Thursday, November 30, 2006

‘Shadows Are Not Known For Their Strength’


Cameron had spotted the hiding place of the Hawkline Monster when he and Greer were halfway down the stairs. He saw strange sparks of light on a bench behind some funny-looking bottles. He didn’t know what a test tube was.

“Why don’t you light those lamps over there?” he said, motioning Greer over to a bench on the far side of the laboratory.

The Hawkline Monster was amused as it watched them. The monster was deriving so much pleasure from this that it decided to wait a few minutes before changing Greer and Cameron into shadows.

This was real fun for the monster.

Meanwhile, its current and only shadow waited for the monster to move so that it could put into action a plan of its own.

Cameron had also spotted a large leaded-crystal jar on a table in the opposite direction that he had sent Greer to light some lamps.

From the description that the Hawkline women had given him, he knew that this was the source of the Hawkline Monster . . . The Chemicals. He was standing about ten feet away from the jar. And the monster was “hiding” about five feet away from the jar.

Suddenly Cameron yelled, “It’s over there! I see it!”

Greer turned toward where Cameron was yelling and pointing. He couldn’t figure out what was happening. Why Cameron was yelling. This was not like Cameron but he turned anyway to the direction.

The Hawkline Monster was curious, too. What in the hell was happening? What was over there if it was over here?

So the monster moved . . . involuntarily . . . out of curiosity.

Cameron in the interim of artificial excitement moved over to the table where a jar called The Chemicals was residing and he was standing right beside it.

When the Hawkline Monster moved to get a better view of what was happening, the shadow, after having checked all the possibilities of light, had discovered a way that it could shift itself in front of the monster, so that the monster at this crucial time would be blinded by darkness for a few seconds, did so, causing confusion to befall the monster.

This was all the shadow could do and it hoped that this would give Greer and Cameron the edge they would need to destroy the Hawkline Monster using whatever plan they had come up with, for it seemed that they must have a plan if they were to have any chance at all with the monster and they did not seem like fools.

When Cameron yelled at Greer, the shadow interpreted this as the time to move and did so. It obscured the vision of the Hawkline Monster for a few seconds knowing full well that if the monster were destroyed it would be destroyed, too, but death was better than going on living like this, being a part of this evil.

The Hawkline Monster raged against the shadow, trying to get it out of the way, so that it could see what was happening.

But the shadow struggled fiercely with the monster. The shadow had a burst of unbelievable physical fury and shadows are not known for their strength.


Cameron poured the glass of whiskey into the jar of chemicals. When the whiskey hit The Chemicals they turned blue and started bubbling and sparks began flying from the jar. The sparks were like small birds of fire and flew about burning everything they touched.

“Let’s get out of here!” Cameron yelled at Greer. They both fled up the laboratory stairs to the main floor of the house.

The Hawkline Monster responded to the whiskey being poured into the jar of its energy source by just having enough time to curse its fate

      “FUCK IT!”

the monster yelled. It was a classic curse before shattering into a handful of blue diamonds that had no memory of a previous existence.

The Hawkline Monster was nothing now except diamonds. They sparkled like a vision of summer sky. The shadow of the monster had been turned into the shadow of diamonds. It also was without memory of a previous existence so now its soul was at rest and it had been turned into the shadow of beautiful things.

The Hawkline Monster
Richard Brautigan

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

‘Now Sing Of Walls! Sing!’

My vision clears. The stranger’s companions encircle us, useless swords. I could laugh if it weren’t for the pain that makes me howl. And yet I address him, whispering, whimpering, whining.

“If you win, it’s by mindless chance. Make no mistake. First you tricked me, and then I slipped. Accident.”

He answers with a twist that hurls me forward screaming. The thanes make way. I fall against a table and smash it, and wall timbers crack. And still he whispers.

Grendel, Grendel! You make the world by whispers, second by second. Are you blind to that? Whether you make it a grave or a garden of roses is not the point. Feel the wall: is it not hard? He smashes me against it, breaks open my forehead. Hard, yes! Observe the hardness, write it down in careful runes. Now sing of walls! Sing!

I howl.


“I’m singing!”

Sing words! Sing raving hymns!

“You’re crazy. Ow!”


