The curtains drag together over the emotive sandpaper of a late afternoon sun as light peaks into a lasting momentary farewell to all. Those all to precious artifacts lay about the front room lounge. All these little faces and glassy things silently recall a memory of not too long past when others inhabited this home. When they spoke in a far more intimate language of yesterday they had more life to them than they ever could know now. I have seen them come into being as the years rolled by. Populating curio cabinets and other honored places around the room. Keepsakes and mementos of so many times spent by another set of lives signifying life’s experiences but now simply deathly reminiscences. By now in this prolonged silence of an inevitable now they stare out sightless and coldly aloof. Bereft of the companionship of those other two that picked them out from all the other ones and gave them life as something special and particularly meaningful. Yet now they only blend in to the modicum of failing brass. Illumination twixt bands of empty cloud shine and hard edged blinds. In a close partition far above the ground looking out over the candy color lights upon a grid that extends far into the horizon. Another insipid obsession fastened into the faux agency of its own trivial existence. Existential as alone in time to err within. Flagrante delecto to the social necessities of the yearning proletariat. A broken beacon that long ago shone from afar where the last of this family had ceased to be. Left in the murder pit of self. With boundless necessity thus overwrought to find space in the discovery of a penitent self obsessed supplicant amidst the ruins of deeply ingrained servitude that composes naught but endless habit. What a sad commentary to the nightly derma displaced upon the dearth of shadows passing twixt figures wandering aimlessly and unseen upon the the city streets? How pathetic this epiphany of a ‘normal’ leaving all within the dilemma of themselves by themselves and only for themselves to fend ever alone.
The impossible task made even harder by the common sense of irreconcilable fear. Even in the dream world extreme causation is an option to be exercised. But what of the end of life. The energy fostered by the will forestalls all death’s subtle hints so much so that it must break into the conversation abruptly. So little time to prepare but not anyone’s fault but just how things work out. Goodbye is not a word that anyone likes to say. But its absence rings out for seeming millennia. The silence that is endured here almost just as endless. A desire to reach out to life simply persistent. Only the emotions can decipher such double talk.
I for one must hide my pride behind the enigma. Someone must call out in ownership for these words. Yet, linearity is a lost science ceded to youth where everything is black or while or nonexistent. Cause and effect was devised for the shirkers. Those who would have it their way at any cost. Where indeed have all the practical and honest run off to? The ones who enter the party late but are smart enough to exit early. The next moment all a jumble. Time and revolutions of the inescapable Sun will wear one to the bone. The can be no more arrangements made without the surety of a contemplation of the final.
It is said that anything important to be explained can be broken into three chapters. The world is filled with maladies who think better of themselves than they should. That vainglorious disposition irking the sensibilities of better judgment. Capitalism with never die on its own without the intercession of a steel spike through its heart. The trick of the game is to find a heart where there never has been one. Flat chested women offer bread and then complain of their baguettes being accorded too much attention. Everyone hoping for more attention then they are likely to get. It is the custom to look for other people to fix us. This is a symbolic task.
One cannot breathe if there is no longer pressure in the lungs to spirit out a wish. I have to wonder from here on out what mischief I have wrought and pay in the coin of the realm. A coward to the herald of my own melody. A long sad sigh to expiate an insufferably cold lack of empathetic regard. Horses in the barn waiting for the next fire to overcome them. A man with a hard touch. The pond is full of Jello. How do you spell relief save by the restless surrender to sleep. That thief that trades ones final hours of reconciliation for the comfort of not having to bother to know. The worst question in the world, “why?”
Policemen’s riot! What is waste in the material world of the spirit where knowledge born of long experience brings you the ultimate boon of the etherial truth? What elements of folly follow one around a darkened chamber in mockery of the present now where all that was count up comes to naught. One is left the the vagaries of an empty museum of doubt where crimes go unpunished. Where then is one’s empire of folly? In the back pocket of ice-cream heated dreams?
The chamber is lit. Emptiness prevails. Subject verb leaves no room for error. This is the life you have lived minus the doubts of others. Words by themselves are no achievement. Counter a phrase with an action and the rustle is the same. The rat droppings of humanity just outside the door. Oh for those glorious days of stupidity when ignorance was bliss! A toast heard round a gunmetal room. Echoing magic in the baseboards. No end in sight.
