Thursday, December 28, 2017


Ready for New Year's, Hogmanay or Whatever Else 2018 brings
At this time of year I often write some pithy essay about time and mutability and the arbitrariness of human calendars.

In a way, I just did it again, but this year I will refrain from cluttering the Web (even in my very small way) with iterative musings.

The River of Heraclitus rolls on.

I will say that in addition to this wonderful new dress I have for New Year's Eve, some new changes will be coming to the Hagengard website soon.

It's time to revise it into something of a portmanteau philosophy. There may even be a "system" underneath it all.

(But I will never make claims to being an Academic Philosopher, even when they consider the term to be redundant)

Most likely this will mean less blogging on my part which will probably come as a relief to many of you. I have work to do and David wishes to sell some of his artwork here, and we now have a catalog of publications that is sadly underrepresented in this current form.

No, I have no idea how long reconstruction of the website will take since the Studio itself is physically moving to Bremerton. I am happy about the move since I will often be on the MV Chimacum on a long and contemplative ferry run. And if you're wondering why we're moving, well, go and read some of my Berlin series and connect the metaphoric dots.

In the coming year I will be working on a new novel and David will be working on his artwork; he recently got a piece accepted into the CVG Show for 2018 in Bremerton so he is quite happy about it.

Jointly, we'll be working on refashioning the blog work and "taking it down" so if you read this thing, sift through the links to the right because it will all go away at some point in 2018 to be revised, re-illustrated (where need be) and ensconced in a book collection along with new material.

More detail as they come, or we might just spring it on you.

Happy New Year

Love, Ada

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Happy Holidays

All of us here at Hagengard Studios wish you a happy and restful end to the year and the beginning of a new one.

No, I won't go into my usual digressions and side-roads of time and mutability and whether or not the Hope left in Pandora's Box was really a remaining evil. Before I get lost in the aspects of perspective, I just prefer to watch Rashomon again.

But it's also time for some new. We're going to be taking something of a long holiday break and so I have an Announcement: will likely be changing quite a bit. I have decided to collect more of my previous work into centralized texts, and new work will go into zines. The Berlin series is a good example of something I should have just put in a zine to begin with.

David wants a better portfolio for artwork, and we need a better marketing platform. When will these changes occur? I'm not entirely sure about that, but in the meantime, go buy a copy of The Deerwhere Awakening by my colleague J.W. Capek.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Place for Words
Language may be one of our most reassuring proofs against solipsism: the conviction that everything beyond ourselves is suspect and perhaps not even real. But then again, I just summarized that for you and if you can read English as it is currently transcribed in the early 21st Century, then you must have learned it from someone else.

You could disagree with me (and with Ludwig Wittgenstein) but you would still need to understand what I’ve written; you would have learned how to understand what I wrote in order to disagree with the statement.

Maybe it’s because we take language for granted. We can all think and speak. Most of us can write something, even it’s a text.

But there are many of us who have this unfortunate affliction where we simply must write. We write narratives, we write poetry, we write our guts, our butts and our brains out all over blank pages, Google docs, Moleskines and copier paper pinched from work because we can’t afford Moleskines.

Note the Writer. She’s agitated, most by the world but also by her own mind which is constantly reforming it into different words. Note the poet. The language of his Oakland childhood and a logic proof are synthesizing their sounds, quite naturally, into a personal explication that discloses the systemic racism surrounding him since birth.

The memoirist is coming to understand her husband’s silent post-traumatic stress from the bodies he silenced in the Second World War and his own silence in life and the grave. The entomologist erases Robert Browning to recover the social life of bees.

You. What are you writing?
All of this blatant scorn against solipsism, in words beautiful and coarse, allows writers to reforge themselves as they deliver these intimacies to us: gifts to strangers that we may grow and change. As Richard Hugo said, Writing is a Lonely Business. Writers need some place to gather, to learn, and to teach. They need some place to know “I belong there. There are other writers.”

