Writing Practice – 11/17/2018

An acorn falls from a tree.

It bounces on the sidewalk, for this tree is inside a neighborhood. or, rather, the neighborhood was built around the tree. It has been here for two hundred years; the sidewalks for two decades. The acorn bounces along the hard surface and comes to rest against another pile of acorns, all very similar size, shape, color, consistency, for they have all fallen from the same tree in the past two days or so, have all bounced a couple of times on the sidewalk, all have rolled to his stop here in this pile at the base of the little slope, where the sidewalk makes a slight curve around, following the road.

In a few days there will be a thunderstorm, a big one, and at that time much of this pile of acorns will be swept away. They will tumble and roll, haphazardly forced into their swirling gambol by the flowing rainwaters, which will make their own way down the hill, around the curve (they are not impeded in their progress by such little inconveniences as curbs and humps), and then the rainwaters will flow into the storm sewer and take the acorns with them. They will waterfall down over this manmade edge, and will cascade into this manmade pit; and then follow this manmade riverbed for miles and miles and inside in the dark underground silently, and perseverantly making their way from high ground to the lower. They will flow with their acorn hitchhikers through the sewers and finally into the discharge zone, another manmade chute that looks like a huge, hollow phallus jutting out over the river, and once there they will emerge into the daylight, waters mingling with waters, acorns floating on the surface and bobbing, gently, repetitiously, until the river flow them away, away, away away neighbor.

The river flows on, inexorable, a much bigger bath than the rainwater or the acorns have yet experienced. It, too, moves at its own pace, sometimes flowing wide and slow, sometimes hurrying through a narrow channel, sometimes meandering back and forth in a serpentine path which takes many leagues to travel only a few kilometers, as the crow may fly.

Along the way the acorn dries in the sun. It may seem ironic to think of a waterlogged, floating acorn as dry, but that is exactly what happens. Part of it remains submerged, of course, but the tilted over part remains a little less than half of its apart body and exposed to the sun and the wind at all times, and so this particular acorn, nothing particular about it, really, remember, it was essentially just like all the others, it is floating on the river and making its way downstream, and all the time the sun’s baking the upside while the river leaches in, or at least tries, to, from the underside. Soon the hard-backed edge begins to flick away, at the eroding insistence of the wind, or at the teeth and claws of passing sparrows, or at the random insistence of a wandering mayfly or mosquito or midge.

These things take their toll on our beloved acorn. Before its journey along the river has ended, our hero has become much less. Weather-worn and hollow, hollowed out, [illegible] [illegible] [illegible] of some future out or nothing more than the floating shell of its former self, all of the good, rich, hearty valuable fats and proteins inside hollowed out by the destruction of water.

All that is left is for the shell to float, undisturbed now, on the rover for these last few distances, until the river mouth empties in to the wide ocean.

And from there? Well, the story has just begun.

Writing Practice – 11/16/2018

Winter Wonderland

Is the name of an old, abandoned theme park in southern Mexico. When you walk in, all you see is rust. Orange, crumbling dust particles, eating away at the edges of the rails, at the supports to the roller coasters strut, turning the insides of the buildings, which once housed happy families, laughter and a population of teenagers to staff the place, into the outside.

The rust has come on gradually, over the years, eroding the color of the paint on the walls, and in partnership with the creeping vines and roots of the invading trees, the place now has a falling-over-from-three-too-many-beers look.

It used to be a fun place. It opened over forty years ago to much acclaim, fanfare, parties, raucous celebrations nearly every weekend; the place was a blast. Families loved coming throughout the summer, because southern Mexico is, how shall I say this delicately, beastly hot even on a good day. The place had backers willing to pay ungodly sums of money to create snow in summer, so this thing was a cultural marvel. An attraction that brought tens of thousands to its door every morning, waiting for the chance to go sledding down a hill, to dive into the Polar Plunge with the Polar Bear (not a real bear, just a big fat guy with white body paint), and throw snowballs at one another and lick icicles they pulled of themselves from the special drip-factories sprinkled liberally throughout the place. And the could do it all in the comfort of their shorts and t-shirts, because these tourists were on vacation, they were having a good time, so they just wanted to go with the flow and make everything happen just right.

