Termites make didgeridoos but they can't play them.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Fast moving that spring

So fast. Grackles one day, robins, juncos. House finches, then kinglets, suddenly a kingfisher. There were great blue herons and double crested cormorants. The goldfinches have been here all along, progressively putting on their colors, chickadees calling with sweet relaxed excitement their two-tone whistle. Unlike the psychotic cardinal pimping his territory at half past three in the morning. And yesterday the first chipping sparrows. A week ago the first brown creeper though I didn’t know they left. God, I wish spring lasted ten years. Spring, for me, needs to be a mighty epic. Books and shelves of books of days and lifetimes spent in the moist light of wilting pink blossoms. Ceremonies and processionals, months devoted to the muttonchops, chestnut no less, of the chestnut-sided warbler. And he would wait, everything would wait, every drop of rain and every malignant mass and every dropping cherry blossom. I just want ten thousand years with cool wet warm sun on my knees, a girl’s hair, worn, happy perfume, young anxious fingers and silly smiles of gladness. Tired feet and tired eyes and thrilling heart resting tenderly in the explosion. I just want another ten or twenty thousand years in that easy afternoon. Spring, even the air tries to sneak a finger along your ribs.

Meanwhile, these confused tulips with frost-burned tips bloomed so furiously their petals almost exploded. At the very least I think their thin, curiously wide and flat necks are broken, splayed, sore, but not unhappy it seems. So quick and here already my tulips look spent. No idea what happened this year. I really have to plant daffodils this fall to extend the storm of color.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, my native plants wake up like long-legged, gentle mad-women, fierce as badgers and soft as the fat cheek of a two year old sleeping, eager as new water through the breach. Follow the light, follow the light through the dust country. That was your toe print, that was the stone that bit you, that is the love of your brown eyed dog, patient, intelligent and gone again through the breach. These plants I set loose. I think, "God bless them, please."

Please. We're lucky these plants don't come for us in the night. Maybe they do. Maybe it does all come back to the nose and the electric beetles. Brains of dung and scratchy chitinous feet croqueting us back to heaven. They take over this yard fast enough, but not fast enough for me. Will I ever enjoy that eternal moment of volatile oil and blistering sun again? So ephemeral, so silly I won't even share that moment. I haven't yet, not even now, not even with you. But there is something in these oils escaping into the sun, there is something in these plants waking up and dancing brightly against the crumbling wall of bleak, blank idiocy.

Anyway, I found out when I got home this evening that Eastern Market burned last night, or early this morning. Quite a blow.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Thank god for the bob and the dip.

The years, the years you spend with them, with their hair and their furniture,
with their earrings and their chipped dishes, their tattered photos and dog-eared books,
Rumi andRimbaud and Faulkner and Atwood and Jean Auel and Stephen King,
with the books they couldn’t throw away from the classes they finished and almost finished,
with the Monday underwear, the worm-holed lace and polyester, the sieve-ed cotton,
with the broken elastic, the worms of square rubber, and the stains too obvious to mention,
with the blankets their grandmothers made for them,
with the sour plum stones of decisions digested before you existed.

You live with these things and they mark you. This is normal? To love some stranger, someone you’ve never met until you’ve met her? This person, this person who has opened your mail, tossed your socks in the dryer, this person who has cried for you, for you, she is not even related to you. Sometimes, sometimes, you turn around and she’s dead.

What are you supposed to do with that?

Sometimes it will happen before anything happens,
before you are granted the right to bear a title,
before you are qualified to be widowed. Sometimes she will go,
in the day, in the night, in a car, an ambulance, a bed pan,
in a hospital bed, bed pan, but she’s gone.
Sometimes she will go down the drain in strawberry swirlies,
down the drain of a hotel bathroom in Mexico.

Sometimes, silly, she will have survived that and
you’ll not only know about it, you’ll be dumb enough to think it won’t happen again, but,
Sometimes it will.

