Saturday, July 22, 2017

Jumping from the Bridge of July


I remember watching them jump off the old bridge. The boys were not that high up, but high enough. It is Ironic that I am tall and skinny: I hated heights, and whatever was down in the dark water.  But I didn't belong with the rest of the girls who just watched the boys.

Rick waved me up on the bridge: gorgeous in only his cut off jeans. He told the others to quit shouting names.

"At least she's going to jump!" Rick then turned to me, "I'm a little freaked out too. I'll hold your hand but you have to jump with me."

We jumped out and up. For a moment, we were above the plunge without gravity or time. There was terror, and joy, both unwrecked by a future. And then we fell.

The water's cold shock became a texture and time flowed out into a forever beneath the water. We were small, unthinking circles in the bigger one around us.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Castaway


The being of being out here is swimming. There is nothing else. I am present enough that I can barely recognize that I am swimming. I just am and that is alive for the moment, left here by the greedy, the impatient: those vindicated by the wealth of killing.

Like other forms of being, this one is not so easily done. One must learn to do it although we have skills innate and yet forgotten—gifts from those first watery globes in whom we swam before the Sun burned our eyes with something that resembled Truth. The gifts of infantile ontology are ones we grow away from and forget.

There is resistance in the water and this, my scientific mind remembers buoyancy—the water pushing back against the gravity of my muscles and my bones. And in this irony of strokes against the water, I live.

There is distance. It is so far to swim across the water—the universe is vast and there is no better teacher than the middle of the ocean. I understand him now, the boy who gibbered with the Gods. Remember that their touch is not embrace and abandonment their course.

Where else is there upon the vast azure—at the bottom of an ocean made of air, and on the out edge of a watery sky, each swell will carry me to insights hitherto uncharted: of what the pure horizon really means: to see the concentration of myself from all my time, and I, unmoving move upon the sea, where no erosion beats high mountains down. And for an epoch, mutability is lost—I am floating on undying change and wondering what all my thens and ifs could be.

The enormity of this revealed world, unfolding like a lily made of lobster shell, searches deep within my soul, until a wooden angel comes to me on reaching wings and a hundred mouths of ivory.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Monkey Rope

"Just so, from the ship’s steep side, did I hold Queequeg down there in the sea, by what is technically called in the fishery a monkey-rope, attached to a strong strip of canvas belted round his waist. "
-Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Chapter 72 "The Monkey Rope."

Let me down.

Is it a request or a description? Down here, walking on this wet and bloody treadmill, I don't really have time to think about it. I could put the word "Never" in front. That would make it a request and I would have to count on you.

The line seems so thin, but it is strong. But I know that at any moment, a swell, a shifting of the bulk, something wrong in other words, and I could fall into the water and be bait for sharks. Or you could fumble. Or simply let go.

They cut the fat and skin from this creature we have killed. I have to keep my wits sharper than the spades or I will lose a toe or foot.

Why in the hell am I down here? In case anything goes wrong? If the hook comes free of the skin my job is to put it back.

The sharks snap at my heels and each other. I have no time for lengthy metaphors of comparison to us, but they seem transported beyond gluttony and lust in the orgy of blood that flows out from the carcass. The resemblance lodges in my gut, waiting for a dream in a swinging hammock. What big teeth you have...

The ocean does not let me down. It lets me see just how small I am. Out here, abandonment means I am given up to the sublime and therefore madness just before I am eaten.


Monday, July 3, 2017

Spirit-Breath-Horizon


I knew why we were out here. Everyone had seen it out there at night. We turned out the royals and top gallants to run after it but we never seemed to get closer.

It wasn’t just the horizon. I asked the old captain if he knew what the cloud was out there in the night, like a ghost.
"You know my purpose here," he said. "None doubt it, all could be said to have signed up for it themselves. But there’s something else," he said. He looked out at the sea, at the mist erupting from the ocean.

"I’ve been here with you too long," I said. "The first time I saw it from the bow. Then in turn we all saw it, but it was something different for all of us."

"Phenomenology, the Ding an sich. Yes. You’ve told me about this all many times before. What is the word, the German word?"

"Vorstellung," I answered.

"The Idea?"

"That put before us." I said. "As though it were not us, yet we are bound to it and whatever it is beyond that—we can never reach. Why are you chasing it? I’m not going to say something stupid like ‘what did it ever do to you?’ I can see the prosthetic—hair of the dog as it where—but the intent? That’s the hard indictment."

"It is precisely because of what It did to me. You’re like the first mate. You think I’m taking revenge upon brute instinct. Neither of you understand that It hides behind ignorance and science, like some toddler who stands behind the potted plant. Yes, they knew better in the old days when they were stupid. They came walking naked into the world bearing the same fierceness, the same presence of mind, the same thirst for pain."

"Yet it could have a meaning beyond what we consider meaning, and even then, if this meaning glowed with purpose like the sunken phosphorus stink of half-eaten mollusk tentacles, could we even discern what that meaning was?"

