The Runnening.

Running, scared, through a maze of streets. Sunlight seeps through the buildings. Running between two tall towers, sunlight blinds me as I run across a plaza (flies walk on the table) running, running, jogging? For exercise? No. Running, for fear. Running from the zombies, the business bros., the housewives, the miners, the subterranean slinkers, the tall building jumpers, the bridge walkers, running from the crowds, running from the

self. Of course. Brazil-like, through buildings, across plazas with glistening fountains.

I arrive, panting, at the Hudson River. I turn. The city behind me is empty and cool. Cars don’t even drive on the West Side Highway. I turn again and shade my eyes and gaze across the river. The towers of Hoboken stand, squat. The two peaked towers like modest castles. The clock face. The ferris wheel. I swan dive into the Hudson and fan kick my legs.

But the river is made of mud and I sink. I sink. Down, down below the mud, reaching at the light in slow motion, reaching at the light and thrashing and then my limbs grow too heavy and I just let myself sink down – down – down – downbreath.

Downtempo.

Downstream.

Downtown.

Running down.

Rundown.

Down.

I’m in the mud now.

Class is starting soon, and look, I’ve already run through the buildings with their spears of light, leapt into the air, dived into the Hudson River. In the apartment above, a washing machine seems to churn, a steady, marching sound. Behind me my apartment lurks. My eyes threaten to close; my eyes, tired, my ear twinging, my fingers writing too fast. Goose pimples spread all down my arms, entire arms shivering, skin bunching up like a crinkling potato chip bag. And my legs are hot. Squat and hot. Squat and pot.

Running. I’ve done it for so long. Often running from something, specters, or towards something else, freedom, or night, or oblivion. I can’t forget my runs through Westwood out to the sea in LA. Jogging through the neighborhood at dusk, somewhere near to Santa Monica. There were many trees lining the streets, casting their long shadows in the twilight over the cars. A man stopped in a security vehicle called to me.

“Excuse me, sir, what are you doing here?”

Running.

Standing on the shoreline in Santa Monica. The moon is rising over the Santa Monica mountains, over Malibu. Swimming pools and pills and palm trees and long, white flashes of legs. I text my ex, separated now for perhaps eight, nine months. The seething wound now nothing but a low, dry lump. One I press.

Thinking of you, listening to Andrew Bird. The moon is gorgeous tonight.

And her reply.

Thank you Sam. Scythian Empires.

Or something like that. What the fuck.

Andrew Bird – Scythian Empires – 2006

So. Things a bit maudlin on a Tuesday morning. I’m enchanted, or perhaps trying to show off with this motif of running. Fuck it. Running is joy. Running is the zebra stripes of everything around me, buildings with light spearing through, beaches and moonrises, security guards, ex-girlfriends, to send them streaking into zebra stripes and to froth the mind into a mad whirl. Running is freedom. Sprouting feathers painfully from around the shoulder blades, new bone structures emerging from under the shoulder blades, long spears of bone stretching out, skin, and muscle, and feathers draping off, and now – wings. Running

is flying.

To fly away from one’s troubles. Is that what I’m trying to do with this writing? Is that what I do while writing? Those zebra stripes to become oil-slick patches of farms and streets and buildings and cars and swimming pools as the plane takes off and the mind rises, mindlessly, over the landscape. Ex girlfriends sinking down into the pool of the ocean. Mind, itself, sinking away below. That magical moment on a plane when sleep seems to huddle in from all sides, a comforting, dark presence with a net and plague mask that scoops you into their dark wings, enfolds you, and rocks you gently to sleep, saying “shh. Your mind is far below.

Annoyance of annoyance. My spacebar became sticky about halfway through this entry and will no longer click easily running mywords together like bugs pasted together on a windshield wait no not like that at all running, running through buildings bynight, plazas in Brooklyn, runningas fast as I can while I listen to the low murmur ofsomesinger throughmy headphones words running together, songs streaking together, as my mind riseshigh high highabove all this, the technohellscapenightmareland of the mind, andI

rise rise rise.

Time to go to class.

Time to go to sleep.

The future is running, running over me like liquid, liquid from some great tap. I crouchunder the tap and let the future run over my hair, through my fingers, through my beard, and dribble around my feet. Myfeet are ready to run, but I’msmiling. How bout you?

Futureyet?

Run.Run. This has run on, spacebar stuck. This has run…on. I run.

On.

On.

Duffy.

Benvenuto Benvenuti – Heading Home – c. 1920

Transformers

The rain falls on the petals. The clover spreads across the lawn. And the upturned, green faces squint at the sun, squint and wink squint and wink, and the sun nods. Somewhere, there must be a tunnel of branches, whorls of wood that part like tissue paper to let one pass, canopies over cool paths and creeks. Somewhere there must be a field with one great tree.

Somewhere there must be a pool, dripped in by the droplets off cold stalagtites…stalagmites? Which is it anyway?

Once there was a boy lying in a room. The room was maroon. Low lights from lamps around the room, and the strong smell of horse hair and musk and the spices of cooked dinners. The boy doesn’t want to fall asleep, doesn’t want to be left to fall asleep. He can’t sleep in this big, brown room with its hairy rugs and carpets and its strong smells and its almost perfect darkness and its strange shapes in the shadows.

Once there was a woman. Of medium build, with a thin but characteristic face somewhat like David Bowie’s, sharp, strong teeth bent over each other that seem to possess their own jauntiness, short brown hair, arms with soft folds under the armpits, with wrinkled maps on both elbows. This woman speaks in a strong English accent and offers to tell the boy a story.

