Sometimes Life

Monday morning.
Loneliness.
Longing.
Workweek alienation.
Body parts abstracted. A hand smoking a cigarette. An eye glued to a phone. A voice dissociating in passing.
A gloomy day. Quiet as days go in the city.
No sirens. No screams of construction. Not yet.
I watched as people walked through the park.
Everyone, everything, subdued by the wetness. By clouds. By the cool air of Autumn. By an extra layer of clothing, long sleeves, maybe a jacket. A bit more weight on the body.
I sipped my coffee slowly.
Enjoyed the breeze. The rustle of branches.
I read twenty pages from an old book. The paper stained with age and brittleness. I thought it might crumble. Whenever I opened it the smell of stale forests, stagnant and musty, clouded my nostrils like old basements. The words themselves jumped from the pages. Dynamic. Transcendent. Rambling incoherence. Artful smut. A sordid aliveness.
I closed the book mid-chapter.
A nearby conversation shoved me into distraction.
“Yoga.” He said emphatically.
“Yeah yoga. Me too.” Both their voices drenched with the pulse of coffee.
“It just helps me relax, you know? Take space. Just an hour and a half to see my life out on the table.”
“Same.”
“I love Savasana. Just being there.”
“Oh. I don’t do that kind of yoga.”
They looked normal. Button up shirts. Close cropped haircuts. Shaved faces. Jeans. Their names were probably Chad or Steve or Gary. It doesn’t matter. They talked about yoga, insurance, making money. The rat race. It sounded like they wanted to search for something deeper in life, but only vaguely; the language of healing in vogue to the point it warped the everyday normal with platitudes and Sanskrit and charlatanism.
I felt soulless.
I needed to use the bathroom.
I wandered into a bookstore imagining love, a conversation, finding connection. Depth of another kind. Placed on the shelves, between pages, sentences falling out and strung together, unassuming. Haunting a mysterious elsewhere.
I used the bathroom and sat in an empty wooden chair.
A woman approached me.
Or I approached her.
Maybe we both felt longing.
Loneliness.
Modern life.
An escalator clicked in repetition.
Dull music played overhead interspersed by a voice making commands to the other workers.
The ringing of a phone.
All of it gentle.
Placated.
It disgusted me.
“What are you reading?” She asked.
I looked up. I said, “Hey.”
Initially I thought I recognized her from another life. A different era. She wore glasses. Shoulders slouched. Slightly. She wore clothes that suggested a style from another city.
“Have we met?” I asked.
She shrugged unsure.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“LA.”
“Hm. Only been there once. Years ago.”
She shrugged again as if to say, “That’s nice.”
“Do you live around here?” I asked. Although she approached me, or maybe I approached her, she simply stood there, quiet, peering into my eyes inquisitively. Cocking her head to one side. Smiling faintly.
I asked her questions over and over, both out of interest and to assuage my own discomfort. I felt anxiety on the periphery, a small paranoia that people watched as we engaged, listened to our conversation, made judgments, asked questions at a distance, whispered gossip down the lane.
I wondered if she felt the same way.
But she approached me.
Or I approached her.
We had to be okay.
I wondered if the anxious feelings arose as a byproduct of the constant state of surveillance. The insidious oppression of daily life that gets placed into the category of fake news and fiction. 1984. “Fascism is just a hot word.”
I noticed a store camera staring at us. Perched in a corner, high up. It probed our humanness with an alien eyeball. It unnerved me.
I saw my reflection.
I saw her reflection.
She looked unphased.
The paranoia dissipated almost as quickly as it nudged me, not enough to take over our interaction, not enough to send us spinning into a dazed panic. She appeared relaxed and that relaxed me. The touch of anxiety created just the right amount of tension to make my heart beat a little faster.
“I’m here with a family I work with.” She said. “I take care of their children. They’re filmmakers.” She rubbed her fingers together to indicate money. “I have the day off. The night too. That’s why I’m here. In a bookstore.”
She made me smile. “A good life, huh?”
“They treat me well enough.” She said.
“Are you reading anything in particular?” I asked.
“Not today. Nothing’s catching my attention. I flipped through a few magazines. That’s all.”
“Uh huh. So…”
“What are you reading?” She asked.
I showed her a used copy of Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller.
“Typical.” She said. “Misogynist. Everyone’s got to read it once I guess.”
I felt embarrassed.
“That books not from here.” She said. “Let me get this straight. You’re in a Barnes & Noble reading an used copy of Henry Miller? You trying to be cool or what?”
“I was over at the park and had to use the bathroom.”
“That doesn’t explain the book.” She laughed. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to explain yourself to me. He has his moments of brilliance. Just uses the word cunt too much. It gets to be childish after a while.”
“Can’t argue with that.” I said. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Kayla.” She held out her hand.
“Willow.”
“Well…” She said.
“Well…” I repeated. The jolt of awkwardness made me sweat. I don’t know why I had to work up the courage to ask, but I did, and I could feel it under my armpits and on the center of my chest. I hesitated and stuttered but managed to come out with it, “Since you’re not reading, want to go for a walk?”
“Are you straight?” She asked.
“What?” The question jarred me.
“Are you straight?” She repeated.
“I mean, no, but that’s quite a question.”
“Straight guys have all these assumptions about women. Like they own us or something. They have all these fucked up expectations. Like a conversation means they’re getting laid. Not all of them, but you know what I mean. I thought by the look of you, the way you crossed your legs, I thought you might be, but still I had to ask. You answered correctly. Good job. You pass.”
“Okay.” I thought it strange her way of interacting but it made sense. She saw me and saw something in me but she also needed to screen me to make sure.
“Do you want to see anything? Or maybe I should ask, what have you already seen?” I asked as we walked out the door.
“If I wanted a tour guide, I would have hired one.” She said curtly. “I want to experience the city spontaneously today. I’m not working. I’m not on a schedule. Let’s keep it that way.” Her general countenance was soft but she spoke brusquely and to the point. I liked it. The combination of her vibe with the way she expressed herself felt balanced, and to be honest, it put me at ease.