“I sing of walls,” I howl. “Hooray for the hardness of walls!”

Terrible, he whispers. Terrible. He laughs and lets out fire.

“You’re crazy,” I say. “If you think I created that wall that cracked my head, you’re a fucking lunatic.”

Sing walls, he hisses.

I have no choice.

    “The wall will fall to the wind as the windy hill
    will fall, and all things thought in former times:
    Nothing made remains, nor man remembers.
    And these towns shall be called the shining towns!”

Better, he whispers. That’s better. He laughs again, and the nasty laugh admits I’m slyer than he guessed.

He’s crazy. I understand him all right, make no mistake. Understand his lunatic theory of matter and mind, the chilly intellect, the hot imagination, blocks and builder, reality as stress. Nevertheless, it was by accident that he got my arm behind me. He penetrated no mysteries. He was lucky. If I’d known he was awake, if I’d known there was blood on the floor when I gave him that kick . . .

The room goes suddenly white, as if struck by lightning. I stare down, amazed. He has torn off my arm at the shoulder!

John Gardner

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

‘The Difficulty To Think At The End Of Day . . .’

The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—

There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.

To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;

And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;

Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full

And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,

You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,

You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.

A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts
Wallace Stevens

Monday, November 27, 2006

“Oh, Let’s Go Up The Hill And Scare Ourselves...”

“Oh, let’s go up the hill and scare ourselves,
As reckless as the best of them to-night,
By setting fire to all the brush we piled
With pitchy hands to wait for rain or snow.
Oh, let’s not wait for rain to make it safe.
The pile is ours: we dragged it bough on bough
Down dark converging paths between the pines.
Let’s not care what we do with it to-night.
Divide it? No! But burn it as one pile
The way we piled it. And let’s be the talk
Of people brought to windows by a light
Thrown from somewhere against their wall-paper.
Rouse them all, both the free and not so free
With saying what they’d like to do to us
For what they’d better wait till we have done.
Let’s all but bring to life this old volcano,
If that is what the mountain ever was—
And scare ourselves. Let wild fire loose we will….”

“And scare you too?” the children said together.

“Why wouldn’t it scare me to have a fire
Begin in smudge with ropy smoke and know
That still, if I repent, I may recall it,
But in a moment not: a little spurt
Of burning fatness, and then nothing but
The fire itself can put it out, and that
By burning out, and before it burns out
It will have roared first and mixed sparks with stars,
And sweeping round it with a flaming sword,
Made the dim trees stand back in wider circle—
Done so much and I know not how much more
I mean it shall not do if I can bind it.
Well if it doesn’t with its draft bring on
A wind to blow in earnest from some quarter,
As once it did with me upon an April.
The breezes were so spent with winter blowing
They seemed to fail the bluebirds under them
Short of the perch their languid flight was toward;
And my flame made a pinnacle to heaven
As I walked once round it in possession.
But the wind out of doors—you know the saying.
There came a gust. You used to think the trees
Made wind by fanning since you never knew
It blow but that you saw the trees in motion.
Something or someone watching made that gust.
It put the flame tip-down and dabbed the grass
Of over-winter with the least tip-touch
Your tongue gives salt or sugar in your hand.
The place it reached to blackened instantly.
The black was all there was by day-light,
That and the merest curl of cigarette smoke—
And a flame slender as the hepaticas,
Blood-root, and violets so soon to be now.
But the black spread like black death on the ground,
And I think the sky darkened with a cloud
Like winter and evening coming on together.
There were enough things to be thought of then.
Where the field stretches toward the north
And setting sun to Hyla brook, I gave it
To flames without twice thinking, where it verges
Upon the road, to flames too, though in fear
They might find fuel there, in withered brake,
Grass its full length, old silver golden-rod,
And alder and grape vine entanglement,
To leap the dusty deadline. For my own
I took what front there was beside. I knelt
And thrust hands in and held my face away.
Fight such a fire by rubbing not by beating.
A board is the best weapon if you have it.
I had my coat. And oh, I knew, I knew,
And said out loud, I couldn’t bide the smother
And heat so close in; but the thought of all
The woods and town on fire by me, and all
The town turned out to fight for me—that held me.
I trusted the brook barrier, but feared
The road would fail; and on that side the fire
Died not without a noise of crackling wood—
Of something more than tinder-grass and weed—
That brought me to my feet to hold it back
By leaning back myself, as if the reins
Were round my neck and I was at the plough.
I won! But I’m sure no one ever spread
Another color over a tenth the space
That I spread coal-black over in the time
It took me. Neighbors coming home from town
Couldn’t believe that so much black had come there
While they had backs turned, that it hadn’t been there
When they had passed an hour or so before
Going the other way and they not seen it.
They looked about for someone to have done it.
But there was no one. I was somewhere wondering
Where all my weariness had gone and why
I walked so light on air in heavy shoes
In spite of a scorched Fourth-of-July feeling.
Why wouldn’t I be scared remembering that?”