In the story, there were two children swimming. They were caught in a whirlpool. The harder they swam, the stronger the whirlpool pulled against them, until they were pulled down, down, down into the cone at the center. But they didn’t drown. They traveled through a tunnel in the sea until they popped out in a sea cave. And on the roof of this sea cave, miles and miles of glittering, glistening, dripping stalag…tites? Mites? Which mite it be, pun intended?

Chris read the boy this story, or perhaps made it up off the top of her head. Years earlier she had told the boy a story of a boy and girl, a brother and sister, who jumped through a round carpet on their bedroom floor. The carpet was a portal and transported them to another world. In this world, all was flat. As they lay along the ground next to one another and called out, they realized they couldn’t move. They were two-dimensional. They couldn’t breathe. Their lungs were flat. They somehow had to move through the portal to a different dimension, get out of that flat land, brother and sister stranded somewhere in space or perhaps another universe. Chris may have told the boy and girl that every jump through the carpet led into another universe.

Earlier than the story of the carpet, even, the boy, lying in bed, wondered what it would be like if instead of sleeping in his dreams, he woke up in his dreams to find he had been sleeping in his waking life. And what if, for instance, he woke up in his dreams and was simply a lizard sunning itself on a rock. In a moment, the memory of the dream of his human life, school, distant thoughts of future family and career, would be wiped away. And he would crawl off to meet his lizard family, perhaps to travel with them across the desert, to find cool rocks to sleep under in the night.

Future boy listening to the carpet story, thinking about the round carpet.

Future boy remembering the carpet story in the brown, fur-lined room. Out the door, the sea roars and soothes. The waves crash. And lying in bed, too hot from the strange, scratchy blankets, he misses his mother and father and his own warm bed and wants to be home. At home he can sleep. What if something should come in from the sea, come into his frightened room, and drag him away? What if he should wake up, and instead of a lizard on a rock he’s swimming the rough waves around a whirlpool, knowing but terrified that he will have to go through the funnel and into the cave with the…

Tites? Mites?

Today, I want to beat myself up. There’s a sad cast over the Farm today, though outside it’s sunny and beautiful. I can’t quite see where I’m going in my life. Which goals, if any, could or would work out. What school will lead to, whether school is right or wrong, whether Polina is right or wrong, where I’m going, where I’ll be. I was once –

But now I’m here. In a chill room. 34. Still terrified of going down that whirlpool. Afraid to cling with my sisters to the stalag…

A quick Google search would rectify my question, but I don’t want that. I don’t want to ask Google for everything, I don’t want to slip down the whirlpool this morning, jump through the carpet, go into that flat world. Unfold my golden compass. Set my boat upon the windy sea. Tuck the ring tight in my pocket and head out the door with three friends in backpacks. I don’t want to transform.

But I am transforming.

Little boy, little boy, in your golden bed. Find another place to rest your head. Little boy, little boy, children soft and warm. Find another way, another way to transform.

An incantation.

This charm winds out. This candle splutters. Outside the sun is strong and bright. I don’t want to go down the whirlpool, but I already am. I’m down it. The stalag-

whatchamacallums –

are glistening in the dark. The sea is moaning. Clutching hands with my sister, we forge deeper into the cave. The water sprays.

Sebastian Penther – Moonlit River with a Castle – 1819(?)

The Attic

(Remembering, courtesy of a past entry, that this isn’t a gym.

So I sit here listening to Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders out at the Farm.

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, the London Philharmonic Orchestra – Promises: Movement 6 – 2021

The music is swirling. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone lays on my bed, I am eager to be back reading. But also, to be honest, eager to be here in this wicker chair writing. Noticing. Allowing. Or simply being. Not to get better. Not to lift weights. Not to dominate myself or others. Simply – in order to do so. Because the discovery, or excavation, is reason enough in itself.)

Lightning cracks over the house. Dark night, windows slick with moisture, rain running down their outside panes, trees lit up in silhouette in the flash of lightning, I move through the house with a candle. I procured the candle downstairs in the closet in the kitchen, the one that used to be deeply set into the wall, that used to hold rusty tools, used rat traps, and bugs and vermin, a light dusting of rat shit on the wallpapered closet floor. No longer. The closet has been renovated, it contains nothing but a slick, white wall, three or four white shelves, k=

(we pause. Here, in minute three or four, Amanda has delivered me a smoothy. A pink, lumpy, cool, sweet drink, that will nourish me and taste good. It was a timely delivery: I was hungry, and my brain was starting to ache and my anxiety and worries to balloon. It was also a very kind gesture.)

Where were we? At the closet. Which has been renovated, sanitized to hold just three or four white shelves, a few tools, a few vases of my younger sister’s, works of ceramics that apparently didn’t merit placement in the public spaces of the house, but which look beautiful enough to me. The closet. I digress. I went to the closet, groped around in the darkness, and after a few blind and terrifying seconds found a small, plastic basket with wax candles in it. Strangely, I think, a basket that had not been in there the night before.

Just the type of basket that used to be in that closet when it was a dirty, rusty, infested, rambling place. Why is it back?

But the candles work. They worked. So now, upstairs, padding. Across carpet in hallway, my gaze is diverted to the window, where lightning strikes. To the condensation on the window pane; rain lashing outside. Within, a thin film of condensation with rivulets running down it, single droplets, like sweat. And when the lightning strikes again it illuminates the Eucalyptus trees. A few moments later, a crash and bang that shakes the house.

My attention drawn upwards.

There is a crawl space in the roof of the Farm. It is accessed through a ceiling hatch attached to a string. Only, the string hasn’t been there for nine or ten years. At some point in the renovation it was removed, the hatch replaced, to be the kind you must push up into the crawl space to crawl through and crawl around the attic. But the string, like the candles, is back. And what is it doing back?

