Saturday, March 25, 2006

Polarity is the Pulse in Phoenix

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OK, let's set a few ground rules. First of all, this living novel isn't going to be one of my long sad odes to lost love. Looking for something a little more life-affirmin despite, as I said before, the forty days of fire, forty day of rain. Let all of that stuff wash this planet clean, I say. Good riddance.
Nor is this series of honest entries going to be overly metaphysical. I know, it can't be avoided. As the metaphysical blends with the physical, as it always has, we can at least grasp all things as one whole, and leave it at that. All religions are one, Blake said, and that shall be the central core of the moral code here.
That being established, the real meaning behind all this is the essential idea that global warming is a proven reality, and despite the fact science has yet to confirm it, we can rely on our own empirical experience, our subjective sensitivities, to guide us. Any animal has this power. We humans shouldn't deny it, either. Our instincts are telling us everything we need to know. Feeling shook up? Sure you do. If you don't, well, aren't you lucky. You must live in some high-class castle somewhere, with a bank account growing rich from the pilfering of the globe and its underclass of citizen servants to the machine mind. I know, you smile, in social darwinist glee, don't you, thinking there's nothing but money that flows like some kind of river or holy ghost that dictates the true realities of the global engines, and all of the rest of us, with nothing but spirit to hone, are just flapping around in the narcotic gods of our overactive imaginations.
OK then, you have your reward. Drive your Hummers into the sunset with glee. Carve up the valleys and canyons to your hearts' content. Vote red. See red. Drain blood. Carry your U.S. Marine guarded pallets of cash up and down the streets of Bagdad like a parade of caskets, for all I care.
You have your reward, you fucking vampires!
Now, for the rest of us, there is nothing but time to hone the spirit. Just know this: All televised visions of the apocalypse are irrelevant. As long as we are at one with the Creator, there is nothing to fear. Fear nothing, and nothingness will run.
So here we go, the moral and material pulse are openly presented and established. Time to move forward.
We begin our day in Phoenix, just fresh from the largest Latino demonstration against some kind of proposed state legislation that, to hear the agents of La Raza describe it, sounds like some kind of Nazi pusch to rid this place of more than half of its population. On March 24, 2006, 20,000 citizens of real actual America, most of them more than likely so-called "illegals," showed their faces at 24th and Camelback to create the largest mass demonstration in state history. Throughout the day, all traffic in Phoenix was ground to a halt and consumerism took a heavy blow, as a result. Sure, I saw a parade of little Latino guys pushing those musical ice cream carts up and down the street, and thought I caught a whiff of ricin in the air while trying to negotiate it all in a white rented truck, but actually it wasn't too bad of a day to find Phoenix: A bundle of neverous polarities.
I left it that way. Now it has intensified. Figures. But, O my sweeties, how it made me forget about the beauty of the craggy desert I'd driven through. It made me forget about the little burghs of trailer parks, tire fix outlets, shanty little restaurants, and that whole weird world of citizens who are off the grid in the deserts of America. We can only imagine who they are. Good people, mostly, since most people are basically good. But they must be an anti-social bunch. If anti-social means avoiding the streets of Phoenix, though, then I can certainly relate to the gripe.
Anyhow, it sure made the clean-as-a-whistle resort marketplace of Lake Havasu City an attractive idea as a living choice, moonish as it is. A pile of rocks is what the Queen of Lake Havasu calls it. To which a daydream of the coast returns to the back of my head, memories of our next-to-last night in Lincoln City:

Egyptian bachelors
carting guitars
skinny and wise
as Dutch masters,
Filipino blood rising ...

He wrote up hieroglyphics
as a message to the Queen
of Jehu, of the Nile
as the faces of single malt
deities glimmer and danced
in front of the Stars & Stripes

The American flag, the grapes,
the gripes, the grapes, the wrath,
I threw my credit card
to the bartender
never counting my cash

The room clears, late night
a medley of the classics:
Your CC&R, your Rolling Stones,
as a moronic beer bath
leads to rock-solid thought

What we unlearn
tells us a lot

Pale bejeweled prancer
upon a dome upon the rock,
late at night old men hold
on tight to all that's lost,
as the young women walk
past them, gone, outta sight!

- Phoenix, Arizona

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Next Time I See You, Satan, I'm Going to Beat You Up

