Sunday, December 4, 2011

Out of the Sleeping Tunnel

Bright sunlight streams in though my narrow window, filling the white walled room with the newness only a cold winter morning can bring. The bed seems to hug me in a tight embrace, holding onto my skin like a lover reluctant to let me go. The sheets are soft and warm from a night between its folds and outside these quilted walls the air is bitter and blue.
I know that soon I will leave this bed and begin to move, gathering various journals and pens and musical instruments, but I’ll feel the bed calling me back all day, not just the murmuring of the soft mattress and bouncy pillows, but the state of relaxed oblivion, staring into the blue sky of the morning, thoughts bouncing like ping pong balls off the walls of my cranium with no control or order to them, springing from word to thought to word again quicker than my breath.
After breakfast that state of sleep calls my name. All through the morning, as I eat breakfast, as I deviate and stare into the mirror looking at minute pores and tiny freckles, spending precious minutes on the problems of the body- I hear the bed calling.
When the sun starts to set or I finish a small writing exercise or in the contented moments after lunch when I think of watching a TV show, the bed is calling. And it is not just the relaxed state, nor the way it holds my body in its malleable contours, it is the state of apathy, of pure laziness, the way I could spend hours staring out the window from the corner tucked onto the grooves of a pillow.
The state of sleep is always there, a sheer drop from where I sit now typing these words. One glance and I could be there, one word misinterpreted, one look or tone. The bed takes many shapes, transforming easily from fluffy comforter to dark hole. That darkness made not of all colors and lights, but the fumbling land of squinted eyes and unsaid hatred and stinging tears that rob my laughter.
I stand at the edge, I can see though this one tiny tunnel of clear attention- I see that the call, the voice of that bed, the voice of sleep, the voice urging me to relax, pointing to all the deserved reasons, spelling out the logic with charts and graphs, my body is primed for sleep, willing it on as I push into the cold winter light. The voice of reason is the seducer of the lazy, the perfect bride for my machine. It does not want transformation, it does not want to sit clothed in a bathrobe and turn time into something visible on a page. To claw myself away from the bed I must do something else, something radical to turn body into intentional action.
And so I write these goals, simple chicken scratches that only I can read. But they are clear and there, sitting right in front of me, a blaring light that shines into the rough-skinned slab of meat at the computer.
And though some days I trudge through those goals, just barely able to complete them as I sit tired and desiring those feather-filled arms. Some days I can see so clearly, that it is not enough just to do, but it is how I do. The delicacy of the flow, the breath as it travels in and out, my expression as day turns into black night. I write out those goals, I fulfill them and I move on to the next task, the never-ending flow of creative waves, moons of opportunity. I smile into the moonlight that I cannot see, part of me is ready.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Next Step

I cut through you with my glorious knife, letting blood, rending flesh. You know my name, ha, ha, it is formless, it is soundless, but you feel it as your flesh is stripped from bone and pulled into the icy whirlwind. The hierarchy of organic existence is a house of cards that I huff and puff and blow down, down, down into the swirling abyss. And you push and pull to set her back up and see your own reflection in her structure, but let me set you straight, it is really my image that you see in your own and I have none, ha, ha.
So you see, what you see, is a trick of light, a light bending game. You are a magician and I am a big black box; through me things manifest and through me they vanish, never to be found again. Ha, ha. I am the magician and I am the box, but as a matter of fission, of division and variation, you proclaim yourself “I that I am” and run about making the grass green, making the sad man sad, ha, ha, and the angry woman angry.
You are the “I am I”, and I am the something that you bump blindly into and then name to make it visible in your magickal kingdom. It’s your fairytale. It’s my fairytale. Our fairytale. Fusion my dear, my dear, occurs when you put yourself back in the box, ha, ha, and we vanish together, in unity enlightenment, death.
But isn’t it funny that you keep wriggling away from my embrace? My red hot love endlessly flowing, devouring flesh, with razor sharp teeth, my adoring clown grin begging for one more kissssssssssssssss.
Forget the name darling, you know ME. Maybe you’d rather forget, ha, ha, ha, but you know, you know… The normal escape route is out into the myriad of forms and beings and existences that constitute the expansion and flowing destiny of what is, and everything is, radiating out from a bubble in space, ha, ha, a little cosmic indigestion.
And me, I am the inverse of that space bubble. You know what that is, don’t you? You have a name for that too, ha, ha. But you could just call me mommy, standing here with my knife, my glorious knife, you could call me huntress, or Tyger, Tyger or you could just shut up.
Because, you see, my darling, I’m going to get you, and bring you home, one way or another, and where we’re going, a scream is a silent thing, ha, ha. Where we’re going there are no names. Narrow is the way, and few are the chosen, ha, ha. It is formless, it is soundless, but you feel it as your flesh is stripped from bone and pulled into the icy whirlwind.
I’ve been waiting for this kiss, letting blood, rending flesh, grinding bone. I cut through you with my glorious knife and you know ME, you remember me now, ha, ha. Ha, ha ,ha.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Through the Veil

At the top of the hierarchy of organic existence, where many a man has thought he belongs, just like the oils and fats at the top of the modern food pyramid, which perhaps should have been discredited long ago as a “beneficial back rub” for the agricultural lobby; at the top where man, with his large brain and malevolent ego believes he belongs, there is a "something" that man does not achieve. For the majority it is not achieved, though that achievement is indeed possible, however difficult it may be.

And that something, which eludes the majority of mankind, we can allude to it with beautiful words, a thesaurus of verse and synonym which could fill the ears of wondrous, flowery Maria. We could delight her with visions and the smells of every rose and describe the sky and all its wonders, but that something would still remain intangible, unknowable, because it is not of words, not made or created or coaxed into being by the statements of finality that language attempts to keep locked in the metal boxes of the attic.

Jacques, that character of a man with white notebook and fountain pen, perhaps we could twist tales and seduce him with wise plants of the desert and old pipes exhaling smoke. We could try, many have certainly attempted to describe that ‘something,’ but it can never be fully held, either by Jaques or the others that stand beside him at the top of the pyramid drenched in oil and salt.

I myself, the writer of these words, supposedly at the top of this mountain made from As and Bs, I struggle with their placement, dance around the loops made for my capture. Words! You bastards! I purge you with these metaphors, I run though the gaps in your iron walls, looking, finessing, rubbing against that ‘something’ that stays hidden, beyond the grasp of your control. Maria, where are you hidden?

There is a veil, a division, between us and the next form of existence. Like the widow’s black curtain that obscures the ocean and sun, we live out earthly existence mired by our eventual demise. This fear is masked by a thousand other names, different configurations of the same basic structure. Sex, marriage, adventure and orgasm, children, vacation; the division is thick, winds like a serpents tail around the ankle of my infant, infected through mother’s milk and generations of spoken sound.

Words! This veil, the division, is called death. Death. Death, that takes our Maria, transforming that milky body into ashes. Take of her, but do not make her blind. Push though the veil Maria! Push through the widow’s gauze which I refuse to wear and search for that ‘something’ I could not explain to you in life. Jacques, pick up the stone, move further to the right. Yes. Now to the left around the open hell-mouth of finality. For this moment, let the gates of your chest open. The ego, the malevolent beast, sacrifice it to the veil, the black division which obscured death and the other forms which lay beyond its promise. Jacques, sacrifice the body and leave it for the scavengers of pride and word.

