Thursday, June 30, 2011

the mad doctor

This has gone on for years, the outbursts and the incarcerations. Every year some fresh reiteration of some great wheel with-in a wheel, some cosmic truth or ghastly redress. His mind grinds down its gears, all the noise and smoke some new enlightenment, some message from heaven. His mind wrecks, rerunning the same races, changing the names and vectors, changing devils and saints. He is the Buddha, he is Jesus, he is Carlos Castaneda aloft. He is hounded by enmity all around him, he gnashes and bites and drives wildly at any who would help him. He is hospitalized yet again.

We called him "the Mad Doctor" for years, his giddy obsessions seeming like sport to us reckless hedonists and alcohol enthusiasts. Years went by without major episodes or tell-tale troubles. Just some telling difficulty perceiving the objectively real, a stubborn insistence on his own fantastic reasoning despite evidence and testimony to the contrary. He was well into his cycle of containment and collapse, though most around him weren't aware of this yet. I had thought of him as proof of the triumph of psychiatry and psychotherapy, the wild tide of his youth leveed and contained, the shores of his professional success nothing but sunny days to come. I hadn't a single clue.

He will tell you there is nothing wrong with him. He will explain at length how everything is falling apart according to his plans, and that the friends he has attacked and alienated are the crazy ones. It is like Wile E. Coyote explaining the wisdom of his continued pursuit of the Road Runner, without the self-awareness that a cartoon character may muster. He is trapped in a recursive loop, that snake devouring its tail, that dissolution of the eternal climax, the timeless dyad of him versus the world. His sickness slowly consumed his self. That madness so feared and so triumphant, a soul boiled down to mere symptoms.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the slip

You wake up in a room that you never remember on the first try, the television spinning some tired story, the sun having slipped away while you slept. There is a fuzz between your thoughts and their thinking, a static between sensation and all the stored away names. You stand up slow, experience at long last kicking in. It was day and now it is night. You think there ought to be a procedure for this. You think I should come prepared.

It is that first gravelly reach, the long dim road behind the eyes. It is that sudden distance between you and your name. All these years spent wandering in the dark, you'd think it would get easier. All these years of burning bridges, you'd think there'd be fire enough to see. You wake and wander just far enough to reclaim the life you never bargained for, then it is the wonder that you would even make the effort. This life you feel you could take or leave.

Maybe it is how the moon slowly disappears, devoured by shadow then returned slice by slice. Maybe it is the way the caterpillar enters the cocoon never to be seen again. You are one thing until you aren't, or you are the same and always changing. Nobody is asking. Nobody needs to know. This life, the next one, all the ones in between-- nobody's taking orders. The days that are squandered, the days that are cherished-- one by one they pass on by. You wake again and again in the life you have, whether or not it is the wrong one. No-one is worrying about the name.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

of a summer rain

The rain gathers in the gutters. The rain showers from the eaves. Slugs and snails take to the sidewalks, easing their way towards their next meal. The day begins and ends cool and gray. The pavement making mirrors, the sky painted slate. This is where the night unwinds. This is how all the lights go down.

I stare into the ceiling, I watch the shadows claim the walls. Outside the rain gossips and chatters, falling in slow sheets and glittering lines. Outside there is traffic and weather and human interest stories, all the makings of local news. I lean against a chair, feeling the misgivings of my architecture and all the aches of age. The clock slows, bending each hour against its frame. I settle into each moment of this vast decline.

All in all, it is the wrong kind of silence. It is the sort of settling that only feeds defeat. Options are lost as the mind becomes static, thoughts wander dully through the graveyards of memory. Sort through the probable, use up the words. Watch the sky for trouble, watch your back for the next bite of chance. The seasons all fall into place, more or less as expected. The rain falls into the growing night.

Monday, June 27, 2011


She closes her eyes, but it doesn't help. There is no shutting the inside out. Like the stone that hides inside of stone or the water hidden with-in so much water, she slides inside the swarms of teeth and needles, sealing the deal. All the dreams of care-free flesh, all the days of work and plunder, drowning inside the whole of her indifference, smothering inside this undue certitude. She closes her eyes, but he is still there.