As a writer myself, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I owe my existence to Richard Hugo House. So at the end of the year, and during this crucial time of structural revision I would ask you to remember Hugo House in donations and in communication with your legislative representatives. We all want to matter. An easy way to do so is let your state reps and senators know that Hugo House matters.

I’m not being metaphorical: Hugo House itself is being physically transformed into a place writers can call their home for many years to come and that miracle of language can continue to bring our hearts and minds together in dialogue, love, and exploration. It needs our help, our love and the attention that gives life to the words we write and read.

Support Hugo House

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


In the months before you died, I began to question, when had you stopped walking in front of me? Perhaps you had stopped to smell something, some new scent. And neither of us noticed that I walked on, oblivious of the watershed. I think it was when our ages shifted places in the relative terms of our years. I was middle aged at 43 and you were old at 13.

I remember the rhythm of our steps through the leaves when you followed me. I abandoned the rush of youth in that strolling, gregarious dark of Fall.

In the tempo, and chromatic scale of yellow to orange, red and brown the Autumn owns, you taught me that each leaf was a note, and unique in scent and tone: because of where it was and when it was.

You taught me that even in the most iterative of days, each smelled different, was different, just as the nights deepened and stretched the call for comfort within the sarabande of November.

And then you were gone. Perhaps just over there where I could not see you. You always liked to slip away. But the old pathways aren't the same, because you are with me on them all

-Part of the Ramble Calendar this was originally published as Autumnal Sarabande in D-Minor.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Berlin 7

After his graveyard shift, the first thing he does is drink a salty dog. The next thing he does is drink another. He honors the simple whims that compel him and eats breakfast for dinner, living in absurdity as a well-tuned machine.

He found himself a nearly useless job in the public sector where he monitors water flows and does not think about Heraclitus. He still reads newspaper comics and understands the medium is dying.

"But isn't everything?" He thinks while they tear down another old building. He wonders about the bar, but he figures he'll go first. Death is the most personable and variable of abstractions, you know.

He reads The Stranger because he read it when he moved here all those years ago. He thinks about the City's sense of equity and social justice; its commitment to astronomical property values; its homeless population; its pandering to corporate welfare. He drinks six or seven salty dogs, goes home and passes out.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Berlin 6

When no one else is around the barista whose commute is almost two hours via 3 buses both ways because she cannot afford to live anywhere close to the City;

And her mother takes care of her two daughters for most of the day because she works two jobs: one here at the cafe and the other at the hospital so that she often doesn't see her daughters awake during the work week;

And you have just walked out door with your effete coffee order, but not before hitting on her by asking if it is caliente like her, like the jalapeno popper you equate her with somewhere down in Cabo, which she doesn't care about because she's from Ecuador...

...yes, when no one else is around

And she is out of view of the security camera, does Consuela, say a prayer for intercession by her namesake?

Does Consuela frown?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Berlin 5

This City we live in is nothing of what Berlin was. My illustrator and I are simply posers, in love with the idea of Entartete Kunst and what it can show and tell.

When did it all start? 25 years ago.

The comparison is somewhat absurd. We know what came after the Weimar Republic, and fortunately the Bad Guys lost the War.

That time.

They don’t always, you know.

25 years ago we moved here, not knowing what would happen. Not knowing the City would outgrow its need of us, and others like us.

I suppose a lot of relationships end this way. Don't worry, Seattle. We're getting out of your way.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Berlin 4

You know her. She lives in this affluent city.

She’s yelled herself horse on the steps of City hall. The police killed her son and raped her with a nightstick. Maybe. She’s yelling it at the top of her lungs in January wearing only a contractor bag and a Patagonia vest she got at the group home before it closed.

Does it really matter at that point whether it ‘really happened’ or not? Who are you to ask at that point? You cannot look her in the face. What is it there that terrifies you? You look down, or away and tell yourself she chose this path.

If she just tried harder. If she stayed off the drugs I take in acceptable, purified pharmaceutical form. She must want to be like this, right?

