interlocked and honey-coated

Honey seeps through the interlock of trees that the bear must enter to find what is swirling in his mind. Is my consciousness not flowing like the honey-coated saliva of a bear? Am I not chasing after myself as desire feasts on the honeycomb of memory? Is the interlock not a wood of evaluations projected by my mind?

Some inviolate frame that I cannot access exists outside of this interlock but I can only catch a glimpse of it oozing its heavy sap into the frames like a glue that seems to make sense until the search for more honey brings me to the edge where a chasm of infinite regress yo-yos. The fractal portals demarcate this interlock floating on quantum foam.

And then I fall back into my honeycomb again and swirl back to a part of the interlock where I can carry on with the feast as any other good bear would.

The Toad’s Screech

Once there was a toad that used to be a boy.  And another boy found this toad in the woods. It hopped sloppily and slowly so it was easy for the boy to catch.  The boy picked it up and it screeched horridly. The boy thought it was so ugly and it made such a horrid sound that it should not live and he threw it as hard as he could against a tree trunk and the toad was splattered to bits.  

As the boy walked home along the path, though, a witch appeared from out of the dead leaves.  And her face was as ugly as a toad’s but she sang a melody that wiggled its way inside him. The beauty of her song made the boy see that he had been unfair and unkind judging life in such a trivial way. He pleaded for forgiveness on his knees in the mud. She had seen this before and dismissed his plea as a lame attempt to squirm out of her grasp.

But this witch was ugly in her thirst for punishment rather than forgiveness since she became addicted to the cycle of revenge. She had learned to savor punishment as her only reward for how the villagers treated her. Besides, the toads also made for a great stew sometimes.

When she tried to turn him into a toad, the spell ricocheted off of the boy’s genuine remorse, bounced off a few trees, and came back to strike her right between the eyes. Her flesh turned inward as she shrank into an actual toad. The boy thought it best to leave the toad alone this time so he went home and swore to never hurt another creature in that way again.

The witch flopped around in the mud, and struggled to hide in the dead leaves. Soon enough, another boy came wandering in the woods. She struggled to sing her sweet song to lure the boy into helping her but it came out as a screech the boy squished with his boot.

souvenirs from an impossible trip

In Walter Benjamin’s short story, The Wall (c. 1932-34), the narrator is living in Spain when he sees a postcard of a wall that “swung through the landscape like a voice, like a hymn singing across the centuries of its duration.” As he decides to find the wall, he misunderstands its label (at first he assumes S stands for Saint but it’s actually S. for Sebastiano Vinez). He looks through old maps and considers other names that might be older names for the place. At the beginning of the story, the narrator talks about a windmill on a hill that he is saving to visit. As it turns out, an acquaintance led him to Windmill Hill where the wall from the postcard was. He had sought after what he was saving to visit in the first place.

Benjamin’s story has stuck with me over the years as I took polaroids, or instant postcards. And it was in the back of my mind at flea markets, where I’d come across old postcards from an era before my time and feel the irresistible urge to buy them. All the better if they had messages already written on the back. And so, postcard polaroids merged together in my mind. Souvenirs from an impossible trip. Like searching for the place romanticized in a postcard that is at once close and far like any photograph itself. Sending postcards from a time where I never was and polaroids of things that do not exist as shown.

Besides, even if we thought we actually caught the place visited in an image, John Prine reminds us in his song, Souvenirs, “Memories they can’t be boughten / They can’t be won at carnivals for free / Well it took me years / To get those souvenirs / And I don’t know how they slipped away from me.”

warped hammock

what resonates below
in this bent hull
but a shimmer from above
where the sunlight plays
a humble tune 
on tattered strings
stretched all the way out
to a crooked horizon

Here’s a humble tune of hope I sometimes play when I feel like I’m swinging in a warped hammock.

The Spoiled Brat

Once there was a prince who was the most spoiled prince of all. When the king would not give him one thing that he wanted, it would be the first and last time because the prince did not know how spoiled he was since the king had spoiled him so completely.

