The Long Road to Hospice


One of the first images on the walls entering the Underworld.

[An odyssey of a man in Hospice. Chapter one of many]

Life was good — and we still wondered

How many more times will a mother cry

Before the thunderclap beckons from some distant places

To soothe the wound of the living?

Inflicted by the dying —

Without concern, for time passes

And enters into the unspoken

Where time will pass no more.

Forever with us, for those who wish to be alone.

— For now, an elevator, a hall pass, a locked door opened with a magic button along the wall

And then – The Underworld.

Hell passes through the unreality.

So real, the life unimagined

That comes with death

And enters our world as a marauder

And leaves as a whisper of memories past.

Memorize the signs, for something is sacred.

Caretaker Plus – written on his hospital bed

No beeping – no more electronics

Just an IV and an old man

Much older than he should be

Curled up symmetry of form molting into the underworld.

Note the significance of form:

Bruised flesh from a fall only a week past

Concave outlines of his skull that reveal far too much humanity

Withered flesh, so eager to lose its grip

To let us go.

Eyes don’t wander. He looks around, but doesn’t see

Golden pills – red and blue and all things in between – anything to help him through this time, beyond a merciful

hand to guide him to his death – death is release – we cannot let go.

I say ‘let my people go!’

Beyond this point, he has already gone

There is no more for him in this world

Please, let him go.

Inhuman cries – turning in his bed, cleansed of filth — except the bit that matters

Words that make sense in purpose,

But not meaning – cries of no father or friend or brother

Hours pass

The moment is still with you – forever with you

Tainting the memory of things.

Friends, brothers, everyone enters in passing

Only one is allowed to leave.

We huddle around him

Eyes wander

What will he see?

Open untouched tapioca

Five unopened bottles of Ensure

The waiter walks into the room asking about supper.

I admire the bones — They held on much longer than the rest of him.

The flesh, I care for less.

It gave up much too soon and

Revealed his every weakness

Bloody scabs and bruises along his arms, head, chest

The color purple, darker and darker

It eats him alive.

So, now he rests

What drugs allow you to forget the cruelty we exhibit for the doomed?

No beating, no ringing, no sounds to assure the mind of passing

Just the faint breath that barely leaves his lips

We look out from the window and see mountains far away

He looks out to a brick building.

Eyes wide

What does he see?

Feed him acid and let him see God

Demand of the afterlife the same cruelty

If only to maintain this — One reality to the next

Let him die.

With no more riddles on his lips

Why do we suffer?

No more.

An older woman wearing all white, including a white coat with a red cross on the front pocket

Walks in without a smile.

Reservation confirmed for the underworld

But not the great beyond

Nurses enter — we leave

We can’t by chance hear his inhuman screams, as they shift him in his bed

They wheel him away

We follow behind

Creeping death, four idols in the form of friends and family

The writing is on the walls

Omens of good faith

Charlatan’s words printed

And bound by wooden frame

The moon is halved within the palm – thumb and pinky fingers hold a white dove each

With words of hope and faith

Blessed, the touch

Removed from our bodies

To enter this final place.

What is the underworld?

A waiting room with a coffee machine

Dim light – no more mountains

Brick walls outside.

The sun is hot — The day is beautiful


Cradled like a baby to one side

Head low,

One last bed time story

From mother’s maidenly lips

And we all fall asleep.

The walls are bare

The walls are bare.

Blanket tucked in – one window with one view

Onward, toward the great beyond

An old man, but not the same

Just tired from the cruelest game.

How to Train a Crow to Kill

6b2f6c7eb94e3ad9f7ee4d4cadf3dec7It took two-hundred thousand years for the human population to reach one billion. Then, it took two-hundred years for our human population to reach seven billion. It will only take one year for that to drop to zero. I’m not saying the world needs to end, but something has to happen or humanity will never learn to respect the god damn crows.

A crow is a handy friend. If you offer them affection they will return it tenfold. The love of crows is magic. A crow is a loyal enough friend that you’ll never have to ask him to kill. He’ll know the deepest, darkest rage of your heart. My rage calls me in whispers. I like to think it’s the voice of the crow offering a subtle wish for the world. I’d like to say, “Let it all burn”, but I know that’s far too much to ask.

What I say instead is, “let that bastard suffer” and they do. One crow pecks the eyes. Another pecks the kidney. And another. Two more go for the eyes. The man falls. Dozens of crows attack. Pecking. The man kicks. Screams. Cries. Blood trickles from tiny wounds all over his face. The bastard suffers and all is right with the world.