“I do want to drop my bag though.” She said. “I don’t need it. I didn’t buy any books.”
We took off and walked the block and a half to her hotel. I couldn’t believe the place. It was 19th Century Revival Romanesque on the outside, but once inside, it sang with the tones of the Prohibition Era. Like a scene out of The Great Gatsby, but out of touch with reality, like a fundraiser for poor people with only rich people in attendance. The carpeting under my feet screamed a pattern of bourgeois pretense and the lighting vibrated an atmosphere of chic bohemian jazz notes without any of the cigarette smoke. It was simultaneously fancy and drab. A few people sat at a bar with tall wine glasses. They laughed about god knows what.
“This place makes me gag.” She said. “But it’s where they put me up, so here I am.”
We took an elevator to the 13th floor.
“Lucky number.” I said.
She opened her door and dropped her bag on a chair. The décor appeared odd to me. A mishmash between the abstraction of modern art and the warmth of a Moroccan café. Lots of orange, red, brown, and maroon draped across sleek, impractical furnishings. It confused me. Like they wanted people to feel comfortable but still cold.
“People with lots of money confuse me.” I said.
“Tell me about.” She said. “I’m from Hidden Hills.”
“That means shit to me.”
“If you saw it, you’d understand.”
“How’d you make it out?” I asked.
“Clearly I haven’t.” She held out her arms and pointed to the wealth of the hotel with her eyes. “But I also had a certain upbringing, I don’t really want to talk about at the moment.”
“Okay. No problem. Should we go back out?”
She grabbed a fanny pack, and to my surprise, grabbed my hand, and we ran out the door.
For a few blocks we walked hand-in-hand. The early leaves of Autumn scattered sparsely, juxtaposed against the square edges of bricks and sidewalk. It felt romantic. Playful. I felt also childlike and nervous. “My hand is sweating.” I said.
“I know. I can feel it.” She said.
“You don’t think it’s weird we’re holding hands? We just met.”
“You don’t go on Tinder much, do you?”
“No. I don’t.”
I felt like an old man. Like an anachronism. All of a sudden a grouchy rigidity swept into my body. Unsure of myself but still trying to boast confidence, I tensed up. The cat was constantly grabbing my tongue. I tried to shake it off.
She let go of my hand.
“You never brought someone home from a bar?” She asked.
“Come to think of it, I don’t know that I have.”
“You’ve had sex, right?”
“What, well yeah, of course.”
“Just checking.” She said. “Holding hands is the least of my worries. Don’t get any ideas though. It’s nice to be with another person. To share intimate moments. To share awkwardness.” She said it matter-of-factly.
She embodied a great knowing of her own desires, and without any breaks in the flow of movement and conversation, she let it be known with clarity how she felt and what she desired. It was pleasant.
“Let’s go to the river.” I suggested.
“Lead the way.”
As we walked to the river we talked about social movements and social justice, the use of psychedelics and how that affects our general experience. We talked about the need for healing within activist circles, the continuation and rehashing of trauma and how we each deal with our own navigation of relationships. We saw eye to eye on a lot of subjects but especially agreed on a wish for more subtlety of conversation when it came to the political landscape. We understood it wasn’t so easy. It required self-critique which we all struggled with. So many of us were hurt and lashing out, cutting people off, calling people out, and at the same time not owning up to our own bullshit. The hurt was understandable but the methods of dealing with it often seemed like the most expedient way of not actually having to deal with anything at all.
As humans of the modern era we devoured one another on a regular basis. We were taught to consume so consume we continued to do. “No ethical consumption under late stage capitalism.”
So it goes.
It felt good to connect with a stranger of a like mind.
We arrived at the river. The sun started heading into its nightly slumber. Not that we could see it anyway. The sky still covered over gloomily.
Out ahead of us we saw a couple dancing together.
“Oh my god. That’s so cute!” She said.
“Shall we?” I asked. I held out my hand and made a slight bow.
“Of course, darling.”
We took one another by the hand and held one another around the waist. We danced back and forth as though in a ballroom and strutted forward in a clumsy tango. We knocked knees a couple times and I may have stepped on her toes.
“I have no training.” I said.
“Oh be quiet and just dance.”
We spun each other around.
The river glistened despite the clouds in the sky.
“You know it’s a full moon?”
“Tonight? That’s right, it is.” She said.
“Want to a grab a beer?” I asked.
“I trust you’re not going to try and seduce me just because we’re having a beer?”
“No expectations at all. Just enjoying your company.”
We walked hand-in-hand.
We sat at the bar.
“I think I want a mixed drink.” She said.
She asked the bartender, “You have any good whiskey.”
He laughed. “Bottom shelf.”
“Whatever. A whiskey sour.” She said.
I ordered a beer.
“I just realized we haven’t eaten tonight.” She said.
“Beer is like bread.” I said.
“Aren’t you a philosopher.”
“That’s what people tell me. Your local wizard.”
She gave me a look over her drink. A look that said simply, “Please. Stop.”
“I don’t know if I’m hungry. I feel like I’m buzzing off our spontaneous rendezvous.” I said.
“Same.” She said.
I didn’t know where the night was headed and I didn’t care.
We laughed and played and talked.
Intimately as strangers could be.
It was comfortable enough.
Hints of weirdness interspersed.
Revelations sparked.
I noticed how much pressure our society puts on sex. I kept checking her out. I didn’t feel especially turned on. Physically speaking. She was beautiful, of course. I felt rather a magnetism.
We spoke a similar language.
An attraction of words.
She approached me.
Or I approached her.
I don’t know.
I remembered seeing her in the bookstore. My thoughts scattered. Vaguely drowning.
The day gloomy.
I saw her flipping through magazines.
A longing.
I felt lonely.
I went back to my book and kept glancing up until she disappeared.
Out of sight.
I dove into my book again.
She emerged like a dream.
In a haze.
She approached me.
A fuzz of uncertainty.
Full of my own projections.
Slowly we met.
