Thursday, December 26, 2013

Snow squall

Stop. I can't fit anything more into my head. My brain is oozing factoids like a 24-hour news channel. I'm done. My mind screams bloody murder. My brain, my mind -- who knows if they're the same? All I know is this -- it's full. I've taken in enough content to fill a lifetime! Its once seemingly endless neuronal paths -- oh, those golden opportunities for making connections! -- blocked by equally numberless bits of shit. Fucking plaque. The arteries of a very sick man. Jammed networks, digital detritus, call it what you want. I can't take any more of it in. The beast is fully engorged, like the snake that swallowed the sow. I remember Vincent Price stuffing Robert Morley's maw with cooked dog in Theatre of Blood. And you think pop culture doesn't leave its mark. Just look at the poor critic's distended belly and imagine yourself in the same position.

Ah! to be living in the age of engorgement! No sleep and no real wakefulness, just a dull-eyed stupor. The ground is hard, the plants play dead, and the mind wanders like a drunk stumbling over familiar ground, looking for somewhere to rest its head. What do you want? you want something? You looking for a way out? Music will only take you so far. Bach or Blood Ulmer, it's the same road. Fucking rocks. Travel? The banality of traversing oceans and finding yourself lost in the same way you were lost before. The locals speaking a foreign tongue amongst themselves but speaking some kind of broken English to you. And laughing behind your back.

Just like the women you fell in love with. The initial swoon lasted just so long, then came the long trudge uphill, with you beginning to suspect that common spirituality was doomed to be trumped by individual biology. No way to get inside another's soul. No fucking way. And yet the body felt so good…

Now, at sixty, the mind -- whatever it's composed of -- is full and you sit at the kitchen window, looking at the falling snow and try to empty yourself. Zazen. Deep breathing. T M. Kundalini. And somewhere in your stuffed gut, a gurgling voice says, Give me a break, you ex-Christian, you. The world may look like a white whale but you're neither Ahab nor Ishmael. You're just a reliable third mate, like Flask. Gotten fat on taking orders. Doomed from the start. And yet the body feels so good -- eating, drinking, making love, chopping wood, walking the Long Trail. An animal amongst animals. Celebrating the kinship of all living creatures, calling it religion.

Just like the kids who used to come to your Wednesday night prayer meetings out in Passaic. Truck drivers, grocery clerks, landscapers, babysitters. Getting by on charity, seasonal work, and compassionate landlords. Listening to Dwight Yoakum sing, "Sun never shines through this window of mine…" Walking miracles all. Always generous to a fault. Living in the great confraternity of hardship. "Hold on to God and not the way of the world." Saturday night Popov Vodka. Sunday morning the bloody chalice. When choosing your mode of prayer is a big deal. When falling down is only the opportunity to pick yourself up again. All done with the Lord's help. It's something I can't see, can't you see? M. told me about getting high down in Pat O'Brien's at Universal City Studios. Cripes! I couldn't stand up. Effin room spinning round and round. Effing obliterated. Felt so good…

Snow still coming down. Jesus, I can't see the forest for the trees. My old man thought the idea of a grand pattern was bullshit and lived out his last days in anger. Sweating the details until only the details were left. The bursitis, the little strokes, the Parkinson's, the thyroid run amok. Psoriasis. Incontinence. Cataracts. So many stumbling blocks on the way uphill to Calvary. One way of thinking about the journey. Stop. If you give yourself half a chance -- loosen your collar, breathe evenly -- it'll come back to you. That poem of Hardy's. The one about the kneeling oxen. Living in the present with the half-certain knowledge that Christmas belongs to childhood. When the mind has room in it for belief.

The snow has stopped. It was just a squall. What did you want? A blizzard?

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