Red Blaze Is Still The Morning

In my little hut of tomorrow there is a little earth there. My meaning and my message, spent. The scratches of my boot heels in the floor are nearly constant. I am restless and uneasy. Songs no longer come easily to me. The thrush’s voice, once heard, a woodland memory. Other things, I remember entirely. So, I make nothing at all at my table today. Shut within, shut inside, I know the wind is blowing, and the light grows more at my single glass window. Outside the abounding world must prevail. And this here had once impelled me. Feeding the fire of my stove, warming my hands, touching my cheeks with their palms, I felt human enough.

Time ago it was, and it also was not, that my days of solitude, like mourning, were sufficient. They had fed me alone like zsir spread on toast. In fact, I needed these to hear the trumpets red cry blaring. From these, two years were spent like the snap of my finger and thumb. And I had felt the angels of history. They were nearly the perfect company, and, besides my wife, I scarcely was in want for any other.

This sentimental heartbeat, this picturesque illustration of days recalled passed, had been sacrificed for almost the entirety of my life. And I go there, farther and farther back, it seems, to some illusory, originary moment I seem to hold onto like a lugubrious locket of my beloved’s hair. I enter another man’s life and poetry as though ‘twere my own. And I am suddenly vacated, absented, traumatized by the death of Peter Sellers, dead when I was ten, and he merely fifty-four, a man, I read, with no personality at all, just, I thought then, like me.

Day beyond day, I hold back. I refuse to compose another Requiem. Non serviam. Another crime, another criminal, another transgression, another man with loopholes for an ax inside his longcoat, perhaps. But I am certain the killer inside me is another pair of legs that steps beside a patch of violets, who heard the music when the voices were gone, who, boarded up in his icy rusticity, almost comic for the late nineteenth century, had dwelt a while, and for another yet there lingered.

Hamlet’s Flypaper Riposte To Self

crawl space boards

“Doubt the stars are fire”—I had heard this before. My uncle is a murderer and my mother a … My best friends I sent to their death as though it were a high school prank. The lady I loved, oh, I mocked her a-plenty. It stank. And so did I. Running over my ruminations, thinking past my perturbations, I can’t be less amused with myself these days. For I, the brightest man in the entire Western canon, had like nothing faded from my own mind’s magnificent glory, a star myself smudged out in heaven. What’s worse, is that I saw it all, as clearly as frost upon a midnight windowpane, and seeing all that with a kind of clarity few men in a millennium are ever graced to possess, killed another for a common rat. My aim was false. My intentions true. And when I look back over all my well-versed ways, the only man I ever loved with untinctured purity is now a rather putrid skull. Sadly, I could not tap more evenly into that, and very nimbly took apart a kingdom with plays, outrageousness, and murder. I even made a plaster casting of my cock, and with a razor blade inserted near its balls, hung this golden, painted object upon my own mother’s wall. But these ramparts, and turrets, and moats and all sorts of fairy-land princely things that I have known all my brief life, could never replace in me the nearby, plainer possession of human feeling for my chronic, passionate strife. These walls, these walls, these walls. I built them all with words, with words, with words. I needed to have said: the things I know, they are all just yesterday’s news, who cares? My dad’s himself a haunted ghost. And when my doublet was unbrac’d before my sweetheart to be done with them. To, instead, have taken her in my strong arms (not his), when upon the sky I painted in the clouds a weasel, and stood beside her tendentious father’s gossip my own unboxed plenitude of rainbow colors and a true artist’s easel, and said: I am. Ich bin ich und ich liebe dich. But I, proud as Zarathustra, got caught up in my own FPS video game, and, like a snuffed out TV unplugged, was just dead as all rest for an ordinary ducat.