Now there is nothing. Save an empty body lost in a sea of ignorance of self. The endless war of the Sun and the sky and the blades of grass under foot. Which one will survive? The measure of the man between the sticks. Which one has more villainous reserve? Just who is the fool in the room that takes precedence? A mellow sigh issues from the depth of my flesh. Maestro, the baton please! Where, when and why. The eternal march continues to the plateau of empty space. Limbo can’t be far off from these precincts.
I used to think I was a man out there but only once. But that was all a cardboard fabrication of spit and bad Hollywood. Now I am a pair of sightless eyes going through the motions or rediscovering the fatal thing called hope. What cities ahead are covered in the fog of my unerring doubt. What can exist in an empty tin can? A hundred sets of arms pulling to the same call. This is progress and I hate them for it. A volcano of unrest. No more phony blood to be spilt please! I would rather see the room choking on spit than to spend another day of this!
The class of character who whispered about within certain older districts concerning a tale about strange cults that had existed since time immemorial concerning entities from afar that were said to exist for an extraordinary period of time. Not of this world, they blended in to the scenery biding their times through the ages gathering about them small contingents of the unfailingly superstitious. Never seen by the regular residents of the area they were purported to exist was much respected, ever feared but always protected. The legend stated that when after what seemed to the human sensibility as being eons they lost their force of being, their remains were interred and covert shrines erected. Human nature being what it is in the modern world, where attitudes of customary casual arrogance passed for common sense, some were foolish enough to seek out such precincts with the intention of disturbing their rest through public disclosure or even engaging in disdainful mockery. These fellows were unexpectedly tolerated by the locals and sometimes egged on after a customary warning that they should refrain from pursuing a course that could only result in a personal appointment with their worst imaginable horror. While some seemed to come to their senses their intuition proverbially peaked by an uncanny feeling of an associated inescapable doom if they proceeded further, only a few of that number would ignore the animal fear that such dire warning summoned and proceeded forth. The stories about such individual foolhardy quests usually ending there in empty tones of hushed silence.
One key to the existence of the near proximity of the earthly remains of these celestial beings was the inescapable presence of a cenotaph or monument for an empty grave. The latent spirit of demigod could be summoned by the creation of a talisman or effigy that once viewed by the entity would ensure its devotion to pursuing their discoverer relentlessly until inevitably they would consume their life-force as one might consume a thoroughly boiled egg. The form that startled seeker would encounter would appear strangely human but uncustomary contorted within the universal tradition of a grotesquely anguished saint. The initial shock would descend into horror as the abomination would slowly dog the unfortunate until eventually it would catch up with its exhausted prey and all evidence of their presence would abruptly end. One such case involved a scoffer who had assembled an offering from cardboard and attempted to approach an empty stairwell that purported to be a portal to a local Christian martyr. While the indigenous population gave such entrances were given a wide berth, one fellow thinking himself a detective skulked down the coeditor and was unpleasantly surprised by his worst nightmare. A gray lifeless vaguely female form of smaller dimension dressed in veils and crepe slithering forth on its belly, its arms bent overhead allowing for grip of hands upon the ankles of equally back bent legs. A particularly dead looking expression significant of marble. Its motivating force completely inexplicable yet terrifying as the slide of a serpent contracting and arcing in incremental progress. The realization of this undeniable fact shaking the victim from the bluff of his indifference. A pursuit through darkened corridors would ensue but the inevitable would eventually result from this tireless hunt. No further mention would then need to be made.
Going through my late parents papers today trying to make sense of the final disorder of their lives, I can only say that I am sorry about a lot of things. Things both great and small and particularly incidental. Boxes I refused to get down from the top corner shelves buried in dust from neglect. Boxes that contained the heirlooms of my infancy that, no doubt, my mother wanted to see one last time as she approached her end. Boxes that I thought i had better things to do that day then disgorge all the others in front of them for in my folly I thought she must have several more years in her at least. That’s the thing about death, you deny its immediacy from your family as if you can hold back the waters of the ocean by just not admitting that it is wet.
So many bureaucratic forms that add up to more money than you could ever imagine them having welched away by the powers that be. Now when I think back to my poor old man struggling with his vision through glasses that much like mine were no longer sufficient to compensate for his vision. Vision that in his case was shifting into darkness as he struggled pathetically inefficient to make out figures and dates at a chair adjacent to the brightest table lamp in the house. I look through these piles of documents and wonder about all the anecdotes and associations that they must have kept in their heads. All the varied incidents of their lives, watersheds expressed in chapters of money borrowed, dispensed and eventually payed back at substantial interest. How the good life of former years suddenly abandoned them in their twilight years. Two vibrant energetic personalities respectively deposed to tottering old shadowy presences, hardly recognizable to the lost mental embodiment their former selves. Glimpses and phrases summoned occasionally forth in my own recollections then sinking just as quickly into the fog of imprecise memory.