Listen to my voice. These words, which failed us in life, they may bring us to the bolts of energy that wait transfixed in space, climbing, climbing. Walk up and open your arms, for the world is one and now you can understand. Language, you words! They are ours, shapes of mushrooms in the darkened clouds, plants colored as the ocean’s smell.

Words! You bastards! Climb the steps, Jacques, open you arms, and for this moment, open the gates of your chest. There is no more you, but the ego, slay it so that we may enter. Slay it and leave it for the others to feast, the ghosts are hungry. Maria, you are there, flowers at your feet. Open your mouth, let the blue light of that something, let it drip in.

We are here. The divine dance of orbital light and chance, that something is here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We met again many years after that initial incident, in a pub on main street. His fur was matted and dirty and one ear seemed to have gone floppy, but it was none other than him, the same one that I had encountered on a fateful spring morning 4 years ago.
He was looking worse for the wear, it’s true, but I couldn’t have looked much better, save for the symmetry of my own audio sensory perception devices. That is to say, that my ears were still rightfully positioned on either side of my head. I had lost a good deal of hair from my crown though, and what was left was streaked with silver. Aging prematurely and at an accelerated rate, I had made great progress towards the picture of a ruined man forged under the anvil of stress. This was, without a doubt, an unwholesome process of deterioration catalyzed by the incident itself.

Forget Harvey, the untouchably kind and fortunate Mr. Dodson. In this world that I inhabit, when you tell people you’ve seen a six foot rabbit, the shit really hits the fan. My wife, for starters, left me.
Which is why I was in a pub on main street on July 4th, our anniversary, intent on drinking myself into oblivion. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, marrying on the national independence day, because of the fireworks and the general atmosphere of merriment.
Now of course it meant that the day was twice as hard to forget and impossible to blot out, unless I was in a coma. It would seem that the holidays are hard on all kinds of unstable idiosyncratic characters, because there he was too, slumping over the counter, nose twitching under the meager sallow light. The fierce stature he had accumulated in my memory was diminished by that posture, by the whimpering of another nearby drunk, by the way he demanded “another tin and gonic” and only sniffled when the barkeep in his white apron shook his head and said, “You’ve had enough fella.”

But I was saying that after we met that first time, (if you can call it a meeting), after he more or less threatened me, ( I say more, he says less), my jellybeans weren’t the only thing that went to hell in a hand basket. After my wife, I lost my teaching job, naturally, and went on the road as a traveling encyclopedia salesman.
Not a big deal, all that time hopping along dusty trails, because my talk of an enormous rabbit, and the money I had borrowed to pay for therapy, and the phobia of eggs that made me a hard person to break bread with, left me emotionally estranged from even the most devout of my family and friends. It’s funny how an issue like that can snowball.

For example I’d gotten into the habit of removing pages containing certain verses from every Gideon's bible in the motel rooms that I frequented as part of my new and dying profession. Matthew 27:50-53, John 11:25-26, Romans 1:4-5, anything that might be read from the pulpit on a certain Sunday in spring.
I found that the harder I looked, the more I would find, until I was looking over pages as though they were word searches and letters from separate words contained in descending lines began to spell out the messages that I feared most; hidden verses about the Leporidean sons of Yaldabaoth.
I couldn’t sleep until I’d purged these books of such nightmares and had hidden the unwholesome pages in the bottom of a wastebasket beneath emptied cartons of Chinese take out. There were plentiful nights of monstrous discovery to leach the fear of Wikipedia, unreachable quotas, and insufficient commissions from my consciousness by dawn.
In retrospect, it is no mean feat that I avoided formal institutionalization during this dark chapter of my existence. It was a depraved shadow life that I led, a life which took its root in that brief encounter in a shiny past many years before I found myself once again face to face with that improbable individual, this time inside of a small pub on Main Street.

Every city, every town everywhere has a Main Street. I have come to believe that by some mystical power each of these may act as a portal to any other Main Street so that a person could travel from one city to the next, state to state, coast to coast without ever leaving Main Street. Whether you really had or hadn’t, you wouldn’t know the difference, because they all look essentially the same.
So I will simply say that the pub was on Main Street and that was where I found him, by accident, at around 6pm on a July 4th.
He was there when I came in from the heat, a wall of air conditioned air paralyzing me momentarily while my eyes adjusted to the dimness. For this reason, I was standing just within the door when my sight became clearer and fell upon the abysmal figure of that individual whom I had been simultaneously eluding and pursuing for 4 years.
I knew him right away and I felt the old fear. It made me hesitate. I considered going back out the way I had come. But in the end I decided to face him.
I bowed my head and, avoiding eye contact, took the seat beside him. If he recognized me at all he gave no sign of it. “What are you drinking Mac?” the barman asked and I ordered whiskey. I breathed in the odor of his grimy gin soaked fur and moved my fingers anxiously over the bar top, unable to turn my gaze on him.
I had relived that first meeting in memory countless times and had tried to play it differently, cooler, braver, standing my ground. I had also imagined this, a second encounter in which I could redeem myself, maybe in a bout of fisticuffs.

I slammed the shot and let the bartender pour me another. Then I turned to the hiccuping rabbit at my side and asked,
“Do you remember me?”
He gazed blearily at me, weaving on the barstool.
“You threatened to hide an egg under me 4 years ago.” I told him.
His eyes widened a little and rolled around in his head as he mumbled something in what I presumed was Gaelic. Then he flung an arm around my shoulder and said,
“I hate the bleedin 4th of July, don’t you? Pie eating. Who the fig wants to eat pie? And all that noise.” he sighed heavily.
Leaning on me he launched into another attempt at little bunny foo foo.

