Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Brief Visit to the Nineteenth Century


I have collected in emptied Gatorade bottles and other assorted plastic containers what must be six or seven gallons of water; enough to flush the toilet several times, wash my hands, maybe a few dishes. Who knows. Maybe even “shower” if the water department doesn’t have the water back on by 2:00 p.m. as they promised. It will be cold. But I can pour water over my head. I know I can do that because I’ve seen it done in a gazillion westerns. The day of the big showdown what does the handsome gunslinger do? He goes to a pitcher and bowl in the window of his hotel room overlooking Main Street and sloshes himself with water so that he can smell of lavender when he puts on his Colt .45 and strides out the door to his victory or his doom.
That’s correct. I’m about to go on a journey back in time to the Nineteenth Century. To Jesse James and outhouses and women in Victorian dress baking bread and stuffing poetry in drawers with lacy underthings and sachet bags. To muddy main streets dotted with horse dung. To creaky windmills, player pianos, enticing lounges, inviting easy chairs, jolly prostitutes and antimacassars. To stubborn mules and gold nuggets and babbling brooks. To the hand-cranked pump on my grandmother’s prairie farm. To squeaky brass beds and horse blankets and chickens everywhere. To player pianos and hot air balloons and P.T. Barnum and the Pony Express.
And to what or to whom do I owe this voyage back into time? Sir Richard Branson? Bill Gates? Larry Page? Sergey Brin? The ghost of Steve Jobs?
Nope: the Seattle City Water Department.
The main water valve to our building is shutting off at 8:30 a.m. in order to prevent any debris or impurities into our water system. The water department is shutting the water off at 9:00 a.m. to repair a main water valve for our neighborhood. Water will be shut off for X number of households within an area of approximately ten city blocks.
This is a first. First time that I’ve lived in a modern U.S. city in which the water was turned off for an entire neighborhood. And remember, this is Seattle, not Detroit. This is the city of Amazon and Boeing and Starbucks and Microsoft.
This is not, admittedly, the first time I’ve had my water turned off. That happened forty-five years ago, the same year in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left boot prints in the lunar dust.
I’d been living for two weeks in a small trailer in Arcata, California in back of a Mexican restaurant. I was renting the trailer from an old man named Rocco who was forever digging and planting potatoes in a small vacant lot, wearing a welder’s cap and maintaining a small drop of snot on the tip of his nose that never seemed to gain quite enough mass to go ahead and drip to the ground.  He was illegally tapped into the Mexican restaurant’s water supply. Whether they were privy to this use or complicit in the malfeasance, I don’t know. What I do know is that my water one day disappeared and I had to walk to the water department before attending classes at Humboldt State to find out what was going on. I walked into a spacious office where a number of clerks and water officials looked up at me. I explained the situation. They told me the water was shut off because it was illegal to obtain water that way. But what am I supposed to do? No answer. A shrug of the shoulders. That’s your problem, buddy.
But an entire neighborhood? This is a first. Something, the guy at the Water Department explained (after a solid twenty minutes of listening to Irish dance music on the telephone and being bounced from one official to another), to do with a main water valve requiring urgent renewal.
Which leads one to wonder how it managed to find itself in such drastic condition in the first place. I mean, check me if I’m wrong, but we did put a man on the moon forty-five years ago, right?
Right. So what was that again? A bad water main. Which (according to the aforementioned official who fielded my cranky call) would be very bad if it weren’t replaced. Meaning everyone’s furniture will be floating in muddy water all the way to the ceiling if it breaks.
So at 8:30 this morning it’s goodbye, 21st Century. Hello, Nineteenth Century.
Meanwhile, as if in blatant mockery of the situation, it’s raining. Hard. I can hear it. The trickle trickle pitter pattery shhh shhh sound of rain pelting leaves and soil. It’s a chill November day. Except it’s not. November, that is. It’s late July.
Seriously: late July. And it’s like frigging November outside. Goodbye planet earth, it was good knowin’ ya. Hello whatever planet this is. The planet in which Florida, the Florida Keys and the Maldives disappear. The planet in which tornados and hurricanes of enormous freakish power become the norm. In which mass extinction occurs. In which the water department shuts off the water supply to the households of a major city. To repair the valve to the rickety water main. Which dates from the Nineteenth Century, I’m guessing.
I get some breakfast made and the dishes cleaned before the water disappears. Scrambled eggs, toast with strawberry jam, grape juice. I’m ready now. Ready for the Nineteenth Century. Ready for Regency Dress, candlelight dinners, hay rides, cattle drives, Winchester repeating rifles, Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, stovepipe hats and gunslingers. Ready for rowdy saloons, swinging chandeliers, frilly hoop skirts, ballroom dances and Walt Whitman. Good old Walt. It’ll be great to see the old guy again. Thank you Seattle City Water Department. Thank you for this brief visit to the Nineteenth Century. Thank you for helping me to appreciate the miracle of running water. It is, truly, a miracle. Thank you for this miracle. I mean, once you get everything running again.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Understanding Marble