“If it scares you, what will it do to us?”

“Scare you. But if you shrink from being scared,
What would you say to war if it should come?
That’s what for reasons I should like to know—
If you can comfort me by any answer.”

“Oh, but war’s not for children—it’s for men.”

“Now we are digging almost down to China.
My dears, my dears, you thought that—we all thought it.
So your mistake was ours. Haven’t you heard, though,
About the ships where war has found them out
At sea, about the towns where war has come
Through opening clouds at night with droning speed
Further o’erhead than all but stars and angels,—
And children in the ships and in the towns?
Haven’t you heard what we have lived to learn?
Nothing so new—something we had forgotten:
War is for everyone, for children too.
I wasn’t going to tell you and I mustn’t.
The best way is to come up hill with me
And have our fire and laugh and be afraid.”

The Bonfire
Robert Frost

Friday, November 24, 2006

Victoria’s Secret

My world has become
a sepia and indigo montage

of gorgeous women in their underwear
always journaling.

I can’t tell you—well, I can, but won’t—
how much I’ve heard and read

about thongs and bikinis
and briefs and high-cuts and Rios.

And I’ve seen it all immortalized
in Gelly Roll colors

on the dark pages of memory books
that will last forever.

Businesswomen, scientists,
artists and others—all have felt

the imperative to analyze
and codify their thoughts

about front closures and back,
halters, racerbacks and two-straps.


Last week I drew a copy
of a sixteenth century fresco

by Pontormo of the Annunciation.
I used crayons

to copy the colors
of the Virgin Mary’s dress and veil.

Sixty-four crayons
make it possible to approximate

any hue, value and chroma.
Of course, the pigments and dyes

will fade in a few months,
but it was fun to draw and color.

And it’s fun to have the image around
while it lasts, knowing,

of course, that experts in Italy
are taking such good care

of the real fresco that it will last
another four hundred

and seventy-three years.
The Angel and the Virgin will last.


As I write this,
Joanne is sitting at her desk listening

to Steely Dan.
In a so-called ‘tapestry blue’ thong topped by

a matching seamless demi,
she’s transcribing conversation

onto the black, acid-free paper pages
of her journal.

I believe the pen is yellow.
I heard the conversation

when she first spoke it with Linda.
When Linda wears pantyhose

she wears her panties on top
because she likes the sensation

of the pantyhose seam
against her crotch. Joanne wears panties

under her pantyhose
because she finds the seam annoying.

The conversation lasted
almost half an hour. Joanne

has been writing
through all seven songs of the “Aja” CD.

The paper is archival.
So is the cool, Gelly Roll ink.

Four hundred and seventy-three years from now
the world will know

in considered, pretty detail
how our angels and virgins

and others felt about
their crotches and breasts, and the fabrics

that wrapped them.
Theology is man’s quest for a path to God.


Detail of the real deal,
Pontormo's Annunciation

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Life Of Illusion (Happy Thanksgiving!)

I can’t help the feeling that I’m
Living a life of illusion

Oh, why can’t we let it be
And see through the hole in this wall of confusion
I can’t help the feeling I’m living a life of illusion

Right between the eyes
Oh, how nature loves her little surprises

It all seems so logical now
It’s just one of her better disguises

And it comes with no warning
Nature loves her little surprises
Continual crisis

Don’t you know it’s a waste of the day
Caught up in endless solutions

That have no meaning
Just another hunch
Based upon jumping conclusions

Caught up in endless solutions
Backed-up against a wall of confusion
Living a life of illusion

Translucent Compositions

Yesterday, I held up a page
torn from Glamour magazine

to a bright light. Each side
showed a full-page fashion photograph.