This was not at all the frightful leering beastie I had remembered or imagined. It was he that I had met 4 years ago, the patch of black fur at the tip of his left ear was unmistakable. But he was not as monstrous as my mind had made him.
Here at last sat the source of my nightly terrors, just one more Joe drowning away the indignities one suffers through the course of trying to earn a living.
I imagined, for the first time, that long ago morning from his perspective. I saw myself as one of those who in my own present profession made an already embarrassing job all the harder. I saw myself in him.
Again and again he tried to sing verses of little bunny foo foo until they devolved into the gibberish of slurred speech and absent mindedness. Despite myself, I joined in and found that I knew all the words.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I walked for a couple of blocks in the night thick with fog. Everything appeared white and moist and, although I tried to pull myself away from the recurring thoughts, it also appeared sinister. I walked like a ghost in a sleeping city. There were no cars speeding through the deserted streets, no women in rags promising good times and used condoms. There was no one around me at all.
I walked alone on the gray sidewalks and darkened neon signs until I came to a short alley that appeared familiar in its disarray. It path was covered with trash and the remains of dead dreams: old newspapers with forgotten headlines, empty ripped cardboard boxes, old coats now spotted with blood, broken bottles that somehow managed to twinkle green and brown despite the foggy sky, half of a magazine cover and a couple of soda cans that had been dented and used as pipes. It extended for half a block and ended with a black metal garage door and a little wooden stairway to its right.
I stepped through the strewn madness, finding small, safe pockets to step on. Walking though the ancient graffiti markings on either side of me, names scrawled in red and white paint, I made my way through the chaos easily. Beside the stairs, shadowed by the building, I saw the gatekeeper, a dwarf waiting for me in the darkness.
He held out his wrinkled hand.
"A dollar is all I ask... you still can't go through the main portal but you can go up the stairway. Be careful with your choice this time."
I thought I heard a sound, a chuckle, a stifled laugh.
I gave him what he asked for and walked up the stairway to a gray door, assuming he had confused me with someone else and curious to discover what was on the other side of the decaying metal door. I knocked and the door opened into darkness.
I smelled something familiar, a mixture of freshly rained upon soil and used cooking grease. I walked into the space further, down a long hallway. I could see shapes, but there were no colors. I was barely able to glimpse a feminine hand holding the doorknob behind me. A disembodied appendage, it appeared smooth and delicate with its long white fingers and tapered nails. It had been the hand that responded to my knock, allowing me entrance into the chamber.
I stood then in darkness and silence, waiting for something to happen. I became aware of the soft breathing of a woman. It was close to me at first, but I heard it move away slowly, moving down the hall until it disappeared altogether. I waited for what seemed painfully long, I waited and waited, but there was no further movement around me.
Slowly, my eyes adjusted to the darkness. I was then able to see the details of a long narrow hallway stretching into darkness before me. The flooring was made of old and worn wooden planks, a floor walked so many times that it had lost all its original luster. There was a long sequence of doors on either side of the hallway and each door had a little cutout window at eye level.
I started walking slowly down the hallway, afraid to disturb anyone that might be present, yet unable to stay where I was. As I walked past the first door I noticed a soft yellow light coming from inside. Checking around me to make sure nobody was watching, I moved my eyes close to the small window.
Inside I saw two men playing poker on a low wooden coffee table. One was short and stocky, the other tall and skinny. They both shared the same light coffee-colored skin, their faces were both shaved and like the wooden flooring of the hallway, worn by time. They moved their cards carefully, with the grace of experienced players whose bodies had memorized the gestures, the timing. It was all done fluidly and without thought.
I could see two walls clearly through the little window in the door. On them were photographs of the two men, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with others. Some of the photos were large and protected in frames of thin metal and glass, others were tacked to the wall in what appeared to me a haphazard style.
I was particularly mystified by a little photo that showed the stocky man when he was young. I was aware of the intense difference, how slender he had been then, his muscles firm and flat. His smile was less forced, as though it came from a place that did not need protection, that had not known pain or disappointment. In the photograph he held a yellow flower in his hand.
The man smiling now at his card game was very different, he was a cunning man who appeared to know the tricks of life and had a method for avoiding them. I turned from the chamber and continued walking down the hall.
I walked carefully, putting attention on each step to avoid creaking the old floorboards. I felt like I had to be quiet, to breath more slowly, to move more softly than I ever had. I passed a couple of dark doors without light and then turned to one where the inner light was bright, like the white light from a naked bulb.
I peeked inside, a little more brave now, somehow realizing that there was nobody around to be afraid of. These were benevolent ghosts and I had been permitted to walk amongst them.
This time there was nobody in the room, just a carefully made bed that could fit two people easily, a little night lamp with a bright bulb (the source of the room’s illumination) and several rows of bookshelves against the back walls. I opened the door, unable to control my eagerness to examine the rows of paperbacks and the thick bound hardcover books more closely.
I had placed one foot inside the door when I heard laughter coming from another room. With that lighthearted laugh coming from someplace close by, my attention and curiosity dissolved and I quickly closed the door and walked further down the hallway, reasoning with myself that I would come back later.
I looked for the source of the laughter and found it easily. She had long black hair and shining dark eyes which fell upon me as soon as I peeked through the small window of a blood-red door. She was there, in the center of the room, standing barefoot on a thin, worn maroon carpet. She, and the entire room, were bathed in the glow of bright red light. She was naked, her skin appeared red in the light, the shade made by her breasts and hips and ample contours was dark, like a simple charcoal drawing.
She looked at me directly through the window, gesturing with her right hand, asking me to come in. I began to turn the creaky knob and suddenly felt the sensation of warmth on my back. With this feeling I hesitated and turned around.
Again my attention dissipated. My curiosity for the woman fluttered away as I saw another stairway leading up, ending in a brightly illuminated open door. The staircase was longer, more worn, more fragile than the one outside. I thought it might break apart as soon as I set foot on it.
Feeling torn between the adventure of the stairway, the eyes of the woman and the mystery of the books, I decided to walk a little further down the hallway in case there were even more choices. There were many more doors, with other lights and other scenes.
But I could never decide, I could never make a final decision, turn the knob, enter the space and let the door shut behind me. There was always the promise of another choice, another door, something even better.
I kept walking down the hall until the light got darker and then I realized there were no more doors, no little windows, no options. I heard a voice that whispered to my left:
"Thanks for coming. Before you now there is only Death. Do come back."
Then, in front of me, a door opened. I heard the loud creaking of ancient rusted metal. A bright blinding light hit me and I found myself on a busy street, with cars honking, children crying and adults complaining about the price of gasoline.
My eyes took a while to adjust to the blinding light. Then I looked around and recognized the familiar street. I felt the pull of hunger and started to walk home.

Monday, May 23, 2011


There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco, positioned in the district known as Nob Hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.
I had seen her first during the 6:15 yoga sessions held on Tuesday mornings each week, a dark haired woman with penetrating green eyes concentrating on her perfect contortions and slow steady breath. Her gear, a Gaiam mat and matching aluminum bottle, caught my attention because it was the same design I had admired online a week before. As my eye traveled up from the mat I took stock of her Shakti capris and vest tank top in the orange network pattern. It looked like a web of electric nerve endings spread across her back, striking and beautiful, making me overly self conscious of my own well worn T-shirt.
I admired her obvious strength and flexibility, her complexion and the minimal signs of age written in shallow lines at the creases of her eyes. It is disturbing to confess that after attending three classes with her and never finding a way to speak to her, I tried to follow her from the Cathedral. She crossed the street and vanished. Into thin air. Absolutely, undeniably dematerialized. She was absent from class ever after.

