Saturday, March 28, 2020

Soundtrack for Seclusion: More Ambient Goodness for your Weekend


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wlr​-​t03 by [whitelabtapes]



I discovered this minimal masterpiece while perusing Bandcamp, the portal to another musical dimension, where you can find sound artists of many ilk share and sell their work.

About Bandcamp:

Bandcamp's mission is to "...create the best possible service for artists and labels to share and earn money from their music, and for fans to discover and support it.

For lovers of music, it is a treasure trove, for sure. You can create an account, purchase albums and listen any time. You can add things to your Wish List, so you can remember what you want to buy for later. Everything I will share on this blog is something I have purchased, and if you enjoy it, I encourage you to purchase it, too. For very little cash-o-la, you can directly support an artist, whose work you enjoy. NOTE: The album I share above was about $12 for the download. A steal at that price. You can also pay more and even send albums to others as gifts! If any of you out there end up creating an account on Bandcamp, feel free to find me there.
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Friday, March 13, 2020

A Year: The Beginning of the End: Part III

You died in the wee hours of Sunday, February 24, 2019. I tried to stay awake, but the drive wore me out.

We sped through Tullahoma, past the cemetery, and into the steep drive of the home at about 1:30 in the morning. I wasn't sure what we'd find. For the last hundred miles, my mind had raced with scenes from our time in Kingston Springs. Brush fires and mini bikes. Barney Miller and fried okra instead of popcorn. The one that kept coming around were all the times you lay on my bed with me and, in the dark, we'd look up at the glow-in-the-dark stars and pretend we were on a hill somewhere. It was there that you would ask me my troubles, and I could tell them to you, and you would always listen. And when the sun came up again, I always felt a little better. That was a rare, special space, and it helped an insecure, sad boy than you'll ever know. By the time we hit Tennessee the stars had become snow again slicing the windshield. We were so close.

I heard the factory sound coming from your room as soon as I rounded the corner. I never thought I'd love that horrible sound. It meant you were still breathing. I smiled at your photo on the door, the one with you holding a box of Rice-a-Roni from the weekly auction in the lobby. You looked happy in that picture, sad, but happy. We snuck in the room slowly as if too fast would break everything. You looked so tired, Mom, and I just wanted you to rest. I wanted you to rest then wake up and tell me my hair looked awful like you always do. You never liked it when I started wearing my hair longer. I think it had to do with the song by Rod Stewart about growing up, or rather not. Little Michael had a bowl haircut.

When we saw your face, it was real. You were in a loud, cavernous sleep. The morphine and exhaustion saw to that. It was a giant's sleep. I carefully sat beside you and watched you snore like dad used to. I laughed, and then I didn't. I realized were struggling for air. For a minute or so your face and dad's switched back and forth. The exact same sounds. The worst kind of deja vu. After a while, Shelly decided to leave for the hotel 20 minutes away in Manchester, and I decided to stay. I knew I was lucky to have caught you still able to snore. I didn't want to push my luck.

It's here that it gets tricky. See, I leaned in and held your hand, and with only inches between us, we spoke. You listened patiently as I struggled to tell you everything you mean to me in under a minute. There's no way. And while there were no words, I heard you answer, and in that tiny, vast space between us, it felt beautiful. It felt complete.

Sleep well, Annie June Gause. Thank you for waiting, and thank you for doing it right. And should you ever need a reminder of our last time together, just close your eyes and picture the stars.

That should do it.



~

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Year: Beginning the End: Part II

Night stand. Boxes. Folded sheets. I felt like I was waking up, when I realized that I was sitting there beside you, sipping sweet tea the nurse gave me. Everything was pastel blues and pinks and smelled like baby powder. I wasn't sure of the date, and the room was still, careful not to wake you. Then it returned. February 23. Night. Right. Sick. Right.

It was funny, because Ken and Naoko had been down a week or so before. He said you were hanging in there. I got regular updates while I got up, went to work, and pretended like you weren't dying, pretended like my mother wasn't dying. My show went on, and I felt helpless, Mom. It was like listening to a scary story, where there's nothing you can do, but let it be told so it can end.

Wauuuuk. Pshhhhhhhhh, the sound breathed for you, pooling like fog into the hallway. It looped like a toy factory. Moving to Mississippi, then El Paso, meeting Dad in the boarding house, back to TN, to spending your final days not one mile from where you were born at Aunt Ellen's place, to standing by Dad through his drinking and depression, and now this little trinket - smaller than a bread basket - was the only thing between you and the ned. Two boys and 3 miscarriages (that would have made five boys, what you always wanted). It seemed wrong. It should take more to keep someone like you going. I know you know what I mean.