My thoughts shed around her like the seeds of fall.
Like petals and leaves and I listened.
“I’m trying to get better at saying no.” She said. “I think it comes in all different forms. Not just the word no. I say it when I assert myself. When I cross your entitled boundary to create my own. But I do it out of self-preservation. Protection, really.”
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Twenty-five.”
“You look older. You sound older.” I said.
She looked away exuding a bashful confidence.
“How old are you?” She asked.
I made a motion with my hand indicating my age. To be honest, I liked showing off the ring on my pointer finger.
She mocked the motion.
“I like hanging out with older people.” She said. “I often do.”
“I’m not that much older.”
“We never would have been in high school together.” She pointed out.
“This is true.” I said.
We each ordered another drink.
“I feel a little tipsy already.” She said.
“I drink beer.” I said.
“A philosopher caveman on our hands.” She joked. “Who are you, Yoda?” She shifted her voice. “Drink beer I do.”
I laughed at myself.
“Beer good. Beer give me good sensation.”
“Sensation!” She laughed. “Oh my god. What am I doing hanging out with you?”
I shrugged my shoulders.
“We crossed paths. You approached me.” I told her.
She looked at me aghast. “You approached me! I felt someone looking at me. I turned around and it was you. You kept looking and dodging my gaze!”
She read me to a T.
“I was scared.” I said.
I felt like I wanted to cry.
She noticed.
“It’s okay. I was scared too.” She said. “But I eyed you up. I could take you.” She held up her arm and made a muscle.
“What. No way.” I retorted.
“Look.” She said. “We had a good night and day so far. Don’t ruin it. I was scared when you kept looking at me and dodging my eyes. You’re a tall white man. I was already skeptical. I was getting ready to leave and I noticed you crossed your legs. I don’t know why but I thought about that meme. You know it?”
I nodded. “From tumblr?”
She quoted it verbatim. “You know how people buy drinks for girls at bars? Why can’t people do that at bookstores? Like if I’m looking at a novel in Barnes & Noble and some person walks up to me and strikes up a conversation and offers to buy the book for me there is a lot better chance of that working out in their favor.”
My jaw dropped.
“I flipped the script.” She said. “I approached you. In a bookstore. I didn’t buy you a book…”
“Wow.” That’s all I could muster.
“You don’t know what it’s like to be a woman.” She said.
I shook my head.
“Your eyes are like darts. Watch them.”
“You’re right.” I nodded. “You went out of your way, spent the whole day with me, just to tell me that?” I asked.
“Oh my god, no. You’re cute. So far, I like you. I already told you not to ruin it.”
I felt my cheeks turn red and for the first time that night, unexpectedly, I was aroused.
“I like you too.” I said.
“Don’t get any ideas.” She said.
“Do you want to get out of her? Go for a walk?”
“That’s an idea.” She said. “I said very specifically don’t get any ideas. But yes, let’s go for a walk.”
We finished our drinks and meandered our way back to her hotel room. We weren’t drunk. A couple drinks each without dinner. Tipsy. Uninhibited. Slightly. Full of magic.
“I’m going to sleep alone tonight.” She stated.
“Of course.”
In her room on the 13th floor I felt awkward. I didn’t know where to sit. The one chair was piled up with the outpouring of a suitcase. The only other options were the floor or the bed.
I noticed the mini-fridge.
“Look at these snacks.” I said. “And the drinks! Coconut water. Kombucha. Whiskey.”
“I don’t think they’re included in my stay.” She said.
I stood there.
In the middle of the room.
Awkwardly.
Unsure how to act.
“I don’t know what to do.” I said. “Can I sit in the bed?”
“Sure. I appreciate you asking.”
She curled up on the king size bed and sequestered herself to one corner.
I climbed onto the bed to join her.
We continued to talk. The conversation felt scattered. I was a nervous wreck. I tried to be cool but so many voices shot through my brain. Each one
recommending
demanding
suggesting
scolding
laughing
belittling
full of jealousy
crying
doubt
screaming
whispering
unwinding
encouraging
faulting
uncaring
poking
prodding
watching
a different approach.
We talked about boundaries. She recounted an experience with a person she sees from time to time. A friend of a friend. Continually he overstepped boundaries. Didn’t listen to body language. To verbal language. To every sign under the sun. He kept at.
“Why do men think no means yes?” She asked.
I didn’t know how to respond. I felt ashamed. I felt awkward in my own position so close to her and wanting to be closer.
“Do you feel that way right now?” I asked.
“No.”
“Can I come closer?” I asked.
“Yes.” She said.
I inched my body closer, pulling myself over with knuckles dug into the bed.
We talked.
We touched legs.
I rubbed her knee.
We touched hands.
Ran fingers along fingers.
We talked about intimacy. About feeling feelings for people but unsure how to initiate those little touches of desire.
“Can I get closer?” I asked.
She nodded.
I moved myself again. Closer to her chest. I wanted to rub my head into her shoulder. Instead, we kissed. We kissed and kissed and kissed.
We kissed to the point of tiredness.
I was aroused and kept pushing myself onto her.
She pressed herself into me.
I maneuvered between waves of sleep and pure ecstasy .
We intertwined tongues.
Our breaths rose and emitted soft grunts.
We laid back.
Eyes closed.
Eyes opened.
Eyes closed.
“How are you feeling?” I asked.
“Nice. Comfortable. Tired.” She said.
“Same.” I said.
We kissed oblivious to time or day or happenstance.
We drifted.
We two humans fuzzy with little love.
“I think I’m ready for sleep.” She said.
“Me too.”
“Are you okay getting home?” She asked.
“Yes. I’ll be fine.”
She smiled sleepily.
I smiled sleepily.
“It was nice meeting you. Spending time.” I said.
“Let me give you a hug.”
We got up and hugged.
I didn’t know what to think. I felt a buzz. My body alive. I don’t think I was thinking at all.
She showed me out and closed the door behind me.
“Goodbye.” She said through a sliver of space before the door completely shut.
We didn’t exchange information.
I didn’t friend her on Facebook.
She didn’t seek me on Instagram.
A lovely night.
In the annals of mystery.
“Goodnight.” I said.
I walked home.
A light drizzle.
I didn’t mind.
I felt like I was floating.
I crawled into bed with my girlfriend.
She wavered between sleep and a book.
“Where were you?” She asked.
“I’ll tell you later.” I said.
“Oh god.” She laughed mildly. “Did you meet someone? You have a dumb grin on your face.”

