Oct 29, 2004

Pictures of breaking away

In Ohio all the postcards were from Florida, from outside, away, where they don’t grow hay, where the dirt’s all sand and the water’s real blue and on the front of every post card was a girl bikinied and air brushed and tan and she was always arching her back or something like that and they pinned up the post cards by the shop door. There were a half dozen of them there, below the clock and covered in diesel dust and we’d stand circled between them and the door and the pop-filled refrigerator hanging hay hooks on our belts and waiting for our next truck to come.

I read them once, unpinned them from the wall and flipped them over to the blank white side where they’d been addressed to back here home and postmarked exotically Florida and signed out by uncles on vacation. They didn’t say much. Weather was great and I’ll be back soon enough but damn it’s nice away down here.

I find old postcards sometimes, in antique shops and estate sales and pinned up in old garages and kitchens and sometimes tucked in forgotten in books someone sold without flipping through, and they never do say much – there and back, me and you, home and away and weather and touristy sight you can say you can see. There’s not much space on a postcard and not much ever said and half of it’s just addressing anyway and we write in the white whatever we think of on hand.

It’s just a little blank space on the back of a picture waiting for your words, if only you had something to say. If only you had something to say but you just stare at the space. Waiting. Daunted. Every post card is a case of writer’s block.

I bet mailmen don’t read postcards. Maybe they do in the beginning but if they’ve been at it for awhile they have to know what they say, know they’re just let downs letting down the people who didn’t get to go and the people who have to come back, just pictures of dreams we can only remember wanting to have. They have to know postcards are well wishes benigned into thinking of you, exotic wishes mailed home as temperature information.

Or maybe they do read them, they know what they say but can’t look away and they always read every one and the mailmen too are taunted by the pictures and the hoped thoughts of escape, or breaking away, and then they flip them over and stare at the white side and the boredom again, again every time, lets them down a little sad.

I bought a deck of picture postcards for the pictures back when I was on tour and thought maybe I’d mail them to friends from gas stations along the highway. I found one last night, stuck in a book I hadn’t looked at in awhile. The front’s a picture of Dali-painted cars with clothe draped over the long 1940s hoods and shiny hub caps and the black door panel’s peeled back to showing a red brick wall and a tree grows out of the roof like the car hasn’t moved in a long time. It’s stamped, and addressed but never sent. Half the back is blank. Saying nothing. I addressed it, bought a stamp. I looked at the picture and thought the car needed wings to get away and I looked at the back and had nothing to say. The weather maybe. Or I could tell them I was thinking of them and liked this picture or that I didn’t know if I wanted to be here and didn’t know if I wanted to go back there but I was just blank staring at the square and thinking stop breathing, stop breathing for me now. Write it on a postcard.
Should conservatives vote for Nader?

Oct 28, 2004

The two percent

It's been a long really long sad long time since I've laughed so hard I laughed milk through my nose.

But then, I don't drink milk.

Oct 26, 2004

In halves

Boss: "You're stupid, but you're honest-stupid."

Co-worker: "It's half of one of those days."

Oct 22, 2004

This morning in Ambler:

I held the door open for a man with a cane and a coffee.

A black hearse let me in and a silver hearse cut me off.

The coffee shop bus boy smoked a cigarette in front of a blackboard chalked Yankees go home! Go Red Sox and watched a stone mason set a head-sized rock.

I plugged a hole in my truck tire, which is like the fourth time I've had to since I learned how to plug tires.

I'm thinking maybe I should take up woodcarving again.

Oct 21, 2004

What do you do

There’s a man I heard about in Montana who’s in prison for starting a grass fire. It killed a couple of people, firemen maybe, and the families of the dead were demanding justice and the neighbors all scowled at him and the court said recklessness and manslaughter and he was convicted of a couple of misdemeanors and a felony and I guess there was more legal language to it than that, but what he did was mow his field during a dry spell without carrying a fire extinguisher.

Hit a rock. Spark caught. Somebody died.

He just hadn’t thought about it. He was just mowing. The grass’d got long in the spring and he’d been too busy and now he’d been thinking it needed to get cut real short and without any rain he wouldn’t have to cut it until late fall and he was doing circles on a Saturday with a ball cap attempting shade and his skin was all itchy from the scratchy dry grass shredded by double blades and floating gnat-cloud like around the mower and he was coughing and spitting up the dust when he hit the rock. Heard it and winced at the garbling grinding gnarl of the crunch of a rock hitting the double blades with a double thump, clanged up against the housing and got spat out the grass shot with sling shot sound effects and he winced at the noise and thought that blade’ll need sharpening and then there was fire.