Well, right after they returned home, it happened. I remember the facility kept cycling through sad couplets like "vacant stare," "no food," energy fading." More and more discussions were filled with strokes and heart attacks and how the hell somebody could have survived both at the same time. Thank goodness Bobbie Sue was staying with you that night. You were right all those times. You are a tough old bird. Not 24 hours after Ken and Naoko returned home, we hit the road and drove down straight through hyperspace snow and the hundred shades of southern sunset, hoping we wouldn't hit Coffee County after you left it. Shelly and I drove as fast we could in that weather hating the ping on our phones every time the facility or my brother would send an update. I remember just one "You'll want to hurry. Her lips are to turning blue." And we were still an hour out. I rolled down the window and let the air take my breath instead of screaming. A body does what it can. It holds on for closure. It bullets through the night asking favors of God. Sometimes it tries to cheat time for just one more round.

to be continued...





Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Year: Beginning the End

Oh, where do I begin with the likes of you?

What I remember most is simply not knowing how you did it. No matter how little there was, you always made more. If we ever wanted, you made us forget - food, attention, clothing, love. Most importantly: time. You were a strange and graceful witch.

I guess that's what hit me the hardest. I assumed, along with the rest of your powers, you had found a way to hack time as well, talk the reaper into keeping going next door. And now I need you to help me, help me understand how all of the laughter, all the talking down off tiny roofs, all the ways you gave me strength  now becomes memory. I feel like we missed each other in the end, so I'll tell you.

There were signs days before. A shudder at nothing. A spontaneous Tarot reading out somewhere.



4 of Swords – Sickness, Release from Suffering


9 of Swords – Mental Anguish, Guilty Conscience

Death – Destruction, Transition, Creation

Of course, I was clueless, even after a call from Ken about an incident, a minor milestone, a plot point in the saga. Words like mania, anger, eruption, breakdown, dissolving of systems. You said the nurses were poisoning you. That’s what Ken said. You threw Tommy out of the room. 

Soon you could scarcely speak.  I scrambled to recall the sound of your voice, that honeyed drawl that gave me mine. We took a breath to take it all in. We circled the wagons family style in the kitchen and made a plan. It was agreed: soon it would be 13 hours at 65, snow for the foreseeable future. Soon it would be the last big return home.



…to be continued





Tuesday, June 18, 2019

And Then, again, Life



"The more a man cultivates the arts the less he fornicates."  ~ C. Baudelaire from Intimate Journals (trans. Christopher Isherwood)


How wonderful to say that I haven't written, because I am living too much. For so long I wrote and wrote, dove ever deeper down into the well, passing up electric life all around me.

[Soft glances, humming miles marked by hedgerow sunsets.
I know somewhere I missed a glowing kiss.]

And while I will never regret those sunken hours spelunking nook and sigh, I can say I am enjoying this outward turn, this middle age of middle age.

The cuckoo Glock of youth.
An inward curl. The knowledge of orgasm.
Now stretch again before all limbs recoil from the light
to become a seed, once more.

I abide.


"Only the brute is really potent. Sexuality is the lyricism of the masses."  ~  ibid


Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy Death Day, Charles

Dear Charles,

I have been meaning to sit down and post another entry of this rambly scrawl of a journal, this omnium gathered of pips and pops, drawn out squibs, you might have called them. But life has been either too hectic or fun to do so. But then I realized it was your death day. My unknown and only-half friend, how could I not stop a moment and salute you with a respectful grab of the crotch?

I raise a glass to your Precious Notes:

1. Do, every day, what duty and prudence dictate.
2. Always be a poet, even in prose.
3. The grand style (nothing more beautiful than the commonplace).
4. First make a start, then apply logic and analysis.
5. Even hypothesis demands a conclusion.
6. To achieve a daily madness.

(from Intimate Journals, Trans. Christopher Isherwood)

As you would approve, I cherry-pick from your tenets. I am not you, and no longer seek what we see of your shadow alleys. I allow you to be you. I am only now beginning to know me.

On this, another Day of Your Death, I speak of change. I will speak of it in the bourgeoisie style you despised. The cassette tape Voltaires of your Paris. My gift to you.

