The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse

0f60a78771cdb52c162da7760e40d525They’re on their way

Not recommended for bedtime reading

Soundtrack “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones.

I’m two beers and a shot past midnight as I make my way down a rainy street on a dying Sunday.  I pass an old rundown house that’s still wearing it’s Christmas lights in late March. What a sad and pathetic sight. But after all, everyday down here feels as morose as the day after Christmas.  I stroll past a group of bums huddled together under a tiny bus-stop shelter. They aren’t sad, they throw their heads back and laugh and hack deep husky coughs. I watch as they pass their generic cigarette around and count their beggars change to buy another bottle.  This is socialism at its best.  

I score a couple of rocks from a big black dude who’s street name is killer.  He has sleepy red eyes and a bulge under his leather coat that corroborates how he’d acquired his nick name. Killer is an evolutionary capitalist, his philosophy is that the big fish eat the little fish. He wears a face that says “Don’t fuck with me”. This corner is his domain and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t question his Province.

I lean against the wall of the damp alley and light my pipe.  I smell and taste that familiar chemical flavor I’d been craving.  I’d promised myself that this would be my last time and that tomorrow I’d straighten up and start writing my great American novel. Man, when I’m high I can feel a million stories exploding through veins.  I’d love to write some of this shit down, but I’ve pawned my computer, my phone————-my soul.  

The devil keeps my redemption locked up in a cage down in that fiery netherworld. Salvation is a hard thing to come by when the key to it is held by my worst enemy—– that enemy being me. You see, the devil isn’t in the drug, it isn’t in the guy who sell’s me the shit, it’s in the bullshit I feed myself.  We all have our devils and demons, but some of us just feed our’s better than others.  I’ve gone from believing I’m the master of the beast to realizing that I’m his slave in a freak-show.

I’ve decided that today will be the day I stand up and face the devil and his cadre of demons. I’m going down into the belly of the beast to do battle.  It won’t be as simple as one battle, it will be a lifelong war.  Satan has the high ground, he can give me extreme earthly pleasures.  He will make me feel like I’m right and the world is wrong.  He’ll support my victim mentality. But there’s a high price to paid for unearned luxury. 

There are only three types of people who dare trespass into the belly of the beast.  They’re either holy men, madmen or those who have come to the stark realization that it’s either fight for redemption or dive into those eternal flames.  I’m in the latter group, I’ve used up all my excuses and burnt all my bridges.  I’d worn out all my friends and family and squandered whatever potential I once possessed. I’m done waiting on someone or something to come and save me.  Salvation is a personal quest.

Some go into the belly of the beast and never resurface.  Some go there and resurface as a Bodhisattva.  And then there are those who lose their mind in search of their soul.  But if you’re gonna go down there, you gotta go all the way and you gotta go it alone.  No one can save you from yourself——–but yourself.

Hell is knowing that you’re a fraud, it’s hating yourself for becoming the worst possible version of what might have been. It’s intentionally pushing everyone away who cares about you because it hurts too much to have others care about something you’ve long ago given up on  My god, I’m fucked up——but here I am again, in the alley, siting on the curb with my feet in the gutter. Damn, it’s so hard to believe I can do better when I feel worthless.  Hating everyone and everything made my addiction bearable, these dark emotions fueled my self destruction.  Self hatred has robbed me of my most potent of tools; love and courage. When I descend into that inferno I will need love to be my sword and courage my armor. I’m tired of being ashamed——-tired of being sick, tired of being what I’ve become. 

I’m on a dark stairway that’s slippery from the blood of broken hearts. Above there’s a chandelier constructed of sun bleached bones.  There’s a chorus of horrifying screams and god forsaken moans from the other lost souls. In the background an organ plays its mournful dirge. I tentatively push open the squeaky gates causing a flock of bats to take flight.  The beating of their wings startles me.

There is a heaviness in the air, it feels as if this place is the center of gravity for all of the worlds unforgiven sins. I make my way down a candle lit corridor.  It opens up into a cavernous cathedral of horrors.  From the ceiling there swings decaying corpses with their red bulging eyes dislodged from their sockets. Drooling zombies rush about with dozens of hypodermic needles stuck  in their arms.  A goole hunches over a withering body as he repeatedly stabs at it and then licks the blood from his knife.  In the shadows ragged figures fornicate with half goat, half human creatures. This is not only the theater of the absurd, it’s a chamber of pure evil. Above me flying beast with bat wings screech and rain spit down on me.  The air is filled with an over powering oder of rotting flesh.  Creatures in chains with putrid breath scream out asking for mercy as they are being led by demons into a lake of fire.  From the lake comes the revolting smell of singed hair and burnt flesh. 

Every fiber of my being is telling me to turn around and bolt back up the stairs to a place of green fields, where I might negotiate for forgiveness and pray for the rarest of commodities——-a second chance.    Sitting upon a throne on a high riser sits Lucifer the prince of darkness. His eyes are red like burning coals, where his feet should be there are hoofs. He amuses himself with an anaconda as it curls and constricts around his arms and neck.  He bites into an apple and offers me a sinister grin. He stretches out his hand and asks in a deep throaty voice “How about a nibble? You look like a lover of forbidden fruit.”  I nervously shake my head no.  He stands up and yells in a death metal scream “What the fuck do you want?”   I try to speak but my mouth is to dry to form a word.  “Speak up you little bastard, a good servant should never makes his master wait.”  

