Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Die, Samurai?


"You reading again, Nobu?" sneered Yoshi.

"You feeling threatened again, Yoshi?"

"Why do you always have to talk like that?" an annoyed Yoshi demanded to know.

"Was just going to ask you same question," replied a monotone Nobu not bothering to look up.

When peace broke out in 1600 after centuries of internecine warfare, the samurai were left no useful purpose but to keep the peace. The central government never fully trusted the individual domains whom they feared might one day rise up in rebellion as before. Even now after a hundred years this suspicion had not been allayed.

Residing in a state of borderline paranoia and perpetual insecurity, the shogunate never failed to opportune on even the slightest mistakes of the outlying clans, harboring even more power to the central authorities. Of course, one suspects everyone a witch when a witch oneself. This enabled a slow rot among the ruling samurai whose moral authority they felt gradually slipping away in slow motion terror. (In another 150 years the samurai would finally lose all power and be outlawed)

With all the downtime, this made for cranky samurai. Long, hot days in the sweltering Edo sun presented an enemy no sword could slice: boredom. Waiting for a battle that never comes turns minutes to hours and hours to days. The oppressed mind is stretched to the limit wandering deserts of vast banality, all the while hunted by a new unspoken fear hounding every samurai: a life wasted. Tempers weren't just short this day - it was every day.


"Oda book again, isn't it?" Yoshi wasn't going to stop until he got his satisfaction. Nobu still didn't bite in oblivious contemplation. "Oda was a loser and a demon burning down temples. He got what he deserved when Mitsuhide assassinated him. Served him right!"

The chain yanking worked. "Idiot! Who are you to judge Oda? No other man could have started the drive for unification. Do not question his tactics unless you had been there and been him. Those were glorious times, wide open when a man could think and fight and make his way in the world."

"Time for thinking is over!" scoffed Yoshi. "Best to obey like the samurai dog you are!"

Much to Yoshi's delight, Nobu lowered his book in foaming fury. "There's two types of people in this world: those who think and those who do not. Each kind believes the other is immoral and a bane upon society. I think we know what kind you are, Yoshi, samurai lap dog!"

Kenbei, who had been lounging in the corner watching the dusty sun stream through the slatted windows, chuckled at this refrain. Was Yoshi's turn to lose his composure.

"Think all you want! See where it gets you. One day you'll go too far and we'll see who's crying then. If you had any real brains you'd be reverent and keep your stupid mouth shut."

"Only thing that scares me," retorted Nobu as he leaned back to his book, "is the thought of you 300 years from now piloting a 2,000 kilo car like a cannon ball down the road."

"Piloting a what?" Yoshi had been reduced to ashes, bamboozled and confused - and agitated to no end with Kenbei's returning laughter.

"Don't worry, Yoshi. Nobu has ridiculous dreams of flying palanquins and carts that travel twice as fast as any horse." Kenbei's face half hidden in the shadows made it impossible for Yoshi to read. He felt a lost fool standing between these two mental giants.

Nobu replied to Kenbei as if Yoshi had already left. "Wait and see, baka-san ["baka" is a fool], wait and see. Japan is the land of the gods and we will conquer the world!"

"That's baka-sama to you!" raged Kenbei in mock fury demanding his insult be suffixed with the higher title of sama over san. Both men laughed in appreciation - and laughed harder watching Yoshi retreat post haste chased by imaginary flying palanquins.

*****


Less than a month later news spread like wildfire of Nobu's indiscretion. An unknown character had passed by him into the shogun's castle compound. Guard duty had always been an exquisite torture for Nobu and his unwilling spirit finally betrayed him. Lap dog Yoshi was right after all: the brain is dead in these foul times. Placed under house arrest, Nobu faced his fate with a caged heart.

Yoshi however could not have been more delighted. "He was probably busy reading!" he sneered still.

It's wasn't long before the shogun's edict was handed down: seppuku, ritual suicide. One small slip, in the blink of an eye, life's meaning had been lost. Kenbei and Nobu sat side by side staring directly ahead in the seeping night on tatami mats, waiting for the dawn execution. A fountain of frustration, Nobu wrestled with the ignominy of his fate until finally he managed a strained smile at his friend. Kenbei turned his head, digested the smile and snorted in understanding.

"They say we serve the shogun to maintain order." Kenbei's gaze had returned to staring straight ahead, speaking as if answering a question of philosophy.

Nobu appreciated the attempt to comfort him. "Order always has been overrated." Both men smiled in their minor mutiny. Ah, what it would mean to return to open warfare! A man could breathe then, his wits his greatest weapon - and men like Yoshi used as fodder for suicide rushes. The mere thought of this stirred their souls in glorious envy.