Nobody said so, but a fire extinguisher probably wouldn’t have done anything. You just can’t move fast enough when it’s that dry. I mean he stomped on the flames and thought for a second he had it, got it out, thought almost - please - almost, and thought that he was gonna get back on the mower in a second and finish and just be telling people he’d had a close one, and then the fire just took off and there wasn’t nothing he could do. Even if he’d a had shovel or if there’d a been a hose out there, the fire was too fast. Once it started.

The fire moved out in ripples from the rock's spark, light brown grass turned to dark gray smoke in huge ugly billows rolling up to heaven lazy and easy and unstoppable and the man was standing in the ash-black circle, his mower still idling, and he was cursing almost crying and there wasn’t nothing he could do.

He’s in prison now. For four to six years I think, I’m not sure. I wonder what he’s gonna do when he gets out.
Anglican politics

I've posted my summary of the Windsor Report and my thoughts on reading it over on the papers page.

Oct 19, 2004

Reading age

I am now at the point where I've loaned out enough books I can't be sure I'll ever get them all back, but not yet to the point to keep a list of loans.

Oct 17, 2004

Finding the break

J. Derrida, rest in peace, 1930 - 2004


I was wearing a jean jacket over a sweater over a flannel shirt, naked hands jammed in my pockets and knit cap toque cap pulled down down and I was as cold as I’d ever been without knowing how cold it was, since I couldn’t read the Canadian thermometer. Whatever the thermometer read though, it was colder than that. The wind came over the lake and tunneled in down through the streets with a frozen fierceness and I said, why the hell isn’t hell frozen over?

I wanted to see Derrida. I’d skipped school and come to Toronto for a philosophy conference in ’02 with a few loonies and twonies, was living on falafels and sausages from the corner vendor and staying in the cheap and rickety hostel half heated behind the Hooters and wandering around cold as hell and I wanted to see Derrida and I was standing in the back of conference rooms taking notes (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) in a journalism notebook pulled from my back pocket and listening to real philosophers with suits with nametags talk philosophy, talk together in ivory lingo as old friends and old enemies in esoteric little sub-studies, plan meetings in hotel bars and shopping trips up town with shop talk turning to tenures and publishings. I was conspicuously undergrad, in the back suitless nametagless, jean-jacket wearing, too cheap too young too uneducated to be one of them but excited that these people existed in these jobs talking about these things.

jackI stood with them waiting for Derrida, bunched up in un-lines outside the doors waiting for the opening, waiting for the little wrinkled man rightly passing for an atheist and talking about prayer. You had to have a $100 nametag to get in and there were guards at the doors watching the badges held up as the profs bunched through the doors in finding-a-seat herds and stood there wondering how I was supposed to pass, wondering how I could expect a breach, stood there and threw myself to the hope of an opening in the closed, and the guards looked at the mobbing push pouring through and shrugged, motioned they didn’t care, it wasn’t their problem, motioned break and left.

I walked in, like the uninvited guest at the feast or the lame man who’s friends cut a hole through the roof, depending on your point of view.

Do you know what you’re getting into, the priest asked me and I guess you never do, but sometimes you can hear the air pressure building before you hear the sound of the orchestra’s music.



Things I learned from Derrida:

1. Look twice, look closer: take an idea, stand it on its head, and think it again.
2. Philosophy is like Calvinball.
3. Love the impossible, especially the impossibilities of prayer, justice and forgiveness.
4. Look for the poor, the parenthesized, the marginalized, the hidden.
5. Be attentive to absences, doubts and aporias.
6. Don’t be afraid of the joke, of play.

Oct 14, 2004

Last night

I show up in other people's dreams as often as I show up in my own.

How weird is that.
Mail mon

My mutton-chopped mail man is speaking in a Jamaican accent today.

Oct 12, 2004

Listening to the terror through the wall

Not that I knew him that well. Not that I knew him that well but I considered him a friend, a "fellow traveler" I might have said and we met once on the long stair steps of a bus station. He had a latte, I had a coffee and an orange and we talked about the road, experiencing deliberatly, of art.