"Are you speaking of Justice?"

"Is it not as much a fiction as Perfection?" I asked "Something we are told as children to believe in and yet we abandon the Trolls, the Elves, but we do seek Justice and the Perfect."

"I am chasing the Wrong, not the Perfect, for cannot a wrong become perfect? Especially this wrong. Everything from his tortured body. Do not the irons in his back and twisted, scars reflect the height of Wrong, like boys torturing frogs with firecrackers in their guts and why? Because the human animal is deeply twisted. Does the theory of that Galapagos-Englishman really account for that? What good does that all do for natural selection? Eh?"

I could say nothing.

"I am not seeking to right wrong, this wrong is right, almost too right and spare me your recursive gibberish about linguistic clarification obscuring reason’s investigation of emotional interrogation, getting to that which is most true and deep at the core secret—the graveyard of Leviathan."

"So it’s there, before you always and out of reach. Not the Perfect, but the Wrong."

"Yes, it’s unassailable, more perfect than perfection for from the wrong this entire bloated, chaotic, worm-eaten unfolds like an asymmetrical albino tiger lily," he said and put down the spyglass.
The flower is there, again upon the horizon. Within the garden of the ocean whose far border we shall never reach.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Middle Watch

Built for insomniacs, the middle watch moves through the dark waters of our obsessive thoughts. We move through and watch.

I look out by looking in, knowing that every ripple and reflection of that calm moon are thoughts perseverating and reverberating in my head. They seem the same but I know they are different for they are cast upon the water. And are they feelings, emotions? Of what kind? The duplications and subtly nuanced differentials of hatred, loathing, fear, dread, love. But in the middle watch I am free of the Sun and all it's gradients of sentiment, for I am become the night: beautiful in profound robes of black.

But I'm fooling myself: this is as much a sentimental education as any.

The salt water is as fragrant and encompassing as pollen in the spring, and I feel it bear its life upon my skin, my hair, and my thoughts. Out of this I came and to it I shall go. I think of all the salt waters I have felt and floated upon: Mono, Salt Lake. I have yet to visit the Dead Sea, but those salt waters—bereft of the ocean—seem freakishly prone to religious ecstasy and concomitant idiocy. I prefer the sea.

The prow sounds like a great brush coursing through the hair of our Mother in the night and She combs and combs until Her hair—the mass of us as filaments of being—waves then weaves together and comes apart at the ends. Some split into the warp of dementia, others simply die at once and are remembered, eaten, loved. Atropos is not so dreadful as She is careful and care-free. The cost of Her stylings is priceless and to be had in infinite permutation.

The trade winds drive the ship through an ocean of warm, humid air. I look above and around me for signs of change. On land, I and many others look at the ground, as though we are certain that death and devil will spring from some chasm that opens up especially for us. Or we fear the gaze of a stranger, a lover, a parent.

At sea you keep your eyes aloft because that is where your death is. The ship rejoices for the speed of a gale, but remember… the gale doesn't kill you. It's the fall upon the deck or in the sea while reefing that kills you. It is any of these contrivances of geometry, textiles, carpentry and metallurgy that can pull you apart like a corn doll. And then there is always drowning. Or dying of thirst.

A squall is fast overtaking us. It means some tight work on the sails, and putting out the buckets for catching that life. The squall soon erases the moon and its sparkling poetry upon the water and I remember that it has always been this way in an endless circle upon the sea.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Mast-Head

There are times when I have to get above it all—somewhere I am free to be who I am and witness the horizon all around me. What I see may look much the same, whether I am looking west, east, starboard, port, fore, aft, then, or later. Even as I move, the flat line is there.While the cross-tree should be a place of watchful work, I find it is a good place to speak to the birds, the horizon, the wind and the sun. They seem content enough to listen.

This sort of solitude is best when I am forced into it—when it’s part of my job. I sail ahead, a figurehead for my employer, because I am going to a meeting where I represent an abstraction and we talk about abstractions. But I put the meeting out of my head. However I get to this moving place, I have nothing to do but stay alive—a dangerous solitude where one false step or a hesitation in my grasp would mean a fall into a terrifying flux so vast we cannot hope to encompass it in thought.

Many seek distractions: music, or people talking about things that you can either hate with relish or find the sweetest confirmation of all your biases. I try to remain silent, but it is difficult. I am an only child and so am so used to my own conversation. I find it aggravating that when you sing to yourself you are considered happy, but self-conversation reveals you as insane.

My mother was fond of this particular insult when she chastised me for this habit until finally I told her it was the only way I could be assured of intelligent conversation at our house. Which was doubly insulting, for my mother is a very intelligent woman: a tenured professor with many publications and academic honors. She had always focused on her career, navigating across the charts with the precise strides of a compass, and I know that I was an accident—a port she had not intended to visit and certainly not remain in for many years.

