september psithurism

psithurism n.  sound of wind whispering in the trees.

And thus waking to the first instance of psithurism born of a cool breeze do we now herald the arrival of autumn, though the equinox is yet seven days hence. Get thee behind us, summer, and yield the stage to your more attractive successor. Thank you.

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…]

Glossary

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.

this is not happening

Stage directions: Early April. Temperature outside the workplace claws its brutal way to 96 degrees, the highest recorded temperature in the United States for the day. No, this is not Death Valley…or is it. I am at a loss. The sun beats down with relentless fury, portending bleak times ahead for the mad captain of this ship.

I.  When the heat descends, the city upends. Delirium sets in within hours. Citizens spill out into the streets in a jumble of hot bodies and rude noise. The secrets of indoors suddenly become the public spectacles of outdoors. Sidewalks strewn with condoms. Arguments on front stoops. Dogs shuffle with constant tongues hanging. The pavement shimmers. Desperation spreads like smallpox, every sun-bleached surface contaminated. Crime soars. Murderous intent quickens. We are all immersed in the cacophony.

II.  Morning, I ride the white-pink gauntlet of Calvert, the cherry trees having all plotted the night before to explode in a synchronous burst of clotted blossoms, their rich fragrance drenching the air. Evening, opposite direction, strong winds shower me in white-pink snow, the pavement scattered for a moment with spring’s transient joy.

III.  The suddenness of everyone outside alarms me. Days before, winter still proffered its shield. Now inside is hot and none of us want to be there, though the basement calls to me with its cool concrete floor. How I wish to lay my fevered face against its chilled surface.

IV.  At night, strange explosions reverberate in the thick air, like automatic gunfire or heat thunder, ricocheting from east to west and back. I pause in the glow of the sodium lamp, my skin bathed orange. Abort mission, return to home base.

V.  Morning breaks open the day like a grey egg. And once again there is nothing to fear.

spring sprang sprung

With the year’s first sighting of cigar-smoking man (scroll to the bottom of that page for full enlightenment), we solemnly herald the official arrival of the so-called warm season (so-called by me, that is). Cigar-smoking man (or cigar-smoking guy, as he is also sometimes known) appears to be growing a beard. He was not in the company of his lady friend. I wonder if they are still an item, as they say (the other, more generic they, that is).

Warm season brings a slow shedding of clothing. An increase in flesh exposed to the sun’s rays. Perhaps even corporate nudity. Certainly tourists.  And what I fear most of all: mosquito death squads. It’s all too much.

What will I write about this warm season without sounding highly repetitive.

Wait, don’t read those other posts…it will all soon become painfully familiar.

possibility of foam

If buried all but traceless in the dark in its energy sitting, drifting within your own is another body—Anne Carson, “Seated Figure With Red Angle (1988) by Betty Goodwin”

There is something about living in a city, and it has to do with the surroundings being artificial, constructed by humans. Here we sever ourselves from real nature. Here what nature there is persists under duressit may even seem to be a thriving minority, but it will always be the minority. The muted signs of seasonal change vagulate. The constant reminders of the hubris of so-called civilized people swarm in smothering tones. Callousness blankets us. The automobile serves as master and slave. I am concerned.

There is another body inside of my body.¹ And it is drifting. And it is all but traceless in the dark. Whose body is it. Is it mine. Or does it belong to someone quite different.

It is an unfortunate thing to recognize that you are not one who is meant to live in such close proximity to other humans. And yet here you are, aren’t you.

John Stabb from Government Issue sang:

In that comfortable rut again
Goals for the talking man
Outside lies a presence
But a lonely spirit’s walking rut

And he can’t get out
Man in a trap

Deeper things getting direct
Empty social life’s a wreck
Weather and insects tonight
Happiness in black and white

And he can’t get out

Sometimes we come to embody the lyrics we listen to in our youth. This is neither here nor there. It is life. I think we’re all a little bit surprised when we get there. Or here.

Let’s find more creative ways to fail. And write about those ways in more creative ways.

Anne Sexton wrote:

The silence is death.
It comes each day with its shock
to sit on my shoulder, a white bird,
and peck at the black eyes
and the vibrating red muscle
of my mouth.