Crows are in good humor, which is always dark. They get a good laugh from shitting on passersby, but they really love to see someone get hurt. This one fellow kept chasing this rabbit who ran out onto the ice. Back and forth they went, you see, because the crow wouldn’t let the rabbit escape the ice. Whenever the rabbit would get close to land the crow swooped down and prevented his departure. This went on for several minutes, until the rabbit fell into the ice.

They kill out of rage or to lighten their moods. Murder is a good time to a crow. They’ll kill to make a friend happy or ‘cheer them up’. You want a crow friend, if only for the entertainment of their sinister humor and utter brevity.

Step One: Feed them. This might sound simple, but finding what they like isn’t easy. They’re not trash birds, like people think. They’re ‘leisure lunchers’. They eat what they can find, but won’t eat any scrap of trash they’re presented.

The other issue with feeding them is that a rotten bastard blue-jay is likely to steal it. They’re much faster than crows. It’s difficult to get the attention of a crow before a blue jay grabs its meal, but always worth the effort. Crows have unique spirits that we can only understand by being their friends.

Step Two: Talk to them. After a few feedings, talk about the weather. Crows are adamant about the weather. You have to learn how to talk to them about it, however, as it’s nothing that we’re accustomed. What I find easiest is a simple, ‘How about that weather?’ comment. They eat that up. They won’t shut up and they expect you to listen. They’ll quiz you on what you remember and, what you don’t remember will be repeated… often.

Step Three: Let them in. Crows don’t need a place to stay, but once you’re their friend they like to check up on you. Leave open a window or some slot in the door, like you would for a puppy. Always leave a ‘crow’s entrance’ or they’ll come crashing through a window.

*Master the second step and they’ll never abandon your friendship. This is, in part, because they hate losing friends that care about the weather.

Step Four: Kill a fucking blue jay. The mortal enemy of the crow is the blue jay. The annoying sounds they make agitate the silent rage of the crow. They’re annoying birds that care nothing for the weather. Kill a blue jay and make a friend for life.

Step Five: Never tie your shoes. If you have Velcro sneakers a crow won’t bother with you, because they like shoelaces. They love impressing a new friend by tying their shoes. So, leave them undone. Walk around a group of friendly crows and let them have fun.

Also, if they see some loose rope or even a bit of fishing wire, it’ll end up tied. One of my good friends tied a bow with some fishing wire around a small-mouth bass. They’re in good humor, these guys.

Step Six: Construct an Altar to the Dark Lord of ‘Enu Ana Rlyeh’. Some fellows speak of a forgotten world (I don’t know how they remembered). Crow’s wings take them to other worlds than these. We witness the flutter, but not the flash, as distant worlds present themselves to the crow. They speak to me of a place founded above a beating black heart. I built a model city based on their description. Since then, I’ve been a good friend to them.

I built the city with Popsicle sticks and glue. I also gathered some of their favorite rocks (soapstone, marble, limestone and basalt). It’s about ten feet long and wide and they use it as a playground. I enjoy watching them grasp a purple marble meant to depict the ‘Eye of Negach’, which they toss around for a good time.

Step Seven: Ask them if they know that a group of them is called ‘a murder’. Most of them don’t, but once they do they think it’s the funniest thing. Murder is a hilarious joke to a crow. They like watching people kill more than watching people die. They’ve told me several times, kill after kill. They enjoy murder, maybe more than the weather.

After the seventh step, a crow becomes a ‘Ka-Num’, a ‘well friend’. A well friend is a brother without all the blood. This is when they ask if there’s anyone you want to kill. Whatever you do, don’t say no. Not that anything bad happens. It’s just rude.

I made the mistake of saying I wanted every god damn person on the planet dead. After that, Ka-Num meant something else. I thought we were brothers and I was right. I just didn’t understand what that meant to the crows.

The crows pecked a hole into the center of the model of Enu Ana Rlyeh. An anomaly of black feathers and mud covered the opening. They fed it worms and covered it with dirt and hay. The anomaly ate everything they brought. I asked what they were doing and they said, “Killing time”. Dark humor, again, but still a damn good joke.

I never had a friend in man. Talking to people feels so complex. I gave up after failing for years. People don’t make sense to me. We breathe poison and talk politics and think nothing of it. You could slip anthrax into the water supply and we’d find someone to blame besides ourselves. It’s easier to assume it’s some viral marketing for a new color of Mountain Dew.

Crows don’t care about politics. If you’re a crow you’re a crow for life. The loyalty and affection they’ve shown me is more than I ever saw from humanity. It’s easier to befriend a crow than it is a man. Men have ideas. Crows have fun. They tinker and peck and have as much fun as they can.

