro buy from a secondhand store on Rivoli. I must confess a cheap ploy to assimilate. On to QUAI DE VALMY. Here the canal opens wide and parks line the banks. I find a bench in front of a petanque court, which is just an open area of fine sand like the infield of the little league diamond. I crack open the tallboy I bought from a shop on the corner and sit comfortably in the shade of a walnut tree. A few small games are in progress. They toss the grey steel balls at the target with varying methods. Some throw high arcs to make the ball sit. Some crouch low to the ground and throw with rotational sidespin, arcing the balls trajectory as it rolls. Still others throw standing with force, spitefully knocking the other players’ balls out of the way. When they have all thrown they gather around the scene bending over like pleasant hens waiting for feed in the trough as the results are examined.
Meanwhile across the canal, Edith and Old Blue Eyes take turns making elegant the disjointed movements of strangers dancing happily with one another. The sounds are as nostalgic as summer itself. Eventually the petanque games coalesce into one with several players. The competition is increasingly heated. Accusations of malicious intent are flung about. It has come down to the final toss. The steel rock takes flight with purpose and seeking to destroy all certainty of victory it crashes into the first, then the second, then the third-place balls! There is a sudden huddle of crouched men and pointing fingers, their excited voices ricocheting off each other. A measuring tape is produced and extended, the great equalizer, graduated judgment suspect only in the human hand of origin and the eye’s terminus, which of course is the crux of it. Any machine or invention striving to remove the hand that created it, must always want of it to make it alive and question its aliveness. Silly creatures to the core, all of us.
The rain came suddenly and without question. A million thoughts dancing upon the streets all leaving minutes later without answers. I moved down Blvd. ST. DENIS – FOUBOURG back through India-town with its curry shops and produce stands filled with foreign roots and fruits, leaves and stems, past a Punjab Music Shop with cheap gold watches, a Bollywood Designs, its windows dressed in ornate gowns, their beautiful purple and green fabric adorned with mosaics of glittering jewels. Next to that the India Silk Palace, and next to that, Asia Pacific Trade “specializing” in international liquor. Further along is the Bombay Palace advertising karahi style cooking, a glass case full of brown sweets is their front counter.
As I walk along the busy sidewalk I pass by dark skinned men, many with thick black mustaches. They carry long faces, expectant faces—some hopeful, some diligent, some spiteful. Young people, apparently not knowing one another, shake hands jubilantly as they meet, excitedly moving through the terrain taking in the rich smells of spices: coriander and tamarind, cardamom, anise, cumin and saffron, the promise of adventure growing with the evening’s shadows. Next to me a man carries two plastic bags, one full of pineapples the other of palm fronds. The city is an endless maze sprawling itself outward in every direction, filling itself with all manner of creation—all forms of self-destruction.
I take a seat at a café and order a pint of Stella. It’s more refreshing than it ought to be, but that’s alright, we take pleasure where we can however small and however costly. A woman sits down next to me. She is kind enough to lend me a smoke and I light up and sit back, not paying her much attention. My eyes are occupied by the street. They begin traversing the buildings across from the café. I’m drawn to an attic space above a short stone assembly which is sandwiched between two larger enterprises, one of new white plaster with clean chrome rain spouts topped with petite funnels drawing lines between the apartments, the other of old limestone wrapping around the corner of RUE VALENCENNES with scooped sweeping edges and a penthouse below a modest arch. Both are adorned with hard blackened iron twisted into the soft curves of vines. The odd single window is offset to the left. Two bottles decorate the sill—one green, wide and closed, the other brown and tall, open with no cork. The sky above is a faded blue and momentarily littered with pigeons. The number is 147 and there is no obvious method of entry.
