July 2010


The onset of summer is divine intervention, the solstice sent by god itself, its very hands clearing clouds to reveal a bruisey-blue sky healing in the lust-light of a sun warm with age.  The wrinkles on god’s palms and knuckles (crevices carved by weary waves of work) leave textured traces in the sensitive sands of sky, clouds in long white lines along jet streams whining off into high atmosphere; white into blue, it could be said, the way Chicago succumbed to the great river, the songs of Muddy Waters (or Charley Mussel White “I’ve been out across the country…”); the way the oceans breathe relentlessly; the way a fingerprint reveals little more than that we were here once; the way that truth succumbs to truth and things clear up.  

God says very little because it doesn't need to, has always known that behind every long winter, blustery storm of spring, two weeks asleep on the couch, there is a sky all blue with itself...  it will be big like that; verbose, enigmatic, something to look forward to and watch and think back on; assumption, presence, and end of god.  I know this because I think it and because I say it.

The object of our love was sent by god.  Sent by god to be slaughtered by the devil (in us), as we all are.  Our love sits among the Houris with a pack of camels who are dumb and spit to loosen the water in their backs.  Our love sits in the dirtiest places; old dilapidated houses, rat infested tunnels, in the sweaty caves of the employed; our love sits among the desert winds, where life is scant, with the rest of the Houris and those dim-witted camels, somehow unaffected and healthy as a blooming succulent stuck out in the young summer sun soon after stormy spring.  Our love is approaching the day of its death; penniless but rich in having possessed the days of a life, a wealth by which our love will feel fortified for telling the devil (in us) that all children are born without debt or burden to a long history of the sort of riches our love will leave behind; moments gathered upon more beautiful moments.   Our love explains that all children burden themselves with the fears of the world and carry that debt.  Our love says that this wealth will only grow; that the days of our lives outnumber the days of our death.  Our love does not wait for death, knows it will come.  White eyes wide and unbearably beautiful.

It should be said now that I do not believe in god or the idolatry of religion, but I have learned to be less concerned with semantics than with the act of speech itself.  I choose to speak and these words are figments of my rotten language, a language which is as foreign to me now as the languages conquered on the remote peninsulas of Eastern Europe.  I speak it because it is what I have known know best even though it often fails to accurately carry my sentiments.  Words like god and spirit are the phonetic dictators of the Western imagination as it wanders through the territory that lies among the fringes between sentience and eternity.  There are few who speak my language and fewer still who understand it deeply; when I say god sent the solstice, I mean that I can not name its origin though I have the capacity to see and to qualify it, which means first that it is something to be seen, and second that it has value.  When I say that god sent our love, I mean that our love was here already, just as perfectly randomly as summer, then that I saw it and acted upon it.  

We notice the change in season with more than a sense of survival.  We notice great love with more than a sense of carnage.  How do we describe things that are greater than common humanity without using words like great, magical, mystical, or god, when description proves necessary and complacence is unbearable?  

Happenstance, serendipity, superstition, entropy, fate, a miracle, a powerful scientific anomaly for the betterment of beauty, a phenomena, a coincidence... that the sun circles the globe  (or the other way around, whatever it is) and that the planet actively responds to it.  That there are an unthinkable number of other places in this universe that this planet could be.  That the universe is this way (whatever way it is).  That there is music.  That there is glass.  That there are moments.  That there are women and men for whom words like great are not sufficient descriptions.  That we recognize the need to describe these things and that we ever see and feel them in the first place.

That life is an anomaly, I have no doubt.  I have no doubt that life is a random byproduct of incredible and exceptional physical circumstance; that little else is involved, I have no doubt.  I do not blame god.  I blame Stephen Hawking and Mark Greene for proliferating my generation with sermons about the codependent nature of chaos and harmony.  I blame the anarchic sages of the twentieth century renaissance with which I drew my ages.  That I was a child in the Christian stew.  That I grew up five miles from the house where Edna Millay died by her own doing with a glass of wine in her hand on the front porch steps in spring; that I have slept on the crest of her Steepletop Mountain for an entire summer of nights.  I blame all poets for making powerful arguments in favor of that place that calls upon my intrigue, that existential fringe which harbors drifters of the imagination.  I blame myself and the circumstances of my times for my faith in the way things are.  And I know no divine power.