Three doors open off the upper landing at the Farm. One to the master bedroom, where my parents slept for years, midnight journeys after nightmares to stand by the side of my Mom’s bed until she awoke with a start saying, “Sammy!” and my Dad would roll over, groaning.

Another door to the “Red room”, a room that used to have a bright red carpet. Where I slept in the top bunk of a bunkbed with Ruthie below. I would stay up all night staring out the single window at the lone tree in our front yard. Standing there, alone, the lone tree, with a swing hanging down next to it. I was sure, absolutely beastly sure, that a little girl would appear in that swing one night and point up at me.

And a third door leading to the “Blue room”, with triple bunk beds where I slept, later on, with my two brothers, as we descended screaming into the insanity of adulthood, thinking everything was just perfectly normal.

But tonight is about the hatch above my head. For there the cord hangs with the solid, plastic white ball on the end. A ball and string that hadn’t been there before, and there is a thin line of light around the outline of the hatch.

The thunder crashes. Lightning silhouettes the trees. The hatch bumps open of its own accord, just a little, the crack of light growing.

I grope for the swinging, white ball, holding my candle.

Why do I do this?

I don’t know.

I’m terrified. Mortified. The skin along my arms prickling like fire. My palms slick and freezing, almost unable to pinch the white, plastic ball. The hatch makes a screech as it opens downward, and a smaller set of ladder stairs clunk to the floor of the landing. The stairs descend at a 45% angle to the floor, so I can walk up them easily still holding the candle. One step at a time I ascend the ladder with my candle into the upstairs room, the rictus of the candleflame quavering and splashing light through the low space, only two or three feet tall, not enough room to stand

(more interruptions as sibling and partner move behind me, coming into this blue room I’ve chosen as bedroom as this is where the closet is that is assigned their master closet, for the master bedroom. Wow. Could I have said that in any less convoluted of a fashion? Or this? Is this what happens when I read Algernon bloody Blackwood? I can’t fucking stop imitating whoever I’m reading at any given moment. Time to go back to Stephen King so I can write simply again. Enough.)

The firelight, the candleflame, splashes the walls of this upstairs. Room. Empty. Another crash of thunder that judders the ladder on the floor making my knees go loose and runny as I grip the candle by the base, suddenly afraid it will slip through sweaty fingers and fall, lighting the house on fire. And I see a trunk across from the hatch in the attic floor. A thick, rectangular block of shadow with candlelight barely splashing upon it. And the trunk is open, as if wrenched open in the recent shatter of thunder. And a figure emerges, more shadow than human, from the trunk in the quavering candlelight. A figure, a mummy, thin and rotten, releasing a thin smell of rotten meat and feces that spreads through the attic room like gas. The figure groans, the sound a gash on the air. And the eyes light up.

“Sammy. We’re back.”

My foot slips on the stepladder, plummeting me by the heels back down towards the floor of the upper landing, the blood red carpet. But my descent is suspended. Claw fingers grip my arm under the shoulder dangling me along the length of the ladder. Claw fingers that dig into my flesh with strength and begin to reel me up…

Up

Up

Into the attic.

The ladder is sucked back into the hatch like a tongue. The hatch closes.

I’m gone now. Gone.

Into the past.

Why or what for? Why? I want to end this but it isn’t done, cliché stretched on the wind like paper. Like gossamer. Like spider web. I want to end this – I will – it isn’t done. Did you get the point? DID you?

You

Did?

George Roux – Spirit – 1885

The Big Bang

I sit here in bed, sadness welling up in my esophagus again. The room filling with yellow sunlight, reflected off the snow. Dawn is yellow. Larry is a deep, moss green. Rebecca crystalline blue. And this family of colors thrives here, and I slink amongst them with my troubles and preoccupations, a porcupine, taking as much as I can, retreating when I feel I must. Noticing, sometimes upset at, my welling emotions. Frustrations and cracks in the veneer of a life that never means anything quite straightforward enough (would that it could!)

I sit here in my green pajama pants with moose on them. Feeling judgment, wariness, heat from without and within. I sit here on a bed in this house, another moment frozen in amber. Or encased in ice.

Oh my desire to be good. Oh my “need!” to get better, so strong. I see it. I smile at it. No more than a cat arches her back in the sun, I move in the sun and can’t help arching my back.

With my tense hips and burning thumb and greasy hair and strange red thing next to my right eye I fear is a sty and scab in my nose I keep rubbing with my thumb to see if there’s anything to pick. And my creeping unease and doubt and my searching gun, aimed at me, dance, monkey, dance!

And the colors and the sunlight and snow and tar pit (La Brea) of the past and searchlight of the future, and my parents’ quests on my shoulders, and a deep, deep, deep well of desire.

I sit here.

I do nothing with it. I see my backpack, like a snail, and I do nothing with it. Leave it on my back. My worry, confusion, fear of the swirling details, thick as an old-growth forest: I leave it there.

Outside, the sun has cut clean, white slashes across the snow. The trees and mounds and shrubs shove out in technicolor. The shadows are blue. God’s paintbrush.

I pant.

I leave it, again, another day, another dip into the inkwell, another cold right foot.

I leave it, free, naked, flying, and never free.

All at once, all at once, by God (a she), and why not?

Why not all at once when the Big Bang

is still going on right now?

Big

bye!

Love love love.

Love.

Santana, Time Inc. – Santana III Cover Art (Man With an Outstretched Hand) – 1971

Julia X.