I muster all my courage and manage to speak in a squeaky voice “I’ve come to take my soul back.”  He throws his head back and laughs.  “You’ve got a fucking short memory.  You signed the fucking contract. You traded your soul for all those little goddamn things you said you wanted, desired, needed.”  My fear was beginning to lean towards anger.  “You never gave me shit.  You used me.”  He looked me straight in the eye and laughed.“You struck a deal with the devil, what did you think you’d get, honesty, integrity? You’re gonna get what you fucking deserve, an eternal timeshare in hell.”  He removed his purple robe and spread a pair of huge black wings.  “Do you like my wings? I can give you wings just like these.  All you have to do is to continue to do my bidding.  Just keep being as bad and evil as you have been and someday you’ll have dominion over all this darkness.”  He offers me a mocking thunderous laugh.

“I don’t want your wings. I don’t want your darkness. I want my soul back.  Our contract is void because you never gave me any of the things I bargained for.” He gives a snide little snicker as one of his minions fly to his side and hands him a paper.   “Here is your contract.  Now let’s take a little gander at what you traded your sour for.  Number one. You asked for ecstasy and I gave you crack—check.  Number two. You asked for a loyal family. I gave you a group of gang bangers made up of thief’s, thugs and murders—— check.  Number three. You asked for a profession. I made you a thief to support your drug habit—–check.  Four. You asked for unrestricted sex with many.  I made you a prostitute to support your drug habit——check.  Number five. You asked for freedom.  I gave you the street and homelessness—–check. Number six. You asked for a purpose.  I made you an addict—– check.” “You tricked me.  You twisted my words and made a fool of me.”  “No shit, I’m the devil and that’s what I fucking do.  I break hearts, I steal souls, I tear apart families and friendships.  I’m a destroyer of hope, a revoker of faith.  And now it’s fucking time for you to pay up ass hole.” 

I stammered, “What about love? What about self respect?  Why can’t you give me those things?”  He just shook his head, “I can’t give you what you’ve never asked for.  Those are things only you can give yourself.  You should’ve read the small print kid.”  He points to the backside of the contact where there’s an extremely small line of written words. In a mocking voice satan reads from the contract. “By signing this contract I agree to no longer love myself.  I agree to shed myself of all integrity and self respect.  I will be an instrument of hate and loath everyone, everything——including myself.”  He stretched out his wings in a show of power. “Something you dumb shit mortals never seem to understand is that if you don’t love and respect yourself, then how the fuck can you ever love or respect anyone else.”   

He straightens the gold pentagram around his neck. “I have power over many things, but I have no dominion over love and ones self worth——those things are god given. I deal in the transitory sins such as desire, vanity, money, greed, drugs, pride, alcohol, sex, power and possessions. These are the tools that make it easy for me to enslave mortals such as you. These bargaining chips are extensions of the seven deadly sins, also known as the cardinal sins spoken of in Revelations. It never ceases to amaze me—–what evil mortals will do for such petty prizes.”

He spread his wings and circled around before landing in front of me. He encroaches into my space. “I’ll give you back your soul under one condition. You must deliver to me a man who rivals my evil, possesses my hate and has the power to deceive and divide humanity. I need such a man to lead  my apocalypse.  Do you accept my challenge?”  I allowed myself to show some bravado as I stared straight into his eyes.  “I know of such a man.  He worships all the things you have to offer. He’ll gleefully exchange eternal damnation for your earthly pleasures.  He will mount and lead the charge of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”  Satan nodded in confirmation.  “So be it! I will provide whatever is needed to make this monumental deal a sucess.” He grimaced showing his yellow fangs and exhaled a ball of fire that singed my eyebrows and hair.

I awoke face down in a dumpster.  In a daze I stumbled out of the alley.  Had I awoken from a nightmare or was this vision a drug induced hallucination? There lingered the smell of burnt hair in the air and the soles of my boots left a trail of bloody footprints.  I knew then and there that I’d struck a deal with the devil and this would be my final chance to redeem my soul. 

I opened my wallet to find it stuffed with hundred dollar bills.  I went to the most expensive tailor in New Your and purchased the finest suit that money can buy.  I then went to a spa to have my hair styled, a shave and a manicure.  I placed both my hands on my briefcase and summoned the credentials I would need to close this deal.  I looked in the mirror and was amazed at my transformation. If you can judge a book by its cover, then I resembled a wind swept hero on the cover of a cheap pulp fiction paperback.  

I sat in the back seat of my chauffeured limousine as it made its way down 5th avenue towards midtown   I opened my briefcase and retrieved a cellphone with the number of my contact preprogramed.  I pressed the dial button and waited for someone to answer. From the other end there came a stern and impatient voice, “Hello.” When I responded l was surprised to hear my voice come out with a thick Russian accent “Hello, I think you know who I am.   I’m your handler from the East. I was hoping that you’d be available for a discrete meeting? And, if you are available, I’d like to introduce you to the greatest deal maker of all time.”  I knew that this comment would set a hook in his ego. From the other end of the phone there came a gasp.  “Bullshit!  Everybody knows that I’m the greatest dealmaker that’s ever lived.  Who the hell is this person you’re speaking of, and what does he have to offer me?” “He has anything and everything that you’d ever desire, at a basement price.  In fact, he’s willing to take matters deeper than the basement.”  He responded “I’m a busy man, so this had better not be a waste of my fucking time. I’ll meet with you and your so called deal maker. I’ll show you both who’s the greatest deal maker of all time.  I’ll let security and my secretary know to allow you and your Monty Hall impersonator into my tower.”  