Even though the only evidence I have points to somewhere far back from where I came, I have the uneasy suspicion that this is it. I think of her again and imagine she was the winged messenger bringing his pen to me, placing it in my path to save me from myself, granting me the power to write. I imagine Memru climbing up the rainspout like some un-human creature wanting something very human—a bed, a sink, a shower. I see him as he shimmies along the edge and slips into the open window, unseen by all of the busy dwellers below, everyone that is but me, the fool watching the spaces between things. I have the feeling of an obsolete organism incapable of adapting to new conditions, stubbornly clinging to proceedings no longer actuated by reality.
I finish my beer and head south down STROUSBOURG through the African neighborhood. Here the sidewalks are lined with hair boutiques, places with names ranging from the practical to the eccentric, places like Star 48, Premier Classe, TACO-AFRO, LA MAIN D’OR, New Sky, Elegance Beauty No.1, Cosmetique, Anne Franke-Les Deux Marrioniers, Meches Diana- Les Meches des Stars. The choices seem daunting, there is an entire neighborhood of shops dedicated to African hairstyles. On and on it goes, Darling, Afro King, Cap 42, Dalles Afro Buete, Top Chic, MGC Black Beauty Center, Le Gloire 24, Elegance Star, right up to RUE ST DENIS where its perpendicularity and seedy reputation transitions black to white, as if aging plastic prostitutes and the lure of base desires is the glue holding the two neighborhoods together. An effective mediator where racial divides take a backseat to a good fuck or an interesting albeit twisted sex show.
Crossing RUE ST DENIS, the street becomes SEBASTAPOOLE with its lanky white fashion stores. Here even the mannequins seem bored by their own glamorous popularity. They stand lazily waiting for something to happen, or slouch with obdurate disinterest on fine leather furniture. They stare out the windows of Boi Amour, Sun Light, On Parle De Vous, Giorgio, and Roche bobois.
The sun is gone now and my tired feet keep walking. On past Hotel de Ville then east along the river and finally I am home. Humph…home…home is a funny thing, something we all seem to want—to need. But I am not the same man that left this morning, nor will I ever again be that man. And if home is where they know you…well, I guess it’s the way it has always been.
Facade, Chapter 9
I felt a certain responsibility to the man in my dream. Maybe in trying to understand his madness I had missed his intent. Either way, it proved impossible to eliminate the thought that deep within the abstractions of his mind, there was still that desire to communicate—to reach out and share more than space. I couldn’t deny the feeling that he wanted to share it with me. ‘We are all contradictions,’ he had written, ‘sacks of lies and truths swimming around under our skin, spilling their bits haphazardly.’
And so I will be the arbiter of his will, imposed or predisposed I can no longer tell, and present to you his notes, reassembled in the sequence in which they were found so that you may judge for yourself the extent of his profundity or madness. I wonder though, if it is possible for a man to be both—to be at once wise and delusional, cogent and incoherent. Perhaps in the end, the meanings of these assembled characters are indelible to each other.
Writing is a solitary business. Given my innate disposition I find it eloquently suited to my needs. And even if the products of my musings prove intolerable to consume, at least I no longer feel it necessary to fain happiness. The satisfaction of release it seems can be a proper muse.
History is a malleable ghost set upon by the powerful and weak alike to better represent their present position in current states of affair and circumstance with pomp enough to choke even the smoke stack of papal democracy. Cough, cough. “Turn your head to the left,” says Dr. God, “I must be sure of your spiritual health.” Meanwhile, morality is a stern looking nurse watching over God’s shoulder, waiting patiently with a syringe full of truth, or something as close as science has thought to manufacture.
Outside the detectives wait with golden pens for the mystery to dwell long enough to make enticingly plausible what they will write, choosing only the “truths” best suited to keep the ink in their wells and the coin in their pockets. And not far off the politicians dance the wooden dance of puppets, their strings conspicuously hidden in the clouds that hover around tall buildings. The higher the floor, the more expensive it is to see the show, and the more talented are the long dexterous fingers of their masters.