The thing in my basement within the model city of Enu Ana Rlyeh is looking more like an egg with every new day. It spasms and coos, as the opening widens. Warm black sludge drains from the opening and covers the egg. I don’t dare touch it. The stench is enough to keep me away.

I awoke the next morning without my right foot. White bandages covered a stump above my ankle. A pair of crutches waited at the side of my bed. I went down to the basement. There were dozens, much more than a murder, of crows.

The crows turned when I entered. You would’ve thought I had eleven heads!

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Their wings fluttered and they floated through the air. Whispers invaded the room and echoed from within the egg. A narrow slit at the top of the egg folded outward. A beak pushed through the opening and echoed the dreaded curse, “Killing time”.

“The Sin Crow emerges!” The crows declared.

“Plague of crows!” I shouted. “What is this?”

“Breathable cancer. There is no end more fitting for man than upon the wings of the Sin Crow. The final days of man are upon us!”

Molten waste poured out of the egg. The crows fled through the open window. Black lava flooded the basement. A black hand emerged from the egg and spread its fingers across the room. I limped out of the basement and fled down the street.

My home sank into the earth and took the entire block with it. I couldn’t escape the shadow of the crows that followed for miles in the sky. The wild eye fluttered above the clouds with an enigmatic wink, as the crows within flashed out of existence. A hole in the sky swallowed the miles of flying crows, who went without question into that other world.

All I wanted was a friend. All I got was breathable cancer. Good joke. The Sin Crow is everywhere. You have one year, maybe less. Enjoy it, good people. Make a friend. Maybe it’ll be enough to call the Sin Crow back to that fallen city. Or maybe, just teach a crow the names of your enemies and count your blessings.

Fertile Soil

Image result for japanese gardenMy grandmother had the worst luck with back yards. Every year, she expected something to grow. Not even grass seemed willing to venture out into our backyard. What we were left with was a bunch of dirt. Between the two houses that she lived in most of her life, she was blessed with two boys who were willing to try every year to make something grow, as well as a few trees that brought more shade than we deserved. The roots dug deep into our backyard. Nothing grew for the entire time that I lived there.

One day, the landlord decided the trees were too much of a liability. He sent in a crew to cut them all down. He cut them in half and leaved the broken halves to rot into our backyard. It was such an ugly ornament, but my grandmother decorated the nearly seven foot corpse with flowers and hanging plants, as well as some solar lights and some other things to make it nice.

The thing that happened can’t be described as a miracle. I think we all understand that without such a massive obstruction to the sun, the grass, the weeds, the various plants that she attempted to sustain throughout the years, they all came back in a flash. Within a few weeks, her backyard was overrun. It was beautiful and terrifying. She had weeds running across her five-foot chain-link fence, so much so that we couldn’t see anything on the other side. Even the grass grew a much brighter shade of green.

Something had to assume control. There was far too much light for everyone to share. The weeds, I admire and detest. They grow with little difficulty and strangle the life out of everything in their path. That’s survival. That’s all they know. I wish we could click off that instinct in their DNA. They’d be much prettier and easier to appreciate. Instead, I resent the weeds, because they made my grandmother a fake tree. She loved it, but I saw the roots. It grew out of the weeds, which seeped into the ground, like poison. They jutted out and… I have to say, were quite convincing as a tree. It took a keen eye and some examination to understand that it was taking advantage of us.

When I wanted to cut it down, grandma wouldn’t have it… so, it remains. That’s how life works. It’ll grow out of control, but unlike the trees, it will provide no benefit to the world around us. In a few years, maybe more, the fertile soil will have been changed by the weeds and the narrative will change. Fertile soil gives birth to so many possibilities, but if we don’t do our best to seize these rare opportunities and make them a benefit for the good and righteous, it’ll all collapse into the earth and be forgotten for all eternity.

Fertile soil.

Magical Methane Leaks and Our Treacherous Water Supply

Divine design dedicated to the Greek Parthenon.

Magic might seem like nonsense, but that’s only to those who haven’t been poisoned by big business. If you have poison in your water supply, chances are you’ll be witness to many a splendid miracles. And, for those who have been laced with myriad chemicals, what would be the difference? Am I to say that I feel blessed for seeing angels on the streets, demons around dark corners and… god forbid, trolls under our bridges? It’s important to believe in magic, because Flint, Michigan isn’t the first and won’t be the last place that the vile nightmares that inhabit this plane of existence do their best to pollute. They want us believing. They want us seeing angels… UFOs… bloated carcasses of poisoned seals that made it too far down the river. If we believe in angels, we’ll believe in miracles. If we believe in miracles we’ll believe there’s hope that humanity can make it out of this festering nightmare it’s created for itself.

