Nobody's creekbed

songs, prayers, poetry, stories, art, photographs, moving pictures, fondnesses, tall-tales and meditations

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The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I will admit I was very embarrassed at first to discover that Hummingbird was my Spirit Animal. What had I expected? Hard to say exactly, though Baboon would have been nice. Wolverine, obviously. Lynx. Had you asked me then I think I would have said that Hummingbird made me uncomfortable. Such a Dainty Beast, I may have thought. Pea-brained birdstock. Syrup sucker. Flower prick. I am not sure. Those years are like a puddle of oily liquid to me now, slathered in rainbow and distorted reflection, kind of gross.

Momma sent me into the Wild of Swinging Holler the Spring of the Year Cicada, the year of whirring sounds and cacophony, the year of sleepless nights; my time had come. Dressed in buckskin jerkin, I carried little with me save the small hide pouch which held several pieces of toast smothered liberally in Grandpappy’s jam. I thought of Grandpappy as I walked. The way he used to climb up and down trees. Squirrel, he told me, his mouth of full of nuts. He’d walked into these hills as a boy too. He’d carried his own Grandpappy’s jammy toast. He told me how many a night he’d still awake suddenly, in the grip of vision, lips numb, eyes akimbo. Hot damn, he’d often say. Hot damn.

My feet carried the legs and the legs my torso and the torso my outlandish body cavity and the body cavity my pea-brained skull cup. How this operation remains in balance is one of Swinging Holler’s great mysteries, but we are not to dwell on such things. That sort of mystery ought to remain cloudy and unclear. Days on end I propelled forward, through the brush, the thicket, the creeper vine, the poison ivy and chiggers and mosquito nights, the land of oak which turned to pine and then to strange white narrow trees and glades. The thrum in the air was everpresent. Slinky cicada song. My heart flutters now at the thought of it. My forehead turns shiny with sweat. I must not wipe this sweat from my brow. The details here are important, and if I miss a thing I fail. I must not fail.

I had long ceased to recognize geographical features, the flora and fauna was ridiculous. I will admit I became hungry, bored, sick of walking, and at this time I sat myself down in a clearing. Made myself a night-cap of narrow grass, fitted it snug on my skull cup, did a series of stretches, throat exercises, squat thrusts. All to loosen the dream avalanche. And what do you know but I did come to hear then all noise had stopped. The cicada were silent, listening maybe, but offering no response. Their noise had been such everpresence that now my brain-ears registered a pitch of such high and mighty endeavor from the inside that I had to lay down, pinch my temples. On my back in the clearing, I saw through half closed eyes the Full Orange Moon and its twin, Yellow Second-Cousin Moon. Just as momma had said it would rise! I carefully removed the sticky toast from my coon hide pouch and partook. Big mouthfuls I ate. As there had been nothing on the stomach for days the food seemed to expand, filling my insides to stuffed. I ate too much, too fast. I will not describe the gastral revolt, but. Yes. Hem and haw. Reflection there in the stuff. My world turned from jerkin to homespun to golden flax and then to thick cotton and then I wore nothing. The nerve cells electric. My skin molted, and then regenerated, and molted, and another skin dropped out of the glade’s atmosphere and onto my bones. Something else entirely. My short hairs turned to feelers turned to antennae, and it was just before dawn that I came to again, a sense of vibrato in me. And there above me, about ten feet off the clearing floor, wings beating so fast and soundless as to appear nonexistent, Hummingbird floated, hovered, bobbed, hung in the air, considering me with no small amusement.

What follows is something of a transcription of our early dialogues:

