Sunday, August 31, 2014

Transport to Sunrise

Celibate & pedantic, I decided several mornings ago that travel would be a good thing to do.  Do no ask me how I reached this place, for I am not entirely sure. If you fall asleep in strange pools, you may find yourself washed up on foreign shores. To facilitate such travel, I had learned to clutch the barest of essentials  in a net bag.

I knew the primary language of this place as soon as someone asked me what I was doing. My own rendition of the language of His Most Catholic Majesty was somewhat old fashioned and so I suspected temporal peregrination. It has happened before, which is somewhat ironic, given the turn of phrase.

The problem was, I had gone in search of the perfect metaphor. I soon realized the World (which is different from the Earth) revolved in one of its more didactic turns, and so I knew I was on an eastern shore, for the Sun rose above deliciously warm water. The people here are generous and the doubloon I brought was exchanged for a good sum, for I knew its weight and antiquity would be valued.

Every morning, I lay in bed beneath the netting that kept the mosquitoes away. The breeze made the fabric move in suggestive, hypnotic ways. Hipnotic at times, for I saw the shapes of hips and thighs moving, as though a forest of people dance in slower time around me.

The night air smelled of salt, of limestone, of mildew, flowers I cannot hope to name, the vegetal filth of iguanas who eat the flowers, and water. Like the air, my naked skin was salted by the water of my sweat and oily from the citron and my lack of soap. I smelled like fire and charcoal and the dark sea in which I bathed. 

There was no beautiful young lover lying across the pillow from me. Rather, every night I faced the idea that  life was about growth until one reached a certain watershed and then everything else ran to dissolution and slow decline.

One morning, I argued with myself in a tea house. La Rosa de Alejandra is its name. I dismissed the watershed metaphor, since water could not run uphill. That is a battle I  have continually fought. Is not the mountain of Sisyphus really made of Time ever growing upward?

The tea in La Rosa was a green tea from China. The petals that scent it are from the establishment's namesake flower. A single hibiscus blossom floated upon it to add the subtlety of red.

It was then Rosa brought me an answer. The eponymous proprietress is a philosophical woman who wears the color of her name as a sheer scarf around her neck. It contrasts against her hair, black and turning to grey like mine. Her smile suggests the cool blood of Madrid and the patience of Akumal.

Rosa brought me papaya, as crimson as the birth of the Sun, which happens every day in nearby Sian Ka'an. She had poured clouds of yogurt and honey over the fruit; honey is the distillation of this land, its water, and its flowers which are the dreams of Mary born each day by the hundreds in yellow wax cells.

Words fail, and do not fail to describe this procession of Gods, for words and the Gods may hang independent of time, while fooling us with intimations of it. The red of the papaya colors the sky of the morning, and the white clouds are the liquid bones of skulls and coral that drift in ages only the angels here can fathom.

It does not matter, the personal and the universal do not oppose one another in my breakfast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


"I say now, Fernando, that on that day
The mind roamed as a moth roams
Among the blooms beyond the open sand;"

-Wallace Stevens "Hibiscus on the Sleeping Shore"

Fernando, I think I understand Wallace a little better, now that I am here in this warm and humid land. Or is it a land at all, built as it were on the bones of the Sea. Like all bones, they turn to dust; the sand is white and fine.

In the jungle beyond me, the Ceiba trees wait. Like men, they are smooth and thorny. I wish to climb in one, feel those directional arms cradle me that I may see the sun set over the jungle to the West. In the morning, the purple, rosa sky, unfurls brilliantly, to be pondered for only moments. Azul then usurps the purple and the orange-creams as sweet as youth.

I bathe in the rain that comes with each day. Fernando, I like to think you admire this, but I know I am only your hermana while I am here. Your eye roves elsewhere. I no longer mourn your gaze. I only mourn the desire I once had for it.

My skin, browned under many skies, and lightened under many nights, revels again in the attention of the Sun. Yet I know that everywhere is work. I come here on the evening when the locals are free, for most do not work on Domingo.

"At least He gives them that," you say.

I crush the masa and agua waits for honey and hibiscus. The bees are thick and all life here feels pregnant. There is philosophy from the Sea and the Deep Places of the world, pierced through by the searching arbol. I wonder if the trees seek darkness like I do and thus force their roots down through the limestone, where pure water and purer darkness remain.

