In Madness there is Love

—– // Narrative Fucking Survival Prose \ —–

Gypsy

I just yesterday fell in mad and transitory love with a strange woman who was lurking about at the intersection near the computer store that I was visiting (to return/exchange some merchandise). She wore a striking red, long sleeve top and a long and flowing skirt which reached around to her ankles (ornamented with leaves and flowers and other floral shapes, as I recall) … her hair was black and pulled up in a bun (I thought she must be a gypsy) … she held a sign in her right hand and used her left hand to lean against a telephone pole. I thought to myself as I passed her and swooned, “She is not leaning against that pole … that pole, and the world around it, is leaning against her.”   Such terrifying beauty.

Proof of god

It is strange to me
that certain friends
can seem as angels …
Stranger still…
that a foggy morning
while I drive to buy beer
can end up as a revelation.

Seeing that young Mexican mother
sending her son off to school,
Such concern! Such worry!
She dotes over him,
her hand on his lower back,
a hug, and a brief kiss to his cheek;
it’s almost too much for me.
There is great worry and love
in this scene; I will not soon
forget it.

And it is strange that
friends can be as angels,
in that most cliche religious
regard, like saviors …
exactly that voice that one
needs to hear, at exactly
the right moment.

It is proof of god.

[end]

precious mija

a boy and a girl; sand…

sun rising in the east
casts long shadows–
tall, beautiful shadows.

walking, a boy
and a girl hold hands,
moving quietly against the
steady roar of the waves.

    tears

the south wind presses,
nudges, coaxes.
then before them,
the smooth grey husk
of a giant tree, lying long;
old, many miles floated…

“Oh, “ says the girl.

“I know,” comes his reply.

    tears

now only the south wind;
nudging, coaxing.

“Must we?” she asks.

“Go right, precious mija. While I, left–
to meet you on the 
other side,” he replies.

    tears

hands slowly part
south wind now between them,
carrying his last words,
as a ship that begins to list,
as dry sand on the wind
lyrical confetti
drifting invisibly, silently
through the salt smelling air:

“meet you on the other side.”

and…

above, two seagulls
wheel playful poems
against the morning sun.

[end]

This is the truth

This is what you’ve been reading for
and this is how it goes; and how it reads.
So now fuck you with your stipend,
your paycheck; so now fuck you with
your need to feel okay.
We are all loose and vague and ugly
and skeletal when
we write and we must not answer to
anyone.

We do the best we can.

This is the truth.

 

[end]

She sings in Spanish

She sings in Spanish and
I wonder if she knows
that her tongue and throat,
the very hollows of her face
have made such things
as a man can find him self
choking over.

Does she know that words
are made of rhythm and air?
Do physics even apply here?
Does she know that words are
musical, varied and
percussive compressions
made wholly unique by
the form that utters them?

Her lips are syllabic and will form
certain measures that
can never be parroted.

She sings in spanish
and I am moved by her singing.
I hope she knows this
or even imagines these things…

My body resounds

I enjoy difficult things.

If it presses back as I press forward? Then I have come to understand this as good, as a lesson and proof that living is truly worth real human effort.

I enjoy problem solving.

Not so much math, but otherwise elegant, graceful means of finding some sort of solution to some sort of conundrum. This happens all the time and every day in my very plain, waking moments and could be so simple of a thing as braking to let the car in front of me change lanes (which I always do and which always feels so fine).

Also, not adding my voice to ongoing social dramas makes a real difference. These dramas happen frequently in my life and it’s very challenging to simply observe and not interject my own angle. This could also be seen as problem solving of a sort.

I take care of my tools.

My daily work is the most mundane of any daily work ever imagined but I nonetheless obsess on my tools, my gear, the process, how I can make any and every moment of that very real and very physical labor that much more efficient.

I’ve found this makes a real difference, this knack towards self observation, minding myself and holding myself accountable. If I cannot observe, love and challenge myself? Then how in the world can I contribute such things to some other? God forbid I should marry some poor woman before first resolving these things! Or, hopefully if I did, she would be toothy and wise and allowing.

I have developed an affinity for pain.

