Ubiquitous Forces

March 19, 2017

031317

During the last week of her life
she stops eating, recoiling at the offer of any food.
She follows me friskily around the house, into the shower, even
dropping her usual annoyance at the threat of water.
Still, she does not eat.
During the last days of her life, she feels the unquenchable thirst.
During the last days of her life, I sit beside her and cry.
Still, she purrs readily when I pet her
slipping back into sleep within moments of my touch.
During the last day of her life, I watch while she makes her rounds
through every room of the house, visiting every favorite spot.
During the last day of her life, she stops purring.
I can no longer give her love.
Not like this.
She seems restless, yet moves less and less.
Progressively heavy, weary and weak.
Having barely broken through my fear and doubt
Having only barely begun to let go
I fetch the case, crying.
I lay it softly by the front door.
She awakens (not having moved for hours)
to collapse unconscious next to the case.
Still, ready to go.
During the last hours of her life, I cannot see her breathe
but I can clearly hear the struggle of each breath.
During the last hour of her life
I step outside into the mist of the day to dig her grave
knowing I would not have the strength later…
I want to be ready.
During the last hour of her life, she awakens
to the flow of fresh air, and slips outside through the front door.
She musters great effort to make her way through the gentle damp
around the house, to the back patio, where she lays
exhausted, recovering her strength.
Still, I watch with spading shovel in hand as she floats
down the path, by the blueberries
to sit resting on the steps leading to the creek.
I break the surface of the soil underneath her favorite fig tree.
The shovel catches on a sprinkler head.  The handle breaks.
I feel doubt swell within me, and check on her.
During the last minutes of her life, with the last of her strength
she basks in the muddy shallows of the creek
unpurturbed anymore by muck or fear of falling in.
A conspicuous line of five wild waterfowl hover before her
so close, the honorary flottila almost grounds itself ashore
disinterested in and unpurturbed by my presence.
I find comfort in this, and follow their lead.
I find another shovel, and return to my task.
When finished, I fetch the case from inside the house,
set it on the patio
and rejoin her in the muddy shallows
a few feet south along the bank
upstream, past the infamous Gate to Nowhere
(a gift of beavers to mark the return of life to the stream).
Smaller and shorter steps
Smaller and shorter breaths
before collapse
before the current takes her
and delivers her into the ready hands of Entropy.
I wish it could happen here, in the mist, among the birds
in the water, with neither suspicion nor interruption.
Lacking sufficient courage, I wish others of my species could understand.
Instead, I scoop her up.  She does not complain.
I hug her securely to my chest as I walk against gravity
up the steps to the path
past the blueberries, past the fig tree, shovel and grave
to the patio.  I lay her in the case, sad and satisfied
she has said her goodbyes.
During the last minutes of her life, we drive together to an office:
White rooms, hard corners, harsh lights.
During the last seconds of her life, I hope something smells familiar to her.
“It’s like falling asleep,” professional strangers reassure me with confidence.
I know this.  Except now she sleeps with her eyes open
and part of “how” means “where,” and I can’t help but wonder,
“What is the last scene she wants to feel?”
But I know.
She already told me.
This moment always feels like a long time coming.
I take her limp body back with me
wrapped in cloth
clutching it tight
as the colonies and communities and individuals
who had once warmly cooperated and collaborated and schemed and dreamed
to create her
cool and disintegrate and return to the earth
perhaps to pursue some other form.
This final work comes easy
aided by the ubiquitous forces of entropy, gravity, currents
I feel no struggle in death
As I walk downhill to the grave.
I cover her gently with familiar dirt.

It takes me thirty three years to grasp the relentless weight
anything but subtle as it gives meaning to the exceptional role
emerging, for a little while to move playfully
against the gradients and inevitable tendencies
always at the margins, poking, prodding, testing.
I feel the final vestige of fear dissipate.
The end no longer exists — only origin and context.
In this, I find and embrace my own death.
In this, I find and embrace my own life.

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An ode to old white liberals (OWLs)

February 25, 2017

020317

dedication:
for David Rakoff (I ask that the reader channel the gentle cadence his voice humming softly in their ear)
and Phil Ochs (for obvious reasons)
to honor the youth (that they may one day similarly smote my mole hill of praise upon the mountain of their triumph)
in memory of Toby Hemenway’s beautiful vision of direct action toward collective liberatory struggle.