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The Gallows’ Horse

hanging cross house

I rode a dark horse into the center of the Earth where all my poisons, potions, and misdeeds lived, wild and willfully. Everything there was a-wreck. Ruin and disorder thrived. Cracked ampules lay scattered about. Steaming beakers, blue-hot Bunsen burners, and schemers everywhere cooking up villainy in lab coats smeared with their own gray filth abounded. I was the king of all of this, and all my subjects, all my creations saluted my grave return.

I remembered from the land above the flower of my treachery. I remembered my rage and anger and my fulsome seductions of a thousand Persephones. How pleased I was! How capable! How incisive and cross-quotable my demonic possibilities. I was in the world of common men without compare! I was a concordance of my own ministries!

When I returned to Earth one day and sat amidst a field, I wondered to myself had I been this mistaken? How lonely amidst the grass I had become. How old and terrible. How heavy this mask of evil. And how I wished to rid myself of this awful weight. I hit my horse and off it flew back to the center of Earth where nothing belongs.

Since that time I roamed on foot. I visited many other lands. I traveled everywhere I could go. And between men and women I saw such terrible, terrible things and felt such terrible woe. As if the face of Man were hewn from hell, from the very wickedness of being I had left behind, of malice and limitless selfishness. Seeing this, I wept.

I said to the wise man I met, “Love.” And I said to the crone the same. To children, I said to them, “Love one another.” To kings, philosophers, chemists, scientists of every kind, my message was exactly so. Even when I was stoned, no different. As I passed into the light of nothingness, I recalled that I knew my origins and whence my own customs, wondering if for the misguided on Earth as too below it, would there ever be for them a lucky second day.

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Western Tree Of Divine Inspiration

A man of infinite strength is not a man of infinite will. He knows when to cower when he’s afraid. He knows to quail when he’s ashamed. A man of infinite courage is not a man of infinite boldness. He knows when to retreat when he is overpowered. He knows to run when he is scared. A man of infinite power is not a man of infinite might. He knows to hold out his open hand when he is poor and destitute. He knows when to submit when one greater than he appears. A man of infinite right is not even a man of infinite justice. He knows when to give in to grace itself. He knows that even the Law itself is only partial and partially flawed. A man of infinite wisdom, even this man is not a man of infinite knowledge. He knows to listen more carefully to voices besides his own. He knows the habits of his mind, however well-trained, are little more than familiar ways already leading home. A man of infinite love, this man, even he, is still not complete. For a man so long as he is attached to the most glorious visions of life itself cannot be. Once dead, he will have known an empty world of silence, as though it was a land of timeless peace. As for the idea itself of the infinite man, such an infinite man walks so closely with God, or Allah, or Yahweh Himself that all the many multitudes might too live in divinity.

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Electric Sheep Dream Song

ocean window

Four bodies had lined up in the sky. It was just four-thirty. And I had forgotten in the news that southeast this morning the moon, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter would be appearing. In my dreams I had been at a quiet party, and was wondering how the effect of the drops of acid I had taken were on me, if any. I was roaming around the halls, and thinking to take a naked swim outside in the ocean. When I woke, I realized that throughout my dream the LSD had made me loving and happy. That, my friends, was the trip. That was the mind’s expansion. No surprise then through the trees by accident out my front door, through some blackened branches, I caught a remembered glimpse of eternity.

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Impotent Middle Class Bell Blues

tide chart

Somebody wants to kill herself. And what can I do about that? Last week I hung fly paper around our home. The week before that ant traps.

I tried to keep my spirits up. I tried dreaming of deep sea whaling, and joining a small crew to catch King Crab in Alaska. Not much luck.

I just was insufficient, too human also. Too foul-mouthed, too conceited, and too effed-up with my own human deficiencies. Not enough tiger in my tank to spare.

The things I naturally saw—bright stars, baby praying mantises, nice people at Whole Foods—their skins had grown over with donut glaze, premature glaucoma.

In Women in Love Winifred cries “Di—Di—Di!” hollering for a child that’s drowned. Prescient pun, I suppose, for “Diana,” a book I read thirty-five years ago.