I sailed away at twenty-two. I have never really gone back. She and I left our home on different tides and we sail upon separate seas.

Oh, I looked for my father. Like Geppetto, I knew he was out there, but every time I thought I was getting close he slipped further away within the stomach of Leviathan. I grew strong so that I could snag him with a harpoon, then kill him with a lance, and cut my father from oblivion. It did not occur to me until much later that perhaps my father preferred to remain undiscovered.

And so I stopped looking because I finally began to see. In the dead reckoning of my memory, I can understand how far I have sailed away from my parents and the fata morganas who resemble them.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maybe


Maybe it’s because you were rather intimidating that first time you crawled in bed with me.

Maybe it’s the tattoos.

Maybe it’s your God, who demands such rigorous worship but I’m flattered that he bound you to me across the oceans.

(I still don’t think I’ll ever understand all the fasting)


Maybe it’s because you left home as well. You could have been a prince, a king, but you’d spent too much time upon the sea. We can never go back.

Maybe because the sea changed you as well.

Maybe it’s because you listen.

Maybe it’s your harpoon.

Maybe because in the morning, you’re still here under the comforter, holding me.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Linear Circle

Ada on a Washignton State Ferry
I do not work on my birthday. The reason is simple enough. On my birthday, I would rather it not be a terrible day. If I go to work, the chances of it becoming a terrible day exponentially increase. So instead, I get up early (because I always get up early) put on a pair of capris and my favorite top and ride a Washington State ferry—alone. This is as close as I can get to the sea, and I go there for reasons similar to Ishmael's at the beginning of Moby Dick.

The Seattle-Bremerton crossing is my favorite because it is one of the longest, which affords me time to think. Solitude allows me space to think.

Consider: I missed breakfast. I wanted poached eggs on toast. I needed food. But on Vashon, I eventually ate a bowl of muesli and wonderful croissant with raspberry jam (settled with a strong cup of black coffee). I think about missing the breakfast at home. Did I really miss it? Or did I only want it? How many wants and needs could I consider this way?

And for the first time again, I remember that ferries freight a great deal of my memories of love. They come and go and look the same but each boat and trip is different.

The great advantage of a Washington State ferry as a vessel for birthday contemplation (or really, any sort of anniversary) is that it lacks a bow and stern. The end going forward eventually goes backwards, or… you can see how recursive thinking is fostered on such a boat. I can feel the engine reciprocating and I look aloft to see the instruments on the mast measuring the earth and our course—no straight line, but constantly changing.

I like to watch where I have been even through it doesn’t look anything like what it was because it comes and passes and the perspective has changed. But I’ve been on this route before just as I’ve been around this star forty-seven times—a sort of circle. But as the Sun moves through space, dragging us along, is it going in a circle or a line? Can I even conceive of such a thing beyond the perfected abstractions of calculus?

It isn’t even a circle but an ellipse, and most circles are ellipses in perspective.

The scenery of the Puget Sound is closer, more familiar, but just as susceptible to mutability but I am susceptible to the notion the change is the only concept that does not change.

For example, at work I hear more and more of my same-age colleagues discussing their divers health problems and maintenance issues. What surprises me at first is that these are not the grizzled old-timers telling war stories about their gall-bladders. No, they've all retired. These are women and men my age telling war stories about their gall bladders. As long as people have gall bladders they will age and complain about them. That much remains the same, but it is my shifting perspective where I must realize I am one of them.

And when did wisdom become uncertainty? I know that Confucius said something about it, and yet for all these years of humanity, I have met a few people who seem very set in their knowledge. They react in vehement emotional violence to anything that upsets their prized foundations and I realize... they were always like that. Now they just think they're even more entitled to it owing to a few years. Gods what an awful way to live. Being certain is so much work!

I look at the banks of low fog burning off on the June mornings and I wonder if The Mountain is there or not. How could I tell at this point? How would it look any different? Were it not for the comforting familiarity of this mental ritual I would get dizzy and be in danger of falling into the Sound. Forty-seven would be it.
“It seemed like her life was turning around. She had a new job, a new guy in her life who really seemed to be the One.She was only 47…” 
"Turning around." How ironic on a ferry. I smile at the entire thought, which is not, I will tell you, an ideation, even though a thought and ideation are the same thing. The desire to read my obituary is not really a morbid compulsion to suicide, but rather I'd like to know what someone really thinks. Is that not generally true? As true as anything else, which is to say that wisdom, hard wrought from age, is knowing when to ask or wonder why.

The Ferris wheel on the waterfront (which wasn't there when I first moved to Seattle) turns and turns and I believe I have said all of this before. Perhaps. But not on this birthday—a birthday I will never have again until the next time.