I return to the Sea in the evening. Like we all shall. Will it be a tomb or are we to keep the garden of our births?  So that on the stupid afternoons, we may be "dabbled with yellow pollen—red as red?"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Instrumental Foreword

Yes, yes. Well, you have asked about the Instruments of Contemplation and Wonder. I am starting to compile this material and not all of it will be understandable. I suspect some of the musical instrument designs are better suited to cephalopods. The draughtsman I commissioned for the illustrations is notoriously puerile and better acquainted with the unclothed female form (in theory) and not the actual cross-sectioned design of a viol although I admit to certain family resemblances. Trumpets and the five-cupped wate are a challenge for him, I can assure you.

Insofar as the police reports are concerned, you are aware of the complexity of Hagen's law enforcement situation, especially since the third force was created to form a natural imbalance between the first two but resulted in the unintended consequence of a natural equilibrium. Like a stool.  You detect the smell of paranomasia with that last word? Do not worry, there is enough scatology later in these papers. This all results in (at least) three different versions of the same old shit.

My transcriptions will be as accurate as my years and the speed of my hand can make them. If there is anything unclear, fantastic, absurd, or dubious (such as the Bylaws of the Most Benevolent Benign Tumor and Oncosian Society or the utterances of an Oak Tree demonstrating arboreal senility), I do not hesitate to remind the auditors that I am not making this up. My duty is to record. You know that, you understand my history, and my intentions, and understand that memory and the epistemological apparatus of any human being is not always in concordance with the opinions of others.

To that end:

You will no doubt recognize the stalwart employees of Hanseatic Agricultural Customs Station #20. Their almost Platonic stolidity allows for a nearly improbable verisimilitude. You know many of their kind: though their languages are disparate, what they actually say is usually the same because their tribe is legion and spreads across the globe like the filaments of mushroom rings.

The reports of the Physician Inspector are from her own hand. Her diary entries I thought rather instructive and help to flesh out the complexity of her situation. I was reasonably pleased to see she wasn't nearly as droll as she made herself out to be in the deathless prose that passes for bureaucratic wisdom.

The Graffin von Ludenow, to whom I admit a distant relation, "denies and admits to nothing regarding her role in these affairs." You may take the truth-logic value of that statement for what it is worth.

With regard to the dead and injured men, they brought that on themselves.

In dictation and truthfulness,
~Ada Ludenow. H.S.H.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Within A Moonlit Grove

I was fortunate enough to have attended a friend's wedding ceremony this weekend. Given the climatic uncertainties of the region, one could say that her choice of date was either fortuitous, blessed by the Gods, sagacious or… more likely a mixture of all three.

This is because the wedding was held outdoors in the Old Tradition, and by that I mean within a grove of trees on the frontier of Night. In this, I believe their choice of time was perfect, for it allowed a great measure of Evening into the proceedings, represented by a magnificently full Moon.

The Bride came proud, with her beautiful hair down, and the Groom walked with her. He bore a delightful flourish of gravitas and she was smiling. They are both handsome people who elicit that strangest of feelings: a mixture of desire: to want to be that beautiful and in love with someone that beautiful and that in love.

Later, there was food, wine, music and dancing. Although I do not dance (having never learned the craft) I again enjoyed watching them. And it made me think upon connections.

How substantial is moonlight? It must also be taken care of, and the best way is to simply look at it and understand the connection between the Moon, the Earth and the Sun. I can bear witness to love. Unlike the wearing Light of Day, the Moonlight is soothing. There is always possibility in the darkness.

The love between my friends is something I bask in. What is that, aside from something I am sure of?

That is the strange thing. We all move through this world, unsure of whether we can really know someone else. We cannot even know ourselves fully. Consider these connections of love and friendship, of music and memory, of hunger and thirst graciously sated, and even some despair sweetened through the contrast of so much hope.

We can know these connections well, if we allow some moonlight and love to give them shape, and hallow them in the accommodating darkness of a Summer's eve.

For Maeve and Kevin.

Thursday, July 31, 2014


The shoes were not the pointed, useless things of a princess or banker’s mistress, nor were they the lumpy root-shods of a weaver. They were cut low so the arch of my foot protruded, and the leather shone like an amethyst in deep evening. They fit my feet perfectly, each to its own, for my right foot is slightly longer, but I could not tell once the shoes were on. Finely braided tassels of gold and crimson thread bounced near my toes, and the leather was worked over in subtle designs. I stood up and walked about his shop.
“These are not magic shoes that will make me dance until I die, are they?”
“No, they are not that kind of shoe, but do you notice them?”
“No, hardly at all. They are not like clouds, or something silly like that, but more like the sand of a beach. Not dry and yielding, not wet and treacherous, but simply perfect sand for walking.”
“Then I have succeeded.”
“And these designs: they are strange, but I know them. That seems like a serpent, an old Jormandouroborus weaving around my heel to return, yet he holds a star in his mouth. That is the Mogen David, isn't it?”
“They will protect you in Elsewhere.”
“There are always warnings and warranties.”
“Yes, but really they are no different from any other shoe in that while they may protect you, you must protect them by watching where you step.”
They were perfect. I walked in them from the shop and found such a bounce that I realized a skip had found its way into my stride. I had not done so since I was a little girl, and then I wished to run, as a child does when she cannot abide the walking pace of small legs. Where was I going? Elsewhere. I thought of the apple trees outside of the village: they would be a good first Elsewhere.
-From The Nightingale's Stone

