Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Well, Jon is no longer feverish and hasn't thrown up blood or food today, but he's still going to be in the hospital for a couple of days. Jess and I are going to see him tomorrow if weather and the car permits. If she drives I can take more drugs and tilt the seat back so it doesn't hurt as much, so that's good.

Furlinghetti the cat has a lump or something on her chest, maybe a cyst, may be a tumor. With Oona cat carrying a big lump in her stomach that is most likely cancer I'm starting to get tired of all this death and dis-ease around here. I wonder what all these pain meds are doing to my liver? Can't be too bad or Jon would be dead by now, right? He gets a hell of a lot more than I do. So maybe I'm okay.

Listening to Tom Waits. I think the man is doing meth, his music sounds way too speedy to be straight. It's the sort of poems I wrote on speed in the 60's. The beat matches your heart. What I wouldn't give for some opium and a few hours alone....They are testing ecstasy on terminally ill patients. Gets them in touch with their emotions before they die. Seems to help. Howcum nobody wants to test drugs on me? I'd be willing to try some things. There's a new drug out made of deadly snails. They inject it into your spinal column and it kills the pain. Supposed to be 1000 times more potent than morpheine. Hmmm. 1000 shots of morpheine would stop your heart! Maybe they're geting rid of the people with severe chronic pain. I could live with that.

Boy it would be nice to sit in the studio with my kids, drinking some home made brew, smoking a bowl of home grown weed, and talking about those terrible days when I was full of pain, Jon was PVS and Jess only did drugs and booze when she was out of the house. Assuming she does them at all. I suppose next life I'll be doing just freaking great, no pain, no family tragedies, no dying cats. Probably no good art, either.

Soon as I figure out how, I'm going to upload some pics of my work.