Ye Olde Whyte Liberals
the literally self-appointed gatekeepers of progress
the practice of Deep Green Navel Gazing, or
the weighty philosophy of the Practicality Police
(choose either one to)
sandwich yourself between:

a Salem Sustainability Circle Jerk
(not even the courtesy of a reach-around)
i crash the celebration of mediocrity
(how’s your relationship?  sustainable? meh…
but even still, mediocrity is a better goal than what we currently have, so)
I’m glad you all agree, what do you plan to do about it, though?

while comfortable, pampered straight middle class white men
tell me what “we” can get (who is “we?”)
without any discussion of what we, the people, need
because justice for the homeless, and
clean, breathable air, and drinkable water are impractical.
Sanctuary and respect for the rights of (migrant) workers is impractical
(someone might slap our wrists).
Women who want the vote are impractical.  They got their wrists slapped.
Abolishing slavery is impractical.  Sorry, are “we” being too uppity?

Are? Were?  I fail to see the distinction between
Yesterday and today’s guardians of the status quo
self-styled “allies,” the first enemies of justice,
and the first to (pro)claim victory whenever it prevails.
In spite of, not because of their participation.
But not according to history, as they write it:
white-washed, man-washed, class-washed
clean and pure
in a rich, soapy lather of unexamined privilege.

Liberal?  conservative, with a small “c.”  But only if “we” are (were?) lucky.
Otherwise, reactionary.  Like the rest of the establishment types:

I pledge allegiance
To the Status Quo, and
the injustice for which it stands.
One Pyramid Scheme
Under Fraud
With Liberty and Justice
For OWLs
In the State of Denial.

“State of denial?”
their reproachful echo arrives on-time
almost gasping with well-practiced confusion
at the mere suggestion of imperfection
yet the condescending correction inevitably comes with dough-eyed precision:
“Dearheart…this is Oregon.”


a homecoming (of sorts)

November 23, 2016

112316

i see powdery lines of people
trapped inside the white lies of their inherited insanity
gazing through the looking glass on the wrong side of a mirror
glazed in fear
with every reflection inflecting infections of corrupted correction
like entitled sardines packed in between stacked rows of covetous tin can houses
jostling with futility for optimal “as good as” or “better than” position
by the sea: a homecoming.

the tide laps gently at my feet and rises with calm confidence
teasing and teething, while one of them says to me
“this, once a day, makes it all okay”
as if saying it out loud could make it more real than a surreal pipe dream
prompting the OC anarchist arising within me…


So You Wanna Be a Harp Player?

October 22, 2016

BACKGROUND

From that classic intro lick to the now-iconic and cliched followup, “So you wanna be a harp player?” Scott “Harpo” McCloskey’s “Harpin’ It Easy” taught many of us to suck and blow our way to some semblance of musicality on the harp.  I remember asking the Guy Behind the Counter at my LMS about learning the harp as a preteen.  Without hesitation, he took out the package, ripped it open, threw down the cassette tape and booklet, held up the included plastic “toy” harmonica, and said, “this is crap” then threw it in the waste basket with a clang.  Then he pushed the tape and booklet over to me with a C Marine Band and continued, “But I wish I had this little instruction course when I was learning to play.”  He charged me for the harmonica, which was the more expensive of the two items.  So he basically gave me the tape and booklet for free.

PURPOSE

This package has disappeared from the face of the earth.  But it’s a good tutorial for a beginner or even intermediate harp player to brush up on.  So in the interest of historic preservation, I am providing:

  1. The original booklet, scanned and processed for both print and computer display
  2. Both sides A and B of the cassette, conveniently broken into short subject-oriented tracks

PROCESS

Equipment: I recorded in stereo mp3 at 192kpbs on a small handheld Sony ICD-PX312, played through an old but fantastic handheld Panasonic Stereo Radio Cassette Player RQ-V164, with EQ set to middle on treble, mid and bass, and XBS set to “off” and volume on full.  No additional processing, except renaming the files on the recorder after splitting them into tracks, which is honestly where I sank most of my time and work in this project.

The tape broke on my first attempt to record.  I had to take the cassette apart and reattach the magnetic tape to the mylar tape with tiny little strips of scotch tape. Fortunately, it held up through recording both sides.

I did the scan work on ElementaryOS Luna (based on Ubuntu 14.04) using open source software Simple Scan at 600dpi from lossless copies using GIMP and LibreOffice Draw.

Get it here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BwEbnp8jewZdbm5LczRwQ1I0bTg?usp=sharing

C harp not included.