Of course, I can't know when that would be. Such is the price of wisdom




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Aeaea

 I.
The things they think I can do. The things they want me to do: that was the hardest lesson.

To touch his hand and smell the shit on him—faint, just there though he seemed fresh off the boat. Another wanted me to drown him. Sometimes it seemed the rest of them just wanted to be fed and left alone with each other. A few lied wonderfully in and out of bed and a chamber of my heart still yearns for the untruths.

But you have heard their side of the story. Anything they became, they already were. I have my own story, and how would they know anyway? I am glad that is all past now.

II.
At this time of the year—when night is far away and evening lasts forever—I like to leave my house and the trees and come here. I wait until the dry Sirocco no longer wants to excoriate me, but is still willing to caress my body and leave a blush of red on my brown skin.

As the light dies, I can hear the trees better and understand the banal recollections of beards and pig's nose, the spilled wine upon the shore and how the blue of the sky and sea seem to forebode fire and danger.

The light is flickering on the sea and over there is vague and far enough away. Over there is a point in space upon a contrivance I have named, and so brought into being. But even then, if I stop thinking in words….

III.
I am not sure where she is. She only comes to me in dreams. She wears only her sandals and light upon the beach. She passes over me as I sleep upon the sand.

The architecture of her scent is in my nose first, in the herbs I crumble into the lentil soup. She taught me how to make her favorite soup with poached fish and dry goat's cheese.  I remember how we ate olives and bread together here and waited for the moon.

But she left too. I keep thinking the blame, the answer is somewhere in my story, but perhaps it is in hers. Or ours. I want to ask her.

IV.
The island bears divinity. Have I become so much this place that I may share in that? It seems for a moment that the sound of the ocean and the wind stirring up the perseveration of the trees allows me to forget time.

Soon, the last bolt of the sun will touch me and the rock: another year will have passed upon this island, but they feel all the same. I can only tell myself they are not.

The animals are sleeping now. Perhaps they always were—the brink of immortality is always terrifying at the threshold of Dark. But there resides the freedom I may find away from here.

*Aeaea was the island of Circe in The Odyssey and elsewhere.

Adirondack Review

Hi everyone,

Hagengard Studio was honored by The Adirondack Review by having "Here Alone" as their cover art for the Summer 2017 Issue. If you want to check out some great writing, whether it's prose or poetry, go on over and check 'em out.

There's some other great artwork pieces to look at from a wide range of graphic artists.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

June

My pace is quick because I come from November.

After all these years I am more keenly aware of how the rain has shaped me.

What I wear. What I say. What I think.

As if the clouds have some intention for me.

But why should the habit of old thoughts keep me dry in the Prefecture of Summer?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Personal Darkness in G-Minor


1.
After all these years, I often feel like a particularly stubborn and finally well-trained dog. I take a certain stupid pride in being able to roll over, sit, and speak—like they all do, like they want me to—at last.

2.
Would I tell a child: "you don't really want to be the weird little kid eating ants to gross out other kids and get attention. You will be unhappy when you are older." Because: am I certain the inverse is true? We learn our certainties on at least 7 billion different paths. And explaining the mathematics of probability is problematic.

3.
Correlative of Kant: the only knowledge I have is personal. This is somewhat misleading though, because the tautology of Being Me renders anything else nonsensical. I could just as easily say "All of my knowledge is personal because it occurs within this framework I call myself." Where does that get me? Back to Ada. Or I.

4.
I put on a coat with too many sleeves. Perhaps it was tailored for an Indian deity. It also has too many shoulder pads, and odd pockets for things like a Concise Oxford English Dictionary and a Goldfish Bowl (which is full of water and leased to a fantail). I then blunder around in a dark room that I have let myself into by checking into El Hotel de espíritus perdidos. I despise myself for doing this. For accepting the darkness and the goldfish bowl as somehow necessary. But worse, I hate myself for finding a chair of some sort and just sitting in it waiting for all this profound darkness to go away when I know it won't because the darkness never goes away. It just waits with me.

5.
Knowledge is a key. No, not that kind. The kind that describes the scales of experience. Time results from this: with each performance, the notes are necessarily different, even if the song remains the same.

6.
In the end there is only Chopin's Nocturne 11 in G minor. For now, it is the only refuge I have from being human. And therefore, the only one I need.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Döppelganger

I understand that quantum physicists have proposed solutions to the grandfather time-paradox. I am not particularly interested in traveling back in time to kill my grandfather and put the fact of my existence in doubt. I loved my Grandfather, at least the one I knew. (My father's shadowy family remains a mystery).

It does make me think about going back to visit myself.

While I am always prone to nostalgia and contemplation of the past, I find as I grow older the subjunctive desires, wishing what it could have been have fallen by the wayside: travelers on the road of Time that step aside to allow the freight of inquiry along. To put it in a simpler way—because I have no intention of abandoning my idioms of complexity just yet and so delete the former sentence—I wonder if I even understand the past at all. This realization correlates into the uncomfortable suspicion that I don't understand the present at all either.

