Wednesday, December 10, 2014

If this was a real story...

If this was a real story, I would have an enemy. A relentless oppressor who tries to pin me down to one version of Blue Skunk, one version of Blue Skunk's Dream Shack. A fanatic who rants in the distance, "Stay in your world, you! You!" Sometimes I hear him, very faintly.

I open my eyes. The spaces between the worlds are punctuated by deep canyons filled to the brim with bones. Skulls, bits of toes and fingers, row upon row of rib cages, each imprisoning some lost part of me. You would not think that one person shed so many parts of him and still be here, but that how it is. I died more than a thousand deaths, but most people can see only one of them.

I close my eyes. I feel the gnarled bark of a tree that is more ancient than most countries. It towers to the heavens, perhaps because the gods loved its presence. "May I climb you?" I ask. "I allow only birds," the tree replied. I reached into my soul until I found a room filled with feathery down and wings. This would have to do. "Fine," I whispered to the tree. "Then I would have to come to you as a bird."

I open my eyes. I am at the morning of the World, the beach where all the debris of all old places washes away. I realize that most people fear this place. They fear the wet fingers of the ocean, riffling through their yesterdays until they have none left, but I came here with nothing except these eyes that behold the glittering freshness of new waves.

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Ancient Cave

The Gnostics believe that the world was created not by God but by the Devil. They could have a point. The way I see it, God is that divine moment of now. The devil is everything else. Memories, opinions, analysis, plans and hopes - everything that seeks to descend upon that one sacred moment you hold in your consciousness, in order to shred it to pieces. It is eternally trying to break and enter, to snatch bits of now in order to replace it with little parasites called 'then' or 'soon' or 'one day'. It wants to halt the river, to obstruct it, to sully it with yesterday's dirty laundry, which by all accounts, should not exist anymore and tomorrow's storms, which might never strike. The devil's world is all things that do not belong to now.

I open my eyes. I am sitting in a stone seat in an ancient cave. The air is cool and filled with primordial music. A voice says, "Look around you. Right now, you are in a place so high above your enemies and adversaries, that it will take them many, many lifetimes to even reach you. The only way to continue any kind of struggle with them, would be to go back down to their level. Do you really want to do that?"

I close my eyes. I am listening to the lies told about me by an old lover. The words with which she is trying to bind me, tighter and tighter into her world. But it is her words that cut the canyon forming between my reality and hers. Deeper and deeper, the divide between what she says and what I remember.

I open my eyes. What I see is butterflies, but in reality, they are some of the people I've known in my life. There is the sweet funky butterfly that fluttered backwards. The butterfly that thought itself so hungry it sucked the color right out of every flower it landed on. The butterfly that starved to death because it failed to tell the difference between plastic flowers and real ones. The butterfly that was afraid to commit to any kind of landing. The butterfly that got stuck in the nectar. And then there was the butterfly who landed on my eye - like it wanted to be close to me, but did not want me to see it. That was the last one and that was the one that stuck in my mind.

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How the angel crossed the road...

I'm on a pedestrian bridge high above the freeway. Just ahead of me, there's a bird, pecking at something in the tarmac. I said, "Hey bird, you lazy. You're supposed to fly over the freeway, not walk over it." He stopped pecking and replied, "Hey angel, where have you lost your wings?"

I open my eyes. I am walking through a graveyard. There are rows and rows of tombstones and they all have the same name on them - my own. The dates are different. The styles are different. I listen to my breathing. I touch my face. My heartbeat continues. But the physical sensations seem surreal. They spread out and trip my mind. The more I try to convince myself that I am alive, the more it feels like I'm really something else.

I close my eyes. No one must know I am here. For some time now, Reenie has been hiding me from a world that believes I'm dead. Somewhere along the way, she transcended to a higher aspect of her self - Storywoman. I tell her story and she tells mine. So who writes the story? And who becomes it? My problems are like those of someone has forgotten what he is? And yet, it is not that I have amnesia. Someone with amnesia remembers nothing. My problem is more complicated, as I remember several versions of the past that has brought me here. They could all be true. They could all be false. In one, I meet Reenie/Storywoman in a Kurdish coffee shop with tribal musical instruments and tapestries on the walls. I follow her home. In another, I close my eyes in a hospital emergency room and wake up behind Reenie's eyes. I experience flashbacks of her life. She is surprised to find those memories back. Reenie and I are the pill dissolved into water. Difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends. There is a Reenie who stumbles across my obituary and recognizes me, although we never met. She calls me to her and I take the greatest leap of faith. There is a world where I am alive, in my own body, writing this, furtively, fearing discovery....

I open my eyes. Storywoman and I are having a tea party with the Sane Hatter. There's a funny story about how we met him, but I haven't remembered it yet. We started a game of draughts. The game pieces are cookies. If you win an opponents game piece, you get to eat it. Loser goes hungry. Those are the rules.