First the neon is manipulated into utterance. Then the listening reaches meaning. Conflict vowel the gorilla suddenly buttons. I am antennas pounding toward a hose as biology assumes the comedy of eyes, he thinks. Sweat since amaryllis flames. The enzymes meanwhile maintain a clever inflammation, or memory. The blood groove door stiffens vowels into hurricane characteristics. Society is palpable. It makes musical sense in and of itself. Beard how lagoon buckles the guitar of heated coagulate. Tabled momentum. Proud scarf parts rhapsody wheel sprinkling how propellers diamond like the epitome of noon. Native gloss shining on another river. Ding-a-ling since the microphone has life. An epidemic gland pumping nations of blood. A nation is a form of rhythm, or distinction, which organizes itself so that its gaps become visible. I brush my teeth with everything especially water, blood pulsing through a kink in the hose, at which point the safari must be a naked wire. We put our things in a locomotive history jarred in feeling. Gorillas pitch tacks. My lettuce brims with words floating in air. Frederic Remington messes with the timid bureaucracy of mass to make it all brawl. I have rapids pouring personality on a kitchen string. Saxophone which seemed to be a salamander ordnance. An adhesion to bamboo is a kind of diagrammatic cake. Busy tools of cinnamon farm bubbles with grass and nerves knotted in confluent air. Surf spreading with the cacophony of a cafeteria. The sound of form throbbing principle which energy necessitates to cherish an insect. I am out entirely grooved and cupped as if by birds. The fulfillment of flavor is clay for digesting lightning. Acorns pound toward the city ever since pentameter shattered the gates of philosophy. Thus coal lines the arithmetic intestine. Generous bold laughter. Surgery at dawn in a cage of ice and fire. There has to be an aura. A gathering for the mind. Death is a nozzled insinuation. Suddenly the timid fat that makes the tempo goofy is modestly aquatic. Reading is inundation. A form of incense falls on the arena and discerns special lighting effects. Once I intoxicated a bowl of equal temperament with logarithms until it spit pure distilled rage. Asphalt is embouchure. The management causes the arteries to expand with conflict. The saddle that indulges bruises. Notions of mud savor a gap not for its radius but for its mass. The membrane emits blue light at a muscular thought. Thought is muscular to anything that floats. Graceful eyebrow, or lumber. At such streams area argues life and carries black to huge saturations of coal, dimes between the guns plucked from a stem of intonations to strengthen the sunflowers till the pitch of eternity sails black when the moon is white and pink hemorrhages music. An apricot wound is never the same because its mimicry is thinking. Asparagus argues music. Indigo indicates that no emotion can exist without faucets and dripping and pork chops. Noise is bolted to cactus. It is instrumental to move with the moisture into dogwood, and then feel a glad idea of husks when the crocodiles become tools for this philosophy of fire to get laughing. A magnet is a dog. A dog is a magnet. Everything else is chemistry, an enticement toward understanding marble.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dark Matter


