Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ah Dreams

Oh, hi. I'm just roasting coffee this morning, listening to electronic ambient music. Yes, again. I'm also remembering my dream from last night. Huh? Well, it involved me as a wealthy businessman who is contracting with an elderly Japanese couple to make exquisite pieces of pottery. I'm making all kinds of money off of them, while exhibiting what I believe to be genuine kindness. At some point of the story (It was very much a full-length feature film) they tell me the story of a very special piece of pottery that can be thrown. It is made rarely and shared even more so. It is a piece that is made to hold dreams, plans, and hopes. I remember likening it to the gift of a Montblanc fountain pen, but more spiritual (some say one should never purchase a Montblanc for him/herself but it should be given/received out of admiration or as a reward). The story they tell doesn't sound like much to me, and life goes on as usual. Later on, something poignant happens to me, and I am stopped in my tracks. Everything I know is destroyed, and I am laid bare before myself and before the world. I return to the couple, who now have much more money than I do. I ask them to create that special piece on commission, now fully understanding its importance and meaning. Reluctantly, they create it, and it is sublime. The piece is presented to me with full pomp and circumstance. I take what money I have left and pay them for the immaculate vessel. Holding it in my hands for a full 10 seconds to admire it, I then hand it back to them. "This is for you. Thank you." is all I say before turning to leave. It is at this point that I awoke, breathlessly sobbing.

All morning, I have been trying to recall what event caused me to change.

Some dream music for your own confusing slumber.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Other Coat

Out. Flick. Slit. Back.

Once in a while, that is to say, over the course of years, you find yourself, the other part. But long before you find it, you will be it. You will have been it for a while. I wish I could say it was imperceptible, but it isn't. You noticed it, but, like the guy on the corner with the cardboard sign, you told yourself you didn't noticed, and kept driving. Something clicked like bone against bone. Maybe you winced. Maybe you said it was something else.

Out. Flick. Slit. Back.

You are comfortable in your clothes. I mean, you were. You remember when you were. They hung like your chosen thoughts and opinions, and they depicted what you were. And it all fit in the scheme of things, your life, your friends and aspirations.
Then, like a knife from the dark, things change. Pretend it isn't happening. Just a side road. Just a detour on the way to the dream. Side tracked economy. What you laughed you would never do. But life laughs and sometimes not with you.

Out. Flick. Slit. Back.

It's up to you now, and there is no Deus and no ex Machina. There is just you, on your knees before the bottom line, taking stock of where you were, where you want to be, and the time between that takes its sweet, bloody time without you. But when you move forward, this time, it will be all you, the strength in your legs propelling you. And when you are where you want to be, you will have no one to blame but yourself. So grab your coat, the other one. Get to work on the present. Sneak peeks, when no one is looking, at the future.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It's 11:00 a.m., and I am sitting in my office watching the snow slowly turn the Box Elders into an Ansel Adams photo. The visual noise usually emitted by the billion things in the backyard are hushed by the slow coating of the presence of all colors as one. Winter in Minnesota. After 19 years, it still doesn't get old, while my joints increasingly show me the difference between us.

Holidays have a tendency to make us stop and look both forward and back, allowing us to assess our place and how it differs from what it took to get us here and where in the hell we might be headed. We're a little heavier than we realized, perhaps, or maybe there are a few more lines around the eyes. Maybe your interests have changed. When did you stop really caring about what that band is doing? I used to go to readings. When did that stop? When did I start caring about that status report at work, that place I swore would never get all of me? For me, it all comes in cycles, seasonlike, when we toggle between head down in the trenches and then up again to view the landscape when the time is right.

It is the day before Thanksgiving, and I sit here and try to be grateful for it all, because that's what it took to get me here. Pain, pleasure, hope, despair. It is all part of the whole. Right now, I'm enjoying some peace and calm. Later, that will not be the case. I will take each part as it comes, as we all do. Let us just accept it as a part and not try to avoid the challenging parts ("When going through hell, don't stop." ~ Winston Churchill). Winter always feels like work time to me, when the flourish of summer is removed and put away, and stark practicality takes the fore. For all of this, I will try to remain conscious of the fact that I am fortunate. I am alive.

We shall see how long I can retain this perspective. It is the day before Thanksgiving, and I work closing shift at a popular grocery store. My mantra? Don't stop.

Some music for the beauty outside. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Allowing Space

In the predawn hours I watch the sky, the small distant suns, of Orion and Canis Major shining above the southern horizon. I can easily imagine a planet among them on the surface of which someone is standing alone in a clearing trying to teach himself to whistle.                                        
                                                                                                                          - from River Notes by Barry Lopez
I don't know the names of the constellations, but can picture swords and their heroes, helmets and victory as clearly as I know my son will dream them. I'm at the river again. To the right the Mississippi and the Minnesota combine their strength and move forward past me. The current is hypnotic, the lapping waves a reminder of change. To the left it curves to the right and disappears. It is a place to come where no one cares what I sound like. I practice curling my lips and tongue, trying to convince the body I already know how. To make a noise, soft but true, one day becoming music, is the point of it all. If I am getting closer it is because I have learned the important thing - that I am to learn it. Children understand. Takes longer for some of us.
I looked up this morning and saw the last of the night fade into dawn. A poem ran through my head then out and into the woods. And on that star, I thought, someone is whistling a beautiful song, and the people who hear it are smiling.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Not Me....You

Hello. My name is Michael. How are you?