I close my eyes.... To continue, click here

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Johnny Moonlight ended his life

I am going to explain to you the forfeit rule of three-sided chess. This is if you have two players on a three sided board. Set up the pieces as if for three players. If only two are playing, then either one of the players could move a piece from the impartial or playerless side when it is their turn, provided that that player forfeits or sacrifices one of his own pieces.

I open my eyes. It's three a.m. and I am Johnny Moonlight again, waking up to a conversation about my own death. Someone says, "There'll be no surprises if it's an overdose." "But the cops...?" a second person asks. "That's why it has to happen in Treasure Creek or thereabouts," says the first person. "My cousin Dale runs the mill and he goes fishing with the county sherriff every other Saturday." I want to laugh about the "cousin Dale" bit, but I don't dare. I've just remembered that we really are on our way to a place called Treasure Creek.

I close my eyes. It's a game. One move gets Johnny Moonlight out of the tourbus and into a damp forest clearing. He doesn't remember running the distance, but I move a rook and he's off the grid. Storywoman sacrifices a castle and Johnny Moonlight has no ground to lay down on. I slide a queen forward and a messy attic-like room begins to shape around him. It fades. Something tries to draw Johnny Moonlight back towards the road to Treasure Creek. Back towards that death that never happened. Storywoman moves a pawn. A theatre poster on a wall reads, "Who killed Johnny Moonlight?" The death becomes a story, played out on a stage. Beyond the applause, we hear ghostly cries of rage and anger. We clink our wine glasses. Our killers lost their quarry to a story.

I open my eyes. Blackness. But there are voices in the darkness of my skull. "There is no such thing as death," says Johnny Moonlight. "I read somewhere that you died," says Reenie. "On the internet or in a magazine." "I'm sitting here talking to you," Johnny Moonlight replies. "Does that look like death to you?"

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Clouds are the beginning....

Have you ever looked up to a summer sky and watched the clouds changing from moment to moment? Clouds are the beginning. The trick is to take all the things around you, all the things in your life and to imagine them as mutable as clouds. To take the solidity of nothing for granted. Clouds are merely the beginning. Everything else follows clouds.

I open my eyes. I am the machine that breathes for me. My only voice is a blip on a screen. I am surrounded by all the strangers that know me. Far away from the friends that do not know me. The cables of artificial existence are strangling the life out of me. When everyone in the room sleeps, I wake up and Storywoman stands at my bed. She touches my skin and the cables and machines grow insubstantial. "Let me take you home," she says.

I close my eyes. I am flying across the ocean. Two wings. Two worlds. In one, I am sitting in a plane. My mouth feels dry and I am drinking too much. It is crowded. Somewhere a child cries. Somewhere a man rants. In the other world, I ride the air streams between dimensions on newborn wings. I fly through birds and planes and things I don't have names for. Sometimes they tingle for a moment after I passed through them. Sometimes they smell of the spice and incense of faraway islands. Either way, I'm homeward bound.

I open my eyes. I am standing right in front of one of my best friends, but he has to pretend not to see me. Between us lies a staff picked from the forest of the Great Silence. Which he says does not exist.

I close my eyes.... To continue, click here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

We have all killed...

We have all killed something. If not a life itself, we have killed dreams, relationships, jobs, friendships and time. Every step forward, you thread on the possible you that you are walking away from, crushing it just before it slips beyond the dark matter of your anti-history, your anti-life. Every step forward is across the bones and corpses of lives unlived.

I open my eyes. I stole a camel once. I wanted to escape to the solitude of the wilderness and my idea was that the camel still had the desert inside of him. All he needed to do was to find the path that led back to it and then we would both be there - under the full moon and the stars. The camel drooled over my shoulder and led me around and around, like I was its little human pet. Worlds changed and shifted around us. Someone touched my shoulder and the camel was gone. One of us kept moving. The other had abruptly come to a halt. I'm still not sure which of us it was, but without warning, we were in different worlds. I don't know if I will ever see the desert, but a reflection of the camel remains inside of me, like the faint ghost of a dream.

I close my eyes. I am sitting in the command chair of some scientific research station in the distant future. Everything is made of ice. I want to shout, "I don't know what I'm doing," but strangely enough, without thinking about it, I do know what I'm doing. My first officer is Reenie. I am relieved to see her alive. We act as one, without a word spoken. In some way, Reenie is me, or at least some extention of me. Through every porthole, I see colored puffs of smoke, twisting and whirling. Struggling to maintain its integrity. I discover that I can boost individual puffs just by focusing on them. The more I look at them, the easier it is to see what they really are. Souls. And each puff becomes a pattern, as distinct as a fingerprint. Now I know what I'm doing. But as this realization dawns, it is me that disintegrates to formless smoke. I reach for the controls, but I no longer have anything to reach with.