Yet the night crickets continued their commentary in dutiful disdain of the world around them. They cared not of the joys or sorrows of men. Nobu noticed their indifference, causing him too to ask, "What is it all for?"

"When I die will the world be a better place? Will it ensure the safety of Japan? Would my continued existence add chaos to society? Dare I ask, Kenbei, at dawn will I commit a meaningless act?"

The nonplussed crickets continued to chirp having heard nothing of relevance. Kenbei agreed.

"Did you dare ask if you should stay samurai?! Or were you weak, liking the privileges and power, your sandals never touching the earth. You let yourself be blown as a leaf in the wind. How can you now complain of the wind you let guide you?"

"It is true I turned my head from the questions I asked. But I believe every life is valuable. I protested each of the unnecessary deaths handed down over the years. What a waste!"

"And you thought that would protect you?! Baka! That only marked you and like an idiot you finally gave them an excuse. But if you think your life is so valuable, run! Live like a hunted dog the rest of your days. Too weak to leave of your own volition, travel to the end of your days in penance, never to be samurai again!"

Kenbei's eyes were burning deep into Nobu's soul, exposing the rot in his heart - the very same rot Nobu had protested in the shogunate. Nobu was startled by Kenbei's mocking suggestion. He had not considered running as an option but now having imagined that life he could see that was no life at all. No way out. Kenbei, a surgeon with words, approved of the effect he'd had on his patient.

"Your soul will rise with the sun in the morning. Spit in their faces if you must as you insert the dagger - that they will never be able to wipe off! And what can they do after you're dead? For them too it will be too late. Imagine what will be said of you. Glory can still be yours! No more this self pity!"

Nobu turned to match Kenbei's twinkling gaze. Then he started to laugh, Kenbei following, until the room was filled with laughter. "You always were the only one who could make me laugh." How glorious to put a permanent stain on these preening men who speak of honor yet act without it. What sweet justice for them to live with a tale of rejection from within, that every villager will see the shogunate in a different light. Ruthless is as ruthless does.

*****
CODA: As the sun broke over the mountain Nobu was nowhere to be found. Disguised and disheartened he vanished into the mountains never to return. A reward was posted for his capture and every samurai in the country vowed to kill him on sight. But Kenbei's words had continued to echo in Nobu's head throughout the night - and "what would be said of him" changed not one whit his eternal fate.

Which was the greater self-pity? To die or to at last try to make something of himself and his life? It was true, he'd been weak and lazy, a loudmouth living in fear. His heart trembled in anguish like a man who'd piled up a lifetime of debt. Oh, how ever to pay it off! Could it even be done? Had he the courage to go forward? All he knew for certain was the welcoming sounds of the birds around him, inviting his sandals back to earth.

Kenbei too had shared in the fury of Nobu's departure. But he quickly despised the talk of samurai who boasted of deploring without end Nobu's failure to commit seppuku. Empty words from empty lives. Kenbei came to understand the vision of his running friend, of his complaints of the hollowing from within and the cowards desperate to conceal it. He held in his hand Nobu's departing note - a single Kanji character for "Life" - with a wry smirk, realizing where his true loyalties must lie for him to die a man.

Inspired by "When The Sun Falls" (HI-WA-OCHIRU) as shown at Asian Film Festival of Dallas



Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Sun's Maiden


As the sunflower
Must face the sun -
Though it's fate a
Withering one -
So I too must die
If we are not one.



Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Value Of Raindrops In Time Of War


It was the honor of I, Mitsubishi Jiro, to stand as personal guard this evening as my liege lord Oda Nobunaga spoke with his most trusted general Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Meeting Lord Oda changed my life (you can read my story here) and I knew my fate was tied to his be it for better or worse. In this I am most happy.

My lord had changed recently, a man not so stretched in his aims as when he was fighting on many fronts. With eastern Japan under control we fought to finish the job in the west and finally unite us a country. Over the years this I knew for sure: no one but my lord could have pulled off this amazing feat. The rest were pretenders to the throne.

But while this was clear to me, it was not to the pretenders. Many saw only the power of the shogun's position and its privileges. The vacancy cries out to be filled as the country aches for a universal leader. But to me, I always believed one must be fit for the job at hand, whatever that fit might be. Each of us has our place and in finding that is true success.

