Friday, November 27, 2009

Beware the Leech Woman!

A lonely truth

The sun rose slowly in its dawning and with it came revelations of the light. Shaking off the morning fog, a gnawing feeling turned to horror as my eyes focused upon the bright new day.

"What is that on my leg?"

I threw off the covers from my bed and there she was clutching my ankle with her leechy hands, sucking the blood of life out of me.

"Get you off me, you bloodsucking leech! Get off!!!!"

"But I think you're beautiful!" I yanked my foot out of her clutches and she hissed and snarled as a woman scorned, "I said you were beautiful! You owe me!"

"My blood is my own! Get away from me!"

But she only slithered after me with her half-leech, half-human body, slinking out of the bed onto the floor with her grasping, clinging hands insatiable in their lust. "I'm living for you! Giving my life for you! You owe me your blood!"

It told me it came to bring me life

The monster's desperation ate upon her, needing my blood to fuel its illusion of living, having used up all her own. The creature was an expert in the taking, its lust having consumed its life, and fully dedicated now to clutching onto others, probing for any weakness, helpless in its pursuit.

At night it roams the alleys and dark places of tears, looking for the needy and unwise. It sells itself with false flattery and delusional dreams, whispering sweetly its words of woe. The lonely and the lost are its victims, failing to hold steadfast to their truths. The day no one seeks lies, the creature timely dies.

But for now it was on my living room floor, screeching and demanding, losing any pretense of love. I opened the door and told it to leave forever for the next time I saw it I would kill it - or if it stayed I would kill it now, so much the better. Reaching this crossroads caused the creature to morph further into its leechy form as I saw it wriggle and twist in agony. But seeing my razor sharp katana ready to slice its head off, it slithered out the door shrieking in the scorching daylight to any who would hear, spelling a tale of my injustice.

Can't live with that in your house!

Be careful in the night. Beware who you make your bed with. Leech ladies are waiting in the palace of malice and the price of entry is your very life.


Pick up the pieces and go home!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2029: Nobody's Grateful

"What about your declining environment, the exhausting of your energy supply and the madness of honey to rules your lives? Surely, you don't deny those things!"

"I deny none of it!"

"Then how can you keep on partying like everything is OK? What about those facts I just mentioned?"

"We have a foolproof way of dealing with facts here: we ignore them! As proof of our success, I show you all our shiny, happy faces!"

"For today anyway."

"On what other day would you have us live!"

-In the Land of Sir Real

Damn, turns out we'd been grateful all these years for nothing. Call us the ungrateful dead. Ever since last September when the Final Report came out declaring the earth ruined beyond all repair, chaos and despair rules the planet as never before. Wild theories abound of hope and nonsense, prophets of doom declare we'll blow up the world for sure now. Martial law is the norm as jackboot thugs have their day at last. How did it get this way? It had all been Necessary.

The century started off in horror with an attack on American shores. It became Necessary for us to go to war. And no point was war ever deemed Unnecessary. The religion of greed, sanctioned as Necessary and holy by all, ran rampant, driving more and more souls into the streets. For a while a mirage of human will appeared and lulled us back to sleep, but the mirage evaporated, finally culminating in the food riots of 2022. Oil is $550 a barrel and gasoline rationed to allow for the maximum amount of fuel for the delivery of food. It is never enough. Oil, above all, was the lynchpin to all things Necessary.

Eh, turns out we really couldn't handle the truth!

But no amount of money - which was supposed to save us - or military might - which was supposed to save us - or religion - which was supposed to save us - can do anything at all about our permanently deteriorating climate. All sorts of emergency measures were passed and hollow words spoken in appeasement to the gods, but it is Too Late. Our planet is the Titanic only we have no way off. And I wonder: were all these things really so Necessary and unquestionable?

So now we get up in the mornings and say: What now? What does anything matter? We kidded ourselves we were good people, proper and dutiful, doing as we were told, blind lemmings led over a cliff. Everyone's angry and finally wants to do something and fix everything and question our world. But what does that mean on a planet destined to become unlivable? Our eyes turn to the witches we crucified in the past, the ones who told us we traveled down the wrong path but we literally hated them to death. Now death becomes us.

Man has no say here anymore. We've forfeited our right to determine our destiny. We abused the gifts of God. God has no need to judge us, we wrapped our own fate into a nice, tidy package simply by defying the laws of nature - laws made by God herself. The dream is over. We demanded the car keys and promptly totaled the responsibility given us, seeing only its perks and mocking the dangers. We thought we could wish our way to paradise, making reality as we fancied. But there was no love in that.

And yet, even now, there are those who say it's still the time for love.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Texas Republicans: No Honor Among Thieves

Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.
- Luke 6:45

I don't do political handicapping or delve into the minutiae of policies or concern myself with the day-to-day happenings of the government. The future is written in our hearts - and no place else. Want to know what's in the health care bill? You'll never know by reading it! I don't care how clever or dedicated you are, anyone can be deceived by the trickery of master forgers. But if you know a man's heart, you'll know the worth of his laws before he ever writes them. It really is simple as that.

But I love conflict - especially of the mind. I have often written of the Sengoku era of Japanese history as being my favorite, a time of no national governance, every man making his own rules. The mafia is like that as well, the top dog is not voted on, it's a sheer meritocracy. I love meritocracies. And it's a pretty safe bet to say the Republicans here in Texas have ruled by gang warfare for decades - only now the warfare has turned inwards. Oh, goody!

Governor Goodhair and Cheerleader Kay are lining up their attack dogs for a no-holds-barred fight to the death - sort of a political Thunderdome. Two men enter, one man leaves. Even I can't resist a spectacle such as that! The great independent paper the Dallas Observer wrote a feature article this week on the impending catfight, calling it a tug-of-war for the soul of the GOP. Huh, who knew they had a soul?