I have safely arrived at the Tyree residence outside Portland, Oregon. Yesterday was a push. I was on the freeway, getting mad at pretty much every other driver on the road. If they were behind me, they were tailgating me. If they were in front of me, they were always going too slow or too fast. Next to me, they were blocking me in. Two cars in front of me, they were cutting off the whole freeway. I was very furious. My fury bubbled to a boiling point driving through a small town, somewhere just outside of Eugene, in the driving snow, looking for a restaurant to go to because the last two I’d tried had been closed. I was aiming for a McDonald’s, but my attempt stranded me on a two lane highway blanketed in snow. I knew that if I didn’t drive carefully I could spin out. Also, I was stranded on the highway, driving laterally away from my destination, and I was already running late. I couldn’t shake from my thoughts the pressure that Dawn and Larry were waiting up for me, to be ready to leap into their truck and come save me if I stalled out or skidded out or simply drove into too deep of powder on the way to their front door. It felt like pressure. But, I also knew it was a kindness. I had an interesting mixture of despair and gratitude.

            That was the whole drive. The other cars were not my enemies, and they weren’t simply out on the road to ruin my trip or make me late or create any kind of obstacle for me. As my meditation app said last week, we were all heading in the same direction. We were all on the same team. It was a thought I called to mind from time to time on my drive, but it would always be rammed out of my head by another, more powerful thought: FUCK THEM!!!!

            Fuck them. This was the way my brain was working on the drive, or perhaps even less personally, that’s the kind of thought that was straining through my head. Meanwhile, feelings in my gut of frustration, worry, desperation, shame. Also some joy. Some pleasure. Some moments, such as driving by the swamps exiting from Marin County when the hills behind lit up like emerald blankets, and the trees hulked with dark shadows in the roving light. Or when I drove past Mt. Shasta and upon entering the Oregon state border it started to snow. Or the ensuing series of peaks leading up to Mt. Shasta. Every time I drew close to a big one, there was a bigger one lurking behind. And Every time I’d say, “That must beMt. Shasta! How beautiful.” And then there’d be an even more beautiful peak waiting around the bend.

            Mt. Shasta itself stared down at me like an old, white king. A huge and craggy mountain with sheer faces, vast and severe. Driving underneath it, I felt slightly chastened.

            And all throughout the drive memories returned to me. I’d turn to them, look them over, grin sometimes, and say, “thanks for coming, you can move along now.” Memories of high school, on minicourse to the Ashland Shakespeare festival. Stopping at a rest stop when suddenly my tension released and I realized that one of my fellow students on the trip was one of the prettiest girls I’d ever seen. We’d gotten close on that trip, not by hooking up or anything like that, but through curious and deep conversations in the back of the van or in the hostel or the cafes and restaurants in Ashland. I’ll call her Julia X. I think of her sometimes. More than I would have expected to. I was young on that trip, probably fifteen or sixteen at the most, and still extremely inexperienced. But there was an open-faced curiosity in our friendship, and she taught me lots of things, speaking to me with what I thought at the time was great wisdom. And she gave me a mix CD someone (some other junior, which I think she was) had given her. It contained “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones, a “Song of the Siren” cover by Robert Plant, “Lay Lady Lay,” by Bob Dylan. That mix set me on a musical path that I’ve followed the rest of my life. I believe I’m still searching for those kinds of songs until this day. And not long after, I bought Sticky Fingers, and thus began a Stones Obsession that lasted through Highschool. What did I love so much about Wild Horses? The song…it encapsulated that time, on that trip. Devotion. Mystery. Melancholy. And the expression of a kind of love I didn’t fully understand but which seemed to be true deep in my heart.

Robert Plant (a song by Tim Buckley) – Song to the Siren – 1970
Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay – 1969
The Rolling Stones – Wild Horses – 1972

            All of that’s quite pretentious. I guess the song- it had a mixture of sadness and gracefulness and joy too that chimed with something in me. A feeling, as I’ve said, I’ve looked for ever since. A feeling I got from Julia X.

            Well I’m here now. In the Tyree house. It’s beautiful, cozy, warm, wonderful. Sitting on a bed looking at my pasty toes peeking up behind the computer screen, drinking coffee with macadamia milk, enjoying the heat of the space heater. Snow deep outside the window, plopping off the branches of the firs.

            I’m here now. Been searching for that song, that feeling, Julia X, again ever since. But there’s no finding that – those feelings, that time, was inside of me. I take the pleasures of the world gladly. I’ll sit in them, draw them about me.

            Toasty, toasty warm. And happy holidays. And come back soon. And the family of deer that picked their way outside the window, the two little babies nibbling at some clean, green leaves in the white snow, I want to tell you about them. Cozy, cozy. Nurse that flame in your heart.

            I go. I slide. I leave. Nursed.

Illustrator (unknown) – Frontispiece to Fridtjof Nansen’s In Northern Mists – 1911

Haggis

The most important thing is just to start.

As I sit with my back to my living room and bedroom, I feel just a little movement. Behind my eyes, in my fingers (tingles), throughout the frame of my bones. A little movement. Shoots that poke up through frozen crusts of snow, green shoots, and the sucking of the Western wind. Green wind. Crystal. Brown slop. I’m a little piggy – oink oink oink. The blowing of the western wind, cold, on a peak, with nothing but leather armor, a forest green cloak from the river people, leather bracers, leather pauldrons, leather boots. Waterproofed leather, at least there’s that, but leather nonetheless. And as the clown walks into the wind on brittle snow, feels like it’s his skin that’s brittle. Brittle bric-a-brac battle. Bottle. No one will ever have to see this, though someone may some day (if so, good on ya, thanks for reading, I suppose, go fuck yourself I also wanted to say because you are the enemy – you are the eyes that stare at me – my eyes). No one will ever see this, thinks Hapgood as he walks on that brittle snow. He has a small fire, out. He has a long yew bow, leaning against the husk of a dead tree, gnarled, hard, impervious to the wind; the only tree that’s up here. Cup here. Pup here.