I look at the portrait she did of me and I think about that woman. Not her, per se. (although I still think about Astrid quite a bit at times), but rather the woman I was.

Granted, I've had this hairstyle for quite some time. The swallow tattoos have been there since my early twenties. And Astrid even made me look a little older in that picture than I was. We had an argument about it, I remember. It was her take on Picasso's supposed rejoinder about his portrait of Gertude Stein
"But she doesn't look like that."
"She will."
Whether he actually said that or not is irrelevant to me. Painters can often be egotistical shits in love with their idea of enforcing will upon the world through vision and craft. At the time I thought Astrid was trying to control and shape me. She was always doing that sort of thing: telling me what to wear, how to use a fork properly. I often hated her and I was utterly in love with her.

Or was I? Did I know how to love? Or am I merely enforcing what I have learned, which I never would have learned if I had not lived through it?

If I traveled back in time would I really be recognized by my former self? So much has changed owing to subtleties I can barely fathom. This part of aging, the slow maturity than in Grand Crus can take decades, is actually comforting. Perhaps at most I would appear as a frightening Döppelganger.

I would approach myself, perhaps on that day when I was alone and angry sitting in the rain at Volunteer Park. After I calmed down from the initial shock, I would say to myself (reflexives are confusing in time travel, of course.)
"Don't worry. I'm not here to commit crimes so the police will think you did them."
"Or steal my girlfriend?"
"I don't have to do that. She's going to leave you in two months, so quit worrying about that fight you had with her."
"Leave me?"
"Like the others. But don't worry. In about 10 years you're going to meet someone wonderful. "
"Why do I have to wait so long?"
"Because it will take ten years to become me, that's why."
"That's not really an answer."
"Of course not, but you know we enjoy vague stubs of thought that we can fracture open and look at like a..."
"Geode. Yes, a trope you will keep using although the rest of you may change. Oh yes, and go get a copy of Heraclitus and start reading him again."

Am I throwing wishes into the past? Perhaps. It was something Astrid always criticized me for, and Morgan before her. If I still spoke with my mother she would do it as well.

My boyfriend likes the picture.
"If I just saw a picture like that I wouldn't know what to make of it. It's nice and all, kind of cartoonish, but there's a reason for that I guess. But I know you better when you talk about it. I see someone in love, but a little nervous about all of it. You're wearing her favorite camisole, I'll bet."
"I was."
"And you still have it."
"How did you know?"
"Because you look a little bit like a thief to me. Stealing hearts, memories, underwear."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Across the Sea

How far across the ocean was it from Ogygia to Nantucket? Enough for one evening, I remember, even if it was just across the Sound.

We said very little. The wind was from the southwest and way-finding was in the manner of reflection—the setting sun sparkling in your eyes, how it made the glitters on the waves. The purple and pink tones in the sky were a background for my life for cellos and violas to try their fluid, crimson polyphony. Notes repeated. Mistakes repeated. Love and days repeated. For a moment I closed my eyes to capture the fields of August as they blazed in the light—your hair waving in the wind that moves across the deepest waters.

You taught me how to sail: to trim the sheets, hold the tiller. A rope is a line, which had been only words before. When to fall off and when to pinch dangerously close—close enough to topple, to capsize and then be lost into the cold and darkness.
On land we know the Laestrygonians, at sea Leviathan will chew off our pretty legs. Everything is eaten, dissolved into the salt and accidents of stars that make us one. 
In the course of this voyage across the water, across my life and sound, I dream my body will wash upon Scheria and be tended by your curious, eager hands. And later, a bowl of chowder, a counterpane and the embrace of your arms—gifts that can kill without remorse or hesitation. Your arms are tattooed like mine
In the summer I sail across the Riddle, dead reckoning from birth.
This moment is what I want: the paradox of being alone with you, whether you are here or not.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Alki

The unofficial motto of Washington State is “Alki” a Chinook word which means “by and by” or “sometime in the future.”* There is no “official” motto because the notorious State Legislature hasn’t gotten to it. Presumably it will be (like fully funded public schools) something they will get to by and by.

Once you move here the initial exasperation you feel—either in traffic, or a Seattle public meeting, or waiting for contractor —will change. You will either descend into madness or you will make a clean break and live fully in the present, dismissing these concerns as being taken care of by and by.

Part of it comes from the curious nature of time here. I should say that I’m going to be speaking about Western Washington at this point. Those East of the Mountains will be quick to tell you (and I agree) that they actually have seasons.

You know it rains here a lot. Well, you may know the amount of rain is less than many places in the US, but when the rain stops by (and by) it sometimes feels like years. That is because Western Washington usually has two seasons. Drizzly and Summer. The curious thing is that because of the near constant cloud cover, the light diffuses dramatically so that 8:00 in the evening in May looks very much like 3:00 in the afternoon in December. And the temperature is about the same.