"I'm grabbing your balls!"
"Thank you!"

So Kay Layme comes to town badmouthing Rick the Prick's failed stewardship: "Texas, she says, has the country's highest property taxes, an educational system with the worst drop-out rate in the country and cronyism in its state agencies, which she attributes to Perry being in office too long..." Which is a generous assessment considering he came into office a corrupt being. And of course, neither one ever mentions the environmental disaster that is Texas during the course of their bickering - which clearly shows our high-kicking sweetheart Kay plans on continuing said disaster.

So how does the Man With No Brain respond? By seeking the coward's eternal refuge: He calls her a traitor. "No one is quicker to holler treason than Governor Rick Perry, who though only reelected in 2006 by an embarrassing 39 percent of the vote, has managed to reinvent himself on the national stage, perhaps even as someone with presidential aspirations...As a result, Hutchison has been forced into an "I'm more conservative than you are," message war." Which is sort of like saying they are having an I-Can-Think-Less-Than-You contest. How deliciously perverse!

I have to admit, as a student of human behavior, this race to nihilism completely fascinates me. Ancient Rome comes to life before our eyes as modern day would-be Caesars vie for power in a struggle to deny their souls. The Observer describes the battle thusly: "At stake is more than just the governor's mansion. It's a pitched battle for the soul of the Republican Party not only statewide, but nationally as the GOP tries to figure out how to keep itself relevant in the age of Obama. Must it go to the hard right and maintain ideological purity by purging itself of moderates, as Perry suggests; must it cast its lot with newly elected Republican Party of Texas chair Cathie Adams, the former president of the socially conservative Texas Eagle Forum and a Perry supporter who feels there's a high moral cost to tempering ideology with moderation?"

Elect me for my hair - there's
nothing underneath to vote for!

Ewww, doesn't that get you all Soviet Uniony feeling? Party purity and purges? Yikes! And to further the point, out comes today a proposed resolution for purity that candidates will be required to give a blood oath to if they want backing. It even has the cult of Reagan included - I picture them all in hooded robes chanting, "Trees pollute!" Don't you remember how animalistic the Russians were portrayed in movies during the cold war and thinking to yourself, "Thank God, I'm not one of them!" That's what I'm thinking now too for these guys.

What's not clear is the line between being insane and merely the selling of it (which leads to insanity in the end anyway). Governor Fairy has a definite edge in the lunatic fringe department: "On April 15, 2009, at a Tax Day Tea Party outside Austin City Hall, Perry became the public face of the movement when he told reporters that Texas had the legal authority to secede from the United States because it was a country when it entered the union in 1845...Millions of online Drudge Report readers awoke the next morning to see the headline: "Rick Perry's star is rising." Interviews with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity followed. And rather than distance themselves from the Tea Party movement and its incendiary rhetoric, others within the Republican establishment have followed Perry's lead."

Stuff like this only increases the unemployment rate when I think of all the satirists put of work with the GOP's own self-mockery. I'm actually afraid to make fun of them as I assume any outlandish idiocy I ascribe to them they would actually latch onto as the Next Great Idea. You know, I could say, "Let's burn gays at the stake like Salem witches" and they'd go, "Right on!" These people are that scary. Instead, I decided to start a "Hug a gay today" campaign and that truly terrified them (to be fair, a few of them actually got secretly aroused by it, wink wink, nudge nudge).

She's the kind of girl that makes the news of the world;
Yes, you could say she was attractively built!

If there were truth in advertising laws concerning how we describe ourselves, conservatives would be aptly labeled "arrested adolescents". So I'm expecting some pretty juicy hijinks and verbal spitballs coming out of the campaign next year. In fact, we already have an example of Gov. Goofball sticking his tongue out: "If Perry's early antics are any indication, voters should brace themselves for a bloody brawl when the campaigns kick into high gear after the January filing deadline. The Perry campaign has characterized the race as Washington vs. Texas, punctuating its dubbing of her as "Kay Bailout" by delivering a cake to her headquarters on the anniversary of her vote supporting the federal government's bailout of financial institutions."

So how low will this pair of skunks sink? How much will they degrade and perjure themselves for a handful of votes? In a contest to slander the truth, how much will each candidate bloody himself or herself in the course of competition? The answers to these questions remain to be seen, but I suspect it's going to be fun finding out! The Observer concludes it this way:

"We now have two reasonably popular Republicans in a bloodbath with each other," Kronberg says. "Everybody who is an active Republican understands the loser's supporters are going to be put into exile—they won't be able to play in politics anymore. So it's going to divide the fund-raising base; it's going to divide the supporter base; and it's going to damage the party for years to come."

We'll find them making out under
the bleachers after the election

And now for something completely different (thank God)

Darian the Dreamer

(Play video first to fully set the mood)

"There must be some way out of here,"
Said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion,
"I can't get no relief."

"Businessmen, they drink my wine,
"plowmen dig my earth.
"None of them along the line
"know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited,"
The thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us
"who feel that life is but a joke."

"But you and I, we've been through that,
"and this is not our fate.
"So let us not talk falsely now,
"the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower,
princes kept the view.
While all the women came and went,
barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance
a wildcat did growl.
Two riders were approaching,
the wind began to howl.

"The Bridge", Dallas's new homeless shelter

"There must be some way out of here,"
Said the Joker to the Thief"

A homeless shelter is like any other prison. You got short-timers. long-timers, lifers, hardcore, softcore, People With Possibilities, People With No Hope - and everything in between. If you care to - if you dare to - you can observe any one person and pretty much smell their fate. All lives lay exposed in the homeless crucifixion. You're one scared motherfucker and by God your soul is on display whether you like it or not.