Hummingbird: Hello, BoyBoy Man.
BoyBoy Man: Hummingbird!? What are you?
HB: ...
BBM: You’re it, huh?
HB: I’m it.
BBM: Crap.
HB: What?
BBM: Nothing. I need to take a crap.
HB: It can wait.
BBM: It can wait.
HB: Here’s a rag; clean yourself up.
BBM: Thanks.
HB: Let me start off by saying that I was not exactly thrilled to find you here this morning either.
BBM: Who’d you expect?
HB: I don’t know. Maybe the Putnam kid. He’s fast. Strong. Graced with bicep. The Robinett kid is good with tools.
BBM: I can make turkey sounds with my mouth.
HB: Yes, I know you can.
BBM: Well. You ain’t exactly a Lynx.
HB: I am aware of that.
BBM: You’re big though.
HB: I’m not so big.
BBM: No, you are! Much bigger than the hummingbirds which gather at Carl Daddy Two’s feeder.
HB: For a hummingbird, I’m so-so big. I guess.
BBM: You’re big.
HB: Thanks.
BBM: What do we do now?
HB: I’m glad you asked me that. Come. Stand. Walk with me through the Aspen here.
[hovering. strolling.]
HB: Tell me, BoyBoy Man, what is it you hope to get out of life?
BBM: I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it...
HB: Well, think about it now.
[thinking. stalling.]
BBM: Well...
[phhht, phhht, phttt. mouth sounds.]
HB: Think.
BBM: It hurts.
HB: I know it does.
BBM: Well. I guess I’d like to have a TV show.
HB: A TV show? Really?
BBM: Well. I don’t know. Maybe not.
HB: What else?
BBM: Maybe just a movie of the week.
HB: Do tell.
BBM: I’ve got this story about a bunch of Acrobats.
HB: Acrobats? What happens to them?
BBM: They’re a Family. Not a Family-Family, but like a Group-of-Friends Family.
HB: What happens to this Family of Acrobats in your Dream Story?
BBM: They pretty much solve a crime.
HB: Interesting.
BBM: And in so doing, they save the Multi-Verse.
HB: I like it.
BBM: One of the Acrobats is a Dog.
HB: I love it.
BBM: Maybe what we can do, we can spin off the movie of the week into a regular TV show. On cable. So the Acrobats can cuss and do other things.
HB: Keep going...
BBM: Every week one of the Acrobats dies. But every week too they make a new one.
HB: How do you mean?
BBM: I mean they maybe fashion a small clay figurine, or like an ether figurine, or brown matter, or quintessence, whatnot, and they grant it life and make it a new Acrobat, to replace the one that fell.
HB: You are a genius.
BBM: But the Dog Acrobat never dies. That Dog Acrobat is really something of a Demi-God. Or a Vampire. A pretty cool Vampire.
HB: One of the Immortals?
BBM: Exactly.
HB: Where do we set the show?
BBM: I think the Acrobat Home-Base is on the Jupiter moon Europa...
HB: Ah, yes. I’ve been there. Beautiful, long winters.
BBM: Yeah. And the Home-Base Headquarters, the Acrobat Manse, is housed deep in the ice-covered ocean, and a Giant Trapeze allows them to swing effortlessly, as if with the Greatest of Ease, between they slushy home and the Earth.
HB: Damn.
BBM: Yeah.
HB: BoyBoy Man. Please forget what I said about the Putnam and Robinett kids. Those kids are trash. Dumb. You and I were meant to be together.
BBM: You want to produce my show?
HB: Well. I think I know somebody who knows this other person that is definitely going to want to produce your show.
BBM: I’ve got a Treatment written out at home.
HB: Good.
BBM: Well. Notes.
HB: That can wait. Tell me, why do you think I am your Spirit Animal?
BBM: You heard about my script?
HB: Fox mentioned your script. But that’s not why I am here, no.
BBM: ... ?
HB: Your heart beats so fast, BoyBoy Man. And what looks to an outside observer like an effortless stillness on your part, a hovering, is actually the result of so much expended energy. Yours is a nervous, non-stop movement, a ceaseless flitting, here and there and there and there and here. The result of such metabolism, such pace, is that your existence requires nonstop sustenance. At any given moment you are but hours away from starving. Might you grasp the meaning of this? You live out cycles over the course of moments that other creatures, like the Tse-Tse Fly, that silly thing, will spend a lifetime getting through once. More importantly, you have the ability to fly backwards. Your only rest comes in moments of sheer torpor, wherein you almost cease to exist. However, need calls again, and your nervous system responds, and you are gone. You might cross the Gulf of Mexico in a miraculous non-stop journey, and you might do this several times in the course of your life. But the risk is utter burn-out. A sudden ceasing.
BBM: But Neil Young said...
HB: I know what he said. Neil's a little funny sometimes. And we've talked about this. There are options better than either burning out or fading away.
BBM: I’m exhausted, Hummingbird.
HB: Sleep on it. I’ve got a little confab with Buck-Deer and Mongoose at Skinny Creek tomorrow noon about a tough case over in Bandy Woods.
BBM: I’ll lay my head on this rock here.
HB: No. Look. I made you a pillow.
BBM: Sweet.
HB: Drink this water.
[drinking. huge mouthfuls. wide eyes a'sparkle.]
BBM: Wow. The Acrobats and the Dog, and I think maybe they will have a friend that is a Space Blob, and another friend that is a Cop, they will all have to drink lots of water, I think...
HB: I want you to focus on your breathing

