Sunday, July 31, 2022

Mapping the field

31 July 2022

You can find me behind my thoughts, in the back of the warehouse. A refrigerated truck spews condensation into the alley, like talk balloons without words. Silence is like that, always suggesting, seldom delivering, taking the middle spaces between idea and deed, where Greek sentences so often sit, trying to balance the two, knowing them part of an ethical conundrum that even a cave can’t fix. You can find my feelings there, if you care to look, though of late I’ve been hiding them again from the workplace I left behind. But that was a literal leaving, like my son’s this Wednesday, not the remnant trail advertising a perfect mantra to heal your aches and pains. We advertise our lacks, the holes in our texts, the oranges that fill our hearts too full to remain unheard. If this is not poetry, what is it? Meditation is poetry, and that’s why we try so hard to let it go. Sweep out the corners, let them fill again with dust and bunnies.

Another Russian assault on eastern Ukraine. Everyone is encouraged to leave. Leave-taking as trigger, whether forced or not. But at the end of a missile there’s more to your trauma than absence or loss of person (including self) to time’s flows. He suspects we don’t have polar bears at our zoo, and I laugh at the thought. But we saw a motorcade for the new tiger the other night, filing past Ala Moana, shopping mall that fronts the Pacific Ocean, as if that were possible to do.

Lilith stares off the bed at Maeve, staring back through the screen door. They expect something of me. Maeve has disappeared already. When you exit a depression, you know impermanence has its virtues, despite those eyelid slide shows and sore arms. Does capitalism cause depression, as the new study of studies suggests? Yes, money is bad feeling, to say nothing of faith, but with my medical plan I can buy my drugs for a reasonable fee and feel better, which is not to say peaceful, for another day. Too short a lease would be shorter without.

Symptoms of trauma: pecking away at your laptop, plucking for hours at a ukelele, beating back the clouds from the Japanese movie about the films we make after our deaths. Choose one moment to direct. Pick your actors carefully. Turn the camera’s crank, making that sound, as of fast, high-pitched train tracks. Gaze into the camera, as if it might keep you on the other side of the clouds, even as you know it will not. Is there audience for your film? Does it matter if the reviews come back negative, or come back not at all?

And then you met me. And then I met you. The and does not add one thing to another, but suggests a turn in time. Because if if had supplanted and, then we’d not be here, would we? Suit up for your morning walk with the dog. Palms are crackling. We think the wind is blowing the right way.

Friday, July 15, 2022


15 July 2022

We witness after before before: the bent, ruined carriage where a woman and her daughter were in the photograph we see now. Photograph from above, mother of daughter, carriage beside them. We don't see what the words record: body parts in the street. We see only objects. Stand-ins, voters by proxy, shareholders of a walk down a street somewhere in the Ukraine. It must have been sunny.

Both photographs are of things we don’t see, but know were present. Images of absence: the stained white wall between photographs. It’s at once what’s censored and most there. “Cause of death still unknown” in at least three instances. The disappearance of poets goes without saying because our mouths are taped shut. Silence is more of a temptation than speech.

“A womb serves no purpose to a woman,” the elected official opines. “It’s a sanctuary.” Her body has already been exploded into pieces, those that are hers and those that are sacred. A man put his child in a dumpster in Illinois to protect him from bullets. The dumpster-womb held the boy until the rain ended. It was a sacred space.

Is it worse to play the Uvalde audio, or to erase it? We know children were screaming, but somehow not hearing what we know absolves us of suffering. Our suffering, not theirs. They were trapped in a classroom-box as now in silence. A cop is seen inside the school, holding his big gun, smiling.

Laughter is the explosion of smiling. Links have been located between terror and humor. Kafka laughed, while the Mona Lisa smiled. Civil defense sirens are public laughter designed to protect us from the weather or each other. What we fail to see will hurt us tomorrow. Communications systems were migrated so that only the relevant texts went missing. A lousy excuse is a veil over excresence.

My friend gets “deplaned” for wanting to shift items from one bag to another bag. The other passengers look appalled. She and her dog spend the night at a motel, where she meets a woman who (also) lost her son at a young age. Silence is best guarded by those who don’t know. The rest of us walk around the block, whispering to one another, knowing time erases our guilt.

Where words are considered cudgels. What happened is as ordinary a question as there is, but it’s taken for violence. Do not ask and you will not hurt anyone. But the hurt has been accomplished, one suggests. It’s flown to all of us out of the eyeball of a minor god. Portable rocket launcher sits in a field beside an old barn. We see it from above, without the means to erase it, unless in the download. That comes after the twisted metal a mile away. Men clean out used tanks for the next crew to die in. Little boxes.

There is such pleasure in words. Dydasko means to teach. True and Caprice Dydasco play soccer.

Facebook polemic

There is no shame in dying, at whatever age. There is no shame in how we die, though some deaths might be prevented, were we to talk out loud about them. The shame is in the silences around the deaths. Can we not speak of them, rather than googling awful gossipy websites? Can we not use ourselves, poets, as examples of the suffering our sick culture creates and then refuses to treat in a compassionate way? Can there be compassion without speech? (I think not.)


Note: "speech" in the last sentence is intended in the sense of "communication," "opening up conversation," not in the sense simply of talking.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

The man in the garage

Behind the parked pick up truck and next to the black and white Aussie shepherd who'd been asleep in the garage the other day, a man sat draped in a folding chair. Mostly belly, he wore US Army shorts, a Wrangler cap with American flag, and he spoke with an unplaceable accent, heavy on the d's, but hardly Brooklyn. He held a red disk in his hand that Lilith pulled me toward; turned out to be a dish of food for his dog.
The house was his grandmother's. She and his grandfather bought it in the 1920s. (She died last year in her late 90s.) They came up from Hilo when it got hot, grew vegetables, traded them for milk and cream with the Shipman dairy folks up here. They'd owned a furniture shop (and the building) in Hilo for 80 years. He'd grown up on Oahu. Born at Tripler, he said, because his "real" parents were in the military. His adoptive parents and most of that family hadn't treated him well, though his grandmother did. "You've done more for me than any of my kids," she'd told him.
He'd gone to Ohio to meet his birth family; that went well. He saw his parents' graves there, met three aunties at a motel. 
He'd been on disability for a long time; had always had seizures because his "real" mother was an alcoholic. His adoptive mother took 15K of his government money. People really shouldn't do that to each other. They all breathe alike, put on their clothes alike, go to the bathroom. He doesn't really understand it.
His parents recently sold a couple of their properties, are working on fixing up another couple in Hilo--he lives in a place on the grounds where his parents do. I didn't ask what would happen to this lovely green house surrounded by gnomes and statues, a garden and large woodpile. A large window opens to the main street (as it were), framed in green, friendly in aspect. A water catchment container sits off to the side of the driveway, wooden and on stilts. The man misses the old days when everyone knew everyone else and you could barter goods. Things are so expensive now.
I said good-bye to him and the dog. As Lilith and I headed down the lane, I heard him saying kind things to her. She'd just been fed. She was a happy dog.