it’s never just about the weather

I do not want to bore you but I need to mention the weather. How it changes so often. Grey one day, yellow the next. Warm then cold then warm again. The brightness, the whiteness, the way the light shifts inside a room. And the way to compensate with the artificial. Our lamps. Our electric manipulation of the shadows.

I am reading this book wherein the main character feels inauthentic. He keeps trying to capture the feeling of being real. He goes to elaborate lengths using methods only possible due to the generous settlement he received following a traumatic accident. He wants to relive his body’s response to the trauma. The natural opioids flowing through his body. That tingling serenity. But he doesn’t know this. So he keeps trying. He exerts control in an effort to manifest a desired outcome. He too is concerned with how the light moves across a room. Yet he cannot control it for the Earth is always changing its position relative to the Sun. He cannot count on it always being the same. I want him to know that it’s all real. That it’s not a matter of recapturing a feeling of being real. That he must awaken to it.

In March the weather changed so often. Now it is almost April and I am learning to walk again. It has been a long and strange winter in more ways than the most obvious one.

I wonder if the world is really different. Is it really changing. Or do we just perceive it to be doing so. A person can pretend that it is not. Quite easy to do that. Everything is happening all at once and one can only choose to pay attention to so much of it. What will catch your attention. A call to action, perhaps. But there are no more manifestos. They cannot breathe in this information-choked environment. So maybe the world is different. Maybe it is different in how words have become both so much less and so much more important. Words spew out around us at light speed. Our eyes and ears are bombarded by them. Words are cheap and they pile up around our feet by day’s end. But there are a few diamonds in that pile. Which of these will we choose to hear? Which ones will we allow to penetrate the filters now affixed to our eyes. And how will we respond.

I continue to ruminate on the act of writing and what purpose it serves, if any. The consensus among writers I admire is that the point of writing is not to say something. As the writer of the book I refer to above quotes Kafka:

I write in order to affirm and reaffirm that I have absolutely nothing to say.

To take it to the furthest extreme, I’m reminded of Enrique Vila-Matas and his novel Bartleby & Co., which chronicles an array of “artists of refusal,” those who chose not to write. Now Vila-Matas clearly wrote his book with tongue firmly planted in cheek, and yet there are indeed writers who have chosen not to write. One can certainly see the appeal, especially when confronted with the dread of the empty page.

In his short story “The Library of Babel”, Jorge Luis Borges wrote:

The certitude that everything has been written negates us or turns us into phantoms.

Even taken out of context from a piece of fiction that sounds harsh. And I don’t agree (nor do I think Borges did). While this certitude can get me down, I refuse to be negated and I am certain of my realness. I am not a phantom. At one time I may have believed I was, but no longer. Writing for me now is an attempt to perpetuate this realness. Of figuring out a way to convey actuality in prose. Of removing the filters and exposing the words in all of their stark, fragile beauty. It is likely an impossible task, but it is the striving that fills the pages.

life’s splendor forever lies in wait

“Life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

Franz Kafka

(thanks to kafkaesque-world for summoning Kafka’s splendor)

a knoblike process

Creeping crepuscule, descrescent light, harbinger of dreaded return to EST, where darkness dampens day’s early end. Decumbent drone diminishes daily, drowsy in the drawing room. Sip long from murky melodies, muddy froth spilling forth in rivulets, dirgeful delights diverging in drone’s ear canals. Mellifluous miasma of musical melancholia!

Dismantling of outdoor seating commences! Desperate attempts to affect staring at nothing continues. Doctor Chumply the Mouth Breather appears, Mickey D’s in hand, heart-attack-in-waiting, following with tiny aggrieved steps the trail of nitroglycerin tablets strewn across the decking. Take the elevator, not the stairs, for they are locked, despite the sign in the kitchen encouraging good health through stairs-taking. O, Dr. Chumply, what will become of you, will you follow those tablets to the Haunted Wood™ where the witch stokes her stove as she awaits your fleshly delights.

[But Christine, what of loneliness, standing there behind the invisibility cloak, always working, always writing, what did engagement mean for you, O Invisible Author, did you drape yourself in a duvet woven with words…]


lumpfish: Any of various fishes of the family Cyclopteridae, especially Cyclopterus lumpus of North Atlantic waters, having pelvic fins united to form a suction disk and a body bearing prominent tubercles.

tubercle: A small, rounded prominence or process, such as a wartlike excrescence on the roots of some leguminous plants or a knoblike process in the skin or on a bone.

Quick now! Homophone challenge question: would you rather your words resonate or resinate. Think about it while staring into the clouds.

in the light of time*

When nothing is sacred, nothing is safe—John Hay

When there were less of us, we fit inside like tiny figures in a diorama. We ran across the plains afraid of violent storms. Lush greenery threatened to smother us, just as it also lent us sustenance. If we did not pacify this place it would surely destroy us. We squabbled among ourselves, like we now still do, but we were not yet strong enough to shatter our shadow box.

When there were more of us, we burst the seams of the land. We took a liking to engines and asphalt, all distance to traverse only at light speed. We ravaged the countryside, built our cities, made our money. Things trumped being. Our lives soon chased after ways to forget. Prohibition never stood a chance.

When there were too many of us, a few grew concerned. Nothing, however, changed. We kept building and we kept paving. One of our leaders proffered the idea of a system of parks, a way to assuage our guilt, an excuse for free reign on what remained. Of course we seized on it. Those places have since burst their own seams, paved as they are for easy access.