Khruanbin – A Calf Born in Winter – 2014

I don’t know. I’m not really talking about anything. The tingles that run down my arm, the shoulder that feels folded over. I’m not really talking about anything. And guess what? That’s my right. And also, who am I to say?

To herd the truth, to try and corner it, to chase after it, spear high, wearing a loin cloth, milk thighs flashing in the nightgloom. Prove? What, me prove nothing. Prove nothing, groove nothing, lose nothing, and choose bucksin for your next loincloth. I wink at the paper, but only in writing.

Why prove? The little smile that curls around my lips has nothing to prove. The small ache (localized in the neck) has nothing to prove. The table has nothing to prove. I, truly, have nothing to prove. Even if you’re reading this way away in the future. My back is exposed to the room behind me, I could be stabbed in the back, flayed alive by some reaching claw. My back is exposed to the room behind me. Prove. What, me prove? Me prove nothing.

I’ll just breathe instead.

So, writing. It’s just for the little smiles, for the tingles, for the feelings of breathing? No, no. That’s just a part of it, but part I’m learning not to ignore, not to block out. What, me block out? Me block out nothing. The jealousies nipping at the folds in my brain. One reader who keeps jumping into my head for some reason, as for some reason I feel that they’re the one to tell me if I did a good job or not a good job.

And I laugh and smile at that. What, me prove? Me prove nothing. Not to her. Not to Polina. Not to the computer, the paper, the tome. Not to Stephen King. Not to myself. Not to no one, or nothing. And definitely not God, to whom I’m just giving expression.

A little glow, a little flake, deep inside, gold, buried within milk skin. God. A flake of white, and as I get on a roll, boy it makes me want to prove. But I don’t have to prove nothing. My campfire’s burned low. I sit here, my milk thighs shining in the darkness from the top of this mountain, more of a cairn, while I set my yew bow beside me and stare into the gloom towards the horizon. I can’t see the horizon (me prove nothing) – but I can see the contours of the valley below. I can see where the river wends through the darkness, a slightly lighter snake amongst the shade black, and I light my pipe. Finest weed in the South Farthing. Having nothing to prove, sitting high up on this mountain, so high my lungs could sing, it feels good to smoke my weed pipe. Feels good to cup the little fire in my hands and watch the clouds shift. Not lit with the moon, no, which is new. But with the pinpricks of a million stars behind them.

Pull my cloak tigher around my ribs and watch the deep-set river wind away. Just darker dark in the darkness.

It’s Christmas Day, the early morning. But out here, there’s nothing to prove. No one to prove it to. No gifts to give, but my body to the rain. No gifts to receive, but the river, the dark shadenight, my body, my health, my pipe that warms my hands but only slightly –

Newsflash. Fresh off the presses. I sat in a café once, horny as anything, eating Haggis, near to the Scottish highlands. There was not a suitable target for my horniness, but one I augmented in my mind. The server was a wizened old lady who seemed shy, shy, impressed I was eating the haggis. And I tried my best to stomach a few bites of the stuff. Tasted like rice that had already gone through a digestive system. Truth was it was the digestive system. I scraped it around the plate to make it look gone. It reminded me of that Russian meal where they stuff all kinds of rice and meat into a cabbage skin. Only this was no cabbage skin. Body cabbage.

Me, prove? Me prove nothing. I had nothing to prove that morning, eating a full English with haggis. But I still hid it under an uneaten piece of toast on my plate and looked up at the waitress, hoping she would be charmed by my charming eyes. Nothing to prove? Always something. To me. To God. To anyone. To the dark hills, that I climbed in the light, and loped down after dark. But at top of hill, nothing to prove. So I shouldered my bow and headed down the other side. Wondering: will it ever get better than this?

No, I don’t think so.

Merry Christmas coming up. And nothing to prove. Love.

Sam.

Honoré Daumier – Croquis pris Au Théatre – 1864

The Hall.

My limbs float apart, different parts of a space station, docking, or un-docking, disembarking I suppose, or splitting apart l suppose. The thoughts streak through my head, just rogue thoughts, little sheep lost from the fold, baa baa baa. “You’re not good enough.” “You’re going to try to write this for the people online because you just want their likes.” “You have problems you can’t ever solve, so, unfortunately, the entire undertaking you’ve undertaken, to attempt to write, to get better at writing, to grow your followers, to entertain people with your writing, to steal that sweet little golden fleece of success from under your own nose while you’re pretending not to do it, that’s a non-starter. Absolute impossibility. So actually, you’re wasting time, you’re wasting space, and you’re wasting most of your life because you haven’t found the little path in the labyrinth wall that will…”

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH. See the gnashing teeth. See the mashing gums. See the mushing mouth. These words come out of it, it’s there in the back of my brain in front of a black curtain, just a pair of bright red lips and bright white teeth, looks like it’s yelling at me (looks like Donald Trump’s mouth actually) but really it’s grinning, it’s grinning and smiling.

The point, I suppose, is to not identify with the thoughts. The thoughts aren’t mine, neither are the emotions they’re just flowing through. I’m – well, there are so many questions here to unpack first of all. What is I’m? Who is Sam? Thinking of all my friends, especially UCLA friends, frowning on everything today, but those are the masks I slip on to frown at myself. So what is I’m? And what is them? What is you? Who is reading this? Who is writing this? Who is witnessing this? And who is thinking this? Thoughts, feelings, I’m, you, us, me, we, all, they, there, them, those, that’s, zip.

Who is reading this, and who is writing this?

