Vapid Acuity

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There were moments when he thought, there are moments when he thinks of returning to drinking. Ironically that is when he felt most in control; each step down the hallway to that dimly lit room was a wrestling move with his conviction, a furtive grope of a self-love so bitter “loathe” was a word written large against the setting sun as to be indiscernible. Just a big book he didn’t have the time or desire to read. That is the way to freedom and he would feel himself falling to and away simultaneously; it didn’t placate his soul, it fabricated it. The days aren’t so empty or boring but necessary now and therein lays the challenge of finding a new move to break into shape, paint it and roll it off the edge into his own sweet inevitable self-realization. Still he recalls with fondness the time in a NY state college town drunk off his ass and throwing a phone through a wall. And he smiles.

Whole ‘Nother Story 

 

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My baby used to make the best orange cinnamon bread. And she couldn’t cook or bake all that well besides. I mean, sure, she made passable stuff, edible meals, frittatas and a Moroccan chicken dish that was tasty, but overall, no great shakes, nothing no one else couldn’t do with a cookbook and a no-stick pan, pearls and a little white, cotton apron with blue fleur de lis on it.  But that orange cinnamon bread, whew, and at first I thought, orange cinnamon bread!? Then I took a bite, then another, and another. Sweet and warm slices unspooling all sticky in my lucky hands on their way to my eager mouth. I heard she still makes it. Just not for me.  But, Time assuages bitterness if you let and Age can give you magnanimity if you do it right. So, I hope it’s true and she still does bake. And the pearls and the apron? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Journal Entries Written On the Back of Cancelled Checks

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$58.41 /Payable to Duke Power Company

1/12/93-

Things to do – Revised! :

  1. Learn Spanish
  2. Learn “Tattle O’ Day” on the guitar
  3. Learn to disappear in Mexico singing “Tattle O’Day” in Spanish

$150 / Payable to Citi Bank

2/23/93-

Ignorance is the disrespect of human decency.

$21.95 /Payable to Mario’s House of Pizza

3/12/94-

There wasn’t a lot to go on. Her eyes went hither and thither, hither and yon, hotter than Hades. I was contemplating overcomplicating a block of wood sitting in the middle of my living room when the thought came to me: “Measure twice, cut once.” I decided to make a zither out of the block of the wood. One of us would need a soundtrack. It would need to be airy, ephemeral and quenching in the profound protracted evanescence of her eyes.

Emigrants & Immigrants: My Paternal Grandparents

 

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Paweł Banas and his father watched from behind a tree. It wasn’t his family’s land, it wasn’t his family’s lake but they were his family’s ducks, if ducks could belong to anyone. And when he and his father saw the Russian soldiers shooting them he knew it was time to leave for America.

There wasn’t an eligible bachelor left in Sandomierz that Mary Szata had not refused. As punishment for her recalcitrant ways her landed family sent her abroad to the newish world of America. There she lived the rest of her days, missing Poland terribly.

How they came to be man and wife I don’t know.  Perhaps, there are documents, fading as I type this, that detail their union. Their last surviving child, my aunt Mary, is 95 years old, at an age when, as my cousin said, “memories become more a source for comfort than facts.”

I wonder why I am so interested in people I never met. Yet, I’ve always been like that. Am I looking for comfort in facts and memories or to elide them in stories?

What is a memory, but an emigrant, an immigrant traveling from somewhere or another to somewhere else or another in the great, domestic, international, dialectic clash of thesis and antithesis, the here and the there to form the now which, sooner, or later, if its lucky, lives forever, or as long as well can tell, in memory?  What did the soldiers do with the dead ducks? Did my great-grandparents regret exiling their daughter?

I don’t know. I could make up a story from those two sentences and argue fiction is greater than truth, but it might be best to let them wander like the Truth. Sooner or later, Truth finds a home.

Tornado Witchcraft

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She was one of those who practiced “Tornado Witchcraft”. And by that it’s meant that she had a beauty that spun you around into the ground like bronze die-cut rotini pasta into a sand dune. A sand dune authored by Kobo Abe if you get my drift.

And that’s when a mesmerizing wind would whistle faintly, warmly, first through the trees outside the tall windows then seep through porous chinks between bricks of an old soul and tiny grains pelted your face like kisses, whip up the whirl and scrub the length of history.  White magic conferred by her eyes, her stories, and through her hips onto your hands resting on them.

Yet it was reciprocal magic like a circle beginning where it ends; neither of you knew what to do with each other, busy perning into Tierra firma.

Currency

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Ever go to give a bum or panhandler a quick buck to ease your soul and go easy on yourself and forget you got no cash or worse, only have a $5 or higher? And by that time he’s been eyeballing every move from the median strip because that’s what he has to do. And he’s seen you lift up your right ass cheek because that’s where you keep your wallet and he starts your way then quickly eases his gait not wanting to seem too eager with one eye on the light. And you pull it out. And you open it up.

Leather wallets and money each have their own smell; dusty, stale and used. It’s from being handled, passed around and stuffed under our asses. What do we call beggars, panhandlers, these days? Bastards? Bums?  Or  “This Guy” as in “Jesus Christ, look at This Guy”? I’ve heard people say they never give them money, it’s like feeding a stray cat, it only encourages them and why hell they make about 60k a year. All untaxed. Nice work if you can get it.

I don’t think most people have what it takes to act in that drama every day. Sleeping outside is fun until you have to. And even if it is an act, do you have the guts to do it, the unbowed stamina, and the enduring courage?

I think of Nutmeg during these encounters. Nutmeg is one of my rescue dogs. Every time we pass a sewer trough that runs into a little tunnel she has to stop, go over and sniff it. She sleeps under the futon, hidden by the overhanging blanket, while my other dog, Addie, always sleeps up top. My boys and I say Nutmeg must have found shelter in the storm drains when she was a stray.  On our walks she stops and sniffs every one we pass. She’s either remembering or casing them. Nutmeg is not human and humans are not dogs. They are both living creatures, though.

All I had was a $5. But I had committed. I was all in. I couldn’t finger my phone for the latest score, bombing or breach of civility nor could I gaze off into the distance beyond behind my sunglasses on this cloudy day. He thanked me for rolling down my window. I wondered how long my car horn would sound before someone pulled my head off of the steering wheel as a bullet cooled in my left temple. Thank you, sir, he said accepting my tithe, and handed me a small, orange piece of paper with writing on it.  It read: IF YOU HAVE FAMILY PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS WITH DRUGS or ALCOHOL THEN COME!!! FIRST CALL ON JESUS, THEN CALL US. I didn’t smell it. It would be dusty, stale and  used soon enough.