Monday, November 22, 2010

The Consolations Of Philosophy Are Precious Few

When you push it this far night after night you start to lose the battle with chronology. The story is what? Too many scraps and loose ends. Too many stray words.

Plodding. Bell burst. Black sky. Blue angels, kneeling. The man with an empty tower on his neck crawls across the long table and takes the flowers in his mouth. Bundle of ankle-bound bodies dangling upside down from a helicopter. Blind woman on the wall raises her chin, mumbles something about God. Not menacing: Puzzled. Pleading.

Sky, sea, land: layered like a '70s gelatin dessert. Fragments of a broken clown. Hanging man, upturned chair. Still, dark waters. Rock tumbler. Forlorn sign at the water's edge, no longer legible yet unmistakably a warning. Patch of tiny white flowers in the deep shadows of a dead oak. Rolling house, carried away on wheels with an old woman rocking a crying baby on the front porch, brown smoke billowing from the chimney. Fat man in a top hat tiptoes across an endless heap of skulls, wobbling, eagle-armed like a tightrope walker.

I can hear Chopin --or Arthur Rubinstein-- in the playing of John Lewis. I see the influence of John Singer Sargent in Francis Bacon. I believe that Maurice Sendak cribbed from Philip Guston. I could pick Steve Lacy's soprano saxophone out of a line-up. I have a radar for broken and neglected things, including people and places. I am able to communicate with animals, most keenly with dogs. I can parallel park like nobody's business and have a way with potatoes. I can go days without eating or sleeping. If you dropped me in the middle of nowhere I believe I would survive. Give me a job to do and I will do it reasonably well, or at least to the very best of my abilities. I have a high tolerance for pain. I am on occasion driven to tears by the abject posture and clear suffering of a stranger on the street. I have never had a decent photograph taken of me, which leads me to conclude that I am ugly. I am a hazard when bored. I can see in the dark, even when I do not like what I see.

I howl.

I can't tell you what you are looking for.

Now, again: the spy way the night feels, intrusive, the way it claims all sound, transmutes, muffles and swells.

Empty fountain. Bulldozer with wings. Dreaming rat in a drainpipe.

Too late: the lucid moment has dissolved.

Welcome to the Sacred Garden of the Sweet Dreamers.

Destination beyond this? Can't say. Can't see.

Waiting once again for the light to fetch me.


  1. And no, you're not ugly. It's just that your beauty can't be captured by the superficiality of a purely visual medium.

  2. Mercy, Tom! Bless your pea-pickin' heart!

  3. I've no idea how much time or anguish must be endured to produce something like this, but know that it has offered a brief flash of illumination to displace murkiness of my day.

  4. Thank you. Not much time, no real anguish. Or maybe a little. Everything's just words.

  5. lovely.

    lacy played soprano, though.

    still. a good thing.

  6. Of course he did. And I can fix that right now, which is really lovely.