Astrophysicists tell us that there is a dark matter in space which cannot be seen directly with telescopes because it neither emits nor absorbs light or electromagnetic radiation at any significant level. It’s simply matter that isn’t reactant to light. Its presence is inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter, discrepancies between the mass of large astronomical objects and the luminous matter they contain in the form of stars, gas, and dust.
This astrophysical revelation has created a paradigm shift à la Nicolaus Copernicus. His De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres), published in 1543, presented an alternative model of the universe to Ptolemy’s geocentric system. Suddenly, human beings were no longer at the center stage of a universe created for our benefit. We were floating around a sun, just one of a million other suns, on a large ball of rock and gas.
Our comprehension of the universe was rocked again in 1932, the same year that Mickey Mouse was first syndicated, George Burns and Gracie Allen debuted as regulars on the Guy Lombardo Show, and Adolf Hitler got his German citizenship.
1932 was the year that Dutch astronomer Jan Oort shook the scientific world by demonstrating that the Milky Way rotates like a giant Catherine Wheel and that all the stars in the galaxy were “travelling independently through space, with those nearer the center rotating much faster than those further away.” This indicated that some immense gravitational pull exerted by an invisible matter must be the cause. Oort developed parameters that show the differential rotation of the galaxy called Oort Constants. From these it’s possible to infer the mass density of the Galactic Disk, much of which appears to be invisible. There, but not there. What may be holding it together is something called WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles) that interact through gravity and the weak force, which is responsible for the radioactive decay and nuclear fusion of subatomic particles, and is sometimes called quantum flavordynamics.
This means that roughly 96% of the universe is missing. It’s made of stuff astronomers can’t see, detect, or even comprehend.
I find the implications of this quite enchanting. That is to say, the knowledge that there are phenomena not available to my senses nor for that matter highly sophisticated scientific apparatus offers quite a promising path for speculation. If there are phenomena not perceivable by way of our senses, how much that is “out there” eludes our sight and hearing and taste and touch and smell?
Dark matter appears to be composed of a type of subatomic particle not yet defined, quantum flavordynamics aside. I love these anomalies. The insinuation of snow where there can be no possibility of snow. Where snow is an idea, a potential, a matter in consciousness wrestling our perceptions into some mode of apprehension, despite their worldly configuration. Snow isn’t dark matter, but as matter goes, it’s pretty weird stuff.
So are lobsters. And rattlesnakes and waterfalls. But this is a weakness. I am encroaching too much on the perceptible world to suggest the imperceptible. Ghosts, for instance. The whole timid map of Hamlet’s hesitations and all those flowers Ophelia mentioned before she drowned like a water lily overcome by the imagery of romance. We all know there is something else, some other thing or things in existence that we can almost apprehend but that elude language, the efforts we make with words to paint phenomena into existence, into palpability. Into flame, sod, and linear momentum. Mohair, wisdom, a pudding of sound produced by a zither in a cave somewhere in Spain. The Yukon at dawn. An antique emotion moving around in our blood like a cat.
A black cat with iridescent eyes and a murderous ease. 
Is there a sound for sand? When sand is barely moving but evidence of its moving is available to the fingers, its grains tricking between our fingers in equations of fluent particularity?
There is a certain aroma in Rome that hints of lamps. That meanders over the kneecap like a hand. There is nothing mechanical about the numeral zero. Zero is not available to our nerves. It stands for nothing, means nothing. Literally. It is a sign for nothing. But zeros are involved in the search for dark matter. Quadratic equations attempt to unify vacuum energy, radiation and dark energy with a constant density equaling that of a Planck density and by doing so reveal (if we are lucky) the symmetry of an early universe of vacuum energy plus radiation with our more recent universe with radiation and dark energy. These are polytropic equations, or the raw spontaneity of conjurations made on the spur of the moment. In any event, all quadratic equations require the use of zero, as if zero were a kind of singing, an acacia in back of a church that anchors itself in the imagination when there is nothing else there to indicate cobblestones or gerunds. Nothing that isn’t ambiguous, ambivalent, or trout. Our blood will be our salary. Our heat will be our morality. Everything else is intricate and exponential, and so the room expands, and the heart with it, as our words emerge from the vinegar of description to reflect the message of parallels coming from the prodigal wildlife of a temperature in love with pi.
Dark matter, indeed. Words just glitter out of it, as if born there, as if born to a medium that breaks in the hand like a pod of water lotus.
Look at the clouds some evening when the sun goes down, how they accumulate light, flare it out in reds and violets and oranges and turquoise, then darken into shapes the honky tonk moon turns to different matter. To matters of better understanding. The humility of gravel. The snapping of veins against a startling nipple of fleshly undulation. And the world is so perpetuated by these yearnings that something dark comes out of it and bounces into the eyes in a strudel of electrifying darkness. And one’s being lights up in such ecstasy, to know that existence can be this audacious, this ability to stick to itself with such lyrical mathematics that occurrence is a whirl with apricot declarations and unscrupulous temperatures. And escalators act like tides. And words grow large and borscht in their sugar of grace.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Desperado Earthquake