One thing never mentioned - but noticed by anyone with eyes - is the Death List: people who may as well have a scarlet "D" branded on them for death is their only ticket out, souls so broken a loveless society can no longer bear them. "Fixers", a.k.a. social workers and busybodys, will tell you no such list exists - it comforts them to live in that false fog. But we the inmates have no such need for pretense. We know it, we see it, we quietly acknowledge who's on it.

And no one disputed Darian's place on that List.

In WWII submarine life, after a time, life became so suffocating with the daily passing through narrow passageways and sleeping in cramped quarters, the walls stifled their way in on you, wearing your nerves to the bone - and your crewmates morphed into loathsome creatures despised to the core. Anything could cause it: the way he ate or walked or brushed his teeth or preened his hair - anything - you just hated him. If I see that one more time I'll kill him! Life in the shelter is such a pressure cooker as well.

Darian, with his trusty bag
and broken-dream walk

"There's too much confusion,
"I can't get no relief"

So if a black guy does something annoying here, you will hear mutterings of "goddam nigger", or if it's a Latino, "fucking wetback" and so on. Put some cub reporter among us and he'll breathlessly announce to the world about all the "hidden racism" going on in here, our private hell on earth. But that's because you judge us by the standards of the living, not the dying.

Just like in the sub, you're hated for anything in here - even the shape of your head. What do you call that? Head-ism? The real problem is the constant fear and dread and - worst of all - uncertainty. God, how that grinds on you with no place to go but the cold, killing waters! Achingly, you stare through your private porthole at an upscale family of urban bikers on their way to paradise - the chasm of the universe between you.

What some call selfish, we call surviving. And while there are genuine moments of human compassion shared here, after a while you settle into a holding pattern of self-preservation: no stepping outside of yourself, no picking up stray cats. Your load is maxxed out already. 99% of the time, one's troubles are one's own alone and nothing can be done even if everyone wanted to help. It's in this micro-world turned upside down that we exist, and one must understand that to understand Darian.

"Businessmen, they drink my wine
"Plowmen dig my earth"

Some Death Listers are more certain than others. Darian was a no-doubter. But I'm someone who always has to know how things got the way they are - especially when ending up on the Death List! Darian's lot was the worst of all: he was a Shadow Man, a person who'd never found himself. He was as a shadow passing through the world; merely casting the silhouette a person casts, never being the person. He'd gone from being some mother's precious baby to a number in a case worker's file.

Also, you should know that while I call him Darian the Dreamer, his nickname at the shelter was Darian the Drunk. People here are like people everywhere: they just look at you from the outside. Darian wasn't an angry or scary drunk, he drank like the shadow he was: to fade into the background, unnoticed; a black hole of energy. But I believe everyone has a vital truth to share if we just listen. So I listened.

The best way to define Darian is by his outbursts. He didn't talk much except for maybe on some bullshit topics that interested him, but nothing really revealing. He was a tough guy to get to know. But when he said something, he said something. I'm always looking for that, any crumb of truth to cling to and feed me hope. On TV I see people make millions of dollars to say nothing. In fact, they even consider it a sin to say something real. But the outbursts of Darian were as shiny jewels to me and I treasure them to this moment.


The Bridge has been open less than two years. When it did it was a landmark in Dallas' care for the homeless, creating a coagulation of souls like never before. For some, like Darian, it was their first time to have a place for "centering" and a sense of community. I silently adopted him, seeing much of myself in him. The difference between me and most others here is I know how to lie better. But Darian verbalized words I learned not to say, so I studied him, hoping to learn something of myself.

"None of them along the line
"know what any of it is worth."

"Nothin' means nothin'!"

One refreshing thing about the shelter is the higher count than normal of perceptive souls who see politics for what it is: a byproduct of who we are - not a determiner. I trust people like that, means they are committed to fixing their own lives. But during the last Presidential cycle, things got very heated here just like everywhere else. Even I got sucked in to a degree, desperate for an Obama win (not believing he brought change, but just as a statement).

But every dogmatic dictate of our debates struck a blow in Darian, riling him as a cattle prod even through his alcholic haze. I saw him getting annoyed over there in the corner but not really thinking much of it. We're all annoyed here. First, I could tell he hated the whole emphatic tone of our talk (I was observing, not participating) and how vital it was for our survival for a "correct" outcome for the election. And in this extreme contentiousness the molten lava volcano of Darian had no choice but to explode.

He came out of his corner onto center stage, shaking with rage and desperation. "Nothin means nothin'!" he interrupted, all eyes fixed on him, his own eyes daring anyone to contradict him - and feeling it, said it again. "Nothin' mean's nothin'! Ain't nothin' gonna change! Just gonna keep bein' the same way it always been! It just gonna go on and on and all ya'll know it! This be dangerous times if you wanna be living, that much I can tell ya!"

At that point he got self-conscious but I was laughing my ass off inside. He'd cleared the air of the hateful speech and put the dutiful debaters in their place. Of course, everyone thought he was just speaking about his own life and fate - not realizing they were doing the same.

"No reason to get excited,"
The thief, he kindly spoke.

"Back when I had my illusions"

Darian protected his dreams by calling them illusions - meat to sate the hungry savages. And he used the phrase above as cover from criticism. I don't know where his life went wrong or if even his dreams were truly real. Only God in Heaven can answer that question. But here on earth, one is guilty of laziness or selfishness until your dreams prove you innocent.

One thing Darian always kept with him was his sketch pad, where his dreams manifested to life in this world. I'd peek on occasion - there was an unspoken trust between us - and I'd silently see complete alien worlds drawn up with characters to match. Was he channeling our inner selves onto his paper? Was that how he saw us? Fascinating.