Monday, December 27, 2004

In some cultures winter is owned by the Goddess of Death, the Crone. Things that sink down into the earth are thought to have died and will be resurected in the spring when the Goddess Eostre comes to the surface. Oddly enough, the male God, the consort, has a very small role in all this. When you consider how good males are at killing and burying you'd think the myths would be all over the role of the male God. But, back in the day when She was well thought of, I suppose death was looked at in a different light.
People often say that things would be different if we had to kill the food we eat, actually take it down, skin it, deal with the parts we can't eat.... the whole native thing. But we don't kill our food. We kill one another and then we just waste the meat. But the plants and cows and chickens that we do eat we buy ready to cook from a merchant. The merchant is considered to be under the domain of the Trickster. (oh no, here he goes again with the Trickster) but if you think about it, it does make sense. In our culture, here in Amerika, we take chickens for instance. We grow them in warehouses, never seeing the sun, never feeling the earth. We kill them in an assembly line and gut them and throw the parts into land fills where it can attract rats and disease. We wash them in chemical baths and huge vats of feces, water and for all we know, chlorine. The end result is sometimes dyed yellow to look somehow fresher. People like yellow food, they don't like skin colored food. Well, skin colored if you are a caucasion. That all costs x pennies. Then, we exchange the carcasses for more pennies than it cost to prepare them. The guy who buys them exchanges them to a store owner for even more pennies over the cost. He sells them to us for a couple of bucks, many pennies over the original cost.
This series of exchanges involve the use of coins, which are bits of metal which represent labor. But since we are trading more symbolic labor than actually went into the dead bodies, we are creating an imbalence of energy. Anytime money is involved you can see the work of Hermes, the Greek Trickster. Most people know Hermes as the messenger of the Gods, but in fact he was more than that. He was also the God of Magic and the God of the marketplace. Crossroads, where you sold your soul to play the guitar really really well, was sacred to Hermes. His temples were built there and offerings made at a crossroads went to him. He was also a bit of a cross dresser, sometimes known as a hermaphrodite because he was a God that like to live on both sides of the coin. Nothing trickier than thinking you got a babe on the make and then find that your partner has one too!
So this food thing today is an obvious sign of the rise of the fortunes of said Trickster. What about human death? Well, look at what happens when someone dies now. Instead of laying the body out in the dining room and having a feast to celebrate their going to live with the gods, we pay someone to take the corpse away, clean it up, fill it full of dead chemicals and then paint it to look un-natural. The clothes are phony, split in the back and tucked in. The box is often hermetically sealed. All designed to make Death seem somehow clean and safe and removed from everyday life. In other words, Trickster has stolen authority from the Crone. STealing is also a common trait with Trickster. Now since e pay someone to do all this to our dead loved ones, we see commerce is now a huge part of Death and commerce is a Trickster domain.
One of the things about Trickster, though, is that he lies. He tells you something is going to happen a certain way and then it doesn't. Sort of like how Yaweh told Eve she would die if she ate from the Tree of Knowlege. She didn't, he lied and that lie is the first of many in the Bible.
So everything in the funeral is made to look as if it is going to last forever. The stainless steel, hermetically sealed coffin, the chemicals poured into the veins of the deceased, the granite monument we place on the gravesite and the fact that no one will ever build a house or a highway over that grave. Except of course that the commerce god can easily arrange for the graves to be moved if the mall needs to expand. Or, like in one mall I know, you build the mall around the grave!
What the Crone says is that Life is a circle. Everybody lives for a time, then dies, and they return that borrowed body to the earth from whence it came. you know it came from the earth becasue you are what you eat and we eat plants from the earth and animals that eat those plants. Everything from the Goddess is returned to the Goddess and in exchange for that relationship we come to realize that we never die as in stop, but we return to life almost instantly... in a changed and new form. She brings us into this life as Isis, loves us as Aphrodite, feeds us as Gaia, and lays us down inside her as Crone. Trickster just gets us to waste our life playing stupid games and then robs us of our dignity by forcing us to pay huge sums of money (representing our labor) to have some stranger do those last few things to honor our loved one.
Trickster is not evil, mind you. He runs this show right now, but as a God, he knows that the Great Mother... his mother, too, is all-powerful and will come back again at some point to run the show the way she always does. She's letting Trickster have some fun at our expense, and because it's just a game she know we will not be seriously hurt. But I think if we play too rough, if we kill off too many critters, plow too many furrows, steal too many babies, kill too many loving children, Crone will appear and bury us. Not all of us, but enough to make Her point.
Picture this. China and Japan call in their loans, all 10 trillion of them. We don't have enough laborers to create enough things of value to pay back those loans, so we default. Now everyone knows our money is not worth the paper it's printed on, so they stop dealing with us. China has more than enough consumers to take up the slack. India has lots of scientists and programmers and such, and so on and so on. Amerika is bankrupted and the government collapses. It's a form of death, the domain of the Crone. Now, the country splinters as various factions accuse one another of being the cause of our collapse. Infighting is something Trickster loves to promote. Regions split off and keep their resources within their needs. People begin to have more gardens, because so much of the marketplace is trashed. We have farmer's markets... another Trickster arena, so He's happy. We barter more, home school more, fight a hell of a lot less, especially with no money to buy bombs. So a rebirth occurs. Several healthy states from one screwed up facist nation. Like the way Neanderthal would bury gramps in the back of the cave, we bury the nation in the back of our minds.... because a nation is a mental object, a phony creation. There are no nations when you look for them from space. We made them up. But these new toys will grow and go through all those stages of growth new living things do, until they screw up and collapse too. Rome did, Britain did, USSR did. They may try to come back under a new name, like a man who left his children might move to another city and call himself John Smith. New Amerika might involve part of the Northeast, part of the Deep South.... maybe even Cuba. But it will be a new nation, under the Goddess with liberties and rituals for all.
So I figure that even with Adolf Bush in the Grey House, killing as many people as he can by proxy, and his insane group of psychotics taking down the nation from the inside out, eventually the Crone has her way, the Goddess shows her strength, and we all sleep better in our beds at night without fear of a terrorist attack.... because who would attack a two-bit, down on it's luck country with nothing to threaten anyone and only a huge supply of natural resources? Why would any sane person invade and occupy a country so messed up it can't defend itself? How many Adolf Bushes could there be in the world?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