The mouth is back. Floating in front of the curtain, a Christmas colored mouth, a candy-cane colored mouth, but under the veneer of white the teeth are black. They’re rotten. They’re…not even there at all.

What was the mouth saying that time? Oh, I forget. Something to do with you’ll never, why do you always, bye bye bye, but actually hi hi for the rest of a strange short life marked with disease, failure, disappointment, to friends, to friends’ parents, to your own parents, to yourself, to the world, to school, you’re doing things (they’ve failed before you’ve even started), you’re looking for things (they can’t be found, but it’s your arrogance that searches), you’re proving things (a zero-sum game since all you can prove is your desperation), you’re just trying to write this for your blog.

Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. The hall, after they crowd through, hustle by, chattering, laughing, slopping their martinis out of their thin glasses, the hall is empty. The leaves blow through it along the floor. One side is light. One side is dark. But that’s liable to change.

It’s all liable to change.

The hall, let’s allow, can fill up and empty out. The Hall is not the point. The Hall just is. The thoughts just are. The beauty is that’s what they are – thoughts. Only thoughts. Let your arms tingle hail Mary full of grace and amen!

The thoughts just are.

Now kick a hail mary through that end zone.

The future, is a thought, the past too. So what’s not. Wood under my forearms, surprisingly soft. It seems to enfold my forearms. Facts. Thoughts. Sensations. The keys are soft, almost like taffy. The darkness is velour and enswaddles and enwraps my head, it’s dark here, my thigh tensed. The darkness leads to hills, vistas, oh, just more thoughts. It leads to trees, breezes, oh, just more thoughts. Thoughts of roaches crawling under the floorboards in the darkness: let them be, like thoughts. Thoughts thoughts thoughts.

What are facts? The screen glows like a portal, pulls my head towards it, bathes my eyes in electricity. What are facts? My lips fold and sag around my mouth, sensually pleasant feeling, soft lips, baggy, moldable. Facts. Thoughts. The glinting of the golden light over by my bed,  the pull of the sheets, tractor beam, pulling me back towards sleep. The breath that puffs my chest and exudes out into the dark. Facts, facts, facts, gone now and turned into thoughts, nothing but pasts. Pasts. So I sit here. Nothing else necessary. No portal to grassy woods. No character, fully formed, striding through the clearing in my brain, disappearing into the leaves, beckoning, with mere energy lines, for me to follow. No leaves no clearing no woods no hero no characters no mystery no thrill no chill no bills. Nothing but rhymes. Facts. So I sit here. In the half dark of this room, thinking of roaches, thoughts, thinking of characters fully formed striding through, but there are many things here. Me is not me who is me? A pulling in my chest, once again, towards success, a desire to write this just so fucking damn good. But what is this, what is writing, what is me, what is thoughts, who are they from, who thinks them, who sees them, who cares?

So what’s here? Facts. Air, cool, going down my throat, sobbing, sobbing, again again again. Because I’m trying to write to prove myself and it’s just not possible. I literally crumpled my face up, it felt like a welter of spirits rising up my throat, energy in my chest, such a strong………

There was sobbing. There was a wrenching sound, like the screech of an un-oiled screen door only it came from my gullet, there were tears, there was my face tense and frozen in a snarl, while tears, sound, energy, air, screeched out of me, as I closed my eyes and let the tyrannous glow of the computer screen fold into darkness.

Thoughts. Breathing now. That was all thoughts, thoughts feeling strong, like saltwater carving and warping cliffs from below. Thoughts, that’s all, strong, if you turn your whole being into a leaf and allow them to be wind.

Which I do. Which I do, at times, and did, and did publicly, and just did here. I have no answers. I have no grand story. Thoughts, errands, and pulls, today, thoughts, errands, and pulls. I have some. So be it.

So what.

So thank you. Thank you. As I let the white scroll down down down…

Turning it down.

Down.

And off.

Vladimir Kirin – Illustration Croation Tales of Long Ago – 1922

Portal.

Autumnal.

Dripping green plants, plants dripping green, canvas the canyon. The side of the road. The ravine walls. Dripping green plants, ferns, with the droplets in them from on high, little pearl globules in which can be seen winter faces, faces cold as California bone, dripping green plants.

Family standing around a greyish tree, summer. Winter a distant hint on the horizon, gone invisible if only for the slate blue above the horizon, just a strip. Family standing around the pronounced roots of a greyish tree, where the moss has gone grey and climbs up. Family standing around the protruding roots, holding a box, brown, something scrawled on the side, a name. Making jokes, saying words, fidgeting discomfort out; together. A family brought back together, but for such sad means, such sad directives, such sad goals, but together nevertheless. No longer. Together nevertheless, near the porch where the white-haired man, silver – haired man, had sat, arms spread wide, knees splayed, and laughed a throaty laugh stained with a thousand cigarettes. And family holds back tears, emerald light coming down from the sky, and family opens the box, and dumps (I remember exactly what it felt like, the corners hard against my palm, the box slippery so I was afraid I would drop it and disturb the unspoken ritual of the event) the grey brown lumps onto the hillock where the roots are exposed. And they turned, or seemed to turn, to wet cement in front of all our eyes, perhaps Dad kicking turf down around the bottom of the roots, standing there solemnly, a pyramid, his hands clasped below his waste. Sisters hanging off of branches. Brothers standing with strained eyes.

Ray.

Autumnal.

Crystal sky, different shades of the year, different crystal streaks and cracks, they seem to crack over one house in particular, it had a picture hanging in it once, an old man with a beard standing in front of a black funnel in the sky, so it seemed to be moving towards his head and coming out of his head, the crystal above this house cracks and this is where the portal lies.