Drizzly starts in September usually around Labor Day which is why the biggest Arts and Music festival in Seattle is called Bumbershoot. It then continues to the day after the 4th of July. In between is a beautiful summer. This is fairly common knowledge.

But as I mentioned, it’s the daily tricks that a diffuse world brings. Shadows, which define so much in our lives (just ask Caravaggio) are fuzzy patches of dark gray if you see them at all. This renders what could be beautiful architecture into vague planes of gray and blue gray and a gray that’s in between.

And as I said, you can never tell what time it is, so you get used to things happening by and by.

Insofar as the sun and moon, well, those celestial markers of time are a faint memory from summer evenings. Natives immolate themselves when viewing the former and become lunatics when they can see the latter.

I moved here from a sunny place a long time ago. I used to relish the rain in October. It was perfect for books and thinking and coffee and snug places. I still feel that way in October, but T.S. Eliot must have spent a winter here to appreciate how it extends into April: the cruelest month drives one mad. A wet May (like we are having as I write this) just turns the whole thing into a hideously absurd Beckett play.

True, we can trust our watches but those are only approximations. We open umbrellas (real native Mossbacks only use GoreTex) and wait for summer to come.

By and By.

*Alki Point itself is a beautiful spot in West Seattle looking out over Puget Sound. It is destined to become the New York of the West Coast. By and By of course, which is how it got its name and it does have a Statue of Liberty. (She’s a bit smaller than the East Coast version). You can learn more about it here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May

I look down in the water and wonder, why should I think the world owes me anything besides this reflection.

I know a man who would worm this scene through the muddy lenses and gears of machines, which in the complexities of multicellular aggregation, I suppose we are. I find his explanation thorough, and the induction of his thought is swift and convincing but utterly meaningless.

I know a man who would twist this scene through the cataracts of God, who is the only real thing and the rest is illusion. In the complexities of ontological agglutination, I suppose this might be true, but it always seems to return to the preacher.

Both of them profoundly wield words. To me, this entire arrangement explains why poets drown in poverty for the kiss of the moon.

I find that on a quiet night like this, the water in May is beautiful enough.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

You Can Fly

"Now you can fly..."
“Peter Pan.”

“Peter Pan is your least favorite fictional character?”

Don’t ask me how we got onto the topic. One of the things I love about Will is that we can just lie in bed together and the conversation just goes on and on. Sometimes one of us is doing most of the talking. (Usually me, according to him) and sometimes we share.

“I hate that little shit. If I could kick his ass, I would,” he continued.

“You never liked him? Have you read the book?”

“No, I don’t need to. How would you say this? The Disney version, even Sandy Duncan, they’re all the same. Iconic. Think about it. It’s a very sexist story. Wendy has to clean up and be mom for all these little boys who won’t grow up. Total male fantasy. Or really anybody who just uses people wants a Wendy to clean up and take care of things. Tell stories maybe when it’s all over so they can go to sleep. It’s the only reason they haul her to Neverland in the first place and even there she has to put up with all of the shit from the mermaids or Tigerlilly. I won’t even go into that whole racist thing.

“True,” I said.

“And Tinkerbelle hates her too. It’s that whole keep them divided by fighting with one another and at the top of it all is Peter Fucking Pan.”

“A bit of jealousy?”

“Not jealousy. It's Bullshit, Ada. That’s why. Yeah, I wanted to be him when I was really small. He could fly. I mean, who doesn’t want that? But when I got older, I watched it again at a cousin’s house and I couldn’t believe how stupid it all was. “Not growing up.” Every kid I know wants to “grow up” because that’s when you can do whatever you want. So it’s doubly false.”

“Maybe that’s a subtext that Barrie wanted.”

“I don’t’ think so.”

“So Peter gets all the girls to love him. He always beats Captain Hook.”

“Exactly. He always wins. There’s never a doubt. But really, growing up is when you learn you can never win. Maybe you never have, but you don't really notice and that’s why childhood seems so precious and all.”

“But you were figuring it out all along,” I said.

“I just don’t need some asshole in tights lording it over me.”

“You never were Peter Pan, baby. Maybe you're more like Wendy?”

He thought about this for a bit. He smiled, and then kissed me.

“Yeah. You're right. I never thought of it that way. You're not Peter either. I think that’s why I love you,” he said.

“Oh, I love you too. Besides, if Peter won’t grow up, he’s never going to regally shag his girlfriend on a Sunday morning.”

Friday, April 14, 2017

April

It's the very distance of the thing that makes it a thing.

Upon a hill there is a pot. This is no jar in Tennessee, although there is a blackbird. Later.

The different shades of day illuminate it, change its color and perhaps shape. I cannot really be sure of it from the distance I am at. How old is it? I go closer to it to see. Did I make this pot? Did I not just do that by using one word that contains multitudes?

In this creation, I understand the pot as container. I know it is two feet tall: that it is not really an ellipse because I am only seeing it that way. Everything is brown. The clay is now a deeper sienna, a flash of memory like hands tending to the drying linen. Could anything be so beautiful? Terra cotta is cooked again as I remember the words.