And Emily, well, everybody in America knows because she “could not stop for death,” you can click on it if you don’t. See?

I know, I know, I know I ran away, pulling out my hair. And when I caught myself doing an Amy Winehouse 180, I saw a little, look-alike man like me was there instead, now sleeping in my baby’s bed. My ghost, my brother, my killer.

Paralyzed, hypnotized, infantilized, Christ! I’m a smart enough dude; I’ve read and comprehended Schiller and what in 1795 he wrote about the “simple” and “sentimental.”

I know, too, from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, just to sit. That is a great service to the dying, and not much else to do. Try it.

Kurt Cobain confessed his “will was good.” But flopping around town, I’ll tell you this: his bagged “mosquito” also offed my “libido.” Se fue, hermano.

Today, I’m just a solitary organ grinder standing at the street corner in Nabokov, a minor character waiting for an unknown stranger to flip a light coin into his monkey’s cup.

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No Time For Candy Or Remorse: A Ballad

american snack bar

I eat too many potato chips. And I smoke too many cigarettes. I am on Netflix all the time, and spill whatever dinner I fix in my bed.

Then, I wash the duvet cover again, and, taking it off, button by button, I find the yellow stitching of a woman I once loved. Long ago, far away.

I watch too many bad movies, and I make too many comments about things I don’t really care about online, just too feel I’m alive, or that I exist.

Afterwards, I shave my face to keep up a public exterior (whatever ‘public’ means anymore). I moisturize heavily to hide decades of wrinkles and mistakes.

I walk inside my cupboard and pull out a brand new box of saltines. I crunch through a column of these in no more than ten minutes. I feel better than Doritos.

Looking skyward at the night sky, I know I go to the barnyard too often. I see the stars spilled like chicken feed there, and go to sleep after a few blinks.

Neighbors wave. My paunch is hidden. My calves look strong. Up the steep hill and down the rolling ones (reverse of course on the way back). I am an admirable looking middle-aged man, who runs four miles at least thrice a week.

Frozen pizza, Friendly’s ice cream (on sale), and American Spirit tobacco keep me going through the wee hours of early dawn when I wake up as restless as a donkey tied to a well, kicked in the face.

My dryer is broke, my tires are bald, unraked colored autumn leaves will flatten out and kill half the grass they’re lying on. I tired easily.

Whatever women I had known in three cities or two, or ninety, that and my old flame and troubadour, Ezra Pound, means less than half of nothing to me today.

I eat junk, smoke too much, and I’ve been pulling on the bottle again, just to stop myself from this damn’d business of thinking all the time, my friend.

A Gnomic Warrior Foresees His Death

I confess: there was nothing left to do in the world, but jump. I had given away all my meager understandings to blue hyperlinks anyone in the world with a forefinger or a thumb may follow.

I had given away my bed to women surrounded by an ocean of warmth to console their lonely and broken and weary hearts. (And meanwhile tucked my body inside a shoebox properly sized and constructed for the dimensions of a dwarf.)

I had chatted with strangers who opened themselves up before me like cuckoo clocks (who otherwise kept and were keeping time with atomic precision, from the day the minute hand struck adulthood ‘til the moment the short hand had hit the final hour of their death.)

Before scores if not hundreds of children, born with as little hope as a rose planted in a desert, I gave them songs of sand, songs of sea, and songs of land to sing by. And of this I am most happy. I can’t say a word more there.

Before the rising sun atop a mountain’s ledge I opened my eyes until they hurt a little bit, and before its setting, closed them until I saw no more. And I admired that all, however much and however little my mind was placed in history’s little thimbleful of time which my single human life had already filled.

I gave away my lovers, my bed sheets, my time, and all my possessions—even my tiny ivory elephants who fit inside a little red bean, a whole herd of them. All remembrances of me, even a hand-carved, wooden plaque bearing my name were given away, burned, laid by the roadside somewhere, or gone.