My mind is a muscle and, other than abs, is the most difficult for me to train. Learning to really use my mind, hurts like fucking hell. Should I light upon some new idea? Should I have an epiphany that I want to perfect? Then here come a hundred other intrusions to push me away from it. The League of Rejects(tms) is what I call this ugly influence, the tendency of one’s own mind to always try and undo anything and everything that the mind is positively set upon achieving. “Everyone hates the prettiest in the room” is how the saying goes .. and it’s true. If I’m to turn inward and utilize mind? If I’m to make a real example of myself? Then the naysayers incapable of the same, will always be there to hate. My task is to ignore them, which is paramount to impossibility. But I toil on, still…

My mind is my greatest ally.

“There are spooks up in our minds, all of us; do not let them push you around!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            –anonymous

My mind is greater than my body but strangely, more fragile. It requires such concentration to develop that, at times, I want to simply be body. But that would be disingenous and foolish and fatal, too.

My body resounds like a coil.

My body is old. It grows so by the minute, (as do all of ours) .. it carries with it the memories of such triumphs, such tragedies and such traumas! It harbors so much earthly love and learning that at times it blinds me to think back on all of it. Full of potential, danger, history and quiet strength. My body thrums. It’s almost vibratory or cyclical this physical thing I’m trying to get at, it’s fundamental and I reckon can only be felt with a certain sort of balance in one’s days:

The right amount of sleep. The right amount and proper types of food, sex and otherwise recreation. Careful attention to the needs of the mind (as the mind should always rule the body). Physical training, be it lifting, dancing, running, fencing, wrestling or even surfing, for that matter…

Because the body, like any other animal that we would deem to control, should be trained. And it should always be ruled by the mind: economy of movement, grace, a humble dispostion and introspection. Emotional accountability. And, at all costs, introspection.

My body resounds.

[end]

I am driving South

I am driving South on HWY 288.
Black Sabbath is on the radio
and I am cruising … having just
skipped out early from work for a surf.
Tony Iommi casts out fuzzy, loose
hot lines from his Les Paul; I swoon
to the sound of it and I can see the
waveform in my mind, even more
so than my ears can hear it.

And, of a sudden,
I am somehow crippled by
this thing, this seductive sonic line,
to the point that I have to
brake and pull over…
Somehow, I knew that in the middle of
that tone was where I had
to be, right there, in that tone.
And that the turning of wheels
or the working of gears, driving,
simply could not work then.

I am reminded of Raymond Carver’s
poem, “Gravy” — written before and
fully aware of his approaching death,
that fucking anthem!
And I figure, just then, that I am
going about the slow and lovely
business of stirring my own.
Rich, thick and heady.
Right then…
The radio, the road, the surf?
My having skipped out early from
work? Black Sabbath?
Fuzzy, loose hot lines from
Les Pauls?

Gravy.

I then recall another bit from Carver…
someting about his profound dislike of work,
and his trying to find the harm in
sitting around, wittling and what not,
just writing, making things, wondering,
planning intellectual insurrections?
Or surfing, for that matter.

And, I realize this:

I am listening to Black Sabbath.
I am on my way to the beach.
I am cruising.
I have just skipped out early from work.

And, it’s all gravy.

[end]

(written some time in 1999; pulled over on the side of HWY 288)

In my wildest dreams

In my wildest dreams
I would solve quadratic equations,
I would square a circle and then
celebrate my love for word problems
(and math in general)
I would be unwavering. Strong.
I would tell that plain and lovely woman
over there that she has charmed me,
that I would enjoy knowing her.
In my wildest dreams
I would be a World Class Motorcross Rider(tm).
I would do flips upon flips upon flips
(and pull it off!).
I would not be bashful,
and I would tell her that her auburn hair is lovely,
that it smells like spring,
Southeast winds, rain.
In my wildest dreams
I would not be afraid to declare myself,
singularly, an expert at some thing.
I would claim ownership
and I would study
a 2nd,
a 3rd,
a 4th language.
And I would master them all.
In my wildest dreams
I would surf teahupoo. Huge. Without fear.
And I would not tow in.
I would agree that skateboarding
is, indeed, a crime.
I would never have to shave my face.
My hair would grow back instead of falling out.

And…

In the end of all things,
the shutting down of my time here,
I would keenly understand
the meaning of the words:
“because gravity is not the only
force at work in the world”

Yes. I would.