But to the men who sought power, it seemed they never asked themselves this, they never asked if they belonged in the position of shogun. But one cannot overrule nature. My power is in realizing the harmony I can achieve and though it was a hard path to get here I thank the gods for the wisdom and perseverance to become who I am today. These men who fight nature fight themselves as well as their enemy. Of course they lose!


Listening to my lord speak was as listening to whispers of the gods in their heavens. I trembled hearing the direction of my country into a new and noble state. My lord is a man of high purpose. I too have attained purpose - but it is not in the mere following of him I have this. It was in him giving me myself I was able to find my own true direction. What excited me and thrilled me was the parallel between my life and the nation's. We were both growing into a new era.

It was of Tadaoki Lord Oda and General Toyotomi spoke.

"I know you value Tadaoki, monkey. He is fierce and fanatical and I'm glad he's on our side," mused my lord, calling his general by his pet name of 'monkey'.

"Then why not allow his promotion? He is the type to simmer in resentment."

"We must think of the future now. What it takes to conquer and what it takes to rule are two different things. Remember that! Tadaoki is a man without purpose. Today he takes great pleasure in immersing himself in our cause. We have the winds of destiny at our back and the men can feel it. We must submit to the times, to become one with the gods if we are to prevail."

"But what is wrong with a man who immerses himself with our cause so blindly?"

My lord paused to give his general a look, and then let out one of his what many saw as ill-timed laughs. He was very human when he laughed like that, almost as a poet would laugh I always imagined. Most times my lord does not explain himself but he took great joy in Toyotomi's company.

"You play the fox with me, monkey!" Toyotomi smiled. "You only ask the question when you already suspect the answer. Yes, I agree with you. Soon our cause of conquest will end and where will men like Tadaoki stand then? His contentment lies in not having to face himself and he will lose that when war ends. What should we do with such men?"

"Kill them!" mocked the general of my lord's sometimes infamously ruthless ways. Toyotomi was a master of manipulating men, even greater than my lord in some ways. It was his way of reminding Oda not to be too harsh in his assessment.


"Yes, quite," replied Oda before receding into himself, sipping that nasty foreign wine of his. (I think he only liked it because he knew everyone else hated it!) "Do not promote too highly men with whom we cannot share the nation's rule. Do not give them too much to lose. My true dreams are after the days of fighting."

This my lord had never before revealed. It was evident he just now felt comfortable with this revelation sitting on the doorstep of final victory. Toyotomi perked up same as I did. In his cruelty, we'd had sometimes wondered of our master; what of his true motives. This was our first hint.

"We all have dreams for our nation, the land of the gods," goaded his confidante.

"Is it a dream you would mock, monkey? How deep are your eyes?" Toyotomi was wise enough not to answer as Oda looked far into the twinkling night sky. "The sword conquers but the sword cuts both ways!" Fire flashed in his eyes. The burdens of conquest, of constantly judging the correct line between construction and destruction had weighed heavily on him. Selfishly, we had assumed our lord had a supernatural power that had exempted him of such torment.

Oda stood up, rising to his words. "I've always held tight the reins of power but comes a time when they burn the hand that holds them. We must loosen the reins, monkey, after we are united. Breathe fresh air into the country. Else we will teeter and fall into a stale withering state like a tree entering winter whose branches become bare."

Loosen the reins? Who could imagine such madness? Placing myself in my lord's shoes I can see the need to control in the face of chaos. But to give chaos its head, what good could come of that?

"The people need control. We are too warlike, itching for intrigue. Give them an inch and they'll bring us down castle by castle!"

"I didn't say now," scowled Oda very crossly. "Is everyone blind but me?"

The night sounds of insects were all that could be heard. But Toyotomi truly wished to understand.

"Forgive me my stupidity. I am baka."

My lord was in pain, alone in the world. Of what he knew he could not say. I had never seen him so vulnerable. I'd seen him rude beyond comprehension, recklessly intolerant and sometimes plain sadistic in frustration. Now I understood a bit more. What he played out on others was being played out on him from within. For a moment burned forever into my memory, his eyes seared into mine. What he saw there I do not know.


"This one time I will speak. Then never again until you see yourself. Is that understood!" Toyotomi bowed deeply in reply. I could tell Oda still did not want to speak, turning his back to us. We listened to the night once more. I thought I was going to live eternally in that moment.

"You starve a man into submission not because you enjoy it but because he must lose his appetite for the fight." My lord was speaking to the heavens above. "But to win, you must feed him in the end. Imagine his first taste of food! He'll never go back but want only more. Even you can understand that, monkey! First we choke the chain then loosen it. Freedom's taste will do the work of ruling for us. Once we turn the power over to the people we'll be as a rock no one can crush. We'll be the envy of the world!"