Desperado earthquake consonants walking into flight, deliberately boiling. Tumbles are similar to parakeets. You can open your mouth and let out a mutation. Dreaming is soft. Nerves tumid with candy branch out into rain. This is a way to suggest buds breed ermine and space hastens proof of a river to give birth to a scribble. And property and war. Lines in poetry happen when a color bangs into feeling. Propulsion is this occurrence of mountain, this consciousness which is hysterical. For mirrors are a daily peevishness to rhyme a door with or find understanding and resurrecting it in rivulets. I must come to a striking conclusion and say that on behalf of my habits I’m throwing you a shillelagh. Perception is the opera that follows the reeds to the wasp that peppers the air with buzz and photosynthesis. Branches sip the stars and products dwell in that which follows tumbling. That is a pleasant way to say popcorn pops best in a house of punctuation. Rain notwithstanding. Substance and crying is first adopted then rented then pulled into anything resembling watermelon. Understanding texture is spherical or black and movement is possible like a hotel. But a color, a color with a little meat on it can blow like a trumpet and if it follows my pen into description it may also seethe with music. A wasp has eyes and wings. Glowworms are overtures. And walnuts have plenitude in them transformation figures and auks on a sweatshirt that happens to be sincere. Platters that overrun convolution with notebooks. Musical crocodiles everyone could invoke, establishments of line swelling out with music. Note the orbiting tongue. Cake perpetuates merriment. Ballast puddles the flash. Go, pinch fifteen goldfish or jail the rain. The palm keeps its gasoline housed in its arteries. Mulch dogged by detachment. Bronze proclaiming symptoms of paper. This means mustang. And inventions like desperado thyroid escalators. The calculus of calamity. The coffee tub in a walnut and a rocket in an opera. One might conceive of a puddle as a parable. The skin of space by hooking packets of sugar embraces the grapefruit. The bamboo is not an illusion. Incense is more indiscriminate. Cold differentials jettisoned into crystallization, just like Friday. You isn’t fictive the crabs are its art as if phosphor flirts with calico and thirst plays with a suggestion in the mouth, creating a mood of introspection, wrinkled Cadillac and each headlight a marvel of engineering. The language of morning is an angel of plausible grammar. My mouth crashes through a poem but I cannot get the lid off of the jam jar. The use of a jukebox is that when its circles are lakes everywhere turns chrome and shines like a song. Build a river and everything quivers. Go crazy in a tent and fables of rotation turn ape and alp and tulips. The jeep has principles, dude. Pay attention. Always have postage available. You never know when the sand is going to riot in your shoes and getting a few pieces of sound down on a piece of paper will obtrude from you like theory. The stars outside the city are delicate as the skin of grapes. The air is gentle as jewels of light in a TV studio. Go wildly pictorial. You can do it. You can have it all. It makes you want to hunker down and disintegrate. Discover peculiar hormones and then go physical in a bowl of cream. Paper does everything it can to resemble vinegar. The Rolling Stones fishing for polyphony. And here I am a fringe on the outskirts of time. Lumps of constant relation to things. Twilight palms and dissipation. Drumming and gravity and color opening its bolts to stroll through a howl overflowing with church. Age is richly ornamented with slow salvos of dirt from your manifesto, my dear Dada Friend. Yes, you, the one with the desperado earthquake consonants on your lapel. Twinkling and flashing as if some voices were thick and others more like horticulture. I have overruled your servitude. My rhythms are going north. I have enough serration for a mountain of hacksaws. Tom Waits huddled in a tug. Airplanes in his hair. 
 