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Bloodlust

Consider that you are loved.
Even when people don’t know how to show it.
Even when you don’t know how to receive it.
Consider that you are loved.

There is a lot going on in this world. A lot of struggle. People are hurting in all kinds of ways. We all know this. We feel it deeply. In our bones. In our flesh. In our shortness of breath. The panic. We lash out. Bare our teeth. Snap and growl. Especially with those we love. We snarl. Spit. Act nasty. Get ugly. We bottle up our emotions and explode.

We have this tool. The internet. To reveal our happiness. Our scorn. Our absolute disgust. Our love and relationships. We tell little lies and noble truths to garner scraps of attention. We fumble and flop and flounder
biding our time until what?

What is more intimate and revealing than feeling safe to express our darkness, our hatred, our anger? To be listened to in silence. Ears big as elephants. Hearts large as houses. What is more intimate and revealing than the gesture of loving space held?

I spent a small bit of time with an Argentinian writer and anarchist outside of Buenos Aries. We talked about love. Amor y rabia. He disagreed vehemently with the idea that “all you need is love” in no roundabout words he called it shit. People need housing and healthcare. People need time to spend with their families. People need food. You can’t eat love.

I didn’t disagree with him. But our conversation was loud and passionful because we still need love.

We still need love.

We live in greedy times.
The days are eaten up by work.
Why?
Work is eaten up by bosses.
How come?
The vicious cycle plays out from the time we hit the alarm clock to the time we clock out. Labor is stolen. Time is stolen. Where does that leave love? Love is not a currency. Love is not quantifiable.

Still…

Love gets shoved into a box and wrapped as a present to give a few times a year. Love gets a hallmark card scribbled on at the last minute the barcode succinctly ignored. Love gets pushed around yelled at stomped on used like a doormat ripped out of the chest tossed in the gutter and rained on.

I love the rain.

Love gets the brunt of the anger and rage. The hatred swirling in the short breaths taken without acknowledging we are actually living blood pumping hearts stomping out of the chest into the streets to scream at whoever will listen.

Love. We are mourning. We are grieving. We do not always mean what we say. We may believe in the moment the harshness. The fuck you. The curses swelling like waves. But we are a loud cry from those who deserve it.

The rule makers have no peace in their hearts. Only greed.

The greed trickles down
turns us all green
we puke our disgust
onto one another.
We are covered in the anger
meant for another
meant for the collective
to wield as a weapon
to recall times of the guillotine
pulling down figure heads
and holding them up for show.

Consider
Consider that you are loved.
Consider you are powerful
yet humbled.

Consider that you are hurt by a loved one. It is true. We hurt one another. There is no excuse. There is no retribution for unthinkable transgressions. We are forced into situations by circumstances systemic. We cannot become alienated and isolated over minutia. We cannot spurn one another without cold reason. We must take up our chains. We must take up our anger and rage.

We must…

As I finish this poem
I overhear lyrics spoken

“I never had healthcare
just a pistol on the waist
for the people”

It gives me a moment of pause and contemplation.

There’s no denying these times are dire.
The fire burns.
The fire burns.

Consider that you are love.
That you are
another piece of the puzzle.
Without you
the big picture crumbles at the feet of tyrants. Full of greed. Full of unknowing.

We all deserve better. So much better.

flash bang thirteen

i.

a collective dream with porous edges fading into the surrounding city.
when we see it snuggled within the multifaceted dimensions of reality,
there is so much more at stake
simply down the street.

ii.

especially on new years. what a random day. what’s it connected to? well intentioned partying. people need that. rhythmical celebration. resolution. it can take on the form of community when it is not all dressed up and soaked through. it seems empty, but it’s not quite like that. not quite vapid. it won’t entirely disappear. i believe it has a lot to offer people and society. but its transformational ability seems quite like the ouroboros. the snake biting its own tail. round and round it goes, reinventing itself yet still maintaining the same form.

the snake who peels through layers is still a snake.

iii.