"I understand in part. We must win loyalty - "

"That has always been your forte!"

" - but to just give up in the end..."

Oda swung around, anxious to share his vision. "Don't you understand? Surrender is victory. All that I've achieved I've done through surrender. When I grew stubborn is when I made mistakes, demanding my own ways take precedence. I understand you do not understand and this must seem madness to you. But I do ask you trust me. To show you men will follow life before war once they have the chance to taste it. It will be as raindrops on a parched man's tongue. We will achieve what no nation in the world ever has. That is my dream, monkey. I wish this for my legacy."

Swept up in the emotion, the general replied, "I trust you. I trust you without doubt. What you say shall be."

My lord turned back to us with a wry smile. Then a very sad look covered his face with thoughts I cannot imagine. I suspect he knew he was a man before his time. The very fact he had to explain himself proved that. In less than 90 days hence he would be dead, killed by a man who asked not if he truly belonged as shogun; a legacy unfulfilled.


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Two Faces Of Eve


"The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God."
#Exhale

Reading those words gave her great comfort. (Giving comfort is a highly profitable business!) And indeed, she had a deep, deep anxiety. Sleep had increasingly evaded her for years. Every moment pierced further into her soul, driving the agony to unbearable lengths. If she couldn't purchase the stairway to heaven she'd be trapped in the depths of hell forever.

It had started years ago yesterday, the dream in the desert. On the brink of death had been the last time she felt alive. Like a classic foreign film of romance and adventure she'd been stranded with Him. He reached her animal passions and released them under the desert stars. So freeing - and yet so forbidden: she was denying her marriage.

It was her One And Only Chance at an honest life. He would lead her out of the forest of deception, if only she'd take that one final step of facing herself. Maybe she wouldn't like what she'd see but maybe she would. Never before had she been so tempted to find out. Hope was no longer just a word. Life had become real again.

Unleashed, she surrendered to her true desires, reaching orgasms she feared only existed in cheap romance novels. She wanted more, this taste of life. To know its taste is never to go back, shattering lies of what she'd once called satisfaction. But all the while a nagging voice chided her, begging her to stop. Her mother and sister would be furious at her betrayal of the unsatisfied lives they betrothed themselves to. Like Moses returning from the Burning Bush she knew her new knowledge would be written all over her face.


Suddenly, in the middle of the night, the dream came crashing down. You're dreaming! This isn't real! It will vanish like the wind when we return to the real world. Worse, he will tell them everything. Just imagine the looks on their faces! You'll be divorced and hung out to dry as a marked woman, a lying hussy who got suckered by a schoolgirl fantasy. You've ruined your life. From now on life will transpire only as a long living death...

Then her instinct for survival kicked in. Why did she have to die? He had no one. His life too had begun in the desert. He'd have nothing to lose with their return - just the opposite. Let him die. Problem solved. Take the water and run. If not, may as well stay here and die. Choose!

Choose she did. It bothered her the urge to giggle as she made her getaway in the covering darkness. No more Miss Goody Two Shoes. She'd stepped over the line like she'd assumed the Bad Crowd had lived, the kind who don't care what others think, who do what they want. This too was exhilarating - in a sick, sinking sort of way. She vowed never to cross that line again. People who do what they want truly are immoral, just as she'd cowardly suspected.

Of course, had she really done what she wanted she'd have stayed with Him and continued on the path to self-discovery.

"God is calling you not to indulgence but endurance."
#SoulRest

Had he died? Did he suffer under the searing sun? Did he feel betrayed? Did he feel he saw the "real" her in the end? Sorry, but if I must betray someone it won't be my family. Who would choose differently?

Of course, it was herself she betrayed - and therefore betrayed everyone who cared for her.


But no one knows me. So how can any anyone really love me? They just love the act. I've always been an act. Keep the act up and life will continue as before. Her adventure in the desert will fade and - she suspected - no one really wanted to know the true story anyway. If she had had feelings for that man, best to let them stay buried.

Of course, it was her hope she'd buried and her fear she watered. Now, fifteen years later, fear ruled her life. Even when she knew she was being absurd she refused to break the chain. When someone noticed her jumpy nature she blamed it on Middle Eastern terrorists.

When she first got back she tried her lustful lessons out on her husband. He withdrew in proper disgust. How could she possibly have thought that would have excited him?? Their marriage was based on the Bible and life was what you made of it. His rebuke crushed her, isolating her with her unspoken guilt. So guilt ridden was she she was blinded to the fact of his own fear of the arousing excitement she'd caused inside him.