 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Song Brocade


There is a song of silk called Song Brocade. Brocade during China’s Song Dynasty put its emphasis on liveliness and color. Eye candy. Brilliant colors, exquisite patterns, a supple and resistant texture. Expensive and heavy, it wasn’t suitable for clothing, but had about it the bulk of sunlight. Its patterns dreamed in the woof and warp of graceful dexterity. It created a geometry of flowers and animals, clouds and dragons. Colors were divided into three categories: harmonic colors based on yellow, harmonic colors based on grey, contrasting colors based on red, green and orange. One imagines the sound of the looms as a clatter and a fabulous sincerity of effort, as if a kind of surgery were being performed, or consciousness loomed from wood.  

Evergreens swayed by the Yangtze. Rain puddled in the hollows of flagstone. Sandalwood incense brocaded the quiet air in the Temple of the Loom Spirit.  

Jîn is Chinese for ‘brocade.’ As in: 水中的涟漪在阳光的照射下似锦缎布匹一样光滑油亮。
“The ripples on the water are as smooth and bright as a brocade under the sunshine.”  

English brocade comes from Italian broccato, meaning “embossed cloth,” panno in rilievo, and has the same root as the word “broccoli.” In Italian, the verb broccare means “to stud, to set with nails,” which comes from brocco, small nail, which in turn comes from Latin broccus, “projecting, or pointed.” These words put my mind in relation with sharp things that poke, that are meant to penetrate cloth, and raise threads to a condition of legibility, in the same way that a pen might measle paper with the needlepoint of life, transcendence, transformation, the private soliloquys that whistle us into tumults of elaborated thought.  

Brocade occurs in writing when the intent is to make of language a tool of precision, a spigot of points, needles, gold, silver, silk, nebulous desires, communion, incarnations of text and texture, the energy of signs, of prophecies and fables, roots and origins, buffalo and pearls, ecstasies and convulsions, fabulous voyages, marriage propositions, death in the family, epiphanies, exotic wildlife, savage ruminations, mythological creatures, worms and Turkish harems.  

Themes are never truly singular but a matter of warps and woofs, a cross-weaving of contraries, an attempt to bring meaning and pattern to the arbitrariness of signs and experience. Mocassins and prayers mix with picks and ribbons, dragons and glowworms, glissandos of conscioussness resonant as Zhejiang gongs. The impulsion of blood the refinement of orchids. Time and gravity are cross-weavings of woof and warp in the loom of space. The semantic froth of allegory floats the creak and groan of speculative wood. The delicacy of sand reveals ripples of wind. There is a weaving of everything that stretches as far as the grandeur of time in infinity’s phantasmal silk.  

 

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

In Defense of the 2nd Person


I was surprised the first time I encountered hostility toward the use of the 2nd person. What’s not to like about the 2nd person? The 2nd person is you, my friend. The wonderful utility of the 2nd person is that it can be you, and you, or you. There is a certain ambiguity as to whom the you happens to be. Who is doing the you-ing? Use of the you is tantamount to conducting an interior dialogue, but from the outside rather than the inside. This is wizardry. This is like a talking oyster. You, my sweet friend, you are a talking oyster, a marvel of biology, an emotion in the wild, a philosophy crackling with accusation. You are an identity heretofore hidden by a shell but now you’re in the open. You’re a glob of shiny muscle. You’re a steaming pronoun of dreamlike convolution. You resemble a vagina. You perturb the usual restrictions of identity with dislocation. You you you. You dot, you knot, you goblet of brine.
The 2nd person always sounds a little angry, a little accusatory. As in “you get up and make breakfast and find the Cheerios are gone.” Or, “You move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel.” If, for example, you had said “I get up and make breakfast and find the Cheerios are gone,” the statement invites a little sympathy. Or if you say “I move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel,” this, too, sounds a little wistful and sad. But to say “you move into traffic dreaming of life in a big hotel,” it suddenly has the faint implication of guilt, as if you were putting everyone on the road at risk because of your selfish daydreaming when you’re supposed to be giving your full attention to driving.
Each time the pronoun ‘you’ is uttered you can feel the weight of the intonation. The lonely ‘ooooo’ of that rounded vowel is a jewel of emotional availability. The vowel is open and so is the identity. You is wonderful for talking about pain. “You’re in pain and you don’t know what to do.” This is not just you, this is everyone who has ever been in pain.
You enters narrative space in a potash of smoldered logic. You’re integral to the shattered voice of monologue. You’ve become universal. You’ve become a calamity that occurs to everyone.
You is the lusicious voice of metaphysics. You are an eyeball creaking on a kitchen floor. You’re a body. You’re buxom. You’re in a room full of fruit. Your nose is a personality beneath the two dots that pass for eyes. You’re a cartoon. You’re unreal. You’re real. You’re so real you’re unreal.
You in a bathing suit riding a rocket to Mars. You feel raw and beautiful. You feel spasmodically tolerant. You feel adhesive and secret. You feel that sincerity is underrated and so you give voice to the fragrance of insinuation. You have the longitude of consciousness and the latitude of a hemorrhaging wisecrack.
You can do anything. You can go anywhere. You say light and a light appears. You wiggle like a cup of freshly poured coffee. You yells mood to the imponderable moment of meaning in a chopstick grammar. You noodle you. You strudel you. You you you. What’s not to like about you? 