“where’s the after party?”
“which one? there’s so many!”
“the party is in the elevator. right now!”
*small chatter*
*sensuous hugs*
“it’s 4am.”
“i want to go home & feed my cat first.”
*sensuous hugs*
“the sun will be up in 3 hours.”
“honey, i love you.”

iv.

she appeared at the beginning of the party.
no one saw her. but they felt her presence.
she swept through the crowd
a hard, shadowed edge
bright as the sun. & warm like ambrosia.

it wasn’t the sun’s glow that lit her up.
she was not the moon.

she appeared dripping with what the witches call profanity:
full of sustenance, ravenous, & yet
she possessed a particular stillness that draws out the depths of sound.
like a mountain,
outside the temple,
the whisper of leaves,
the cackle of coyotes,
the wind upon precipices,
visible & meaningful, fresh.

she spoke in a weird tongue. but not weird in the strange sense.
weird in the way her language licked movement into the future.

although some chanced to see her, many never had such fortune.

v.

everyone danced, grooved, strutted, sexed up the atmosphere. wheeled around. costumes and fancy dress to the nines. glitter. tights. lights. the bass hit deep, knees bent animate, hips punched quick, the rhythm, the night, a swirl of psychedelic symposium. an upheaval of platitudinal seduction, gushing, not so much from a deep-seated wildness, but rather an urge to love the world into fantastic nonexistence.

it’s a fun scene, but it’s an exhausted scene. the burning healing aesthetic-expression-of-spirituality scene. it’s a necessary stepping stone for some, a home for others, i’m sure it has saved many lives. and yes, it’s true- it’s abundant with people who want to explore further, who want to know deeper, who want to love freely without abandon or shame. it’s a scene that is a vehicle for nonconventional ways of relating & being. it’s true, it’s a global phenomenon and has surely impacted millions, and it’s clear people will continue to cultivate it as one might see to family. but despite the penchant for flow arts, it is a scene that lacks movement. its pitfall is hedonism. it gets lost there, and it floats, almost too comfortably, in a paradisiacal bliss, a cuddle puddle dripping tenderness into the enchanted hours of the dark night.

vi.

mama matrix most mysterious,
the lust for idealism is potently choking.
ancestors honored & blessed.

vii.

“it’s a derivative of a derivative.”
“what about the offshoots?”
“what if everyone ate ecstasy and the doors were locked for six hours
and we had to get real with one another!”
“a social experiment?”
“and afterwards, everyone hopped on a bus and went to feed the homeless.”
“a socialist burn?”

viii.

she appears like a vision at the end of the evening. when everyone else is blasted and spilling a smashy smash of semblance, she is refined and elegant. she is kept together. she isn’t at the same party as everyone else. maybe she is staying at the hotel, sipping a hard drink at the bar before heading off to her room. or maybe she waltzed in with an irresistible charm, spontaneously called from afar. her chariot, the deep cold of the night, collectively arriving, carried lovely from the sea by a murder of ravens guided by moon and stars.

ix.

they woke up sweaty. a boutique hotel the dead of winter. they fell back asleep. adjusting. cuddling. two husbands and a wife. she in the middle, turning one side to the other with the frequency of a full moon. sleepless, dreaming. the three lavishing the sunrise. each one, the other, a lover. resting.

a man like a hobbit asleep on the floor. he snores like a chimney.

x.

have you ever gone to bed and awoken in another dream?

xi.

a woman sits at a diner’s table staring into the distances.

her eyes blank, gazing, she cries lonely without a tear. a thought flits across her face, seen in the catch of her eyes, her cheek muscles pulsing faintly. she is not alone. she snaps into her body and looks at her husband. she beckons with her lips, perched, cooing, purring moist like a cliff overrun with waterfall. enticing him with her eyelashes, batting at a distance, dancing gently in the air, wings light as feathers. love, love me. love you.

he’s engrossed in his phone.
he mumbles something to her without looking up.
she laughs without a sound.

she coolly recoils into her own blank stare, looking at the space ahead, nowhere, a fantasy too far away, it flickers & wisps like a cloudy dream, a morning fog, she almost grasps it, a reality so intricately webbed, so convincingly cradled, so fragilely lost.

the waitress sets a cup of coffee under her nose.
she smiles thank you. isn’t this happy, a tiny excitement.
she sips like a bird, the steam wafting hot.

a thought again flits across her face and she smiles, looks to her husband and beckons, lips pursed, so unforgivably supple, he feels a light pout, the fragrance of a kiss, and he moves closer, unconsciously, still glued to his phone.

she purrs, and snaps her neck quickly, any more sharply and it may have hurt. her eyes zip focus. another thought, her husband moves an inch closer.

they know this game well.
she stalks him like a wild animal.
why? she doesn’t need him.
she wants him.
closer.
her desire isn’t licentious.
it’s an indefatigable aspect of being human.

and the heat of her look touches him, but only nibbles the periphery of his being. as she massages with patience, he begins slowly to put down the device. he looks at her and she smiles, slowly drawing him closer like a mama spider wrapping up a bit of nourishment & death.

xii.

sometimes it’s fireworks. sometimes it’s guns.

Post-Apocalyptic Vanguard

It’s soupy outside. Like honey and molasses. Like hot mud. The sun keeps crushing me. It turned me into a puddle like the wicked witch of the west. I melted and the sun sucked me off the ground. Through the air I flew straight pass the moon and pass those inner planets. Now I’m burning in that fiery goodness. That fiery goddess got me in a spell of wordy worships.