He closes his hand, but it won't help. There is no amount of beating that will win the day. These battles of imagined deities, this eternal war for these smug souls that plays out between every line. The conceit that all this fighting needs a reason, that the fist answers anything other than the measure of force applied, that this violence has a cause outside the snake-pit of his mind. He struggles to explain, knuckles split and bleeding.

There is smoke. There is the clink of empty glass. There are bricks and there are boards, all the conspiracies of greed and commerce gathered in lines and stacks. There is a roof above, a floor below, and a sea of opposition all around. They spoke words together, before assembled witnesses. They spoke out of turn, the world knowing so much more about them than they ever could. They toil together, tangled in their struggle. That noisy oath that echos through their rooms and hallways, that promised parting come death.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


The air is still thick as the sun goes down. Whatever heat is left still lingers, clinging to the shadows, trickling down my skin. The idle rumor of a porch-light on, moths and spiders gathered on the screen. Summer is green, glistening wings arising from stagnant water. Summer is blue, tall draughts of silty voices, ink blotting out the stars.

The ache returns like any tradition, missing the calendar, settling for the flesh. The stress and lull of muscle and tendon clasps hands with the sad drowned dumpling of my brains, like finding like, ill finding ill. Bone weary and soul sick, I stare out the window, watching the sky change costumes. This sorry ballad, this lonesome feel. The parts of living that are left over, scraps and offal, bitter dregs.

I could use a drink or two, a cup of coffee and a little conversation. I could use a trail to follow or a wishing star. This mood is on me, and this mood will pass. All things change, even those that endure. This is what little wisdom I have salvaged from a life lived like a riot. This is the charm claimed from defeat after defeat. The feelings come and they all but ruin me. The feelings leave and I am left alone. I could use another way.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


There are rivers of blood that abut this house. Streams of livid flesh and intent that arrived upon my shores many years ago. Tangled teachings and lessons learned and story after story gleaned from the cusps where one tongue becomes the next. Trees and tales and slender branches bowed with the best fruit. Stones rolled away and the dead again alive and all the bravura of nameless gods and forgotten heroes. A cult of war caught up in brotherhood religions, the hunter's trail leading through the farmers fields, bearing the wisdom of the wild and the tamed.

Wave-forms collapse with every shift of focus. The world is painted in wait and want, everything unsettled beneath our dancing feet. You hear the worried prating about culture wars, usually made by those that have just become aware that there are ways held that are not their own. The truth is that every road traveled changes something, every meal shared or word mispronounced. Art and ritual and apostasy changing shape over years rather than millennia. The received wisdom of the ancients spills from every lip, the temples all empty, as useless as tombs.

The news is full of war and theft, these dead-pan expansions of broken oaths and brutal certainty. Bullets and bombs play at persuasion, while these made up strictures of oil and specie are offered to those who bleed and starve. Towers built upon the shifting sands scant decades ago are held up as proof of the story of civilization. The march of progress, slave ships and burning forests, dead soil and blackened fields. Caught up in the steep decline, the last words of human striving that impatient cry of faster, faster.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Sweat beads upon my forehead, sweat glistens on my arms. Sweat soaks through the thin green cotton t-shirt, damp fabric sticking to my chest and shoulders. The sun beats down all my doors, it burns away every shadow though the day is soft and mild. I can feel the heat burning away, all this energy trapped in my pallid, splotchy flesh. Only a handful of days into summer, mostly only warm ones, and I am ready to abandon the kitchen forever. I squander a few more hours, daylight taking all it is due.

These are the days of waiting, the routine and ritual of one foot after the other. This is the ring danced before the ashes and the fall. Children laughing in pool and sprinkler, the neighborhood dogs barking unrestrained. Armies of ice-cream trucks and strangers straggling in passing to bum a smoke. I carry the aches of labor and indolence, subtle moments weighing surprisingly heavy on my back. It is that incandescence of doubt, the languor of the ever unknown that grants what little comfort comes crawling along. Heat and rot and obscurity the only payments that arrive on time.