Belief is essential if you want to survive. In this day, it’s taken on sheer atavism. It lost those rough edges of sincerity. No one questions themselves. We question each other. We attack one another for every stupid thing, but we never expand on ourselves. I’ve had such difficulty believing and, as a surprise, for all I’ve seen it makes it that much more difficult. I refuse to believe, because of all that I’ve seen. These are but minor excursions, miracles of no more affliction than a magician pulling a rabbit from his hat. The true miracle often looms beyond our grasp, but we know it well. This talk of angels helps to detract from the darker reality of sustainability and the fact that life is constantly tilting toward doom and yet, somehow, maintains. If not to truly believe, than to at least pay respect. The forces that govern and protect this world control the balance.

It’s important to take some rituals seriously, although we know they sound moronic and quite possibly insane. For example, some of us who make our journey walking over the Dunn Memorial Bridge, make it a point to spit into the wind. You turn back from Albany and get a good look at Rensselaer. You’re facing oncoming traffic and then you spit into the wind. Don’t aim for a car, but if it happens, well… these things have to happen. It’s far better not to upset the spirits that protect us than the man driving to work in his once pristine Prius. If you walk far enough along, however, the bridge loops around in a circle around Riverfront Park. Legend has it that if you can spit into the park across the road, you’ll be granted one wish. I wished for world domination, but my phlegm struck an oncoming Hyndai with its windows down…

The bridges of this city, which are several, possess their own spirits and therefore must maintain certain rituals. One of the most important is the bridge in front of the laundromat between Broadway and the Dunn Memorial. It’s important because the water is flowing to the river. It’s making its grand escape from the city. All friendly spirits make their path through the city and are making their way to the ‘great beyond’ where they’ll be greeted by the seven hands of fate. They must choose one in order to find their destiny.

Before they can cross over, they must pay the ferryman, which is a troll, who also lives beneath the bridge. He’s made his home under there, which is nothing more than a ‘bird’s nest’ constructed of sticks and twigs. From far away, it looks like a massive bee hive. The sticks and muck are glued together by the grime in his spit. It remains suspended beneath the bridge, rattling with the ongoing traffic, which is like a soft lullaby to the troll. He hears the constant cries of the lost souls. He comes to them, because this is how he will make his living.

He collects what he can from the lost souls, but it’s up to us to help them. Whenever you pass over the bridge, it’s important to throw a nickel or dime, really whatever you can to save him. In fact, some appreciate it if you skip throwing it to the troll entirely and just give it to charity. Apparently several bridge trolls are invested in local charities. I’m sure you can find one to appease them. I like the mission along South Pearl Street in Albany, which is just over the bridge. I’m not one for religious causes, of course, but it’s hard to find places whose only intent is to help people survive a rough, treacherous life out on the streets.

If you can, say a prayer for the spirits that protect us. Light a candle. Tell those that you love that the crying in the night is not their ancestors seeking fulfillment in some unforgiving afterlife, but the stars rotting away with heat and rhythmic vibrations from an ever-expanding cosmos.

Raconteur Street Blues

I grew up around some of the great narcissists of our time. History won’t remember them, so I have to. They were great storytellers, who forged a knack for survival into an unequivocal hunger to live like kings. They spoke of riches and wealth that they couldn’t have possibly known, yet painted a picture so alluring we had no choice but to believe. They were raconteurs, wizards possessed of a singular illusion that painted the world in their image and presented it to us, as if it were ours.

A Raconteur is “a person who excels in telling anecdotes”. Also, an anecdote (Please note: I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence. I mean to provide clarity.) is “a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident”. A raconteur is a great storyteller. I’ve always considered the word to be closer to ‘being a good bullshitter’, which is worth its weight in gold. Anyone can tell a story, but getting people to care is a miracle akin to walking on water.

Storytellers are plentiful. You can see them in coffee shops behind laptops, biding their time until they have a chance to share, connect and separate. It’s in that singular moment, where we connect, that things change. They can become dangerous in a moment’s notice, as they infect your mind with complex riddles that the storytellers have been working on since the dawn of time. You might wonder, ‘why would a person share such a riddle?’ you can’t think like that. It’s how any good storyteller wants you to think. They want you to assume they have no reason to hurt you. There’s no harm in believing what they believe. There’s no harm in believing them without question.