I can’t wait until she grows to 500 feet tall and comes uptown to point her long brown finger nail at you before she turns you into stone.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Another Farewell to Summer

I am fond of ferries, for they have no bow or stern—they challenge our faith in linearity. But sailing on one away from Summer is a little different than commuting. Within the confines of a daily trip to work, it’s the minutia I must cherish. But here, upon the Lopez Sound sailing to Anacortes and away from the San Juans, the world of my consideration is larger.

It’s time again to say goodbye to unconditionally sunny days.

It’s time again to say farewell to wearing shorts and not bringing a closet full of layers.

But it’s also time to sail further into wisdom, and one gets that here, on the end of the ferry that faces the wake, the Island, the past. I don’t live in the past, although many have accused me of that act. How much of the past is me? That would be difficult to measure and out here beneath the sun and the clouds, I marvel at these universes I’m constantly moving through.

Maybe that’s why I like this end of the boat. I’m solitary by nature, and I usually have it to myself. Here I don’t have the enormity of others and their worlds weighing down on me. Those worlds are beautiful and ugly and I am thankful I no longer feel the need to possess them as my own in some selfish, youthful way.

The woman who was going to be the professor? I don’t know where that Ada went exactly. I used to search for her. The permutations of possibility are limited by only our minds and considering most of mine resides below this surface, I have no idea how many they are, so I learned that the subjunctive past is one I must be careful of.

I may be a little sad at leaving my vacation, or holiday, or retreat, or whatever you wish to call it. But then I remember that is because I am weighing in the scales of what I expect the quotidian to be and that is an unfair comparison. There may not be much that is fair in this world—save for what we make it—but fairness includes the lives we are constantly sailing into. It's our responsibility to make it better.

I thank the sun and the water for their beauty. I thank the elegance of the sailboat and the steadfast hum of the ferry’s engines. I thank the Summer for her time and look forward to the introspection of the Fall. I am grateful for this gift of a day, and shall keep it as the world grows darker.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Deerwhere Awakening

Hagengard Studio is proud to present a new title for Fall of 2017!

The Deerwhere Awakening: by J.W. Capek

Exploring the possibilities of being human, across three sexes and beyond The Deerwhere Awakening is a timely story for our present.

Deerwhere is the culmination of humanity’s search for Utopia. After centuries of wars, overpopulation, political disruption, and global pandemics, there followed a New Confederation of Peace: of work, of service to others, and of recreation. Together in Deerwhere, survivors were male, female, and uniale. The colony quarantine kept three genders safe.

Uniales embody all the maleness and femaleness of the human genome. With epigenetics, they have the best qualities of both sexes and all the races.

The Deerwhere Awakening follows Noral: the uniale of a family unit, a trio of adults. Their idyllic lives in Deerwhere have all needs addressed by the Keeper, the Deerwhere Quantum Computer. All needs, but one. Confronted with the Confederation’s Third Option, Noral can no longer tolerate the dictates of a “perfect society.” The Deerwhere uniales must test their own loyalty towards the culture that is Deerwhere—a culture they must define for themselves.

Visit the Author Page at:

Available: September 27th, 2017

Print ISBN: 978-0-9909783-2-9

Kindle: 978-0-9909783-4-3

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Across the Bridge of October

I parked across the river and am going to the University library. Not because I have to do research, but because I want to. The oddity of this condition is the first thing that skews my perspective. The second is the fact that I am here during class, so I have the bridge to myself.

The students who are half my age swarmed around me on their way to class or exercise or whatever else it is I used to do here. Most did not notice me. Diffused by rain, age and my coat, I am no longer even some stupid acronym of desire for them.

The rains come and with the angle of the sun, their clouds render a world without shadows. I am greying now, the outward compromise between the rich sable in my soul and body and the sun that wears down everything.

I feel heavy and ponderous around them because they traipse and flirt and fiercely move ahead to career without the freight of time and memory. Yet I feel elegant in my architecture.

Ambition was a form I lost upon a time, and my style is antiquated. I am content because I am still learning in all this rain.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Berlin 3

They are the measure of man. Man, specifically. Those who do not think as they do are stupid and wrong. They do not understand how anyone could be so stupid as to pray. Or who doesn’t want to live forever. These people are not really people then, in their estimation.

