Termites make didgeridoos but they can't play them.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bone butter

I can't lose the cobwebs, the bone butter, the delicate scaffold, that marrow comb. I should talk to the dead, to this party I host. One after the other and another again. It's not that I'm sick of them, the persons of the dead, but I can barely see what's going on around me. Clouds of perfume and old shirts, buzzing voices with nothing new to say, never again. What did she say, she’s said it again, and yes I’m ready, I’m ready to go to Wong’s, already out the door and gone, I am, on and down the way. Can't shake the dead. I've had to accept that lately. Can't get away from them. A boat full of bones. Bones and flowers and pain-hazed eyes looming before me. Horse teeth and china blue eyes and thick hands slapping the table, the slap and the wonderful laughs.

It’s got nothing to do with my gray hairs, with my squinting, all the little deaths I feel inside me.

It’s the eyes bobbing in the coffee. Bloated tongues and gravelly oil pans, his spoon in the coffee, clinking clinking clinking. OCD and the smell of old nicotine on glass. Brown rivulets and helping your dad and the lung-stopping Windex in that small airless space, choking with sunlight. Popcorn and unpopped corns on the floor mats, the sweet reek of gasoline. My father.

But there's the one I don't talk about, and why should I? She shot herself. Sneaky ghost. The absence of sense and wondering what the bomb was, from what direction the revenge will come. You don't want to open a can of chili beans and see her face erupt. Spiritual botulinum. There was a time after she died, there was a time when I would be riding the bus and see a woman about five-five, auburnish hair between the shoulder blades, I would see a dress full of flesh-air and freeze. Holy fuck with the prickling singing and the ruptured cells and the tingling, the heart cast loose and wondering if it would ever be good for anything again, this seeing-a-woman-walking-down-the-street-while-riding-the-bus? Mostly you wonder, at least I did, if she had fucking pulled a prank. It’s been almost six years and I’m still wondering, still dread hair dyed a certain shade of red.

It's kind of silly. And annoying.

Monday, June 04, 2007

No I don't have cable...

The second season of Weeds will be out on DVD July 24 this year. Of course this may be much less exciting for those of you with cable. You, however, can look forward to the 3rd season's premiere on August 13.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Straw and lead, peachwood and the perfect BLT, almost

All my thinking all tangled up in the bottom of a junk drawer. It occurred to me recently that if I ever want to write anything ever again I might have to write about the dead, even if only to burn it. One of those things. Enough people have written about enough dyings. I have no interest and no desire to be one of them but I might have no choice, just to get it out of the way. All these ghosts, even of the living, so maybe there's no hope of untangling the times. I warn you. Be wary of your basement. Be wary of the piles you make intending soon to return. Olive green IBM Selectrics and curling smoke and random riffs and too much Pledge and so many dirty ashtrays. The children’s books waiting, moldering with hope.

In the bubble space, I can't get rid of them, sticks in the river. Styrofoam and six pack rings and one curly haired black dog, dead in the Kings River. Ten pound mono, Pepsi cans, ivory satin deeply quilted, bad make-up, a rosary wound round waxen hands. One difference: when I die there won't be twenty mismatched decks of cards that someone will feel obligated to sort and divide and save despite missing the eight of clubs, jack of hearts, the five of fives. No bright jokers, crisp despite the tattered boxes, the rubber band shrapnel, or the odd buttermint frozen in a flash of hospitality.

I'm made out of straw, I'm made out of lead. An old man climbing icy stairs. I'm a leaf slowly on fire, down the sidewalk I go thinking I'm getting somewhere.

But I have peach wood and a woman's hair. Bright frenzied marbles from the garden and worn out beats from tapes I won’t throw away. I saved the Marshmallow King, deep in the bubble, deep underground mining for time, making a bed between the mites. Odd pan of used motor oil and bag of sulfur, a row of slightly ragged teeth-- how they shined! Everyone, everyone is beautiful when she smiles. Sincere, thoughtless happiness is so, so hot. The warmth of you when suddenly it was night. The eyes of you when you once, just that once, smiled with your whole being. Some of these things are hard to fit in blue plastic boxes.

