Don’ Look Now, The Muse is Nekkid

Days 10 to 13

Don’t look now, the muse is nekkid! She crawled out of bed that way. Her nipples are straining in the afternoon chill. And the afternoon sun is peeling oranges all over the deck. And the afternoon wind is caterwauling like a goat. Meanwhile, to the north an orchid is sprouting through nonexistent snow, and high above, higher than where the woodpeckers like to peck, clouds are clowning around like drunk teenagers. One of them dropped their wallet. There is a hundred dollars in it and a ticket to Paradise. So I’m in Paradise now. Contrary to Eddie Money, there was only one ticket. So I apologize. But yes I’m here now and let me just say:

It’s not a new haircut.

It’s not a new relationship, but something!

Something has shifted. One wall goes up and another, more important one comes down. Three consecutive days of good writing. The kind of writing I’m actually proud of.

It has taken two weeks but I’ve finally found my groove. My muse finally got my letter that I’ve come to the OAC. She has found me here, where I have been waiting. Now when the Sun hits the amber hour, she splays herself nude on the deck tanning her translucent skin, giggling in the wind. She smiles at me, gives me the kind of wink to make my toes vibrate. She puts words in my head, vibrant words, neon sorts of words, electric; and they string together like daisy chains, like pearl necklaces, like spaghetti tendrils; they drip down my brain stem like a good apple whiskey, like bumps of Colombian fish scale, like concentrated morning dew. She tickles my third eye and causes it convulsions of cosmic proportion. She visits me in my dream, an old painter’s wife welcoming me into her garden upon a stage at an art exhibit. She is the telekinetic who moves my books and cooks my food. She is the steam that rises in the shower. She is the field mouse, and the mule deer; the installations of casted animal bones strewn about the forest. She is the Gasconade River moving north. She feeds me strawberries when no one’s looking, and tells me the secrets to my stories.

She reminds me that each word is precious. That it’s okay to take my time. There is no rush; no reason for haste. She says, turn the faucet on and let it drip. The pipes are warming up. The water is starting to flow. Spring is coming. And the artist in me is beginning to stretch. Soon she will blossom. Roots will grow; reach deep. The decision has been like broth boiling in a boat; slowly then all at once I have decided to stay here longer. Until June perhaps, returning every so often to the city. I can save more money this way; have more time for the things that matter.

Thinking of applying to other residencies. Thinking I can live my life a bit differently. I don’t need much. Sure I want to save for my future. But I feel I have things to learn first.

And moreover, I have no clue if I’ll get into grad schools. It’s a shot in the dark right now; a suspended arc, a slow motion super ball, eyes closed, hand out, hoping. I’m trying not to think about it. Wherever I am, though–I know this–wherever I am is where I’m supposed to be; it is what’s in my best interest. That seems the one stable thing in my life. A positive correlation between time and events in my best interest.

Here’s a visual representation:

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Time Lived vs. Things In My Best Interest

So you see that whatever happens, every little ting is gon’ be alright. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t desperately want to go to Iowa or Michigan. I just feel like it’s the right next step for what I’m wanting to do. Let’s not dither or delay, I say. The time is soon at hand for an audience to be won; for me to delight people the way I delight myself. My Muse is here.

The flood gates have been opened. Silver glaze jelly is sliding down the luge. There’s a party in my prefrontal cortex, and everyone’s invited. Except Kevin. Kevin can’t come. Everyone else though is cool. And by the way, it’s BYOGOF (bring your own grapes and ostrich feathers.) Shit’s expensive.

But seriously. Let’s get serious for one minute. Can we do that? Can we put a look of cold detachment on our faces? Just for a moment? And talk about something important?

Can we?

Great. Thank you. So here’s the deal.

My Muse has gone to sleep. I have decided to join her. I am learning to be content with what comes of each day. Remembering her words: there is no rush; no need for haste.

I’m taking my time out here, and time is taking me; where I do not know. But the point is, we’re on our way.

Days 10 through 13. Change is good. Reports say I have trouble letting go of things that’re no good for me. Reports say I’m clearing my karma. Reports say there is a direct line between me and my inner child. We hugged for an hour today, and played with her action figures. She is looking out the window now while the sun sets over the neighborhood. Toys are strewn at her feet. Dinosaurs, and ninja turtles. Batman and company. There are stories percolating in her brain, and she’s itching to share them with me.

