Sunday, September 25, 2016


Our Vikki

By Celeste Regal

We stepped out of her enormous forehead onto snow barreling in from Canada. Our boots cracked wafers of Nordic whiteness sixty-seven miles out of Minneapolis. Vikki, a communal affair in life, connected thought waves in death, remained an undigested piece of frostbite. Stinging winds told of unrequited fortunes and the desire for closure. None of us could move on completely without resolution. None of us could continue with her ever present memory nagging. The conundrum had a long shelf life. The truck door shut. Silence returned to the tundra.

Brad sat on a tree stump. His frozen eyelashes filled with icy mascara. The rest of us stood in a circle, undaunted by the journey, intent on our conviction that if we could forfeit our notions of what happened, we would be well again. Four hawks circled the tree tops. The sun softened the landscape. Echoes from other worlds held us in a trance.

“Is she here now?”

“Ask Tony,” I said. “Is she here now?”

Morning mist traveled from our mouths like drunken Polar bears.

“Is she ever not here, Mark? Is she ever, ever not here? Did we not come back, since she is never, ever not here?”

That silence again. It scorched us.

We never thought the problem was anything but her own. Vikki was a force of nature jumping between celestial effervescence and hellish unattainability. She was the kind of woman who traveled between the left and right hemisphere without warning, remaining unreachable in her perch above the corpus collasum. Her beauty famous, her fierceness even more so. No sins were forgiven. No trespasses forgotten. She hated the way her looks lead men to her without regard for themselves or others. She hated the constant requests for her body at the denigration of her mind and person. Sometimes, those who were refused, took anyway. Largely, Vikki hated the time wasted on such trivial occasions. She disliked that she succumbed to it all. She disliked that she could not shut it off; find funding for a good university and forget about carnal knowledge and the need for justice. She wished she was smarter, had academic connections, knew how to navigate the world better. All she seemed to know, though, was how to wrap you around her body in eternal longing. A magic trick none of us could divest of its impact.

When we first met her, she was a face from blue-collar lineage with mesmerizing powers. That was all. A miniscule speck of humanity wedged in back woods glassiness waiting to be dislodged. In Vikki’s way of thinking, what happened was humiliating; to our minds, she made us pay for the hole it burned in her aspirations. Although the consensus varied, she was never far from our minds. Buried and ready to be resurrected at a moment’s notice, at the slightest glimmer of the past.


We held fast in front of Brad’s purple Jeep Renegade. A small avalanche of icicles fell from a branch. The hovering mist gathered momentarily to suggest a gangly figure. We did not have an explanation for the poltergeist emerging before us. The image pressed itself against us with the swiftness of a three-card Monty dealer.

“She breeches.”

Her frosty outline left an ice pick in our backs. Purposefulness filled the loitering air. Brad got to his feet. Stared hard. Looked at us, then back at the tree line. He wobbled like a shack on fire about to decay into a heap of spent wood. Facing the row of pines did not dissipate our incredulity. Nothing but the wind whispering and a figure appearing. I suppose people used to gather in the mist and stare at things, wondering what went wrong with their lives, looking for an answer. It’s not like you can stand and ponder on a busy street corner, listening the horns honking and people chattering away on their phones. Back when people gathered in the fields or plains there was something miraculous to their missteps, or events as they unfolded in the expanse of nature. Tough times called for extreme exterior summonses. 

Perhaps it is the violence of an event that gives it precision when recounted. Those were harsh days. Our Vikki, she knew such harshness. Repeated violence and difficult obstacles. We did not. Not much anyway. It is the violence that held her to us, that kept us thinking, in between the lines of guiltlessness, that maybe it could have been prevented, that she could have had a better end and not been penalized by her physical presence.

“Hey, you going to stay or continue the powwow?

A large person in tall boots stomped up the hill without notice. We opened our mouths to speak but all that came out was more mist. He stared a while longer then, turned swiftly pointing with two fingers at the cabins below the clearing.

“All right then. Sign up at office before bedding down or leave before dark. Right down there or head out.”

His hard padding broke the train of thought. The interjection left us looking at a row of pines and some hawks above. Nothing more.

“Try again later?”

Brad, still stunned, let out a slight moan.

“This is never going to change. We’ll get this idea to do something, come up here, and nothing will change.”

“The past never does,” Tom said. “What are we here for anyhow? And what was that by the pines?”

No one replied. We didn’t know exactly. It was a bit like a holiday. It happened every year. The expectation was great but over too soon. Maybe we wanted our youth back. After all, Vikki represented our youth. She was still something we could pin the blame on, or color so splendidly that we forgot everything but how beguiling she was, how marvelous our youth. We all had families, businesses, some were about to retire but Vikki pulled us together as an ensemble. Past our persevering friendship, past the ordinary, into desire. She rolled out occasionally to ignite the fire we lost. She rolled out to remind us that a face from a blue collar background burned in our memory, even after marriages, births and deaths. She rolled out because in the end justice was never had, we never could pin her down, and we longed for whatever she inspired in us that would not let her go, whether out of love or accusation. She was out of our hands. We could no longer touch her. Losing that thrill welded the thought, no matter how misrepresented, that Vikki was here, and she was as unattainable as ever.