Music like this must be seen, the vibrations felt in their original moments. The expressions on their faces are as important as the sounds leaving the tips of their fingers or released from between their lips. You must feel the push and pull of the air between you.
It is said that true perfection is matching essence with form and does not exist but for the briefest and rarest incarnations of the mind, when all pretensions are at once absolved and un-existent…including the idea of perfection itself.
People often ask, after some epic event, “Will the world ever be the same?” This is really an absurd question if given a bit of thought. Because although from our perspective time has a way of arranging itself in circles, in truth, whatever that means, the lines never really touch. They just pretend to know one another for the comfort of nostalgia.
Perhaps we all live in cages. Some we build ourselves. Some are built for us. Some are made of brick and steel. Some are made of voices. Some are made to keep things in. Some are made to keep things out. Some are made to separate. All are made to control some function of the mind, manipulating our wildness to submit to one another the quiet rage we insist is not our ignorance.
Often we are compelled by the universe itself, that part of the universe that defies explanation—the inarticulate urge of serendipity or gravitas sorrow. Perhaps this is the God we seek to worship or destroy.
While writing, words become cumbersome objects to maneuver into place. While reading, words often leave insufficient space to accommodate sufficient thought. Time fed to either will erase the halting expressions that inhibit the growth of knowledge.
Apparently the tallest places have the best reception for God talk. So the faithful clamor to the top of things with their crisses of cross and whack-a-hammers and run cables down to their television sets and make of themselves a holy mess of morality. Praise Jesus or whoever the shape your particular antennae was designed to reach.
I was here. I existed. Let me not be a twig in the forest, let me at least be a bristle in a fine brush.
Poetry is not an angle towards an end. It is the bend of the line and the fine fibers painted red.
It will be a miserable place when the world has whittled us down to only the hard and spiteful.
I like to watch boats sleeping and the sounds of raindrops falling on wide flat leaves.
Electrons and neurons, a mere shift in charge. Bafflingly simple. Incomprehensibly complex.
The green steel ribs under bridges are good for cardboard houses. Luxury flats for those with big sticks or otherwise sufficiently caustic personalities.
Stones are stones are stones are stones except when they’re not and then they say things to you like, “No monsieur. Au revoir.”
Fruits are rotting as we realize they are ripe.
It is difficult to see the peak from within the stone, let alone the sky behind it.
Things are only as real as we make them. The rest is nothing but the clutter of what other people call truth.
It’s not all that complicated. Everything lives. Everything dies. That’s it.
If gravity is what you wish for, take the soles from under my shoes and let my feet walk heavy on sharp inconsiderate things.
He kept going down to the basement in his mind to visit the box—to add things to it as he released his words into the world. Time displaces itself in strange incongruent ways when you forgo the edifice of restraints placed upon it by its sequential perception. One moment no longer leads to the next which leads to the next and so on. Memru instead found it far more comfortable to allow time to choose its own path separate from his own. That way they were both allowed to exist outside of each other. But something was still wrong. He felt a presence—something foreign to his destined path, something that existed both within and without. He began to feel there was some agent of time collecting evidence of his delinquency against the order of things; an agent that had infiltrated his thoughts and was searching through his secret files. But why? The agent’s true intentions were still unclear to him. Was he there to destroy him or learn from him? If only he could see into his eyes.
Untitled, unfinished Sci-fi novel
In the morning there is a stillness only imagined. This obscure intellectual feat of stopping time is a ruse, she thought. Time is. Yes…time is. Time is the one thing we cannot exist without. Perhaps in the very center of the biggest black hole, time stops.
It has been known for decades that time indeed slows to a rate functionally equivalent to zero at the heart of most black holes. Ever since the Conglomerate sent the first probe into Sheba-7, we have been waiting for it to cross the event horizon. But as predicted, it just stays there to this day. The closer it gets to the edge of existence, the slower it travels. Now it is a fixture of curiosity, streaming continuously; a moment caught in our short winded perception. Anyone can tune in. Just think about it and the real time sequence of images manifests itself in your Relaxed Frontal Perception Module.
