The Calm

17 Jul: The Calm

Haiti was in ruin. Again.

It was one of those places outside my consciousness most of the time—couldn’t tell you anything about the local politics or even, with any precision, where to find it on a map, until it materialized on the news, the victim of earthquakes and tropical storms and hurricanes.

It was on TV. Sheets of rain, trees pulled up from their roots, homes torn asunder. “It’s coming for us, buddy,” Uncle Ron said.

Photographic Memory

07 Jul: Photographic Memory

We keep the photos in an old square biscuit tin inside the cupboard. At one time it held two moulded plastic inserts, one on top of the other, that crinkled whenever we lifted them up to raid the pink wafers from the bottom. It gets dragged out every once in awhile and then we rifle through the bad haircuts, the old friends, the crying babies. It’s our assorted selection of memories.

No More PTA

07 Jul: No More PTA

Mom left to get away from Dad and us kids—especially Dad. She said we’d taken on Dad’s attitude towards her and she wasn’t planning to put up with it any more. I’ll be gone four weeks and you’ll all have to take care of yourselves.
Dad told her to assign chores so that would keep bickering to a minimum. Hah, said Mom, no more telling me what to do. She told us there would be no phone contact but she might send us a postcard or two.

Human Gauntlet

20 May: Human Gauntlet

He’d been up in Chico getting medical treatments for several years. Before long, he was just another midtown scene-kid who’d moved on (people were always leaving for San Francisco, LA…). He was forgotten, for the most part—except whenever a group got together and ate pizza with psilocybin mushrooms.

I grew up religious, so none of this seemed too weird to me. If you know what it’s like to pray every night and actually feel something there, then you know how any shit you want can become real if you keep a line of communication open. You send signals out there, sure enough you’ll get something back.

Several years is a long time to get medical treatments. No one knew what sort. All the better. Ideally his life was in the balance. We could only speculate how his medical team was a group of spiritual quacks, herbalists, and drug dealers.

“I saw Dante last night,” someone would say. They’d say, “He was in the shape of a wild boar.” They’d say, “I heard his voice in the train whistle. He was the train going by.” They’d say, “I saw his ghost. He’s dead.”


13 Apr: Interference

1855: the year Dr. Livingston became the first European to set eyes upon the waterfalls he would subsequently christen after his illustrious Queen. The same year British North American backwater Bytown was renamed Ottawa, inching up to a declaration of Capital. The year Central Park in New York City was orchestrated, landscaped, and constructed. The world did not yet exist in photographs.

The colonial mind of Dr. Livingston, concluding that anything not witnessed by Europeans sat nameless, awaiting. A man of his time.

More than half a century later, from the rubble of the First Great War, the British bully who forced a hard line in the sand through the nomadic tribes, and arbitrarily defined the Saudi Arabian border against Iraq. A border held, but never stable.

Upon a mound of bodies is no foundation for a moral high ground.

He writes in his notebook: at times I try to fabricate a memory.