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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Old Good Old Good Days Were Claustrophobic

She sits there knowing every goddamn thing
In the goddamn world,
And she is letting the room have it.
“Have you read The 12 Lamentations of Jason?” she demands.
“Well, it’s all about you.”
“It is?”
“Yes. It is. And ‘Jason’ and ‘Justin’ each have six letters in their name, which I find interesting. Very interesting indeed.”
“What’s the book about?”
“I don’t know.” She’s affecting great boredom now. Picking things up, dropping them. “I really haven’t read the book in years. Actually to tell you the truth I don’t care about the book.”
“I’m letting everything the fuck go, I really am.”
“Yes, it is good. It is very good indeed.”
". . ."
"In the dream I had last night everything I believe was validated and that's all the proof that I need."
". . ."
"Let's say I give you a Chicken Suit to wear and then you run around and I shoot you, because that's what I do, I shoot Chickens. Didn't you know that, Justin? I can't stand Chicken Suits and I've been giving them out for years. And I also hate People Who Won't Put On Chicken Suits. Because everybody should put them on."
". . ."
"I remember you told me once that you love Chicken. Which I find very interesting. Very interesting indeed. Yes. I do." Smiling. "This is funny."
". . ."
"Yes I just realized how funny this all is. Jason--in the book; have you read The 12 Lamentations of Jason?--doesn't like cows. And cows are also a Farm Animal. Very interesting."
". . ."
"I remember you once saying that you had seen a Farm."
". . ."
Somehow there is almost no oxygen left in the room—
I am not sure how this phsyically works,
But there is nothing left to breathe.
She says, “Jesus Fucking Christ, Justin, I can hardly breathe. I remember when there used to be tons of oxygen in this room. Tons.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

All I can remember of the dream
Is that the earnest Celebrity Relative
Of a Young Man Killed In A Snowball Fight—
Rather, killed when hit in the head
By a large rock packed in snow—
Is campaigning hard against snowball fights,
Struggling against the odds to raise awareness
While also promoting her next movie,
A charming picture called Snowman’s Folly
About an ill-fated, big-hearted Snowman
Who must get a quirky Celebrity Girlfriend
In order to break the spell he is under
And not melt into a puddle when winter ends.
“I really believe in this movie,” she tastily confides,
“And I really believe in Myself And My Dead Relative.”
“But snowball fights are fun,” somebody offers,
“And besides, you live in Southern California.”
The eager Celebrity Relative loses herself
And throws a rock hard at the head of her antagonist,
Dropping him with a direct strike to the temple.
“How fun was that?” she demands.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I've Come To Look For America

"Try This On For Size"
Um . . . do I have to?

In certain sections of the United States, tradition holds that when adolescents reach primary adulthood--for boys this is called "Mandom", for girls "Woman Season"--they undergo a ritual called "Crucifixion". This ritual is traditionally held in a public setting, be it in a town square or nearby field, and it is not uncommon to find nearly every able citizen in attendance, as the ritual often serves as a valuable social function, a place to catch up with friends and neighbors, get away from the day to day grind for an evening. During the convivial mixing part of the gathering the strapping young folks who are "Set for a Cross" stand silently on a stage in front of the townspeople, on full display, such that the community is able to give them "Full and Decent Regard". It is expected during this period that the young ones are to "Gird Themselves For That Which Is Theirs To Carry".

Once the ceremony proper begins, the "Upright Adult Men" of the community carry heavy wooden crosses onto the stage. The crosses are typically made up of Oak beams, and weigh between 2O pounds (for the women) and 30 pounds (for the men). In order then from tallest to shortest, the young men and women are laid across the wooden crosses and--starting with the right hand and then the left--they are carefully hammered onto the cross horizontal beam with heavy iron spikes through their palms. The young adults are then encouraged with cries of support from the community and strenuous emotional prodding from the "Upright Adult Men" to "Get Then To Your Feet", and slowly but surely they work their way into a standing position, arms splayed to the side, so that the Cross is balanced onto their back and held aloft by the pierced hands. This is generally an awkward period, during which some folks in the audience will refill their drinks, grab a snack, use the restroom, etcetera. Eventually, all the young adults are on their feet (assisted, if necessary) and then encouraged to "Dance" with another, or, carefully circle one another while bouncing foot to foot, very careful not to bump cross beams because not only is this incredibly painful, but "To Touch or Be Touched" is said to negate the experience. The sight of all these burgeoning "Heroes" doing the "Heavy Two Step" is a very happy one for the townsfolk. There are reports of viewers experiencing ecstatic states. People sing, chant, sway, and the communal vigor is caught up in the "Ones Who Bear" on stage and their dance becomes increasingly frenetic, freewheeling, until they are running in circles, arms spread like wings nailed to a heavy wooden burden. Eventually everyone "Gets Plum Tuckered Out" and the festivities come to a close. Those now possessed either of "Mandom" or "Woman Season" return home with their respective families for rest and "Strength Training," as they are to carry these crosses on their backside for the next 30 days. It is theorized that this specific time period was previously tied to the cycles of the moon, but such an idea in this day and age is considered by these people "Cockamamie". So, it is 30 days, 30 nights of "Crucifixion," during which the "Fresh Adults" are given reprieve from chores and school work, but are nonetheless required to "Concentrate On The Pain".