She wondered if inside, there would really be no way to understand time, if it would simply have no meaning. Iggy was Peya’s time piece. He was all she ever thought of. Well…him and Heaven.R
She looked down at her hands. They were pale, almost as white as the snow that covered everything but the light catchers scattered across the frozen expanse of the habitable zone. They were part of Solution III. Needless to say Solutions I and II were miserable failures. But as they say in Hell, “There are no failures, only the absence of time.”
Iggy had spent some time in Hell. He was sent there when he was a fledgling 100 years old. For his first centennial he and some dirtier friends, as the conglomerate would have me call them, had hacked into some bootleg bodies that had been confiscated by the enforcement arm of the Conglomerate. The plan was to get inside the biological matrix mainframe and upload a metavirus that would induce canine behavior in their hybrid human hosts, specifically anus sniffing. It was a success and indeed ironically hilarious to see the minister of finance with his nose up the ass of the Prime. Thank Existence for that hilarity. Without it I find life unbearably constrained. Peya felt the same.
It was cold on the ice sheet. Really cold. Minus 100 degrees C with the wind gnawing on the surface cells of her face. Without the antifreeze update Iggy and her had purchased from Gilgy, her nose would already be black from necrosis. Gilgy was short for Gilgamesh. Tall with a rodent shaped face and hair braided into a Mohawk that stuck up off his head like rooster, he was appalling to most members, but was tolerated for his connections. He was a guy who could get things, illegitimate things like unauthorized upgrades and body codes, but his real bread and butter was authentic old school narcotics. Nobody knew where he got them from, but present minded individuals supposed he had contact with the dirt pushers outside the habitable zone. Oddly enough it was the realness of the come down that often drew people to sequester his services. It was not the watered down ephemeral bullshit you get from the digi-pushers down in sub level 7. Half the time that shit isn’t even the right sensation. Marijuana feels like heroin, and dopamines feel like amphetamines.
Peya looked out over the horizon. The sky was clear and the sun was unbearably bright, all of the rays flooding her eyes from above and below. She was searching for an anomaly, movement in the radiation pattern. That was the only way to detect an icerider with a sonic elemag shield, Iggy’s very own creation. Traversing the ice sheet at incredible speeds upward of mach two, and virtually invisible to electro-magnetic radiation from long frequency radio waves up to the gamma spectrum. It emitted no sound and left no trail. It was a brilliant piece of machinery powered by fusion. Suddenly she caught a glimpse in the squint of her eye. It was Iggy.
Untitled, unfinished Adventure
I am back at the lodge on lake McDonald. I slept soundly last night. Before I slept I went on a twilight hike along avalanche creek. I was thoroughly forewarned of the presence of a mountain lion stalking the area both by the posted signs and the advice of the kind lady adorned with khakis and naturally graying hair who was the hostess of the camp site. She was pleased that no one had been attacked. Though she said it with a smile there was a seriousness behind her humor. I prepared diligently as there were postings for bears frequenting the area as well. I holstered my bear spray and strapped the camera around my neck, put on a brave face and convinced myself I wasn’t an idiot. And then I was off. The sun had passed the western mountains that climbed near vertically to an opaline sky but the light that remained was sufficient for a 1.5 sec shutter speed. The forest was tall with cedars and pine, with verily impressive height and foliage while the floor below them was thick with the tangle of fallen trees and a dense vibrant green moss blanketed the dead wood and boulders alike. In the fading light the water flowing through the creek became eerily blue. I tried to capture this blue ghost as it maneuvered through the hastily darkening wood, over the abundance of glacial stone and around the immense boulders populated by whole villages of fuzzy mats and pocked with orange and red and yellow lichens. Even in the stillness of a photograph the apparition was alive and restless. As I peered through the lens I could feel the anxious shadows crowding the branches behind me, pushing out the light from the spaces between, climbing over the rocky cliffs and descending on the valley below. They began to fill every crevice from the bottom up as if water in a tub. Light fought dark with the