So pardon my language, but on my good days I believe in everything and I sometimes use words that I don't necessarily know the meanings to.  On my good days, I am a warrior for the cause, at the flanks of the Tambourine Man and Bo Weavil Jackson ("Fight on, Your Time Aint Long").  On my good days, I am at the flanks of Norma Rae and Salinger, spreading the good word ("do it for the fat lady").  On my good days, I am at the flanks of a history that is written and not yet written.  On my good days, I am at the flanks of the solstice and of our love.  On my good days, I am at the flanks of the decades as they plow on with good intention through eternity.

Then on my bad days, I am a nihilist.  I could sit content to watch the clouds go on unfurling for centuries as my vessels and my vision ferment into sweet and intoxicating liquids of deliverance and poison.  Content to watch the world happening, as it does, with or without my consent or intention, my will unworthy of judicial acclaim because I know that when I'm gone, I'll be gone.

I do not believe in god and try as I might want to with the reason of a human mind to believe that my ego is of divine architecture, I know that no rational thought can overcome the strength and power of our chaotic nature, our culmination and our entropy, the unbelievable heights of our living and the inevitable decline into the (dis)order of death.

Nevertheless, I can't deny that some things are remarkably and painstakingly beautiful (the Q train that day, on the way to the spa on coney island when I wished that I had a video camera for the late winter sunshine flickering like static electricity from the friction of houses, trees, and clouds; the b77 bus; the first sleepover at the Fort in crown heights; Fremont and the lakes of Washington State; greyhound buses; the Sierra Nevadas and their foothills; the Beatles; Jolie Holland; the lovers; my mother; dirty old kitchen; memories of home; jesus christ, the list could go for days).

Likewise, some things are remarkably tragic- unreasonably unjust, awful, and downright sad (I'll spare you the list- I have practices in forgetting).


* * *

I suddenly feel the need to fuck around with the parameters I'd set for myself to be prepared for the circumstances that surround and confront me.  

I come home the night before Marina leaves for New Orleans and I start picking shit up off the floor and tacking it to the walls; newspapers, paintings, receipts, napkins, poems, window screens –it snowballs out of control.  Soon I've mounted Marina's shoes, socks, and vitamin bottles.  I've mounted her sketchbooks, her magazines, and her soy sauce.  I've mounted the old DVD player (along with the entire collection of DVDs), the film camera, the bourbon whiskey, the dirty wine glass, the coffee mug, the chick peas, the salt, the sewing kit, the beer can, the dust pan, and the broom.  

In this mess of shit, this beautiful chaotic mess, I have to do something to prove the presence of my intention, my own act of miracle; my acceptance and warm embrace of anomaly. And in the end, when Marina comes home, she laughs and hugs me hard the way she does.  I haven’t done anything useful; nothing has changed except the aesthetic of the apartment, which is in constant flux anyways, but I feel better and I feel different.  I feel prepared, which is when I understand that that is all I can do, my only true intention.

So today, which is neither a good day nor a bad day, I do not believe in god or anything else really.  I have been on the couch for two days, watching the clouds endlessly unfurling.  Stony storm clouds gather and the room gets dark before they go again and the mists untangle.  The planet turns and I am prepared with plants on my sill, whose reactions perplex me still; I see them climb and bloom.  I see the dust gathering on the white paint and the radiator.  I see the plaster turn yellow and begin to peel.  

Today, which is neither a good day nor a bad day, with these few true friends of mine, I believe in everything.  I believe that to be prepared is equal to understanding my lack of preparedness and accepting it and moving on in noble navigation of this life, this anomaly of time and space and matter.

In my dreams, we –these few true friends and me– sprout wings while we peck and spit and shake our heads with dirty feet on the streets of New York City and the streets of America, for we are geese and gulls and we are prepared to deal with the gusts and breezes of eternity.