Tag Archives: Books

Binary Stars – The Kid And I

The kid comes in, snaps a few photos of a living clutter, the retail store.

“We don’t have anything like this.” The standard review, spoken by the parent of the kid who shares the photo on Instagram, Facebook, or some other app.

The shop sits on a tilted, bottom floor, two blocks from the Willamette river, not wanting to budge from its spot.

The rest of the shanghaiing office building was abandoned long ago.

The old offices, upstairs, real ghosts, shades of what they used to be.

I write receipts in illegible handwriting, transfer them to yellow, college-ruled paper for inventory, translations of the ancient product.

There’s a million means to be misunderstood, just as many to understand. Two sides of love I recognize.

If there is a dead spot in a day, receipts rest. I read Dante’s “Inferno”.

Crawling through levels, until you reach something frozen, eating away, without regard

to what’s around it, all attention spent upon what is being chewed. Virgil and Dante crawl down/up the leg of the Devil, out of the ice, a double paradox.

“This must be a dream job.” The parent speaks again while buying the kid a logo T-shirt of the shop.

The kid looks hopeful, if he moves here, there’s a chance to reach paradise. He can go to college like his parents want him to, live the lifestyle he’s always dreamed of, get away from strip malls, advance placement classes, bullies, lovers, and parental expectations.

He has been misunderstood so many times. He desires to reach understanding. Two sides of love I recognize.

I smile, showing all my missing teeth and think of Virgil as I write up their receipt.

 

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By The Book

I came from chaotic matter, unformed, unnamed, a forest of thought, discord, a region of unlikeness. But now I am formed, symmetrical, a language, a song, a poem, matter between skin, meanings I would like to think of as endowed with light. I did not arrive to this personage, this being, by accident. No. In order to sing, I needed to learn the ways of the rest, the pause, to experience tacet, to witness the great silence. Transformation.

At first, I tried what most try. I tried the easiest way to the mountain top. “But this was merely an excuse for my laziness; and where others had already reached a considerable height I was still wandering in the hollows” (Petrarch 13). Even the shortcuts were infested by challenges, trials, performances. These appeared to me as three animals. The spotted leopard or falseness, deceit, and camouflage, the lion, who is an aggressiveness, an overpowering jealousy, and the she-wolf, which is a never-ending hunger, insatiable thirst. If I were to somehow cheat my way to the top I would be accompanied by at least one if not all three. It wasn’t until I listened to my fear, which is a realization of my worthiness or better defined as an acceptance of my readiness, that I allowed (yes, I allowed them) those beasts to push me back to the entrance of the long path, to where the sun is silent (1. 58-60).

There in the silence all manners of growls became transcendental, then transposed into reason. Don’t misunderstand me. This transposition or a what has been characterized as Death isn’t really silence for the fleshed ear, for the heart pounds at low frequency, and the nervous system’s high-pitched hum can numb. I only say that this long sleep I entered, the unfinished symphony, is a tempered silence. This tuning needed to be reawakened from a hoarse voice (1.63), a skill from the past where time is taken as silence itself, then, with that knowledge, composed into matter.

One thinks of discord as the devil’s tritone, but one must listen, smooth out the microtones who speak forgotten languages, decipher the slight bending of a third or the flattening of a fifth. Death is a noise? I did not know this until I slept.

Silence taught me. I became an enigmatic song, a dream state. This dream I had to interpret into a linear movement like life, like melody. I stumbled my way through voicings, gazed “on the teaching that is hidden beneath the veil of the strange verses” (9. 61), so that even “the grief-stricken notes [began] to make themselves heard” (5. 25). From there I gathered clay, bone, and blood like quavers, sticking noisy silences together into form.

It’s comic, now within the cover of my own silence, I sit on your bookshelf, possibly within your reach. I cannot tell you the shape of my forms. I produce the signifier. You produce the signified. But if you read, you will notice that my song moves what it touches (12. 79-80).

 

 

Quotes from

Dante’s “Inferno”

Petrarch’s “The Ascent of Mount Ventoux”

 

 

I Used To Swim The River

Columbia River Gorge, December 2017

I remember swimming against your current, only to find myself stuck, muscles not strong enough to make progress. I learned to swim with you.

I remember heading for your deepest channels, where the big ships travel, catching large wakes. Your cautions were always whispers. I learned to hear you.

I remember bumping into sandbars, frightened, thinking I had swum into a sea lion. You let me feel the gritty sand in my hands and upon realizing what it was, I stood upon those sandbars, acting like I was walking on water. No one noticed, except for you and me.

I’ve lain upon your shores in the heat, where your gritty beach stung my bare feet. I searched for the softest sand and a tall shrub to shade myself. Overheated, your kiss, a cooling, minute wade.

I sang songs about you as a child, taught to me in schools smelling of waxed floors. Songs of commerce, soul, and lives. Those melodies still swirl about you and me, as do their themes.

You’ve seen me reflect upon you with lover’s eyes from on top the gorge. Countless reflections. Your expression is so vast, few grasp its content. Yet, you and I know, all who look will reflect.

 

 

 I’m sorry our dust has been kicked up high and settles down inside you. I no longer swim. I hope you can forgive me.

Kiss (Portrait 11)

The streets at night shimmer under the emerging, movement of streetlights. It’s the tree limbs that cause their action. Above them, wires stretch into an evolution of light and dark.

Of course, that’s where we kiss. Where else? And it’s a damn good smooch. One of those that fits like two pieces of a puzzle, like it’s meant to be.

That’s when I hear you say, “These streets are like our bones, drawn to one another, making a map, an illuminated grid.” You get a scared-like look on your face, as if you said something weird. You did, but I like it.

Then chaos……… the shots ring out. I’ve heard them all my life. Some people live their lives to be snipers. But this bullet is no different than the others, hitting me in the head, the heart as well. I know what they’re made out of, nothing but misdirection…….yet…still…..tonight……..part of me lies dead on these living streets.

We’re looking at the body, my body. I don’t deny I’ve been hurt….hurt for good. I carry my death around. Always have……… I say, “Bury the body.” We dig deep. Our purpose is ……no one will find out this dimension is a drive-by shooting, quick, violent, darker than irony, lighter than a paradox. For tonight, we kiss in the streets.

I kiss you again when the gunfire is but smoke and I swear the streets turn luminescent. Bullets are cold compared to us. I feel as if I will climb the streetlights to string wires. When the sun rises, I will invent phosphorescence. Tomorrow night, we will kiss in the streets.