Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Still We Wrap Ourselves Warm With It, Cause It's All We've Got

Sometimes when you spread out the great quilt of your life
and take a long look at it,

Its clashing colors and tattered edges,
its blood-red center,
the one clear line that is suddenly derailed by a renegade stitch,
the many awkward triangles and all of the big vacant holes,

It quickly becomes clear that only a gossiping gaggle
of arthritic psychopaths could have woven such a mess.

July 2009
Stockton, CA

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How Entirely Magical

A thought perked to the surface this morning as I passed my reflection in the mirror while reaching for a Q-Tip.

How completely fascinating it would be to see my own father at 25 going about his typical morning’s routine.

What I would give to watch him shave his young face, take a second look at his young muscles, pour some long forgotten brand of cereal into a bowl.

Then the thought of my own unborn children’s intrigue at just this morning, watching this young man clean his ears.

How entirely magical to see him putting on deodorant, and yes, dad was already drinking coffee back then.

Suddenly my rushed and vacant morning was surrounded by the most precious eyes, and I flexed my biceps while watching myself apply some ancient, green-labeled deodorant in the mirror.

October 2008
Alviso, CA

A Life Unfurls

Well little baby girl, you’ll unfurl into an old woman someday.

If there’s one thing I can promise it’s that the Earth will be impatient with you.

It’ll either try to spin you off or spin you right back in.

It’s going to hurt a whole lot to be here.

And sometimes the beauty of it will cause oceans to form in your eyes.

You’ll notice that as your life peels its petals open, other lives around you will pop off the stem, or get eaten with a wet swallow, but don’t be alarmed, that’s one of the most important parts.

You’re going to taste amazing things down here on Planet Earth, and suddenly you will possess preferences, favorite things and places, pet peeves and character flaws.

Maybe someone will damage you real bad.

Maybe someone will be brave enough to teach you that anything is possible.

Hopefully your habits will be positive ones, and benefit you, but if you’re anything like the rest of us they may only drive you further from yourself.

Get ready for feelings of inadequacy and lots of complicated relationships, a to-do list that truly has no end.

Maybe we spin our own selves back into the Earth with all of this stress.

But you also must be ready to feel such tremendous love that it corrupts your better judgment and gives your heart hummingbird wings.

And to dance like your socks are made of music.

Oh, and you also get to enjoy the oceans, and that big blushing blue moon, and springtime and honey and catching salamanders.

It’s a good place to be. I think you’ll like it here.

But get ready, because before you know it you’ll be an old woman, and I’ll be so long gone you might have trouble believing I was ever actually here.

But here I was, convinced that my own life held importance, chock-full of bad habits as it was.

Here I was, eating delicious foods, dancing from time to time, scratching things off the old to-do list in a field of blue moonlight, and talking the ears off of language-less babies.

Here I was.

And here you still are.

The Earth will never stop spinning you round and round, but all your life demands of you is to always notice, and your world will be as full as a watermelon and sweeter than syrup.

June 2009
Lagunitas, CA

The Parrots of Presidio Park

The last time I saw you was the last time I cried.

I was north in Laytonville, you south in Santa Cruz. “Meet me at the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.” And there you were, beneath an Araucaria Tree.

We walked on the paths, skirting around the hard stuff and searching for boundaries. I photographed you in the Gunnera leaves, and you kidded me about my distance.

We saw our first Dawn Redwood. Though manicured and displaced, it still looked wise and fierce, with its fuzzy, orangutan bark, and bunchy, dripped wax trunk.

We crossed Lincoln and went for beers at the Irish Pub on Ninth. While playing backgammon and drinking Anchor Steams we finally remembered how to flirt. And argue.

We made love over and over in the Travelodge on Lombard, and in the morning we made love one last time as if our lives depended on it.

We checked out of the hotel, and went and sat on the stonewall at the entrance to the Presidio. At first I was amazed to see a pair of red-shouldered hawks in the middle of such a large city, but it was the flashing flock of parrots that really scrunched my brow.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

We drew it out, of course. You gave us each a headphone and put on our favorite song, and it was then that I last cried.

It was almost too cruel to be worth it, seeing you for less than 24 hours in a year. But then again, it is the crushing of our hearts into wine that is the sap and marrow of our memories, and I wouldn’t take it back for all the table grapes in the world.