I felt that little head rush that comes when taking an elevator to the the upper floors.  The elevator stops at the thirteenth floor and in walks an immaculately dressed Lucifer. He tips his hat and offers up a sinister smile “Thirteen is my favorite number.”  I press the button for the top floor. The elevator doors opens and we’re escorted into a large office.  Behind the dark oak desk is a huge floor to ceiling window with a panoramic view of New York city’s skyline.  One might even mistake this grand office as heavens vestibule. 

“Please have a seat”  He gestures for us to take a seat in the leather chairs facing his desk.  “So, my Russian friend here say’s that you want to offer me one hell of a deal?”  The devil nod’s and begins “Yes, I think you and I have much in common and many similar interests and aspirations.  You are also a man of wealth and taste who possesses great intelligence.  You alone are the only one who has the capacity to rule this floundering world.” I sit back and watch as he sets the hook ever deeper into his narcissistic soul.  “I have the power to make all of your dreams come true.”   Feigning disinterest, he leans back in his desk chair and begins to clean beneath his fingernails with a pewter letter opener with the initials “DT” carved into the handle. “And in exchange for this what do want from me?”  “I will get to that, but first let me tell you of all the things I can lay at your feet.” 

“I will make you the most powerful man in the world.  I’ll give you authority over the largest and best equipped army ever assembled.  I’m offering you the power to destroy your enemies with the push of one button.  I will give you the ability to make your followers believe your lies as if they were indisputable truths. I will rain down on you billions and billions of dollars.  As for women, I will make it possible for you to lay down with Playboy centerfolds and Porn Stars.  I will make you more famous than the pope and you will be worshiped like the greatest of pop stars.  You will be famous with your name and face plastered on every magazine, TV news program and newspaper. You will have every material comfort that any man might ever ask for.  I offer you these things because I know that you are a man of discriminating taste and know the virtues of fame and fortune.”

He places his letter opener on the desk and folds his arms.  “You have my attention.  But what is it you want from me?”  “What I require from you is written within this contract.” He motions for me to open the briefcase and provide him with a contract. “I’ve taken the liberty to draw up a cursory contract itemizing the minor concessions you need to provide in exchange for all the gifts, pleasures and powers I will bestow upon you.”   

“Let me read to you the paltry stipulations required on your part. You must turn your back on those who’ve trusted in you.  You will side with the East cover the west and in doing so you’ll solidify your earthly power.  You will use your orator skills to deceive and manipulate the masses with lies and falsehoods.  You must use all your powers to sew divisiveness.  You will exploit the diversity in individuals and cultures to fan the flames of hatred. You will build walls to separate countries and foster mistrust. You must be willing to separate families and cage children. You will turn people against one another by promoting fear and hatred.  Through fear and hatred you will create friction between faiths, nationalities, races, gender, political affiliations and ideologies. You will take credit for the rising stock-market making the rich richer, while the less fortunate die due to the lack of shelter, food and water.   As chaos rages around you, you shall retreat to your castles and send out inflammatory rhetoric fueling your fires of divisiveness and hate.  Many are called but few are chosen, and because of your greatest, you are the chosen one.” The hook has been set, the line now drawn taut and all that was left to do was reel him in.

 He unfolds his arms and clasps his hands together.  “This sounds like a reasonable deal, but what about those who are close to me?   I must be provided with an assurance that I will have the power to pardon them from all earthly laws.”  “Yes of course.  I will also allow you the power to pardon yourself of earthly laws.  You will have dominion over all earthly laws because you will be above the law.  If this meets with your satisfaction all you need to do is sign right here on this doted line.”

He takes a golden pen from his pocket and reaches out for the contract.  Satan shakes his head and takes the pen from him and hands him the pewter letter opener. “I’m sorry my friend, but I’ll require that signature in blood.”  He takes the letter opener and grimaces as he pierces the tip of his finger. He then smiles “Sir, you drive a hard bargain but I’m the only one who’s truly mastered the art of the deal.” He pushes back his orangish hair to reveal a set of stubby horns. “As you can see I’ve acquired my horns. I can’t wait to earn my wings.”  

In order to retrieve my soul I headed back down into the belly of the beast.  “I’ve fulfilled my obligation and I’m here to retrieve my soul.”  The devil gives me a little smirk and responds “I’ve been thinking about you and was hoping that perhaps we might work a new deal.  I remember you once saying something about wanting to write the great American novel.  I could maybe help you out with that.”  I defiantly shake my head no.  He continued “Imagine having your novel being number one on the New York Times best sellers list.  I can arrange that.  In addition, how about having your novel recommended reading by Oprah’s book club?  I can make that happen too.  Maybe we could arrange to have that novel turned into to a screen play and a winner of numerous Oscars.  You’re so talented and gifted, it’s only right that you receive some recognition and compentsation for all your hard-work.”  I could feel my chest begin to swell with the thought of attaining all of these accolades.  “I’ve taken the liberty of drawing up this little arrangement and it awaits your signature.”  I take the contract and pen in my hand and stare at the dotted line.  I take a deep breath and hesitate.  I pick the contract up and tear it into pieces.  “I’ll take my soul back now—–and as for you—–you can go to hell!”

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 

Although some interpretations differ, in most accounts, the four riders are seen as symbolizing Conquest, War, Famine, and Death, respectively.

The seven deadly sins or cardinal sins.

The seven capital sins, also commonly referred to as the seven deadly sins or cardinal sins, are pride, greed (or covetousness), lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. These are thought to be the sins to which human nature is most susceptible, and they are said to be the origins of other sins.

Beauty Out Of Cruelty

Soundtrack “Stop” by Joe Bonamassa.