She tried various outlets over the years; compulsive flirting, illicit online chat, even creating a fake profile in a sex club allowing her to indulge in forbidden fantasies - in her mind anyway. Fear had brought its even more terrifying friend: frustration. She was stuck between the thorns of the world and the doom of her deceit.

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

- Psalm 51 9-10

Yes, yes, keep up the lie till you die. God wants you to. He doesn't want you to die, and the only way to live is to lie. At times, the desert never existed. She could laugh and pray with the best of them. But her prayers were different than the others. Her prayers were that He did not show up. When the preacher spoke of "the enemy that destroys" she knew he was speaking of the truth.


But the erosion continued daily. Only in the most hidden of recesses did she remember the desert, feeling her way back to ecstasy, still confused if the act was right or wrong. The only thing she knew for sure was there was no way out. She'd made her bargain for love: to keep it, just say nothing. Besides, her children needed her and why should they have to pay for her sins?

See? She had her morality after all.

But she knew no moment of comfort. Every thoughtless laugh was interrupted by the thought He might ring the doorbell at any moment, demanding explanations she could not give, horrifying her family. In her bi-polar existence, one minute she believed she was safe forever, the next doom was imminent. No pill could ever give her her soul back.

Only the siren song of suicide called out to her ever louder. Why do you live? Why do you bother? The lying life can never be useful - and you can only live a lie. Face the facts and leave! Hope's illusion can lead only to more torture and more frustration and more misery.

In the end, listening to her fears had made her worst fears come true. And God could not do what she would not do for herself. The question of "Why sustain the pain?" rang too loudly in her ears. She made it stop the only way she knew how.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Wives And Lives (Found And Lost)


You can't say I didn't ask for it. I'd been wanting to take stock of my life. Things have been rough lately. Very, very rough, pushing me to the edge. The random crying has started again. The screws from the work-mare have turned even tighter, forcing me back to the brink of the shelter. It's a roller coaster ride between the fire and the frying pan. I dread sleep most of all, my mind racing without harness.

I guess this is what happens when you take the road most traveled.

I shouldn't be expecting things to get better, I tell myself. How could that ever be when heading down the wrong path? That's hoping against hope.

So the question comes up: Just how far off am I? How badly did I screw up? Can I even bear to face it?

When I first came here twenty years ago I got a temp job while I searched for something more permanent. Ronald was a co-worker of mine. He taught high school English and was naturally quite literate. (Since this was summer he did temp work to make ends meet). We got on right away being of the same temperament. Each was a breath of fresh air to the other in the world of day labor.

At that point we both could ask: what dreams may come? I was attached to nothing - but wished to be. Ronald was attached to something - but wished not to be. That's where our common ground lied. I didn't feel threatened by him having a career because he was not happy with it. And he did not envy my freedom because I had yet to find my true direction.


So in a way, we dreamed together, talking of life, wondering of the possibilities. It was a unique time - a time before I settled into the nothingness that was to come. I ended up moving into these very bland apartments, life seeping out of me like a slow puncture. I didn't much want Ronald to see me now. My talk of dreams was nothing but hot air.

But last week making a delivery for a high dollar designer door I found myself back at that same apartment building and memories of that time came flooding back. For a reason I can't explain I was excited. "There's something here," a voice said inside. I knew I should be going but I was compelled to explore the place.

Climbing up the old stairway I was shocked as I entered the inner hallway. This part of Dallas has gotten so old it's become chic to remodel the inside while retaining the outside charm of 1950's art deco. When I lived there I just thought it looked like shit. As if a rope were pulling me in I peered in the windows of these amazing condos (surely they couldn't be apartments as each one was so unique).

I stopped still at one, with its artsy Mondrian like interior. I felt I'd stepped into a dream. Part of me fought back, to get away and not torture myself with how the other half lives, but the other part of me won out. I wanted to see. And truly I discovered a world that expressed me. Did this mean someone with a soul such as mine had survived?


"Why, hello there!"

The man's voice was friendly and inviting, coming down the hallway. I'd expected to get chastised for my rude peeking but was willing to take the abuse if caught. But a welcoming voice? I turned my eyes in confusion.

"I wasn't sure it was you at first. Can't miss that hair! Do you even remember me?"

Ronald! Son of a bitch! Of all people. He was genuinely glad to see me and we shook hands in a mild shock. He invited me inside and I immediately started gushing looking wide-eyed at this Hobbit-like dream world of a modern Bag End.