It is said that after experiencing this event, one never fully loses the sensation of carrying that 30 pound oak cross on his or her back. It is said that this is why adults in these parts of the country walk in greater than average numbers with limps, leans, or generally hunched over. Often you will see these adults compensating for the imagined weight on their backs by developing a heavily rounded middle section, or "Balance Belly". But the spiritual benefits of this way of life are overwhelmingly endorsed by its practitioners and continue to be passed from generation to generation. They say that the "Crucifixion" teaches them like nothing else could to "Hold It All In Tightly" and to "Walk Staunchly".

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Book of Rural Legends

In the Departure Gate of the Denver airport
I heard the blonde headed boy say,
I don’t want to get on the plane.
And now as the plane shimmies down the runway
The boy sits in his father’s lap
In the window seat across the aisle from me.
The father cups his son’s head to chest
And the boy is silent,
Watching out the window from his human cradle.
In fact nobody on the plane makes a sound;
This is one of the quiet collective moments of modern time—
Humans gathering themselves
Each in their unknowable way
To shuttle skyward.
I shift my gaze out my own window
From my own window seat
For my own contemplation of take off
The ground leaves us,
Us it,
With a shuddering heave,
And we are flying somehow.
No matter how old I get,
Or how many times I take to the air in a plane,
I will always be amazed by this feat
Nothing short of marvelous.
And as I ascend now,
Settling finally and fully into my seat,
Other thoughts have room to come forward:
I am going home—
My home in the west—
From my other home—
The home in the middle—
And I am very glad to be returning to Los Angeles.

Lindsay reads seven year old Seymour’s
Letter home from camp,
As I implored her do,
And she laughs,
Which pleases me greatly.

There is in my lap
A page no longer blank
And the same can be said of my mind.
I am smitten with flight
And the in-between states.

The understudy bursts stage center
In the middle of production
And he cries,
That was my choice!
He had given away a great secret
One night after too much to drink
And the lead,
So enraptured is he of self,
And so in the habit of taking,
Has no idea what these words tumbling
From the understudy’s mouth mean.
This is a terrible moment,
But with a laugh and gesture
Our lead so trained and comfortable
Again has the crowd in his belt
And we laugh.
The understudy collapses into the orchestra
And we laugh harder
As the woodwinds peak.

But it is hard to tell in a Theater of Delusion
Who is who is lusion.
Bad Medicine is rampant,
The show is a masquerade.

We went to the river
In ones, couples and groups
The all of us
Smiling inward or outward
The dusk
Rich and purposeful
Insects hum
A stir
Joy well
The river speaks grateful
We ease in

The things we drop are picked up by the Earth
To be buried, recycled or rejected,
Left to pile in unsightly messes.
It will only get “easier”.
The things we say are picked up by the ears
To be forgotten, confused or cherished
Held in wonder by the mind.
Once upon a time we hurried out of trees
And across savannah under night.
Our religion then was running as such,
And making wide eyed, crazy faces,
Though we did not know them to be crazy at the time.

Something holds tight tonight;
Something is not right.
I am always coming to see you at four or five in the morning,
My mind sullied,
My head in the little hands of my chest again.
There is nothing here,
But this is
In fact
A good thing,
If nothing too were
Allay, Anxiety—
When we open ourselves
To it
Into it
From it
Through it
We open opportunity.

You want to write about a thing
Before it is gone.
The jewels on Andy Kaufman’s face,
And his staring softly down the long end of it—
Hope and hope and one travels as far as need be for
You want to live.

The music
And the rest of it
Can best be described
As Tension
And Release.
This sound
This sound
Is completion
To the ear and
To the chest!

There is a place in Sweat Lodge
You may at first think you do not want to go,
But once there,
Once you find a center
And give yourself to it
You realize you have found a very special place;
Not unlike a long deep stretch
Your body at first fights,
But once there you may experience yourself anew.
We fought birth too,
We shook and cried and held to a place so dark
But there was a new place to go.
Coming out of the Sweat Lodge I circled the hut
Once to the right
Barely able to stand
And I lay face down onto the soft cool Earth
Into vibration.
And Release.
Into the One,
The Root—
It is always there once you can feel it.

Old Patience says, “I ain’t seen you since you squandered your guts over there on Temecula’s Last Ride...!”
“That was a Flare Up.”
“Yes it was. How are the kids?”
“Dazzled, really. Jefferson got himself twisted up over the Brown Car Derby and Maribeth’s up to her neck in Collation. Same Old Same Old.”
“You ever get over there to Horsehair Junction?”
“Oh, man. No. Never. Not since the Outbreak.”
“You’ll want to keep your Rudder in the Water.”
“You betcha.”
“Other than that, just let yourself go.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
“The Old Man’s got a Soft Spot in his skull.”
“Dang. Breedle Bank’s giving out Loan.”
“I heard that. I been thinking about planting a Bone Garden.”
“Hell yeah.”
“House of Last Rides.”
“Remember Temecula?”
“Oh, you bet!”
“Yeah, man.”
“The Book of Rural Legends.”
“That’s hilarious.”