Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Of Windmills & Wishes, Of Monsters & Masters

Don Quixote sat astride his horse, counting money. Sancho Panza was close at hand mounted on a donkey, grumbling to himself about the old man being smarter than he looked. At the bottom of the hill, a giant stood bellowing where previously a windmill had stood, and a small figure was barrelling towards the self-proclaimed knight and his long-suffering squire. The man clamored up the hill, and breathless, collapsed before the gallant pair.
The giant, for his part, had sat on his rear and was scratching his head, seemingly quite confused. He turned his barn sized head to the sky, contemplating the expanse, and in a whisper like the crashing surf, asked: “Who am I?” Newly welcomed into this sphere, he was suffering an immediate and incapacitating existential crisis. The three men on the hill overlooking the poor creature were of course oblivious to his plight.
The breathless man came to his feet, and, once he'd regained a measure of compsure, marveled: “I can't believe it worked!” He reached up to clap Sancho Panza on the back and let out an excited war-whoop, leaping into the air. Don Quixote pocketed his earnings and regarded the fellow. Under the cool gaze directed at him from atop the horse, the man calmed, but remained grinning as he introduced himself.
“The name is Jekyll. I am a doctor, a chemist. You see my formula, well...I hadn't meant to spill it on the side of that windmill, worked! I've created life! Who's the New Prometheus now?” he sneered, at no one in particular.
Don Quixote clapped his visor down, and from behind it came his muffled declaration,
“You we shall deal with anon, however, the leviathan at hand demands immediate action!” and with that, galloped down the hill, lowering his lance. Sancho Panza regarded the doctor with wry mirth.
“You cost me a bet. But, you did turn a windmill into a living, breathing, monster. I hate to lose the money...but I feel like I must be party to something fairly monumenal. I don't suppose you're looking for a business partner? I'd settle for personal assistant- My squiring resume speaks for itself.”
“I don't imagine there'll be much of a need,” jekyll responded, pointing down the hill. With a terrific crash, Don Quixote had slammed full force into the giant, peircing it's newly beating heart with his lance. The great creature shuddered, and fell backwards, expiring immedietely. Don Quixote, having dismounted, stood triumphantly over the beast, pumping his fists into the air. “That was all of the formula I had, and I'd not written any of it down. I'm not likely to be able to repeat it.”
Sancho Panza was silent, but after a moments consternation over being unable to recoup his recent losses, the squire had a flash of good-will.
“You've done him a great favor, you know.” he said at length, watching the old fool, still in armor but for his helm, which he'd punted halfway back up the hill, as he danced and crowed. “You've gven him a sense of purpose. He'd grown weary, and was becoming discouraged. But this adventure will do his old heart good, I think. You brought his fantasy to life.”
Jekyll beamed, and nodded, almost overcome.
“He'll be a right pain in my ass, now, though.” Sancho continued, as he spurred his own mount down the hill, to join in his masters revelry.

Cheers & Amen

A toast, hear hear!
Raise glasses, cheers!
To where we should not be,
And to all of the parties
We can't bring ourselves to leave.

And salude, too
The people whom
We wish we could have helped.
And to those that we forget
In the intrest of ourselves.

A health then, boys!
Let's make some noise-
We celebrate our faults!
For they're all that we have left-
And they're loudest of our thoughts.

Now drink again,
Your draught of sin.
Grow drunk on past mistakes.
And tell yourself: they're no worse
Than those any one could make.

Your back is turned,
Those bridges burned,
But it's a parting gift.
You can't do harm, after all,
From across your self-made rift.

So drink, and go,
Don't look back- no!
Leave only your regrets.
The best that you can hope for...
Is the chance she may forget.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Milk-Carton Of Human Kindness

My heart sits down to breakfast
And pours himself a bowl
Of the sugar-coated treats that are his only fuel.
The face appearing on the mlk carton before him
Is yours, my dear, missing for all these years.
Now the authorities- Neruda, Byron, Lennon & Mcartney-
Have all stopped an active search
But can't give up the pretense of vigilence.

My heart chews as he gazes wistfully,
At your lost beauty enshrined carton-side.
He can finish no puzzles,
Every 7 letter word to him seems your name.
The most important meal of the day
Comes and goes with that reminder
That you're out there, somewhere.
My heart sighs, gathers his things, and leaves.
His car stereo plays, and his mind


