Happy 22nd of December

Just heard Bob Dylan singing
“Here Comes Santa Claus” in his
Throaty, burned-out voice,
Bouncing through the senseless melody
Like an optimistic 9-year-old
After smoking a carton of Lucky Strikes.

Well, I want you all to know
That I’m alright,
But it was painful and
Disorienting, like I’d just
Walked into a Vegas showroom
And seen Neil Young
Tap-dancing in a peppermint-pinstriped
Jacket, or watched
Edward Norton sit on Santa’s fat
Velvet lap and ask for a rag doll.

I mean, I’d really thought this guy was
Serious, a perfect balance
Between a sadhu
And a train hobo, the last sort of guy
To make a Christmas album
Or to pay respects to anything associated
With happiness.
I didn’t even think Dylan knew
What Christmas was.

My hopes for a revolution
Have basically been deflated
And I may have to sell
My tambourine.
Still, to be absolutely fair,
Hearing the author
Of bitter epics like ‘Rolling Stone’ and
‘Desolation Row’ caroling the arrival
Of Saint Nicholas the day after
The misnomered ‘Mayan Apocalypse’
Does have its contra-operatic appeal. In the words
Of a thin-collared hipster in the Simpson’s
Mo’s Bar episode, “Unless you’re being i-ronical,
Please turn that OFF.”



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Saturday,11:59 am

Window Shopping for Mirrors

"Window Shopping for Mirrors"

My yoga instructor
might be the only person in the world

who can turn a playlist
from Loenard Cohen and Victor Jara

to Sade and Enya
in twelve hours flat.

A Friday night
alone with my week’s exhaustion

opens to a morning hour
of performing the gestures of mountains and cats,

horses, frogs, and even a moment
in which I unabashedly imitate a star.

During breaths and twists and density
of weightless asanas I recall

a smat of associations:
a tea slope

in Shimizu, the kitchen of a beloved aunt,
and the opening notes

to In a Silent Way, track 2,

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Vignette 7

An African woman, hunched
a bit beneath her headdress
in cold, wrapped in a thin robe
and dress all patterned thoughtfully,
holds two frappuccinos
with caramel cream,
saccharine structures of
whipped ice, gold textured snow,
straws ready,
does not take a sip of either,
looks toward the grey
and snow-wet road,
seated west-facing
on the southbound bus,
calm, cool, steps off with ‘thank you,’
confident, accented Somalian…

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RUNNING FROM HOME, Volume 1: Heritage Park toward May’s Creek

It is important to go into the hills. Not so much to expand what is known, but to expand the unknown into your burgeoning self. You get bigger that way. It puts wordless things into your sleep when all you’ve been dreaming is words.

To begin, I live at the suburban edge of the metropolis, on a hill of strip malls, 600-dollar apartments and flat yards. A graveyard and a neighborhood, both remembering Jimi Hendrix. And further, separated by gullies, valleys, ravines, more tameless hills lead eastward into the west. Their smoothly curved slopes are thick with evergreens.

This used to be the land of cougars; as things are, a bunny can be seen now and then. Since I no longer live in the city, and generally don’t use a car, I like to take my feet and get myself even further away from it, escaping the ever-more repetitive exploits of civilization, and daring what is left of the pristine. While others drive to far-away locations, park, and set out to walk or jog, I wake up, put on my Brooks Addictions, and slowly gather speed and sense.

Yesterday’s run along the May Creek Valley could have made good photography. Descending through upper class neighborhoods, past large houses of people with a hell of a commute, I found, in a dead end, a brief cement alley declining to a well-trimmed street.

Going on downward, I reached the valley, crossed a creek bridge, verged right and followed a string of long farms winding for miles between the two slopes. Tall trees stood half-way up the broad grassy incline, horses grazing in October air recently cleared of fog.

The horses: earth, sienna, copper, brown and rust. I was above them by the space of a large gutter times two. Within the fences, a calm land, tufts of gorged grass, and piles of the healthiest crap I’ve seen in months. You could smell it, too. It was the smell of unrestrictedness, of air unfolded, breath opening from all ends of the body

A few drab sheds of unpainted wood, rusted farm equipment, long fields surrounded by short barbed-wire fences. The road followed the farmyards, the creek, Squak Mountain rising directly at my side, its trees leaning in and dusting the roadside with yellow leaves. So the road wound in the way of creeks and mountain flanks. At the sound of an engine I’d look back, or skip to the opposite curb, since there was little room for either of us.

Further on there were sidewalks, a streetlight, a one-room café with lamps over dreary, happy faces. A gas station sat over a gully, and in its lot a tall pink coffee cart with Christmas lights, hung with a pitch-black board saying Rosie’s Beans. I crossed a bridge over that imperceptible creek which the poor road was named after, a pedestrian pathway covered with staling moss. It is always comforting to reach these brief intersections that flash in and out of the mind, leaving images of small things you almost wish to be a part of.

In the outskirts of the metropolis, in small towns, it’s more trite, but more touching; in the city I would run past bistro after bistro in which I had never eaten: North 65th Street, say, before the recession, bustling with lovers dressed smoothly in almond, in cobalt, lovely amaranth or immaculate black, feeding each other wine and mozzarella. I never went out to such venues in my early twenties, and there was sadness–and a thrill–in never being a part of that life directly, but moving by it with well-earned adrenaline and peace.