They pulled the wings off dragon flies because they could.

They built model rockets and killed the rodent-passengers because they could.

They drugged Cindy all those years ago in college and raped her. They weren’t sure which one. Neither paid for the abortion.

One of them is a genetic engineer now. The other writes AI code.

They can’t wait for the future.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Berlin 2

His skin is moist. This is because it is drawn tight, and he is exerting what is left of his pulmonary system to breathe. So he sweats a lot. His eyes fog up his glasses on most days. He habitually licks his lips, but he likes this humid weather because he takes a lot of blood thinners now.

People like to come to his parties. He usually has two girls, both dark brown and brought to this country. They change like the rotating taps in his brew pubs. The only time he wept was when he shot the last rhinoceros, because there would be no more to shoot.

Of course, his fingers are thick and like sausages. They know all the assholes. You can hear something like a snore when he is considering his next move. Don’t think he’s asleep, that’s how you get lured in, as though there is a sac full of bio-luminescent bacteria on a tendril hanging in front of his fat face.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Berlin 1

People say we look alike. I guess. But she is pensive, and often high. She has a nickel-plated syringe for the cocaine and oxycodone because it’s faster. She’s favored in the Scene because of her looks, her skill with a disturbing sentence and what she stands for which is what everyone else stands for.

She explained this to me with reptilian detachment. ‘You might find it funny that Foucault has described exactly how they built this City. Everyone looking at one another. Seduction to power. The archaeology of knowledge is right there under the fresh overlay. They’ll rip it up next week for a new building project you know. You don’t say the right things so you don’t’ think the right things.”

She’s right and I dislike her. If she makes it through this I suspect she will steal all of my best ideas and shoot them up.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Every fallen leave diminishes the autumn and the wind shakes down a thousand more. Is it just to make me sad? I am alone and the path is that sort of hard earth that is still waiting for the autumn of this place and rain.

The grasses are dry and brown. Who says that sleep only comes in winter. This pot of bamboo is in an end-of-summer torpor just as deep. But what am I saying?

Is the bamboo the stalk? The section? Does it only exist in the plurality of stems? I am not considering the roots, the runners, contained in by the pot, which is a there or here  depending on how close I am standing, but still a space defined by terra cotta. If I consider these facts for too much longer I will indict language and my senses as criminals committing malfeasance against the person and body of knowledge, which is, itself a word.

The modality that was warm certainty is shifting now to cold approximations. When I was a child, I imagined tiny agile ghosts in the whirlwinds. It was difficult to see them except when they were dancing in gyres of sand and flakes of dead skin. If I leave time at the foot of the hill, I can see them again on the aged and cracked edge of the pot.

The ghosts kick at the dead leaves, as though it is a swimming pool.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Life Is Not A Race

There are always inherent dangers in applying metaphors to life, or even those conceptual structures that grow out of metaphors and the principle of sufficient reason.

Let us examine a Race. If you are a competitive person, I can understand how in your framework of Being, a race seems like an excellent metaphor for life. On the plus side, a race can be illustrative of how you excel, how you drive yourself, how you train. But then I could say "Life is Training for a Race" and it might work as well. The major difference is that you aren't beating any of your competitors. Not really, no, you can only prove you did by actually racing against them.

Racing against others usually requires everyone agree. We run around this track or course to get to a thin ribbon and leave everyone else behind. That sort of thing is easy to do in an actual race. It's what you're there for, but in larger life that sort of single-mindedness is virtually impossible because everyone is running in different directions.

A more evolved approach would be that you're running for your personal best, regardless of "who wins." This much I can accept until I start remembering other aspects of a race, not merely why I'm doing it

Like a narrative, a race has a beginning a middle and an end. I was recently reminded of all of this in reading an essay on why it may be a good idea for us to drop the use of "narrative" in describing a life. (My only really big critique is that an actual definition of 'narrative,' even to explode it, appears to be missing.)

