Conquistadors. With flickering eyes and reaching hands. They see no rival even as they rise, elevated not by might, but by their own filth.
It matters not, for they have their Tenotchitlan. Their island of gold, a trophy kingdom. At what cost?--It matters not.
They lord their success back home. They build the New World into a giant. The French flock, the Swedes flock, the British flock, to find their own cities of gold. To flee what they have--what they have is no longer good enough. There must always be a frontier.
The natives know respect. The Europeans see naught but submission.
There is no more gold. The Swedes leave, the Dutch leave, the French leave. The British stay. The British will have their gold, bloodstained as it may be. Their gold is green and leafy, dug into hard Virginia earth by hands that aren't theirs. They crack the whip and dark backs bend in motion. Sweet, smoky scent marries with the clang of coin in pocket. A harmony. Dissonance is silenced. Anguish is silenced. Blackened, erased.
Why are we so long asleep?
Listen. Listen closely now. I will play you a scale. A simple scale: A minor. Do you hear it now? The way the ringing spreads in ripples, brushing your earlobe, sliding down your the curve of your shoulder, drifting against your collar bone? Why do you shiver as the notes cascade? Why do you tilt your head--twelve degrees--and let your eyes rest shut? You know not when I ask, but you feel it. You feel when notes turn to song; you delight in the subtleties of modulation. You know the soft and the hard, the smooth and the staccato. You believe the melody, for it cannot lie to you--not when every note finds safe harbor in your bosom.
This is the way of colors. As tone illuminates sound, color draws vibrancy to image. As you hear resonance and rhythmn, colors tint warm and cool. Color is no stranger, you've just never known to meet it. You've known its depths, its draw and absence, its urgency, vitality. Trumpeted out or played low and slow on the stereo, song as image, heart as heart. Within melody you find your palette.
This is not how I thought it would be. I was supposed to slip away at dusk, body lying flatly valiant on the creased white sheets. It was supposed to be a crepuscular finale, and I would set as the sun, as the day--a cycle's completion, natural termination. I had made my peace and closed my eyes, set prayers in my heart--of no one religion but of goodness, the universal hope--and fallen away, ready to drift down the river Styx. No longer would I trouble myself with worldly troubles, no longer did I strive painfully for meaning, for purpose. I had my path now, a quiet drop to obseletion.
But I did not fall away, I became snagged and tangled. It all began with my nose. My nose itched like crazy, but I, like the good acetic I was, only deepened my breathing. But who was I kidding? The intense itching continued, disrupting my deep meditation (which I now discovered the shallowness of). And so, God forgive me, I reached my hand up to scratch. I unleashed the floodgates. The world came back in flashes of discomfort and snippets of worry. My back ached, nose ran, and my right knee had stiffened. Every breath brought more daggers, piercing my peaceful surrender, shredding it before my eyes. And even worse were the worries: had I left the will on the table? Why weren't my family here? And then, as dusk turned to night, why wasn't I already gone?
The material turmolt of the physical world insisted I return, luring me unknowingly from my peace, halting my majestic departure with an itchy nose. How inconvenient.
And now it's dawn and I know I'm slipping. My last words? I ask the nurse to draw the blinds. I can't bear to see the rising day. "Goodnight," I tell her, as she leaves. I don't wait to see her pity-tinged smile; my eyes are already shut.
of white dressing and trim
a single palm.
the already-done, exhausted milieu
perhaps wiped out--it's of no consequence,
what cares hindsight of intention?
The eye seeks not the could-be but the is.
lost in briny grey
strings and hammers
still bobbing--yet disembodied.
A semblence of quietude
We stand on banks emboldened now
Script curved in white-tipped strokes
Carving a stolid face with swooping daggers
Swirling and rising and falling
and always returning.
Lady of the Opera
Lady of the opera
Gent of the sea
How come you now so swiftly
that you've forgotten me?
I've waited in the wings of
I've surfed upon the very swells
with which your rhythm breathes
And do you now deny me?
Your humbled grey echo
the shriveled wreaths of laurel
the boughs of the willow?