Image

Oh. The hazards of running in the woods! Four miles this morning, the “Cambodia” trail @ Memorial park (my personal favorite). 10am or so. 80 degrees. Even cooler in the woods. Breezy…swaying trees…flitting, nervous little animals…the smell of decaying leaves and earth…my breath…rhythm; strangely, the sound of wind in the trees reminds me of water, rapids. The whole thing is intoxicating (it’s why I run). I’m all “in the zone” and all…and then here comes that dude on that mountain bike…all bright lycra and logos and oakleys and handlebars (!!!)…barreling down on me like Nemesis…I start…I dodge to the left, tripping over a gnarled root and almost falling but I just manage to right myself. Then, I feel a limb from a dead tree jam square in to my rib cage, right about where my heart would be. I think to myself, “For chrissake! I’ve recieved the goddamn STIGMATA!!!” 

“I can’t give you the top of my right hand…”

When working at The Club(tm), we had to stamp every bodies hands with luminescent ink as they entered. You know the sort of ink, invisible until bathed in the muted purple of a black light? Sure you do. Well that’s what we used. It glowed yellow under the black light but was otherwise invisible. 

This was a very important step in The Club(tm)’s admission chain. 

I did this myself for a while when I first started. Sitting their next to the cashier chick saying, “Top of the right hand please … [STAMP!] … Top of the right hand please [STAMP!] … Top of the right hand please … [STAMP!].” 

Real drill-work. And the only fun part about it was getting to choose which animal shaped stamp we’d use for any given night. I always preferred the Unicorn stamp, myself … but that’s neither here nor there … 

But the stamping process was important, and it was one of the most notoriously enforced of all club policies (other than not letting folks have sex on the dance floor or in the movie room).  

Top of the right hand and nowhere else.  

It had to do with security and making it easier to catch folks trying to duplicate stamps. And, working in that sort of environment, dealing with the sorts of folk that passed through our doors each morning, I learned to develop very thick and unforgiving skin in regards to the enforcing of such policies.  

Suffice it to say, I had to occasionally get moody with certain folks, sometimes downright nasty (as did we all at a point, especially the cashier chick, who was a bit of a Local Bitch Legend(tm), but that’s another blog entirely). 

But invariably, speaking of club policies and stamping, there would always be the random visitor that simply didn’t want the stamp on the top of their right hand. For whatever reason, they would go on and on about how they wanted me to stamp them elsewhere, “But I want it on my left hand,” they might say.  Or … “put it on my forehead!,” they would plead.  And certain visitors were known to say, “Can you stamp my tit instead?” … or … “I want it on the underside of my wrist so it won’t fuck up my outfit” … or some other such unacceptable banter.  

None of the above were allowed of course, except for maybe one of those mentioned alternatives, but even so … the rules were generally enforced in a militant fashion. 

To those who simply refused to let me stamp the top of their right hand? And after a cursory, if but brief explanation as to why it was necessary? I’d say something like, “Look fucker … it goes on the TOP of your FUCKING right hand, nowhere else … so gimme your damn right hand already or I’ll have my pal “Boss” here escort you out the same way you came” 

This almost always worked. When it didn’t? The rare dissenting rebel was either walked or was dragged or went flying out onto the stairs. These possible scenarios were always left entirely up to the customer and the appropriate means of exit was always congruent with their own chosen behaviour. (LOL) 

But despite our hardened exteriors (appropriate to the environment as they might have been) … despite the policies of The Club(tm) … there were the occasional moments when all policies became subordinate to simple human frailty and genuine expressions of grace and pain.   

And I daresay, the idea that such purely human, purely profound moments could occur in that bestial and impulse driven environment, still today remains a rather delightful paradox to me. 

The following is a brief attempt at describing such a moment:

 …

 So one night, around 3am, as the titty dancers, ravers, drug dealers and trannys were being processed through our front door … a certain young lady approached. She was kind of cute, dressed nice and holding out her left hand.  The all important right hand she kept tucked away in her fly little jacket. Her jacket, I remember, had three giant buttons down the front and was sort of mustard colored … and it had this kick ass flashy sort of nineteenth century “notched” collar (I blame my fashion sense on my sister, Leah BTW, ghey as it may seem).  

But despite her instantly smiting me as lovely, despite the fact that I was taken with her and would have enjoyed leaving my post to find out more about the lass … my ingrained Elite(tm) club guy attitude kicked in, I mean … The Club(tm) had policies and all. 

It was that damned right hand, tucked away in that damned fly jacket that garnered the bulk of my concern and which would shape the first impression of myself that I would present to her … and which I would very soon regret. 

As she stood there … left hand outstretched … with her adorable and all but expressionless face … looking like a cast off from a J. Crew catalogue that never made it past editing … I thought to myself, “Oh, here we go…” and then, quite plainly (careful to not betray my affections) I said:  

“It goes on the top of your right hand, darling, nowhere else.” 