We went for a hike today in Wissahickon. I took off my shoes. Touched the ground. Sole to soul. It was relieving to feel the earth underfoot. The compacted soil absorbed my steps, and the networks of fungi heard me coming from several if not hundreds of feet away. Ghost pipe popped out into my vision field. I immediately sat with it, and it asked to be harvested. I’ve found it growing a number of times, but haven’t up until this point lifted it from the ground. It felt right. It felt full of mystery and intrigue. That’s usually how I know it’s time. When I’m on the edge of falling in. Right on the precipice. When I can sink my mind in easily and absorb what the plant has to offer. There’s some kind synergy at play. Cross specie telepathy. I left a good bit of the ghost pipe alone. Ethical harvesting always in the back of my conscience.

The ghost pipe looks just like that. Like an opaque pipe. They grow in what I’d like to call a village. Clumped up together like a band of little huts. It’s a plant, but it doesn’t produce chlorophyl, so it never gets green. Since it doesn’t produce its own food, it feeds off of the mycelial growth of mushrooms, and the mushrooms feed off the roots of trees. So in a sense, the ghost pipe is an epi-parasite. A parasite of a parasite. Which is really interesting when considering its medicinal action: It helps relieve pain, but it doesn’t get rid of the pain. It allows you to “feel” the pain but ignore it. Like getting outside your body to witness what is happening but not partaking in it. Like an out of body experience. Like becoming a ghost. And it has this similar action on emotional pain: It allows the person to see & engage the pain instead of turning away from it because it so deeply hurts.


Disclaimer: I’ve not experienced this for myself with regards to ghost pipe, I’ve only been reading about it. But it makes a lot of sense to me, like I’ve known it for years, because I’ve worked with psychedelics and meditation. That sense of “being beside one’s self” is all too familiar. Ekstasis. It’s where the word ecstasy derives from.

But what I find really curious is that these similar plants are coming into my life right around the same time. Plants that work on deep hurt. Deep wounds. The wounds that are forgotten about because they seem so long gone, but out of nowhere, or so it seems, they give rise and ravage the sleeper from passive dreams into conscious action to heal.

St. John’s Wort is one of those other plants I found recently. Hypericum perforatum. I found it growing wild for the first time ever. It was alongside the railroad tracks in my hometown. It jumped out at me like, “Hey! Would you like a helping hand? How about some of that fiery golden sun absorbed & redistributed into my bright yellow flowers! And when you crush my petals, I’ll bleed a maroon blood on your hands…” It works in that way, on the nerves and on the metaphorical blood. The life force. It helps lift one out of mild depressions, re-directing one’s inner fire, re-aligning the will. I harvested it under the full moon, the gusting wind and rainstorm that blew in beforehand still wet on its leaves. I let it dry out into the next day, then bottled it up with apple cider vinegar and honey. I’m planning on waiting until after the autumn equinox to crack it open in hopes that it crushes me like the sun when the darkness of days is full tilt in the winter valley.


I also bottled up the ghost pipe, but instead of acv, I used one hundred proof vodka. I don’t plan on using it. But I’m sure I will. I guess I’m already working with it. I don’t know why I took it home with me in the first place. It just called on me to save its spirit. Perhaps I need it more than I realize, like I’m entering a deep searching and realization of my own traumatic experience growing up in America. It’s heavy when so many people fly the American flag ignoring the war machine that devastates both the home front and the world stage. When I walk downtown, I see all these people wearing flag shirts and other propaganda paraphernalia. When I walk around the suburbs, everyone has a flag marking their home like it needs to be stated: “I am a nationalist and this is America!” That seems to be the lynchpin for patriotism. It’s the forefront of discussion, how complicit are you? The more complicit, the more American. Apparently.

But, come on. Is it all that great? First off the long list of issues, we have a problem with healthcare.

Really though. It’s absurd. It’s got that clownish quality to it. We have a major healthcare problem. I don’t know if it’s laughable or so sad I just want to burst like a cloud. So I do both. All of it too real. It’s surreal. All the feels right in the gut. Right in the heart. I want to love everything to death, and death everything to life. Start it all over. Revolutionize the whole damn thing.

And none of us are untouched. That’s for sure. And because of that, it’s nice to have plant allies along for the journey, especially when it gets so treacherous or too much to face.

In my younger years I often walked a path of escapism while calling it freedom, and I see that pattern arising here and there in my adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need some rest and relaxation, restoration and rejuvenation. We need to take care of ourselves. Time to slowly experience the intricacies unraveling. To sip sweetly the cup of life. That’s why I take to the woods. Take off my shoes and commune with the plants. So when I come back to the city, I’m a bit more ready to deal with the oppression of brick and wires, the concrete hard like the weight of jack hammers in the early morning, pounding sound in the ears, cramped up density of people stressed out & worked to the bone, which goes hand-in-hand with the constant, drastic change of the climate, politically speaking, environmentally speaking, socially, culturally, and spiritually. The streets are in heat. The war isn’t that far away. It’s a click away for some. It’s a step out the door for others. And if we have a pulse connected to the source, we feel the pain that too many endure.

Like, it’s hard to believe, but not surprising at this point, so many black people are still getting brutalized & murdered by police, and at the same time, so many people are still going about their days like the American dream is supreme.

It’s a broken record.

A broken record that needs repeating until the masses are moved. And there are too many broken records in this country.