There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco positioned in the district known as Nob hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.
I had come to walk the labyrinth alone on a Wednesday morning, months after watching her disappear on the sidewalk before my eyes. Entering the quiet chamber, my footsteps echoing, I saw her standing in the center of the labyrinth and froze. I felt the urge to flee, to quietly leave the building, an overwhelming sense of embarrassment tugging at my gut.
Who was I to intrude upon the meditations of this enigmatic woman who possessed the ability to evaporate from the corner of California and Taylor? I could not even muster the courage to initiate a conversation with a presumably ordinary person. Nevertheless I took a deep breath and stepped into the labyrinth.
I walked it as I always did, concentrating on each footstep, pacing myself, remembering myself. At the flower-like center she was waiting for me, green eyes boring into my soul. I offered her my hand.
“My name’s Emma.” I told her. Her grip was firm, almost crushing.
“Morgana.” She released my hand and said, “Wait a moment and we’ll talk.”
I felt very dizzy and my vision was going blurry. It started so gradually that I didn’t take notice until I felt that my legs were about to fold under me. Then I blacked out.
It was only a moment it seemed, but when I opened my eyes I was laying on the ground, my cheek pressed against the cold stone floor. I could see a pair of feet moving through the outer rings of the labyrinth, feet clad in black combat boots, squeaking as they went.
Pushing myself off the ground and into a sitting position I watched groggily as the owner of the boots, a disheveled clown, worked his way to the center.
He wore cutoff pants and a black T-shirt with many white arrows radiating out from a common point of convergence painted over its surface. His hair was limp and curly and mostly neon green. The face paint was smeared grotesquely. As he entered the center he licked the corner of his mouth and twitched slightly.
“Hello Morgana.” He said in a nasal voice. Nodding towards me, he asked, “Fresh meat for the beast?”
I’m ashamed to say that I could only stare, mouth agape.
“Well,” Morgana said, “Now that we’re all here, what shall we discuss?”
“I have always been interested in the sociopolitical structure of insect colonies, that and the reading of animal entrails, including human, for the purposes of divination, or possibly even just as leisurely reading, during a long BART commute for example.”
His tongue darted lizard-like out the corner of his mouth once more. I noticed that beneath the distorting make up, his mouth was actually deformed. Apparently he noticed my staring, because he lunged for me. He grabbed me by the hair and pulled my face close to his own, crying mockingly,
“Give us a kiss darling?”
“Ow, ow, ow!” I whined, too preoccupied with the pain inflicted on my scalp, possibly too shocked to feel an appropriate measure of fear.
“No, no.” Morgana said coming to sit with us. “We always talk about your interests. Emma is new, let her pick a topic.”
The clown released my hair and cozied up to me, patting my thigh.
“Oh, excellent idea Morgana. Go ahead Emma, what would you like to talk about?” He encouraged in tones oozing with sugary sweetness.
They both stared at me and waited. The clowns eyes were blue. Silence echoed through the cathedral.
“Uh.” I said at last, “I haven’t seen you in Yoga lately.” They continued to stare so I added, “I also caught your vanishing act.”
“Hmm. That.” Morgana said, “Well, I am a sorceress. And I felt the class was getting too crowded.”
I nodded and another strained silence followed. The clown pulled a long knife from a sheath that had been tucked into his cutoffs, concealed under the T-shirt.
“You know how good it feels to let the warm water run over your hands on a cold day?” he asked, turning it so that the candlelight from the altar was reflected on its surface. “Well it’s like that with entrails. Very warm and pleasant, but they cool quickly, so you’ve got to get em’ while they’re hot.” He chuckled, licking at the corners of his mouth.
“Not today J.” Morgana said firmly, “Now Emma, you were just dying to talk to me. So let me repeat, I am a sorceress, Morgana Le Fay. I’ve been around since before King Arthur cut his baby teeth. While Merlin’s older, women are always wiser, so why don’t you think of something you’d like to know and ask me about it?”

There is a cathedral on California St. in San Francisco positioned in the district known as Nob Hill. Within that Cathedral there is a labyrinth wherein I met and became acquainted with the infamous Morgana Le Fay.

Whatever you have heard about her, I won’t deny it. I asked her about death while we sat together, she and I and the insane clown. This is what she said:
“Whatever you are doing now, that is what you will do with death. If you cannot now face the REAL you will not be able to then. Eternity is not a very long time. Eternity exists beyond time. We can access it in this moment if we choose to recognize it. You have already died a thousand small deaths, undergone a thousand tiny transformations through the course of this lifetime. You will undergo thousands more. You know perfectly well about death, you are simply in denial. You exist in denial of the eternal and that experience is what you call life. It takes no effort to awaken to eternity, you must simply stop making efforts to deny it.”
As she spoke the clown ran the flat surface of the knife over my cheek and under my chin, just barely avoiding pressing the cutting edge against my throat. When she fell silent he said,
“Do you understand?”
Wide eyed, I nodded.
“Good!” he exclaimed, tongue flicking, “Now we can do something I’ve been wanting to do!”
He drew a line in the air, just millimeters from my flesh with the tip of the knife, a line from my chin to my bellybutton, grinning savagely. Then, with the other hand he slid something from behind his back along the smooth floor making a scraping sound.
It was a gorgeous chocolate cake. Brutally he plunged the knife into its center and cut three slices, laughing hysterically all the while. Morgana produced plates and forks and napkins and bottles of cold seltzer water.
“For his stomach.” she explained as he served the cake, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes with the back of his hand. “He’s really quite sensitive, and the chocolate does him no good at all.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Silent Scream

