Sunday, February 4, 2018

Strip Mining

Kathmandu 2016

Father wrote to me once, “Do not forget the story of Icarus, who wanted to fly to the sun and arrived at a certain height, lost his wings and dropped into the sea” (Vincent Van Gogh tTheo, Paris, Oct. 14, 1875, letter 43)

You came to this incessant land fleeing the closure of walls. Broad bends of no exit. In search of enchantment, in search of a better chance. Solitude. Escape from the torment that lasted far too long. The horizon always receding as you chased after it. Looking to discharge the fetters, to ride the wind. To free the spirit from torture. Why it was so hard you could never surmise but that was the fact of it. Worn down year after year, try as you may to stay strong, the challenges proved relentless. You found every piece of armor to supplement change so you could go on. Coming here, you hoped to gain a new life, a new perspective. You did not see it at first but you were heading into the same dungeon you left as malfeasance rose across the ends of the day into the night. A different species but hard tackle nevertheless. Joy sweeping occurrences.

The arrival did not begin well but you hovered above avarice to a state of goal-fulfilling bliss. Wonders to behold, a narrative unknown. Beguiled by difference, by a society so foreign that every step alluded to something else. Pungent with possibilities. You stood alone as always. The previous difficulties allowed you to continue with an idea, for that was all you came with. The heat made you sick filling every pore with a dot of blood. A common malady among the locals. Rx fixed all that. You continued. Lost everything at home due to family circumstance. You continued. Bad translations hampered the rest. You went on. Disappointment and loss. Loss and disappointment. 

The Himalayas inspired trust so you remained and sought others. The ring of fire rounded by fellow practitioners. The world made sense, not so icy. Then the hardest iceberg of them all receded into the grave. You thought the trials were over. You were wrong. Perhaps the castration of self flooded the brainwaves with a destination compassed toward dereliction. You thought you were past all that. It took so long to correct the atrocities of your youth where every ounce of effervescence was nearly squeezed out. You rallied hard and often. You thought at some point it would become easier. Childish expectation. You were heard saying, “I’ve been in the meanest streets for the longest time but still, still I am surprised by what people do, how they behave. There is endless copy to be mined here.”

You go to rooftops to gain perspective. It is there among the rising planetary certainties that ghosts who lived before you speak with a hint of grace. It is here, as it is everywhere, that affliction lessens with the inconsequential breath of tomorrow’s forecast. If you continue to trust in salvation a way will be found to release you from the mire that engulfs us all.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Atlantic Ocean

You walked into the sunlight after confronting darkness for a decade. The sweet early years stifled at the hands of men eager to satisfy appetite on your smooth loveliness. Between the pouncing and your iceberg of a mother, 
you descended into a carcass so stripped of identity it took 20 years to resurrect some semblance of self. Most of the perpetrators never paid a dime of time or money for what they erased. Your mother went to her grave paying the cost of relentless separation.

Forgetting the person you left behind echoed through sordid dreams and oppressive reveries. Steeped in narrative real and imagined truthfulness pulled shards of infection from body to the therapist’s chair. You either recognized them or tossed them to the ends of the earth. Either way, it was never enough. You could not isolate the origin of self-destruction. It was stopped in time nevertheless. Your emotions were scrambled in the quiet afternoon sun allowing you to function in society. Achievement became the catchword – the distraction needed to keep the gasket from blowing. Your coffers were generally empty, but you were never poor. The outline of your being, gray as slate, shook off the desire for revenge. Seeing the wonders of the world became your raison d’etre.  Every locale exuded possibilities for redemption, for elation, for forgetting the past and renewing the soul.

At times you romanticized corridors of the lost, making them shine with Baroque accouterments. Characters wilder than imagination came and went whether within icy tundras of unspeakable white beauty or tropical exasperations where elephant ears and night jasmine dripped with dew. The stories unearthed bodies extinguished by time. They floated past as if jettisoned from a Magritte painting. You called their names but they did not respond. An entire epoch vanished before your fortieth birthday only to resurface retroactively by young people who wished they had been there. If you could rearrange it, you were heard saying, you would eliminate the intoxicants since clarity eluded you. Lastly, that was all that made sense. To clarify, to make known, to understand. Time became elusive as the most desired actuality. Recovering time, reusing time, making the most of it. You wanted to add as many years as it took to make your lifespan significant, not merely exciting or dramatically eventful.

The stark beauty of your loneliness propelled an austere refabrication of artful environments – good copy the driving force, you said. Somewhere in a parallel universe, the dead spoke where broken spirits corrected their mistakes. Meanwhile, lovely fabrics graced your walls and soft blankets warmed the unmade bed. If atonement could not be had at least a pleasant place to consider what came next sufficed. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Let us be mortal. Let us contemplate existence.  ̶̶ ­Charles Dickens

You can wind up in the not so foreign land of despair with some regularity, telling yourself myriad stories as to why this is the case. For me the term ‘relentless’ is key. Relentless abuse, relentless financial disaster, relentless noise. For a long time doctors convinced me I was bipolar until Dr. Max after three months of observation said the assessment was bunk. I believed him, never labeling myself as clinically ill again. It allowed freedom from that restrictive way of qualifying my behavior and/or thought process. It did not restrict or reign in the intense anxiety or fear of not being able to withstand living.