The bright light revealed
a translucent, composite scene. I smiled.

The fashion girl
from one side of the page seemed to be sitting

in the lap of the fashion girl
from the other side. One girl’s

leg even seemed to pass through
the other girl’s embracing arm.

Today, it occurs to me
as I sit here by that same light

that the events of yesterday
and the events of today

also reveal
a translucent composition. In my mind

I see me sitting here writing,
and standing behind myself

looking right through that sexy page
from the fashion magazine.

But before I even begin
to speculate about how

someone, somewhere
carefully arranged those photographs, so who

carefully arranged me,
my first whole real thought is, damn it all,

that I’d rather have been part
of the fashion composition.

I frown. I’m never
in the right—so to speak—conspiracy.

But, like someone, somewhere
turning a page, that thought fades because

then it occurs to me
that my—so to speak—conspiracy

and the other
reveal a translucent composition, too.

And there I am! See?
My leg fits right through that fashion girl’s arm.

Translucent compositions.
I see them clearly. You can, too.

Just hold up this poem
to the proper illumination.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Guillotine As A Tool Of Cognition

The camera loves him. The camera loves her.
The camera loves you,

and the rest of us, too.
Inside itself the camera creates

a mechanical projection
of 3D reality

on a 2D matrix. Inside us
the camera creates, too,

a mechanical projection
of our 4D existence

on 3D reality.
Camera consciousness develops

inside us and develops us.
Camera consciousness frames us

and squarely defines us
as an arbitrary collection

of chemical reactions,
reactions bounded by limits

itemized on a spec sheet
put together by engineers

working to the encompassing specs
of a marketing team.

Camera consciousness composes us
for bitching front-page spreads

that tell stories much more powerfully
than language. (Someone

once defined language
as a tool of cognition but camera

consciousness replaces
trivial tool users and tools with

artists and art.) And, then, of course,
the strobe light—the beating heart

pumping life through camera consciousness—
flashes out, flickering,

illuminating the recursive essence
of the cosmos

itself with the quantum pulses
of life itself, one every

thirtieth of a second.
And we flash out, flickering, through

the snapshots. And with persistence
of vision, not to mention

memory, we pretend to ignore
everything we don’t see.

Camera consciousness clicks.
The shutter falls like a guillotine.

Reality as a bloody scrapbook,
a dripping clipping.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Winston Churchill Described Paintings As Cryptograms On Canvas

One of the things I hate most
about watercolor paintings

is the constant, blaring,
monotonous white. The paper white.

White under the blue wash sky.
White around the yellow and red

flowers. White girding and supporting
the carefully biased grays.

Watercolor painters go to such great lengths
to save their whites

that they’re constantly creating
the same painting: A white blotch

as portrayed from
an infinity of viewpoints. The white blotch.

This hazy rectangular glare—
tinted and shaded to taste—

must represent
some archetypal mystery or womb memory

or the externalization
of sparking, neural throbbing.

Winston Churchill described paintings
as cryptograms on canvas.

What secret message
does the white blotch send? And who from? To whom?

The Spirit of the Age?
Blood of the Race? Goddess of Beauty?

Whistler’s sensitives?
Constable’s scientists? Skinner’s pigeons?

Freud’s bouillabaisse
of plumbing metaphors and mechanisms?

Witches and worshippers?
Owners and property? Lost and found?

All black inkblots conceal, reveal
deeper meanings. This white blotch

conceals and reveals, too.
Deeper meanings. Complex. Seductive.

And I believe that is the solution
to these cryptograms.

The depth is the meaning.
The code is the encoded message.

The secret is the seduction.
Whether infinite blackness

or omnipresent white.
Compositions are created things.

These endless black and white mysteries
distract from both creator

and creation. Then confusion
becomes content and context.

Chaos reigns.
When creator and creation lose, chaos reigns.

I use only
opaque media: acrylic paints, collage.

I use black and white,
but only black mixed from red, yellow, blue.

I do not do chiaroscuro,
I do not do cartoons.

Compositions are created things.
I say what I say, not

what I might pretend to say
if I knew some secret language.