The Rodeo Of Boundless Things

He stood alone in a large field. While there was a light about the place that would indicate daytime, night sky surrounded him, and he guessed rightly the firmament had given way to the open galaxy.
From the horizon a man was striding towards him, and at the speed with which he did so, physics stood again disbanded, and the man deduced the lines at which the ground disappeared represented not the horizon, but a drop-off altogether unnatural.
At the newcomer's approach, his appeance became clear and startling- he was in the dress and bearing of the perfect 18th century aristocrat. In dusty khakis, denim shirt and battered stetson, our hero felt distinctly under dressed.
The little lord introduced himself as Virgil and bowed courteously. The other man grunted and stuck out his hand: “Adam.” he mumbled. Virgil delicately shook hands and then brushed his on his long emerald green coat.
“I believe you will benefit from a sort of tour?” he asked with an air of neither curiosity nor concern. Adam made a show of surveying the skies, hands on his hips, neck craned and eyes squinting. What first seemed a black expanse pocked with stars was revealing itself to be a pulsing, shifting symphony of muted colors, changing and flowing in and out of subtle shades.
“I reckon.” he said. Virgil sighed and turned, his back now to Adam, facing the cosmos.
“Ecce Firmamentum!” He bellowed, arms flung wide. “What is here before you displayed, dear mortal, is the great congress of infinities, the crossroads of all divergent paths, all possibilities beginning and alternative met at a focal point of boundless destiny!” he said, beginning an obviously much-delivered opening monologue.
“Buddy, let me stop you there.” Adam inturrupted. “Just what in the hell does that all mean?” he asked, scratching his head.
Virgil turned, and seemed shocked. He did enjoy his speech. “This is...a kind of staging area.” he said.
“Why, it's exactly as I told you,” he explained to Adam's blank stare. “Everything in your life that has endless possibilities, everything that has an unknowable depth, meets here. All of your loves but none of your hates. Every missed opportunity but none of those wasted. Every grand potentiality of your life empties into this place.”
“seems powerfully subjective, to me.” Adam answered in his drawl. Virgil shrugged and led Adam away for a handful of steps, and they came to a brass plate on the ground, about the size of a small dinner table. On it was incribed, 'First Loves'. Next to it was a larger plate that read 'Wrong Turns'.
“Well how come they're not the same size?' Adam asked, puzzled.
“Why, some infinities are bigger than others.” Virgil said. “Care to take one for a spin?” He asked. Adam spat and strolled over to a collection of plates, stopping first at “Promises Which Follow A Break -Up”, “Excuses You Could Have Chosen To Believe”, and “Free Kittens”; but passing it up to stand atop a plate bearing the words “Travel Plans Made While Intoxicated”. There was a blinding white light that faded quickly, and nothing seemed changed, but Virgil was gone. A moment passed and Adam saw him aproaching again from the distance. He once more, but not reduntantly, asked if Adam required a tour, and introduced himself as Virgil. Puzzled, Adam urged him to 'G'on ahead' and Virgil began his speech anew, seemingly oblivious to the repition. One line in, however Adam halted the refrain.
“Now hang on- I was just here, we just done all this!” he complained.
“Well, yes, you would think it's all the same thing, wouldn't you? All of your new roads taken lead to yet more opportunities.”
“Well, that there just strikes me as awful esoteric and frankly, predictable!” Adam exclaimed, knocking his Stetson back off his brow in disbelief.
“Then you'd might as well wake up.” Virgil said stiffly.

And I did, hungover as hell.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Funny Little Things

On the table, there was a coloring book, a brass candle holder, a fortune cookie, a long sequined glove, a cupcake, and a crayon. I was briefly thrown by the line up, the coloring book and crayon at opposite ends, but in judging the total collection quickly realized the two weren't all that related. The arguments for their connection are of course worth noting...but not yet, perhaps.
     I started with the coloring book, thumbing through it. The first pages all filled in, but only in muted shades of gray. There followed them some blank, and the remainder were scribbled violently in reds and yellows, garish swirls and tempests across the page. I set it aside, numb to memory. I considered the brass piece only briefly, and thought of aborted plans for the west coast, cigarettes, and old records. There was a plaid shirt I'd expected to see here, but it's absence told me more about my past than holding or smelling the thing ever could have. I lightly wrapped my fingers around the fortune cookie and closed my eyes. In many ways, the hardest to decipher, to place. I seemed to feel my heartbeat more clearly then, and thought that surely would be appreciated. I squeezed the cookie in my hands, breaking it, and the pieces fell to the floor. From the crumbs in my palm I took the small slip of paper and read, 'Spirit > Past' I couldn't help but chuckle at the juxtaposition of a metaphysical lesson expressed mathematically. I knew then crumbling the cookie was but one stage, and the real essence was in the fortune itself, not the shell. I frowned though, as I was moving on, finding a strip of weathered old leather that I'd not noticed. No, it wasn't a simple issue of my overlooking it- the leather simply hadn't been there... had it? I held the leather, soft and worn, but still tough, and tried not to think about what it could mean, the relic's near invisibility, either truly, or simply to my own shortsightedness. I shuddered and set it back down. For the gaudy sequined glove, all I could manage was a small chuckle and rueful shake of my head. At a glance it was easy to see the thing was beautiful, but worn, and on closer examination, was sure to prove tattered and all but broken.
     The cupcake of course gave me pause. I stared at it a long time, the darling thing, pastel frostings and intricately iced cap. It broadcast sweetness and fun, but I knew this confection was as much salt as sugar, water and milk and butter substituted by tears and ocean and sweat. It would take a softer hand than mine to understand the thing, to value it. A refined palette for so delicate a treat, I've no doubt it would by some be considered a delicacy, but it was utterly unknowable to me.
     I held the crayon in my hand and looked back, to the end of the table, to the coloring book. I decided the connections were superficial, and spoke to my habits and tastes if anything. The wax itself of the crayon was multicolored, and it seemed it was tie-dyed cylinder wrapped in white paper, with no writing to explain the color's name. I set it back down. I stepped away. I stopped, and went back, putting the crayon in my pocket, and then left, leaving the light on, but closing the door softly as I went.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We Will All Shake Hands With Ourselves, And Each Other