I don't know what to say so I say "shit man. shit." He's a heroin addict now and shit man, I wish you'd told me he was dead.

Oct 9, 2004

Jacques Derrida died last night at the age of 74.
May he rest in peace.

more to come...
'Why I haven't called' in a three-shell game

I know only riddles, long answers & stories.

Oct 6, 2004

Going to hell
"Have we all accepted the Antichristian notion that God loves all men and desires to save all?"
I'm not Able, I'm just Cain/ Open up heaven/ Make it rain
like

God said don't give me your
Tin horn prayers
Don't buy roses off the street down there
Took it all and look the dirt road home
Dreaming of Jenny with the light brown hair
Night is falling like a bloody axe
Lies and rumours and the wind at my back
Hand on the wheel gravel on the road
Will the pawn shop sell me back what I sold

I'm gonna take the sins of my father
I'm gonna take the sins of my mother
I'm gonna take the sins of my brother
Down to the pond

REVIEWS:constant music, guardian arts, indie london.

Oct 5, 2004

Oct 4, 2004

Remember death

Fall, the calendar said, and things started dieing. Immediately leaves began to wrinkle with age, crumpling crumbling on the ground and the corn stalks went brown, a shifting of shades unnoticed almost, and the sky cooling in opening intonations of death.

The dragonfly is dark brown dead on my window sill, fragile double wings folded back, round head gone brittle and bug eyes gone dark. He flew in my door, opened weeks back in hopes of a breeze with the evening dark, flew in with vigor, with life, in and attacked the light above the kitchen table, throwing giant horror-movie shadows on the white wall.

I found him later, clinging to the window screen. Dead. Delicate brown stillness in maybe acceptence of finding a late summer breeze in which to die and he reminded me of ducking the first time I saw a dragonfly, startled and surprised and the buzzing bobbing big-eyed violence of them. I was seven, it was June or July and they were fascinatingly frightening in gaudy colors and large ugly buggness finely winged and gently balanced bodies but flying with crashing recklessness, named for a monster and floating like a hummingbird. I lifted him gently from window’s mesh and held him, delicate and dead, life-sapped to silence, leaving him in rest on the sill above the sink, memento moria of beautiful ugliness.

The emptiness of the hole is cut down brown with jagged edges to the ritualistically scattered gray landfill rocks at the bottom. They’ve dug up the graveyard, unrested the dead, carted off the marble headstone markers marked with crosses and pulled loose shook loose the coffins like weeds pried up out of their hold to the earth. It’s just a hole now, death erased to a blankness, the dead silence again, cast out again, excommunicated from the living. It’s just a hole now emptied of death like a resurrection false alarm, earth open around the Methodist Church soon to come down clapboard by clapboard, the red slash of the red-sash sign to go dim, earth opened for business to the strip malls and the drive-throughs, split open sanitized woken from still hopes of peace to be put to labor.

My brother tells me they stopped building the bridge back home from peninsula to island to mainland when they dug down to the bones. Every man quit, went home, went on strike for the dead. They talked about curses and ghosts, of dust you are and to, requiems and final resting places and times when all you know is it’s always appropriate to cross yourself. They talked about Indian burials and Viking burials and Christian burials and afterlives and resurrections. They felt the air in their lungs and the weight of their feet on the earth. They talked, shovels silent, and every one remembered death.

The backhoe stands above the barren hole like a tribute to yellowness, yellow violent with death, the color of leaves gasping for last life, and soon it too will be gone, moved out leaving the ground sealed smoothed with pavement. It’ll rattle off with the last wheezy thoughts of death and rest, and the ground will be clean, de-sanctified safe for the living buying but even as openings open the hemisphere will tilt to death, dieing clothed in colors of memento moria and the shop windows will open to display open-ribbed skeletons advertising with symbolic sickles and the dead will have their day.

Oct 2, 2004

catholic

GRAHAM GREENE, born a hundred years ago today, the patron saint of doubters, Catholic Agnostics, of those who've prayed to be saved from faith, recieved invisable sacraments, wished there was someone they could say they were sorry to and know the sinner is the heart of Christianity.

"We find ourselves the only ones truly committed - committed to the whole world of evil and good, to the wise and to the foolish, to the indifferent and to the mistaken. We have chosen nothing except to go on living."

Oct 1, 2004

And often

My third voter registration of 2004 came today.

It's the decade of "W stands for..."