Regardless if you are going Elsewhere, or Nowhere, you really should have a good pair of shoes. These were a truly wonderful pair of shoes I got in Visingotha from my good friend Benjamin, the village shoemaker. They were both comfortable and stylish enough to enter into nearly any situation. I had them for long time, finally losing them in China during one of my adventures there.

In my time, the shift was underway from making a pair of shoes exactly the same to having them be fitted for each foot.This made the following question even more salient:

Which foot forward?

The right always seems so determined, yet it has led me into mischief and disappointment. The left, being more mercurial and sometimes a bit more clumsy, has walked into unexpected triumphs. Sometimes we have to stumble into our triumphs, but a good pair of shoes will always give you poise and style in such wonderful missteps.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

SarZine News

Zine Rack at Elliott Bay Books
The summer in Seattle is a fleeting thing. No wonder so many events are crammed into such a small space of time. It teaches us mutability and carpe diem better than any refrigerator magnet or motivational email signature. Alright. That is not really saying much.  Suffice to say I can rarely get a hold of David during these evanescent days of sunshine. It's why I am happy to let you know that while you are out and about town here in Seattle there are two places you can stop in and pick up a copy of Les SarZine 8: Mirrors.

The first is Elliott Bay Books, which is conveniently located near Cal Anderson Park, Richard Hugo House and perhaps most importantly, Molly Moon's Ice Cream. If you are up on Capitol Hill this summer, stop by and take a look at their spectacular collection of local art zines, curated by Keith Barbalato. You will find Les SarZine 8: Mirrors there along with some of the last SarZines Recollected out there.

Les SarZine 8 at the Frye Museum Store
Close by on First Hill is the Frye Art Museum. A great place to bring visitors who are coming in from out of town, it is a very accessible and free musuem. But best of all, it has a wonderful store that sells art by local artists. I am particularly fond of an onyx necklace by Meghan Sommer, but you can also pick up work by Ouroboros Press amongst other treasures. Rachel Lang graciously shelves the Fish here as well.

 So if you have relatives or friends visiting the Free and Hanseatic City of Seattle this summer, go ahead and take them to the Pike Place Market where and watch the fish throwers. Allow the de rigeur nonsense of the angler-fish to occur. But if they want some really non-perishable seafood to take home, take them to the Frye and Elliott Bay. If they are there, thank Keith and Rachel (profusely) for supporting local art!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The ships at rest out there, so grey and silent now, rise and fall with the rhythm of her breath in measure of the shift and swell of tide.

She is at rest, the night is free. She walks upon the barbican: old stones against the sea. With her new coat against the evening wind, she does not lie for lonely men tonight. The crisp work sheets are cold or lie beneath the warmth of yet another woman’s work.

She knows something of knots and marlin spikes, the luck untangled from a sheepshank, and the exchange of coins for masquerades of love devoted for an hour or two.

She knows she could have been a dripping girl who died in agony from rip and tear, like broken crates of fruit: all considered remuneration due, for work makes men, for avarice burns the outstretched knee and muddied hems of passion’s charity.

Sometimes she lies in the bed like a fine china doll and thinks behind the porcelain there’s nothing at the core but wheels and twine.

Sometimes love comes like a gracile cat: velvet, warm, silent and insubstantial. It mostly sleeps and when it hunts it is elsewhere. She thinks of that one’s eyes, the other’s laugh, and the Captain, whose hands are different; his touch sails out beyond her artifice.

More often now, she finds herself at work within her clothes. She mends, she cleans, she runs errands for the younger ones. She said once “I will know when the time has come to leave and I will find some man, (a carpenter crosses her mind with this memory) who also sells his work, and so will understand.”

She’s put some money by and so she smiles, at the warmth and cost of her embrace. She lets the evening flow around her. She allows the season of Fall to touch her. Her price? The red sunset.

The wool of her coat is lined with silk the color of the sky.