Friday, July 28, 2006

i have posted a new song, mexico, over at justin stone and the sea of tuscumbia. another pretty rough demo, but of higher quality yet than anything posted. i'm finally working with a good guy at the boards, a gifted human being, in his private studio, but he is so good and so meticulous he would probably be remiss that i'm posting the efforts of one night's rough work as a song. but. who knows when and how all these things may go down. there may not be another chance. i feel good enough about the efforts to gather fire. and i'm the jack-rabbit. i can't wait a minute. so here is a new song for your ears. rough and tumble and wild. this is the early result of a new wave of recording, and thus i hope for more soon. NOTE: quiet song, quiet song, rough mp3... the best way to listen is to put some headphones on, turn it way way up, and drive into houston to get some aerosmith tickets.

please note that the provided link above is a myspace page. i don't know how to post the song for rabbit ears otherwise, but you do not have to be a member of myspace to listen to music on a myspace music page. so go listen. go listen.

other'n that. well. love.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hello, Land-Dwellers. And hello, Interlopers. Hello, Bondsmen. Hello, RiverBoat Captains. Hello, you Catfish, Soiled Doves and Proud Buffalo. Hello, you Bright and Shining Stars. Hello, China. Hello, Byzantium. (If I speak it, do you come?) I am afraid readership drops to all new levels this week. Aunt Magdalena is gone, as is my old school chum Randy Fellows.

Aunt Magdalena e-mailed me this missive:

“I thought for a while we were related. You sent me this link. Figured you were Lilly’s boy, but Lilly called me this week and said she never heard of you or any other creekbed character. I suspect this has been an awful joke. I will not be visiting any time soon.”

Aunt M, God bless you. Might you remember the time I rode your Sally, your Great Dane, down the staircase of your brokedown manse, spilling disastrously and with great aplomb onto the floor as I reached bottom? I can still remember the sucking sound you made with your mouth and the choked bleat which followed. Not the best Thanksgiving, but a helluva show. You may rest easier knowing that my collar bone never did heal right.

Randy Fellows writes:

“Justin. Quite frankly. No. You are still the same bloated asshole I knew you when. What I cannot figure out is who you are playing this game with?”

Randy, lay off the cheap beer. I will call you when I get to town.

And my Uncle Carl. He's outta here too:

“Dear, Justin. We have never known where you were going, but we figure you are to keep going there. But I’m tired. Thanks for everything.”

And thank you, Carl. I can still taste your Wine-Beef Stroganoff on my lips. I can still smell your many cats. Thanks for reading as long you did.

Mother, it is quite likely just you and me here now. Like it was in the beginning. I had no words then, and none now, but I stay up late practicing my Babble and my Cooing Sounds. And you ought to see me walk! I get to my feet, lunge forward several steps, grab the inn table and steady myself before lunging toward the bookshelf. I grab hold, holler, and pirouhette ridiculouslessly to the shag carpet where I bury my face in the tawny brown mess of it with sheer pleasure. Walking! Who knew? I still find it easier to crawl, and crawling calms me, it is true, but by Christmas your boy will be lunging across even bigger rooms.

I’ve done some research on “blogging” and have come to the conclusion that I do it all wrong.

Here goes:

I wake up this morning with a feeling that I often awake to and that is the feeling that two steel ball bearings have settled into my lower back. And my jaw is clamped shut, the muscles frozen in place. Awesome. I promise myself that I will start doing yoga tomorrow or the next day. I lay in bed and concentrate real hard, slowly working my jaw, slowly swivelling my legs side to side. I draw my knees up to my chest and really begin rocking, from the hips out, just going at it, man, and the jaw now I'm kneading and kneading, getting the action where I like it. This exercise I call the Leviathan. Let’s just say that something awful rises from the deep. After about ten minutes of Leviathan, I roll off my army cot and into the day. The sound of my spine popping is a glorious thing. Crawling now. The kitchen is like a foreign country where I don’t know the language and am told not to drink the water. I crack a raw egg into a coffee cup and then drink it fast. I found long ago that which works for Rocky Balboa works for me. I wash my face in the sink with splashes of water, careful to get none in my mouth. Beautiful. The day gets better and better. I put on my sweat-pants and I am off to work.

