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?