I hear you; I've read enough post-modern fiction and seen enough post-modern drama to know that Aristotelian formulas do not categorically apply. But remember those are deliberate attempts to subvert this notion that our lives are stories.

But life begins, as far as we know from our personal experience, rather mysteriously. Doubtless someone out there will reply that they remember everything since birth. How nice for you. I can't imagine the majority of us have such certainty. And Death is simply to quixotic to consider. If you believe in some afterlife where you can review everything in a PowerPoint debriefing, please let me know what you find. I only hope the box lunches are better than here when the plenary speaker is going over your accomplishments and failures. (Can I please have a crisp apple?)

That leads us to Myth. As a thoroughgoing Jungian I'm very aware of what the Archetypes from the Collective Unconscious are, but it does take a great deal of presumption to assert how they work. At most I would say they are hasty sketches that may explain important emotional events and how they remain powerful forces. The Collective Unconscious, and its interface with our manifold Personal Unconscious is simply beyond reliable reach in Existential terms, and frankly, I'm satisfied with being dissatisfied.

Perhaps I'm just one of those people who doesn't need a final answer, just as I don't need to finish a race. Myths give me insight because they are always psychologically true when they are occurring, just like myth's bed-mate: dream. But as with life, dreams and myth begin to change as I move through Time.

I am glad for Time though. It changes the track where I run for exercise with each circuit. It makes the books I love different with each reading. Time repaints paintings and it touches the snow of winter and cherry blossoms of spring with mutability. Even the gift of sorrow that comes with Time has its value.

So take it easy. Or run off the beaten track if you want to explore some other metaphors for living.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Butterfly's Dream

Upon a time I had a dream I was a human philosopher. As with many dreams I don’t remember exactly when it began.

I awoke and immediately noticed the change. To begin with I had no wings and only four legs! I did not arise from a leaf, but rather a soft collection of something that had been made from plants and the cocoons my cousins the silk-worms make for their metamorphoses. Two of my legs I could stretch out before me and they seemed to each have five tiny legs at their end. I could not fly, but found my bottom legs were long and helped me walk, much as I would upon a flower.

My beautiful colors were gone and I had a uniform covering of brown soft skin. Long black hairs grew out of my head. And while humans are markedly inferior in beauty to the way we are blessed, some go forth and put markings upon themselves. My human body had three such markings on my right upper leg. It was a disturbing collection for they looked like our dire enemies, the swallows.

My vision was different, for everything seemed one large smear, but strangely, I could sense how far things were. The colors of this human world were not as vibrant. I don’t think I could see all the colors I could as a butterfly.

My sense of smell seemed to have disappeared, as though I was left with only memories of the rich world I had once known. I could not feel the world around me as I once could, and I pitied humans.

But then I noticed something else, a sort of feeling, but one that arranged itself in spiritual textures.

“What has happened?” I thought, but I found myself making these strange vibrations from my throat!

I explored my world and found that hunger was much the same. I found a table overlooking a beautiful lake. In the distance was a vast shape that I could only imagine was some immovable god, its head covered in white.

All I had to drink was a fragrant liquid that smelled of camellia leaves. Stranger still, I could consume the kernels of the seeds that grow upon the grasses the humans so carefully tend in artificial ponds.

Satisfied, I looked down and found a strange thing. It was made of leaves, bleached white and full of what looked like black scratches that almost looked like ants. By some power, I realized these leaves had once been trees.

And yet, I looked upon the scratches and found they said something in the strange vibrations humans use. I found that I could understand these scratches—they told a story. Now it may seem strange but in my life as a human, I discovered that my mind was made up of one thing representing something else. I suspect this is how the human scratches and vibration system worked, carrying information much the same way smell does for us. Yet nothing seemed to be what it is, but referred to something else.

Where this object was “open,” I found a trail of thoughts that described a human, a male with a purple stain on his face sitting at the bottom of a shaft lined with stones. Ordinarily, humans get water from these holes in the earth, but this one did not have any water. He seemed to be content thinking, but was really waiting to enter another world—a dark world that held the deepest truths of his soul. This trail of thoughts continued, even after I looked up at the sky. I began questioning who I was: how I had been thrown here and how I knew anything. The system of symbols that I used in my mind seemed to offer both hope and utter confusion.