They enjoyed the experience. They watched the animatronic dancing penguins. They rode the Arctic Rush, the big, bad roller coaster. And, they apparently trafficked in a lot of drugs.

Because, you see, I guess fake snow looks a lot like cocaine. It was about three years into the whole thing that they (mostly just employees – mostly. There was one or two higher-ups who knew, they claimed they didn’t, but come on, with that much going on beneath you, how could you not? If you didn’t, then you should be fired for incompetence and jailed for stupidity, too) got busted, literally, for smuggling drugs through. The park was apparently a big front for a refinement center, and they used the whole “trucking in snow” idea to then “truck out snow to the regional operations centers” to move the product around.

So the cops busted them, shuttered the place, sent like eighty or more to jail, and now Winter Wonderland sits, slowly decaying , succumbing to the forces of nature – wind, rain, root, and creepy-crawly thing. Should someone ever try to revive it, it would be one hell of a job. And not likely to succeed – memories run deep around here, and to jus the people. The land remembers, too.

Writing Practice – 11/13/2018

Write about this picture…

b&w&blue
courtesy of MJK

There is a stillness, a calm, settled about the scene. The grey and white of the sky blends with the grey and white of the grounds, blends with the grey and white of the tree, stands contrasted by the bright, electric blue of the trash can. It is as if everything else is trying to hide, to disappear, to blend into the surroundings, but the trash can, like a Broadway star, or a passing comet, chooses to burn brightly in the foreground, so that none shall miss it. It makes its presence known not so much by action, but by stature, by being, by character.

It is strong, it says. It is resilient. It is powerful and enduring. It lasts, it holds across the years and decades and centuries and eons, it remains when the transience of all the others have come and gone. Grass, green now, will wither and die in the summer heat. Snow, white and soft now, will first harden and freeze as the ambient temperature drops, then will evaporate or melt as the sun warms up the surface again. The tree, even, with its green-orange-brown cycle, will not have any similar claim to permanence. It will transform, will grow, will fade, will fall eventually rot or fire or man, will be no longer, but the can, solid, stark, knows no such fear.

And, because of its boldness, because of its resilience, it fears nothing. Fears no wind, or water, or predator. And thus it has no need of camoflage. No worry about hiding, no chance of discovery and destruction, so it can be bold, can be proud, can be prominent, and clothe itself in brightness, in radiance, in vibrancy, and stand as a beacon to self-awareness, resilience, permanence, and the truth across the days and across the [illegible].

Writing Practice – 11/11/2018

Write about how fabulous Melissa is…

Melissa is so fabulous that RuPaul faints when he sees her.

Melissa is so fabulous that she taught Chuck Norris karate.

Melissa is so fabulous that when she farts, the glitter comes out. And then it magically transforms into little glittery butterflies, and they fly back up into her butt, just for the privilege of being farted out again.

Melissa is so fabulous that Jesus swears by saying, “Oh my Melissa!”

Melissa is so fabulous that the migrant caravan in Mexico isn’t coming to the United States, they’re coming to get her autograph. When they get here, they’re each going to take a selfie then turn around and go back home.

Melissa is so fabulous that when that happens, Donald Trump is going to actually see that for what it is and call her on the phone to congratulate her, and he’s not even going to try to spin it to look good on himself.

Melissa is so fabulous that Victoria’s Secret is planning to change their name to “Melissa’s Inspiration”.

Melissa is so fabulous that she makes water flow uphill.

Melissa is so fabulous that when she shoots a free throw, the hoop moves to catch the ball for her.

Melissa is so fabulous, she doesn’t drive her car to places. She just gets in, and the world moves under her to get where she wants.

Melissa is so fabulous, she can do 8 Minute Abs in seven minutes.