Contemplating suicide as a solution to my predicament started when I was 15 years old and has not left me completely, although it has tapered down considerably. It is site specific. The persons and things that made this a consideration are generally gone now. The new problems challenge. They do not urge me off the edge, per se. The constant racket of India – its unbelievable volume, length of application and mind-boggling variety leave me exhausted and wildly discontented. They do not make me want to go up to the terrace to take a long walk off a short ledge.

What happens instead arises from constantly searching for solutions other than the aforementioned. This involves a great deal of reading and writing. Making art is a completely different endeavor. While the reading and writing are part of my art practice the space they inhabit contradistincts that of making, in a vital way. It is a different zone from the physical compared to the intellectual.

But I digress.

The point I want to make is that whenever I reach a critical point of destitution, I search for meaning. Often what appears almost magically, is a cure. An intellectual elixir in the form of a person and their words gives me my circulation back and I am relieved. Their words, personality, scope, buoyant my restless self so that I am recircuited to continue happily. This occurred today with Min Lin Lee, author. I received an email about a talk at the Strand in Manhattan. I am very fond of the Strand, being part of my reading culture since I was a teenager. I did not know of the women who were going to be speaking on the current topic of these terrible times being OUR TIME, meaning a time of empowerment and such for women. Taking the stand against all the abuse, the limiting ways of the patriarchal world, the gruesomeness of certain men and their penises.

I began to Google the lineup, reading bits of their work and a few reviews. Ms. Lee stood out after watching a video taped interview. I read her introduction to the 10th anniversary printing of Free Food for Millionaires. While another author’s content made me feel low, Ms. Lee inspired. As a writer who looks to historical information and research, she piqued my interest. We are quite different but there is enough common ground to make her encouraging outlook just the thing needed. After I finish reading Paul Auster and Peter Ackroyd, I will read Min Lin Lee. I will be so much the better for it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Memories Of All Time

Picture who you are right now. Not the fabricated mask orchestrated by a million motivational obstacles courting your personal best. Look in the mirror at the interior, hiding behind bells and whistles, the fractaled, less than optimum, though genuine self. The one flitting about when no one is looking. Know that person, for it is all that is left of the child who came into this world – the elemental self before the world formed the person to be. If created by myriad influences, images and narratives singing like demented sirens through the airwaves, then uncover the vibrant being from before all that. The path may rock this way and another by circumstances you did and did not create. There is no getting around it. You can forget what is best about you, located within the confines of initial wonder.

The mirror transforms over time. If we live by story, let us create unfathomable myths from our origins since all we are and do is connected to this elementary idea. Regardless of material possessions, status truthful and negligible, we respond to archetypes slathered with culture. Look at our most precious and long-lasting images/ideas, and you will find most transcend time, place as well as culture. While meaning may vary, we long for the fantastic, for something not of this world. Dragons, mermaids, angels, aliens, giants, various monsters, heroes, ghosts. What we call reality, the ordinary issues of life, does not serve us fully, especially in times of great turmoil, great dissatisfaction or fear. Turning to the imaginary bolsters the day no matter what the current administration or the university’s president’s office may think. Circumvented art, once it became a slave to commodity, lessened in its universal properties by imitating the market it serves. The notion of wonder, or of philosophic understanding of ordinary reality, moved to the supermarket shelf. Buy this or perish. Can we really go on with such content-less machinations?

Put aside the need to comment on current issues per se, to look inside the human condition. If there is no attempt to consider other worlds outside the daily practice of living, spiritus mundi suffers. Without delight, or the sublime, we never move out of one view. Art, poetry, dance, all those things provide a glimpse of elsewhere, allows a reprieve from wanting too much order, and the inability to maintain it. Without elsewhere, we shun the other. When order/disorder eliminates the day dream, our existence becomes thinly regimented.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I could go mad here
my first world soul lusting
for American necessities
while my country dances
Fires burning
deluge after deluge
not suggesting the enormity
of our present predicament

We often ignore the obvious,
distraction being preferable
to more thoughtful tidings

Foolish pastimes clogging
the airwaves
with books unread
messages undigested
lies told, promises broken

Naysayers trampled in this
unearthly light

Stiff-faced malcontents
gesture obscene codes
destroying cohesion

Infection spreads across
waves of grain

My people, oh my people
your shrunken hearts on spikes
at the gates of eternity

Chests caved in

Sick melodies fill corridors
as the world's derision lace
unkempt summer lawns

Glowing molten
near the yard of no trespassing
sirens distort your thinking
as the ship heads
toward hidden disaster