Anne reminds us that silence can be as menacing and intrusive as noise. A reminder that we are all out here flailing about. And some of us don’t make it. Like Anne herself. Some of us sink beneath the surface, our lungs filled with shards of the little brittle things in life. The ones that drifted beyond our reach, slow or quick, only to be breathed back in with fatal heaving breaths.

Recently I spent a fair amount of time writing up a review of a show I went to the other night but I lost interest. It suddenly seemed unimportant. Literally as I was writing it, I felt the words spelling out into nothingness. The only point of interest remaining when I finished was a question: What do we want from our rock stars? And do we even want them to be stars? I don’t go to see live music much anymore and rock music even less so. But this question startled itself into my mind and would not leave. Music once loved can be tainted. And how a band presents itself to its audience can either win me over or leave me cold. These are the lessons I learned. Outside the womb can be harsh.

There is foam² spilling out here. As winter prepares to wrap us in its icy sharp arms, I am awash with foam. And it may never dry.

___________________________________________________

1. See also: this post

2. For more on foam, see Anne Carson’s essay “FOAM (Essay with Rhapsody): On the Sublime in Longinus and Antonioni,” originally published in Conjunctions 37 and reprinted in the book Decreation (2006).

shadow forecaster

The wind rises and scatters my attention span. How to greet a late January day warmed to the low 60s on the Fahrenheit scale? I feel a twinge of guilt enjoying it, knowing how unnatural it is and wondering much of this is our fault. Birds are migrating sooner, only to find food not yet abundant in their summer haunts. Southern insects are expanding their ranges northward. [Gardeners, take note!] Mother Nature’s long-established cues are failing her denizens. Are these little and not-so-little signs of impending ecological collapse? Perhaps. It would make sense. And surely we deserve it. Too long have we moved at the speed of profit, with blinders plastered to our fat heads. Our slavering consumerist jaws know no bounds. We think with our wallets, and we don’t remember any other way. We forgot how to mend and learned instead how to slide cards through readers. The problem is colossal in scale. The solutions too little, too late. So maybe all we can do now is pull up some chairs and wait for the end of this chapter of life on our planet. Bleak, perhaps, but it could just be my shadow speaking out again. Some days I let it do all my talking for me, and I just sit back and stare at the clouds.

circles

So I took a look back at what I was rambling about last year around this time, and it was a lot of the same thing. Mostly complaining about the cold and hoping for spring, while simultaneously bemoaning my creative stagnation. How disappointingly predictable I’ve become. Last March I claimed that “never have I anticipated the end of the cold this much.” Hmmph…I believe I’ve topped that again this year. I also spoke of my “struggle to pry away the crust of creative inactivity that has hardened over me, leaving me a dull cistern of lukewarm life juice, sloshing and slopping all over my dried up mental flooring.” Sigh…I really need to get my act together, quit my complaining about this and that, and do something important. My birthday was a few days ago, and it served as yet another reminder that time marches on (nod to Metallica) regardless of whether I’ve got my marching shoes on or not. Lately I’ve been identifying with the character of Ed Chigliak in the late great television show Northern Exposure. Ed is a frustrated artist, a dreamer, and is seemingly incapable of following through on projects or sometimes even starting them in the first place. He drifts through episodes of the show, making his trademark movie analogies, but never really doing too much of anything. I don’t see my identification with Ed as a good thing, especially as he is 21 or so, an age at which such confusion and uncertainty is often a given, whereas I am much older, and yet in some ways I feel like I have not progressed much farther on my path than Ed has. However, I take heart in what the character of traditional healer Leonard tells Ed during one of Ed’s particularly low points: “The path to our destination is not always a straight one, Ed. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” To that I would add that it is also our travel down the road itself that often affects us the most.

well, it’s september now…

and it feels like August, which seems about right seeing as August felt like September. Although it’s messing up my internal clock, which was preparing for Autumn. There have been a lot of goldfinches around lately, singing their sweet songs. We got a new feeder that accommodates even more birds. The clinging birds like it. I saw a squirrel out there and yelled at it to get off the feeder. It ran down the side of the house and started to go toward the nearest tree. But I had finally hung the squirrel feeder in the next tree over, and so I yelled at it to go over to that tree. It twitched its nose and then headed over, climbed up and found the feeder, then started nibbling on the super dense corn log I had stuck out there. Those squirrels are pretty smart.

This may well be my last week of employment. Ahead is the dark yawning abyss. I’m ready to make the leap into it.

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