And whenever I see an entry that is attributable to me my heart goes hollow and I feel shame. Those great enterprises of my own from former times that seemed fit sacrifice for myself and my family that now seems so empty and petty with their loss. I m sorry that I took even an infrequent dime as if in some way I robbed them of some measure of security and happiness. The last birthday card given to me by my father offering his contrition for a lifelong parting of opinions that honored me with his respect. I stand deflated before the piles of disassociated file folders wondering how i might have been a little more humble then as I have come to be left now. These papers however incompletely serve as a chronicle of both their lives as well as my own. If I could set them in stone, I would. But the world is built upon sand powered by the dust of the ages. All permanency is quickly eroded with the last mortal breath. They must sink from memory as their identities drift off into the ages. Entries, one of a kind, flown off into the wind, never to be repeated again.
The family clock upon the wall chimes throughout the day and night. Its weights dragged upward by hanging chains , its pendulum counting the seconds however imperfectly, occasionally needing to be manually reanimated. It’s existence as an arbiter of universal measurement always dependent upon our gentle nudging and pull. It rings throughout the day noisily announcing its mechanical version of time and the hour, always needing to be corrected periodically, its approximation of the hour being three hours off from midnight in the case of my own family legacy. The tolling of the bewitching hour coming at the present hour of 3 A.M. presenting a small form of irony in that the cause of its misappropriation of time was a result of its previous owner, my late father. A man who out of both ingrained tradition and mental necessity bargained too harshly with the repair facility and was shorted in likewise manner in return. The lasting result being that the clock’s announcement of the hour of bewitching or in a more classic sense, the coming of the end of day both symbolically and otherwise was shifted closer to his own ultimate demise by the same number three in several forms. Three A.M.in hours times fifteen or forty-five minutes, which of itself might be considered to be composed of three time five. The exact hour of his last breath surrendered to death being 3:45 AM. His entire lifespan expressed in one thousand and twenty-four months plus change in days, hours and minutes. Eighty-three whole years, eight plus seven whole months or eighty-four plus twenty-six days plus twenty-on or 47 days of life. Meaningless, perhaps, but significant however posthumously to the party that originally purchased the timepiece.
His mother’s true identity, a topic of equal misapprehension, her identity traded between her and her sister at the coming of age of their offspring at seven, the name upon the certificate of birth and other documents recounting that time a multiple of three possibilities. Leaving him in the ultimate conclusion of the morality of those past times equally being as a mistake come of the result of poor judgement of his mother. One perhaps of many, but so much more significant to both him and I. How then does one then gauge their existence? By the fact of what they affect in life and the mistakes of judgment that still lives on after them? By little pieces of flotsam and jetsam in random scribblings of figures added and subtracted for the sake of purpose long forgotten? Are all the books ever written, the multitudes of pictures captured, the endless images painted or scrawled equal to the same measure of temporal earthly existence as in the import of one’s own given actions? If we as individuals consider out great legacies left behind to be marked by a trail of incidental decisions that inevitably accompany the greatest of our accomplishments what then does it make of the fact of the sum total of human existence. The waves on the eternal ether summoned in the brief period of a stone cast into being and eventually eulogized by the spread of a concentric wake that extends outward in all directions eventually encompassing infinity.
Alright, let’s ask me the fatal question. What in the Hell makes me happy? To look at me and read the bulk of what I have written one could easily make the assumption that the answer is “nothing!” That would not however be correct. Much like the rest of the human world, the basics can suffice. Being a male in gender, an impromptu smile by a woman still has an infectious effect, as does I am bound to tell, the unexpected gesture of flirty exercise of a woman’s eyes. And certainly the animal appreciation of one’s animal grace. The camaraderie of other men in mutually celebrating the existence of the appreciation of being respectively male and female in an enduring bond of same. A sincere handshake with one of my fellow contributors signifying a mutual enterprise that undertaken promises an equal level of adventure as it does success. The unconscious innocence of joyful children as they go about their play of discovering the world demonstrating an ingenuity that defies one’s own lost perceptions of their own level of same. Travel to interesting places that have a connection to their past through either tradition or the force of enduring landscape. The growth of experience and subsequent learning of new facets of the same must be a required daily activity lest life seem dull and gray.