And I remembered thinking: this is how Jean Sibelius must have lived and how he must have been during the last thirty years of his life when he had composed nothing, not even a note on paper bearing even one sound of a song. Songless sparrow, depart!

And when I had died, I realized that none of this, in truth, was any suffering at all. The entirety of it was mourning. The loves, the cuckoo clocks, the contraband knick-knacks stolen out of Africa, the weary human heart—it was all, all of it, from our beginning to our end, a period of mourning.

Life During Tea Time


Even his cheap old tea was gone. The old, paper-wrapped bags of black English Breakfast, sitting in the back of the cabinet for years, a long papery row of hardly ever used sacks of really dry, and really common stuff packed in a flimsy cardboard box. Ripped into. There were others, too, that’d been used up, of a far more fancy kind. Finely woven sachets that opened up like tetrahedronal parachutes when into steaming water poured from a kettle they were plopped. Once, he recalled, he’d known an older woman, whose net worth was in the tens of millions, to have served him this rather ridiculously in a half-filled Styrofoam cup.

Yes, she had pointed out to him and his mad wife at the time the giant nest where the bald eagles dove to kill prey at the corner of her flowing Hudson River property. She had, since then, sold that mansion for another entrenched upon some paradisiacal edifice built into the escarpment of Maine for tens of millions more. Ah, that was a time, and such teas did the rich like that drink.

Later, he had indeed been happy. The grassy sencha caught his taste at the back of his throat. The silver needle, so delicate and so fine, whose fresh flushes were picked during just two weeks time alone, would match for many years his evenly kept balance. But most of all, of any love affair he had ever had of such kind, was gyokuro. This shy and subtle tea, shaded for weeks before its shoots are plucked, was his heart’s once. Steeped for many long minutes in water that, for some, would barely measure to them as hot, he had warmed both the pot and cup beforehand when it had been made.

Today, all that luxury was gone. And he scrounged around like a mouse looking, rather than for a spare kernel of popcorn, or a bit of grain, for anything to steep lying about in leftover, empty wooden Clementine boxes. Little and large metal tins among empty glass Mason jars, once casually filled with oolongs and other less favorable fruity experiments, clanged and banged about like bunches of noisy wind chimes one could only wish the neighbors or a hurricane would take down.

It was all gone. The fragrances of love spent. The allure and yearning for romance, gone. The flavorful infusions of flavor, reduced to now a small lemon wedge squeezed into boiling hot water. The fact remained that he had not run his life profitably like a tea shop on the village corner, or, for that matter, like any other. Instead, he could already claim, like Brecht, that he had left this life “without regret, or with only slight regret,” if one should choose to be almost perfectly honest, and almost smiling publicly.

Home Survey Wheelbarrow News

rounded rocks

I’d changed all the picture places in my house with one another: the daft old woman with the young, blue-eyed fresco; the landscaped lake with the pillows on the dresser; the Spanish seamstress with the Finnish rocks; the mask of evil with the hairless juggler. I switched them, changed them all.

The bed sheets on my bed, I tore them all. I tore to shreds the tiny rosebuds, pink and soft. I shredded three sets of pure white cottons and dumped them outside in a heap. My clownish purple, polka-dotted ones I’d kept for Whitsunday, I cut apart with scissors. Even the gold ones, sewn for Cleopatra, I ripped to garden rags.

All my hats that I had worn for years, I tossed them too. My lucky Filson, I gave away to a stranger in his cups. Three straw ones I set beside fallen scarecrows in three empty autumn fields. My others, whose styles I won’t mention, like pints of blood, I donated to Good Will.

Anything I had to remind me of you, I was beside myself. Grief with Anger. Sadness with Guilt. Joy with Misgivings. Anxiety with Pleasure. I had crossed and crossed myself so many times, I became embedded with my lustrous poverty, almost barren through such eroded wealth.