One clue I got was when a documentary on set design for films came on the TV. For about half an hour, Darian was mesmerized. So mesmerized I was in fact looking around the room to see if anyone noticed him. I was like, "Hey, look! Darian is coming out his shell for this! This means something!" But I was alone in my excitement. Then something snapped in Darian, he stood up, left the room and didn't come back for two days (no one leaves permanently before their sentence is served, the icy waters too cold to bear).

He also did portraits. Wicked portraits I only got glances of. One day, he came up to me unexpectedly and handed me mine with the single word, "Here." Abruptly he left, unable to bear witness to my reaction - and I equally couldn't bear for him to see my fear. As I unfolded it, my heart pounded. Are those really my eyes, so deep and searching? He found kindness in my lips yet tinged in pain. This is me? I found a corner and cried my guts out. Who knew I had anything to offer?

You literally couldn't trade me a winning lottery ticket for that portrait.

"There are many here among us
"who feel that life is but a joke."

"But you're not even trying!"

The dreamless have no comprehension of dreamers. I felt a bit guilty about it, but I could not miss eavesdropping on Darian's time with the job placement counselor. Don't get me wrong, for some people it's great, any job will do and they are ecstatic. But there's a blind cult of work in our culture, a de facto litmus test of your value as a person. But that kind of outlook uses up a dreamer and leaves him empty. Darian was at that point. Cindy, the counselor, knew only the job god and saw it as the end all and be all.

Darian was shaking his head. "I don't wanna be around them people." I knew what he meant, the worker drones who had no need for dreams, who'd suffocate Darian on the menial labor job she offered.

"Darian, you don't even know those people. I'm sure they're all very nice." Cindy had a hint of exasperation in her voice. Man, have I heard that before!

"I don't wanna do that no more. That ain't my life."

"But you need a job to get a life. You need to take that first step."

"That ain't no step." Darian was closing down, shutting off the pain of fruitless communication.

"Can you tell me what you do want to do? You don't have any skills listed on your resume, there's not much I can work with." Cindy was reaching her Stern Mode.

"I just want to be left alone." Darian was defenseless and his eyes stared out the window.

"I'm sorry. That's not really helpful. I need you to be more specific." Stern Mode had set in at full tilt.

Fully strangled, Darian spit out his last few words. "I just want to live."

"But, Darian, you're not even trying!"

His eyes shot back to her in confusion. Of course he was trying, he was resisting idle work which would steal his soul. He knew he risked life and limb in that pursuit but that was the power of his dream to him: there's no life without it. In Darian's mind, he was trying harder than anyone else and it was she who was not trying - she didn't try to see his dreams at all.

"But you and I, we've been through that,
"and this is not our fate.
"So let us not talk falsely now,
"the hour is getting late."

"I like you!"

Sometimes it's not the storms in life that are our undoing, but the gifts. Cassie was such a gift, an angel on earth. All she had to do was stand beside you for you to feel better. She didn't even have to do anything. Her sandy blonde hair flowed to her shoulders, framing the glow of her face. Cassie was positively infectious!

Most social workers are dedicated - have to be to do the job. But angels like Cassie are truly transcendent, a beacon of light in our dark hole of existence. And she completely smashed wide open the shell of Darian. I remember watching - with a bit of shock - as he eagerly pulled out his drawings for her and how her genuine words of praise took years off his life, straightening his entire body - which was both good and bad.

For while she clearly saw all of his talent, she saw none of his impotence.

Darian took on new life, forsaking his despised drink and attaching himself to Cassie's side. She'd given him the kiss of life but he had nothing to hang his hat on and was helpless to be with her, even to the point of just sitting on the floor of her office while she worked.

And then the news came: Cassie's husband was to be transferred to Houston.

Slowly, Darian turned on her, crushed and panicked with thought of her departure. For the first time, I saw him grow mean and petty. With the taste of life once more in his mouth, perhaps he came to fully realize how truly desperate his plight was. Had not Darian himself spoken of the dangers of wanting to live? But could he even go back to his old ways of dying?

Darian left the shelter for a week, his body returning but not his spirit. I don't know what his eyes had seen but maybe "fear in the headlights" is a good description of his new look. His drawing was listless, his body more bent than ever. He was a far, far cry from the man who boldly put his hands on Cassie's desk, looking her directly in the eye and saying just for the heck of it, "I like you!"

All along the watchtower,
princes kept the view.
While all the women came and went,
barefoot servants, too.

"How do you fix the night?"

I'm a night owl and it's not unusual for me to be watching TV at 2 AM in the break room. At 1:33 on a Wednesday morning, Darian comes drifting in, shaken and broken with eyes lost and clueless - and sober. His eyes were open but saw nothing. I assumed he knew I was there but his voice spoke to the walls. But before he even spoke, one thing I knew for sure: this was serious.

"How do you fix the night?" he asked - and I shuddered with words I'd asked myself a thousand times but never dare utter aloud. The man was dying right before my very eyes. What do you do? "My soul is in a hole..." I remember now gripping the sides of the chair, a hurricane of emotions swirling inside me. On the muted TV set, an upscale couple were cooing over the benefits of Viagra. My heart pounded and I even thought of screaming for help. But how to explain a heart dying but not the body?

I started crying then and I'm crying now from the remembrance of it. For whatever reason, I was made witness to this moment of human history, of his being declared unprecious in all the world. The light was leaving Darian and to me at that moment, it seemed as great as any national emergency. But I don't know where the hospital is for fixing lost dreams. We just sort of accept this kind of tragedy as part of the human condition - if not human survival. "I'm so tired," he expired, shuffling away. A few weeks later, he disappeared for good.