Though my biological age may act as a natural harness to rein in my exposure to such pleasure by virtue of diminished opportunities, my appetite for enjoyment of being human amidst the attempts of others to equally be so makes it worth to remain a little longer in this plane of existence. As altruistic and high minded as this may sound, I have to ask myself how can material pleasures compete beyond supporting mental fictions of the past that due to the nature of mortality and change must inevitably fall be the wayside. The well-worn analogy of path so prevalent in world mythology must be applied for even if one finds themselves geographically inert, the great baggage train of humanity and the chaos of the universe provides an ever endless parade past one’s window. Animal appetite and human desire notwithstanding, the ongoing connection with this progression is what makes up one’s appreciation of themselves as being alive.
It may be said that time heals all. But then in those less mundane quarters of our society where free minds are encouraged to roam for the sake of the technology of philosophy, it is inferred that there is no time. That time does not exist, only inertial based vectors of change. All parts wear out after continuous use and the universal forces of nature eventually degrade and destroy all. To mark one’s life by abstract conventions of regular intervals is the obsession of empires, the people that are ruled by them, and by those who create them. Consider it an armoring of a culture or perhaps virtually the entire species against inevitable disappearance. The life cycle of the average human cannot promise more than a tiny proportionate morsel of the larger pie of civilization in trade for the efforts of their entire existence.
Civilized human existence is then by necessity of supporting this aim one of inherent responsibility to fulfill the role of a useful component part to this aim. The larger goal of the rulers of same to create an inflexible order that fosters the continuation of same along the changing expediency of their goals. This leaves almost everyone making up the pyramid below them useful chattels to their current whim. One’s identity as expressed by a duly registered name in all capitals at birth the connecting element to what might be expressed from on high as their animal nature. The study, care and husbanding of our species not allowing for providing a clue to the reason for what appears to be an inordinate amount of persistent self-awareness. Depending upon the vagaries of one’s upbringing, this realization becomes an impediment to the larger scenario in challenging the notions of stability and material based solipsistic life goals that each of us are sold from birth.
It would be after all much easier for the self-inscribed elite to lobotomize or conversely re-evolve the species in the laboratory. Something that is currently being implemented in a universal pedagogy that seeks to confine intellect under the banner of emasculating divergent cultural influences. The common core of man reduced back towards the basic cerebellum or at least lacking a frontal lobe. A worker ant society that essentially self-monitors along guidelines set by intervening devices sending instructions. Not too unlike the current trend of our present society, obsessed with the diminishment of one’s mortal efficacy posed against the notion of the diminishment of time to be able to fully enjoy socially prescribed a role model that in the sense of the larger reality an indifferent eternal universe is completely worthless and meaningless.
When I sit here now within the living room bathed with the failing light of Winter, having been myself just earlier frozen by its sub-zero temperatures, a certain sensation comes back to me of the time in the past. A time of day when the next event expected would typically be a key roughly finding purchase within the lock of my front door. And either one or the other of my parents would have in times past returned from their day’s labors. The dwindling light of the day handing off to that of a distinctively yellow hued table lamp or two. This same daily ritual where in each afternoon that same key sound would reliably start my heart pounding a little faster in expectation of once more see one of them. My mother’s face appearing slightly ruddy from the cold. My father’s visage, equally so. Both visibly re-energized by their arrival home not unlike the relief of spacemen to be safely within the airlock and able to remove their bulky suits. Their hands chilled within my grasp or brushing upon my cheek having a special tingle that ever excited me. Perhaps in a way not unlike that one might see in the reaction of a puppy at the return of its master? My father’s cold breath always slightly sour from Wrigley’s chewing gum and the garlic taste of stress. If my mother was the one having returned first, then her coat first being put away in the closet awaiting for his arrival of his own. Then with his presence, the accompanying ritual of the sound of big stainless frying pans being loosened noisily from cupboard, subsequently to be accompanied by the smell of Swiss steak and the pepper tinge of freshly made mashed potatoes. He emptying his pockets, sometimes sharing gifts and trinkets. And then, occasionally doling out portions of his winnings from an infrequent after work stopovers at one of his favorite card parlors. There was a warmth that their collective presence brought which served as the foundation of my own existence that vouchsafed the notion of home. Something that I could never recreate in my own existence by myself alone. Not even now.