Family, in all the months, and perhaps that wasn’t summer at all, that was fall, when they let the ashes fall amongst the roots, from tree to tree, everyone getting the chance to say something.

So strange, I thought earlier this morning, strangely enough at a moment of thanking God and being in awe of God, that the family used to run through those meadows, used to sit with the grey-haired man, his arms splayed wide on the porch, used to swing in a playset that seems to have slipped into a crystalline pool, the one behind the house with the portal, a pond, full of giant, prehistoric bugs, how strange that this family should later stand around the roots of a tree, brought together again, to drop damp ashes on the turf.

Later they streaked to grey lines and sunk into the earth, still visible on certain moonlit nights.

How strange, I thought, and wept.

Is this weeping for anyone else’s keeping? Is this weeping of use? Why throw it out here, why display it to the windows of peepers, why place it out, on a platter, flank steak, for masses, no not masses, clumps to nibble and gristle? Why? Why the purple prose?

Stinks.

Autumnal, as the fall dwindles down, Tuesday it ends. Autumnal. Semester complete and I read Ray Bradbury carried to other worlds reeking only mildly of mid-century misogyny, stunning nonetheless, Autumnal, as the leaves all drive down a metal chute.

Autumnal. Stinks.

Following the little brown rabbit wherever it should lead. Into dark ravines. Into the crystal sky, the portal cracked open, the spaceship sliding towards sheets of time. Autumnal and carried away by the rivers of my heart, dark rivers, thin and spindly as rivulets, until they form a skein of veins and sink into the swamp, like ashes sinking slowly, damply, into freshly washed earth. Autumnal.

Bo-bumnal.

Fee fi.

Fo-fumnal.

Damn, that’s some hot writing. Showing off for who? For no one. For myself. For God. For the Family gathered around that tree, and who knew it was just another snapshot, another memory, somewhere along this dark river that nobody knows where it ends, right? Autumnal.

I leave this here, my phone buzzes, my mind swoops through time like tissue paper. I leave this with you, perhaps not useful, a statue, or caramelized rivers from my heart, no not such a grand thing as a river, caramelized rivulets, veins, arteries, small, thin, seeping into the dark earth…

Like roots. Autumnal. Roots, Autumnal, yea high. Go.

I leave this here, flight of fancy, ghosts, but not unhappy. Not dark, not light, not beige, not grey, not nothing. I leave this here Autumnal and bathe my head, go to bathe it, to turn it off. Learning to be more awake. Learning to sleep.

I…leave this here. One autumnal leaf. One song. One. Farewell. Fare.

Fair. Leaves. I leave this here. Autumnal. And fire’s night. Goodbye, goodbye.

John Harris – ? ?

Paper Lace

It could be anything. Swirling feelings, worries, well those are thoughts, all around me, striating my limbs, but this – could be anything, anywhere, any time, any how. Structures are made of paper lace, they were all crafted in my mind, not a crane, not a city scaffolding. And then the realization I don’t want to realize but already have, that the things created by allowing are way more interesting than the scaffolds I try to set up with my mind, just as the Coltrane solo is currently fascinating, as it comes out not of being good, but of processing something.

John Coltrane Quartet – Tunji – 1962

Allowing. Periods are wonderful little breaks. A little gnome man, a man who masturbates too much, today, a man with a deadline a book club and a scary world out there, a world of spiked buildings, but scarier inside. My desires scarier, my dreams scarier, because my fucking walls are paper lace. No. Yes! Much scarier inside because my fucking walls are paper lace. The rules, the scorecard, the list, the goals, the porticos, the gates, the Golden Doors, the windows, all of these walls made of paper lace. All of these lanes simply painted on the floor in invisible ink – that will wash away anyway – as I spin out of control through a space.

No more that can be said about it but that it’s a space.

The walls, the gates, the fences, the high, brick perimeters, the stone roofs, the gargoyles, the wrought-iron, the stucco, the brutalist, the metallic, the subterranean, all of these annals of high, high learning – as thin as paper lace – my understanding of how to use dashes, my desire to use them right – thin, Sammy Boy, thin Sammy tan, thin Samson and Delightful, thinner than – you guessed it – paper lace. The stabbings around Columbia a whirlwind held out only by the thinnest skein of a membrane. The buildings, the White House, the skyscrapers, thin, thin as paper lace, and ready to blow apart at the merest parting of God’s big lips (yes, HER big lips) blowing apart the thin, Swiss cheese membranes of our minds and parting us all from our physical forms down into shadow yards where we lie, our intervening skin as thin as paper…lace.

Lace paper.

So what, though? So what, Sammy, Swami, Sammy Boy, my bucky boyo of the moon, my plucky wanderer of the mountains, my plucky, tree-loving boy of the West kept out East by invisible tigers and terrorists and the terrors of dreams and the dreams in the mind full of things more profane than anything I could unsmilingly say to my therapist, no that’s not true, I could tell her everything and she wouldn’t even bat an eye wouldn’t even look surprised wouldn’t even throw the book and nothing but the book at me nonsense nonsense nonsense I’m on a FLOW now I love letting the nonsense nozzle come unturned and just let it spill out because it puts that paper lace WAAAAAAY WAAAAY in the back of my mind never to bother me again stop.

Stop.

So I stop.