MORE

If you want your mind blown with the potential of the “diatonic” harmonica, look up Howard Levy (“Bela Fleck and the Flecktones”).  He plays the diatonic harp like a chromatic instrument for all musical styles and idioms.  For great blues and extra instruction, look up Adam Gussow (“Kick and Stomp,” Satan and Adam, and his Youtube channel “Modern Blues Harmonica,” full of helpful information for beginner and intermediate players).  Adam Gussow pays homage to his mentors, such as the great early black players his personal mentor, amazing street musician Nat Riddles.


101816 real deep

October 21, 2016

Alright, so I got this situation
When I take a look at the roots of what we call “civilization”
It’s an indication of a complication with no vindication
So this is me, expressing indignation
Deliberately, exploring intersectionality

No liberal tendencies exist, no cliche
nor laundry list to hide behind
(fellow activists raising fists high above disintegrating pride
like an angel of mercy come less-than-gently to remind:)
uncheck that box beside “peace of mind”
“rough” doesn’t even begin to describe
the road ahead, in look, feel and ride
and underfeet quicksand surrounding
like an ocean rising tide.

No lifeboat, ship sinking by design
drowning elite stay afloat climbing islands in the sea
rising from the bloated bodies of my kind, piled miles high.

At what point exactly do we take the hint,
turn the other cheek, and read the lines between the signs to see
the tentacled beast, ponzi scheme society
expanding, no escape, drag us all down to its dinner plate
one choice in fate determines how we relate:
activate to starve the beast, or roll over and participate.

Beware the offers of silver-tongued sycophantic sloppers to navigate
with guidance given through fear and hate, the choice seems easy:
stay the course, reproduce control of life by force
fractionating solidarity, divide and conquer remains the creed
rob Peter, pay Paul, making enemies of us all
armed to the teeth with stiletto knives
saddle up, stabbing backs, shiving sides, cut real deep
with that lateral animosity, we get by
inside a warzone monster of our making
over ten thousand years ago, taking
its sweet time to grow, optimize and learn its set
…does any of this sound familiar yet?

¿ʇǝʎ ɹɐıןıɯɐɟ punos sıɥʇ ɟo ʎuɐ sǝop˙˙˙


Derring Don’t (album)

September 24, 2016

Three rough, single and first takes from the front lines. Equipment: Tascam DR-40, CAD22a, and instruments. Where any polish exists, I can guarantee it’s just spit. When you spend your days hiding and running from fellow flesh-eating cannibals and soul-sucking spirits from the sister dimension, you tend to do what you can, when you can, where you can. I tell production polish the same thing I tell the coming zombie apocalypse: get in line.

Consider this a first blush bridge over the gaping chasm between the not-so-random clash of sound we call music and other forms of linguistic storytelling that have, up to this point, left my output heavily segregated and schizoid.

By way of comfort, expect more of this sort until I, like everyone, eventually become food for someone else.

Everfear heavily references a popular anthem of disaffected youth and teenage angst from the roaring 90s, and punts it squarely like a burning sack of shit into the pristine courtyard of normalized exploitation, where it belongs.

Ziggy Dies Hungry arrived in a dream early one morning as a tribute to the recent passing of You Know Who. It translates the remnant ruminations of an ancient vampire while he decays after being bitten by the Love Bug in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places.

LGM captures a pivotal moment of lonely sadness where I thought horizontal violence would win the battle of the week, if not the war. I swear someday Kermit the Frog will sing it again. He stood there with me while I wrote it for him.

Visit the links for lyrics.


070416 drifting gunsmoke

July 4, 2016

firearms, two feet too limp to draw the line
fireworks, four run scared defining where
frantic pops and cracks call home a parody
impairing me inside a simulated war zone

drifting gunsmoke, shifting minds broke
bodies hanging by a thread
brittle twigs breaking peace, groomed to tinder
snap, psychopathologize the head

PTSD-slinging chickenhawks
hiding behind doors with locks
cultivate the urge to purge
some celebrate with lead

commemorate atrocities, commensurate
with anxious ease, shock accompanies “oohs” and “aahs,” lying
sighs of relief sacrifice like lambs of stature, dying
manufacture living dead

injured lovers flying, follow falling stars
distant fuel feeding cars, run for cover far away
consume before collapse inflames, rush to work
insane, go berzerk from daily bread

contained explosions, aimed implosions
weapons made by monsters of the id
volcanic churning lake of fire
burning landscape, life and limb
like a bomb without a lid