Bo-ring! Sorry. I could tell you all kinds of stories about my job, about the constant shamings and degradations and mumblings and misunderstandings and bathroom breaks and unmitigated disasters and paperwork and catnaps and bathroom breaks and fantasies and cold sweats and dreamt-of novels and opening and closing drawers and bathroom breaks and faked phone conversations and the tattoo I am thinking about getting on my neck, but who wants to hear all that? Not I, Mother. And not you.

When I finished work there was a message on my answering machine:

“Justin? Listen. About what we talked about last night... my answer is no. I loaned you a hundred bucks a couple months ago and you said you had a big plan about posting flyers around town and getting a guitar player and getting this thing off the ground, and nothing happened, I didn’t hear from you for weeks, and then now this again, and No, the answer is no. And besides, you can’t sing, Justin. There is no band. My old lady’s feet are the size of basketballs, my rent’s due in a week, and a jam session is just plain out of the question. And especially the loan is out of the question. There won’t be any more jam sessions and there won’t be any more loans. Talk to you later.”

That’s my drummer, the inimitable and lanky Fred Patterson. I call him Fandango, which always seems to cheer him up. He gets in these moods from time to time. Whatever. He will come running back as he always does, especially once he hears this new tune I'm working on called Disaster Belt. Besides, I got bigger things on my mind than our band. I realized today at work that I knew next to nothing about what Mary-Kate (remembered your hyphen, MK; do you love me?) and Ashley Olsen have been up to the past few weeks and so there is some research to be done on-line. And once you get started on the Olsen twins you are but scant clicks away from the band Journey’s fansite messageboard and several adamant, expletive-filled points to be made about why the song Stay Awhile was never a single or on the greatest hits compilation when it is clearly the best song Journey ever wrote, and then of course there’s all this information to be had about the Loch Ness pleiasaur. (He lives in the underwater caves, you blind, dunder-headed fools!!!!!) It is a wide, wide world, Mother, and I am but a player on the stage, trying to soak it all in and then squeeze it all out, trying to give the performance of a lifetime.

But it wears you out, you know? I take my sweat pants off, eat about a half jar of Peanut Butter, roll the name Justin Stone-Olsen around in my mind, dream of Andalusia in the spring, and call it a night. Dingdang!