The word is what’s said.
Any truth is better than make believe.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Meanwhile, In An Abandoned Strip Mine...

Meanwhile, in an abandoned strip mine
somewhere between San Francisco and
San Diego, cockroaches from space
discuss the motion picture business.

“So, what do you think? Can we get Stone
to play the scientist in the next
Boa’ piece of crap? Will she do it?”

Should Stone play a super ego role?
Reid dragged down ‘Alone In The Dark,’ and
Richards screwed ‘The World Is Not Enough.’
We’re mixing id and super ego.
Stone is old but she’s still a woman.”

“The monster flicks from the Fifties worked.
The male as ego. Monster as id.
And the woman as super ego.”

“Yes, but the phase space mapped differently.
Big bugs smashing buildings skew higher
than big snakes eating random people.
Without id differentiation
the super ego is conflicted.
With Stone as a scientist we’d need,
say, hundreds of big snakes attacking
a recognizable cityscape.”

“Can’t do it. Budget’s just two point five.”

The two cockroaches from outer space
were silent for a long moment. Then
the cockroach that liked Sharon Stone kicked
a rock and said, “I hate this business.”

“Could be worse,” the other cockroach said.
“Could be out east doing politics.”

Both cockroaches from space shivered and
made clicking sounds with their mandibles.
Then they returned to discussing how
to manipulate the Freudian
phase space of earth’s movie consumers
to continue enticing humans
to continue funding the insect
dominion over the human race
while at the same time bringing on board
Sharon Stone to their giant snake film
budgeted at two point five million
and going direct to DVD.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Butterflies From Beyond Newton’s World

This geometric image, a static reflection of an irreversible and fleeting time, brings to mind another one: Kepler’s ellipse. Thom’s elementary catastrophes, as well as Kepler’s ellipses, attempt to reduce time to space and to understand it through geometry. Whereas Kepler uses the mathematical tools inherited from the Greeks, Thom has the benefit of modern differential topology. Kepler uses Apollonius’s Treatise on Conics. Thom uses singularity theory. However, whereas Kepler’s model leads us into Newton’s world, which is closed upon itself, catastrophe theory is a glance into an open universe. In Newton’s world there is no past and no future, since everything is determined by today’s data. Time holds no surprise in store for whoever can handle the computations. In Thom’s world the future is mostly hidden, and the mathematician inspects the flow of events for forms to recognize and classify, like a butterfly catcher.

Ivar Ekeland
Mathematics And The Unexpected

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Parameter Space And Some Supernatural World

Each object in the world (as Thom sees it) is associated with a dynamical system. The shape, or form, of this object for an observer is nothing but the catastrophe set associated with this dynamical system. The object itself lies in the parameter space, usually three-dimensional Euclidean space, but it is not clear at all where the dynamical system lies, or even if it has a physical reality. For instance, the shape of a breaking crest wave does call to mind a hyperbolic umbilic, but no one has ever been able to build a dissipative potential for the wave from hydrodynamic considerations. Thom himself is not very concerned with this problem. He seems to be content, either with a Platonic attitude of having the dynamical system happen in some supernatural world or with locating it in the neurological phenomena which carry perception to our brain.

Ivar Ekeland
Mathematics And The Unexpected

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Catastrophe Means Change Of State, Like Water Into Ice

It is essential for catastrophe theory that a small number of external variables be chosen, say three, which will be the only ones to vary, all other parameters being kept fixed. The values given to these three external variables will then be registered as a point in three-dimensional space. If these values are changed, the corresponding point moves along, and the potential of the system gets modified in some (unknown) fashion. The system, initially at a stable equilibrium, follows the latter in its variations. It may happen that, for certain values of the parameter, this particular equilibrium vanishes. The system then jumps to another stable equilibrium; that is, we get a discontinuous response to a continuous change in the external variables. The set of parameter values where this happens is called the catastrophe set. It is a kind of boundary which stretches across three-dimensional space: if the point representing the values of the external variables crosses this boundary, the system will jump from one equilibrium to another. This change of equilibrium will be perceived by the observer as a sudden and substantial change in the properties of the system—a phase transition, for instance, like water solidifying into ice. If one lowers the temperature of water regularly, nothing much happens, until the critical temperature of 0˚ is reached, at which time ice appears. Here there is just one external variable, temperature, and one catastrophic value, 0˚ C. The parameter space is one-dimensional, and the catastrophe set consists of one point, 0, which acts as a boundary between negative temperatures (ice only) and positive ones (water only).