Sometimes, on a Friday morning,
the week you broke up,
that week you finally had to go
—see, that happens, and it should be some kind of ok—
but it’s not ok, not ok,
not ok. She, will sometimes check into a hotel
in a picturesque river town—not quite Mexico, a nice enough town this one, but too Republican—
sometimes it will happen that on the way to this hotel along the interstate,
there will be a Fleet Farm, and at this Fleet Farm they will,
Sometimes, sell her not only a rifle, but ammuniton.

She might drive back to your town and kill you,
her heart.

But this time she didn’t.

Sometimes, she’ll continue on to that charming, minor resort--really minor--resort town hotel and she’ll get a room. There, she’ll finish what she started in Mexico. A rifle this time instead of bloody vomit. No hospital, no recovery, no shrinks, no meeting you, not-this-time. And I really do have a problem with time.

Sometimes it’s all about the hips. There are hips and there is a beat and there is the heart of the world, what can you say, but-help-oh-Jesus-fuck. Thank god for the line of her, cutting through the day, keeping you above the tide line. Those hips and thank god for her, the thighs and the slim rondure, the arc and the sway, the precious cresting of god’s imagination that is, sometimes, a woman, ringing the bell, the bell of denim and taut chevrons, the bell and the spool of dreaming, the line of mysterious, tricky thought from navel to ankle and back to chin again, the line of cool cheeking left behind, if only in the mind’s eye. What does that skin smell like? What does that skin taste like? What is that, that kite of one life cracking in the ions before you? A butterfly mated to a rabbit, the grace and the softness and the airy pure, lemony-sex as she floats by, ringing that damn bell. How could you not love that? How could you not want that, the skin of dancing shadows?

On the quitting of smoking

How many times have we done this, but this, now six, seven weeks in, it feels like the last. Too tired and too many stakes to start again. One hopes.

Trying to write without smoking is like taking a musk melon, a bag of weeping, badly rotted muskmelons to the prom. And they’ve got a nasty yeast infection, plus the clap, so even if….Similes are forced, like cement through your piss hole, or worse yet, like hot pepper diarrhea through your tear ducts—actually those work too well. I’ll try again: Similes are forced, like a dead sandpiper in your milkshake. Ok?

Even drinking strong beer at nine in the morning, that siren of tumors and metastases, that curling blue, gossamer goddess, that muse of suicides, that doctor before time, your slim white lady with reeking breath, she calls to you, even now, she holds the key.

Well fuck, if not the key, she holds something. After all, we go back to her rank sheets time and time again. Millions of us, kneeling before this dominatrix. No, I have no idea why I’ve cast tobacco as a woman. I think it is just because I am a man and the smoke, she seduces me. If I were a woman, I think I would write of smoking the hot blue smoke-pumping pole, or some such, but I’m not.

In the quitting of smoking there are lessons. Mostly that quitting smoking sucks. Not because you quit some drug, some specific chemical, some brain-wave interloper. You quit yourself. Some idea of you, it wears the clothes you remember, its face is familiar, its eyes you don’t want to meet.

Comfort the shadow hunched on the rock, comfort it and it will go away. Follow it and it will run. Turn and be overtaken.

I want to write about that brittle edge of forgiveness, that stone Jesus, maybe a bench, sheltering and pouring forth hyacinths. It always comes back to hyacinths, and then to number ten sugar fine dust and roots of magnolias, scrub jays and pine duff, thin air crackling with magical intensity and the death of dreaming.

The best advice, the best, so pay attention if you need to know. The best advice I ever got on the quitting of smoking was, "The only way to quit smoking is not to smoke."

No shit. No laughing. That phrase has been, and may be, the only thing that keeps me away from the sweet weed. I only wish I could remember who told me that.