Outside in the distance
a wildcat did growl.
Two riders were approaching,
the wind began to howl.

EPILOGUE: I scan the Metro section of the paper every day, looking for the story of an anonymous death. I read about a firefighter who'd lost his job, family and home due to drug addiction but who was now on his way back. But Darian had no such reference points of success. I picture him floating on a raft in the middle of the universe, not knowing which way to go. Cassie had forced him to open his eyes - that's a bad thing?

But as I look at this world around me, with its clenched teeth of frantic exhortations, and dreams of war and poverty and greed, and more and more souls sucked into the drain of despair I smirk at all our efforts to "save" ourselves. Darian had it right all along, he just didn't finish the thought:

"Nothin' means nothin' - unless everyone means something."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Into the Light

It all started as a pinpoint of light.

Through the unseen roof down to the floor of the hazy dark Factory Grind it came; natural, pure and unapologetic. Delicate yet unstoppable, like a whisper of true love.

It made no known sense for it even to be possible - and yet there it was. They told us no life existed outside the Factory - and yet there it was. I dared not believe it myself - and yet there it was.

Wider it grew, like water through a bursting dam, bathing me in light. The dream of dreams! I cried tears of joy, flowers sprouting as the drops hit the concrete floor. I lifted my arms, embracing the universe and its gifts as desperate hands reached out to grab me but dare not step into the light.

I soared upwards and outward into the clean air in an explosion of eternal color. I was free! I danced in timeless skies, handflipping from one cloud to the next, doing it even as I wondered how it could be. And in that time, I witnessed all human history, wondering of its misery.

In perfect rhythm, workers streamed out of the Factory Grind, defying the logic of death. In healing fantasy, trees of life rose through the industrial haste, shooting up in helpless desire. And everyone chorused, "Yes, it's real! Yes, it's real!"

A wildfire of love engulfed the globe, giving in to the light at last. I smiled at their smiles as they asked, "Why did we ever do otherwise?" Hand in hand, the human touch felt no fear for a future together.

And in the doing came the knowing, and in the knowing was no turning back from the reality of love: that only love could be, that only love will be and that love was all there has ever been.

There's a time for love and a time for letting it be

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Ending of Pretending

The darkness of the small apartment was both real and unreal. She was there - but couldn't be there. It had to have happened - yet could never have happened. So how was it she stood with the dying rays of slit sun upon her dress, slowly ebbing into darkness?

The Endless Marriage was dead, wrecked by an Unthinkable Divorce. What remained of her entered this unitary cave called home, yet she hesitated to sit. No, this was not her home. Her life had not come to this. She was destined for better. It won't be real unless you sit down. The old familiar panic breathing invaded her veins once more. Trapped, always trapped. She was supposed to be free now. Free from what?

She had puked out the marriage like a hairball, no longer able to keep it down. For years she kept it forced down, damaging herself, knowing she could never ever live on her own. She'd suffer any indignity, any humiliation, any torment to keep her plastic life afloat. But when the dying time came, she refused the Reaper's call. Yet the Reaper's call cannot be denied, killing her marriage instead, carrying her to this current moment of unreality. What price for failing to answer?

Paralyzed in the middle of her 808 sq ft of domain, perishables hung in a plastic bag from her squeezing hand, waiting to be placed in their proper places. They couldn't understand what the holdup was. Life could not resume until they were appropriately sequestered. Had they been purchased for naught? To only make it this far but no further? Seemed such a waste.

This is not my store. After the move out, her neighborhood was all wrong. The cars slower, the brick older and the stores moldier. Not even to God would she admit her disheartened feelings as she entered this manmade monument to glaring fluorescence and scratched linoleum called a grocery store. She tried once going back to her old store, with the pretty people and fancy facades, but the long drive proved too aggravating to sustain. Here was like shopping in a post-apocalyptic world. A degraded life till the end of my days.

Still fixated in her spot, she noticed the bent blinds courtesy of the previous renters. They were a used and secondhand thing these blinds - just like she was now. She didn't want them. And who'd want her? She always told herself she could live without her material possessions in her 6,700 sq ft palace of excess. But luxury means approval and poverty disapproval from the gods. But I worship God, not the gods. The sun sunk lower as she failed to move.

When Moments of Darkness gripped her, choking her heart and drowning her soul, she retreated to the False Mirage of hope in her mind. Yes, she'd get her house back, her life back, her kids back - and most importantly, her lies back. Like any junkie, addiction was life and life was death. Oh-why-oh-why didn't she answer Death's call like she was supposed to? But time is the enemy of all lies and her mirage addiction lost its narcotic escape. Don't disappear, you're all I've got!

Alone was never supposed to happen. Unless you turn your back on God. She'd gotten a TV to watch, a radio to wake her, dishes to eat on, clocks for the wall and all the other required accessories for a kid moving out for the first time. None of it interested her. And at 41, she was no kid. Nineteen years wasted on a lie. The lie was a thief of not only her time, but of her looks and dreams. On the sea of life, she looked all around and saw no sign of a port. She cringed bitterly now at all the chances she refused for affairs - refuted to protect her claim of morality. Idiot! You refused life!

The sun journeyed on, leaving her to herself. Condensate sweated on the once cold carton of orange juice. It was the natural cycle of life and yet she doubted the sun would truly shine again. She prayed for death but death would not come. What's the point of anything now? To move and to not move are the same thing. But she was tiring of the fear and hiding and the tugging weight in her hand. The zombie groceries reached their final destination. So what now?

You made the wine, now drink the cup

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Man Of Integrity?

In my misery I be.