But all that being brought up, the change is like this heat. Soupy. Running like molasses. Slow like honey. Insufferable. Thick and swampy like you just want to sit home naked in front of the fan with a cool glass of cucumber and ice. But you can only do that for so long. Because there is work to do. Because the plants are calling. Because people are taking to the streets and calling for simple things like sanity. Caring. Love. For politicians to get their hands out of their greedy pockets, to take a minute to stand outside themselves, to see what’s going on in the world, to give a fuck about the planet and people. But until that happens, we’re making waves in little ways, organizing ourselves, rooting deeply together, growing like little villages of plants and mushrooms. Feeding one another. Inspiring. Nourishing souls.

Alignment & the Synergy of Rebellious Spirits

We drove through Blue Ridge at sunset. It was perfect timing. We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried. The densely jungled mountains swallowed the evening sun, and we continued on our way to Asheville.

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We made the trip, a short one of about five days, to give a hand to a newly found friend we met in the Green Mountains of Vermont. He was leading mushroom walks and just spilling information & knowledge when we met him. We arranged a casual work exchange: We’d help out on his property in exchange for sleeping arrangements and general permaculture & mushroom identifying know-how.

It was quick, but it worked out in mysteriously synergistic ways.

At one point, I was pruning the yard and, inadvertently, snipped down the only elderberry on the 1.5 acre property. When I realized what I had done, a feeling of embarrassment swept over me. How could I be so careless? How could I be so ignorant? Why wasn’t I more mindful? I felt like an asshole. I apologized profusely, and upon instruction, filled a few buckets with water. We placed the elderberry cuttings in the buckets in hopes they’ll shoot out roots. With any luck & encouragement, there will be 8 or nine elderberry trees from the original one.

We got back to work, and the embarrassment eventually passed.

That night, we had a decadent potluck & shared bottles of mead. We sipped lightly appreciating the fermented goodness. As we sat in a circle, a few folks called in one of their herbalist teachers, Frank Cook, who passed a few years back. It was a powerful moment. His spirit was palpable. It pervaded the room. I’ve never felt such a strong connection of lineage as I did with these herbalists, ethnobotanists, mycologists, and permaculturists in Asheville.

We hadn’t planned it as such, and I don’t know that you can plan such things, but so many alignments were occurring: From our journey, to the filling out of the moon, to the work we accomplished earlier in the day, the gathering of people from all around, the potluck that night, the anniversary of their teacher’s death, as well as I’m sure a little magickal residual sparkle from the Perseid meteor showers the week before. & With all this in heart, mind, & spirit, I rolled up a little tobacco to share a few prayerful moments with the elderberry.

I walked outside & the moon hovered brightly in the sky, nearly full, maybe the slightest sliver missing from her edge. Despite it being almost Autumn, it felt like an appropriate time to mistakenly whack down the elderberry. Mateo, who we stayed with, laughed it off pretty quickly after the reality of it set in, saying he’s been wanting to urbanize the elderberry, and this was perhaps an instance of divine comedy or cosmic absurdity that could indeed turn into that opportunity to propagate the tree & spread it.

While I was squatting down saying a prayer blowing tobacco smoke to the heavens, a possum scurried by my feet. It gave me such a fright, I jumped up with a shout. The possum, I think, got such a fright too and redirected its path.

I laughed and shook my head thinking about the possum who plays dead but isn’t really. To think, I snipped the elderberry, but it wasn’t dead either. The symbolic nature of the situation further expounded when I relayed my experience to Mateo. He shared a theory of how the persimmon tree made its way to Central America via the possum.

It all made so much sense.

Here I was, under the moon talking to the elderberry, to the spirit of Frank Cook, to the land, and this little ancient mammal who propagates trees crosses my path.

You know those moments when synchronicity after synchronicity pop up? It’s kind of like deja vu but feels more like the complex, interconnectedness of a Celtic knot. The whole trip was so tightly woven & synergistic. It’s why I like to wake up in the morning & meditate. To let the upsurgence of life settle. To let it make sense. So often I just have to sit back in awe, because the language needed to unravel the journey crumbles at my feet.

This heightened experience is a gift. It takes work, but it’s a gift nonetheless. And it’s really wonderful to share it with other people too.

One night, at a farm house called the Galactic Sanctuary, we enjoyed homegrown squash soup and homemade pumpkin pies. We drank wine and people jammed their instruments. People danced and moved and felt alive. A bonfire blazed outside. We climbed onto the roof and watched the moon rise.

I met a young woman who traveled to Indiana, the Dakotas, and Pennsylvania to work with native tribes in ceremony. She felt a calling from a young age to learn tribal dancing and sit in sweat lodge, but it wasn’t until recently that she learned she has native blood.

I told her about my experience road-tripping through Indiana, how I kept seeing feathers in my mind’s eye, and native spirits flying around expressing anger and pain, and the earth bubbling over with blood. She was wowed at the visions, because, she told me, that goes beyond intuition, that’s psychic perception, it sounds so much like the Lakota Sun Dance.

It was all so intimate and eye-opening.

Each morning we awoke and made oats & cut up fruit for breakfast, drank coffee or tea, and listened to Amy Goodman & Democracy Now! It influenced the start of the day. We engaged a lot of political talking, ranting, and raving, a lot about the corruption of Hillary Clinton and her inclination for fracking. We went further than that, but so much of her shadow side is being hyper-focused on, I’ll leave it at that. I am hopeful, though, the Bernie crowd stays active & keeps pressure on Clinton and the status quo. We’re at a crux with this election, soon to see a turnover of presidents. There’s a need to push an organized movement forward to resist the further for-profit destruction of earth. It’s important we don’t fall into apathy. It’s happening. As I write this, the folks in the Dakota regions are raising the spirit against the construction of a new pipeline.

