At night on my street I can stand under a street light and be the only person in the spotlight. Be the only person on the planet. Be the only person in the universe. Be so huge that I can’t tell where I begin or where I end. Be all knowing, because I am everything. The total power that is me.
But it gets cold as it gets later, and I have to pee, and to do so I have to make myself small enough to fit in the bathroom of a little house in a little neighborhood.
Today feels like the day when I finally win!
When I get control of me, and I look back over my shoulder at a dried husk slumped on the sidewalk — that lazy good for nothing finally gone! I look ahead with butterfly’s eyes, lighter than I’ve been since jr. high.
Today’s the day!
You should go back to forest school
Find a desk near a nice bird and copy her songs and her sweet voice
Hang out with the grass
Learn how to be stepped on all day and then pop up all refreshed like you felt nothing
Run with squirrels
Back and forth, doing the same damn thing everyday, in any weather, and always surprised and delighted by the same outcome
Or live a day with a bug — do the full routine: hatch, molt, hook-up, die — and then you’ll know just how little you get done in across all of your human days
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I do not know what anything is anymore
It seems melodramatic
But it is a cheap penny dreadful
With too much unneeded drama
Arguing over who should wash what
Who said what
Who thought what
With sad violas floating over the mess that it is
Everyone traumatized like it was in the Middle AgeS
By a cold shore
With blue eyes
Is now the time to give up?
It circles around in every space available
Doubt is the packing peanut
One must be cagey and merciless
To bring the king out of his castle and cut off his ears
Loaded into the car, driven for miles and hours
Dumped on the road without even a puppy blanket
Do I think someone will ever come?
No. I’ll still hope and have vivid dreams, but no. What we think and what we hope for are often two different things.
(You can always tell hope because it’s artificially sweet. It’s a candy that makes promises like a politician, but in the end, you’re in the same shit neighborhood with the same shit job, and beside that road.)
I can stay here forever, though. It’s not so hard. There’s plenty of candy in the dirt. I’ll get poems out of it. And I know you’ll drive back. And I know the sound of your car. I can hear it miles away. And I’ve already dug myself a hidey hole.
Best remember this:
It alternates between sun and cold
Like flipping a coin
That falls uncaught
Through a grate
Into dirty rainwater
That becomes your wishing well
Half through the year almost:
What do you want?
Will dirty water genie grant you a wish?
Or are you playing with a monkey paw, and the more you want, the more you pay?
If I open that door
Go in that room
Sit at that table
Across from those disinterested eyes
That look everywhere else
If I eat alone in silence
Just the click of my jaw
The imagined hum of a busy spider
Working on a web for me
To stick me here
If I explore the rooms
Still in dust
Tiny things in the air
Brushes and an armoire
An empty smell to it all
A weird sensation of a nose, a face close by mine, but lipless, and gone, or never there
Using a corner of a wall to scratch my own back
Someday they’ll come and ask, “What have you lost” and the only answer is: “Everything. And everybody.”
This long night
Is waiting like whoever drove to the emergency room after the accident
Checking its watch at the sound of a red eye out of Kennedy
Do words have the power to unmake the damage? These words, tapped into a phone?
On the other side, consider what is done in each second, and which are left empty
While hovering over the bed watching the doctors put you back together
It’s the winter ritual that goes back
Back further than It’s a Wonderful Life,
Back to mammoths and meat and staring into a fire
Consider what is done in each second
At 7:15 the sun returns — see it climb over the houses and climb with it.
There is an end of the line for everything.
I’m moving my office, which is in my basement, out to my garage, which I’ve been converting into a combination recording studio/office.
My basement office has almost twenty years of stuff from living in my current house, along with loads of other stuff that has followed me through my 57 years. And in those 57 years I’ve been a teacher, a designer, a photographer, a stage director, a record producer and engineer, a painter (of paintings), single, a husband, a dad. I have a lot of stuff.
Sixteen guitars at least. Multiple pairs of speakers. Drawing tablets. Tons of art supplies. Eight cameras. Computers. Monitors. Stacks of CD’s. Greeting cards. Diplomas. Old notebooks. Pens. iPhone chargers. Framed photos and clippings. Mugs. Mementos of my dad and mom. Mementos of my kids. Mementos of cherished students. Things that made the previous cut and weren’t thrown out.
And to turn the garage into a studio meant throwing out tons of that which was in the garage, a garage that served as a wood working shop, a painting studio, a place for bikes, a place to store old furniture and half-used building supplies. 2x4 chunks too long to throw out but yet not quite long enough to be truly useful. Lots of wood. Old, scary looking tools that belonged to the previous owner of the garage. Lightweight aluminum lawn furniture. Paint for houses, paint for paintings. Rat shit everywhere.
Some stuff is really easy to throw out. Brand new (ten years ago) blank CD-R’s for the long gone CD burner are easy. CD’s of music I love, but now can hear on Amazon Prime Music for $100 a year, are a little harder. The case to my very first camera—a Kodak Retina that was my dad’s, and that he gave me when I was ten (he had bought a new camera for himself)… a case with no camera, because somehow the beautiful old Retina that was in it was lost twenty years ago. Throwing out that case, after its 60+ years of life, the last twenty spent as a widow… that was hard.
I figured something out, though, months back, while tossing out half-used containers full of chemicals and wondering what sort of damage I was doing to the planet—what sort of damage ALL of this shit I was throwing out and owned was doing to the planet. And feeling terrible about it, and powerless. I had an epiphany, a very simple fact, which I will pass on to you now.
Everything is eventually garbage. The moment an object is made, it’s fated to be garbage. It will eventually wear out and be thrown out. From tin cans to a Picasso, everything has an end, and the end is always garbage.
Stuff has value only because of context. If the camera case hadn’t been my dad’s, it would have been tossed three houses ago. All objects are on a journey through time and space and context, and the last stop is always, and will always be, garbage.
Everything of value. Everything in the museums. The Great Pyramids. Everything ever made. Eventually, the end is inexorably the same.
I can throw out anything now. I can buy something brand new, and simply throw it out. Because if not me, someone else. I see the future of the object, and its future is bleak. There’s maybe a twinge of regret, but that’s just the pinch of… I don’t know… unfortunate timing. It didn’t get to have a fulfilled life. It didn’t get worn down in use, or used up in a thrilling moment of celebration, or even broken in some sad accident. That twinge is just the sudden shift of context—we feel these things. We are sensitive to time and change.
People, too, and all living things, are on a journey to that final context. We all know this. And most of us can walk around fairly unburdened, while children are in cages on the border and thousands hold their breath forever in Covid wards across the world. Because not my context, not my problem.
So, the moment you’ve been waiting for: here is how you throw anything out, regardless of what it is…
It is already garbage. It just doesn’t know it yet. All you are doing is pulling the future to it.
Tell it the truth. I dub thee garbage, and it’s time to go.