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.