Before the dream faded, I had decided to make the best of being human. There were many things I missed, but I was much too big to be afraid of birds, so that was an advantage.

I do not know if I shall dream of being a human again. But of course the dream left me wondering if I really am a butterfly dreaming of being a human, or a human dreaming I am a butterfly.

Note, if you are curious, you can read the human version of this essay here. Butterflies are a bit more loquacious, it seems.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nocturne in the Key of Maternity

At work, two mothers are having a conversation near me. One has a child growing within her body and the other has already born two. I am sterile and cannot have children. This is an important fact. The experienced mother is touching the expectant mother on the abdomen. I know that this is not uncommon in workplaces where people are either very good friends or have poor boundaries. Or both.

I don’t understand most of what they are saying. I ‘get’ the words. The three of us agree about the grammar of our sounds enough to confirm the context of a shared language. Stairs, car, child all mean the same things. Hope, love, benediction: those words are not so clear. Perhaps that is why I have no idea of what they are talking about.

You may be wondering if this is all a cold philosophical sham because I am angry that I cannot share in their joy of giving birth—that act which I was always told was the ultimate meaning-bearer for any woman. For a time, I indulged in that brand of ressentiment with abandon. My rage at my sterility was visceral. The fact it was brought on by problematic decision making during a trip to Europe when I was 27 did not help. But now that I am older—almost at that age when age itself sterilizes us—I feel utterly alien to them. Their conversation does not clarify itself in the course of time but becomes more opaque.

I close my eyes. Their voices are kindly, softened in the tones that two women use when they move beyond acquaintance to confidence. It is a structure of intonation. Much of the expectant mother's words come forth in a comforting, ascending scale. Perhaps it is B Flat Major: the sotto voce of a new place—the sort of music you write for a child wandering into the forest covered with the first snow that child has ever seen.

The expectant mother answers in the sort descending chromatics that assure you of how the color aubergine looks in the sunset and how it must feel to lie naked upon the warm sand and let it ease the fatigued arrangement of bones altered by the gentle force of growth.

This is as close as I can come to understanding them. I don’t know the subtleties of power and reliability—these are the crystalline outgrowths from invisible grains of dust and sand which coerce the fractures into unique, transitory forms.

I listen, keep my eyelids closed and my fingers on the keyboard. Their words describe something I thought I had reached out for. Once. Touch is an important metaphor for it does not require sight. In my nocturne, I read the stones—meticulously cut and laid—with only my fingers.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Emotional Labor

I learned about Emotional Labor back in the mid 90's, after I had slunk out of grad school.

I needed work and found it in a hell located in the Herpes Triangle of Old South Lake Union. A friend of mine dated this guy named Jesse, a bartender at an Irish Sports Bar and he could get me a job with great tips. Dingus O'Tooles wasn't particularly Irish, and the clientele wasn't exactly athletic. 'Sports' meant sitting at a bar watching professionals on television.

The food was laced with salt, nitrates, generally fried and not very Irish. Let us consider the fried jalapeno poppers stuffed with cream cheese. I suggested adding flecks of pimento to the cream cheese so the white cheese, stuffed into a green pepper had a dash of orange to look like the Irish flag. My suggestion—one of the few times I slipped up and gave a damn there—was met with ridicule. Juan, the lead line cook was at least consolatory:
Ada, esta mierda es todo lo que hizo en el este de Newark y congelado. Acabamos de poner en la freidora
I was not about to suggest Dingus O'Toole's serve a Gorgonzola cheese sandwich and nice glass of Burgundy, although a carafe of Carlo Rossi went by the same name as a special on "Lady's Night."

We had to mind our appearance and appear 'fresh.' No tattoos and no piercings other than earrings. The uniform—what there was of it— was nominally Irish in that is had green and white stripes. I had to wear a padded bra, and Stu, the manager, made me wear flats even though all the other girls had to wear heels. "You've got the best gams here Ludy, but you're already taller than most of the customers who come here. It'll intimidate them." 'Ludy' was the diminutive nickname he gave me.