 

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It takes space to give a person or a thing a fresh perspective.  Time tastes like expensive bourbon—–at first a cozy burn in my belly, then a flushed buzz across my reddened face, followed by a grimace and a wince.  Yesterday and tomorrow remain the same and open to interpretation. Everyone changes, some for the better, others for the worse.  I’ve always contended that to be understood is to be loved.  But, you can’t understand someone until you let go of your relationship with their relationship. There is often much truth in what appears to be a bizarre contraction.

People are complicated, relationships are messy, normality is a mirage—-we’re all blind to our disfunctions. One man’s crazy is another man’s fetish. I wonder what parts of me are living in you? And, what parts of you will always be withheld from me?  Cause if I’m gonna love you, I gotta touch, taste and feel all of you. I’ve walked around in you, I awoke inside you; what a beautiful world. There’s much hidden in the fog of what we desire verses what we get and who we wanna be verses what we’ve become. I wonder how you’d privately describe me to your girlfriends. Woman talk about men as if they were capital.  They estimate their earning power and their value on the free market.  “He buys me whatever I want. You ought to see his portfolio.” Men talk about women as if they were property, as if they were a new sports car.  “Look at what I own, look how shiney and pretty she is. She does whatever I ask her to do, and I mean anything.” I swear I’ve felt you walk through me, what a strange world in which to lose yourself. The record skips at the same old place every time, our steps go in circles, yet as hard as I try, I still step on your toes—–

Out of thin air we found one another, our chemistry volatile. Desire is like a rubber band.  If never stretched it will become brittle and one day break when most needed.  Or, if stretched beyond what it’s capable of handling, it will abruptly snap.  What we expected isn’t what we hoped for.  What we get is karma and karma reminds us of what we deserve—–So, you better stop.

I have this ex-lover I carry around with me like a faded legend. I have these movie reels of us taking up space in my head. In one we’re in a stark white room and we’re both wanting to be touched by the other, but instead we keep poking our fingers into one another’s soft spots.  And then there’s the reel of us driving down a flat endless desert road and were fighting over the steering wheel.  The brakes fail us as we careened out of control.  The horizon becomes a cliff we fly over into oblivion. I’ve been told that oblivion is where new stars are born from the explosions within dying stars. Now, isn’t that the way of nature, creating beauty out of cruelty, birthing new beginnings from our finalities.  

Laughter is the orgasm of the soul….God smiles knowing the punchline lies within us all……… 

 

 

Toupee Trump-Fake Hair to Fake News (you can’t comb over the truth)

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I’ve heard the quote by Michelle Obama “When they go low, we go high”. That may hold true in many circumstances, but when dealing with a bully, sometimes the best response is a punch in the nose. Trump is a bully and bullies maintain their power through fear and intimidation. With impunity he makes fun of others and uses immature tactics such as name calling. He threatens to unleash his wrath on those who challange or disagree with him. His own republican party is afraid to confront him. In fact, there’s no longer a republican party, it’s now the Trump party. A party that embraces divisiveness, hatred and trades in the currency of lies. If you choose not to be a victim, then you need to stand up to this bully and fight back.

A bully strolls about the playground taking cuts in line, taking other’s lunches and bragging about their greatness. They create a reputation that allows them to act as if they are above rules and laws. They demand complete loyalty and respect from others and expect their circle of minions to do their dirty work.  When they are in the wrong they refuse to apologize. They place blame on others and never accept personal responsibility for their flaws and faults.

It’s time that someone figuratively give Trump a punch in the nose. The funny thing about bullies is they depend on people being docile and not standing up to them. It’s similar to dealing with bullies in a prison setting. If you don’t stand up for yourself the prison bullies will be eating your lunch, taking your canteen money and calling you their bitch……(doesn’t that sounds like something Trump would say).

Once someone fights back at a bully and gives them a figurative bloody nose, others begin to realize that he is not superhuman or invincible. Bullies can be humbled, hurt and defeated like everyone else. In fact, bullies are usually quiet thin skinned and easily befuddled.  A bully does not respond to reason or logic, the only way to defeat a bully is to go toe to toe and give them a taste of their own medicine.

I am by no means advocating physical violence against Trump or his followers. But I’m advocating a need to stand up to those who are bullies and misusing their power. When a bully chooses to fight dirty, you have two choices. You can remain civil and mannerly while getting your ass kicked, or you can take your gloves off too.  If someone decides to hit below the belt, then I say bring it on!  If a baker reserves the right to deny services to a gay couple, then why shouldn’t a restauranteur reserve the right to deny service to Sara Sanders.  How did it feel for her to be treated like a minority, like a refuge, like someone with no money, power or privilege.  When Trumpers are given a taste of their own medicine, they ironically play the victim card. I say give Trump and his buddies a taste of their own medicine.

My first punch is to make up a moniker for Trump, just as he has so often done to others (do unto others as they do unto you). I will refer to him as “Truth-less Trump”. This suits him well due to his aversion to the truth. Or, how about “Doofus Don”. This pseudonym refers to his immature tendencies of mugging for the camera and his childish need to be the center of attention. Then there’s “Toupee Trump”, fake hair to go along with his fake news.

My second punch is to not allow him to dominate or manipulate the conversation. When he starts blathering on and not allowing others to speak or attempts to change the topic, interviewers need to demand that he answer the specific question. When he tells falsehoods or lies, he needs to be challenged to provide facts and legitimate reference to support his claims. He is a master purveyor of “fake news” and propaganda. The truth is kryptonite to cereal liars.