“You hear it then?”
Gavin sat with his hands resting on the unpolished surface of the pine table. His eyes gazed unfocused into the space directly ahead of him, head unturned so that he did not look at her standing breathless behind him.
A few moments before, her feet had been pounding on the stairs, and moments before that her hands had been sliding sweaters into the hardwood dresser of the unfamiliar room upstairs. Dinner had been a quiet affair. Afterwards he had placed the key to her father's home in her open palm and asked if she would want him to come along in the morning when she went to sift through the old man's belongings. She had shaken her head and after saying goodnight she had gone upstairs to unpack.
Sliding sweaters into the hardwood dresser of the unfamiliar room upstairs. Now her heart was hammering against her chest. Momentarily that was the only sound. She struggled to put it together, seeing him sitting there so calm and still. There had been a smile in his voice when he had asked,
“You hear it then?”
And she wondered if she had imagined it, that scream slashing through the silence. Listening to her own heart and ragged breathing, she studied the back of his head, his wavy dark hair. She began to believe she had overreacted. That sound… maybe it was nothing.
Then it pierced the stillness again with its shrill, hollow sound, filling her with a panic and dread so terrible… she looked to the door, took a step toward it. He moved abruptly, upsetting the chair and taking hold of her wrist. She stared with wild blue eyes into his now somber face. He shook his head.
“Never. Never go out to them, no matter how they call. They’ll kill you. They always do, no matter what music you think you hear in their voices.”
She looked at his hand on her wrist then back at his eyes, her breath coming in little heaving gasps. He released her, immediately stepped back and righted the chair.
“Music?” she finally stammered. “In that, that…awful…”
“Hmmm,” he said moving towards the antique coal stove. He put the cast iron kettle on to boil. “I had wondered about that. Bill Summers, he heard music, and your father, he heard it too. And I hear it, the ballads my mother used to sing… but a woman, I‘ve wondered what a woman would hear.”
“My father? What are you talking about, music? What the hell is that? What animal makes a sound like that? I thought… I thought at first it was children screaming, or coyotes…” Kate shook her mane of long red hair. “What? What makes a sound like that?”
Gavin took two bright red mugs out of a pantry and set them on the table. Kate jumped as the wailing and cackling started up again. As it died off she rubbed her arms and a tear fell from her eye. Gavin watched the tear slip down her cheek from across the room.
“Why don’t you sit down Kate. There’s no sense standing there. I’ll make you a cup off coffee.”
He turned his attention to a silver tin and proceeded to remove a heaping scoop of aromatic coffee beans from its hidden depths and put them into a small battery powered grinder. Kate moved slowly towards the table and took a seat in the chair he had recently occupied. His attention remained fixed on the work of preparing coffee, he neither spoke nor looked at her, simply poured the fresh coffee grinds into a glass French press then added the hot water. He glanced at her when the wailing started up again while he poured the coffee into their cups. Kate slammed her hands down on the table and coffee spilled up over the brims of each mug. Her shoulders crept up towards her ears and her head twisted on her neck in a dramatic cringe.
When the sound stopped she looked back at him and saw that he was smiling slightly, gazing beyond her at the door. After a moment he shook himself and set the kettle back on its hook. He wiped the spilled coffee up with a dish towel and pushed a mug towards Kate.
Seating himself at the opposite end of the small square table he began to sip at the steaming brew.
Kate looked nervously over her shoulder at the door.
“Is it locked?” she asked
“They can’t come out of the water.” he answered.
“What?” Kate asked her voice rising, “What can’t come out of the water?”
“The sirens.” Gavin told her. “Mermaids.”
“Go to hell.” she said viciously. His face went blank. He stroked his cup.
“Not Anderson's little mermaid.” he said, “No. The real, soulless thing.”
“You’re insane.” she said and laughed a little, clapping a hand to her mouth. “It’s coyotes, right? Or it’s, like, wolverines or something.”
“They are most definitely aquatic, adapted to salt and fresh water, like manatees, or certain sharks, because they made it upstream to the lake, where they got Summers. Your father, he-”
“My father.” she interrupted him. “Did you kill my father, you lunatic? And this Summers guy? Your snapping up all the property around here. That’s what they said down in Danville, you’re buying everything up. All except the federal lands. And what, my father and this other guy, they wouldn’t sell? That it?” Gavin looked at her for a moment. He couldn’t have been more than 38, but there was a solid band of silver in his hair over his left ear. One hand absently brushed the fabric of his blue flannel at the collar.
“Wow,” he said leaning back in his seat. “This isn’t Scooby Doo you know. You always this paranoid? No I didn’t kill your father.“ He stared at her hard for a second or two before sighing. “If anything he’s killed me. He’s the one that invited me up here. We met at UC Santa Barbara last year, when he was still a professor there. I was part of a brown bag panel about the long term environmental impact of the gulf spill.” Gavin stopped and stroked his grizzled chin.
“I think maybe he knew back then, he was… already thinking about it, that has to be the reason that he introduced himself to me. We got together later for drinks and he was asking all sorts of questions.… how much of the ocean floor is really charted, he wanted to know about ravines and sub aquatic caverns, we talked about the blue holes, how many new species had been discovered just that year… he was really interested. I remember I told him, I said, we have had a better look at what’s on the surface of the moon than what’s on the bottom of our oceans. Anyway, you know, he had my number and he called me two months ago and invited me up for a stay. He definitely knew then. He knew more than he told me. He didn’t just happen upon them Kate. He was looking for them. I didn’t know until after he died, when I went through his desk. Do you know that every man that has ever owned this cabin we’re sitting in has drowned? Same is true of the other three cabins here in Turner's Cove. The Summer’s place has changed hands a few times without a death in the mix. Your father knew all about it, that’s why he picked it, why he came here. He was looking for them.”
“Them?” Kate over enunciated. The cackling shrieks pierced the air again and she jumped and clapped her hands over her ears until it subsided. Gavin pushed his cup away across the table, leaned back in his chair, shut his eyes. As the wailing faded he hummed a few bars of a little melody.
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll hold up.” he confessed, opening his eyes and looking at her after what seemed like an unnatural period of time. “They come with the full moon, stay for a week. I don’t know for sure, but it seems like they come for a season then migrate or else stop singing for the rest of the year. All the drownings, they’re in the summer.” He fumbled in the breast pocket of his flannel and produced a pair of ear plugs. “This what I do to get through a night. This and caffeine. I can’t risk falling asleep while they’re out there singing. That’s how your father went, I think. I don’t know, really. The thing is, you want to go. So really you’re fighting against yourself, and eventually you want to stop fighting, give in to what you most desire, the source of that song. I’ve been holding on, waiting for you.”
“For me?” Kate felt her legs prepare for flight. Her body shrank away from the table.
“To close the sale of the property.” he said.
“Right. Because you want my father's cabin so bad.” she said coldly.
He shook his head.
“No. That’s what I told the agent, what I told you to get you here. Now you see the situation for yourself. And I can see that they don’t have a mesmerizing effect on you… What I want is to turn my property here in Turner Cove over to you.”
“What?” Kate’s brow wrinkled.
“You can keep people away from the cove, the drowning will stop.”
“Well, you can do that.” Kate said squirming in her chair.
“If I stay here I’ll die.” Gavin answered dispassionately. “That won't do any good. My brother will inherit, he’ll die, then his sons and so on. I need someone to understand what is happening here. That’s the only way to seal this place up. And your father brought me into this…There needs to be a champion Kate, a guardian at the gate.”
Kate rubbed her temples, shook her head.
“This is hysterical. I mean, do you hear yourself? You want me to give up my life and come here to protect the world from mermaids. Mermaids. God. I need to get out of here. You need to get out of here, you need a doctor.”
Kate pushed away from the table and stood up. The cacophonous screeching started up again and Kate froze where she stood. The paralysis lasted for only a moment. Then, determinedly, she turned and rushed out the front door, leaving Gavin behind shouting for her to stop. She ran down the driveway, her feet skidding over the gravel, and found the path that lead through the trees. Down the slope, legs pumping, heart hammering, lungs burning, she raced. The shrieking stopped but Kate went on, the pearly moon dangling solitarily in the sky above. She broke through the yellow sea grass onto the sandy dunes and slowed as she approached the hiss of waves braking on the shore.
She saw them then, three or four of them laying on the sand, the surf breaking over their glistening black bodies, others farther out rising and diving in the dark mirror surface of the sea. She stood stock still, the eerie sensation of having been drugged washing over her. She wanted to scream, looking at their eel-like tails, their tangled slimy hair, their glistening arms supporting them in the sand, but her throat was constricted by the force of emotion.
The distance was too great for her too make out the features of their faces but the mere suspicion of horrors brought her to her knees. They started up their wailing again, first one then another until it was a chorus of discordant voices piercing the air. One raised an arm and pointed to her. She could see the white of its eyes looking into hers.
She pushed herself up off the sand, scrambling to her feet and then ran back the way she had come. Bursting through the sea grass she collided with Gavin, whose arms gripped hers for only a moment before she pulled away and rushed past him, back through the trees, up the gravel drive.
Her hands were sliding sweaters out of the hardwood dresser, jamming them hastily back into an open duffel bag in the unfamiliar room. Moments before that her feet had been pounding on the stairs. Now she hoisted the bag over her shoulder and hurried back down.
The shrieking had become more hysterical, reaching a fevered pitch, like the excited braying of hyenas. She passed the square pine table where her cup of cold coffee still stood untouched. Gavin’s lay on its side, the coffee pooled around the ear plugs. Kate didn’t even pause to close the open cabin door, she simply rushed to her car, fumbled her keys into the ignition and sped away along the curving road, billows of dust rising in her wake.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dark Forest

