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.

Death by Rib Bone

Image result for biblicalI’m not sure if this is the equivalent of me smelling my own farts, but I like to share different stories I’ve written and have found a platform that I find challenging and productive. I hope you all enjoy. If not, tell me I’m an asshole. Also, if you happen to be on reddit, I’ll gladly accept your ‘friend request’… even though they’re pointless… also, have a nice day!

She spoke to the Wind

Image result for living in cardboard boxI’ve been working on a puzzle based around stories with several connections, but I forgot to number them. Part of that is, well, I didn’t realize I was building a puzzle until the second story. Now, I see the picture much clearer… and I hope to share it with you from time to time. Sidenote: I also enjoy r/nosleep, which is a subreddit dedicated to horror stories, but really it’s the place that I enjoy. It’s a world where you must adhere to tradition, suspend disbelief and accept your reality. It’s a good thing to do from time to time. I hope you enjoy it!

Obscure Apocalyptic Sigl

Image result for birds flying highAround 4:40PM yesterday, I was on my way home, when I saw several emergency vehicles parked along a bridge about a block from my home. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary and I hadn’t heard any stories. It appeared to be such a minor thing and it left my mind, as I made my way home.

A few hours passed and I noticed these birds floating above my apartment building. I assumed they were hawks, but I’m not really sure. I counted six, at least from my vantage point, as they moved in this clearly visible pattern. The pattern was, as three birds about a hundred yards away stuck together the others did the same above my apartment. Two went around each other, while the third went around them. After a while, one would break off from each group and join the other. It was a complex system of surveillance and communication that kept my attention. I had no idea what it meant and the symbolism escaped me. I ran to watch them for a few minutes, as they moved over my house and out in front, where stood a set of tracks, before the rail-yard.

The thing is that I was so enamored with the pattern that I wanted to know what it meant. Is there somewhere I can find out why they would be flying in such a pattern and above so many houses? I would assume such a predator would prefer to keep in low visibility, although I can see the necessity in so many reaching a higher altitude to get a clear perspective of their hunting grounds.

I escaped into my own little world, where I imagined these birds had come as angelic prophets delivering unto me and the rest of the world some inscrutable message that would save us all. It’s not often that I have these delusions, but I assure you it’s more out of laziness than anything sinister. The one rational thought that clung to my delusions was that they had no need to hide. What they hunted was already dead. My own little world didn’t last long, before I saw the birds dancing above in their complex pattern as some augury of doom.

In a way, I guess I wasn’t wrong. What it was: (and I’m not sure, really, if this has anything to do with it, but it’s at least a coincidence) a man in his twenties was found dead by the train tracks about a block from my house. He’d been hit by the train. I won’t talk about the man or his motives, because so little has been said. I just felt like sharing the few moments I had believing I might actually be a prophet, before reality sprung forth and I entered that world. I hope for his family and friends to take their time over this weekend to appreciate his life and remember what good times they might’ve had, so that they might find some peace from his and their misfortune.

–Written with the utmost regret



Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Related image“When Nachiketa went to the home of death, he had to wait three days, until death returned. Upset by having the Brahman waiting, Death offered him three boons: (1) he could be greeted warmly by death, (2) he could live amongst the gods or (3) he could know the secret of himself.”

If I count the days in front of me I count an infinite number. It’s only infinite, because I refuse to measure the time I have left, not to mention the chances of my demise or possibilities for cataclysm. If my time isn’t infinite, than I’d rather it be impossible, because I’d rather not know how many days I have left. I can, however, count the days of my life if I’m willing to look back. So few are that memorable, but still there are ones that connect on an emotional level. You hold onto them when life shows its fangs. You take the good with the bad and then you move on. After a while, you look back and can say, ‘oh god… I remember that day… how in the hell did I ever get out of that mess?’

