Sundrunk

Two ten PM.

The florid sunshine today had me foaming at the mouth, so I got out of the house a few minutes and looked around me. My own street was pretty much inert and deserted, but around the corner a car passed me, and then I saw Randy at his car lot working with the tow truck driver and using his phone. Directly overhead, the blue sky was peppered with sparse lonely clouds, white wisps in the air. People on the ground took little heed of them, instead dragging up Maxwell Road like bats out of hell. To the right of the sidewalk by the store, I noticed a bed of purple flowers that smelled sweet and one or two honeybees for pollination. And of course I saw more people and cars in the lot. When I walked into the building, Deb glanced at me but said nothing. She must’ve thought I was stupid for wearing a hoodie on an 80 degree day. But Cathy helped me out at the register, saving me the 25 cent up-charge for using plastic. No one seemed as drunk from the sun as I felt, sort of like Meursault on the beach before doing something insane. The sun gives its bright orange to the green and blue everywhere, like a sweet dessert you can eat, or a fermented fruit that makes you crazy. Yet somehow I found my way home and gave my dog a chicken jerky treat: my contact with reality.

Fugitive Dove (Ascending)

Five o’clock evening.

The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the lot of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its sublime immaculate abode. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet the Garden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language. The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the spray of stars in the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can almost decipher the cooing of the dove just now.

(Revision)


The most poetic thing I observed today was a mourning dove perched atop a power pole outside Randy’s car lot: I stopped to look and it flew away, like the 59 wild swans in the Yeats lyric. Not that the yard of salvaged wrecks was at all poetic, but the fugitive dove graced the scene by its presence, similar to a fabulous bird in a ballet. There and gone in a twinkling to its immaculate sublime. This event kind of set the tone for the remainder of my day. I pondered the place of poetry in a realistic world, one that had lost its enchantment and lapsed from the Garden. Yet Eden is only available to the imagination and sustained through poetic language… The squirrel on the magnolia limb knows a secret that he doesn’t impart. Nor does the astral spray of the Milky Way at midnight. But perhaps with a taste of the white snake like the one in Grimm’s, all revelation is ours. I can nearly decipher the coo of the dove just now.

Capped

Quarter after six.

Day is just dawning on an overcast sky. Last night, into the small hours, I slipped on a banana peel while writing in my journal: I thought of the fact of consciousness again and its link with language and logic, so I was trapped in the net of philosophy as before. It’s a condition that comes and goes. But right now I feel like the anti philosopher. There’s so much uncertainty and anxiety with people today. For some reason I recall the image of the new high school being built on Silver Lane. It’s an ominous looking thing of dark gray brick and brown windows in a campus of huge buildings. More like a prison than a school; a place for forcible indoctrination, mentally violent. It’s like the idea behind The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher, of being Capped by alien forces we don’t understand, that deprive us of our own reason and capacity for original thought. No one can be a philosopher who attends a school like that, nor simply a human being.

Eight thirty. I saw nothing very interesting on my walk this time. W—, who lives on Fremont Avenue, was busy with something in his garage. He owns an HVAC business and flies ultra conservative flags on a pole in his front yard. I guess a lot of people around here feel that way, but when I go to Centennial Plaza it’s a blue zone and people are mostly pretty happy. The various demographics even within the same city can be rather baffling. “Second nature comes alive / Even if you close your eyes / We exist through this strange disguise.” Why can’t we be closer to our original nature? Now the sun makes glints off the cars in Roger’s driveway and lights my magnolia up lemon. Aesop turns to me with a questioning look, then settles himself again. 

Green Glasses

Eight forty.

There’s been a fine mist of rain this morning, so I took an umbrella to the store. They were out of Snapple tea; I bought a Dr Pepper instead. I seemed to see green everywhere on my way, like a symbol that follows me around. I think it means nature and pure life as opposed to the dead language of old traditions, also ubiquitous but unpromising, unless the god you believe in is not sandwiched in a book. If there must be a bible, perhaps a person can use Leaves of Grass, something roomier than the other options. My umbrella is black, but during school I had a green and yellow Duck umbrella, lost in the fire three years ago.