Melissa is so fabulous she can actually understand the movie Primer.

Melissa is so fabulous that there’s a secret society, like the Skull & Bones or the Masons, that every member of those groups are trying to get into. The group simply sits around all day and thinks of how fabulous Melissa is. It’s a pretty sweet gig.

Melissa is so fabulous that the first time travelers from three thousand years in the future are planing to come back just to see her. Forget stock tips, killing Hitler, or ending poverty or war. Those are small potatoes compared to seeing her.

And, finally, Melissa is so fabulous that she can write a whole essay about herself, just using ESP and mind-controlling my pen!

Writing Practice 10/30/2018

Poem a Day, page 150 (May 16)

The older women wise and tell Anna first time baby mother, “hold a stone upon your head and follow a straight line go home”

They give her no instructions on what to do after, how to hold it, how to nurse it, how to clean it, but she still knows it will be alright. She has seen dozens of babies born in the village, has seen many many women younger than her take care of their children well and grown them up to be adults too, so her, first time baby mother despite her grey hair and beginnings of wrinkles at her eyes, she knows she’ll be just okay.

Anna takes it home, holds it in the corner of her arm, not on her hip like she’s seen others do, but still tight to her, because those other babies were bigger, louder, pinker when they showed up. This one’s still quiet, kind of grey, and it don’t move much, but she figures it’s just sleeping. Babies do that a lot, they sleep a lot, and they fuss a lot, so she’s just happy right now that this baby ain’t fussing much yet.

She takes the baby, which was heavy and hard inside her and somehow feels so much lighter and softer now that it’s outside, she takes this baby and when she gets home, careful walk to hold baby in left arm and hold stone on head with right arm, magic wisdom ain’t to be fooled with, she takes the baby, still not fussing, still a good thing, still not trouble, still she’s better than all the other mothers, she takes the baby and wraps it, warm and tight and cute, into a blanket and lays the blanket beside all the other blankets on the floor, and she lays down on all those other blankets on the floor, for her place, her her home, is just a hut, really, no fancy doors or windows for Anna, the town stranger, the oddity, the outcast, who has lived over here at this edge of civilization for all of her forty-three years, first as a child with her own mother then with her brother who took care of her after mother left when she was six, then by herself when that older brother left a decade later.

So now she has some company, finally, someone who will stay and help her have a talk to, someone who will tell her stories, and look at the stars at night and draw water from the town well and hear her lullabies, and so she sings one to the baby, still, still, still lying in that blanket, still not fussing, blessing, and the tired from the birthing takes over and she sings softer and softer and then she drifts to sleep, lying on her pile of blankets, lying on the dirt floor of her hut, lying with a companion for the first time in a long time, lying to herself.

Writing practice 10/19/2018

Write about glasses…

They fit on your nose and improve your sight by magic. Because what else could it be? It can only be wizardry of the greatest sort, for how can something virtually invisible have such an effect? Think about it – one little piece of burnt up sand, melted together into a lump and then shaped into a flat disc, can now transform far-away objects to your immediate vicinity, or it can make the things which are close and appear fuzzy into sharp relief. Science? Nah – Just a big mind-fuck. Like, “Take that, intuition! I’m gonna show you what for with this little bit of cold, used-to-be-real-hot rock, because this thing that you can see through is actually going to do something for you, and it’s gonna blow. Your. Mind.”

And we call them glasses, they’re a pair. Two different ones, because we have learned that there are even individual differences between our two eyes. And that one person’s eyes are different from other people’s! Again, this speaks not so much to a history of science, measurement, testing and validation fo theory, and more to the idea that, somehow, maybe some mystical sprites are fucking around with our eyes inside our head, like they’re sticking their little fifth-dimension fingers inside our eyeballs every time we put on the glasses, and they’re adjusting all the dials and levers back there so that our brain gets all the right signals, like a big pipe works, you just got to direct the flow like that over there and like this over here, and all of a sudden voila! Perfecto!