The thing that all decent ‘raconteurs’ must ask themselves periodically is ‘do I care more about myself than I do the story?’ I’ve lived among some of the great bullshitters of modern history. We heard plenty of stories growing up, yet so few of them added up in a way that it could make me care. The raconteurs possessed this trait that added depth to their stories, not just with what images they infused, but with how they made us feel. We felt involved. They tugged on our heartstrings and moved us toward an end that we couldn’t see. They possessed our future, as we waited for these mindless heathens to comb through the vast wasteland of their psyches in search of an end to whatever narrative they were painting.

Any good story comes from a single point. It’s not the beginning. It’s just a point. They wanted to make a point. They’d lie about having sex, so they’d present a narrative that made the possibility of them having sex seem possible. They’d plant a few mental images here and there, forming past and future around this premise. Ultimately, their goal was to forge a real, however unlikely, narrative, in order to make us believe.

The raconteurs believed what they said. The proof was in their words. They told us to take it from there, because taking a man at his word is as good as taking it in blood… at least when you’re a child. When we were kids we lied and it helped. We had impossible things to accomplish in a collapsing world full of poverty and the imminent threat of some incomprehensible bullshit. We had to hide sensitive information from our parents, while taking advantage of our God-like inertia, limitless energy and simple-mindedness. We had to prove to other kids that we were cool, while, at the same time, making our parents think we’d never do the cool things that get you into trouble. It added to our personal mystique, having accomplished nothing, we needed something to set us apart. We’d lie about drinking and drugs, losing our virginity, feats of the utmost stupidity… you know… harmless bullshit.

Truth is the trickiest thing. Everyone says they want it, but when it’s not something they agree with they have a reaction that makes you wonder. Truth. It’s a funny thing, because I could write out the truth as I see it and (hopefully) half of you would love me and the other would hate me. The trick for any good raconteur is understanding the right formula, while having as full an understanding as you can of the truth. I believe that you can’t write a decent story, even if it sounds like nonsense, without a sense of truth. It has to be written, spoken and lived with conviction. Truth has to appear in every word, exactly as you’ve seen it, while managing not to conflict with the truth, as it is. You should, as a good storyteller, align yourself with the truth in order to make your narrative more honest and compelling.

I never thought about truth when I was young enough to fall for these stories. The morality of lying, as one presents it to himself, so that he might further his ends, has become all the more staggering as I’ve reached adulthood. I’ve been trying to think of the right way to word this question. I doubt it’s perfect, but it needs to be asked. I’m curious as to what everyone believes:

Can you have a moral premise without any evidence?

Some raconteurs have no regard for the truth. In all honesty, as a kid I didn’t care. I was surrounded by some of the greatest storytellers of my time. I couldn’t be bothered to figure out how some of these impossible stories could be real. I believed with all my heart, because I was a stupid kid who still believed in Santa. (FYI I believed in ghosts for longer than I believed in Santa, but I also assumed the ghosts would grant a wish or needed my help or whatever.) These are men who have learned to lie in a way that ‘everyone believes that you believe what you say’. You believe them, no matter the evidence to the contrary, because they, not their narrative, hold up well against the barrage of truth that assaults them on all sides.

They’re not not-sympathetic characters. Their truth is a depressing harangue of emotion and pain that most couldn’t understand. What’s worse, they keep it to themselves. They keep it! They hide all that pain and suffering, but even more, they hide the truth! They move with such intent when they tell their stories, as if revealing a deeper, more significant wisdom, while simultaneously hiding it from the world. It’s in their emphatic gestures, their movements, as if their bodies shift depending on the tone of their narratives, not to mention their eyes… it’s in all these things that those of us who were forced to listen HAD to believe.

We believed it all the more, because we lived it. They borrowed from our lives and, in this way, we added to the false narrative. Storytelling is a necessary skill. It made us feel good in a time where people were laughing at us, because our river was full of poison and visitors had no reason to… visit. The pain of being alive could’ve shown itself in crime and self abuse. For us, it showed itself in acceptance of nonsensical bullshit and downright lies.

Near-possible realities were a simple narrative that captured our attention, which begs the question: why do they need our attention? Evil raconteurs are like evil yogis. You can assume they don’t exist, as if there is no darkness when there is also light, but this is another simple narrative that’s easy to digest. The simple narrative is used to ensnare. You don’t need to talk about angels to be a good raconteur. You have to make people believe. This is that much more significant. You MAKE people believe. You take them on a journey, where they start out as a skeptic and then, through a few twists and turns… holy shit… you just made someone believe in angels.

(Also, if you don’t make them believe, you at least allow them to suspend reality for a time, which is kinda the same, although I admit there are differences.)

Making people believe and sharing with them a deeply personal truth is about as different as water and oil.