My third punch is to hold Truth-less Trump and his minions to the precepts of our democracy. There needs to be a relentless campaign that exposes all of the instances that Truth-less Trump and his administration have manipulated the truth and abused their power. This includes the times that Truth-less Trump and his administration have lied, falsified facts, misused taxpayers money, paid hush money to a porn star, used crude and inappropriate language, incited violence and promoted racism, sexism and fanned the flames of divisiveness.  His past and ongoing flagrant lies need to be delineated and repeatedly exposed. Truth-less Trump uses this technique of  relentlessly repeating his lies and falsehoods in tweets knowing that if he repeats something enough times his mindless followers will accept it as the truth. In the month of May 2018, Truth-less Trump has used the term “witch-hunt” 15 times on his tweeter account (reference Times@realtrump). Fox News is his ally in repeating, spreading and promoting his propaganda.

Trump has used his platform as president to humiliate others, to degrade private businesses and mock anything or anyone he does not like.  He make Don Rickles look like a motivational speaker.

Don’t be lulled into complacency or become immune to Truth-less Trumps incessant barrage of bullshit.  Democracy is fragile and we need to fight to keep it intact.  The rich and powerful have always tried to destroy democracy or manipulate it to serve their selfish goals.  Democracy has faith in the goodness of the majority.  It is a political system that believes that there are more good then bad folks, that there are more wise individuals then fools, that there are more compassionate people than self centered individuals and that truth will always prevail over lies.

Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are scared.  Many have died to protect the civil liberties and freedoms we enjoy today.  I encourage you to vote for those who will restore our civil liberties and protect our democracy from the corrupt and mean spirited.  I say, “When they go low they’d better be ducking, cause I got a right hook they aren’t expecting”.

 

 

 

 

 

Follow The Crowds Bro, Lose Oneself

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On a bike ride the other day I came across these Snow Flowers. I bent down to smell their fragrance only to be met with a cloud of spores. I suddenly became light headed and had to sit down.

For a moment I lost my sense of being and my awareness of space and time. I drifted into a vision where I was introduced to this old Indian Chief named John Hollow Horn from the Oglala Lakota tribe. He held me in his gaze and said, “Some day the earth will weep, she will beg for her life, she will cry tears of blood. You will make a choice, if you will help her or let her die, and when she dies, you too will die.” In disbelief I rubbed my eyes. “Man am I high or what…..?”

I sat still for a moment and then asked, “Dude, that’s some heavy shit. Can ya break it down for me?” He said, “Cover your ears and listen with your heart. Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

As I reached out to touch him, I was suddenly jolted back into “reality” by the voice of a tourist asking me “Hey bro, how do you get to the Marriotts from here?” I was tempted to say you can’t there from here, but instead responded, “Sure, just squeeze into the traffic jam on Highway 50 east and head towards the noise, commotion and the stench of Rome burning.”

“Follow the crowds Bro —— lose oneself.”

The tattoo sleeved kid clad in his Under Armor tank top and Hurley ball cap, takes a swig off his IPA. He shakes his head in frustration “I’ll find it on my own” then in an act of deference he bows his head to his cellphone and request directions. The old Indian’s image began to dissolve as he gave me a wink and a grin. I could swear he was humming “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

I believe I’d been given a vision and a mission. So, I pass this experience on to you as a Prophesy—–. What we do to nature, is ultimately what we do to ourselves (universal reciprocity is karma via mother nature).

Be courages, be forthright——be uncompromising stewards of the land—Be a soul warrior for mother earth.

I can hear the trolls already “Man, I want whatever drugs he’s been doing.”

Disclaimer: This vision was not precipitated by the use of peyote, Mushrooms or the ole peace pipe—-it blossomed from the soul of a Snow Flower. Even rocks have a soul–if you sit very still for a long period of time and listen, they’ll divulge their secrets.

Roadside Litter

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Soundtrack “In My Own Way” by Ray LaMontagne

We headed up highway 1, through the rugged northern California redwoods. The Pacific Ocean lingers to the West, reminding me that there are no new lands to discover.  We continue north into Oregon. The long drive gives us time to talk about “all things” and the “nothings” that come with idly watching the miles and moments tick by. Our mission is to take my best-friends daughter Taylor to Eugene to start her first year of college. The ritual of watching ones child head out into the world for the first time is worrisome. Our long drive up the coast will draw out the emotional baggage that comes with slow goodbyes. There is no word for that feeling that comes with knowing this indifferent world is waiting to test the character of someone you love.

I sat in the backseat listening to my iPod, arranging my song-list to play like a soundtrack to the blur of scenery outside my window. I’ve always liked the soothing hum of the road under the wheels, it made me sleepy. I doze and daydream. There is a comfort in knowing that in spite of myself, I’m getting somewhere——anywhere. I listen to the rain falling on the roof and against the windshield, the wipers fall in and out of rhythm with the music. I want to stay in this state of mind for as long as possible. I imagine myself to be a sailer aboard a square-rigger beating its way around the treacherous Cape Horn——-struggling against opposing currents and head winds.

