Sunday, March 6, 2011

Take Your Protein Pills And Put Your Helmet On

We are flying in outer space. My dog is floating upside down and licking the darkness.

To make a spacesuit I turned my skin inside out and rolled around in salt.

There are no assholes in outer space, or if there are they are nowhere to be seen. It's not like an airport.

The sound of outer space is a swelling sound that builds and builds and never breaks. Sometimes it sounds like an endless series of medical carts being wheeled down empty tunnels a mile beneath the earth. Other times it sounds like a solitary vacuum cleaner in an immense hotel ballroom at four o'clock in the morning. Still other times it can sound like a lonely road in a horror movie when someone who is about to be killed is walking away from a brokedown car as darkness falls.

Don't even think about trying to take pictures in outer space unless you have a special camera, which you don't.

There is plenty of time in outer space to contemplate things both simple and grand. The term "space capsule," for instance, a phrase that manges to be both. Or you might wonder this: when Elvis was sitting alone in his underwear in a hotel room late at night and looked in the mirror, what did he see?

In outer space the plains and prairies of the earth begin to seem like the work of a rococo eccentric, and mountains take on the abstract quality of something purely imagined.

Most of the voyagers who blast off for outer space head straight for a space station. This is the equivalent of planning your vacation around a visit to a truck stop. Just as on planet earth, the real wonders in outer space are to be found along less traveled byways. A man named Sun Ra understood this. He knew how to turn his skin inside out.

If you spend enough time in outer space, and obtain some level of mastery over the patience such travel requires, you begin to appreciate what a wonderful gift it is to expect that nothing much will happen, and to wish you could have access to such mastery during your time on earth.

In outer space I assign my dog the rank of colonel.

In outer space I actually sleep, and dream of a monkey in a white room, sitting quietly in a corner, painting on a canvas and tap-tap-tapping his hairy little foot to a popular song on the radio. A woman in a lab coat brings the monkey a glass of ice cold root beer. The monkey asks to be excused to make a telephone call.

Sometimes, after dozing for a time in outer space, you can open your eyes and briefly convince yourself that you are in a boat floating in the middle of a deep, dark sea full of stardust and inexplicably swarming with fireflies.


  1. This has a different tone, a bit loonier than usual. I like it. I watched 2001, or part of it on the TV this morning when I woke up. The middle part is the best. There are assholes in outer space, according to Stanley Kubrick. The same ones we have down here. Obsessed with control, appearance, ignoring what is under their noses and deserving respect!

  2. Thanks, Mike. I'm always grateful to hear from a writer (and person) I admire so much. I respectfully submit, however, that Kubrick didn't know diddly about the sort of outer space I'm talking about.

  3. If you look harder you will find those assholes! Space is a big place and I couldn't imagine them hiding forever. Once we destroy our planet there will be TONS of assholes in space!

  4. I think you are made of stardust and sparks and fireflies.