For what it’s worth, they thought they were kings, but that never stopped them from fighting to become that oh-so desirable, and unquestioned ruler of the universe. They lied and stole and fought, but the stories to me became all the more touching. These people, the Raconteurs, were at war with themselves, as well as the truth and as well as a circumstance of poverty and extreme depravity, which was plentiful, in our ever-collapsing society. They fought for freedom: the freedom to be as insane and harmful to oneself as you can get. They fought to make the world a weird place.

The Bottle Men

Image of our Ancestors… I guess.

For a longer time than I can remember, the homeless have been presented as a thing, this massive structure that seems impossible to break down or an ocean, because it would be impossible to disseminate a drop of rain from the largest body of water on the planet. The homeless in this country lose their identity and, after a while, they all start to look the same. Even if they look different, after a while something happens where you don’t pay attention. You see them, but it’s like seeing a tree in someone’s office. You don’t think about it. You shut off. They blend into the scenery to such a point that nobody says anything and the world moves on.

It’s when you break down certain levels of poverty that you realize there even are levels. Homeless isn’t the furthest decline into poverty. If anything, it might be nearest the beginning. It depends on who you talk to, if indeed you can talk to anyone. The homeless aren’t always one for conversation. Some need a lot of help and have fallen so far that talk isn’t good enough. They move shiftlessly, like ghosts trying to find their own plane of existence. They have a way of blending in that’s quite miraculous, for although they share the same appearance of grime and disease collected over tattered clothes layered on top of one another for warmth and utility, each of them has a singular destiny relative to his condition.

The Bottle Men are nothing unique to our city. They wander around with steel baskets that they wheel around and fill with bottles. They get their donations from neighbors and businesses. They live among us, and aren’t a they, which is to say they aren’t a group. They’re individuals who make their living off recycling. They pick up the bottles that people don’t want to return and bring them to their recycling centers to get some cash. It isn’t glamorous, but it allows them to exist. I think it’s important to examine this story, because, although it’s not the lowest level of poverty, it’s somewhere within that delicate strata and deserves thorough inspection. It isn’t that they’re desperate, although some of them most likely are, it’s that they’re made to be. They’re made into ‘The Homeless’, when these are individuals under a certain set of stimuli that become a certain way. Their conditions are unique, despite ending up the same, I assure you they’re quite different.

Then, I guess we could ask, what creates this massive body of water that we call ‘The Homeless’, but does that really have one answer? I assume that they’re generated from across the river. They walk along the bridge and ask a question of the Sphinx that guards it. If the Sphinx can’t answer they’re allowed to pass. If he can, he must eat their hearts. You’d think we’d have more bodies washing up along the shore, but the river goes on forever. It’s our protector against the endless sea. If you’d just go over to the other side, you could see them sleeping beneath the overpass, roaming the streets around the mission that’s a block away from the bridge.

Some don’t care about bottles. They’ll scribble a few desperate words on cardboard and wait for passersby to hand over a few bucks. It gets repetitive on your way to work, day after day, as the place remains the same, yet the homeless person changes. I don’t know if there is an agency of homeless that take turns waiting at the same spots, but something must happen, some arrangement of stimuli to make them flock, like birds heading south for the winter. Something clicks in their minds that they have to be here at this time, always the same times each day.

Time seems all the more important to the homeless. You’d think they wouldn’t have anywhere to be, being homeless, but they shuffle in patterns, like the tides that come with morning and night along the river. When night comes, the tide moves in, when its’ gone so is the tide. Morning comes and the homeless move. Five o’clock comes with that rush of traffic and the homeless become vigilant. They follow a rhythm that has yet to be determined, as I doubt many scientists are looking into the migration habits of Bottle-men or the virulent mating season of people that live under the bridge.

Jahua the Debtor

Every city has a spirit and, perhaps a few are schizophrenic, because they could have many. The frantic nature of the world can create several voices that those within the confines of a city are compelled to follow. As to which voice you follow or which you hear, this could depend on several factors that I know nothing about. The voices are out there, summoning us to their whims in ways that remain beyond our comprehension.

Where we’re moved, we must at least hope, is in the name of good. Some spirits, however, choose no sides. They follow their whims and desires. Their means and goals are their own. They’re tricksters, because we can’t tell what they want. They do as they please, breezing through realities, as if they own them.

In this town, there are a few homes that leave out bags of bottles as an offering to such sacred tricksters. Usually, it’s the keepers of this faith that come to obtain these sacred offerings. The keepers of this faith are known as ‘the bottle men’, as they walk around with metal carts full of cans and bottles, in honor of their gods.