The words wear out, used again and again without grace or tact. The native tongue runs laps around the inevitable drain. The sun keeps the earth in tow as we spin and spin, wobbling through our particular seasons. The days are lean and fleeting, flickering vaguely against the dank screen of perception. Years take flight as we grow so small and tired and gray. Every fire forsaking its fuel, every spark easing into ashes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


There is a seance high amid the green of leaves, the self another sudden conspiracy, the sea somehow breathing deep blue sky. Words woven from the brush work of branches and the ceaseless wind. Voices caught aloft and lost among birds and clouds. This ocean so anxious and so lost above.

Heaven is cast into the depths, a ventriloquy of brittle pieces crushed and scattered to the stars. The sky sinks into a brooding blue, soon settles into its secret thoughts. There is a sense that if you had only learned to listen outside of your mind it would all come together. These whispered lessons and strange incantations, the clarity of legions boiled away to this certain essence. There is a sense that it would all appear, line after line, some poem or sermon written in flesh and chiton and cellulose. Alone, these moments crowd.

Skin and bone, ghost and blood, we are tethered to this insistent dust. Heart and soul, brain and mind, we are tangled in these fractured tongues. The sun goes down, the light goes out, and we are wide awake in this sullen dream. Someone missed or someone wanted. Someone forgotten or someone denied. These strays and phantoms, these misfires and ricochets. Someone scratching at the window when we know there is no-one there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


The stars flicker and vanish, reborn again with each sway of leaf and limb. The light is left behind in bleary eye and fitful memory, those maps of constellations. Those skies littered with satellites and tiny wings. Swarms of mosquitos buffet and drift, following each whispered hint of blood. They descend trails of breath and sweat in silent hunger, glints of instance, sparks of life. Every sliver a gem, every being a spark.

We walk the earth for our given portions. We work our angles, toil along in our seething skins. Tangled in promises, given no guarantees, we grieve and conspire and wrestle for our saints and lies. We honor our deepest fears and distant gods, rewriting the story again and again and again. In a world of wonders, we step on every line and crack.

There was this moment, cool blue and golden. There was this moment, stuck in the throat of dawn. A bumblebee lit almost incidentally by the line of the horizon and the last dapplings of night floated for a moment, caught between fall and flight. It flickered out of sight, on some urgent mission above the gravel and high weeds. But for a moment there was this dense entanglement of distant elements, the false star of Venus and the shine of water in the sky. The bee glittering in the colors of dawn, everything woven together in their shed trajectories. This sea of strangers adrift in the work of the world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

in the dark

The air unfolds slowly, the weight and temperature of fevered flesh. The feel of skin on skin as I walk through the atmosphere, moving from room to room. The moon slips in through the screen, another stranger staring through shadows. My breath is a tide of ragged whispers and broken hinges. Too much is never enough.

I close my eyes and listen to the fan shoving dust around. I watch the shadows crawl up the wall, headlights shoved through blinds and glass. There is the television, there is the radio. There is the computer, full of light and distance. Everything overwhelms or misses the mark. I float somewhere between notions. I am suspended between arguments for everything I am against.

It is night and it is dark, my head is cluttered with teeth and shadows. Each day passes without note, each night flies like time plus fun. My life is stuffed in boxes, my life is stacks of books, memories that keep recurring, thoughts I can't think through. Most every contingency plan I have has a caliber or a gauge. My breath is a crowd of rags and spiders. Outside the world smolders away.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

the written

The corner of the page was folded back, marking your place or saving some phrase, the book just gathering dust on a crowded shelf. Another note in the margins, another letter saved for contrast, love lost measuring some fracturing of intimacies, some distance only measurable in words. The faith we declaim always there in that breathless hand until it is broken. There is where the record always leaves us, at the beginning of the better portion of your labors.

These marks and measures still surprise me, falling out of novels and dictionaries, lipstick kisses in some notebook full of half poems and declarative sentences. Numbers and names that have long since lost their purpose, meaning the last thing to leave. The heart and its misgivings, the soul and its migrations. Ask the moon, ask the stars-- they are all the witness left me. Ink and paper fading, dissolving in their hidey-holes, cracking at each crease and fold.