Anxiety is that gas, that gas that wells up between my toes and seems to inflate my fingers, so they punch down on the keys like the fingers of a great hero, but inflatable, inflatable. No need, Sammy Boy, no need to gather this all together, corral it within fences like so many buck steers. Nay. Christmas is coming, and a little boy is wandering forlornly in San Francisco outside the Opera House, sure, absolutely sure, that there’s another world inside. One not quite so sooty or so cold or so confused as the one outside. A world where the Ball lasts forever, and the little boys give gifts to the little girls, a mannered world, world of walls – ah, Sam you’re getting ahead of yourself again. A mannered world. A world of paper lace. And the lace makes the dresses and the little suits – a boy walks a catwalk at the Ritz Carlton and carries a large stuffed Teddy Bear, sure a joke has somehow been played on him, some trick. His pants are too tight, and he thought this was a fashion show. Then why should he have this dysfunctional fashion? Because of some malfunction within surely, within his body with skin as thin as paper lace. That world glowed, back then. I think of Peter Pan, Wendy, and Simon and who was that stupid other little one with the teddy bear, Teddy maybe? Buttons or something? Anyway, they fly over the roofs of Victorian London to another world in the distance. There’s evil in both. All the evils of the adult world in Victorian London. Racism in the other world, plain and simple, a startling disregard for genocide, and a good deal of gender-binary behavior to go with it. A dollop of cleverly disguised and packaged childhood injustice. And the memory, like the walls of the Victorian city by night, tear apart like.

Like.

Like.

Like.

I am not being clever. I am enamored, however, of the warm feeling of peace that just blossomed within my stomach. As I live here in this – this – this – dark, wind-howling world, sure that there are others just over the horizon, thicker than () Thicker than (PL) Thicker than [VAPOR QUAALUDE] thicker…they’re made of sunshine, a bouncy substance thick as any wall, and dreams, a thin and tepid liquid nevertheless strong as steel, imagination, which is a blue smoke that can firmly swaddle and throw one into the sky, and nightmare, which is a thick, black goop and can absolutely buoy you in place with the power of love, and, finally, fear which is also thin but made of tiny, little ropes. These walls exist and boys, let me tell ya, they are THICC.

Not being clever. Paper lace falls from the ceiling. I am paper laced. Pleased

-tahmeetchu.

Sunset Rubdown – Paper Lace – 2009
Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin – Soap Bubbles – ~1733-34

Frosty.

It seems to go on and on. Life is like driving they say. Waffling from thing to thing – from a little more discipline here, a little less there. A little more awareness here, a little less again, oops time for more, oops now I

M overfucussing now I

M trying too hard.

Typos. Typic…

And this old Americana song. Dusty general stores in small settler towns. Trees rife with fog.

I’ll be darned. I am me. My brain seems to be getting harder to use the older I get. My fingernails are long and I don’t like the feeling of them pulling against the keys. And I’’m thinking, of course, over and over and over, whether this will go on my blog. Just the thing to disqualify it from my blog.

I’m half asleep. There’s a lot of mystery right now, but it’s tunnel mystery, it’s dark exploration mystery, it’s …shsh.

I’m hardly breathing and my hands are like flippers flopping all over the keyboard. Thinking, unpleasant, doubt. It’s a doubtful day.

Okay. I allow it I accept it. I’m about to go into school and do a scene from the Bacchae – truly, what pleasure. Sweet Charlotte is going to eat her son’s cabbage head, so why is it all I can think about is whether it will please the teacher or my classmates. I can create in this there is nowhere else I’m going, in fact, there’s resistance to see that I’m HERE. Here. What is this here?

Dark room spread all out from my back but also my front and then deepening energy in the pits of my hip sockets and an extension and a desire, a yearning, a stiffening towards better things, towards skill, talent, and some kind of acceptance by my family my peers the industry the public. Great yearning.

I see you. I’m here. (Can’t press an apostrophe this morning to save my life.) I’m here – and oh funny, I’ve stopped breathing again.

Breath turns around.

Almost always this slow feeling. Feeling, pleasant, humor. I feel as though I’d like to cry. Feeling, unpleasant, sadness.

Okay. I’m here. what’s here? Where’s here? This must be the place.

Coffee.

Coffee! It tastes like golden delicious, sliding down my throat, warming my esophagus, warming my inside. The winter months, I feel them outside like a dragon, closing in on my poor hut, coming in to snap its wings closed around me, freeze me in ice. Winter dragon.

Meanwhile (things I’m not going to say because they’re clever and about me denigrating oh I’ll say it – meanwhile these journal entries these free writes drag on and on.) But I see it now. The winter dragon bearing down on me, and I have grown old with the growth of my root vegetables, with my squashes and jícama and carrots, the crops growing out in my winter garden, in my root cellar, in my winter garden. And the winter dragon is bearing down. He comes from over the blue mountain range, where I look when I plant my hoe and wipe the juice from eyes and stare into the sun.

In this existence I am single, I live alone in my frosty hut, and I have a bank of trees I’ve turned into a tree stand where I bring my lumber and turn it into fuel, the fuel I’ll need to get through these long, winter months, when the dragon comes. This is a rolling land before the blue mountains, my nearest neighbor is over twenty miles away, over the nearest ridge.

The air flows into my back and I know I am not the Winter Gardner, fearful of the Winter Dragon, but an amalgamation of early morning frosts, the landscape near the Farm, the villages of Skyrim, the terrain between the house of Bjeorn and Mirkwood. This is my imagination, and even though I’m in New York City, in Brooklyn, in a white and brown apartment that stretches out from my butt sat tautly in my chair, stretches out behind me with roaches crammed into the cracks, the winter dragon comes the winter dragon comes.

Why?

I leave this on my blog like so much flank steak. What is this winter dragon? The usual – future, death, frost…

I leave this for a snowy trail in the mountains. I leave this for a hot day in Greece. I leave this for a subway train, all those people, packed in, angry, the winter dragon. It blossoms, and just as it blossoms

I leave it. Bye.

William Blake – Jacob’s Ladder (drawing) – 1799-1806