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SOMEWHERE IN MEMORY (An Excerpt)

Home is not a place; it’s a feeling. Some will spend their lives searching for it. They will wonder if there’s ever enough time. Some will find it in the rain, or a bottle of gin. Some will go to the racetracks; others to the alleyways; still more to the stadiums and the citadels; the pews and the synagogues. Some will stay at the office. Some will find it on the road, amidst a band of traveling musicians blessed with eternal life. They will find it while they’re sleeping in the back of their school bus named Sadie. Smart guys, lucky guys. They will have each other. Some will find it on an island, away from the world; a fortress of jungle and unexploded ordnance, rusted relics of forgotten wars, and a kitchen they built with their own bare hands. He will have himself. Some will find it in the Earth, in the sun-soaked garden and the soil black as midnight, others in the water, in tall waves and frothy surf. Some will find it in the mountains among the fairies and the sprites, in Diana’s backyard where the old gods cavort. Some will find it in pie, or a good hard fuck. But some will not find it no matter how hard they look. No matter how much time they spend running around, digging, digging, digging. It will find them. It will dawn on them one day while they’re out walking and the moon is rising where the stars can’t shine. It will swell up inside them like balloons full of rainwater and helium jelly. Surprise!

Home is not a place; it’s a feeling. Lodged somewhere in her memory. Somewhere shy of six, before the family moved south, before it really started to dawn on her—the realization that she was different; that beneath Anna’s freckles, and curls, beneath that soft smile of hers, something was just plain wrong.

There was no putting a finger on it. No clear indication of what ailed her soul. An unnamed specter loomed over Anna throughout her life. Faceless. Haunting. Five years old. She was five years old when she first started asking. Asking the big questions, the unanswerable questions.

“Daddy, what happens when I die?”

“Mommy, where did I come from?” And her mommy would answer, “You came from me, sweetie. You came from my belly.”

“But what about before that?” And her mommy would answer, “You came from your father.”

“But what about before that?” And her mommy wouldn’t have an answer. She’d pause, direct her green eyes toward the ceiling fan. And say, “Honey, that’s where it all started.”

But Anna knew better. “Really?” She’d say, rolling her eyes as little girls are wont to do. Deep down, she knew better. Five years old. That’s all. It doesn’t take a fifty year old to understand the world. The child sees it as it is. The child looks out; she looks at all the faces, the misshapen expressions; all the colors, and forms. She looks at the world through the eyes of truth, through the eyes of a beginner. And she knows. Down in her heart, she knows what’s real. She can’t tie her own shoelaces, but she knows what’s real. She can’t butter her own bagel, but she knows what’s real.

So she paints. She sings. She walks in the woods behind her house. She writes stories about eleven year old wiccans and ancient ghosts, about hawks named Lewis, and bearcats named Jessie, kingdoms of priests who stare at the sun; creatures who breathe fire and always seem to have heartburn, gems that glow at night, clouds that prefer willows to hickories. She writes about a three-legged mongoose who can never seem to keep his balance, about a hamster with invasive eyes and a cold fusion motor in his belly. She writes about secrets. She writes about the Moon. And the sea. She writes about Volcanoes, wonders if they get lonely. She writes about an old Shaman who cries alone at night, ‘cause his family is gone. She writes about flames, the way they crackle and hiss, the way they swallow everything important. She writes about the Sun falling on the purple hills. She writes about the red red woods, the way they creak and shuffle in the wind at dusk. The wind, that perfectly invisible force, perfectly audible. She writes about things she doesn’t understand. She writes about clocks, and walls; shadows and pastures. She makes a life up there in her head. It’s easier that way. More her speed anyways. She was not meant for this world. But she’s got to come down some time.

She knows who she is. But she is young. Too young to understand what she faces. What stands before her, poised to unfold. Her blue eyes can only see so far. She squints to make things out in the distance. Maybe she needs glasses. She sends her imaginary friend off like a hunting dog. “Go into the future, Bob… and tell me what you see.” She waits, and waits for him. But he never comes. He never returns. Not yet at least. The time is not right. There are things she must face alone. Trials and revelations. Transformations of flesh as well as mind.

She is not ready for the world to crash around her. She is six years old. Still a boy in the eyes of her mother and father. Still a boy in the eyes of her big brother, William, her little sister, Eleanor. She will grow up a brother and a son. In time she will forget what’s real. She will forget who she is. She will forget what is wrong, though it will remain inside. She will stop writing. Stop singing. The kingdoms will crumble; the witches will perish at the stake. Everything will die. A slow death too. Taking its damn time. A family will collapse. Friends will leave. Lovers too. It will be then. Then, and only then, that she remembers what is real, what gives her heart its beat and rhythm.

 

~<>~

 

The imagination is a fragile thing. The question of the human condition is simple: will we lose our imagination to the gunky buildup of time; let it atrophy like neglected muscles; shrivel like the cosmic carcass of a dying red dwarf; wither away slowly then altogether into the abyss of the lost?

Or will we retain it? Will we seek it out? Will we seek to remember what is real and what is right? Will there be enough time? Is there ever enough time? And will we hold it forever in our minds? Keeping the big questions with us. The unanswerable questions. The questions that follow Anna her whole life, tacked to her shoes like shadows bending in the light.

Her dreams will get more vivid with each passing night until they merge with the day, until the veil has dissolved completely.

She will wash ashore. And she will ask the old Shaman what happens when she dies? Where does it all go? And he will tell her. He will tell her to have a slice of pie.