I am in a modality that changes the pot, myself and the hill. Metaphorically concentric, and therefore actually covalent to the actual modality, which could be called April—a single word of time that promises some sort of precision.

But isn't really.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Dream of Language




I’m waking through a lingering dream. This often happens when the garbage trucks are breaking rules and bang-bang-gungh-ghungh-bang-bang-crash, doing their holy work before 7:00 AM.

My husband had just slammed the door on his way out. He had been stressed out a lot lately because he was publishing a paper in Science that maintained that all the world’s languages could be tracked back to a single mother tongue in Africa. Spoken by Eve. No doubt, I wanted to say over coffee and oranges, but he was gone.

Even his smell in the bed was different. Not the rich pungency I loved, but rather a thin, acrid one. He’d been smoking again. Not that it mattered too much. We hadn’t been having much sex lately, and I hardly ever saw him. When he was at home, he would sit in the dining room and curse at the peers who reviewed him

Yet I knew this was important. This publication would ensure his tenure at the University. He’d have a steady job, benefits… His reputation and future, our future rested on it

You may be wondering why I put up with him, well, I knew that I loved him. That’s what marriage is about: the worse and the better. Lately it had been worse. He had spoken of nothing but phonemes, counting them across the world, comparing them because it was all for Science.

bang-bang-gungh-ghungh-bang-bang-crash

I am totally awake and glad I’m single. I know what seeded the dream. A PRI article began with “Scientists say.” This is how most scripture begins where I live. I look at the ceiling and think about this phrase and what it means.

It means I am an apostate. No, not because I adhere to a religion. I abandoned Catholicism a long time ago and with it the rest of Christianity. I find it hard to trust God or Induction. The ceiling seems certain enough, and it is enough. I can see it. I am sheltered beneath it. No, I don’t say it shelters me because that is an active verb, perilously close to ascribing living motive to an inanimate concept arranged by my often faulty sensory-conceptual framework—a world where certainty is something I have to learn.

I wonder if Eve thought about that when she was speaking the first words. Was it simply a game of phonemes she uttered to her children and it sort of took off from there in ways she didn’t really intend? Even though I am not a mother, I know that can happen with children. But why am I burdening her?

Why does there always have to be an Eve or a single origin for anything? What good does it really do. I guess it keeps my dream husband employed and a dream roof—with concomitant ceiling—over our dream heads. I could further question that, since we didn’t see much of each other. I couldn’t even have dream sex with him. 

I consider getting a dream divorce.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Bright Eyes

In the surf, I'm pushing out again. I hope She was right about all of this. I am not sure I trust this raft.

Thirsty, hungry in my dream. I awake and She has put a peach in my hand.

Long ago She warned me against his insolent stupidity, his pride in ignorance and bigotry and prerogative.  Now, She whispers: "Ask him: 'When was the last time you saw your wife or listened to Cassandra?' It will unmake him."

In Pacific Place, She and I watch the Children of the Sun, their brown eyes like sloes: trusting, herbivorous, doomed. "Don't worry. I don’t have any children either. They would be the terror of the earth."

At Elliott Bay Books, I can almost smell the copper in her bronze. I drift and she puts the right constellations in my hands for purchase. She has a keen eye in the remainders.

When I was younger, and found myself trapped on a barstool listening to his or his convincing lies, She always leaned over the bar and whispered. "And do you believe that?" "It depends" I sometimes answered.

She suggests turning the tables. "Go ahead, Drug him. Sharpen the stake in the fire. Gouge out his eye to get out of his bedroom."

She gets on the bus first and chooses a seat for us away from the man who peed himself.

The Horse was actually her idea.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Swoon


It may very well be the sort of psychological distortion that occurs in a perfectly explicable, neuro-scientific way—that process can give meaning to some people. I don’t' like to generalize too much, but it seems that 'scientifically' oriented people—who place a great deal of uncritical faith in the conceptual foundations of science—are suited to their own explanations.

I envy them this surety, even while they scoff at me and my philosophy.

A case in point. There is A Certain Place I had not been frequenting. Not because the coffee wasn't good. Not because of the ambiance or other patronage and certainly not because of the staff… well, that's not entirely true. Through no fault of his own, one of the baristas there served as an unwitting locus of my own associative engine and concomitant romantic stupidity. In short, the sight of Andrew's smile alone could conjure continents of a life together that simply wasn't.

To whit, I am sure a neuroscientist could explain the entire chemical process—since I am only machine—but that doesn't help me with any meaning, which Andrew's smile seemed to suggest in an orgy of aesthetic detail.

When I found out he was dating someone it came as relief. I felt free of the possibility of love. Not asking me out because he is dating someone is acceptable, I thought. I realized that my conclusion of him not asking me out because I am older and unattractive to him had become a wearisome burden.