The essence is happiness, I always remind myself. Though I have no complaints, neither am I jumping for joy. What happened to the fun I used to have? There’s always something to screw up any utopia, so the best we can do is make the most of every minute.

Two thirty.

Were the good times with alcohol really fun for me or was it all just an illusion of joy? My experience with drinking was a relationship, a romance or an old friendship, and everyone else was second to the booze. Before the pandemic came, I enjoyed church, and now those are the good old days. Maybe I overindulged in using my brain for a long period, because today I’m burned out on intellectual pursuits and only want to feel what is true for me. But it’s hard to tell between emotional truth and rational defense. First thing this morning I felt pretty good. Right now the sun is shining and won’t set for another four hours. It could be a very pretty afternoon and evening.

Autolycus & Gillyvors

Quarter after six.

There’s nothing really on my plate for today except the daily trip to get food for Aesop and me. Daylight will not dawn for another hour, yet sleeping any longer was out of the question. I dug out my beautiful Arden copy of The Winter’s Tale and considered it again; finally I went on Amazon to order The Tempest to read this spring. WT made me think of the church, a little community of Christians kind of like a Shakespeare reality, while my existence there was as a minor character, for example Autolycus, the peddler of bawdy songs and all around reprobate interested only in himself. Or anyway, that’s how a Christian sees me, which may be rather unfair and inaccurate about me. It’s hard to say. The breaking point for me was to realize that my parents were sinners according to church, when I knew I couldn’t condemn them for anything. A very difficult decision for me. Since a year ago I’ve written huge volumes of notes on my feelings about the situation, but I think the conclusion was quite foregone… It was last summer when I read WT the third time and applied it to my life somewhat unwisely. Shakespeare also says that the truth will out. In the end, I’m not “like” Autolycus or any other fictional character, as no one is really like anybody else. Life never imitates art but in our imaginations. So it makes you ponder the role of the half world of art and music and poetry. All in all it’s a didactic thing and something to please the senses… Just now I see the first gray light of day. It’s looking pretty overcast, maybe with some sprinkles, which doesn’t break my heart at all. 

Taciturn

Seven o’clock.

It’s a lot warmer out this morning and there’s rain in the forecast. I want to be more grounded in nature now rather than a kite in the atmosphere of philosophy. I don’t want to feel a mile high. The store should be open right now. I just heard a crow cawing to the east, out in the neighborhood. Aesop is asking me for something; it would be great if he could talk or if I were Dr Doolittle: even Snow White or Mary Poppins. But this is not realistic either. Funny how our wishes pollute our experience of the world; as if by believing something, we could make it true. Reality doesn’t yield before human language as in a story by Borges, although this point is debatable. More crows are raising a racket, but otherwise the Sunday morning is silent. My dog probably wants me to go to the store for his snacks. I never cared much for the sabbath day, especially when I had a job and dreaded going back on Monday. The other day I saw J— at the agency. I think something was wrong because she didn’t talk to anybody; just read a local paper and seemed to be waiting for something, perhaps an appointment. Usually she is very busy working in the optical office. I wanted to talk to her but she was closed and taciturn. She was as uncommunicative as the truth of nature… Any time now I’ll have the motivation to run to market. The rain is supposed to begin at around ten o’clock. I’ve got some time until that happens. 

The View

Wee hours.

Thursday should be an easier day than yesterday night. Right now it’s so quiet in the house that I can hear my ears ringing from many rock music gigs past. I got through the fateful day Tuesday plus the uncertainty of playing with the church last night; now it’ll be nice to coast for a day. Pastor really liked my J Bass that I put together from a kit two and a half years ago. Through the 25W Rumble amplifier it sounds flatulent but with a great deal of volume to spare in our sanctuary. The only technical difficulty I had was a bad instrument cable but fortunately Pastor had an extra one I could use. The medley of “God Rest Ye” and “We Three Kings” went pretty well. Pastor said he hadn’t played his guitar since last Christmas Eve— a whole year ago.