intensity of the apocalypse, a battle it would inevitably lose. Yet in defeat it lingered, woefully unable to retreat and the clashing forces produced a most intoxicating grey blue smoke that clung to the tree tops, a final sanctuary before the dark master flung their lifeless corpses into the sky. And with their ashes flecking the soul of night, a single fiery white crescent was hung in reverence to the fallen sun. The valley was now the domain of the fanged and watchful beasts that stalked without sound those creatures of the light who fancied themselves bold and fearless or at the very least naive and foolish. I was suddenly aware of the line I was walking when it split in two. One path would lead me further into the night, further into the heart of this dark master. The other would lead me back to where my fellow creatures huddled near each other in cosmetic huts stapled tight to the earth, zipped and serenely clean of creeping and crawling messengers sent by Him to poison us in our sleep. It is difficult to say which choice would make of me the grander fool, but suffice to say, whatever the choice, a path without foolishness is the grandest of all larks for it may be that it is a fool’s life that we all inexorably lead. I chose the comfort found within the vestibule of familiarity, and the closeness of kin. With my adventurous whims fed for a momentary certainty, I made my way back to camp by the light of my head lamp, which by the way, I suddenly found to be lacking in sufficient luminosity, and the occasional flash of my camera which did little else than blind the trees adjacent to my trajectory, offered little consolation. In my remaining hand was held the un-holstered can of bear spray, safety off and at the ready. It was not the bears that gave me fright and maybe it is the grander fool who disregards a grizzly in favor of a large cat, but for what seems perfectly logical reasoning, I feel I could litigate with a bear for my survival while a cougar would not be so gracious as to allow me the opportunity to speak. What with their suspiciously silent approach and their superfluously adequate methods of ambush, I feel negotiations would be moot. Anyway it may be difficult to argue with your throat cut, what with all that gargling and rapacious thrashing about. I imagine there would be fewer lawyers if it were such that cougars were arbiters of the court. But I digress…
This morning, after a sound night’s rest I awoke and broke camp early in the hopes of catching the morning light rushing in to abolish the catastrophe that befell its poor comrades, banished to the far ends of the universe by the devil knows who, in the apocalypse of yesterday evening. I began my journey as the glorious sun was already bathing the mosses in the brilliance of dazzling electromagnetism. By this time the dark beast of the forest seemed quite the tame and luxurious affair like a bear fur with no bear inside. What with all of these wandering two legged day creatures waddling about, haphazardly meandering through the brilliantly lit wood and stone. I suddenly had an intense longing for it to be night. But that must be the devil talking! Hush now and find your corner of peace like a good little two legged day creature. There, on that stone that hangs over the creek as if contemplating a plunge. Yes that will do. I sat, out of view and waited as the mumbled jitterings of domestic and foreign tongues faded in the rush of cool water. I relaxed and began to look around, noticing some of the intricacies surrounding my perch. The glacial flow had eroded an abundantly sharp but conservatively focused gash through the mineralized, multicolored mountain rock. One fall fell into another and then another, zig zagging it’s way down the ravine below me. An odd log sat crossways in the stream caught up by two conspicuously large boulders that seemed rather out of place. They did not belong to the surrounding gray, lichen pocked stone motif that formed the tall flat causeway directing the flow of water. And what’s more, one was of a pink hue while the other was of unpolished emerald. It seemed as though some exploring giant, who in his spare time, when not eating children like popcorn in the sky, and being an amateur rock hound, had evidently collected these two marvelously colored pebbles high in the mountains and placed them in his pocket, of course with several others, with the intent of adding them to his modest collection back home in his house in the sky. Where, oddly enough, those pesky two legged day creatures kept growing weeds that encroached on his magnificently tidy property. One day he will have to get to the bottom of those nagging pests! They are worse than the winged dragons with the sting of their electric light that