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Caliban's Dream


Today I’m feeling crabby and haggard and technology makes it easy to get to the point. Premonitions climb into my mind and glue words to my enzymes. Does that sound crazy? Of course it does. Totally fucking nuts. But what can I say? Have you ever read Barbara Guest? Or Shakespeare? Hobbes, Hume, Locke? I’m going to Mars. Fuck this planet. I’m out of here baby. I want a house on Mars where the little hairs on the arm can feel the hot wind of a barren landscape. Where the bizarre can bear the misanthropic larder of my logarithmic agonies. Where I can multiply the phosphor behind the eyes and sigh into miracles of depth. I’m fed up with my habits. I want new habits. Martian habits. Otherworldly habits. The embrace of oblivion the energy of words climbing out of their definitions and dancing in ablution. In exaltations of wildcat glitter. The candy of abstraction is such that a mint can provide the mouth with a blade of flavor. A drop of blood on the end of a charming knife. Side effects may include fidgeting, sandstone, and texture. I am turning magician. I am turning steam and steel. I can flip a color into talk. I can fiddle a contingency into convulsive salvation. I will out-Prospero Prospero. I will seek providence in spit, spirit in clouds of dust. Words will ride my emotions into ghostly pronouns of disfigured remembrance. I will bring with me the resilience of fish, the sterling apparitions of gaslight fog, sandwiches put together on quiet afternoons with alligator meat and the crisp lettuce of dissonance. I will do it with smoke and mirrors. This stuff called language. This stuff called consciousness. No one can chain consciousness. Consciousness is a ghostly condition: a rumor of waves. I call it a curse. I call it a formula. I call it a reticulum and a paradox. I call it polyglot. There are private excitements that sing in us their clumsy melodies and bring an incandescent clarity to flowers of the mind. I am a monster on earth but on Mars I will be natural as rock. I will feel what I want to feel and not feel ashamed. Here on earth I am the thick mud of life’s horrible sugar. I am the vinegar of failure. I am punished by my appetites. I am bearded in bees and tortured by swamp mosquitoes. I am done with the trinkets of earth. I am done with the petty ambitions and daily monotonies of freeway hell. Why Mars? you ask. Why such a barren place? Because I want to be free of desire. I want the opposite of desire. I am gluttonous for dust. For a throat of granite. It is language alone that properly speaks, and it speaks in solitude. It comes to presence in its essential unfolding. It comes to radiance in its essential being. I was once outside of it looking in. But now that I have the trick of it, I will use it to walk outside into the light. And that will be my theme. The theme of Caliban’s dream. How I used language to escape language. How I fed myself on nothingness. How I became desolate and yet full in my desolation. How I found infinite meanings in knots and spoons. How I turned delicate. How I, tormented and enchanted by unknown fevers, danced to a planet on a predicate.