Life is hell on the streets, cut off from all living life. Friends, family, fun, fucking - all gone. Worst part is having to keep up a facade of normalcy. One day, I just decided to give up and let the real me show: scruffy, depressed and alone. Go ahead, mock away, I can't stop you. And that's how I sat on a sidewalk bench watching people pass by in all their unmitigated glory on a Sunday afternoon, none having made decisions as poor as mine.

Imagine my surprise as someone actually approached me. Red flags went up everywhere, knowing most likely someone spotted my pain and saw me as an easy target. I know some who make whole careers out of that. Anyway, this guy was different. He had a suit and a smile and an amiable air. I remember thinking: Jesus, that's one hell of a con man's act! That's when he made his offer.

"I want you to have this gold bar."

Strange. No set up, no introduction - you have to gain the mark's trust first. Then he pulls out an actual gold bar and shows it to me. And after proving to me it's real, I said:

"I can't accept that."

"Why not? You're down on your luck and I want to help. Simple as that."

"I'm a man of integrity. Such wealth does not reflect my true station in this world."

"So what?"

"I'm using my life to prove the injustice of our economic system. They told me work would fulfill me. It has not. They told me if I did an honest day's work I would get by. I did not. They say this is the only way to live. It is not. My misery proves their precepts are false."

"No one needs you to do that. The injustices will provide proof on their own. You're throwing away your life! What of your truths? I'm offering you a way out."

My truths I do not want to face. Yet a man must have integrity to survive! And this fellow wanted to buy mine (or at least that's the story I'm going to tell). "No, sir! I'm on a mission from God. All of mankind is depending on my misery. There is a better way to live and I know it! You cannot silence me with your gold!"

So he got up, walked a few steps and turned back around. "Now why would gold silence you?"

And he left me sitting there feeling like an idiot. I didn't really just pass up a way out of my street hell, did I?

Then a girl in a sun dress stops in front of me, her demeanor and smile radiating like the sun. And it was me she was smiling at! Talk about being just what the doctor ordered, she matched exactly my secret dream for sexual healing. I must put my best foot forward for one such as she!

Her inviting smile pulled me off the bench and her life-filled eyes never left mine as I nervously approached her. Dear God, she saw right into my soul! In religious terms, this is what you call being "saved". But I must prove my worthiness and integrity to her, harboring no lies. So I slapped her.

The radiance snapped as she rubbed her cheek. "What the fuck is your problem!"

"All my relationships end up in failure. I thought you needed to know that I would only hurt you in the end. Impressive for me to admit that, huh?"

But for some reason she got real angry, storming off and shooting me the bird. "Loser!"

"Yes, but I told you that first!"

I'm sure she'll dwell on that and give me sympathy sex later. But that wouldn't be salvation, would it? I didn't just pass up a chance to be saved did I?

She was actually better than this,
more intelligent eyes

At the shelter they force me to take weekly therapy because I'm "such a miserable git no one can stand to be around you." Not my fault if I'm the only one who has integrity. At least this time I had a couple of instances where I could prove my greatness and get them off my back!

But after I told my story of the gold bar, my therapist just made a weird look at me and said nothing. Perhaps I've awed her with my terrific trueness, I mused. What fanatical devotion I showed! Her words didn't match my fantasy.

"No one could be that stupid. No one. You must be making this up." I assured her I was not, a tad confused at the disappointment. "Then what you're telling me is you don't want to face true responsibility but rather take on that which is not your own. Tell me what your fear was."

"My first thought was: who needs integrity when you've got a Maserati? But that would mean my life has no meaning in what I'm doing!"

"The truth will set you free."

"Whatever!" I sulked, arms folded and forehead creased. What the fuck else am I supposed to do with my life? All I do is dream. But the therapist was scowling back at me (unlike most, this one doesn't take any shit. I so dread her - and crave her), so I told her about the sun dress girl and how amazing she was. She was borderline screaming now.

"You did it twice? You don't have integrity! You have a life ruled by fear!"

"That's one way of looking at it," I defended, not believing it myself. I sat in the chair, cowed by her disgust and wondered if I had just passed up on a life of my dreams. I would have never chosen the path I'm on had I thought I had a future in this world. Dear God, what have I done?

"I'm sorry," I confessed. "I'm sorry about what I've done. I can't live with this."

"No doubt! How very pathetic. You see, the difference between you and others is most don't get handed such gifts! The greater the gifts handed to you, the greater the responsibility."

"Well, you're not helping much on the suicide front there." I started to open up at last. "It's just that it's easy to believe in me - but not in my life."

"Tell me, why is it you believe in yourself?" she asked, breaking me down.

I smiled for the first time, a flicker of light. "That's easy: I believe in love."

"But if you believe in love, why is there no love in your life?"

"Oh, that's easy too," I was freely confessing now, "because I have no real integrity!"

Oh, shit...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lost On The Road

So I'm on the road at this rusty old gas station outpost in faded white paint pretending of a purity it never had and I'm a long way from home only I don't have a home and I'm driving and driving to try and find a home only I don't know if there's a home to be found.

A boy by a stream
Dreams of a flower he'd seen
Like the moon and the stars and the river

And I got to pee but this place is so nasty I don't want to pee here so I start looking around at buildings in the back so I can hide and pee and I finally get a spot even though I got people following me asking me for help because they are helpless and when I pee I don't know if I'm indoors or outdoors but it all comes out like cherry cola from all the drugs I have to keep taking to keep going on the road.

But he dare not pretend her
And dare not offend her
With the hopes and dreams he would give her

The car is all crapped out and messy and stinky from the long road trip and I need to do something to clean it out but I can't ever get the time because I always have to keep moving and I keep saying, "later, later, now is not the time" but it's bugging me bad but I can't stop now but the stench just gets worse and worse and who wants to share a thing such as that?