And she just looked at me. 

In truth, she seemed to be about to say something but she didn’t. And in the end, she just let her eyes sort of drift away as though she were almost ashamed or sad or scared or something. 

And myself? I just looked right back at her.  

All the while next to me, sensing A Moment(tm) approaching, the cashier chick began to fidget with her cash drawer, pretending to not notice the proceedings, which I knew all too well were clues of an upcoming violent outburst on her own part.  

But back to the quiet snappy dresser … holding out her left hand and all … never saying a word. 

She was so weird.  

I couldn’t get a lock on the girl. Such a voiceless and queer encounter had never occurred prior to that night. And I knew I had to handle the situation before, god forbid, the cashier chick passed from the fidgety stage to the bitchy stage and started cursing the girl and me and anyone else she thought deserving of her wrath. 

And even though I was instantly fond of this silent little rebel. Even though I thought her interesting and quite the snappy dresser, we still had rules … and so I somewhat rudely said: 

“Look here sista … if you want to come inside then let me stamp the top of your right hand. Otherwise? You have to leave now. Your holding up the line.” 

And with that? The poor girl looked doubly distressed. Hurt, even.  Confused. I remember her face so well, not able to speak, not able to look at me, always looking at the ground or to her side. I was counting the seconds till the cashier chick erupted or the bouncer next to me simply hauled her out the door … 

But finally, after seeming to wrestle with some internal demons … and never looking me in the eye … she said: 

“I can’t give you the top of my right hand; I don’t have one.” 

And that’s when her right arm came free of that flashy little coat of hers to show me the somewhat fresh stump where her right hand was supposed to be (it was still bandaged). 

The cashier chick, to my immediate left and close to my ear, let out an audible and sickened sort of groan; the bouncer next to me said, “Awww, dude,” under his breath. And me? I couldn’t say anything at all. 

I thought the girl was going to start bawling. Really. She was so on the edge. She never looked at me. She just stood their with the stump that should have been her right hand, held out before her. The bandages gleamed near white under the black light, and her face was a picture of genuine embarrassment and, even more so, pain. 

(Now know this … I am a sensitive guy … my well crafted manly exterior not withstanding. I have cut my teeth on the classic works of poets and story tellers alike … from Shelly to Shakespeare to Carver … and I am not without the means of recognizing a genuinely tragic moment when it so brutally slaps me across the face. And this moment was such if ever a moment was.) 

My heart sank and my throat choked; I very near gagged while trying to come up with some sort of verbal response; my face and neck warmed instantly and I tried to hide it. In not so many words … I was crushed, left without breath or words or reply. All at the door of some meaningless late night dance club where folks tried hard to be important but in the end were just tools (myself included) … and all before this lovely one-handed girl who so well knew how to dress herself but could not, for the life of her, explain that she had recently lost her right hand. 

And, in the end? 

Without a word, I quickly grabbed her left arm by the wrist and stamped the top of her left hand with our gay and meaningless luminescent unicorn. I then grabbed that same left hand in my own right hand and walked her into the club as a guest. 

It was not a pity moment by any means, the comp and all. It was simply me trying to undo the embarrassment I had caused the both of us while playing the stoic and emotionally unmovable Door Guy(tm) at this stupid dance club that I worked at five nights a week. And also, it was because I wanted to get into the dark for a few minutes while my color changed back to normal. 

My co-workers supported my spur of the moment decision to walk the gal into the club proper. The cashier chick, bless her, even let me confide in her the extent of my self-induced trauma (though I/we could not have seen it coming) and I remember her hugging me and saying that it fucked her up too. 

But regarding the cute girl with one hand who was quite the snappy dresser? The girl who taught me so much about pretense and pretending (always a bad thing!) ? 

She would revisit the club on certain occasions.  

I would see her off and on over the next couple years and I always recognized her. Even more so, I loved holding her left arm by her slender wrist and stamping her left hand without question or interrogation or words; we had come to an understanding, she and I. And eventually, the strangeness of our first meeting would fade into the rhythm of regularity. As much as such a place could be called regular.

 And occasionally … when entering The Club(tm) those following weekends … she would even smile when she saw me … and that always made me feel so fine. 

And I guess the moral would be? 

Think before trying to be something your not; sometimes, there’s a human being on the other end.

[end]