To rationalize this entire arrangement, I had strained my feminist principles to an absurd low through the casuistry of economics, Camille Paglia and Hegel. I traded emotional labor for money. It's what women have been doing for a long time. But I didn't realize it until my last night at Dingus O'Toole's.

It was a rough, busy night. The place was full of mostly white fratmen at various chronological ages, although since they are all about 5 to 6 years old in terms of maturity there isn't much difference. Put enough Jameson and Guiness and you have a level playing field of entitled loutishness. I had a couple of pints and basket of fries I was dropping off for Cindi when I felt a hand reach up under my skirt and grab my ass.

I turned. He had a blonde crew cut, and blue-grey eyes. Perfect teeth and a deep tan. He wore a short-sleeved Ralph Lauren polo shirt. His collar was popped.
"Is your pussy as tight as your ass, baby?"
It's hard for me to remember exactly what happened next. Most of it was overwhelmed with a moment of clarity: a walking nightmare that like most dreams did all its dirty work in a second.
Around the Ourbouroritic Compost Mill, the Mabta Python chased a tethered jackass around a circle. Eventually, the jackass stumbled and tripped over the tail of the Python. The python swallowed the jackass and its tail and in so doing the mill turned. 
Although, blood is difficult to get from a stone, tears are not because they are relatively cheap. The men of the city came forth with shits of all beasts. They threw it in the hopper of the mill and watched the serpent consume itself. Finely ground shit comes out of the mill for the roots growing around the mill. 
All day long fat men drink beer in a nearby shed. In between slapping and napping, they come forth and stagger to the mill and move in stumbling pavane and piss out their great quantities of urine upon the thirsty roots that grow and move with snapping mouths. 
The roots fasten upon bare breasted girls, the fat men, the serpent, and all is reduced beneath the monsoon to a bloody cesspool of moving roots. When the sun returns, a single bamboo shoot rises and this stalk is used to create a new boom around which a new jackass and new serpent revolve.
I dropped the beer and fries. That much I know.

Jesse told me I gave the fratman a right-cross worthy of Mark Trail. (Jesse was devoted to the comics in the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer). Unfortunately, there was no Irish-style bar fight. People just pulled us apart and the injured fratman wanted to call the police. Stu fired me on the spot and bought the men another round of beer.

I only wish I had glassed the fratman's fat face with one of the Guinnesses.

I went home and got drunk by myself and threw up. Two days later I was in a tattoo studio on Capitol Hill and… that's another story.

There is a lot of talk about Emotional Labor now, and I fear it's some attempt to normalize and hide it under the carpet of disregard, low wages, and contempt. This is why I always tip well. This is why I don't want someone to have to diaper me while I bleat in an Alzheimer's delirium. It's why I don’t date men who were ever in the Greek System or frequent Sports Bars.

But I still feel like nothing in the grinding mill.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I alone

The only way you can escape a hearse is by a coffin bound for somewhere else. Or do you find such conveyance strange within this paradox we call a life?

Upon the sea I find myself alone again, to know that I was born to die, but not just yet. It's why my rafta case they made to lay my tattooed lover in—has much to say and do. A day has come and gone since all I knew went down beneath the waves, and Night—a respite from the Sun—has come to bathe me in a dark wherein I dream.

Not of my father who never really was the old and spiteful man who steered us here.

Nor of my mother who vanished within the deluge of career and life for which I was an inconvenient hand.

Not of my lover who's gone below with carpenter, the cabin boy, the smart-ass colleagues, the beaten desperate men, the fatalists and optimists, the faces in the light of burning oil carved and cut and tried from bloody work: a murder of the old, the weak and everyone in between.

No, upon this floating raft that looks fit for six feet underground I hear the water lap against the wood and know that sharks are swimming by on business of their own. And so they pass this feeble snack of leathery orphan meat.