Outside, I can hear the light rain softly coming down. During the afternoon yesterday, disconsolate, I watched the sky out of my bedroom window. I saw the white clouds slowly shifting and looking cold like winter, bright and sharp, with the bare apple tree branches in the foreground, interlaced with oak limbs. The mute sky tried to speak something to me, or maybe it was a romantic reciprocity of nature and my mind, as in The Prelude. Even a bad day can be redeemed when you take refuge in a natural setting, or just admire the view and imagine yourself elsewhere. 

Thursday Thumbnail

Ten twenty five.

Aesop and I slumbered in this morning, and my brain was full of ominous and obscure thoughts. But when I finally got up, the world was kind to me. I had 13 emails unread and my trip to the market went fine. It was warm enough out for me to go without a jacket. The rain won’t start until around two o’clock, and then it’ll be constant for another week or more. The day is gray and green punctuated by trees that are turning gold or red. My brother has been on my unconscious mind lately, and what a pity how he is alienated from the family. I was thinking of him when I picked up a book of writings of naturalism. I might read more of it today; I have plenty of time today for reading or whatever. Aesop was hungry and scarfed down his breakfast with gusto a little while ago. A shaft of sunlight hits the ground under the magnolia tree. On the street I passed a couple of cats, a gray one and one black and white. A tree frog creeks in my backyard. I also saw two doves perched on the power lines behind a house on my street. I thought of climate change and its effects on the wildlife here and everywhere. When the food supply runs short, birds and animals go where it is more plentiful— obviously. So we see species in town we’d never seen before: woodpeckers and doves, for example. Wild turkeys can be seen around the city, especially Downtown… It looks like a good day ahead; I even anticipate the rain expected this afternoon. Aesop wants a peanut butter cookie, which I’ll give him presently. 

Red Oak

Four ten in the morning.

I can hear it raining right now. Yesterday I noticed how the oak tree is beginning to drop its leaves, which now are a deeper gold before they turn to burgundy. My brother used to say he remembered when Mom planted that tree, sometime in the Seventies, and today it towers over the whole neighborhood, an arboreal giant. Many of the leaves fall in my neighbor’s backyard and onto the roof of his shed, but he doesn’t say anything. When life was less harmonious for me with my sister, I didn’t appreciate the red oak; but currently it gives me some happiness to think of the leaves it has shed every year since my mother passed away. I tend to forget that trees are living things because they don’t move around the way animals do, and that’s very foolish of me. Every cell of every tree has a nucleus that serves as its brain and intelligence, and every tree has to breathe like you and me. The only difference is that they breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, which benefits us who breathe oxygen.

My brother was quite a naturalist when I knew him last, or rather he was torn between this and civilization. He was always at home in the woods or at the coast, the mountains, or wherever it was pure wilderness without the taint of humankind. I wonder if someday he might just vanish in the woods with a fishing pole and a few beers? 

Nature First and Last

Six o five.

I had a dream a bit ago about playing the bass guitar to please my parents. I bargained with my dad, saying that after my gig I wanted to drink an amount of beer and then go to bed. He permitted a 750 ml can of Foster’s, so I went into the grocery store… but I changed my mind and came out empty handed. I also looked in the southwestern night sky and saw the full moon, symbolic to me of idealism, of dreams and ambition, and thought I couldn’t betray it by drinking again… The dawn is coming up gray through my front window. I hear the screech of some perching bird and the caw of a crow. Last night I indulged a few mystical thoughts on my transformation from a “Greek” to a Christian. And it actually rained briefly at around midnight. Today there are no big pressures on me. I think my sister may be having a difficult time dealing with her oldest son’s politics. Evidently he’s been blithering stuff lately about a “civil war” of red against blue. Others in the family are also politically polarized. I think we have enough problems with the pandemic and with climate change to be preoccupied with politics. I feel tired and even kind of nauseous upon hearing this news. I don’t understand how some people can make politics logically prior to the ecology. This is just backwards, I think. It’s like saying, “We don’t use language, language uses us.” It inverts the commonsense order of things.

Quarter after seven. Nature came first, and everything else is the artifice of human beings. The future depends not on our fictions, but ultimately on the fact of the natural world. Things like money, religion, and politics are constructs of human imagination. So I guess I’ll never really be a Christian, or anyway, not a very good one. We’re in trouble when our fictions are more real to us than nature.