A dark forest. Viewed from above, it seems endless. It reaches far beyond the horizon, away into the vast, never-ending blackness of the cloudless, moonless, starless, empty sky.
In this forest there are swamps with ancient trees, many of them thousands of feet high, some over a million years old. They twist with the collective weight of their years, bending back on themselves in a slow dance that has progressed slowly in all directions.
In this forest, the weather fluctuates between extremes. There are harsh hot winds that scrape the skin with their abrasive tear. Rain that chills the earth to ice. Humidity that holds the lungs tight, pushing down on every sign of life until it lays weak and defeated, laying almost still until one last blast of cold air destroys it forever.
In these elements my nakedness is always too bare, my clothes always too heavy. I search for a cool breeze under rocks, finding only ice. And then the sun comes out, its heat somehow finding me through the layers of leaves and branches in the forest. It burns me, turning me red and scaly.
In this forest creatures hide in the shadows and melt undetected into the landscape. Their eyes burn holes deep into my skin. Their stares follow my footsteps, covering my body with attention I do not seek. The creatures call out noisily in the distance, running through thick bushes, breaking old branches. The night is filled with the snaps of small breaking sticks and cracking dry leaves.
I cannot see them, no matter how fast I turn. They are the sounds of my dreams, the endless cacophony of the night. The nightmares that slip through the cracks, becoming reality. The sounds, their creators, they are always out of sight, just in the corner of my eyes, little shadows that seem to be pure imagination, almost beyond the farthest reach of my peripheral vision, like a shadow of fear that continually seeks me out.
With every snap I freeze and lay still in the dark. Fear becomes me. An unseen, intangible force keeps me pressed against the floor. Images of ten-foot high demon-like creatures invade me... bloody foot-long fangs, tiny red-eyed slits, two-feet long spiky tongues pointing downward to hell and moving from side to side in an endless quest for meat; saliva hanging in three foot long strands from their foul, stinking mouths; huge, hairy paws with bloody dragon claws pointing upward.
It is their smiles that shine out into the darkness. Smiles without a trace of sympathy or sincerity. They walk up to me, slowly, their jaws already working, their mouths dripping with desire. My breath begins to choke, stopping somewhere between my lungs and mouth.
The center of my chest pounds, sounding like nails against a thick piece of wood. I am acutely aware of something behind my neck. A cold sticky air that burns slightly as it touches me. I can hear its ragged breath, like air moving through a tunnel of rocks. It takes in air loudly, thickly, pulling in most of the oxygen around us. As it emits a long breath that smells of old meat and grease left in the sun, it wraps its three arms around me; pulling me up from the ground.
I freeze. I feel the demon hugging tighter, lifting me higher than the trees. Flying, transporting me away from the forest, into an empty space, where the temperature is warmer. We float and I’m unable to do a thing when it starts licking my cheek.
I squirm, trying to wiggle my way out of its grip. But I feel iron, the cold steel hands of the demon. It cinches tighter as I breath, every movement is reciprocated with a tightening of the noose. It licks my head and I can feel its huge tongue slobbering all over my hair and skin, leaving its stinky wet trail. I wonder what it tastes, what it perceives as that black tongue covered with a texture of dry paper covered in needles and sand moves over me. Each touch of it brings new wounds, bring out blood that quickly beads up with the heat.
We seem to fly higher, moving faster, going up. Its grip tightens and I can no longer breathe, the pressure begins to build and the sharp stinging pain of breaking bones begins. Its tail-like tentacle wraps around my neck, searching for my mouth in whip-like movements. It wants entry.

In this forest, thousands of voyagers and adventurers loose their souls wandering aimlessly in the dark. They become tangled in the thick vines dripping from old twisting trees. The sudden snapping sounds in the night, the invisible creatures and their penetrating eyes, following the rise and shallow fall of my breath. The other voyagers, they wait like me, with fear flowing slowly into their hearts, a river that with time, finds its way into the fortified core. They sit, like me, hiding from the shadows, running from rock to rock looking for shelter from the heat, from the wind, from the penetrating sky.
We run, never knowing where to go, nothing is safe. The forest is eternal darkness even when the sun shines behind muddy clouds. We run seeking shelter, not knowing who we are. Have we always been here flinching in the darkness? Memories are lost in these unfriendly woods, dropped into holes that quickly fill with rotting leaves. Tears make the lakes, supply the groundwater, nourish the red and white mushrooms.
In this forest, millions of creatures roam through the endless night, but in this forest, everyone is alone. I can only see myself. There are thousands, all invisible, all alone, the night providing no solace.
Viewed from above, the forest seems endless, reaching far beyond the horizon, away into the vast, never-ending blackness of the empty sky.

I open my eyes, looking closely into the dark. Sometimes I can almost see flickering lights within the depths of the forest. Almost like faint, far away stars through the fog of a crowded soot-covered city.
Between sprints and trees, when I stand still and stare, they get brighter, shining loudly through the filters of space and branches. When I stand still and stare into the endless expanse of trees, somehow hostile in their very shape, the lights glow like stars in the sky, hovering over the ocean on a clear, moonless night. They flicker on and off in different places as though talking to me, sending me some sort of message.
I am comforted by the light, by their existence in the forest of blackness. I wonder what they are. I wonder if, like me, they too are wanderers.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