Ivar Ekeland
Mathematics And The Unexpected

Monday, November 13, 2006

Catastrophe Theory

Catastrophe theory was born in 1972, with the publication of a very learned book by René Thom entitled Structural Stability and Morphogenesis. It has also a subtitle: An Essay on the General Theory of Models. Title and subtitle together indicate that here we have a mathematical theory with unusual claims to universality.

Thom is a leading mathematician; his ideas were already known in mathematical circles and spread very quickly to scientists in general and to the public at large. Catastrophe theory became an instant success, treatises and research papers were written, articles and interviews appeared in newspapers and magazines. In fact, so much has already been written about catastrophe theory that it seems quite superfluous to add yet another chapter to this growing list.

Despite so many explanations and commentaries, I still have the feeling that the instant success of catastrophe theory is largely due to a misunderstanding of what a theory is and what catastrophe means.

Let me first say what catastrophe theory is not. It does not announce catastrophes; it cannot tell whether the world will end in nuclear war. Catastrophe theory does not enable us to make precise, quantitative predictions, the way relativity theory does, for instance. Neither can it be proved or disproved by an experiment, and so the question arises whether it is a scientific theory at all.

Actually it is—but it is much closer to biological theories like that of evolution than to physical theories like that of relativity. It fits certain facts together and provides an abstract setting to grasp them all at once. It is a way to make some sense out of the hopeless tangle of natural phenomena, like a listening device which picks some garbled message out of the overpowering background noise. It is a mathematical code to help us decipher the book of nature.

Ivar Ekeland
Mathematics And The Unexpected

Friday, November 10, 2006

Alison Wakes Up And Introduces Herself

Hi! I’m Alison. I do rebellious

magazine collages. They’re rebellious

because when I cut up a magazine

I’m not only cutting up pop culture,

I’m cutting up the invisible world.

You know, the political and social

alchemy stuff. All the subliminal

embeds in the photography and text.

And I’m not just cutting up all this stuff.

Oh, do you get the cutting up business?

Anyway, I also reshape content.

For my own purpose. I’m making my own

messages. My own invisible world.

I glue down my worlds, damn it, and frame them.

That’s what real rebellion is all about.

The Pilgrims didn’t just exit England.

They built America. Or, well, you know,

they moved around some pieces, glued down stuff

for their own purpose. In both of the worlds—

the visible and the invisible.

Just because something is invisible,

just because I can’t identify it,

doesn’t mean I can’t play with it. Photos,

text columns, pop culture. Hell, cut it up!

Reshape and rearrange it. Glue it down.

Frame it. Yes! Magazine collages rule

in the monolectic New World Order!”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Alison Dreaming Of Me *

He shares his apartment with mice and bats.
Expeditions of goldfish with sharp spears
trek across carpet hunting fur spiders
living in the corners and dark places.

Beneath vine, tendril, he lives in a tent
seldom venturing out. Sometimes he lifts
a cloth flap to empty an oak bucket—
his waste water, his garbage, his latrine.

Once a day he unzips patchwork screening
and takes into his tent a wooden plate
of fruit and dried meat that the creatures leave—
offerings from the jungle apartment.

He’s a shadow in his tent. Fingers ring
against rusted strings on a wood guitar.
Damp has gently turned the guitar’s fretboard,
curved its body, colored its singing tones.

But the animals—the mice, bats, goldfish,
even the fur spiders in their dark webs—
bring their daily offerings to the sound.
It is their part in the strange, magic place.

Wild civilization, such as it is,
continues in that jungle apartment.
No change of state, just a warping of tone.
A wild man living wild in the wild life.


* That’s me on a rare
excursion outside
my apartment tent,
a typical look
of befuddlement
caught by the webcam.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Alison Dreaming Of Being A Rock And Roll Princess

An electric guitar high and falling,

rotating, above Chicago’s skyline.