Now, through with intrigue, I was tiring. The knee which cured itself last year was asking me to remember, and the tight sinews rising from them were stiffening with wear, warning of Monday. I was coming back into unfamiliar roads which I knew led to familiar streets, and the novelties began to decrease as I approached a bend.

A faint suspicion of Fall went back and forth through the wind, and I turned back westward, four miles from home.

–Sunday, October 3, 2010

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Running From Home, Volume 2: [Brief Nocturne]

By a series of small leaps, I manage to make it five miles tonight, through moonlit neighborhoods of hill country where I am saved several times from Death by Dog, often by only a single chain link or a patched-up hole in a plank fence.

Keep in mind, this area is a chaos of foxhounds and terriers so lonely they would eat your feet if you let them. The moon burns a hole in a passing cloud. The sky, 7 at night, is still a blue that baby boys would recognize.

In another place I am threatened by a thin wood cow fastened to a mailbox, which nearly takes my ear. Is this a dangerous neighborhood? They say that goats live in the fields.

I remember running once in a foreign country at night, and suddenly hearing a menagerie of animal sounds around me. Only when I got home did I see on the map that I’d been running the parkway through a zoo.

The worst that could happen, and the best, is getting lost. You build your lungs up that way. For ten minutes I lose myself in cul-de sacs, later realizing they surround a dense forest.

I finally make my way back and around them, then turn toward home, covering fine, fresh-laid gravel, moist, moss-filled grass, five-foot sidewalks fronting tall houses, and strips of dirt along the roadside trailing the edge of a long park.

My feet are happy. No matter how the ground changes. Looming above me, one iron tower stretches media wires to another, playing hopscotch with the wind. Or trying to. The wind laughs, rolls once around the wires, turns backward with a tired but knowing glance, and moves on.

–January 17, 2011

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Saturday, Central District

While hopeless men who never got over hope wander streets without searching for jobs, and loveless men who never got over love wander streets without looking for love, in the neighborhood everybody seems to be cutting their lawn in half top-wise. This causes a scent with no other name to rise into the air, nose-height exactly, tempting allergic hysteria, but for the god-blessed who have none, creating an aura almost unconsidered in the advanced stages of life past twelve.

There are, of course, workers here.

People with compliant and noncompliant mowers, tools rusted in hibernating sheds, and pliant fingers whose smallest grooves will carry red stains for a week. Workers who, without the dignity of minimum wage, a suited gentleman who nods as they clock in on time, or a guaranteed hour to abandon labor in favor of rushing off to television and love-making, nonetheless emerge commuteless into private yards, wearing obscenely practical shorts and sexless visors.

They adore the utter closeness of an outdoors they had barely remembered owning on the other side of their doors–without, of course, a single wall…color rosing and flexing not from an artist’s fingers, like Michelangelo’s hands of God and man tentatively touching,  but from the contact of a stem or branch blooming out of green and tan.

I have nothing to do with any of this, just stumbling by, a person without land stretching half-tired legs and lifting eyes from a week of logging in and out, reckless phone calls and mechanical appointments measured strangely in minutes. It’s rising past 80, a lot of people aren’t home, blackberry vines spill through short fences, I keep going despite a slight tendonitis, looking for what it is I might be looking for. 

Twenty-first and Yesler, a dental clinic, to 23rd & Jackson, an errand in a drug store, 23rd to Judkins, Judkins up east to Martin Luther King Junior Street and down over north to a park with pathways weaving between playgrounds and knolls of grass, tricyclists and pale-legged women reading novels in black bikinis.

King Junior Street down slowly back to South Washington, and South Washington, which is an entirely insignificant street on which it is therefore possible to reside, brings me to Main, then 23rd again, where there is, what else, a coffee shop decked with crazy blue and yellow jazz murals and newspapers fronted with citizens dancing.

For three dollars, I take a seat and take back a few old addictions, noticing how dark it is despite tall columns of well-intended windows, and how the smell of roast coffee compares poorly to that of completely uncooked grass, and how the air inside is completely even, balanced and lifeless without the June breeze, sporadic and soothing…

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9 Hypotheses of the Cat

There are entire theories filled with happiness.

The problem with the world is that we keep paying attention to the first hundred meters of everything. Everyone and everything I’ve ever known is at least 12 miles.

Writing is at least one occupation in which you are constantly responsible for what does not belong to you.

I need some activity that lasts me until sunset to invigorate that quiet unmoving hour, eye level with God and light.

It gives him pain, they say, and all they mean is he is timid. 

If what God said were more vigorous, more athletic, more muscular, then my strength would know how to listen to it. Now only my weakness does–and my weakness is hardly capable of anything.7
We need trees there. If there are no trees there, no one will dance…

It’s not that we disagree with your being mad. We just didn’t know you knew how. And why you never showed us before.

You would think that between all the generations we would manage to set each other straight, find a way somehow to justify and make each other better. Instead, we stand entirely unconvinced of one another.

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