I unplug one of my earphones and listen in to the conversation in the front seat. “Why did you invite your weird friend to come with us?” “What do you mean weird? He’s my best-friend and we’ve logged more miles together than Lewis and Clark.” I can feel Pat’s eyes in the rear view mirror checking to see that I’m asleep. Taylor sighs, “This was suppose to be our road trip. I swear, his breath smells like a stale bar rag and he’s always laughing at his own cheesy jokes.” “I know his jokes are corny, but it’s his coping mechanism. Besides, you use to love goofy jokes. When you were a little girl you’d constantly check out joke books from the library.” “Yeah, but that’s when I was eight years old——not old and——old and obnoxious. He’s socially incontinent, he blabs on and on about whatever shit comes out of his mind.” Pat retorts,“Socially incontinent, is that the type of metaphor they teach in AP english? He’s a guy. He’s direct.” “No, he’s rude and you’re sexist. I hate when you say things like “He’s a guy”, as if being a guy excuses men of being mature.” Pat sternly replies, “I don’t appreciate being called sexist.   Everyone is so PC these days.  If I don’t substitute every gender specific pronoun with the term ‘person’ I’m accused of being sexist—–‘Garbage-person’, ‘Mail-person’, that’s stupid. If a guy holds a door open for a woman she thinks he’s being demeaning. ” I could hear his tone becoming frustrated and agitated. I figured it’s time for me to compensate with some of my “so called” obnoxious-chessey humor.

I pop up and put my head between the two of them. “So, whatta-ya-all-bitches talking about-all-up-in-here?” Pat breaks into a snide snicker as Taylor roles her eyes. She addresses me, “I see that the misogynist has awoken. Have you ever heard the word misogynist?” “I think so, I had mine removed along with my appendix. Or, is misogynist someone who massages the places a masseuse misses. Get it?” Pat offers up a cursory chuckle. I decide to stir it up, “I’m sorry if I offended anyone by calling broads bitches. Did you see what I did there? That’s called sarcasm.” Taylor flips me off, “You’re not funny asshole”.

Pat gracefully changes the topic, “It’s getting to be dinner time. Why don’t we stop for a bite to eat and after dinner Vic can take over the driving duties.” I stretch and yawn, “Sounds good to me, but lets have Taylor drive. A man doesn’t always have to be in the drivers seat.” Taylor responds, “Wow, we can drive and even vote these days. Some day we may even get equal pay.” I interject, “I’ll second that motion.  Testosterone and masculine bravado has been the ruin of all civilizations.  I offer up my deference to the female gender.  And that’s truth, not sarcasm.”

We pull into the parking lot in front of the old cabin looking restaurant. Taylor puts on her coat and gives us instructions, “Guys, please don’t embarrass me in front of the waitress. You both always try and be so clever and flirty when there’s a cute young waitress. Old guys trying to hit on young women is creepy.” I feel a need to provide a little push back. “For one we’re not old, we’re seasoned. And two, we’re not creepy, we’re provocateurs. Old is a number, youth’s an attitude. Besides, chicks dig older guys. In France men with a few years behind them often have young mistresses. We’ve got experience on our side. We know our way around a woman’s anatomy. And the only thing trickier than a woman’s mind, is her body. Women want men who appreciate romance.  Ya see, fellas’ like us, we’ve got old-school class.” Taylor raises her voice, “Stop. Yeah right, you’re both so classy———that’s why you go straight to the senior section of the menu and shamelessly pull out your AARP senior discount card when it comes time to pay. Your wink and a ten percent gratuity doesn’t pay the bills.” Pat interrupts, “Okay queen of the PC police, I’ll buy dinner and you can leave an extravagant tip.”

We finish our dinner and pile back into the car. Taylor sets the cruise control allowing her to sit cross legged indian style. I shake my head, “Are you going to drive or meditate?” “Driving is a meditation. Everything I do is a meditation. What you think about or meditate on is what you’ll attract. I stay mindful of my thoughts. If I don’t feel like smiling, I smile anyway. Take your body and the mind will follow.” “Damn girl, you’re a hell of a lot more insightful about life then I was at your age. You’re a smart cookie.” “No that’s not true. I’ve never been a natural at anything. I’ve had to work harder than the average person to achieve any measure of success. My dad says I have tenacity, and that’s more important than talent. My credo is, ‘I’m willing to do the things today others won’t, so that tomorrow I’ll have the things others don’t.”  I nod in appreciation, “I like your style kid.”

Taylor pushes her hair back “How long have you known my dad?” “I’ve known your dad over fifty years, we’e brothers, we’re a rare breed, we’re lifelong friends.” “What makes someone a lifelong friend?”

I pause to gather my thoughts “You’ll make a lot of friends at different stages of your life. Childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, social network friends, work friends, but lifelong friends stand the test of time. They’re like the ocean, even when you can’t see them, you know they’re still there. The older I get the more I realize how remarkable these friendship are. My sisters and I shared the same parents, the same up bringing, but we’ve always lived in different worlds. To remain connected to somebody across a lifetime is a beautiful thing. A lifelong friend is someone you can go months or even years without seeing, but once you come together its as if time stood still and you can pick up right from where you left off. It’s sharing the good times and helping each other survive the bad times. This life will tests everyones fortitude and can leave you lost and confused. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have someone who’ll stick up for you, listen to you, restore your faith and give you hope when you feel you can’t hold on for one more day. They’ll forgive you and love you in spite of your flaws and fucked up ways. Not that I have any fucked up ways.” I allow myself a cocky snicker. “That kind of friendship is all that matters in the end. Lifelong friends will be there till the end. They understand you, and to be understood is to be loved.”

“It’s to bad you guys don’t live closer to each other.” “Maybe not. We respect one another, but we have had our share of disagreements. Seeing each other to often might ruin things. Your dad is stubborn and I can be a son of bitch. I guess were best friends because no one else will have us.”