I open my eyes. I am lying on the beach, looking up at the sky. Too many beers inside me. All the other people in the world are balloons, lightly floating above me. I am the only one who is heavy and earthbound. All around me, balloon people are encouraging me to rise, to find my inner balloon and release it. I want to say, "No, no, you don't understand how different I am," but I feel too heavy even for speech.

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Everyone you know is dead

Look around you. Everyone you know is dead. They may have died two days ago or thirty years from now, but once you rise above that giant superhighway called time, it makes no difference anymore. At some point they do exactly the same thing you are doing at this moment. They open the car door and get out. After a while, they discover that they don't have to walk on the highway anymore. They don't have to try to keep up with the cars that drive right through them. That's when the highway begins to fade. The people in the cars call this death, but once you're outside, you know that this is when true life begins.

I open my eyes. I am leaning over the dead body of a girl. She is about 24 or 25. Black jeans. Combat boots. Dark hair. This is Reenie. I know her by that name and I know her face, although our paths have never crossed on that great superhighway. I feel an instant connection to her. I want to reach out, to talk to her and feel her, but I realize that the body, although familiar, does not need my affection. _Where are you?_ Then I see her. She is beside me and a part of me. Her energy is a densely wound ball of silvery yarn and smoky impressions emanate from it. Reenie reading at eight. Reenie walking the streets of her city. Reenie as the middle aged eccentric she will never become. It's like there are a million possible Reenies superimposed on each other. Can she really be all of them? We always see death as an ending, but what if the very first thing you knew about somebody was that they are dead. What if that death becomes the seed from which all probable lives emanate.

I close my eyes. I'm on the beach with my family. They're on the other side of the beach, though. I'm around seven. There is something in the waters. A mermaid. She is different from storybook mermaids. More fish than human, with scales all over her body and greenish skin. She moves very fast, too fast for anything of this world. It is only a glimpse. Only a moment and she is gone. I'm not sure whether I really saw her or not. Part of mind says no. The other part still holds a very clear impression of the memory. I'm not sure which to trust.

I open my eyes. Reenie's body lies on the tarmac, as the sun rises. Her death, a few hours earlier, remains undiscovered. A few meters away, another Reenie shivers because she just saw an angel, or at least a puzzling clue to the passing of one. I suck the blood from my fingers, where a window's broken glass cut them. I did something, but I'm not sure what. Now there are two Reenies. One Reenie's body melts into the tarmac, smudging the surface with a brief smear of color, before it is completely gone. Her essence watches with me. She and I have stranger paths to thread. The other Reenie is oblivious to us. For now. She will continue a little further down the superhighway. I am still awed that I was able to reach into her world and change things. We will meet again, but not soon. The new Reenie will remember this night, though and so will I. A world died with the dawn, but no one slumbering in the silent houses all around is even aware of this.

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A box filled with fake

Imagine you are in a room with a hundred million light bulbs and about as many switches. You need something to illuminate the darkness, but all of them at once will blind you or drive you crazy. So, you better start making choices, boy.

I open my eyes. I have a box of masks. Some of them are happy. Some are sad. Some are gaudy flights of fantasy. Others are so realistically crafted that they are indistinguishable from real persons. Speaking of which, I once read somewhere that the work "person" is derived from "persona", which was originally synonymous with "fake identity". So what I have, is a box filled with fake. It's not the first time I'm using it. I've played this game many many times. Don a mask and say outrageous things. I've fooled good friends and family that way. I'm about to do it all over again. This time, I choose to wear a woman's face. It is a good fit. For the time being, I will call her "Storywoman". I sit in her chair, wearing her body. And I begin to write.

I close my eyes. I'm eleven. It's summer vacation. There's three of us at the old Manson Lodge. We take turns to haul ourselves upwards to peak through a cracked dusty window. Hartley sees a dead body or a dummy or something lying across the floor. Its head was hacked off and lies to one side. He only tells this later. Cadigan sees nothing but an empty room. There's a crack in the fireplace. Some papers scattered to one side. But no body. It is my turn and my burden to decide who was right. But it's a little more complicated than that. I see a young woman sitting in a rocking chair. She is writing in a thick journal book. She looks up and seems to draw me into the room, into the book with her. I let go and drop to the ground. I have no answers for Hartley or Cadigan. The only ones I found were for myself.

I open my eyes. Someone is nudging me. It turns out to be a forty-five year old woman. She asks, "Can I have your autograph please?" "I'm practically a nobody," I said. "You're Johnny Moonlight," she helped me out. "I have all your records. I'm your biggest fan." I feel pretty sure that I'm not Johnny Moonlight, but for some really odd reason, at that moment, I know how to do Johnny Moonlight's autograph. So I take the pen and trust the right hand to know what the memory knows not. When she is gone, I go over my face with my fingers. I feel the rubbery fake of a mask. Johnny Moonlight's mask. But I still don't understand how I was able to sign his name.