But we can’t do that ourselves, our fingers are too three-dimensional and materialistic to make the [illegible], so we’ve employed, no, we’ve enslaved, we’ve conscripted this entire race of non-human, trans-dimensional beings to come do our work for us, and I wonder if they’re ever gong to get tired of that? Will they one day rise up in revolt, and say “No! No more shall we manipulate your eye sockets! No more shall we present to you a better, sharper picture of the world. no more shall we help you to avoid stumbling over Lego pieces when you’re just barely awake and you’d really rather have a cup of coffee and watch the replay of last night’s Charlie Rose but you are just doing your duty by getting these damn kids up and onto the bus, so you can finally have a morning’s peace around here. No, no more!”

Will they have their revolution then? Will they turn off all the spigots and spouts and rerouters back in our minds as one last FU! before they go? Will we all of a sudden wake up to find we humans have become collectively sightless once more? Now, that would be weird.

Writing Practice – 10/12/2018

AFAR, September / October 2018, p. 85

Remember the rules? There are no wasted nights on this trip.

Remember? I wrote the fucking things. And I know that rules are stupid and meant to be bent, to be broken. I can do any goddam thing I want, and still “follow” or “obey” the rule, if all I have have to do is to define “wasted” appropriately. Word games, the crime of passion of the intellectual class. What fun. What great distraction from real life. What great waste fo time, what great signal that we have excess resources and need not worry about our subsistence, our existence. So there we were, hanging in a dive bar on Mercadero De Panteleon, with six or so of our new friends, drinking whatever vile-tasting but amazingly euphoric concoction these locals love to put down. Two of us, gringos, fat and stupid Americanos, and all the time we’re laughing and talking and slapping shoulders with them, and they listened to us patiently for about three minutes when we first [illegible], and then they just started in with, “hey, padre, no worry, ok? We talk English now, okay? You no understand our espanol, and we don’t get yours neither!”

That brought out the big laughs, the first of many, and this could have easily been a scene from virtually any other Hollywood “coming of age” move in which the two friend bond again over their new companions, and wonder just why it was they had to travel 5,000 miles just to put their differences aside.

But it wasn’t that. Somehow, something changed. An hour in, guffaws resounding through the bar, twenty or more empty glasses scattered across this their table, with at least a dozen propositions to the table of senoritas across the way having flowed from us, and at least twice as many derogatory insults about the miniaturization of our new friends’ members coming right back, something in me switched off. I would say snapped, but that implies a break. A disappearance, or a situation which could be repaired. But that wasn’t it. It’s not like there was a rope holding me in there which suddenly split; it’s like there was a current, flowing through my body, a goodness feeling of pleasure, and power, and contact, that, all of a sudden, in a moment shorter than it took for my friend Rashawn to stand up to go get the next round, something simply dropped off. Dropped out. Just – quit. As if my body itself had suffered some kind of disconnect. I sat, on the stool, with my new friends all around, partying, laughing feeling good, and all of a sudden I just wasn’t. My laughter stopped. My drunk stopped – evaporated in a moment. I was sober, and I was tired, and I was gonna get out of there.

I stood up then, and said a total of zero words to every else there. I turned and walked out the door. Behind me I could hear the confused questions from around from my table, and table of senoritas too, about what the fuck was happening? Was I ok? Where was I going? Hey, come back! The party’s just getting going! Man, I’m missing all the fun!

But it didn’t matter. Somehow I just knew I needed to be out of there. To leave. To just go, so I did. Fuck the rules that say everyone parties till we all pass out. Fuck rules about “wasted nights.” Fuck rules about going off by yourself, or prohibiting that exact thing. Fuck all the rules, because I, at that very moment, had just one rule, that I was going to follow.

“No.”

Not even a rule. Just a feeling. No, not that. Find something else. Anything. Nothing. Just “No.”

So. I left. And I hav never seen Rashawn, or those padres, or the senoritas, again