Now, considering the same physical model of the universe, we are interacting with others, as well as our environments. We can look to the past and say, ‘I remember that guy! Whatever happened to him?’, although we can’t do the same in the future. We can’t say that we know that someone is going to have such a major effect on our lives in the future. That type of logic belongs in the past. I can’t poke you in the chest and tell you that some day you’ll mean the world to me. The future reveals its truth through experience. You have to feel it. You have to accept it into your life with every passing day. It’s much harder to do, especially compared to how simple it is to reminisce about days long since passed. The ability of the mind to pull you back to ‘the simpler times’ cannot be overstated… or underestimated, because it comes with a cost.

The future lacks understanding and the past lacks context. From the present, the past seems like a long ride from one age into another, for which you never bought a ticket. It’s a blur to the present. The future never materializes. It’s a looming specter, for which we can fear, respect or, through a severe bout of mental gymnastics, do both. It’s our inability to control the future that makes it harder to move closer to it, because the further into the future you go, the brighter the distant past starts to look. The ever-looming specter of death is on the other side of the future, but the past becomes a comforting certainty. You can even connect with those for which you’ve lost touch. The past makes even your enemies seem… quaint. They lose that threat that they once possessed, when the past was the present and it seemed like you had to fight for territory or squabble over nonsense or oppose a certain opinion because it appeared to be an offense to your ego.

Hindsight is an impossible gift that could prove itself to be more of a curse. Some believe you can look into the future with the same pair of eyes and use hindsight to protect you. Fear of the future is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Witch doctors count the days of your life through chicken entrails. You kiss the back of his hand and say a few hundred ‘Hail Marys’ and all is well. It can, in the least, provide a bit of solace in a world that offers so little, but that’s not what these gifts are for. Hindsight, if used properly, can reveal an ugly, visceral truth. If we look to the future with those same eyes, if maybe we’re willing to ask a few questions and step a bit further with every passing day, the prospect of death won’t be so terrifying, but in the least, humbling enough that we accept our lot.

Romo and Icarus

Image result for tony romo retire(I feel like I should mention… because football fans are fucking psycho… I’m not a Cowboy fan… just sayin)

Tony Romo was a complex character in the history of the NFL. He seemed to lack arrogance, while still being arrogant. Does that make sense? He possessed the confidence of a man who knew how to win… but just didn’t. It’s this complex character that showed in his eyes, mannerisms, speech and how he approached the game. He walked with such confidence, as if he knew what would happen next. He seemed to know something more than the rest of us. What I like most about him is that I think he understood that this is just a game. I know that in the ‘kill or be killed’ ‘macho-man Randy Savage’ ‘high-stakes world of fantasy football’ that’s a cardinal sin, but I admired how he approached the game. The key to playing a game is remembering it’s a game. We forget, because the NFL is a billion dollar industry that produces sadness for thirty-one teams and extreme joy for one (for at least a few months). For the rest of that time, you devote yourself to petty rivals, constant trash-talk and an incessant need to hack away at the hypocrisy of the NFL.

I’m talking about Romo the player, because I don’t know the man. He seems like a decent human being, but the player, the myth and “legend” is most of what we see. He inspired rage and became a target for the media, as well as weary NFL fans who grew tired of hearing about ‘the greatness of Romo’. It might not seem like anything, because most of us have never had the media and thousands of angry football fans cursing our name. I’ve always thought of it as a storm. It starts with some heavy rain. You get your shoes soaked and think it’s no big deal. After a while it reaches your ankles. Still, you’re fine. It’s about the time that it’s up to your neck that you really panic, because that sense of urgency never comes when we think about devotion, truth and utter insanity.

The media loved him in the beginning. They made him more than he was. Romo had the potential to be a great quarterback, but so do many worthwhile players. The difference is in which of these players is able to keep his head above water. So many get overwhelmed, either by injuries or lack of talent. The former got Romo, as well as time and, for those of us who believe, fate. Fate had it in for Tony Romo. If fate had shifted a few centimeters, he’d be a king. The real history of the NFL is a mass of corpses, strewn along a highway out of some ‘Madmax’ dystopia. Concussions, surgeries, self medication, drug hypocrisy, bankruptcy… the landscape of the NFL is more treacherous than we can comprehend. Once fate intervened, the media lost interest. It was easier to paint Romo as ‘the king of blunders’ and certainly calamity followed. I say calamity, because it sounds like a funny way to look at the ruins. The dystopia of football revealed itself through Tony Romo.