Ronald explained a lot of its decor was to due to his wife Elizabeth. She was a freelance writer - he gestured to copies of Texas Monthly on the table - and he was regional director for a large retailer. They both shared many of the same passions, pursuing their artistic indulgences freely and fully. The whole vibe of the place had a healing air to it.

The gorgeous soft white couch begged me to curl up and sleep on it in sweet succor. Everything about the place said "sanctuary" to me. Elizabeth was not there but I knew if I were to meet her I'd like her and get along with her naturally. That's a rare feeling for me. Ronald then explained what I already knew: it was the meeting of Elizabeth that changed his life. He didn't know where he'd be without her.


Well, I fucking know. Boy, do I know. He'd be sitting at home in the dark with a revolver in his mouth unable to think of a reason not pull the trigger. He'd be trapped, buried alive in one dead end job after another living as cannon fodder in the front lines of an economic war already lost. (No one really falls for all those phony "solutions" out there, do they?)

I see signs of life scattered about. A renewal notice for season tickets to the Winspear Opera House. Art books. "The Vision of Van Gogh". I remembered he was both of ours favorite artist. Correspondence on a submission from Elizabeth being accepted. Jesus, what a life! I didn't know this was even allowed.

For me, this was all too much. How could I ever compensate? My only thought was to immediately make amends by using that fatal bullet waiting for me. I wasn't just far off. I was light years away, thrown to the lost corner of the universe. A life that had arced upward while my life arced downward. Everything inside of me collapsed. Please let me die.

I too had met people - very, very special people I'd stack up against anyone in the world, famous or not. But I had not accepted the love. Each passing put me deeper in the hole, my debts and doubts piling higher. To finally see what I am missing out on - the shock and horror of it - did at last clear my mind. It was as I suspected - and wholly devastating.

Yes, Elsa is mind-blowingly hot - 
but can she make me laugh?

I demurred on my own life's "progress". Ronald was sensitive enough not to press, probably thinking, "There but the grace of God goes I." No, God's grace visited me too, Ron. But I had not the wisdom nor the courage nor the heart. On the way out the door I saw the kicker: an invite to a charity event benefiting - what else - the Dallas homeless shelter. Dear God, I'd been partly living off his money for who knows how many years.

I parted secretly vowing never to come near this place again upon pain of death. Ronald mercifully did not ask for any contact info. Not that I didn't want to be there and hold discussions deep into the evening with both him and his wife, but...I just couldn't. I felt like a dirty interloper walking around dripping failure on their carpet with my unfed dick hanging out. The thought of them making allowances for me - people I respected - well, I'll just have to stay in my hole and hide.

What's got me most curious, though, is I've felt a sense of inexplicable peace since that visit.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Prophet Is Dead! God Damn The Prophet! (Photo Essay)

Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt;
and after them seven years of famine will come,
and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt,
and the famine will ravage the land.

Prophet 1

Inside the grain silos was life. Nowhere else could it be found, neither from above or below. Beyond that is only suffering. Men lose their minds and women wail with children's deaths. There can be no escape.

The granaries of Egypt were legendary; massive and large, touching the sky. Egypt, in all her glory, claimed life. Who in the world could compare to her belief? Who else scaled the walls of truth? Let her dedication stand as a monument to the world.

Prophet 28


Prophet 33

Prophet 16

In the heady years of plenty, tomorrow became a myth never to come. Why shouldn't it last forever? Who is the Prophet to tell us what to do? Life is unforeseeable, the future unknown. No man can claim it. If we can make riches today, why not tomorrow?

Plays written to mock the Prophet received hearty applause. "Laugh at this 'man of doom'! He fears the sun not to rise in the morning and the sky to fall at night!" As each day of plenty passed, slander and scorn for the prophet increased in proportion to their greed. "Greed is good!"

Prophet 37

Prophet 43

Prophet 41

After seven years to the day, the sky turned color, too late for repentance. On judgment day no recourse resides, the die is cast. What worked yesterday no longer works today. The crops do not rise, the rain does not drop. Solutions are sought high and low but the search is in vain. Yes, tomorrow comes, after all.

But who could the faultless people blame for their predicament? "It's the curse of the Prophet! He did this to us! He attacked us for our ways - ways he could not follow. Why should we have to pay for his sin?" And thus they cleansed themselves of their sins - if not their hunger.

Prophet 21

Prophet 32

Prophet 44

Prophet 30

The last grains gone, the great silos stood in silent mockery of the myopic masses. Who knew decisions had consequences? Why had no one helped them? The Prophet had refused to hear them in the time of plenty. He hogged the truth for himself.