Cruelty blinds deaf fortresses
guards long gone
bubbles bursting eternally

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Walburga Retreat, Ventnor, NJ 2017

When you awoke, it was as if none of that ever happened. As if the world was a uniquely pleasant place; constant and reliable. The inability to see the horizon moved your imagination to a post of tranquility. Memories of the incurable city no longer haunted you. By stepping back from the world into a clean, calm place where people sympathized, the transport shaped easy navigation. It was as if a grand fairy tale appeared unannounced. Where nightmares were charmed by a protective mist of affection. Gone were the oppressive battlements of an unenthusiastic family. Gone were your personal failings. Instead arose a realm of delightful possibilities. There was nothing to fear. No one to avoid. All it took was the serene vastness of the sea. A roaring lullaby. Friendly faces who took the time to converge. Such a quotient of effectiveness allowed a startling reversal of being. A space full of devotion. Relaxing, unencumbered. 

The foggy substance blotted little cruelties, precipitation anointing the day with sublimity. You knew who you were. Safety arranged inner quiet. Without ghosts, without judgement, without disharmony. Life’s trail routed circuitously coming to a stop. Turbulence dispelled. You reverted to a moment before beastly contents splattered your essence in every direction. All calamity wiped away. Freshened by morning dew, the rain and wind lapped tarnished sand. A continual cacophony from the beginning of time, concerned only with rewriting the story.

An ever-turning planet, as misused as it is, laid its eternal truth to disengage the troubling self. Could it be that simple, you wonder? That in a certain time, at such and such a place, your life began anew. Hope intact.  In this moment, somewhat particular since you had been here before, a swath of path laid clear through the landscape. Lessons were learned. A destiny rerouted. Free from the grief of living to a desirable future where cohesive interactions revealed themselves. Tactility, sensation configured anew. You arose to begin again along a new mode of sufficiency where conviviality was the game. The closed doors of exclusivity no longer matter. Competitive nuances relinquished for hospitable loveliness. 

Oh, here where the spirit runs free and the creative juices flow uninhibited by rules of another house. You glide along familiar halls. The prerequisites forgotten. Another age, simple in its desires, triumphant. The coastal air fills the lungs, the eternal sea, though dirtier than you remember, stays constant. It lulls. It instructs. Its presence as liquid as a millennium. Before civilization and its discontents bellowed oceanic voices to lead the day to disaster. The night coalesced with the moon. All the technology in the world cannot diminish, try as it will.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


She never allowed home. Some skewed memory full of holes and misdirection pounced upon such a possibility. He continued it in subsequent generations not allowing admittance. Closed for familial business. You bit. Were sideswiped by indifference. Stayed in a state of lost. Delved for the deepest corners in search of voyage. A story told for self-flagellation.  Not caring elevated to a virtue. This was not your stance. In the beginning, it confused. Leaving, leaving, leaving. On the street corner. Oh, those times took their toll. Heartbreak almost extinguished the spirit left in you. You sought the most difficult path. In the end, you still do not know why when so much was expected of a life lived in brilliant wonderment.

The spark, though, was never fully extinguished. It burned bright that day when you resurrected yourself. A terrible incubation. How did you ever do it? Rising up to accomplishment. Battered down time and again. Some can respond in acceptance and rebuttal by never questioning or failing to be revived. Some roll over in the halls of discontent. And now, here, out on a limb, you realize you have never made home. You were always so easily interrupted. Your only mechanism a survival instinct. Effective to a point.

Now the refuge of studio is gone. Placement is good but as you peer into a burning hearth, you wonder if the life of being there is perennially somewhere else. Does it exist? Or is it something manufactured to convince. These realities shift with so much to consider. The distractions evaporate and you are left with endless questions. It is not a real fire. Not like the one in the Catskill mountains where he made a home out of heat and light. A memory from long ago nurtured for decades. There was magic in it. A comfort in the unexpected. Tentative but smooth in past tenses.

In another line of reasoning, our lives fill with junk and refuse. The world cannot hold it for much longer. Each person gathering all these things to create a home. Was it always like this? As the thieves meet behind closed doors to put more gold in the hands of the unscrupulous, we worry about our future, left on the side of the highway to lament the choices we made that lead us to this. We cannot give in to sorrow or retribution but ignoring the monsters in the counting house is not a safe bet either. So you sit with various conundrums hoping answers or enlightenment. You can scalp externals away to live in Zen deferment. That is another deflection in the form of an answer. Why must the world be seen as pure suffering? Even I know that not to be true eternally. Eternal is a damaging word. It does not exist outside a dictionary. A false premise in a world of constant change and renegotiation. 

The turning sphere brings joy and tentativeness, often in equal measure. You can create narrative to avoid all this or consider it to enrich the moments of natural transcendence. Who can believe the mind? If its mechanisms are left unanalyzed, we will believe in truths and finalities, which are nonexistent. In the stream of time nothing is lost. We track what we can and leave this world in the blink of an eye.