Fans don’t pay as much attention to the dystopia. It’s the aftermath of our fandom. We worship and pay hundreds to watch games, buy jerseys, hats, socks, calendars, tire flaps, (Everything… literally everything… the NFL will throw any of its logos on… anything). Fans demand a lot for their sacrifice. They… we, work offensively mundane jobs to watch every week and, for whatever reason, this computes within our psyches to our teams owing us a simple victory every given Sunday. I never noticed until recently that I’m insane, well, at least when it comes to football. Romo became a constant. He was a player who stood out in a time when the ‘quarterback’ position has evolved to a point of such extreme urgency that teams will sell out their futures just to fake as if they have one. Romo was a constant for his team. He could be flashy. When he was flashy he became the foolish child that loved the game. I truly admired that. When he wasn’t flashy, he became the punching bag. Either way, the media made him a shape-shifter, to which I still don’t know who or what I was watching.

America is a country obsessed. We have a number of unhealthy obsessions, none more so than football. Every week, some dedicate Sundays to the lord… I give my soul to my knowing savior… the almighty masters who have blessed me with football. I know how that sounds. It’s god damn ridiculous. I’m a grown man who has no stock in my team. I have no control. I only played football until eleventh grade. I’m no expert, which is no easy claim in a world that seems full of people who know just about everything. When it comes to football, everyone knows everything. Everyone is allowed an opinion, because it’s football. It means nothing. Yet, everyone has an opinion, because they love it. It means everything. Make sense?

The media loves football, because it’s so easy for them to paint the narrative. You have much less control of the narrative when you’re talking about real shit, like health care or epidemics or orange idiots that, through a populist insurrection steal countries. The narrative is so simple that over the past few years I’ve become more and more offended. It begins with a few simple words. Choose your favorite, but out of all the sports marketing nonsense… I think my fave is ‘Ball is life’. It’s such a great saying, especially when it’s used ironically. Some don’t see it. They see ‘Ball is life’, but it’s in all CAPS and painted on their tank tops. They go to parks and play flag football. Their shirt says ‘ball is life’… all CAPS. They live out something, a fantasy locked in their psyches… I blame all the toxins in the air… maybe the lead in our water.

Romo didn’t fit into the narrative of a hall of fame quarterback. He did, however, fit much better into the mold of a high-priced punching bag with no ‘will to win’. I’m not an expert and I can’t claim to have seen every game ever played. Romo was a great. Reaching his potential was never in the cards. Fate had other plans. A few slips on key plays and BOOOOM you’re a joke. That’s how fast it happened. Literally a play before that he was a god. People were all set to buy his jerseys and run around during Thanksgiving and act out the impressive drive that almost one him the Cowboys’ first playoff game in years. Sponsors were thinking of catchphrases to sell his own sneaker-line… something like ‘Just do it’ or ‘In God We Trust’. He became a god and every Cowboy fan worshiped him. He stood atop the world, like Zeus, posing with a lightning bolt, ready to zap someone’s ass into oblivion, until he slipped. That’s all it took: one slip to define a career. It didn’t stop there, but the loss of that blessed immortality came down on high like a wind breaking through an otherwise cloudless day.

Watching Romo in the beginning of his career was what I imagine it would be like to ‘be overwhelmed by the presence of greatness’. He was one of those pure, elite quarterbacks that wasn’t meant to be an athlete. He was a quarterback. He was that position… and then, everything changed. It took one flub to define a career. It took one mistake to somehow become his legacy. I just want it to be known that he was great… although history won’t remember him. How many of us can say the same?