But flowers of dreams
Are not what they seem
When their roots are buried too shallow

Someone is with me who could be my brother or not because I'm never me so is he ever he I don't know because I never look in the rearview mirror because of what may be gaining on me and all the maps have all the roads twisting to places I don't want to go to but I feel I need to get to someplace fast.

She lets herself be fucked
And her petals to be plucked
While taking food from earth we call hallowed.

So I'm going down the road again and one mistake I crash and they leave you to yourself for all time and the pressure is all on me to keep going when I want to rest and I'm screaming for help like the helpless back at the station but no one can hear me in the car and I look over in the next car and they are screaming too so who can help me anyway?

Stream boy is crying
As the flower is dying
Does he not know the sun is still shining?

Then the old days hit me when I had no home then too and the little boy crying thinking this is my hell because life has no life and love has no love and dreams have no dreams but believing none of it but needing all of it but running away from it in my car and my car is getting old and older and needs to rest.

And the flower does bleed
Saying, "I'm just a weed!"
Of her petals she is still pining.

I am lost.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I Know Why You Love Me

I know how eager you are to bestow the title "Mahatma" (great soul) upon my name, but dear ones, I know why you love me.

Because I'm always funny 24/7

Because I'm cute and can write
songs as well as the Bee Gees

Because I'm an uber hot sex toy
who can fuck like a banshee

Because I'm a rock'n'roll god
who truly believes image is everything

Because I did one thing right once
and fell in love

But upon closer examination, let's see what you really know:

John Belushi, dead at 33 from an injection of speedball, a combination of cocaine and heroin.

Andy Gibb, dead at 30 from an inflamed heart brought on by years of alcohol and drug abuse.

Tawny Kitaen, used up, arrested and in rehab:

Jim Morrison, Dead at 27. OD'd fat, bloated and depressed.

Me: Still searching for love.

Love me now? Me neither.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

On this day in 1975, The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior, taking all 29 aboard to the bottom, never to see the light of day again. Gordon Lightfoot immortalized the sinking in his song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. His words are accurate and the story and melody haunt the soul. For this is not the story of one wreck, but of all wrecks, of all men swallowed by the seas since the beginning of time.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.

With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconson
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and the Captain well seasoned.

In the morning sun, the men boarded in bright innocence. Burned out from Watergate, talk was simple and carefree. A smile was had with talk of catching a young girl's eye, another groaned of a marriage outlasting his heart, others talked of plans to get away and relax at last.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
T'was the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane West Wind

For the first 13 years of her life, the Fitzgerald was the largest on the lakes. Over 15,000 attended its launch yet she refused the sea. For over half an hour, the shipyard crew struggled to free her from the keel blocks. When she did enter the water, she crashed violently into a dock.

When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
He said fellas it's been good to know ya.

The Captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the words turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd fifteen more miles behind her.

When the winter gale came, waves were as high as 35 feet. The Fitzgerald's radar got knocked out and she was blinded by heavy snow. She reported a minor list. The Captain reported the situation as "one of the worst seas I've ever been in."

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

"We're holding our own". Scrambling men, most having known this fear before, never sent a distress signal. But the icy grip of the seas was upon them and before their death they stood as men who knew their fate - living yet dead. A time for final prayers or screams.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.

List of the dead:
Armagost, Michael E. Third Mate 37
Beetcher, Fred J. Porter 56
Bentsen, Thomas D. Oiler 23 St.
Bindon, Edward F. First Assistant Engineer 47
Borgeson, Thomas D. Maintenance Man 41
Champeau, Oliver J. Third Assistant Engineer 41
Church, Nolan S. Porter 55
Cundy, Ransom E. Watchman 53
Edwards, Thomas E. Second Assistant Engineer 50
Haskell, Russell G. Second Assistant Engineer 40
Holl, George J. Chief Engineer 60
Hudson, Bruce L. Deck Hand 22
Kalmon, Allen G. Second Cook 43
Kohler, Tim F. Idiot 45
MacLellan, Gordon F. Wiper 30
Mazes, Joseph W. Special Maintenance Man 59
McCarthy, John H. First Mate 62
McSorley, Ernest M. Captain 63
O'Brien, Eugene W. Wheelsman 50
Peckol, Karl A. Watchman 20
Poviach, John J. Wheelsman 59
Pratt, James A. Second Mate 44
Rafferty, Robert C. Steward 62
Rippa, Paul M. Deck Hand 22
Simmons, John D. Wheelsman 62
Spengler, William J. Watchman 59
Thomas, Mark A. Deck Hand 21
Walton, Ralph G. Oiler 58
Weiss, David E. Cadet 22
Wilhelm, Blaine H. Oiler 52

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Want the Magic Bus to World Paradise? You Ca-an't Have It!

I know what's chic. I know what sells. I know what makes the crowd cheer in holy confirmation. You want a Political Answer. You want a Military Answer. You want an Economic Answer. You want an Answer To The World!

You ca-an't have it!

You want a leader you can trust and believe in? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you yourself will have to
be someone you can believe in

You want a world untouched by pollution? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you will have to settle for not polluting your own soul

You want honest CEO's not given over to greed? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you'll just have to learn not to be greedy yourself

You want a world without war? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you'll just have find your own inner peace

You want worldwide economic prosperity? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you'll have to learn to trust
something other than money

You want conservatives to go back under their rocks? You ca-an't have it!

Guess you'll just have to remove
the hypocrisy from your own life

You want paradise on earth? You ca-an't have it!

But you can still have the paradise of a good heart.

Actually, you can have it. We can have all these things. And will. One soul at a time.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

Yes, Democracy Has Failed Before - In England!