Monday, July 03, 2006

captain howl,

my hands shake as i write you these words. you know my hands always shook but the shaking now is of a different magnitude. i shudder inside, howl. i give myself and i give myself. i hope with all hope this letter finds you in some sense of Peace. and if not peace may this letter find you Alive. your words to me of those many years ago (how long, the years, howl? how long if at all?) your words to me then as we stood on that roof and we looked across our city and the city was purple to us, howl, alive, alive more than either of us were alive i would say, your words to me then have never rung so true as they do in the bell tower of my mind at this ringing moment, this ring: “when we peel away all layers of madness that we are left with is Nothing”. i have nothing now, howl, i feel i have nothing and it feels so good inside. clean, new, something entirely other. i have found a place whereto get away, howl. whether near or far i shall not say. i wish for none to come. not now. there are others here. not many but some, and they are of a most delightful sort. there are sounds of water in a well, laughter but not the sort one hears aloud. laughter felt. remember when we talked of finding a place where things grow again? i remember the smell of those nights. i remember a shaking at my very core, a shaking which i did then find so necessary and i know not why that need, but there it was, entire and consuming, howl. now when i breathe deep and hold in the thought of myself, hold my thought close, i cannot contain myself. the shaking was too much and i wished to stop. i wish to calm the fired nerve endings of this body, each of them, i wish to hold this thing dear. a thousand promises, howl. i broke a thousand promises and then a thousand more and a thousand after that, howl, and then i broke. i broke. or it might be better said that something inside me broke. i see in my mind then static, noise, fear, language. when i hold my breath close i long to exhale the entirety of it. i can hear you now, howl: “he’s off his rocker again”. and i most assuredly am. and god am i glad. what was the rocker if not excruciating, eh, howl? there are no tinctures in my chambers, none of the brown vials. none of the many voices. we hear too many voices to have one, howl. who said that? there is a small monkey here. i believe they call him a macaque, and i believe that in the days of ships and serpents and spice trade, howl, i believe he was a cherished pet of royalty. but this is no pet, as i am no royalty. his name insofar as i can tell is manny. and he is the funniest thing i have ever seen, howl. i love him. words cannot say how much i love him. right now he stands on his hands and he juggles fruit with his feet and this look on his face is a madcap thing. how i wish you could see this! he is a delight, manny is, and to him i owe so much gratitude. he has awakened a thing in me. but i fear i run now too long in words, too long in chatter, and such was not my intent. you have no shortage of words, this i know, and you’ve no need for more of mine. so i send you a few well chosen, a few picked from a tree in a courtyard outside my chamber window between here and there, between me and you howl. there are undoubtedly questions in your mind. when did we not have questions? and i imagine the reading of this missive may find you perhaps with a quiet discontent, perhaps even a quaking rage. i am sorry, howl. i am sorry and i am sorry. one finally wishes to find one a hole, and be inside that hole deep, far away from things and the noise, howl. one wishes for nothing and everything else, nothing is such a fine thing and why did i never find it so? the years i think must have had meaning, but it escapes me now, the meaning of them, other than as journey to now. i am not that which i claimed to be when consumed by the rankled spirits. i am in fact nobody. i am not that which i was when our days were numbered and the enemy lithe, handsome, and fast. i do not know who i was then. reports make their way here on occasion. i know the battle rages. and it is with deep regret i received--the deepest regret, howl, my last and final and most profound regret before this and all things departed--it was with terrible sadness, howl, i received the news of the fates suffered by our comrades. flipper boy, gusto and the pirate. i cannot say that they were good men, but men they were. i think of them as they were and i smile. i laugh. remember how we used to laugh, howl? the sound of it rang for days on end. our faces were sore with it, our eyes wet and almost holy, if such a thing existed then. i would be kidding myself if i did not admit that their voices come to me in dream. whether i speak for them to myself or indeed they have found some sort of channel here i know not. again, howl, i know not what to say but that i am sorry, and i am sorry. do you know the feeling of wishing the entire world might hear that you long terribly to say, all at once? my apology now is so, and complete. my very insides recoil against the spine with acute, mortal embarrassment. shame is embedded in my fragile bones, no, shame is a part of my very dna now, howl, a core construct of my genetic make-up. the thought of me then sends fresh shivers through my extremities. the thought of me then is nigh deafening if i dwell too long within it. one wishes to have the life to live entirely over again, right, howl? but let us not kid ourselves. what i am to do then is to live as if new from this word forward. what else might i to do? one may be re-born. i had thought it impossible before, but the others have shown me a thing or two about what i knew and did not know before. manny, god, he's a gas! my tears stain this letter now, howl, but know it a good bath, and may your fingers too be cleaned in the reading. what must you think as you read this by candle light in the perpetual night? does the rest of the team still reside in neighboring quarters? are the rooms still lit? has some vantage been gained over terrible tremor? you think perhaps i owe you more. you think perhaps by writing to confirm my continued existence i die that much more to the team than perhaps i had hitherto died. well, howl. what is a calling if not followed? another voice. and who needs another voice, howl? i think i can see rain falling on the headquarters. i can hear dingdang stirring for his penance. i can hear the soft parchment-like scratch of you rubbing your eyes. i see the candle flame tremble. but manny has dinner for me, and the others are disappearing. i will have no need for words for what may be a long time, if in fact i have need for word ever again. i may write again. but i cannot say with certainty what if anything i shall do. something stirs inside me, howl, know i am tremendous. in closing, breathe you deep. perhaps you ought not let on that you have received this letter from me. i will leave you the judge of that. you may see the ridiculous slouch of my shadow on the chamber wall again. who knows? not i. but i wish to make no promise. i broke a thousand promises, howl, and then something inside me broke. when battles rage, know i hate the bastards. tell them i hate them, it is the last i have. just know there are things i need now more than this hate, this discomfort. there are things and forces to be reckoned. i awake with day in mind. i love you and i love you. i do not know what this is. but i love you and i love you. water the plants for me, howl, if there are plants to be watered. god i wish you could see this monkey! i cannot believe him

the turkey