“Your dad has been there when I needed him and I don’t forget things like that. When my Mom got sick he took time off work and flew out to help me. When she got up in the middle of the night and needed to use the bathroom he’d get up with me. He’d say, ‘Vic, is everything alright’. We’d get on each side of her and walk her down the hall to the toilet. In the morning he’d make his silly ass jokes, just to take the edge off the dire situation. No, I don’t forget shit like that. We carried on pretending things were gonna get better. But they didn’t, they got worse. Long nights, bad pain and that goddamn morphine giving her hallucinations. He had a way of making Mom laugh. She called him her Patty. She’d say, ‘Patty, can I fix you some eggs and bacon.’ She couldn’t get out of her chair but if she could, she’d of made us a Sunday morning breakfast with eggs, bacon toast and pancakes. Patty could aways light up a room, turn a dark moment around. Lifelong friends will do things like that for you.”

“And by the way, my breath doesn’t smell like an old bar rag.” Taylor’s mouth droppes open, “I thought your were asleep.” Taylor laughs and shakes her head. I feel her letting her guard down. She smiles, “I’m glad dad invited you to tag along. Do you want a tic tac?” We drove on through the moonless night in a comfortable silence.

A couple of hours later I asked Taylor to pull off the highway into a gravel parking lot adjacent to a country store. “I gotta take a piss and get myself a tall boy. Patty, get your ass up. It’s your time to take the helm.” I grab an empty coffee cup from its holder and throw it at his head. He responds in a sleepy voice. “What the fuck are you doing?” “I’m waking your lazy ass up.” I feel the paper cup bounce off the back of my head. “Now that wasn’t very nice.”

The cashier is east indian. The little store reeks of curly and musky incense. There’s the fracas of timbales and the wobbly atonal sound of a sitar coming from a blown out speaker. The restroom has that good ole American smell of Lysol veiling stale urine. Americans are good at hiding things beneath a thin veneer of flimsey civility. At the checkout stand I ask the cashier where he’s from. In a thick indian accent he responds “Pittsburgh”. I detect a sense of indignation in his response. In this day and age those from different cultures feel a need to be as American and patriotic as possible. “A Steelers fan?” He shakes his turban clad head, “No; I’m a soccer fan. Go Delhi Dynamos”. I smile, he smiles, humor has bridged the distance between us.

The car’s headlights guide us on our way through the narrow windy mountain roads. It occurs to me that the headlights only reveal fifty feet of our trip at a time, and such is the nature of life unwinding. God only knows what tomorrow may bring. From my cracked window comes the smell of damp earth and fresh rain. I open my beer and stretch out in the backseat.

I eavesdrop as Pat launches into a fatherly lecture. “Now be careful and watch yourself. Don’t take rides from strangers. Everyday in the news I hear a story about some poor girl getting murdered and dumped in a ditch. If you go to a college party don’t over drink. There’s guys out there who’ll take advantage of a girl who’s not in charge of her faculties.. And I’ve heard stories of guy’s slipping drugs in a girls drink. Don’t let anyone make you do anything you don’t want to do. I know that you know wrong from right, but the world these days can be dangerous.” In a stern voice Taylor interrupts, “Stop”. I’m not a naive little girl.” Pat snaps back, “Sometimes I think you are a bit naive and it makes me worry about you. Your sisters isn’t like that, she’s grounded.” Taylor turns her head towards the window, her reflection revealing a tear. “Why do you always have to do that. Why do you have to compare me to my sister. I’m the older sister. What do I got to do to make you believe in me? I’m smart, I’m talented too.”

Taylor opens her window creating a hurricane force wind throughout the car. It’s freezing cold but I don’t say a word. “You might be my father, but you don’t know shit about me. You don’t understand me. Don’t you see that people are scarred by the stupid things people put on them. A coach tells a kid they’re to slow to be first string, a minister condemns someone for being gay, an english teacher writes ‘fail’ at the top of their paper in large red letters. Or, you telling me that my sister has talent for singing and acting but I’ll have to work hard and have tenacity. You don’t know anything about me.” It was suddenly quiet. It was one of those unexpected painful moments when someone says something they’ve concealed and held in for a long time. The silence augmented the sound of the rain. Pat nervously breaks the silence “I never said that.” Taylor’s voice quivers, “You did. You were driving me to high school and I was telling you that I didn’t get a call back for Brigadoon. Maybe you were trying to be nice, but those thing you said hurt me.”

I could feel the pain in her voice. I didn’t dare say a word or try to lighten the moment with humor. For a moment, in that darkened backseat, I could feel the absolute sadness of all those who’ve been hurt by the words of others. Words that cause the fragile cloth of self worth to fray and come undone. We all carry these disembodied voices from our past that do battle with our better angels. It’s unfathomable how we carelessly hurt one another. Ironically, the ones who have the power to hurt us, also have the power to save us. I suppose the painful words spoken are as damaging as the kind things that go unspoken. We’re all waiting for someone to recognize are uniqueness, to make us feel important, valued———understood———loved.  Why do we withhold these basic tenant’s of compassion and love?

Does anyone ever really know anyone?  We trace one another’s shadow with our fingertips, we unknowingly project little pieces of ourselves on to them.  Everyone carrying their own wounds of broken friendships and incomplete love.  Companionship isn’t an idea or a mental construct, it’s an emotion that we wait for others to fulfill within us——it’s what we all came here for.

I watch as Pat puts his arm around his daughter. I’m a father too, so I know how it feels to unintentionally hurt your child’s feelings. Even after daughters grow into adulthood, at some level fathers still seek to protect them. “Honey, I’m sorry. You’re not your sister, you’re a brilliant and beautiful individual. Maybe those words I said to you were really things I felt about myself. I’ve always had to work harder than the average guy to achieve success. It was a poor attempt on my part to try and protect you from the struggles and pains I’ve suffered. But life doesn’t work that way.  I know that you must find your own way. I have complete faith in you. I’m your biggest supporter. I don’t know why I’ve never told you this before——-I see greatest in you.”

