A Room Down The Hall

I would concede that my descriptions over simplify reality exactly to the extent that they are misinterpreted.

I had wanted the room with the windows but it didn’t work out that way.  Instead, my plants and I have taken refuge in the walk-in closet where we sit around a bare light bulb trading ghost stories.  While I have finally succeeded in wrecking my marriage, there remains only one way out of this mess and that is to go through it.

When I was younger, I used to keep snakes, an endeavor that may or may not have required weekly trips to the pet store to bring home mouse happy meals.  Snakes tend toward the strong, silent type and can be difficult to get along with because, lacking the gift of facial expression or the ability to learn sign language, communication is not their strong point.

“Are you hungry?”, I would ask my serpentine friend and then wait patiently for a vision or a smoke signal.  Once I thought I heard it’s forked tongue say, “Stick your hand in here and find out”, but in reality no response was forthcoming.

Unlike their devilish human counterparts, snakes do not kill for sport which meant that on many occasions the mice were left to their own devices to kill themselves.  An unmotivated reptile will watch unblinkingly as one panicked creature after the next would drown in the water bowl, die of dysentery or break it’s neck falling from the rafters, all in an attempt to escape a predator that didn’t want it in the first place.

Naturally, the plants were horrified on the evening I chose to share that little gem with them.

Some ghosts are living and some ghosts are dead.
Some books stay open,
after the final page has been read.
On a hot summer night, too hot for my bed,
I met a pigeon in a parking lot with an upside down head.

Unable to fly,
and with down-turned eyes,
it said:
These crumbs on the sidewalk are the stars in my sky.

When you talk to plants their leaves shimmer and quiver, curl and wither, depending on what you tell them.  Their bodies, like ours, consist mainly of water. Water that rises with the tide, sits like glass in the moonlight and rages in the wind. Water giveth, and water taketh away.  Water becomes the shape of it’s vessel.

Crowded in a tight circle, their sweet faces pale with incandescent light, the plants listen patiently to my stories but one by one they have to agree that this dim imitation is not the sun.  “We can’t live this way”, they tell me.

“I know”, I say, “but please hang on a little longer.  I will find us a new room with lots of windows very soon.”

They nod and say, “We hope we’re still here when you do.”


The Time In Between

20131108-164310.jpg

East Coast Ira walks in the leaves of autumn.
They smell like fall.
They smell like frost.
They smell like change.

He travels from one ocean to the other,
but water is water and land is land.
Time is time,
but the time in between has slipped away.

He arrives in the last colors to fade with the sun.

It’s his face in the mirror, but not the way he remembers.
Better, maybe.
Sharper.
These days, it seems, are accelerated.

What’s out there pales in comparison to what’s in here
and seems to stretch into eternity, but just when he thought it would go on forever..
He hears her voice in a shell.
The time, the time is now.
She loves him, the Devil loves him and he remembers walking in the sand with her.
Here, to this spot where water is water and land is land
and the time in between has slipped away.

20131108-164346.jpg


Books About God

“It grieves me that you wake up frightened”, sayeth the book about god.

Does god grieve for my fear?

I don’t know.
How would I know?

But I do, wake up frightened that is.
Everyday.
Frightened that the hummingbirds will not come back.
Frightened that while the flowers bloomed and rejoiced in the sun, I looked away.
Hopeful petaled faces waited for me until they could wait no longer.
Frightened that I’ll never find the downbeat to live in real time.
Frightened that I won’t get what I want,
and frightened that I will.
Frightened that I would wake up in an empty space.

The book about god says there is no empty space.
This god novelist sure has got my number.

She knows what I know.

She wakes up in a pool of her own regret and terror.
Everyday she thinks something about this familiar dirty window is comforting.
Something about the dark recess of the house, where the air is still and the little dog sleeps, something about the smell of coffee in the morning seems like home.

But is it?

Is it the one and only,
or only one of many?

She knows what I know
and she still writes books about god.


Parables About Nothing

treefaces

He said I was savage.
He doesn’t know what that means.

***

A hermit was walking in the woods and came across a coral snake.

The snake had been bitten by a cat and was badly injured.

The hermit felt bad for snake and took it home to nurse it back to health.

Months passed and the snake healed but the hermit had become very attached to the snake in the meantime.

One day, while having some special time together, the snake bit the hermit in the face.

The hermit picked up a rock to crush the snake’s head and cried, “how could you?!?!”

The snake never blinked. “Why are you crying?,” it asked, “Everyone knows that snakes make bad pets.”

With rock still in hand, the hermit pondered this while the snake crawled back to it’s home in the woods.

***

I don’t know who is who in this story.

Actually, I do.

I am both of them.


The Dark Continent: On A Friday Morning

20130908-174902.jpg

In the morning I sit on my bed.

Sunlight blinds my left eye while the shadow of hummingbirds flicker like a silent movie in the window.

I read a book with my right eye and drink coffee from my cup.

Carl is next to me having his own experience of the morning. This is the quiet denial before the loud reality of daytime sets in.

Morning is the time of coffee and books and of writing stories in pencil.

“The things you like about me now,” I told him once, in the days before he was broken hearted, “will probably be the things you hate about me later.” By “later”, I meant now.

I don’t know if he was listening then but he seems disappointed in the way things turned out.

I know my time here is running short.

Life is waiting but it will not take me for its lover until I’ve had a shower.

I should get off the bed and go face the day but something I read this morning takes me back to The Dark Continent, where the cradle of life rocks back and forth to quiet its bitter children.

With star shine like sadness in the sky,
a lone beast runs with the thundering ghosts.

This is Africa now:
trophies and tusks.

On The Dark Continent a patient spider sits in the dwindling shade of a one leaf tree.

With eyes that see in all directions it sees itself; once a great predator, now a vacant exoskeleton.

A lifetime of bones and teeth fade into the dirt but from the mountain tops everything looks the same.


Stargazing

snakedrawing_c

East Coast Ira sits on the world, the star of a constellation he cannot see.

A blue dot in the eye of the serpent or an apple from the tree of knowledge.

He waits for the sign of the cross, searching for life in his lifetime.

Peace happens for eternity out there beyond the clouds.

The lay of the land is changed by the weather while the sun burns bright, even when he’s not looking.


The Edge

ocean

I walked with Ira to the sea.

At the edge of the water,

or the edge of the sand,

“Out there”, he said, “is what we came here for.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.