Unlike the bone in “A Space Odyssey”

the electric guitar doesn’t edit

into a spaceship or Heywood Floyd’s pen.

The electric guitar rotates, falling,

and crashes through the roof of a building

and falls into a translucent glass hand,

a crystal hand of a crystal princess

standing in a room of jade and topaz

on a floor of sand on top of black wood.

The princess is made of glass, but she moves

and laughs and plays the electric guitar.

An electric guitar. A glass princess.

And the rock and roll she plays is so cool

when the children of her kingdom get sad

she rocks them into a world of laughter.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Alison Dreaming Of The Ultimate Buddy Motion Picture

Call it 25 A.D. — Tiberius
was still in Rome.

Pilate was headquartered in Caesarea
but spending most

of his time in Jerusalem.
John was in the wilderness.

Herodians were busy
trying to win the hearts and minds

of the Jews to the Roman way.
Zealots were agitating

for independence. And Pilate’s wife
began having bad dreams.

That’s when the murders started.
First, the wife of a publican.

The second night the victim
was the mistress of a high priest.

A prostitute familiar
to the centurions died third.

Three deaths over three nights.
But more. The women had connections.

The radicals. The reactionaries.
The lunatic fringe.

Pilate became involved.
His agents told him something was up,

but they couldn’t discern what.
Pilate knew and understood Rome.

The politics of empire.
More importantly, Pilate knew

and understood that his Jewish contacts
had vested interests.

They were limited, defined
by their involvements, commitments.

To find the killer, solve the mystery,
keep the peace, Pilate knew

and understood he needed
an ally from among the Jews.

Someone knowledgeable,
yet independent. Pilate’s agents

told him of a young Jew
from Nazareth, an itinerant

preacher, intimately versed in Scripture,
a teacher, as yet

with no students. Pilate turned
to this man. Pilate met with him.

The two had to find the killer,
solve the mystery, keep the peace.

This is the story
of Pilate and Jesus. Their first meeting.

Their struggle to uncover
an evil vastly greater than

anything either one of them
ever could have imagined.

Before the apostles,
the ministry, the arrest and trial,

before the confrontation
of the Roman man and the Christ,

they were just men, just two men
tracking a psychotic killer.

Blood In The TempleA Pilate and Jesus Mystery


Monday, November 06, 2006

Alison Dreaming

Last night from outside I watched Alison
fog her ceiling. I stood by a street light
and watched Alison lean out a window
and scoop cupfuls of fog from the damp night.
Then she spooned out the fog into the air
of her apartment. The fog drifted up.
Standing on an ornamental footstool
Alison reached upward and smoothed the fog
with hush and kindness and thoughts of design.
Then she buffed it with a ragged tee shirt
until it shone like imitation pearls
from Woolworth’s. I watched her work for an hour
then I went home and to bed by myself.

Walking for the morning paper, I glanced
in Alison’s window. She was sleeping
on a couch, still wearing her overalls.
Overhead, her ceiling glowed, shimmering
like rice paper through frosted glass. Sleeping,
Alison dreamed. Her dreams drifted upward
glowing, shimmering, too, by her ceiling
like jade statues from a magical past
or like barrettes in a young girl’s long hair.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Jill, At Halloween Time #5

The wide plastic bowl
of warmed-up milk starts steaming

and just as quickly
goose-bumps form on Jill’s arms when
she pushes open

the back door. “Here girl!”
Jill says. “Snack time!” The llama
hums and purrs and trills

and rubs against Jill.
That’s return-on-investment,”
Jill whispers. “Good girl.”

The End

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jill, At Halloween Time #4

Jill checks a mirror
and straightens out her new bra.
She starts walking back

to the kitchen but
hears a noise in the front room.
She stops, frowns, looks in.

On her computer
a tech chart is flashing and
the speaker’s beeping.

‘Some stock’s changed,’ Jill thinks,
starting in. She stops. ‘The milk,’
Jill thinks. ‘Stocks or milk?’


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jill, At Halloween Time #3

Standing by the bed,
Jill looks at her broken bra.
A small plastic ring

that attached the left
cup to the left shoulder strap
had cracked and vanished.

Looked cheap in the store,’
Jill thinks, ‘and it really was.
How often do things

in real life end up
being actually what
they appear to be?’