The people had left the city long ago, but by then the trains had been automated. In the exodus (or maybe it was even an extinction) no one had thought to turn them off. So we met, a crowd of us, to watch the empty trains come and go.

     An uninformed observer would wonder at the half of us in outlandish dress, thinking perhaps it was a convention for twins; and one of each pair of questionable sanity. Even so, there seemed an air of nonchalance about the thing, hardly a meeting and more a mass running-into. Those who bore the same faces didn't seem terribly interested in each other, and as the crowd milled and mingled, some of the pairs would weave together, like strained lovers at a big party. The trains came, the trains went, whooshing in and out of the little gathering, doors opening, doors closing. Some bound for Coney Island, some for The Capitol.
     I sat on a wooden bench, trying not to think of what trouble my other identity might be causing, as he flitted about in his ridiculous clothes. I had friends there, they too in multiples. We weren't concerned with each other, though, none of us were. It was a tempting thrill, I'll admit, even for me, to watch the name I sometimes put on walk around independently. Everyone else seemed to relish the chance. I just wanted to see if any of these trains happened to be heading some place I'd like to go.
     The destinations written out it on the marquees on the side of each car were elegant in their utilitarian simplicity, so when one lurched in displaying "home"-quotation marks, italics, lack of capitalization and all- I had the distinct impression the damn thing was being sarcastic. So naturally, as the doors slid open I crossed the threshold. The other me continued his hobnobbing with the other those and them's.
    I held my breath, fearing some one, or some one else, or some one else's else, would join me in the car, but thankfully, the doors slid shut, and I was alone. As the train left the station, I watched partners, friends, bosses, and of course, her- both of her- slide away out the window. I took a seat on a hard plastic bench, and wondered how the louder version of myself would react when he realized I'd left. I couldn't help but suspect some other train might call him elsewhere. But to where? If home was calling me, I could only guess his chariot would be bound for a party where he'd be confident in the novelty denied him by his current engagement.
     The train shot out of the tunnels and into daylight, and i found myself on raised tracks, forest beneath me. The mountains I have always considered the seat of my youth were all around me, and the sky a blistering, empty blue. The train slowed and stopped at an open air platform, and the doors slid open with a soft chime. I stepped out to find a raccoon milling around an over turned trash can, a gaudy hummingbird perched resolutely on his shoulders, stable despite the scurryings of the masked critter. They both turned to regard me, and while the smiles weren't apparent on the creatures faces, the warmth radiating from their gaze told me the train had indeed brought me where it had promised.
     Half a world away, or nearer, or not, a reflection of me- gaudy, flirtatious- continued his parlay with all those others who found themselves as multiple players. The convention of refracted personas continued well past my exit, the laughter and the conversation echoing up the stairs from the subway tunnels to the empty streets.
     Among the trees, though, I found solace with my two, tiny friends.

Monday, April 2, 2012

To Shed, To Molt, To Grow, To Change.

     All my life is told in transitions and departures, and always with a backwards glance. I'm perfecting the art of magical nostalgia, words that work like faded postcards. I am again soon to leave a place, certain I am not the same person as when I arrived. This chapter, too, like all the rest, is sure to be rewritten. These iterations, these phases, they come dangerously close to being new identities.
     The paradox of a narcissist: For all the time spent looking in a mirror, I'm rarely sure which face I'm wearing. I'm one driver with several cars, my essence in tact but the characters I play different in each scene. The road should not be a medium for change, inwardly, but a simple tool for shifts and subtle adaptations. I take that too far, I think, but don't know the mechanics. If i find that magic word, can I lock myself into one form, can I be the final stage?
To dream of stasis.

     Wishing for summer storms and cleansing rains is an unfulfilled dream you can't stop having. Will this new adventure be the catalyst? where's my crucible?

     Some where, there's a catapult, waiting for me. I will sit in its cradle, my loved ones will gather and watch as the rope is cut. It'll fling me upwards and as night falls on what we'll joking call my apotheosis party, God help me finally land on that big red X, wherever it may be.

     We crawl through the corridors of the train we're riding, leaning out windows, scaling its side. We don't need to escape, we don't need to steer. We only need to explore every inch of the thing, to know the ride, to exhaust the options, to see clearly around us if not ahead of us. We jettison the dead weight and take on new cargo. And on and on as ever, we're rocketing in one direction, but dreaming up twists and turns as if we could will a bend to the track that was laid by a far-back, forgotten version of ourselves.