Just like the final scene from a melodramatic B movie, suddenly the winds shift filling our sails, the currents turn in our favor.  We’ve crossed an invisible lattitude. Just over the horizon I see the lights of Eugene.

 

 

 

 

 

To Be Alive

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Soundtrack “Whatever It Is” Zach Brown

 

 

Whatever your age is
It doesn’t matter

You think you’ve grown up
but there’s still an eight year old inside you
still a 14 year old, an eighteen year old
A twenty something, thirty something
and so on and so forth

All these remnants are still
pieces buried within
ones personhood

Even after surviving all these life milestones
of age and time
The specter of these past characters
still rumble about
within you, they inhabit your
subconscious, slipping out
when least expected

Reach back and find
the little pieces of yourself
that live behind
the mirror, beneath the veneer of adulthood

Cry like a baby
stomp your feet
Scream “no” to everyone who
wants you to obey their rules
Play like its the last day of summer

Make love as if it’s the first time you’ve
ever felt the breath or skin of another

Lie, call in sick, sleep in
and then go to the beach

Take the long way home
because the radio is
playing a string of songs that
fit like a perfect soundtrack
to the swirling scenery passing
by your window
And it’s good to be alive
and you know it, as it’s
happening

Keep on driving, miss your turn off
go to the woods and build a bonfire
sing songs, Skinny dip
hike unmarked trails

Call someone you miss
and will always miss
call and let them know
you’re thinking of them

Shove her up against the wall
and watch her look of surprise turn to desire
all that uncontrolled passion
that ache to be touched
melting between thighs and sighs
and muffled screams

Skip dinner and eat
chocolate cake with your hands

foster your imagination
All of life is a fantasy
make it up
as you go along

Never surrender your incurable curiosity
want everything, at once
all the time
be impetuous
uninhibited
authentic
Ah, yes—-to be alive

what an experience

what an adventure

A Child’s Rain

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Soundtrack “Bird On A Wire” by Joe Bonamassa.

I run my hand along the rough red brick wall. If you could touch truth, this is what it would feel like, if you could wear yesterday, it would fit like this. Brick buildings never age, unlike most things, they never grow old, they are the silent sentinels keeping watch at eternities gate. Time is in the raindrop that erodes away the mightiest of mountains one patient drop at a time—-We never seem to notice the passage of time until one day the mountain is gone.

Brick and mortar merges man’s creative life-force with natures unfaltering power to endure. ——Such walls keep some things out and other things in——-it all depends on what side of the wall you find yourself falling or standing——

I envision all of those perfect rust colored bricks meticulously hand laid, so even, so artfully composed——-the craftsman’s sweat droplets mixed in the slurry and forever embedded within the cured cement—–blood, sweat and tears, like long lost fossils hidden between the layers of time.

Long after another generation’s life-story has been told and then consigned to oblivion, these edifices remain as statues to a forgotten past—— bricks like memories, one stacked upon the other—— one timeless moment entombed within a dying eternity.————-Tell me this?  Why the brevity of life, we’re here then gone, everything and everyone just passing through, my grip on the ephemeral is slipping, the impermanence of it all has me chasing tomorrows horizon on this lonely highway.

Skyscrapers are impressive because of their hight. But there is no romance in their architecture. Their birth pushed out into loveless cement forms and fitted together with the support of I-beams. The spaces we live in define our culture. Our cities are gray, cold and crowded with despair, boxes within boxes, where men while away their lives in cubicles, sucking recirculated air, no songbirds cooing outside the tinted windows, only the ever present monotonous hum of air conditioners—–there’s no place to hide from those harsh florissant lights, the computer screen is our window to the world, the feel of cool damp grass no longer beneath our feet——it’s a landscape of migraines, mind-games and lost virtues. All the symmetrical lines make the few remaining trees and plants seem out of place.

All the old buildings in my hometown are constructed of stubborn bricks. There is grandeur in those old buildings, the church with its pious stained-glass windows, the honorable courthouse and contemplative library. These buildings of stone reminds us of our need for safety, shelter and community.  I feel holy when standing in the ancient brick church with it’s towering steeple—-it pierces the heavens like a hypodermic needle, injecting god’s blue sky with silent prayers.

The first time I saw rain, I asked my mother what it was, this water falling from the sky. And she said it’s rain. I thought a child’s thought, how wondrous, this thing called rain, water falling from the sky cleansing the streets and sweetly scenting the world. Who’d of thought up such a phenomenal thing?

The rain made all the old red bricks appear new again. Everyone was in a hurry to escape the rain, but I stayed outside to enjoy this spectacle of water falling from the sky. I stood there with hands outstretched, head tilted back, mouth open, tasting rain, feeling rain.

I once asked my mother about the tiny specks of light twinkling in the night sky.  She said they are stars and that there are billions and billions of them—- they are like our sun, but millions of light years away.  She said some of these stars have already burned themselves out and we are looking at light from their past. I thought a child’s thought, these things called stars are even more mysterious than rain. I sat on the porch staring up at the Milky Way galaxy—–Rain and stars, how unbelievable yet beautiful.

Maybe this is what Buddha contemplated while meditating under his Bodie Tree. At peace with oneself and the universe, walking the middle path of love between the yen and the yang——intertwined with everything yet separate…….Insignificant and small, yet omnipotent and omniscient———wandering between the birth and death of each moment———Nirvana——-