There's a stack of forms and folders on the little table in the living room.They're what I have to fill out in order to get disability status. I have to write down the history of my back and the projected future, allow strange men and women to examine me, ask me questions and even ask my friends and relatives about my pain and my ability to function. One aspect of this strikes me.... well, maybe many aspects, but one is that the first reaction to hearing about my back, the crushed bones, the herniated discs, osteoporsis or something... is disbelief. If I was so screwed up, how cum I'm standing here, or sitting there, in apparent good health?
Because I'm sitting here or standing there in a great deal of pain. There's a jolt of electricity that bounds down my left leg like a car battery being leaned against. There's the cold firey tingling that always exists between my shoulders, sometimes going down the back. Then the right leg gets started. All in the first hour of the day. But I have to convince these people that chances are leaning over a CADD terminal moving a mouse all day is out of the question. Then they have to realize that the ability to work in short clips of 15 minutes or so and then take at least 10 minutes to ease up the pressure on the nerves somehow eliminates most kinds of employment. That said, it would be interesting if the thing took a whole nuther tack. Suppose they decided that as an artist, what I have left is 100% of what I need, so I'm not disabled. But I bet it would be fun to have the government put in writing that I am a fully functional artist. Just for jollies, ya know.
Well, at some point I'll go fill them all out and send them off. See, even typing this blog is maybe 75% typing and 25% correcting, so I make a lousy typist/clerk. I suppose I could find some other kind of work, like a sauna clerk. If that exists I'd like a job that made me sit in a sauna a lot of the time, maybe testing new setups. That would work for me.
Once they're filled out, someone reads them and decides if I fit into a certain mold. If I'm close, and I won't be, they move me on the line. It goes like this until they notify me that they have refused my application for one reason or another. Eventually you get a lawyer and a judge sits in front of you. I'd like a good, long session while everybody says their piece, because by then I'd be screaming in pain and jumping up to limp around the room swearing. Then I'd open up my camera case and pull out my drug store and grab a bunch of pills and swallow them down, washing them with a juice pak laced with vodka. It wouldn't be an act, and I would get the disability check. By then I'll be getting a percentage of my pension, too, just because I survived long enough to qualify as "old". So the point is, that although I will be "poor" most of the income will last long enough for me to finsh some nice pieces, if I start NOW.
Suddenly I'm seeing projects and "problems" and series of archetypes. Such nice work and if I can start now, just in case the ole back decides to go deep south, I can still work small, I can do assemblages...doing some now, in fact. All light work, easy to do from a wheelchair if need be. Clay is always something a confirmed artist can do. But wouldn't ya know it, I'm also suddenly thinking large wooden projects, finishing Andy's family.
For years Andy has walked just outside the ring of light set by our bonfires. 12' tall, he is made of cedar and watches over the bonfire site as well as the nearby altar. But he always was promised a family, some siblings to watch over with. I have parts here and there but am just now putting them together. It will be a busy back yard if I pull it off and Andy will never stand alone. And then there's the hops vine we're trying to get to grow pants for Andy in the summer, some shorts or coveralls so he doesn't get sunburned. It will grow about 8"/day and eventually will send out many shoots to weave a nice year round covering for Andy and his family, too.

Monday, December 20, 2004

This is the day of the night of the winter solstice bonfire. This is one of the pillar holy days of pagans, pretty much worldwide. Even the other faiths celebrate this time. So, as I sit and think on the symbols of this time, I started finding things in my own life that met the standards as "high drama" or archetyipal life style.. somehow. Anyway, that kind of cold spell-stay-in-your-house kind of thought, past things, past people. I saw a small picture of my first wife, Jon's mother, back when she looked like a high school girl because she was. I realized that I met her thru Larry, who just died here at Thanksgiving. He was visiting her at the hospital, bringing her a meal of steak, baked potato and green beans. She was about 16 and pregnant. I helped him prepare the food and deliver it . She seemed kinda tough, but sweet. Sometime later, at an event, she was escorted in by a mutual friend, a kid named Oz. I turned to my friend Danny and said "that will be the mother of my son..." and she was. But before that, she had a child, a boy, and I can't recall what she named him or if it stuck. But I suddenly realized that my son has a half brother, about two years older than him. He'd be about 32 and he doesn't have any way about knowing about his brother and what happened to him. Very odd.The sort of stuff that makes you reflect. We could all of us have these half-siblings all over the earth. We don't know what happened to our mothers or fathers when they were barely teens. We might be related to a whole lot more people than we think. So we should think about that. I think we ought to consider how we interact with people in case Mom is in the next room. We know what happens when Dad is in the next room...Besides, we're all related.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