There was a time when we were raised as readers, keepers of the bound and the aged. Words were weighed too heavily, honor worn ragged in public tattered by these castles of deceit and invective. Belief lived there nestled between the lines until the lines fell, one by one. Those letters and kisses kept past reason still carry the warmth of breath and intent of lip you left in them. The pages marked and places saved, like a candle left burning against the night. A light left to find a path, or warn travelers to stay away. Something to hold the place where the writing all ran out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Rain or not, the clouds roll by. The streets are ringed with grit and gravel. Every word out my mouth seems either swear or oath. Every bite I take is seasoned with sand. Nothing I do is reasoned right. Nothing I do will redeem me.

It is in the flickering of distant stars through the swaying limbs of trees. It is in the sparkle of salt spilled on the table. Dishes leaning in the sink, the knife already drying in the rack. The door locked up against a night that feels already too long and warm. There is the drift washed in along side the missed meaning. There is the sound of fingers on plastic keys, my hands too heavy to get it right.

Futile doesn't worry me much any longer. Futility is the flavor of much that is needed, and all that is allowed. This exercise in lapse and grasp is pointless, and might be well past played out. The lost words are always slipping away, the point of the problem seems too elusive to allude towards any more. Too much make-believe makes the real invisible. Fill up on empty too long, hunger is all that is left.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

the drift

There is nothing to see here. The blues that abide ride the winds and spill into the west. The crows gliding to their roost, the scrub jay drinking from a rain gutter on the roof next door. The confusion of clouds and stars as the sun settles its tab and the night stands up on its hind legs, ready to run. Sleep slipped out with the strays and the lights. Everything is the color of wet pavement. Everything is only painted on.

There is nothing to say now. Words swarm, schooling in tides of circles, every snake out to swallow its tail. Bitter coffee and sullen steel press like a silencing finger against my lips. This is it for the kiss, this is the postscript to the prelude, the epilogue for an epitaph. Even once everything is over, it isn't done. Write out the length and breadth of your life, the words dissolve like breath. Just a flavor lingering between tooth and tongue. Just a sentiment mistaken for a spice.

What else is there to do? Things that were left out are all put away. The dogs have been walked and the house has been battened down for the night. The clock tells stories that the heart wants to hear. The heart tells stories fit for neither beast or bird. No depths, no wonders. Flesh and bone and blood, keeping the lights on for the ghost. All the books and boxes, all the corners and cravings. All set sail in this cunning stillness. Catch a wind or the drift.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

deep dark truthful mirror

The dark days arrived in slept through storms and sudden thunder, a little more lost and forgotten every day. The mind slowly paints itself into a corner, banishing the world stroke by stroke. Each limit bristles and bends against the imagined canvas, the brush tense and giving, the color a diminishing of bandwidth, a slipping against the light. The mind gnashes and seethes, ready to lash out at everything, attempting to extinguish these smoldering feelings. Black cloud, blue sky-- everything seems the same.

Pains breed and pleasures die slowly in the corner, ignored and abandoned to the passing tense. It is a sickness of heightened awareness and intense omission, moods steely and vulnerable to the least unsettled breeze. The mirror offers up its cruel opinions, the light always pressed with ache and dust. I escape briefly in the ardor of difficult reading, the limits that grieve me some small respite. The tangled brain momentarily ceases devouring itself and I forget myself. There is some slight sanctuary even for the useless and the perverse.

Stare into the grimy glass, listen to the groaning walls and the wailing wind. Stare a hole through this thing made of light and contempt. Stare straight into the bottom of the reflected lie. This sickness is never about victory, it is all about endurance and mitigating failure. This sickness is written in the chemistry of my thinking, it is sunken toxically into the depths of my made-up soul. My own dull dead eyes, lit without light, function without utility. My slack and graven visage more caricature than face, a limp and bloated cartoon of comic lack and lament. All these thoughts diving down. Everything the color of lead or steel.