When there are less of us again, perhaps more will notice. It will be too late. For now we careen serene toward the end, a night we try never to see. Perpetual light, shone by our own hands, is what we embrace, for in darkness we fear what we came to create.


the smallness of saving

there are, of course, those early spring moments, late in the day, after a cold front has passed through and left the air clean and clear, and the yellow light bursts through the young lower leaves of the cottonwood tree as they sway in the cool breeze, and it looks like a crowd of people waving with kindness, pure of truth and dazzled with light, while above, the horizontal rooftops bisect the sky, and the crabapple tree looks its best, wearing the white finery of full bloom, and the birds hurry from all around to perch in its boughs as the yellow light falls across them, making them look so proud. and the feeling this brings may last just a few seconds, a minute or two at most, but it is saving, a saving feeling rippling through a body.


At times I can go back to St Ives more completely than I can this morning. I can reach a state where I seem to be watching things happen as if I were there.

Now if this is so, is it not possible—I often wonder—that things we have felt with great intensity have an existence independent of our minds; are in fact still in existence?

—Virginia Woolf, “A Sketch of the Past”

I stood in the grass, breathing in stories of stunted pitch pines. The house, grey clapboard weathered in sea air, loomed behind me. I remember walking on zigzagged boardwalks over brackish marsh. Jigsaw puzzles in yellow afternoon light, pouring across the floor like liquid pollen of no real substance. I still hold this yellow light. The stretch and scrape of the screen door spring as it opens, the loud slam as it shuts. Riding bikes down sand-strewn streets. Comic books and chewing gum. Beach grass swaying in salty breezes. The rising dunes in purple evening light.

the tricky truth of time

I have not been to work in 11 days. I will not return for another two. I love this time. I have been taking this break at the end of the year for at least five years running. It has become important to me, this shucking off of the past 12 months in preparation for the new rack of days about to be set.

What happens is a curious thing. The coccoon of time unravels and I am released into a nebulous world of days and hours unmarked by the usual frames of reference. On occasion, I find myself searching my mind for what day it is. Recall is often laborious. When it does occur, I laugh quietly. I lose track of what days the recycling is picked up, when certain shows air on the radio, who among my circle might be working at any given moment.

I know it is morning when the yellow light pours into the sunroom from the east. It warms me over my shoulder as it falls across the pages of my book.

I know it is midday when Farley starts angling for a walk.

I know it is evening when the last light fades, leaving a gloom to settle in the house.

But the weekdays tend to blur into the weekend. Morning hours are in general distinguishable, one from the other, but the afternoon hours caper gleefully, spinning in circles around the maypole, daisy-chaining their elastic selves around my helpless body, freeing me from the snare of routine. They tempt me into running for the hills. Crouching in the thickets, they whisper to me snatches of their secrets, of ‘p time’ and ‘m time,’ with the laughability of it all unconcealed in their twinkling eyes. We are not binding straps, they say; rather we are possibility, we are discovery, we are whatever happens between the beginning and the end.

Soon, though, Colonel Responsibility will beckon with his truncheon for me to trudge down from the hills. Under the hard Colonel’s watchful eye, I will refasten the familiar leghold trap, grinding my teeth as the steel fangs puncture my skin, reopening barely-healed wounds. The yellow light will disappear behind windowless walls. The afternoon hours will sheepishly turn their backs on me, showing me their ugly sides. And I will wonder again about their truth they never fully share.

Soundtrack:  EarthHex: or Printing in the Infernal Method (Thanks, Taidgh!)

light | dark

Light Dark Light Dark Light Dark Light Dark Light Dark Light Dark Light Dark

Light Light Light Light Light Light Light

Dark Dark Dark Dark Dark Dark Dark





[narrator leaves house, unpacks moon-viewing instrument]


[the ‘light’ from the moon is false — it is a reflection of the sun]


[narrator adjusts focus, lets in more light]

LIGHT dark light

LIGHt dark lighT

LIGht dark ligHT

LIght dark liGHT

Light dark lIGHT

light dark LIGHT

[narrator goes inside, observes black ring around eye, laughs bitterly]


[narrator watches solar eclipse on television, loses vision in one eye]



[other eye compensates, dilation lets in more light]

LIght DARk LIGht DArk LIGHt Dark = dark | LIGHT

[narrator freaks out at giant pupil peering back out of mirror]


LIGht daRK



[narrator takes sedative, falls asleep]


[narrator sleeps for days, dreams about moon]

D–A–R–K     l-i-g-h-t

[narrator stands on moon in dream, looks at sun, falls asleep in crater]


[narrator feels hot, wakes up on sun, quickly returns to sleep, wakes up on earth]


[narrator applies eye shadow, begins collecting shiny objects]

light light light light

[narrator sprouts bushy tail, gathers nesting material]

dark light dark light

[narrator curls up in ball, falls asleep in nest]


[narrator dreams about the sea]


[narrator wakes in forest, burrows deeper in nest, falls asleep again]


[narrator dreams of monks self-immolating, twitches in sleep]

L__I__G__H__T | dark

[narrator wakes, crawls out of nest, forages on forest floor]


[narrator lies on a rock, soaks up sunlight]


[narrator leaves dark, enters light]


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