Friday, September 16, 2016

River of No Return

Aries (12 Women)

You did not ask to come but were unraveled in a cavern somewhat unwelcome. The walls housed an expectation of life beyond the anatomical, beyond the biological. Fierce determination, or complete comfortability with the space of more than living. Always present it is, often without question. Systems hold nothing you can grab on to. Fitting is not a useful word.  At the horizon you will see yourself clearly. Nothing travels that cannot be understood or endured. Platitudes are pointless compasses leading to a fetid concrete wall. Stear to the left of them. The space is invaded by non consequential reverberations that will only force an eviction. Your quest lays in unquantifiable currency little understood by the general public although you may find an audience there. Forget signposts. They will revel nothing but how fresh the paint is. Trust the fear of falling. It is the gauge you must live by only because that is what was allotted.

On the street corner, the ghost of the beggar boy reminds you of your origins. He has disappeared into corporate living but essences can never be liquidated. He is replaceable no matter where in the world you are. Meaning transcends current fashion. This sentence will not sell but shall the sold soul bring comfort or gain in the end? Understand who you are. The price is stolen, the balance sheet a disaster. Forget this reality. Stay in the realm of who you must be. To be the other wastes time. In the end the profit will disappear anyway. When everyone leaves the table, do not think you are alone. Do not feel forsaken. This is your natural habitat.

When rivers burst from the north, all of life washed away in a cascade so deadly, all thought the end was inevitable. But still this held no truth–the prediction had no consequence. The light and sound, ethereal and tormenting, could never be reported accurately by the media. Poets had the day straight. The dawn almost missed, the possibilities almost lost. The small voice, almost buried in the thunder moved past the catastrophe, past its own death, and is still heard millenniums later. Still revered regularly. Who remembers the winner at roulette? They change by the second. Beware the instant minute. It’s eternity that counts. When the rainbow of existence splays across a fetid landscape, it will be missed by the objective makers. Radiance is fleeting. Only the watchers perceive this thing so unmarketable, so disregarded that is barely exists but in the heart of the seer. Even if only one sees it, it will live on. The herd never carries water in the desert. They are too busy at the gaming table. One must pick a side, true to their nature, and take what comes of it.

You may shout from the rooftops of your displeasure and loneliness. As long as you go back to the keyboard, the pencil, the wax, the paint, the needle and thread, all will be worthy at the opening of the river when the water turns red, the iridescence astounds, the day goes on and retribution may or may not be acquired. The sight is all that matters.

Author thanks the photographer of ram retrieved from internet search 9/15/16. (wordpainter81)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Stream of Movement

Jain Temple, Ahmedabad
If you are knowing, you are doing things in a particular order. You see familiarity in the signs that you become used to. I go this way and this may or will happen. Often, in the environment you become used to, these signs may not please you, may not help you, but you understand them and find some comfort in their existence.

Until they are no longer comfortable.

Until the constancy of oppression changes the complexion of where you are.

Over time, you may decide your fabrication of reality has been maladjusted. It has been tampered with, misplaced. If it becomes relentlessly wrong, you may decide it is time to go. To leave the area of your confinement. You may decide on a search. A new adventure. A great escape.

You will treasure your narrative about this new place. You will bring your assumptions and more than likely they will be wrong.

Before you are going, though, you may find that you become selective in what you are seeing or knowing about your place of origin. You may find yourself in the best of all possible worlds, enjoying the finest of where you are. How pleasant this is. Knowing you are going can remove the stigma of your present situation.

And then you are not there anymore.

The expectation of travel is delightful. The long voyage is streamlined with accommodations. You pay for this unreal time of complete pleasure. The pleasure of leaving is intoxicating. The pleasure of going to a completely new place is also intoxicating. Here we live in a dreamy expectation of what was and what may be.

Then you are there.

It becomes as everyday as the place you left, only quite different. You must navigate your expectations. You must navigate protocol. You will find guides who will help along the way. There will be many obstacles. There will be many delights. Your comfort zone will be shattered and you will try to make things familiar. It will be a long process. You must be patient.

You find that going is also starting over. You may have forgotten how much that entails while in the comfortable situation you recently left. There was a routine. Actions you could count on to make things bearable. Signs that let you know all was well. You find your knowing is a kind of protection; a way to make sense of the chaos around you, to make sense of the other beings around you; to place you in the stream of time and the field of comfort. We seek such things whether we acknowledge it or not.

In the end, then, there is no end; only a reconfiguration of comfort, knowing, coming, going–a circle into infinity where the mind adjusts to the body’s demands.