That damn memory, damn bubble, the hospital bed and the monitor and the parted mouth and the eyes. The catheter and the dried skin. Relentless beat, skin drum of eyelids and the hurting. I would rather think of the almonds and the figs. I would rather think of carpeted trunks, extracting fishing rods and Styrofoam coolers from that clean steel oven of a 1978 Dodge Aspen. I would rather think of miracle bacon and the dynamite mayo blowing minor holes in the burlap and muslin, dropping stitches in time. Aluminum foil, weeping tomatoes and cold Pepsi.

Then, you know, there are just those days you wish, you wish you could step outside, step outside this life. Just sit on a bench in the warm shade of an easy tree, sit and smile and pass the time with a beautiful girl.

I spent some time living in the hot, faceted bubble of that granite spine, smelling the breath of water striders and cottonwoods. Another bubble. Aborted embryos each one, each mnemonic sac of fossil love. Born again and again and again and wondering how we got into this mess.

Of beginnings there was the mud, the clay. Dogs quickly given names, grocery bills growing and paid, the planting of figs, the planting of vines. Of pomegranates, there was the thin wrinkled red leather, glossy lance shaped leaves, spines of surprise. Of protruding stamens and puckered sunrise, of bright nacreous pout, bold flesh pebbles and hair sentries, I can’t say what they knew. Children were born though, and grew warm and grew cold, brown skin drifting in heaps and rolls. Eventually we burned them, or buried them all.

I wish we left something behind more than corpses, besides photographs and nicotine stains. Not Rubbermaid bins full of papers and change. Not an oak box of ashes or a rusted tackle box, though tackle boxes are nice. Not Oxford cloth shirts and jaundiced underwear. Something small and new, but big enough to have weight. A dimple, a ripple in the surrounding space. Something you damn well won’t forget. A kidney stone. Maybe something you could hold in your hand till it grew warm, shining with curiosity, with uncertainty and unfocused, loving grief. This stone you could lose but never give away. Something new. There one moment: A corpse, my loved one, the death sigh and the grieving. The next: Here, I’m holding a stone, a living stone, a stone of the dead.

“Who was that,” you’d ask me. Maybe you’d stopped by, with the coffee, for the time. “This?” I’d look down, surprised myself by the glowing lump of malachite in my palm. “I don’t know. Must be something I picked up in Mictlan.”
“Yes, yes,” You’d say, impatient with the lack of bacon, the lack of coffee, the lack of today, “But who is it, that stone?”
“My father,” I’d say, or my grandfather or my friend or my aunt. What do you do with your pants falling down from the weight of the dead?

There would be fights over who might hold this stone of no forgetting. Promethean probate. It would be beautiful, but maybe it would show the stain. Inclusions and pits and striations, yellow zebras and mink eyes and cobalt veins. All at once the beauty and the shame.

Mine, I hope, will smell like coffee, or lavender, or tomato leaves. Lemon on fine hands. Hot pavement and new rain, cool freckles and blue cat skin. The wrinkles in your shirt, the sudden air conditioning and the smell when it somehow turns out all right with no hearts broken and no souls stained. If nothing else, I hope my stone smells like a window left open for the blue hours. Your feet on the clean floor and the smile you didn’t intend.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blooming today

Prairie phlox above and dianthus below. The phlox has a beautiful, sweet smell but--and I can't believe I am saying this--I wish it smelled more like old fashinoned cultivated phlox.

The darker pink dianthus has returned three years running. We haven't had a normal winter since I planted them, still they certainly deserve their reputation for hardiness. The native Rudbeckia below should be blooming in about a week. Monarchs have laid eggs on that milkweed, but no caterpillars yet. What I neglected to photograph this morning is all the native spiderwort. From one six pack three or four years ago we now have volunteers everywhere. Good thing too, one of my favorite plants. One last thing while making garden noise...there's a male red-winged blackbird in my neighbor's backyard calling for all his worth as if he intends to stay. I've heard they visit feeders but I would hardly call our yards a normal territory. Strange sound to feel in my head up here on the bluff, in this house and year.