Sunday, June 9, 2019

Ordinary earthquakes

Where earthquakes were the "ordinary" the house has settled, aside from the rats. Last night they dragged something into the space above my bed; I thought I heard them eating. Squeak, beep, my friend said on her answering machine. No! It was beep, speak.

Squeak. What I thought an endemic `amakihi may have been a saffron finch, I'm told by Joe in Kansas.

Yesterday, I walked behind a large red earth mover at the curve of a road the other side of Wright. Negotiated my way past a triangular warning sign and squatted amid the brown palm fronds. I peed. Not six inches away from me were two neat rows of solid teeth, a skull mixed in with the dead fronds. Narrow jaw, a boar. Back near the street a femur and other scattered bones. The pee spot, making waves: Radhika at three in Kathmandu in the concrete rubble of a construction site.

The ordinary re-invents itself in context. Already the morning clouds move in, darkening the room. Must we be readers of poetry sitting in chairs in forest rooms to avoid the nation's criminal enterprise? His friend is in solitary, wants to go back to Arizona where he can take prison classes. He killed an autistic arsonist there, after causing the "accidental" death of a college professor in Waikiki. "He's a good guy," my friend says, then rolls his eyes at himself. It's complicated. He writes poems in old-fashioned cursive. They rhyme. They lament. They are still the poems of a man in prison in solitary, though they might be those of a young woman in intro to poetry.

Solitude is balm or solitude is nerves. Noise to silence ratio. If noise is what we make, then what of the rats' squeaking, dragging, in their attic cafe. The famous chef played heavy metal music in his restaurant. "It's like being in his home," the waiter said. "Do I have to pay for my meal in his house?" my friend's wife demanded to know.

From his watchtower down the mountain a bit, he could see three orange glows last year: Kilauaea, Pu`u O`o, Fissure 8. In spring the `ohia render the forest red with their blossoms. Pigs rut in his back yard; he'll need to fence it, but not until next year. He says he watches a lot of movies up here and listens to Eckhart Tolle on the now. Grimaces when he mentions the neighbors, though what he hadn't imagined when he built the house is that you cannot see them.

The "trespassers will be shot" sign is still down my street, but it's bleached in the sun. NO TRESPASSING still rings out its orange warning. Wear orange to protest gun violence. Or not.

I wonder if my friend believes his friend in solitary. My friend lives in solitary, too, but he has an altar to Buddha and leaves late afternoons to hike in the park. Solitude causes psychosis, when it doesn't give you American transcendentalism. The current version of which is psychosis: Mexico gave into a threat weeks before it was made, and Mars is part of the moon. Don't give up on western logic, Jon tells me, but I wonder what's left of it. You can read Hegel in your cottage but once you turn on the radio, all bets are off. Hegel in Vegas would be a formidable thing.

To pay attention is not to pay off a mortgage or to pay to play. I must hit a button to pay my debts. Reparations, repair. To attend is to stitch back together. Not the violence of collage but something more gentle, like the hem of a cloak. Slow cinema. Watch hand thread needle pierce cloth pull up the thread and attach. Not cling.

As a child, he clung to us. Needs "moments of happiness" that self-destruct. Needs what cannot be given. The Dalai Lama says you cannot lose your ego unless it's healed. I cannot find the recipe on-line. No YouTube to tell me how to take the moist gardenia flower and plant it inside his chest. The blossom has no narrative on this cool morning. I saw a cat down the road the other day. Looked briefly at my boots. When I shifted my gaze back, it was gone.

"You need a cat for your cottage."

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