There are those reoccurring questions of how to get more people involved, how to wake people up, how to present & enact radical change without pushing anyone away.

The programming runs deep in so many multi-varied ways. We have to keep our heads high and our eyes wide. How long can we sustain what’s going on?

Baton Rouge is flooding & there are continuous forest fires in California. Not to mention, women are still being sexually harassed and raped.

It all has me wondering: How much violence & death can people mindfully absorb & process? Do we turn a blind eye because we’re already inundated with so much of it?

The ongoing war in Syria is so seemingly hidden. The situation is devastating. Seeing video footage of blown out streets & rubble leaves me wondering how so many people can be silent about it. At this point, since so many Syrians have fled their country, they ought to fully evacuate the worst of the cities, and blow the rest of what is already destroyed to smithereens and re-wild the area. At the very least, create space for the fertile re-emergence of earth living.

We’re dealing with a war in our own streets too. There are food deserts everywhere. There are prisons stuffed to the brims. There are black bodies shot up and thrown around by those who are paid by tax dollars to protect & serve. But who is being protected and who is being served? It’s clear there is a subconscious agenda lingering from the days of slavery, and some might say, it’s not even subconscious anymore. It’s out in the open for all to see.

Yet ever so slowly, we are breaking the chains.

I met a woman a few weeks back who is reaching out to the police to start a meditation class. Among other forms of activism, it’s a necessary frontline to forge if we’re going to see harmony in our streets.

Amidst all of this, we ought to find time for ourselves too.

One day on our trip we dedicated to hiking. To forest bathing. To remembering there is beauty in the world. We hiked to a 60 foot waterfall. We trekked down steep inclines and climbed up vertical walls. Along the way, we collected chanterelles and an enormous specimen of hemlock reishi. I carried the red mushroom with me, stopping every now and again to look at it and appreciate it. I was transfixed. The fan-like nature of the reishi kept conjuring images of the frilled-neck lizard as well as dancing shamans donning headdresses painted on cave walls.

My inner eye blossomed.

Initially, the reishi called to me through the trees from beyond a creek. I balanced across a fallen log to check it out. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were two of them a bit over a foot wide each. I harvested the one mushroom, and cherished it, but decided to leave it in Asheville.

If swimming and meditating at the foot of a gushing, crushing, crashing waterfall is powerful, the reishi stands right there with that potency.

It was all so nurturing.

We put in a hard day’s work too. We plastered the exterior slip straw walls of our friend’s backyard cabin. We built and took down, built and took down temporary scaffolding. We told silly jokes. We plastered and plastered and plastered. A few of us who are skilled with music took breaks to play & sing as we continued to work. It was a wonderful convergence of livelihood & help.

There were friends from New Orleans, from Philly, from New Hampshire. It really amazed me that we all happened to coincide in Asheville at the same time. How many places is this happening? How many people are experiencing this similar interconnectivity? How often are we coming together to work in community?

It’s so true, the revolution will not be televised. If you’re not experiencing it for yourself, you might not even know there is one.

We mixed so many batches of lime & sand for the plaster, it felt like alchemy & earth magic. I wielded the hoe and the shovel, the wheelbarrow and buckets as if they were wands and shields.

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The night prior, we bottled two batches of mead. One had been aging for a year, the other had been aging for two. We sipped on them as we bottled them. I caught a little buzz before going to bed.

I had so many vivid dreams.

When we returned home, on the night of the full moon, I started a reishi tincture.

Full Moon in Pisces

Current Events in Brief

People are still being abused by police, and one state in particular, North Dakota, has actually instituted the use of taser & pepper spray drones. It’s madness. This year is on record to be, by far, the most murders by police. It’s both enfuriating and sad. I’d venture to say, it is important to shed light on police brutality, but, it’s a catch-22: Does sharing videos of police violence proliferate it in both our imaginations and reality too?

Trump is an ass hole. Hands down. It has to be said in vulgar terms because it’s true. It’s hard to believe so many people support his old-school, racist agenda. Again, not to perpetuate the idiocy of our times, but it’s worth repeating- the man is a disgrace to earnest Americans. He’s giving his supporters hope, like so many casinos, only to take them for all they’re worth in the end. He’s a business owner. Not a politician. No president wields that kind of power. The one hopeful thing I can say, he’s destroying the conservative party. It needs to happen. Because here’s the thing, I’m not against Republicans. I get where they come from. Many people want tradition and values and freedom. That’s all good. But so many minds have been twisted & fucked by Fox News and Christianity, it’s hard to bring people back to reality.  

 

There are many positive stories in the media. I’ve been seeing a number of young (mostly black, African, and Muslim) entrepreneurs making headlines. Teens who are gifted with a business mind AND a drive to help out their community. Instead of simply stacking dollars, they are creating scholarship programs to help others succeed. In the coming years, I see this as a shocking wave of transition and change. So shocking that people have a hard time believing we are on an upward swing.

A number of people I’ve been chatting with have aired out their disillusionment with our current times. I think what’s happening, the zeitgeist if you will, we are truly entering a new world order, wherein, those places and people we habitually looked down upon are making a hefty contribution and rise in the collectivity of consciousness. Their ontologies, or world views, are bursting our individualistic, privileged bubbles. Even those of us who are “liberal” “independent” and “progressive” have a lot of work to do on who we think we are. And because our lives are getting rocked, we see people fighting back, freaking out, and clinging to what they used to hold true. All those fearful people, like the woman in Kentucky who won’t issue gay marriage licenses, are getting swallowed up by the massive tide of transitions occurring. 

All I can say is, let go into the future, because it’s already here, right before our eyes.