I checked my blog today, and I saw you. All 47 of you. I have 47 followers. I have 47 followers, and I realized I don't know you at all. Isn't that strange? You are kind enough to follow my strange writing, and yet you remain faceless, nameless folk.

So today, after all this time, I invite you to chime in. Comment on this post and let me know you

a) really exist
b) pay attention to my posts
c) really exist

In addition, I want to let you know that I have another blog where I post all the work of mine that ends up getting published. I have it separate as a kind of CV. You can find it here.

In further addition, I invite you to find me on Facebook, where I sometimes post my writing as status updates. Find me at "Michael K. Gause." Send me a private message there and let me know you follow this blog. If you want to friend me, I'll accept once I know the context.

Finally, I want to thank you for following my writing for all this time. It means a lot to me, and in so doing, I can tell you that you know me more than many who think they do. Seriously, reach out. Let me know who you are.


P.S. Here is some ambient music for your day.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hum, Shiver, Repeat

Oh, time makes men grow sad
And rivers change their ways
But the night wind and her riders
Will ever stay the same...

Reading The Hum and the Shiver by Tennessee expat Alex Bledsoe. It is set in Tennessee, but not in the '40s or '50s, the time some authors choose for that region. It takes place today, though I can attest the further out you go into that wild, the further back you go in time. The book has me thinking of family, particularly to bloodlines, about which I have never given much thought. While my father has researched our family's history admirably, I have but a vague sense of the family thread - a mutt pedigree that thins and fades like fog. Stories and words that twist themselves toward meaning. Small children watching affairs end with both barrels, limbs lost as a matter of course, men whose iron bones turned back invisible tides in the Civil War. Surnames break and split like streams to creek. Counts. Tucker. Bobo. Back further still. Signposts barely legible. Huguenot and nomad. 
All of this floats through my head as I read about the book's main character, Bronwyn Hyatt, and her return home, the blood that welcomes her as one of their own, but forever changed. I sit in my Minnesota home, hundreds of miles from the air the story makes me long for wanting to feel the arms of my mother around me strong, assured of something I cannot name, something known only to us, with small, mystic gestures like the Tufa in the story. We were born in the middle, neither urban nor remote enough to grow native traits I might later use to identify me in the us. I have trouble finding deepblood traits to distinguish us from the progression my parents moved outland to abandon. O how we seek to be special in the face of the tide.
Bronwyn's return comes through sacrifice, through heroic acts appreciated by her place and people. Today I find myself devoid of such, whatever potential cultivated in youth now leveled out and on display for those to only wonder after. At some point or another, I guess we all want to be a hero, have our mother's praise be vindicated. Perhaps sometimes it goes dormant as we enter the flow and tide, as we learn that just about everyone has potential, and that it is up to us to make it an active thing. Sometimes it takes hitting bottom to activate it. Maybe the feeling of a god's light upon our upturned face. Hell, maybe sometimes it just takes a story, a parable of sacrifice and humility before the immensity of the world, something to remind us that there is a difference between what we are handed and what we choose to do with it. We'll see. I'm not done with the story, neither one.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day

I get nostalgic this time of year. It was 19 years ago this year that I decided to pack up my broken heart and pet rabbit and leave my small town life for God knows what in a strange northern place called Minnesota. I was leaving Kingston Spring, Tennessee, a town that once offered the Ce Bon Motel (pronounced See Bonn) and the Dixie Doodle, a burger joint that would, sadly, change its name to the less colorful I-40 Truck Stop. It was a place that reared, damaged, and taught me. I learned to love deepest nature. I learned to watch my back.

Born of deep rocked pain, for which that tender heart was hardly prepared, was the need to move, a hunger for everything that was not my severed life. The pain of love failed, love taken, created first a resounding hum like a cuff to the ear or a touch of almost lethal live wire. That it did not kill me immediately should have been a sign. But in such situations, we are too deep in that well to have any kind of needed perspective. When your heart is broken, the world can, in an instant, become a violent kaleidoscope seared to the face, its colorful menagerie the product of outside chaos and of the soul sick rising up through the guts of your heart. When I would come to look back on the night in question, the night when it all changed, what I recall most are the sharp lines around her face and around the gaudy pictures filling the wall behind her. Before that moment, they had all been a part of a harmonious whole. Face, family, future, all tethered seamlessly by what could only have been that place, that time, that sense of fortune I felt had finally found me in adulthood.

For years after moving I wanted novelty without excitement, something to keep my mind from thinking about what was left behind, but I wasn't ready to feel. My new Minnesota landscape was just that, a minimalist backdrop onto which I splattered activities to make it seem like movement. I feared the opening of wounds, the revivification of life proper, the warming glow of the machine that makes us feel so much. But soon the past begins to fade as you start taking steps. I felt the need for fire. Flushing the pipes with salty air and stinging truths. I found myself opening up to new people and to old ones. I listened to Flannery O'Connor and cried while she laughed. I shook hands with the words of William Gay, from Hohenwald, TN and felt a kin. With them I wanted it. I wanted pain. I wanted their articulation of what I sensed but to which I could put no good words. I soaked up their sweat and sorrow and watched with them how the day stretched shadows to the edge of the town. I wanted them to hurt me, and with each eloquent barb, I laughed, a little more saved. It was a welcome comfort to discover I could once again feel without having to die.

And so years later I sit, having met wonderful people that would change my life forever, even one I helped create. I can look back on my Tennessee roots not with rose glasses nor bitterness. I can see it for what it was and appreciate it for same. To me Independence Day will always mean not being tethered to that which makes you less, but being a part of that which helps to make all of it more.