The influence of gaslight or electric light on the growth of paraheliotropic trees

bonebrushing the edges of the res interna (upper transcend)

The Boy with the Violin

Buskin and Batteau

There he sat, by the river, by the road
watching for an omen, waiting for the signal to begin
looking for a way out or a way to get back in
the boy with the violin

A gold Mercedes slowed down, pulled aside,
A golden lady opened the door and stepped into the night
She could see the silhouette of someone in the moonlight
A boy with a violin

She said “Boy, where you going, are you okay?
Would you like to travel my way?
If you need to lay down, I know where you can stay
Young boy with the violin

The boy said…

On the way to her mansion, he never said a word
The sound of a fallen teardrop
Was all the woman heard

So he lay in the guestroom he didn’t notice her come in
His eyes were far from what was happening
She pulled back the covers and she kissed his tender skin
The boy with the violin

She awoke in the morning
And she reached out her hand
Her fingers closed on no one
And she did not understand

But the window was wide open
There were footprints in the dew
In her heart she was hoping
But deep inside she knew

“Is Tom Wolfe dead?”

I stand at my kitchen island, eating granola and reading the New York Review of Books’ article on Susan Sontag, and the author of the article is writing about her striking looks, and her photograph, and her death, and I think about how I once saw her speak at the Writers House, many years ago, and about how life becomes history through the operation of death.

And I think about the first writer I saw at the Writers House that really thrilled me, Tom Wolfe, my first year there, and I ask the Echo sitting on the island next to me whether Tom Wolfe is dead.

“Tom Wolfe died on May 14, 2018, in New York, USA,” it says, calm, feminine. “He was 88 years old.”

More wishes.

The fulfillment

All my life, leading up to this. All my writings, foreshadowing this. Nature’s constant theme.

I do not know how much time I will have with him. I do not know if I will have any words to write.

My spirit rebels against turning this tragedy–this central tragedy of my life–this secret tragedy I did not know would sit at the core of my journey–into something as poor and dirty as Art.

Art. Artifice. Dumbshows.

Hamlet screamsHamlet eschews speech, and groans, gutturally groans.

For the first month, my life flashed before my eyes. All was reorganized. I committed to a woman. A tree, an anchor, a Big Bird love. I let uncertainty settle into certainty; I decided that I no longer wanted to wait between possibilities, that any possibilities to be needed to be made actualities, while time remained–

I am in this with him. I am with him. I go to face my second great fear. I go to sit with him, through a pain that I know is strong enough to sear the structure from my self-state, to unglue my model, to blow down my house-of-cards.

Shall it remain? Shall it remain standing? Is there any profit in that anyway?

Yes. Some part of me wants to survive this.

To think that I will have to spend these many years living in this world without him–it is a pain, a great pain–but I have things to live for, he wants me to live for those things, for those people–

I have responsibilities. I have loves beyond my love for him–my strange, hesitant, love for him, that knew him, second.

Oh, the love they gave me–together–oh, our little lives. So precious. So quick. Ephemeral. Held in place only by the strength of my own vision and memory.

Perhaps the art can serve that end. Not to make what was impermanent permanent–we are not our gravestones. But to make a stone-standing-witness to a world that once was, a relationship that once was, the churning moments and passages of a life–lived for one’s self, and lived for others.

I wail, wordless, but I also write, two contradictions, in one mind.

I love you, Old Father. I wail, but I also sing.

Cruel like January

Old Tom Eliot, what a joker. April is the cruelest month? Never went through a climate change January, then, first 5 degrees, then 60, then 27–broken up, after years of trying–yeah, Tom was just being rhetorical–January–after New Years–heart of winter–alone with yourself, and the nights so endless–that’s the cruelest. April? I’d give a toe to Rumpelstiltskin for April.

Darby and Joan

In my last will and testament, unwritten, whispered to women with wit and charm in late autumn evenings, I explain that when I die, if die I must, I want to be buried in a forest, with an acorn in my mouth, so that all of me might become not wormfood but treefood, that my matter might mingle with treematter, that life will go to life, and that that tree, that oak, should be protected by a conservation easement such that it shall never be cut down, but, should it one day die of natural causes, be given to my descendants–should I have any–so that they can make fine oaken furniture out-of-it–a chair, a chest, a wardrobe.