Oliver Cromwell, ass kicker

On Tuesday, 30 January 1649, Charles I was beheaded. England stood kingless and declared a republic ruled by parliament. Yippeeee!! Power to the people! The world is fixed!

Well, sorta. See, no cure can be implemented for assholes. (Since you say you don't believe in love, that is)

The man who led to the king's overthrow was Oliver Cromwell, a man who thought the idea of England without a king was "unthinkable" and sought merely to remedy the king's arbitrary rule of injustice. Ever hear of a guy who bankrupts his country with ambitious foreign invasions, squeezes the poor to the brink of disaster and grants favors based upon pure cronyism? England had its Charles I and we had our George II. See, man, it ain't the system, it's the people.

Cromwell, though a Puritanical maniac, was a true patriot who put his country first. The king's death necessary only as a last resort as he held out until the end in defiance of meaningful reform. Charles had forced Cromwell into open revolt and civil war and that left Cromwell in control of the military - and therefore the country. And though Cromwell could have very well made himself king, he handed power over to parliament to create a just and fair England at last, one that represented the people.

People not ready for the responsibility of citizenship.

I need a king to do my thinking!

Parliament turned corrupt as any king, self-dealing and self-serving in wholesale whoring. That again forced Cromwell from his country estate, to appear before them and deliver this oh-so-wicked tongue lashing:

...And I did think it to be my business rather to see the utmost issue, and what God would produce by you, than unseasonably to intermeddle with you. . . but you're such assholes I can't trust you to do anything!

"I will tell you somewhat, which, if it be not news to you, I wish you had taken very serious consideration of fucking up the country. If it be news, I wish I had acquainted you with it sooner you morons. And yet, if any man will ask me why I did not, the reason is, because I did make it my business to give you no interruption. Don't make me stop this car!

There be some trees that will not grow under the shadow of other trees; there be some that choose to thrive under the shadow of other trees i.e you're a bunch of shady bastards. I will tell you what hath thriven (your fucking greed), I will not say what you have cherished under your shadow (again, your fucking greed); that were too hard. Instead of peace and settlement we get Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of mercy and truth being brought together, and righteousness and peace kissing each other as opposed to kissing Republican's asses, by your reconciling the honest people of these nations, and settling the woeful tea party distempers that are amongst us, weeds and nettles, briars and thorns, have thriven under your shadow may no-bid contracts live forever.

Dissettlement and division, discontent and dissatisfaction, together with real dangers to the whole State, have been more multiplied within these five months of your sitting, than in some years before just couldn't wait to stick your hand in the cookie jar, could you. Foundations have also been laid for the future renewing of the troubles of these nations, by all the enemies of them abroad and at home with your fake ass "reform" that carries only political victories but popular burdens. Let not these words seem too sharp but I hope they sting like a bitch, for they are true as any mathematical demonstrations are, or can be...during your sittings but if I could I'd call you a bunch traitorous, no-good, lying bastards

More British heroes

Cromwell used his military backing to dissolve parliament and he ruled as "Lord Protector" for five years to initiate the reforms he deemed necessary. After his death, weak-kneed Englanders put Charles II on the throne and returned to a monarchy in order to get their ass kicked by America later on.

But America has given herself over to economic tyranny. Human weakness reigns supreme once more - leaving only us to rescue us. Our destiny lays within our hearts - and nowhere else.


Now back to our regular programming of exquisite pain:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Autumn Solace in the Japans (Meeting Old Friends)

The seas have been stormy lately, reflecting darkly black clouds moving in from the horizon. So as I have done in the past, I sought solace in the Japans, the land of dreams. The year is in its twilight as was the day I visited. I met with old friends and sat for a time among them, together we let the sun set upon us yet never speaking of the vanishing light or the meaninglessness of time.

We mused on the death poem of Yabu:

"What are clouds,
"but an excuse for the sky?
"What is life,
"but an escape from death?"

As we did this, we came to realize the infinity of a single leaf, forever beyond all human understanding - and rejoiced.

Sunlight seeps through an awning of branches as we enter

A few branches still cling to the light

On the road to meet Kanbei!

Kanbei is rich in thought and imagination.
His roots run very deep.
Even the best and brightest come to him for counsel.

Kanbei Drinks from tranquil waters

Goroda is steady and unambitious.
Once you win him over, you need never doubt his loyalty.
He seeks a consistant excellence in all his pursuits.

A study in light and dark as we travel.

Kimiko is young and simple.
She serves herself by serving others.
Above all else, she seeks usefulness.

We descend these steps to meet a special friend
whose light shines even in the dark.

Subaro! Subaro is one of truth and openness.
In him is no politic and no trickery.
His motives are pure and true.

I pause in my reflections.
Swirling colors of confusion, distorting reality.

Hidetora is a soul of vast experience.
He's survived wars, betrayals and treachery.
Yet in all those times, he never lost himself.

Through shadows we must sometimes pass
to reach the light again.

Omi always brings a smile, so eager and full of life.
You watch his explorations as a proud father.
We anxiously await his destiny - as does he!

The path to a warlord!

Takeda is a proud and strong warrior.
Out of the darkness, he seeks to touch the sky.
He stands as a mountain in the gardens.

A pathway of water. How far does it stretch?
Many such as these fed the ancient castles and mansions.
Today, it leads us to royalty as well.

The legendary Lady Gracia Hosokawa.
Her grace and purity of beauty stand in fearless display.
Through her very vulnerablity, she is strongest of all.

Later, I meditated in the Zen Rock garden.
The sun too making its final pass through.

In parting I see two friends, different yet the same.
Later, they swam off across the pond, never separating.
They share a timeless treasure.