From time to time, an enigmatic figure appears on the streets of our city that appears to be just another ‘bottle man’, but is in fact a creature with intimate knowledge of other worlds. He wears a thick robe that covers most of his body. His eyes are silver and change to red when he’s mad. He carries a pack over his back that looks empty, but holds inside it the souls of countless vanquished enemies.

When a soul is stolen from its owner, the person remains as an empty shell of himself. The soul departs from his body, as in death, and he remains in a comatose state, for which he might never escape. The souls come from across the universe. Jahua wanders throughout the cosmos returning to those he’s defeated to mock them. He makes them pay for their souls with one penny a day. The interest he charges ensures they’ll never pay off his debt. Jahua goes door to door collecting his tariff and for those he’s yet to meet, he must go and challenge.

Jahua the Debtor comes to your door and waits to be welcomed, whereby he’ll come inside. He’ll drink nothing that you give him, take nothing that is offered. He sees it as owing you for your hospitality and takes it as an offense. Nobody knows what the challenge is, just that it’s some form of card game. The victim never seems to remember much, just the deck of neatly folded cards and glossy black. People have claimed to have bested Jahua, but have no proof. The effects of defeat are always obvious, as the color in a victim’s skin turns pale, their eyes become lifeless and without hope and their teeth rot into a vulgar yellow.

Jahua has taken his time in procuring the souls of the city, although he doesn’t have us all. It becomes necessary for those in the city to take precautions. Some of us never answer our doors. Jahua is a master of disguise and can even take the appearance of a close loved one. He cannot enter under an arch, so many people make their entryway into one to prevent his advance. This has been written off as ‘mere superstition’, however, several homes continue to make arches for their doorways, as a meager hope to fend off the offensive debtor and keep their homes intact.

Ballad o’ Brother Bear

Image result for spirit bearMashaReinI’maDoinyamom

I expect to live in a country where we’re allowed to make up words… just don’t expect my sympathy when you’re subpoenaed for a military tribunal. You can’t expect to commit such an audacious crime and express yourself without consequence. We all should have reasonable concern for those who make up language, because they go beyond our reasonable interpretations and make up their own. What if that’s all that language is? What if we’re clinging to a vocabulary that only makes sense to us? You could be talking in your own words, as if every conversation is between you and your imaginary friend! Then, there are those words that lose their meaning over time. If they don’t disappear entirely, that is, they become something else. They’re just words without any symbolism in our psyche to cling to and further themselves into the future. This is written in honor of those words.

Doesn’t ‘Masha-Rein-A-Ma-Doo-A-Ma-Da’ sound suspiciously like an Irish version of the N.W.A. song   ‘Fuck the Police’?   No… it’s just ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. The tale is about a highwayman who robs a British official, then comes home to find his wife cheating… not just cheating, but having sex with said British official. A-masha rein a-ma-doo a-ma-da!

The Ballad of Brother Bear:

(Now, remember it is a ballad and you must repeat ‘Masha-Rein-A-Ma-Do-A-Ma-Da’ as often as you wish) Lookin’ to the stars one night, I see ol’ brother bear, whose grinnin’, snearin’, snarlin’ teeth warned give’a bit’a care. For ‘neath the seamly starry sky I prayed for sweet surrender to cast down on the land of Tul and any mine offender. Beneath the glisten, guiding stars shines light to sling and pebble, ask God to grant me ‘gregious sin in blood be born the rebel. Takin’ sling and steady fast to rabid, dreadful creature, an’ as he spotted his demise I sent him to the preacher. Walkin’ with this wondrous night I thought against my blunder, for hopin’ for a wish fulfilled and saintly sinful plunder. But as I entered to my home I heard the head-board rattlin’ and lyin’ deeds of sweet Elise, our creaking bed was tattlin’. I walked in with an angered roar, and neither could be bothered, as sweet Elise was in delights, which she had ever wondered. Takin’ Tommy from my wall I let off two-click’s thunder, Ol’ sweet Elise arose from bed, t’was Brother Bear she’s under. That bastard bear, he smiled, with the wicked scar upon him, it seemed despite my murd’rous ways my wish was lookin’ grim. Readied wretched weapon toward the twinkle in his eyes, quick to catch the fates, who would make turn with my surprise. For as I readied him to death it was my sweet Elise, who would not let ol’ Brother Bear unto his damned release. She cried and poured her love upon him, ‘spite our sacrament, and even in his wicked deed ’tis I could not lament. His eyes upon me, in this moment we could see the humor and we could laugh as brothers, who should’a let the joke go sooner…….