And now he lies
ashes, all ashes, all ashes
And now he lies
ashes, all ashes, away.
Gone into ashes
the passion, his passion;
Gone into ashes
all ashes, away.
Like salt to the ocean;
an ocean of ashes,
blown to the ocean
of ashes away.
Cold were his fingers.
it lingers,
those fingers.
Gone into ashes
those fingers - away.
Lost to us ever
he'll come again never,
gone into ashes,
and ashes away.
The best and the kindest
reminds us of ashes.
He ne'er closed those lashes
now ashes - away.

So, Larry in a bag, in a box, in a room, in a dull, dark, and lonely old world. I held his hand tightly, not unlike a lover might, as if by holding him tightly I could stop his slide downward to that dark room. Like leaving my boy, my child, I kissed his brow and told him we'd meet again. They asked me if there was anything they could do for us and I told them only one thing would work: Bring back my friend.

Thanksgiving for a winter survived long ago would simply not do for a friend removed from this life too soon. No amount of turkey or pie, no amount of gravy and wine could satisfy this hunger in my gut. The last of the best, aged over a lifetime, brought out once or twice a year for hugs and promises and pictures taken in the driveway. Two smiling faces, two cheery hands clasped around two sets of strong shoulders.... two friends parting the way it should be, with promises of next time and jokes and worries over long lines and lost baggage. But not this. Not this terrible slide from "Your friend is a very sick man." to "Larry passed, he didn't make it." No amount of food or sunshine or birdsong can cope with the vast emptiness.

The worse part were the wails. A sister driving to work, foolishly answering a cell phone while on the highway hearing those words that make no sense: "Larry just died this morning."

A friend of decades, soft and beautiful in spite of age and miles, somewhere across a newly emptied landscape, wailing like a hurricane through the wires, like a baby caught in a car door, like a father in a hospital hallway, like a friend caught in disbelief. "Larry died today."

Why was I considered the strong one, the one best able to take the box, the ashes? After all these years of mockery and laughter and shaking heads in disbelief at the things I thought to say.... why now, of all times, was I the one to bear the Crone's gift to the family? Such strength as this I never owned, never wanted, never claimed, never understood. There was no strength in carrying Larry back to his sister and brother and all the rest of them, only a promise made on the bathroom floor while holding furiously those cold fingers, stroking that panicked brow: "I'm here for you, buddy. I won't leave you." So I didn't, until someone else could take the box and carry it away.

I know the taste of ashes, I have tasted them before. I know the feel of ashes, I have felt them before. I know the stabbing pain of sorrow for a friend ripped away by Her bony hand. I have no strength enough to carry this pain somewhere, I am burdened with it until someday it puts me down. Kisses along the way, hugs from children too young to understand that shadow in my eyes.... nothing will do anything to remove that stone from my back. I trudge along carrying a smile and speaking a joke and not waiting to see or hear if any of it made an impact. Because it doesn't matter, you see. It doesn't matter when a friend is taken, that you went on and did some things and said some things. What matters is that on some lonely night, out back where they can't hear me, where they can't see my weakness, my shudders, nor hear my own soft wails, that my friend will not comfort me nor listen to me, nor be able to care enough to be there for me. But still he comes and still the hand upon my shoulder, the quiet eyes that never close again... these can be found out back, in the dark when it's just me and Larry and the taste of ashes.

So, Larry, don't be a stranger. Don't wait til next Thanksgiving to visit me. Without being greedy, or at least without wanting it to be greed, I'd like you to drop by from time to time. You can see the light in the window from where you are, I know. You can bring Teddy and the rest: Granddad Riley, Roderick, Shiela....the whole crowd. Bring 'em all to the fire and we'll talk. Hugs all around, barkeep, keep 'em coming.