And now, months later, you are twirling in your glass slippers through the slot canyons of Manhattan, and I am slouched over a piece of paper in the fir forests of West Marin.

The song ended and I had to rush away first. I held you like a promise, and kissed your wet cheeks and mouth.

You looked mad and so damn beautiful as you held tight to my shoulders, already feeling your grip losing its teeth.

When I drove away I was still crying, and I watched you in the rearview mirror, as you watched me from on top of that stonewall.

When I turned the corner I punched the steering wheel three times and never cried again.

November 2007
Lagunitas, CA

The Marble Mountains

The sun-baked manzanita smelled of heavy, swirled honey along the trailside.

Looking south, the Wooley Creek Watershed resembled the rumbling, ruffled flanks of an enormous, pine-green grizzly bear.

Willy and I laid down on our backs in a field of columbine, lupine, corn lily and paintbrush and watched the hummingbirds squirt around in their frenzy of hunger, aggression and courtship.

If I lived as fully as I would like, than surely each time I look over and see my brother in our youth I should crumble to the ground in a fit of joy, open another bottle of Scotch, and toast that our lives may be spared!

That night at Burney Lake we all got stoned as a cobbled street and built pyramids of pinecones, set them on fire, and sailed them into the lake.

Annie yelled: “We made TV! We made TV!”

And I couldn’t help but think that we would all look back one day and be pleased that we had walked in the mountains when we could.

July 2007
Marble Mountains, California

A Luck With No Name

Here I am with these words again.

I can´t really think of much to say except that we´re damn lucky to be here.

Where exactly?

Well I could get specific about where I actually am, sitting on a sandy spit beside an unnamed lake in Chile, but really I just mean that we´re lucky to be anywhere at all.


I could get specific about the miracle of a life-supporting planet dangling like a thought through corkscrewing infiniti, but even that would only be a scratch on the surface.

You. Here.

We could talk at length about the miracle of your parents ever meeting. Or each of their parents for that matter. We could go on and on through the corkscrewing unlikelihood of it all, but why bother? It´s all too vast. Perfection is either all of it, or it doesn´t exist.

Luck maybe?

I don´t know. If it is luck it´s certainly not the type we humans ever talk about. It´s too big and it doesn´t involve sex or playing cards. Generally we´re not all that comfortable with the really big stuff.

We like to keep it manageable. If we always just stared off into the impossibility of it all we might just forget to do the laundry, feed the belly, punch the timecard.

But that´s all fine. There´s lots to be done on this particular freckle of the Milky Way. Lots to be done to keep our minds off of our unlikely lives, lest we begin to feel minute, even unimportant, which our evolution never would have allowed.

And if everything is perfectly how it is meant to be, which is beginning to feel more and more likely, than we can feel as lucky as we like. We can decide to look no further than:

Pretty sunset, a green bug on my arm, friends, a lake with no name, young man watching his thoughts roll in like the salty tide sitting in the Valdivian Rainforest who somehow still has a pair of dry socks on.

I must be the luckiest guy on this whole damn freckle.

March 2009
Near Cochamo Valley, Chile

"How'd I Do?"

This place seems to be whittled down to its adult teeth, and even most of them have started to go.

That whiskey wind and old tobacco sun have taken their toll throughout the years, and perhaps we don´t choose our vices after all.

The condor shit builds up in long white lines beneath the roosts, and these cliffs, which I´ve already likened to decaying teeth, seem to have the eyebrows of an old man.

And now I´m guilty of anthropomorphizing the anthropomorphism.

It seems we´re married to these lenses.

The goats grazing on the slope to the south look like a herd of pygmy polar bears, and the moon in the morning blue sky a thumbnail caught between the folds of dimensions.

Speaking of things breaking through often uncrossable barriers, the veil between this world and the next seems to be especially flimsy at the moment.

The dearest people in my life who have stepped out of their bodies into the nakedness of spirit have been visiting my dreams just about every night, especially my dad, and I have been getting hugs that I thought were lost to me forever.

I sat on the sheep so it couldn´t get away as Brett plunged a knife into its jugular and I held my hand against its heart as it went through its final beats, and suddenly life seemed little more than a fancy and drawn out vanishing act.

Perhaps I will have engraved on my tombstone:

¨How´d I do?¨

January 2009
Provincia de Neuquen, Argentina