There you go… a bear fucked his girl-friend… have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The Forgetful Root Scripture

“To be radical is to go to the root and the root is man.” -Erich Fromm

Memory is this great big root that’s different in all of us, because we all have different experiences that allow it to grow stronger, dig deeper and compel our spirits toward the future. Causalities arise because of the root, which is somehow connected between body and mind and held strong by remembering this connection. In some, the memory is not so strong and the root is maintained, while it doesn’t offer any form of extenuation that would otherwise help it grow. Instead, the root maintains a solitary path without the minute branches that would allow it to thrive.

These minute branches are what maintain certain pockets of resistance against the memory that strengthens the connection between body and mind. There’s often significant memories lost in the mire of these small branches, although it can also be tedious moments out of our lives that the mind sees no reason to remember. If you focus on a memory it grows like a weed. It can overwhelm the powerful root of all your memories and before you know it nothing of your past is remembered beyond this single weed that has grown out of control.

It’s a selective process, but in order to ensure that no single weed overwhelms it, the mind works to cut away these branches and keep itself as sturdy as possible. There’s no telling which memory will be the next to assume the mantel of authority inside you, as the mind has no way of clarifying which connection is right or wrong. It just connects. Something connects and a weed grows out of control. There’s no honorable mention. Everything just happens without causality.

It’s a selective memory that rules the world and it starts with every root within every person. We cling to these memories inside us and the root is sustained, while we forget certain things about ourselves. As long as we remember who we are, everything is fine. However, we might miss these branches, for they provide the details that no one else will ever understand, except for you. It’s very personal. Only you can determine the worth of a memory. Otherwise, you’re just a man or woman, a person, a living thing with wrinkles under your eyes to show your age, like the rings of a tree.

The little things about you are what connect these roots to the outside world. They connect us, because out there in the distance is another branch of another person’s root who wants nothing more than to connect. The roots are unique and yet, somehow, out of the vastness of the cosmos, they find a way to connect with other roots that infest this universe. It might be a singular connection, a point in reality where two distant bodies meet, but it’s still significant, because two roots that meant nothing to the world somehow find their way. All signs pointed to the roots drying out under the sun, like a worm that came up for too long after a storm, but somehow, they beat the odds and proved to the cosmos that they belonged.

If we choose not to acknowledge this connectivity it disappears. The roots don’t go away, however, but the chance to connect is gone. It creates this horrible gnarled appearance out of the roots, as one reaches out to the other, while the other pulls away. They offer their warmth against the cold expanse of the cosmos and are refused. Their roots die out. They gave too much of themselves in order to reach you. Even you, in acknowledging this connectivity, will lose a bit of yourself. You’ll never regain this connection if it goes ignored for too long. The energy between you will die out and the world will move on.

The connection isn’t always easy to spot, but when you do, it’s most likely because of these branches that connect to the thick root of our memory. You lose some of yourself over the years and maybe that makes the root into a coarse thing full of barbs and nooses, something that appears far more treacherous than it is.

Two neighbors, Aldus Grim and Mekhi the Red, choose hatred over what they share in common. For some, hatred provides for them a sense of importance, which I think strengthens the will of the deeply ingrained root of their memories. In this way, they are connected, although their hatred will never bring them together. I think that maybe they just don’t see. Aldus the Grim used to be exactly like Mekhi the Red. Aldus got a girl pregnant very young. He was a punk and never quite grew out of it. The difference is in age and experience. Aldus worked his entire life to support his family, while Mekhi is at the very beginning, with two kids and two jobs. His girlfriend works as well, but has another child wrestling around in her belly. Aldus had three children and now lives alone. His wife died only a few years ago. The constant appearance of misery on his face never really changed, not with her death, not with anything I can remember. Alcohol helped him through the misery and Mekhi is much the same. He’ll have his parties, which get too loud for Aldus, who usually calls the cops.

Their connection is to keep away from one another, because they know that they share a branch of reality. One is the future. The other is the past. They are one within the same cycle.  They work hard to stay away so that they don’t have to acknowledge their condition. Whether they should be coming together, well, who can say for sure? You’d like it to be possible for Aldus to reach out and help, maybe seeing some of himself in this young man who went down the same path as him, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Maybe it’s because that connection to himself, and not to Mekhi the Red, died long ago. Maybe the root is reaching out through Mekhi, trying to reach him, as his root withers into the future. Maybe it’s his past self calling out, begging him to understand that he was a young fool once. Now, he’s an old fool and the moment is gone. It’s much simpler to believe that youthful version of you no longer exists. He had to refuse it in order to survive and thus, it no longer exists.