I dream of clouds ennobled by the Moon and seas that glitter on in pelagic symphonies. I dream of; hidden ears beneath the deep that know abyssal mountains and the cities made of shipwrecks.

I dream of her, approaching from that line of ontological perhaps, which we can never reach.

I dream of Rachel looking for her children.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


And after he had spoken all his words—they lay like hot dismissive stones upon the plaza of his familiar disregard—I walked across a bridge of years to August.

He’d said I had not changed a bit and this was what I did not understand.

My hair is grayer now. I understand how much I cannot know, but most of all I’ve learned to listen to voices in the sandstorm singing in excoriation of skin, flesh and bone.

And then it all became as clear as I had been to him.

How could I change when life—my frailty, my dreams, my love—was simply just the scope of all he would not, could not see? In shame I coiled in a circle and ate myself in hatred, until I drifted off across the desert in clouds of sand—bound for blood and ocean.

But now a lizard moves behind the old guitar and every thought is swollen like a tongue. The rain may come and fall so hard it stings me naked on the sand. The evening comes, derails the frail attempts to bend it into meaning—to give it love and mystery. The Gods of August have no such feelings.

And that is good, for once again I’ve come to August to be the someone else I always was but never knew.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Ressentiment & the Barb

This is the uncertainty of standing on a collection of frail planks cast upon water that is shifting with all the gravity of the world. And out there—fan-tailing as He always does—is someone else’s malice and hatred.

How am I to judge that? With a sharpened rod of iron? And what if I stick Him and He runs and runs forever. How many times have you been dragged out into the middle of nowhere by someone else’s Big Idea? One thing I’ll say for the angry one-legged old bastard in the stern: his provender is Spanish gold and a good metaphor.

I wonder if there are any crews out there I cannot see.

"Aye, at night you see ‘em" said the old Manxman. "When He gets tired, He lets the skeletons row him through the darkness. Just like we serve our captain." The water's calm for them and you can hear the regular clickety-clack of their bones crackle popping and the oarlocks screaking. Listen carefully enough and you’ll hear the crisp slips of the blades into the water.

But it's broad daylight now and we chase through chop and catch crabs with every other pull of the oars. I don’t want to get any closer. Time moves in waves upon the water where there are no straight lines. I see us pulled down in a whirlpool of circular reasoning and memory.
Laying in a puddle of blood and piss with your broken bone leg gouging at your balls in the darkness where the earth doesn’t drink you down in love like the ocean. You are unmanned and disclosed to everyone on that damned Island. No wonder you long for the hearse.
I understand. How much of my own face is reflected in the water so red that the sharks are biting at every stroke. We all heard you, old man. Most listened. Most dreamed. Most lusted. The first mate and I thought about it, felt about it a while. Our sin was saying to ourselves… “what else can we do?”

There, He’s going down again. I’ll sit down and break my back for a while at the oar and hope He comes from below and crushes us out of this consummative wet nightmare of yours.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Look carefully. I have been here for a very long time.

At first you thought I was stylish. After all, I look good in black, I’m skinny but comfortable, innovative and designed in Germany.

Do you even remember it was the cool Germany of the Weimar Republic? When less was more and Berlin could freight a thousand dreams of sin and liberation?

Someone new who comes in to visit may say something about me, but you have forgotten. Now I hold laundry baskets or prop up a pair of broken skis. We chairs are furniture. We blend in until we get in the way and then we’re thrown away.

I don’t think you remember meeting me at Pine and Melrose—why should you? They destroyed that place a while ago, but you still haunt the bars around it to look for younger furniture.

Some people may remember chairs because an old irascible cat would curl within a sunbeam. Some may even remember such a chair as a place of suspense when the television came alive with Japanese ghosts. Or it was a place to make yoga posing love.

But here I am, unsat in save by baskets full of smelly underwear and a pair of broken skis.

And did you know you left that unread book by Ellison beneath me? It’s fitting really for I have had the time to consider all the words that tell your privileged tale of just how much you will not see.

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


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


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 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


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.

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….

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.

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


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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


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


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.