Make it a journey, the recounting. Risk it, risk losing your memory. The life doesn’t seem as bold. We’re all afraid to die. Threaten with sudden twisted evisceration and just about everybody will blanch. But this risk of self murder, this risk of leaving behind what you thought you might be, this hanging out your tender peeled penis and soul and bald eyes and flayed heart, handing it out for the magpies and the jays, your lovers and former lovers, your enemies and the people you despise, this killing the self tastes a little off. Is it supposed to taste this way? Buttermilk kissing underneath the bleachers with mildewed rags and shellfish in the sun. Should you spit it out? A ball of pine-sol burning the tongue and nobody, not one soul, gives a shit if you eat it, not one.

This writing space is a cave. Possibility crawls up the walls, leaving bright green, wet shinings behind. In the weak light we can almost see our fingers as we wash our hands. Reading patterns in bright green stars, these hearts tacked to the stone. The lack of smoke is noticeable in a small, wet cave.

I’ve never known where I stood, she said, so I guess I’ll stand next to you.
Ok, he said. That’s ok. Stand here. I’m sorry my feet stink.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Medlar or Michigan banana, too many names and too many ghosts

Here we go again, she said, she said, that goldfinch, with her spring speckle, with the downy confusion, the panic and the heat, the world turning all on a thistle seed.

What could you say about that? You know which that, that that. The marble, the blood, and the long, long, leafing through fine soled shoes, the thick heels and the bell, it’s all about the bell, denim-wrapped, the perfect curve, god’s own smiling bow, the crest and the swell, swinging dipping, belling--sound me, sound me deep all I know anymore is that thin space between the bell and the strike, if only that were all there were. If only lifetimes were fifteen seconds, I’d love to live again and again. In that space between her hip and the faint air dimple of her passing, yellow threads stitching fire, rivets, the tug, double up and kiss, that’s all it is, all it is, it is. But isn’t that something?

I suddenly realized, and not long ago, that it is all about the pupil. God has been knocking at my pupil’s door, as it were. Of course, it has always been about the scent, nothing can change that. It has always been in the nose, the space where I exist, but that one eye I saw, that sweet face of god, that one eye of aquamarine tissue, blown tissue, fissures and fjords and seeping black, the fuzzy uncertain iris in that otherwise implacable stare, that pupil said to me, one Thursday, it was Thursday, and parted brown hairs warm air rising, in that rising column, the elegant, sacred, furry space, in that warm bowl of becoming, that ocean, that slippery otter flashing across my mind, right there, there was this thing, this blown pupil, this bending of blackness that made me pause, just for a second, and remember all the rest. There was that, and there was freckle.

I don’t mind a woman. I don’t mind to see a woman stretched out, a bright wire, a thin tight line between the ground and the sky, the hard edge, and her nipples spitting fire at the moon, no I don’t mind that so much. I don’t mind the custard bowl, the risen loaf, that Michigan banana of cresting sweetness, the bowl and the bell, the rhubarb and cream skin, the rosy cleft, soft down and cotton memoirs, the sticky and the sweet.

I know, time is a problem for me. I have a problem with time. Just this minute, when I was picking almond skin from my teeth, there was a question as to whether I was up north, whether it was a field trip and we were all pretty young, the women with the taut, high-pitched areolas, bright and shrill. We were pretty young, young and full of shit, shitting full-barreled medlars, not the same as the loquat, loquat. Were we up north for god's sake or were we out west, in Fresno? The answer was obvious but somehow it all is smelling the same.

Loquat! It’s a cry, a scream, a world brought low, torn wide open. How dare you live without the loquat? Of course, here, I have no choice. I’ve left behind all that behind. The loquats and the fig. The persimmon and the pomegranate.

No, you have no idea how sick I am of these ghosts. Ghosts, like snot clinging to everything. The toothbrush covered with webbing, the forgotten grocery lists of dead people, the guilt and the pee-soaked shame. I am tired of these lists. Of course, I wouldn’t be very happy to be covered with fleas either, so there is that. At least I am not currently covered by fleas. See, you have to keep these things in perspective.