swarm in hot wet summers! And just then as this giant was contemplating the unholy ways he would orchestrate the final demise of these incipient vermin, in his distraction, the wetness of the mountain beneath his feet and the weight of the innumerable pebbles accumulated in his pocket became too great for his immense mass and all prodigiously came crashing to the earth in a cacophony of audible screeches and snapping twigs, which were of course 100 foot pines and even larger cedars, accompanied by an unearthly groan and a resonant quaking rumble sent out by the great big creature’s great big ass as it collided with the ground. A moment later, after the ground had settled, as the giant collected himself, recovering mostly from the embarrassment of his ill timed misstep caused by, as he would later allow himself to concede, the perhaps overly enthusiastic hatred of the two legged vermin that really only occasionally caused him trouble, he walked off, continuing his long hike back to his home in the clouds. And what was left of his ordeal in this very valley, were these two precious stones, one pink and one an unpolished emerald, lying just offset with cool blue water finding a new path between them. Well you may say, there are no such things as giants who gather stones. To which I might say, “even giants can have hobbies!” None the less, if you prefer the rigidity of actuality, which I believe there is an entire TV network devoted to that I will incline you to endeavor upon a wasted lifetime of viewing pleasure, there are indeed giants that collect stones. And ice giants at that! And most certainly without a sliver of deniability, it was one of these giants that placed these two stones, one pink and one an unpolished emerald here at my very feet! And if you don’t believe that, then you are certainly a grander fool than I! But yet again, and not unlike our friend the giant, I have diverged from the focus of my tale in order to attack some hapless fool who is only occasionally a discomfort.
It is at this time dear reader, I tell you, we the two legged day creatures are irreparably attached to the copper leads of electric fire that grant us such mystical powers as freezing time and talking without speaking and sending messages into space at the speed of light and have them return to a minutely specific location at the other end of the earth! Yes as you may well have guessed my batteries are as dry as a bore’s tit. Both in my camera and in the personal communicate to the knowledge of the world device, of which i am certain, that even at this very moment, some mad genius is working out how to insert directly into my brain to the grand effect of eliminating the necessity of thumbs among other things I have yet to imagine thoroughly.
Anyway my love, disregard the reader bit as this is entirely for you. If anyone else should want to read my gibberish so be it. I shall write to entertain you and if the world cares I decidedly do not;) at least in my present state of mind! I feel wonderful writing. It has been flowing out nonstop for the last I don’t know how long. Since I sat and began. I feel my childhood imagination awakening, something I have often vowed never to put to rest but subsequently failed to follow resolutely. I love that you felt that kinship with the ocean! It is a wonderful feeling! Weightless, immersed in the solitude and intimacy of the sea. Allowing only her to whisper or roar into your ear as she dolefully wishes. I am alive in this moment and you are here with me! I am not restricted to the physical presence of this place with its obtusely rustic attire and gaudy if not well intentioned adornments of stuffed animal heads and bear skins. I am not confined within these wooden pillars of ancient trees held in perpetual death by a vanguard of chemical preservatives. I am no longer held by the pettiness of my presumptions and prejudices! I tell you now in truth I am weeping as the weight of it all is lifted from my shoulders and the arches over my heart are consumed by happiness and the crossed rod iron cage dissolves from the perimeter of my lungs. I can breathe my love! I can breathe! I know what I am to do now. At least I know enough for now. Oh how I love you with all of my heart! You are were and will always be my truest of truths. My love. My perfection. My queen. Thank you. I feel I would have never really felt anything had I never met you! You have opened me in a way I cannot turn back from. I would not and never will. You are the most beautiful creature more beautiful than even my new found and vast imagination could conjure! This is suitably just as you are indeed the cataclysm that ignites the very contractions of my heart each and every time it beats. I love you! I love you! I love you!