Steamed fog and too-large glasses.
Rims swallowing the face in an obstruction
of prism and flesh.
The crook of a pipe
the clang of a buckle
strapped--in time--to black patent leather...
and shoe shine.
Motor oil in the creases of knuckles,
and crook of the neck--
on flocks of woolen fog
drawn t h i n .
September is an impersonator. It wants to be July; it wants to be summer; it wants to be anything but itself. I first caught a glimpse of its devious nature when I was five. Let me see; it was Ms. Larson’s crayon-drawing-plastered Kindergarten classroom where I first glimpsed September’s perfidious face.
“I don’t want to go!”
“Remember, honey, we discussed this already. It’s time for school.”
“It’s not school. It’s summer!” I pointed to the flies buzzing nearby, and fanned myself, pretending to look faint.
“Oh dear, stop being so dramatic. It’s not summer, just September.”
Ah, september, just september. That was its first nasty sneer at me, caging me in a sweltering classroom filled with sticky fingers and hair-pulling little demons.
And then there was third grade. Long division and squiggly symbols that swam across the blackboard. Only nine and already I had a daily migraine! Pentagon, hexagon, septagon, octagon. Ah yes, here comes the second lie. Pent, five; hex, six; sept, seven--and there was the problem, glaring me in the face: why, SEPTember didn’t have seven of anything! It was not the seventh month--that was July. It didn’t have seven days, or seventy seven. I couldn’t find any sort of association with the number. How deceptive. Man, it really threw me for a loop.
But that’s just September for you. It’s not definable or dissectible. It’s never here nor there.
Have you ever noticed that nothing is distinctly September? December has its chill and its cheer, May has its rains and fresh shoots, June has its blooms and the first hints of the inferno, November has its warm fullness and pumpkin pies. But September? While hot, it’s not summer. Though studded with fallen leaves, it’s not autumn. So perhaps I’ve judged it too harshly. Perhaps, September’s only a misfit, trying to find its place and its people. And isn’t that something we can all respect?
So, here’s to September and the limbos of life. Here’s to the grey spaces, between black and white.
A picture frame, just slightly askew
An awry paintbrush and the clawed hands of time
Sweeping, scratching: morse code on the walls--
Dot, dot, dash; dash dot dash--
The rush of an air conditioner
turned down to 71 degrees
Prompt: "Continuing studies show that when asked 94% of people self-report as being above average. As this is statistically impossible, explain this phenomena. No rhyming."
1. Mathematically this scenario is actually NOT impossible. That is, if we interpret "average" as the mean, as is usually done when no further specification is given (as opposed to median or mode). Let's say we rate 100 people (sample population) on an arbitrary scale of 1-100 from worst to best. For simplicity's sake, 94% of the population (94 people) are all rated at a 94. The other 6% (6 people) are rated a 1. Thus, the "average," or mean, would be (94*94+6*1)/100 = 88.42. As 94 > 88.42, 94% of the population is above average!
2. Disregarding part 1, here is a less technical answer:
Our perceptions are strongly shaped by our environments. And what is more prevalent in our modern world than media? We are constantly bombarded with information through news sites, magazines, social media, billboards, the radio, you name it! And these outlets are incentivized to broadcast the most eye-catching, heart-rending news. Unfortunately, the majority of that news is devastating or horrific. We see the terrorist attacks, the serial killers, the train-wreck politics, and the celebrity scandals. The kindly next-door neighbor who volunteers at the community center or the elementary school teacher who stays after school to coach softball will never grace the front page, paling beside sex-traffickers and suicide bombers. Because we are more afraid to lose than happy to win, because we fear so much and hope so little, media outlets race to find the most horrific clickbait, the most terrifying and deranged stories to capture your time and money.
And so, if we are drawn a bleak and dire world, if the people delineated to us by the sources we trust are always deranged and cruel or victims of great suffering, why wouldn't we consider ourselves above average? There are many good people out there, but so few ever find the limelight. Good deeds go unnoticed while atrocities are rewarded with big headlines and outpourings of rage. We underestimate our society and human potential for kind, deliberate action.