I am changing in a foundational way. I try to stay cognizant of the world within and without, assessing the changes and turns and inflections of tone, heat, and distance. Visions of the past and its playful, ominous ebbing flow from these shadows I am beginning to create in this, the second half of a life. The present, how it earns its keep by posting constantly, getting paid for advertising yesterday in new clothes, for never ceasing to remix its own songs in an endless stream arranged (and now DJ'd) by cutting edge AI. Administrators available by email only. And all the while I preserve my rituals, my childlike but necessary attempts to crystalize the fluid, to make concrete and holy the fleeting moments that perhaps are as ignorable as they are important to me. The way I feel I am almost able to hold back the tide (my gray is almost entirely on my face), but my body feels heavy for the very first time, as if gravity has suddenly increased just for me, making me nearly the same weight and cumber as any other human. Strange that this would seem strange to me, for it is without hyperbole that I say that, before now, I have always felt either my immortality, the martial training I underwent in my virginal years (or, likely some marriage of the two) somehow afforded me a lithe, acrobatic dexterity that belied the years I accumulated as heads-up coins in the street. Perhaps, once one distances himself so far from either a mental or physical state of purity, of velvet-sigh carte blanche, entropy feels itself free to doggrel atop our weakening figure. Purity, the treasure made unnatural naturally by nothing more than time. ###

That is all, dear Charles, for this time. I have given you enough to laugh about and share with those few with whom you now raise your glass. Enjoy, rearrange, improve, destroy. Indulge in all your favorite annihilations. You've earned it.

I close with a song for you. Walk your now and forever streets. May they despise you perfectly.



With only a half-bow,
Michael

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Shadows and Shade (cont.)




My mother is the single strongest, most loving and graceful person I've ever known. To this day I cannot tell if she is some kind of nature spirit or a coffee-addicted martyr. My whole life she has given when there should have been nothing left to give. She always had hands to hold a child's teary face, to fix a million meals, to tuck in the unsleepy, and to never strike in anger. By pure example she showed my brother and me the meaning of Love's immeasurable well, with any reference to such downplayed as an act of necessity. So it was no surprise it was the same when it came to the fire.

It was a muggy day, the kind of day which seemed to fuel my father's a) frustration, b) testosterone, and c) confusion about his youngest boy. I don't remember what I was doing at the time. I just remember my father's hackles raised in search of me. Upon finding me, I was to learn that a great chore needed to be completed, a task of titanic proportions, and one whose existence would test not only my strength and courage, but my merit as a human, and, more importantly, as a man. He grabbed a pair of work gloves and headed toward the woods behind our house. Snake den? Worse? Further down the hill was too steep for anything I could think of that would need to be done. Past that was the creek, and he never concerned himself with anything there. Only I did that. My secluded cloister. My sanctuary from the insecurities of school life, the hollow victories at home lay at those waters, down just a ways to the second waterfall. A ledge on which I sat many an afternoon listening to the million sounds from all around, trying to single them out, in vain, at the same time trying to feel a part of all of them. Just trying to feel a part.

We stopped not twenty feet from the treelike, where he pointed beside the derelict treehouse we had started five years ago. It looked like a gnome's hermitage, windowless, and far too heavy for any branches in the vicinity. The idea had come to us shortly after moving to Kingston Springs from Nashville, and the bucolic image of fireflies and clubhouses for the boys grew strong in my father. So we built it, and we built it poorly. And only upon its completion did we look around and wonder where the hell we thought it was going to go. Every time we entered the woods, there was this look on my father's face when he saw it. Very small and some unnamed thing between shame and shock. He pointed to the huge pile of brush that had been created during the summer. Branches cut and stacked from cutting firewood (why we chose to cut firewood during the absolute hottest part of the summer is still beyond me. Heatstroke Central) and from clearing out the woods to make it more pedestrian.



"We need to get rid of that brush. Burn it. Stay with it and make sure it doesn't spread. Bring that hose down here. We don't need no forest fire."

Fire. I can get behind that, I thought. I brought the hose down and soaked the surrounding area, lest my pyro tendencies got the best of me. He left me to it to grind some valves for the Duster. I gathered some things and took up my post to get this job, by God, done.

About an hour later, my father clomped back down the hill to check on things. His face screwed up when he got within eyeshot. Suddenly, I could feel heat coming from more than the flames in front of me.

He mustered enough control for a single question: "What are you doing?!"



...to be continued