"He must pay for blinding us and stuffing our ears so we could not hear. Must we be perfect? Is mercy nowhere to be found?" But they had determined their own mercy, as merciless as their raids upon the silos taking every last grain when they had not the need.

Prophet 7

Prophet 20

Prophet 35

What is truth? Does it even exist? Can life and death be the same? When children asked what happened, the adults replied, "Mystery." Who can explain such events? With eyes firmly shut, men in high councils debated what color the sky. The exchanges were heated. "Lives are at stake! We cannot live in famine forever!"

Unable to face the truth, their minds melted into mayhem. Many clever arguments were made but faded in the passing of time; no honest argument considered clever. Mystery! Where could they place their trust? Some prayed in the silos for grain to magically appear. And why not with the answer to their woes unknowable? One thing they did know with vicious clarity: hang the Prophet high.

Prophet 19

Prophet 14


Prophet 36

Prophet 6

At the end of the years of famine, it came to be the Prophet was hailed by the new generation. "Wisdom" and "Insight" were holy words to be revered. Competition spread across the land in the name of finding those most honest and true. What fools the people of yore!

But the grain - well, the grain knew the truth already. When a truly honest man suggested some be put away for the pitfalls of tomorrow, he was reviled without mercy. "Why should we do that? We are a smarter people now. To say we are not is to dishonor the Prophet. I kill you in the name of the good Prophet!"


Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Good To Be God



Originally, there were nine rings of power for mortal men. And still lost was one of these rings of invulnerability.


*****************

Galley slaves had it made. They knew
they'd be dead in a couple of years
.

Every day it gets worse. The walls close in, the insanity rises, the rage roars louder. I keep asking but no one knows what time it is. Maybe they think it helps if they don't know, that maybe time won't run out that way. It does not help.

TV blares "The Nero Hour" in the corner of my ear as I rise up from bed. Fiddlers from across the country compete to see who can make the most beautiful sounds at the sites of tragic disasters. "With lovely music like this we know we need not be concerned." Latest is an airliner crash where the manufacturer cut corners and cost the lives of hundreds of people. I hear many angry words and passionate arguments - when someone believes the incorrect fiddler is picked as best.

Stepping outside my trailer door I see white paper notices flapping in the breeze posted on every home in the park. Rent is springing up $300 a month, another turn of the vice clamp of medieval death and torture. The blackmailer demands we either cough up the ten grand it takes to move or be bled dry drip by drip. My blood is boiling. Everyone's complaining.

"Can't be helped," sneers the office lady. "Somebody Somewhere made the decision."

At work in the call center sweatshop, the nightmare continues. All the monitors we read from have been taken away, replaced by these tiny 6x4 inlaid screens in the desktop. The letters are microscopic, barely legible to the naked eye. One girl is actually delighted we're "getting the latest cool thing!" I picture myself slowly going blind. Jesus-FUCKING-Christ!

Cocksuckers told me I need to "up my game."
Who are these people??

I hear the same explanation as before. "Somebody Somewhere thought this was a good idea." That Somebody Somewhere sure is a busy fucker. A co-worker theorizes Somebody got a kickback for installing these godawful screens. But like with the raise in rent, the outrage is short-lived. Why care about the workers when they don't care about themselves Somebody reasons.

How far does it have to go? The cloud of the holocaust slips back in like Pharaoh's angel of death. Yet many who love Moses in name hate him in deed.

On the way home from work I stop to fill up with gas. A label states a dollar a gallon tax has been added*. Somebody Somewhere lost billions upon billions - some say trillions - gambling and they need our money now to keep on gambling. The vampire bites again and still we hear only crickets on the moon.

Walking downtown I'm assaulted by criminal cops for "being too poor to be trusted." The criminals tell me they know what they're doing is wrong but there's nothing that can be done. A thought tracking chip is placed in my suspect head. "Self-respect," they inform me, "is the true enemy of the state. It would ruin everything!" The brutalizers tell me not to worry because the President is liberal. I'm thinking they need a dictionary.

These are the worst of times, where only the worst among us have conviction. Zombie slaves are herded over the cliff, the shepherds laughing. "What can we do?" they plead as they fall to their doom. Many saviors are proclaimed but none ever save. All around me I hear the same song of ritual: "The end will not come because the end has not come before."


It is written God said that every death diminishes Him/Her. If so, then dear God, prepare to be diminished.

But as irony would have it, while lying in the ghetto gutter after the gang beating from the boys in blue I spied the last lost Ring of Power. I panicked, fearing that if I moved towards it it would roll down the nearby drain only to be lost again. And so I did nothing, feeling the peace of surrender. Perhaps it is not God's will I survive. At least that's a judgement I can trust and understand.