Coming down the mountain, moving south, out of Oregon and into the Jefferson valley, I could see the clouds, wrung out by the winds, streaming across the top of Mount Shasta, a white-capped behemoth overlooking the region like a Himalayan monarch. Most mountains do. They have that quality. They are monarchical. They press against the sky and there’s no telling them anything. They are in charge. We wait on them. They are never pleased. Like the wind, they own the land, forcing their will upon all inhabitants. And so on this day, seabirds, white gulls of some kind (I wish I knew what kind), were oddly trouncing around, sifting for food at the roadsite rest site placed like a dish at the mountain’s valley table. They seemed lost, as if the wind had blown them there from far away. I asked the rest site attendants, one was clearly retarded and the other one, a Latino) if it was unusual for these birds to be there. The retarded one mumbled something that was lost in the 50 mph winds. The Latino said the white gulls always come in the summer. I thanked them and then walked away, then realized: It was March.
The point of this passage was to get out of the rain. And just this once, the sun burst through the clouds and painted this valley in a way valleys are supposed to be painted by the sun. Great broad clean sweeps of color. At this rest stop along U.S. 5, I got out to take a piss and a picture.
The wind was blowing hard, damn hard. I’d been driving for six hours at least, after leaving Canyonville, Oregon earlier that morning ( a nice little place that eventually creeped me out, due to its bible belt quality tthat packed its more hermetic charms in tight, its health food store, its cyber cafe, its large white masons hall, all tucked in tight in a womb of paternal Jehovah protectionism) and was about ready to go postal about the weather. Really had had enough.
Six miserable months the storms, my sweeties, have rendered me into complete unrealiable narratorhood. Now, after facing numerable challenges to my sanity as I have re-traced our steps to this dream of a life at the far end of our continent, I have been reduced to madly running through the Mohave desert in the cold and dark in order to find a fucking telephone so that I could hear your voice and know it’s going to be OK. But such assurances have escaped me. Instead, after facing yet another horrible Olympus on the road up and down the pass in Tehachapi, California, where I determined the most deadly foe to man isn’t the horror of nature, but instead, the nature of the California drivers who hurl through the world on some kind of high-octane hell without a care in the world for who they run off the road, I descended into yet another underworld to find I’m not worthy of this mission.
Now, as I face this cracked mirror in a motel room in Barstow, another place being cold-blasted by the hideous wind, I am tortured by a lingering premonition. A previous night’s dream at Sis’s place in Sacramento included, in the crash of iron and mix of metal, the literal sound of your crying that exists only in my head, the sound of the word “OK,” as I imagined maybe you too were succumbing to the same maddening drought of sunlight as we keep moving south, further south, only to find the sun has seemed to have flown forever from view. I turned on the television only briefly in this pitiful motel room to find the planet beset by volcanes and cyclones and endless war, as well as a nation preoccupied with meaningless trivial little follies like basketball playoffs and “reality” series carnivals. I tried to call anyone I could but it was too late at night. The loneliness of the road has undone me. I have scrambled to find some solution to this emptiness I feel, this gut-wrenching doubt about what, if anything, we are to become.
And worse, this cracked mirror reveals the face of a man who has been reduced to complete narcissism and treachery beyond even what he knew he was capable. It began in Canyonville, I believe, when the cyber cafe lady said my work was too irreligious to even be considered marketable commodity in their town. At first, I rejoiced. At first, I rested in the anarchist artist’s glee that comes from provoking such a strong reaction. Then this obsession of mine to be a bard for you and the whole world, this outright pathetic craving to be heard and understood was bolstered by a positive response in Ashland, land of a bards, a pretty, perfect land of Cathar glee, where poets, playwrights and other bards can be celebrated and congratulated and adored, safe and free to think and blather amongst themselves. I had an audience behind a coffeehouse during a short break from the road where I could be the man I imagine myself to be: The sage, the poet, the mystic, the raky rascal on the road.
Then I was off again to face more storms. I tried and tried again to find some lightness in me, you know, the humor in all this. I have come one thousand miles in two days of driving. During that time, I have seen the sun maybe three times, maybe for an hour or two, tops. Meanwhile, the earth is breaking open. The birds are either sick or lost. Volcanoes across the world are pouring black coal into the sky. This will only increase the greenhouse effect. A cyclone the size of a continent is tormenting the other side of the world, and here, on the Pacific Coast, the big hand of God is slapping America across the face with a cold, wet fist. And I, under this fist, can only marvel but cannot laugh. I cannot find the lightness necessary to carry any reader.
Raja, our dog, is saying nothing. Just like the rest of us, he has no answers. You sent him away with me as some kind of substitute for love, I suppose, and I answered the bell the night before this one by cradling him in a blanket as he shook in the cold on the porch of the white-picket fence home of Sis of Sacramento. He responded by refusing his food and obviously entreating me to find our way back to you. But I have nothing now but the fear all is lost, that something has gone hideously wrong with all of our plans, that it’s all my fault, due to my frailties and pointless yearnings, my hunger, my shame, my ceaseless clutching for some kind of answer to our demise.
I have this bottomless fear that when I last looked at you, the wolf woman goddess in the rearview mirror, I had seen you for the last time. That you would realize, as you began to retrace our steps, too, as you faced the rain-swept valleys and snow-capped monarchs, as you searched your memory banks and found new reasons to doubt my love, as you passed the miles with your Cappy sister priestess, who is also facing her own demons under these daunting conditions, that you will have both come undone together and gone wildly into some other more suitable direction. Like Portland. Or Canada. Or maybe you just stayed put and even as I write this you are hunkered down in our sad empty sleepness owl’s nest of a house on the Oregon Coast, fighting off the golem and gargoyles of the Chinook winds with bouts of beer and bible beating. With Reiki on the run. With wild-eyed goddess energy that knows better than to find anything decent enough to grasp onto when it comes to the flighty love of a mere mortal man. I imagine two queens who have basically decided to rule the waves and currents of the collapsing world on their own, leaving me to listen to trains in the night, to wait for the daylight to pull myself together in order to carry all of this crap, this boatload of property, this totem dance of overwhelming memories, these dirty clothes and dog-barfed blankets, all of this material scarred earthenware, this skeletal shell of consumable us, to my own private, personal, sex-crazed, ego-driven kingdom hall of hell.
Now, in this black desert of the night, I have this ten by ten cell as a shelter from the chaos outside, but nothing to soothe me from within but the summoning of my own muse. O Gawd, let him be Gabriel rather than the dark dragon himself. May I find some way to soothe all of this pain by myself so that I, before the end of these forty days of fire, forty days of rain, face the very uncoiling of the snaky, imperfect soil from which the whole world is made. May I fight back these ghosts and lusts with the purest love I can muster, maybe for one last time. My I take this silly sword of mine and strike one last blow to the machine mind that has sucked us all down. May I find compassion from someone, somewhere, who will take my call.

- Barstow, California