A well is a hole, a deep dark pit, it is a kind of hell. When she fell in the well it was a primal sin, a moment of separation, of death, of claiming the power all for one. A well is a bowl, a rabbits tunnel, a tomb, the birth canal through which we worm to find ourselves once again doing the jerk and tug marionette’s dance of organic experience. A well is the subconscious mind, the abyss confined temporarily. It is the deep, a sanctuary for cold sleeping water and all the things that are not.
It happened on a day that smelled of moist winter grass, that brittle yellow wild grass saturated with recent rain, a rain that had been consumed by the plowed up mounds of thirsty earth. The sky appeared to me to be blue, brilliant as a robin's wing, or a dyed Easter egg. The clouds had all blown away leaving the blue empty, undisturbed. The lake was swollen, empty coffee cans and pet food dishes were filled with clear cool water.
Six or seven, I must have been, walking in the field in my leather cowboy boots. There was an “X” on the heel of my left sole that had been scratched there by my father with a nail so I could tell which foot it went on. The dog took pains to keep stride with me, pressing her cold black nose into my palm or using it to sniff my ears before giving them a lick with her warm pink tongue.
I went to play in the grove of silver olive trees, leaving behind the fields, the enormous house with its red tile roof and chocolate trim and my mother smoking cigarettes on the veranda, the lake where egrets fished with long slim beaks for their breakfast, the mountains that were purple because that was the way my father painted them in his mural in the garage.
Lost in dreams and the startling newness of each twig and leaf which propelled me into richer imaginings I ventured deeper into the grove, past the tree whose trunk split to form a perfect “V”, beyond the mossy boulder that usually warned me that I had gone too far. It was too late to turn back when I found myself at the well, my little fingers tracing along the stones of its lip.
I tapped the wooden cover that covered its mouth like a round gray door, tapped it with an Olive branch, imagining that a white rabbit might answer, or a dwarf wearing a pointy red hat.
I knew I should not be there. I had been warned to stay away from the old well, and the knowledge that my presence here was forbidden lent every second an electric thrill. The sensation buzzed through me, expanding in my head until I was dizzy with it.
Overcome by that lightheadedness, but unwilling to relinquish it, I settled down with my back against the well’s cold stones. The dog finished doing her own rounds of sniffing and came to sit with me. She washed my cheeks and waited patiently for me to recover. Running one hand through the soft brown and white fur of her back while poking the moist earth with the stick in my other, I drifted into a dreamless sleep that settled over me like a leaden blanket.
When I awoke it was dark and the dog was gone. I had never been out in the fields or in the grove at night, and had never been out in the night alone. I called for the dog, and let a few hot tears spill down my cheek before I wiped them away with my shirtsleeve.
It was quiet and cool. The trees had taken on a new more terrible shape. I thought to run home but took no more than a few steps before becoming paralyzed by disorientation. Nothing looked familiar, I could not tell which direction led home. I began to wail gazing up at the white moon visible through the branches interlaced over my head.
“Don’t cry.”
I was shocked into silence by those words, by the child's voice that spoke them. I turned to face the little boy, who came to my side and placed his hand in mine. I felt an incredible jolt of recognition. My heart was warmed and I smiled. Like the baby toy that I had forgotten and then found in my mother's box of keepsakes, I remembered him suddenly, the brother that I had forgotten, my brother from long, long ago.
“I’m afraid.” I whimpered to him, but I was already feeling braver now that he was here. His hair was blond like mine and his eyes a pale blue.
“I’m here.” He said, confirming the foundation for my courage and squeezing my hand a little.
He looked into my eyes as if he were trying to peer into a shop window, leaning from side to side until we both giggled.
We started walking through the tangle of dark trees with him leading the way. I held tight to his warm hand looking all around me for the mossy boulder, for the tree with the “V”, but recognized nothing. At length I became interested in his clothes, in his red velvet shirt and pants and high white boots. I reached with my free hand over towards him and pinched the soft fabric of the shirt between my fingers.
“Why are you dressed like that?” I asked him.
He glanced down at his clothing then over at my own corduroys’ and cotton shirt.
“Because I’m a prince.” he answered in a matter of fact tone.
We broke free of the trees and I stared in wonder at the black outline of the mountains against the purple sky. My house with its red tile roof and chocolate trim was gone. The empty expanse of field bled into the shadow of the mountain. The lake, a shiny black mirror, remained reflecting the outline of a castle on its southern shore and the pair of torch lights that glimmered at its gate.
“I’ll take you to our father, the king.” my brother told me. I let go of his hand and took a step backward.
“I want to go home.” I said, my voice trembling.
“We will go home.” My brother told me. “Our father has finished his work here with the ambassadors. We were only waiting for you. We looked all day. Father thought that you were lost down the old well. He’ll be so glad that I’ve found you.”
I backed slowly away. My brother watched perplexed. He extended a hand and waited for me to come take it. I saw the sorrow stricken look break upon his face just before I turned and plunged back into the grove.
Running as fast as I could, heart pounding, lungs heaving, legs burning, I came to it, traced the outline of the cold stones with my little fingers. I climbed up onto its lip and looked down into its open mouth, into the yawning darkness.

A Well is a hole, a deep dark pit, it is a kind of hell. When she fell in the well it was a primal sin, a moment of separation, of death, of claiming the power all for one. A well is a bowl, a rabbits tunnel, a tomb, the birth canal through which we worm to find ourselves once again doing the jerk and tug marionette’s dance of organic experience. A well is the subconscious mind, the abyss confined temporarily. It is the deep, a sanctuary for cold sleeping water and all the things that are not.

The dog was barking hysterically. I opened my eyes and saw the late afternoon sun falling in patches through the canopy of leaves. I could hear them calling my name, my mother, my father, my grandmother. The dog was answering. Their voices drew nearer, guided by the dog's plaintive call.
I began to cry. Here my brother was not. I was an only child. The realization that by returning here I had lost him again broke my heart. Weeping, I climbed up onto the little wooden door that covered the mouth of the well. Screaming, I pounded it with my soft fists.
My father arrived first with my mother behind him. With big hands he swooped upon me, lifting me from the cover of the well. My mother was behind him, her voice high with hysteria. She cried my name.
“What are you doing?” Relief, rage, accusation, all were present in her wild voice. The dog was whining.
“My brother!” I screamed, “My brother is down the well!”
My grandmother had arrived and her eyes became owl like. My parents were shocked into silence by my shouting, but my grandmother stepped forward and placed a wrinkled hand on the cover of the well.
“She means Eban.” she whispered. “She means my brother Eban. My father put this cover on after he fell.”
“Ma…” my father started to speak but my grandmother raised her hand hushing him.
She took me out of his arms and stroked my cheeks pushing the hair from my eyes, wiping the tears from my red cheeks.
“You’ll make a new cover Daniel, this one is old, the wood is rotting.”
Saying this she carried me away, out of the grove, past the mossy rock and the tree whose trunk split to form a “V”. She carried me through the field of yellow wild grasses smelling of rain and damp earth, under the empty sky that appeared to me to be blue as a robin's wing. She carried me to the house with the red tile roof under the purple mountain and I gazed over her shoulder at the swollen lake reflecting the blue of the sky, at its southern shore where young trees were growing, where I had seen a castle and had left a young boy with a face stricken by sorrow.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Maternal Return

About a half a millennia ago I was not as I am now. About a half a second ago it fell apart again, just as it did before.
You want to know something about the origin of life. You want to speak for the earth mother, you want to create her with your tongue and words. The origin of life is in sin, in a fall, in a recoiling from something too terrible to stay with.
That’s your primal mother, howling from the abyss. You run from her into her arms again and give birth to yourself over and over. Guns fall out of your open mouth, fields of fire burn with tiny brown bodies for tinder.
You can’t believe that this experience is now. You can’t believe that there is no escape from death and pain. You don the paladin's gleaming armor and march away from the filth and the chaos. You make a God of the sky. He comes out of the blue. He is a fabrication wrought with tongue and words.
It feels like something radical needs to happen, a shape shifting to avoid total destruction. You do this so deftly that you are no longer aware of the transition when it happens.
You believe that you have always been as you are now. You forget your origin. But there is nowhere that you can go where I am not. There is nowhere that does not stem from the darkness.
Your globe of light, your swirling kaleidoscope of delight hangs tenuously from a stem fed from the abyss. Your lips move in an endless litany, endeavoring to invoke something higher, something other. Something you imagined to escape the suffocating stillness, the absolute cacophony of being, the muddled pit of all experience engendered simultaneously.
You crave the new world order. You demand to experience one probability at a time. Unity for you involves separate entities lined up in neat rows. Here in this world, at this juncture you have designated with terms of spatial and time based coordinates, you seek an escape from the chaos of the abyss.
Here, in this place that doesn’t exist. This place that blossomed from your agonized wriggling, your terrified hiding and running. Here in a paradise imposed over a wasteland, you dare not eat of the fruit of knowledge. To do so would open your eyes to your terrible nakedness. You would see that paradise is only a dream, that you have been sleeping to avoid the truth; that you never left my slimy womb.
I am the horror that waits in the darkness. As long as you fear me you will be trapped in an endless circle. To escape me, you will run into the arms of a mortal woman, seeking comfort. You will bury your suffering in her and be born again, running from her womb in terror.
It has happened so many times, this fall to escape the old world and create the new. This deepening psychosis that you call life is only a shadowy reflection of the thing that is life, and life is what you fear.
You are a King of shadows, a King of ghosts. You are Adam who dreamed up El so that you could forget who was the real maker of the world.
You want to know something about the origin of life. I have told you. You will want to recoil from what I have said. You will find a justification for rejecting it. You will embrace the litany of words that has been tumbling from your lips, the incantations that you have been muttering to create your world, the one that you call THE WORLD, so you can forget me. You may dream up blonde angels on white unicorns waiting for paladins. But this I promise you, inside of every angel a dragon waits coiled, a birth waits ripe with gore and hair and violence, an old witch bides her time in a dark corner with wrinkled skin and bald patches on her scalp.
I will show you the truth again and again. You will counter by spinning lies, lips moving, tongue wagging…
The origin of what you call life is to be found in a sin, in a fall, in a recoiling from something too painful to partake of. That is your primal mother. This is who I am. Now that you know, it will fall apart again, just as it did before.
About a half a millennia ago I was not as I am now. About a half a second ago it fell apart again, just as it did before, just as it will again.