Today—making sure he wasn't there—I went in. I chatted with another fellow, who, I realize is an equal to Andrew in terms of… what I fancy. And then some. Somehow, the daily trivia question fell to books. I am terrible with things like statistics and sports, but fiction I am good with, but today the question was something about Jonathan Franzen so I was left in the dark.

"You should have something else. May I make a suggestion?" I said. The day was slow, so we could chat.
"Certainly, what would you put down?' Carlos asked.
"'Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buenida remembered'... what…? "
"that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. " Carlos replied. 
My heart did not skip. It fell flat on its face and then slid off the mountain. My head was dizzy and I swelled tight in certain places… a phrase I stumble over not from prudery but from long absence of such feelings.

Andrew had never said anything like that.

It will be a relief when neuroscience can explain why the vast timescapes of dream can occur within mere seconds. The first dates, sharing the fried squid in Chinatown, the confession of deep regrets and the validation that life continues in ways we couldn't understand even yesterday and how the hair grew on his knee because it is bare in the morning and the sheets are crisp blue linen, and which of us would die first in old age when this fire was a pleasant memory if not already lost in oblivion. In short, the dream of life.

From one line of Marquez. But...

Dear Gods, read it if you haven't already.*
How could I be sure? It is a lovely dream. But my life feels more like One Hundred Years of Solitude. The poetic irony of the title, my fantasy, my conversation, Carlos, his dark hair and eyes that reflected more than the grey sun of Seattle—it jumbles together suggesting meaning.

But the meaning is like a cat that does not want to be picked up. I am making a novel, a dream of something that doesn't exist. This one line of Marquez, as suggestive as it seems, may not mean anything.

I breathe easier (the flow of hormones and transmitters are subsiding, but still offering no meaning), take my coffee and sit down.

And there is that other man again. A slightly younger guy who lives near me, or must. He is sitting over there, wearing headphones and is intently listening to music on his phone. He has a magazine about salmon fishing. I've seen him here before. From a distance, I used to confused him with Andrew, but this guy is shorter, more furtive. He drinks drip coffee too, and glances at me. There is a hint of smile. He seems perfectly nice, which is of course a problem.

I stew on this a while, and get lost in composing this post. Maybe neuroscience will allow me to take some sort of exorbitantly priced pharmaceutical that will allow me to fall in love with the right man. Even feel a sense of meaning. Perhaps.

*cover art from One Hundred Years of Solitude copyright Harper Collins, provided here as a link to the book's Indiebound page.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Shadow Well: Unleashed

Cover artwork for The Shadow Well
Hagengard Studio is proud to announce that The Shadow Well is now available for purchase.

Composed of thirty-three narrative aspects, in words and images, The Shadow Well is a sensuous journey through blindness and regret, music and magic.

Beginning with a girl who buys a new pair of eyes at The Carnival, and through to a birthday party when she is much older, The Shadow Well gracefully touches on the moments of life’s insight that can only be understood in the clarity and obscurity of dream. Friends and enemies appear and irrevocable decisions are made, revealing that dream, memory, and waking life are but three facets of our manifold existence.

Each page of text has an accompanying illustration, or each drawing has an accompanying page of text… the reader is free to choose which aspect to linger over and the order in which the scenes are read. The result, we hope is a sumptuous dream that you can return to at your leisure and desire.

This edition also contains the illustrated fabulist story “Let Me Fly Away;” where another heroine must find her way to sovereignty in the world in which she truly belongs.

Find it on the Indie Bookshelf at:
 or order online at Amazon.

More locations to come! 




Monday, March 6, 2017

The Approach

Wherein Ada is running toward the pole vaulting bar
Whether one believes in free will or destiny, in the fluidity of the world or absolute unchanging truth, one has a choice before her. She may look around, and decide “this is where I am” or simply find herself there. Most often it is that wide and vague frontier between the two poles that leaves deeper questioning a circuitous journey around the track of thought.

And so at some time—let us not quibble over when—I began. I knew where I was going and I could either run toward it with my eyes open, with courage and strength, or I could wander aimlessly until I was thrown over.

Stripped down to essentials, I started.

Bauhaus Coffee—where less is more—reminded me of that today. Upon a time, it was a place on Capitol Hill—and therefore it was a time when I was younger. The portrait of Walter Gropius has moved there, just as much of my hair is still black. Yet of all places, Ballard—once the proverbial home of the elderly——is now the new home of Bauhaus Coffee and there I am reminded of how much gray has seeped into my life.
I was the oldest woman, probably the oldest person there.

I could have hunched like a curmudgeon over my cappuccino and given in to the easy allure of resentment. I could have made an appointment on my smart phone for a microblading session so that my eyebrows would match those around me. Perhaps I would take a selfie later with Walter in the background looking on while I took a long swim in That River In Egypt.

But I lift what wisdom I have and run toward the bar.