to be on your own
one direction: home
the complete unknown
The Ballad of Lucky Downturn
I’m holding up for now, I guess
and thanks for asking, mac
I’m holding out for better times
to get back on the track
I’m holding to the vain idea
I haven’t lost the knack
I’m holding tight the napkin
with her number on the back
I’m holding high my cocky head
a bedroll and a sack
I’m holding out for luck again
the kind I usually lack
I’m holding one short piece of rope
and hoping for some slack
I’m holding hands with someone
in a memory way, way back
I’m holding off on paying bills
those credit cards can wait
I’m holding off on voting for
your favorite candidate
I’m holding in a pattern
miles above the boarding gate
I’m holding you so tightly
hell or heaven, they can wait
I’m holding this one truth to be
self evident, you know
I’m holding it for now because
tomorrow it may go
I’m holding up a toast to all
the high as well as low
I’m holding in a swollen heart
my love, and let it flow
Kumbaya, you feckless dreamers
with your carefree, fickle ways
Kumbaya, you dizzy schemers
in the dust of sunny days
The mind’s eye
is a hall of mirrors
Where light chases its tail
in its own light
And shines into all the places
an eye is keen to be
How is it that we ever
lift those lids and look around
We own all the visions
but we can’t control the witness
to let a hundred summers
play it by ear
until I find you
after the apple
the world at night
the way of all flesh
now and then
in such dark places
Late in the evening the wail of a siren.
We had not heard any gun shots, though they are frequent enough these days to elicit shrugs. Neighborhood dogs start to howling, echoing the alarm, filling in their own parts in harmony. The air is stickered with it, like a collage with scraps of noise, pasty smears of sound. But it’s nighttime and the sounds make their way sightlessly until they find an ear, any ear. The noise of day with its throngs of listeners is retired now, and the evening runs things its own way.
Lacking earlids we live with sound’s endless impressions. We are always hearing, always soaking in sound’s pressing embrace. I like to tap on glass to hear what it is, to hear its clarity. In the seashell we hear the sea. In the wind rustled leaves, music. Halted in traffic, the signature of a culture comes booming from a nearby truck. Idle chatter or clarion calls, these pings and flourishes are themselves the markers of silence.
Out in the desert, away from roads and towns, the markers come from another quarter. It’s the yips of coyote or the serrated hum of insects that mark the silence. A pause in the mute dark recalls the ghosts of the sounds that had once passed this way.
Sirens or crickets, a gap, a faint distant ring. Like prospectors, we pan the grit and soil of our hearing, looking for specks and nuggets of silence. But a simple lack of sound is an artifact of subtraction. The quiet we found was there all along. We are to silence as fish are to water.
And the city, weary of its own bleats and braying, finally settles down. The dogs too, now that they’ve had their say.
There is wildness in the mechanical lurching of interleaved parts. Eagerness in the hum of transformers. You can feel it in the finger gliding sheen across chrome steel and in the abrasions of puckered tree bark. It all plies soundly in the aggregate. I see as beached waves, their edges traced in foam, the mark and sign of the human. The beasts we call tame reflect the wilderness of an unchecked procession. I do not condemn it. I take delight in these civil surfaces with their attendant racket and classify the most garish of artifice as natural.
I have looked for the dividing line between nature and us. It is ambiguous and replaceable. It is indistinct. There is always the wild, partisan little weed erupting from a crack in our concrete cornucopia. There is no edge to the wilderness, any more than you can assign a shape to infinite space. There are no sounds outside of silence. There are no unwild things.
World views define the qualities of nature, and a world view always selects one thing over another. But nature itself has its finger in every pie. Nature is its own nature, and we the curious, eager to understand, confront the absurdity of cataloging it all. It is troublesome that understanding lacks closure, that it’s always cutting another notch. But how we love the language, with all its baggage, hailing a taxi, catching a plane, late as usual for another explanation.
The manuscripts, tucked away in a folder, are themselves mute. The stamps and sprinkles of ink rest upon the paper, waiting for us. Waiting for our eyes and mouths. Then, to complete the purpose of language, we are born, we come to letters. But first, we come to know by reading life aloud.
About the image: I had placed some red wine in a small blue ceramic cup on the offering shelf and days later found it had dried to form a tiny crystalline planetarium.
“The mind is a mere label, and it is nothing other than a label. Recognise awareness as a mere label. Moreover, a label has no intrinsic nature. The Jinas do not find it inside, nor outside, nor in-between those two. Thus, the mind is of the nature of an apparition, and the nature of the mind does not exist as any type of colour or shape, as something apprehended or as an apprehender, as a man, a woman, or a neuter, and so forth. In short, the Buddhas have not seen it and they will not see it; they accurately see it as having the nature of being without an intrinsic nature.”
via Gary Wong’s Buddhist Quote for the Day
If on the day that Columbus set sail for the new world you began to make $5,000 per day and continued to make $5,000 per day until this very day, you would still not be a billionaire. You’d be getting close, but not quite. Go ahead and check the math. This is what we should keep in mind every time the word billion or billionaire gets tossed around.
Think how you might justify earning that much money. I tried and came up blank. Nobody earns that kind of money. Most are born into it. A lot of them just plain steal it through legal means, the law being something crafted by those who hold all the power and money.
Go ahead and call me a Marxist for bringing it up, but you’re a fucking dupe and an idiot if you work for a living and actually admire these motherfuckers.
The above example has been floating around the net. I did not think it up myself.
FADE IN: EXTERIOR: OFFICE PARK MORNING Sun rising over landscaped office park. Sprinklers raise a mist in the golden light. The voice of an old man: Voice Over I was manager of this office when I was twenty-five. Hard to believe. Grandfather was management. Father too. Me and him was managers at the same time, him up in Peoria and me down here. I think he was pretty proud of that. I know I was. We dissolve to another view of the park. No people, or movement. Some of the old-time managers never even used out-sourced labor. A lot of folks find that hard to believe. We dissolve through differing views of cube farms and interior office environs all empty, some with the lights out. I always liked to hear about the old- timers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can’t help but compare yourself against the old timers. Can’t help but wonder how they would’ve operated these times. CLOSE-UP a RED Swingline stapler. The kind of dimwitted slackers apply for work today, it’s hard to even take its measure. Camera pans up to reveal a chubby man sitting at the desk: Milton Waddams. MILTON is muttering under the Voice Over. I always knew you had to be a complete bastard to even do this job. But I don’t want to push my chips forward and find I downsized the wrong character. You could say it’s my job to destroy the souls of these cube muppets but I don’t even want to know what falls out when you tip the wrong HR jacket. MILTON mutter mutter I’ll burn the place down is what I’ll do.
(Written around 2012.)