Then a car rushes by, its tires spitting out a piece of debris that knocks the ring to my hand. Putting the ring on my finger I feel the world swirling around me in my center of calm. First thing I do is rip the tracking chip from my head. "You motherfucker! Put that back in!" Seems the cops who were posing as somewhat sympathetic during the commission of their crime were absolutely livid in my refusal to oblige. Were they as livid when they received the orders to become criminals??

They made a mad rush towards me with their nightsticks out ready to beat me to a pulp for defying National Insecurity. However, as they tried to hit me their sticks vibrated so harshly they had to drop them. That's when Somebody Somewhere yelled out, "He's got a gun!" and suddenly dozens of bullets were bouncing off me, driving my would-be killers into a frenzy of rage and tears.

"We have to know what he's thinking!" "He might be hating us right now!" "Control! We must have control!" "You can't go around thinking just anything!" "Kill him! No one can live with this!" "How will we know if he loves and approves of us? How? How??"

Good Lord. Scratch a cop and find a child. "Look, you stupid cunts, I'm not your fucking wife. You want approval, get a dog. Or, better yet, grow the fuck up and quit taking orders. Maybe then you won't be so hapless and annoyingly worried."

Instead, they lay helplessly on the ground rolling in fear and trembling, terrified of my next unrestrained thought. I yell out "Boo!" as I leave and they start simpering anew. Wow, what a big bunch of babies. Got me to thinking what mischief I could cause next. So I made a couple of purchases and began walking along the Katy Trail, home of the young six-figure professionals who feel the world owes them a living. It's fun pissing off the people you hate!


Despite a couple of appreciative whistles from a few (actually hot) babes, for the most part I heard nothing but violence as I walked along in my heels and French maid uniform. Finally, people are getting outraged! "You sick motherfucker! Somebody Somewhere should put you out of your misery, you fucking faggot!" Hey, I know that anger! It's the same rage I felt after having my rent raised, getting raped at work and maimed by the cops. However, I think their anger is a tad misplaced.

Two guys decided to play hero and try to tackle me, only to fall to the ground as if they'd run into a pillar of concrete. But these were men of conviction! They tried to punch me still but that only broke their knuckles as they wailed in agony. Damn, national insecurity is everywhere. "What do you care what I wear, ya dumb fucks?" "Our wives will leave us if we can't beat you up! Oh, this is awful. This is worse than anything."

I have to admit, I was really getting worried about my gender. Still - heh, heh - time to up the ante. I decided to hold a press conference - still in uniform! - announcing my conversion to Islam. "Harry Mohammed Ali! Sting like a butterfly and float like a bee!" I can't tell you the number of groups that pissed off! The Muslims highly disapproved of my frilly attire, the defense department declared me a danger to the country (little ol' me!) and every redneck in the country was spitting beer chomping to get at me.

Gee, guys, might want to reconsider your life perspective if you're that easily sent into a homicidal rage. First thing I did, though, was take a flight to the Middle East where no less than 173 suicide bombers and assassins attempted to take me out for Allah. I told them the reason they were failing was because Allah was on my side and because the men there were failing to obey their women. It was like placing hot coals on their foreheads.


Back in the U.S.S.A the reception wasn't much better. The resident President made a hilarious speech saying how "just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail." He did this, of course, after adding me to to his personal Kill List. "We're going to drone his Muslim Maid ass right into the ground." When asked about this contradiction, the politician laughed and replied, "People don't want their President to speak like a dickhead in public but they do want him to act like one in private."

Even though I was on U.S. soil the drones they were a-coming! I was unharmed, of course, but those around me weren't so lucky. But they were simply declared Muslim Maid sympathizers and the good public was fine with that. I started feeling a tad guilty about the losses so I moved to a place I knew they'd never bomb: Wall Street. Greed trumps even National Insecurity.

After a while, a funny thing happened. People are weak and silly when you get right down to it. Once they saw I was indestructible more and more men started wearing heels and maid uniforms in public. Churches were turned into temples, proudly declaring our long heritage of "Judeo-Muslim" values. Middle Eastern women publicly spanked their men - and the bonered men thanked them for it. People really do rally to the strongest dog!

In time, the Muslim Maid party took over both houses of Congress and the Presidency. The dumb fucks. That's when I decided to switch back to my normal clothes and my non-religious life, invalidating their lives all over again. And the wind cried, "Harry".

*At least a dollar per gallon is due to allowed market manipulation of commodity trades by speculators.