I close my eyes...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Lawnmower with a Soul

No body. No dead friend. No dog. I do yardwork and I'm going to tell you about this lawnmower I met today. It's of indeterminate age, but I reckon it probably has at least fifty working years under its radiator belt and the family treat is as something somewhere between an heirloom and an eccentric uncle. It felt more like an uncle to be, because it had just about every ailment in the book and then some. It coughed incessantly and sneezed grass in all directions, but whenever we hit a corner together, the old guy and me, the rheumatism in its left wheel would play up. On the straight, it pooped sods of soil and pissed copuous amounts of gasoline onto my sneakers. It smoked me under the table. When we were done, I wheeled it back to the shed, covered it with a family quilt and bid it a good night's rest.

I open my eyes. If I had to give you an analogy of where I am, I'm in the forest, way way off the path. There are too many flowers. Their colors hurt my eyes. They are making me dizzy. I'm thinking, maybe I was supposed to be a tree, but then one day I discovered I could walk and started wandering, around and around. The trees whisper about me. They say things like "What's that?" and "If it doesn't grow anything, it's vermin." I cannot begin to explain how confused I am. Sometimes, I wriggle my toes deep into the earth. Perhaps if I stood very still, I would remember how to grow roots again. But I keep seeing something in the distance that attracts my attention. And then I think, "Perhaps I will never be a tree again. Perhaps it is my mission to figure out this person business. But how? HOW?

I close my eyes. My little girl is giving me the Princess makeover. She braids my hair clumsily and ties little pink ribbons and tiny plastic butterflies into it. I am wearing a plastic tiara, a little girl's plastic spectacles and a very bright shade of lipstick. I don't think I've ever spent an afternoon laughing so much. It might have looked better, if I'd shaved beforehand.

I open my eyes. It is dark and humid and sweaty. I have been sleepless for several hours, my mind hammered out of peace by the ravages of a love gone wrong. The pain feels raw and without end. In my head, a voice asks, "What do you want from a universe that's willing to give you anything you want?" It sounds like my own voice. By now, I'm old enough to know that all the top wishes - money, fame, love - are booby trapped. Even asking for the return of the woman I just lost feels wrong in some way I cannot define. I say, "I get to choose once, right? Or is it three, like in the fairy tale?" I exhale. "Only if you want to live in a universe that is stingy," the voice replies. "So I get a wish every day?" I ask. "If you want to limit yourself that way." I thought about it. "Okay, you mean to say, I will always have at least one more wish?" It didn't reply again, but I could sense its approval deep within me. Like I had finally pleased it with my answer. I took a deep breath. What DO I want from a universe that is willing to give me anything I want?

I close my eyes... To continue, click here

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Frozen Now

For as long as I keep my eyes closed, there is a sky above me. High shifting, feathery clouds. Beautiful blue.

When I open my eyes, the world around tells me that I will never see such a sky again. Light sears my consciousness. There is a smell of disinfectant and piss that won't go away. Someone is always weeping somewhere. Someone is always crying somewhere else. Curses buzz through the atmosphere like blue bottle flies scenting blood and rot. There is no time. I am locked into the frozen now of a death row prison cell.

I close my eyes. High school detention. I am drawing a space ship with my blue ballpoint pen, adding stars and angels and jellyfish. I dunno why, but I have this idea that space is full of massive translucent jellyfish. Everyone laughs when I try to tell them about it. I don't want anyone else to see the artwork, but I can't stop adding lines and curves to it. I have to stop, though, when Mr Humphrey sits down hard on my desk, blocking access to the book. I can smell old sweat in his jacket, and onion on his breath. He'd been drinking too. He leans very close to my face and says in a harsh whisper that is in some ways louder than shouting, "he told me to tell you this.... There is no such thing as time. You know where it comes from? The Illuminati ... invented it." He pauses, belching into my face. I think this is a memory from the past, because I'm sure I remember Mr Humphreys getting taken away after some mad fit in his classrooms. But, he continues, "They made the days like a long row of prison cells to incarcerate your souls!" He is shouting now. "And you do nothing! NOTHING!"

I open my eyes. I am in the dog house. Quite literally. Rain is pouring down. I am locked out, tied up with rope that smells of sea salt and about to puke my guts out. Beneath me, lies the still warm body of an old friend. He is dead. Inside the house, his dog Susan is keening. I feel sorry for the dog. There is no one to feed her now. The dead friend leaves me numb. He's a good 40 pounds heavier than me. I shouldn't have had it in me to kill him, but desperation is not a demon to be trifled. He found this out the hard way.

I close my eyes... To continue, click here