I have been inhabiting this body for near on 13,000 days. I have loved a handful of women, but today, I am alone. My parents, married as children, nearly forty years ago, smile-wide with the joy of my sister’s children–

And I suppose, I think, that while it would be sweet and beautiful to die and become a tree, there is room in that one-day clearing for two, and to be one of two trees, oak and linden, limbs entwined, sleeping softly, gentled covered, side-by-side, always the same–Jack and Jill, Darby and Joan, the folks on the hill–

Matthew Shepard

You know, you’re a sixteen year old kid, living in Philadelphia, and you hear about some daily horror in the news, and you hear “tied to a fence” and “left to die” and you just think, so it goes, that’s Humanity–but you can’t picture it–

And then, maybe five years later, your sister is in the Laramie Project, the play they made about Shepard’s death, and you’re moved by the pathos, the unique horror and reality of it, those brute facts that say: *you* could be tied to a fence, and left to die, your brother, or your sister, or your son, could be tied to a fence, and left to die, and you learn a little more about it.

And then, ten years have passed, and the country seems to start to shift, and you’re in law school, to get a job, and you learn again about justice, as if for the first time, and you learn about fairness, and you learn about civil rights, and you read judicial opinions that make crystal clear that the Constitution *requires* marriage equality–And another five years pass, and you’re a civil rights attorney, and you’re defending a couple who were fired because they were a couple, and they were both men–

And then its been 20 years, and who knows who Matthew Shepard would have been, or what he would have done, or who he would have loved, the children he might have had, and you measure that against your own life, and you think good, goodness, is so fragile, and evil, pure evil, darkest evil, is so simple, easy, senseless, it is a wonder there is any good at all in this world we live in together–but there it is–

There is good. There’s the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose not letting anybody forget Matthew Shepard or what was done to him or why he was killed. There’s police officers and paramedics who ran into gunfire to help save lives at a risk to their own. There’s protesters and activists who refused to stay home when Nazis and White Supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville. There’s football players and owners who locked arms with each other to respect the right of their colleagues to protest. There are teachers, and doctors, and mechanics, who earn their daily bread by helping others. There are truck drivers who leave their families and drive for weeks at a time to make sure our supermarkets have food in them. There are engineers who keep our lights on, and our hospitals running.

So it’s been reported recently, what with these tragedies, that when Fred Roger was a child, and he saw or heard about scary news, or tragedies, his mother would tell him to look for the helpers, that he would always find people who were helping.

No one helped Matthew Shepard on the night he was left to die.

It was the next morning. It was Aaron Kreifels, the cyclist who found him. It was Reggie Fluty, the first police officer to arrive at the scene, who used her bare hands to clear the airway in Shepard’s mouth. It is the doctors and nurses who treated him.

And against that, we have the two empty souls who killed him, Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. An A and an R helped, and an A and an R killed.

It may be that good will not triumph over evil in this world. It may be only, that if good fights, if good gives everything it has, it may balance the evil, it may prevent evil from triumphing. Evil cannot be defeated, because it precedes good, it grounds good, it is the absence of good, it is a lack, not a presence, and a lack is always more common than a presence–so–evil cannot be defeated. But it can be fought. One must choose to do so, for one’s own reasons. I cannot force you to choose good, I cannot explain why you should choose the good, I cannot defend myself for choosing the good, and I cannot judge you for not choosing good.

But for me, I choose the good. I choose to fight for the good. I will not always succeed. But one must choose, and that is my choice. I choose to help.

The Storm and the Pathetic Fallacy

I stepped out on my balcony, for a moment, and thought about the static and distress I’ve been feeling for the last week or so, since I saw her last, and thought about how the sun and warmth had come to Philadelphia at her heels, and now, she’s gone, and I’m gone, and winter’s back with a vengeance, and wondered, momentarily, whether I was causing this (or maybe she was causing this), and as I opened the glass, and the wind barrelled past, a force, a great force, shaking me–it was large, and I was small–I laughed at the pathetic hubris of a man, who seeing the storm, thinks:

Maybe this is me. 

The Act and the Gesture

Act, the real act; instead of all these little gestures;

150,000,000 breaths.

12,544 days.

I realize that Microsoft Excel’s sequential index for dates is, essentially, a record similar to my own recording of life-days, and thus, any time I wish to ponder the way the time we live in is segmented like a centipede by the circling of our planet around its axis every 5000 breaths or so, I need simply translate a date in Excel into that strange five digit number I have always found so inscrutable.

Today is, for instance, 42,688. I was born on day 30,124, which is about 150,620,000 breaths since January 1, 1900.

I have taken 63,000,000 breaths, give or take, and my heart has beat somewhere between 1,000,000,000 and 1,500,000,000 times.

There are 100,000,000,000 stars in the galaxy, and there are 100,000,000,000 humans who have ever lived, and that is the same as all the heartbeats of the entire lives of 33 men or women who lived to 100.