Friday, January 14, 2011

In The Desert

Simon, with his black curls waving around his face in sleek ringlets and his sandals clacking loudly, pressed his hands against the glass doors so that they swung open ahead of him. Instead of stepping in himself, he held the door for a petite woman with bright blue eyes. She thanked him with a voice possessing a certain raspy warmth.
“Ah, well thank you! Who would have thought you could find a gentleman in a desert.”
Simon laughed softly because he didn’t know what to say. It was the sort of laugh that was more breath than voice and he followed it with a smile that crinkled his face before at last saying,
“Well they have us shipped in to help draw the tourists, like the bass in the manmade lake.”
“You're funny.” She said, punching his shoulder softly as she passed through the doorway, “You want to buy me a drink?”
“A drink?” Simon stammered.
“Yeah.” She said, “I don’t figure it’s called Shadow Mountain Resort AND Club for nothing. And it’s hot. And we’re both thirsty. And you’re a gentleman.” She smiled so that Simon could admire her straight white teeth. Her hair was dark and long except that the bangs were cropped just above her black brows.
“Of course,” Simon said shaking his head as if to wag off his awkwardness, “I’d love to buy you a drink.”
“Great.” She said as Simon followed her inside, “Let’s just stop by my Father’s room first so I can let him know I’m here. My name's Cleo.”

In the hallway Simon examined the purple and turquoise carpet beneath the soles of his white sneakers.
“This’ll just take a minute,” she told him, swiping the key card through the scanner. “He’ll want to be alone so he can get ready for the tournament tomorrow.”
“Your father’s playing in the tournament?” Simon asked suddenly alert, “Would he happen to know Socrates?”
Both of her eyebrows lifted simultaneously and her eyes widened to comical blue roundness as the door swung open. Simon had just a few split seconds to wonder what the expression on her face could mean, whether her father knew Socrates or didn’t, or whether she thought it was rude of him to ask.
“Come in.,” she said, already several steps ahead of him inside the room. He followed her and gasped when he caught sight of the man sitting criss cross applesauce on top of the brightly colored bead spread. He was imposingly tall, even seated as he was. His hair hung down his back in dark dreadlocks thick as cords of rope. His deep tan, piercing dark eyes and beak-like nose made his identity unmistakable.

“You’re father’s Jesus?” Simon whispered.
“No. That’s my father over there.” Cleo corrected him.
Simon looked beyond the bed and caught sight of a small pale wrinkled old man hanging by his ankles, his arms crossed over his chest. His white beard was draped over his face so that his voice was muffled as he spoke to Jesus.
“He’s upside down.” Simon said and instantly regretted stating the obvious.
She shrugged,
“Inversion therapy. It reduces nerve pressure.”
They edged their way into the room but neither man gave any sign of having noticed the arrival of Cleo and Simon.
“There is a big sun up in the sky.” Jesus was saying in a clear somber voice. “When you die, and if your load is light, you can try flying up to the sun. The rays of the sun, however, are merciless and powerful. They will burn you away in a burst of the most brilliant white light you’ve ever seen. If you face the sun, then you should merge with it. Otherwise, you will resist so much that you will begin to sink back into the darkness of the world, burnt like the crow. Trapped between the inability to merge, and the terror of sinking into darkness, you can try to fly like the eagle.”
The inverted man cleared his throat. His voice was cracked with age but his tone was bright,
“The beagle burns his sack to the sun.” he retorted from behind his beard. Cleo left Simon’s side and lifted the beard from her father's face, tucking it into the collar of his shirt for safe keeping. It was then that Simon recognized the old man's withered features as those of Socrates, the very man Simon had come to the desert to find.
Jesus had arched a single dark brow at the other man's proclamation.
“You might want to say that again Daddy.” Cleo said rejoining Simon in front of the entertainment armoire.
The old man cleared his throat again and repeated,
"The eagle turns his back to the sun. The sun then casts his cleansing rays upon the eagle. The eagle keeps on flying, encompassing the earth with his wings while melting away in the dullest white light he has ever seen."
Jesus turned his head slightly to look at the visitors. The rest of his body remained stone still.
“Cleo, who is that with you?”
Simon took a step forward and extended his hand.
“My name is Simon, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” When Jesus made no move to shake, Simon withdrew his hand and put it sheepishly into the pocket of his shorts.
“Show him out Cleo. He has no business being here.” Jesus said and turned his head back to its original position.
Cleo shrugged and Simon started to back away towards the door feeling his cheeks flush.
"Let him stay here." Socrates crowed. Jesus sighed as the other man came down from his inversion rack. Socrates smiled mischievously at Simon. Jesus frowned but otherwise remained unmoved.
Simon stammered to Cleo,
“I, I don’t know what to do. Whose wish to obey.”
Socrates grinned even wider,
“You should obey both.”
“We were just on our way to the bar.” Cleo told the old man.
“Excellent.” He said taking Simon by the arm, “Let’s go.”
“Our conversation isn’t finished.” Jesus objected.
“Cleo will stay here and talk to you.” Socrates told him as if it were the perfect solution. He was already leading Simon out the door.
“Don’t forget your key Daddy.” Cleo called after him.
“I have it, I have it.” Socrates chirped from the hall.
“Bye Simon. It was nice meeting you.” Cleo shot him a smile just before Socrates pulled the young man out of sight down the hall.
The door closed behind them of its own volition and the voice of Socrates speaking to Simon as they advanced towards the elevators grew gradually dimmer until it was inaudible.
Cleo shook her hair out over her shoulders and leaned against the entertainment center.
“Well,” she said to Jesus, whose smoldering eyes were now trained on her, “You want to go down to the pool with me? I’m not much for conversation.”
“I prefer not to get my hair wet.” He answered, “But if you like we could remain here and engage in some heart healthy exercise.”
“Why not?” Cleo smiled shoving off from the armoire. “They’ll be busy for a while.”