But somehow the prince had a gut feeling that the king might say “no,” so he asked for his wish in front of the entire kingdom. And the one time the king put his foot down, it felt like an elephant’s foot stepping on a pampered pup and the audience witnessed his little beating heart pop out of his little spoiled puppy dog chest.

All the innocent prince had wanted was to house the poor and sick in their castle in order to care for them as a member of their own family. The kingdom heard the prince’s wish and cheered for his charity and felt his love in their hearts with his spoiled request.

This made the king so irate that he called his son a spoiled brat before all of his subjects and in that moment the king looked like the most spoiled brat of all to his entire kingdom. It was as if his own son had split him in half with a sharp diamond-edged sword. One half his self-image made by him wobbled at the other image of him made by his kingdom. Caught between the betrayal of his son and his kingdom and his own betrayal of them drove the king mad. The prince thereby ascended the throne and became a king who spoiled the poor and sick until they were neither anymore.

I wrote this tale because “spoiled” is such a loaded word. Call someone spoiled and it is extremely offensive. But it also has this boomerang effect. For example, parents who spoil their children seem to be prone to calling their children spoiled. Or politically-minded people seem to thrive on the idea that their opponents are the spoiled ones, while their opponents think the same of them. Spoiled people do not think they are spoiled but are quick to point out someone who is more spoiled than they. Lastly, the word can have a pleasurable connotation. When you spoil a child or a pet rotten and they exhibit spoiled behavior at you who spoiled them, you can get this feeling where anger at being taken for granted crosses its wires with your absolute devotion for what you love and the result fills the chest and flares the nostrils with a certain joyous mischief.

rock candy – part two

These heavy cathedrals of stone fall before me whenever I come to witness the blues melt into the golden shores and the ink spill across the molten sea. This hungry mouth tilts to swallow its treasure whole. I hear the random slap of waves below and watch these muscular cliffs tug and yank at this opulent rug. I stand where the scene slips away and know that all I could ever do was get close to what is far beyond me.

The Living Canopy

Once there was a great tree whose branches served as a canopy over the village and when it had leaves everyone worshipped its protection.  But it had lost its leaves after a long drought and was thought to be dead, so the villagers cut its branches whenever they needed them until the limbless trunk was left.  The village was naked under the blazing sun and they hated the tree for having died. After they got used to the heat, they forgot about the tree.

There was one villager, though, who never stopped watering the tree everyday.  Even when water was scarce, she shared whatever she had of her own supply. And when the rains came to end the drought, the great tree came back to life and regrew its heavy limbs but they only stretched over her house.  

The other villagers regretted calling her an imbecile for watering the tree when they had given up on it.  And they begged her to make it grow back over the rest of the village. And she told them that when she was a little girl she had a dream about the tree.  Its branches covered the entire sky, all the way to the farthest horizon. The leaves floated on high like clouds. But then the entire tree flattened before her into a surface without depth and revealed its timeless form. And she became a breathless stone beside it. Never did she feel such a bond reverberate between her and the tree. When she woke up, she felt the warm sensation of peace emanating from her stomach.

The villagers scratched their heads because they had never had such a dream nor felt such things but decided to worship the tree anyways, and though their faith wasn’t as strong as the dreamer, it was consistent now. And the great tree slowly forgave them by branching out to cover their village once again.

rock candy – part one

Let’s wander away to the Big Rock Candy Mountain!

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fire was burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
-Harry McClintock, Big Rock Candy Mountain

Before digital photography, photographers were used to working with negatives in order to produce the desired print from the exposure. In digital photography, there is the label of a digital negative but that refers just to a type of file called RAW which is about retaining as much information as possible. Digital photographers might use the negative or inverse in some part of their process but it really has disappeared from the collective consciousness since we’ve lost most of our one hour photo shops (or home dark rooms as I grew up with). I’m not a luddite so any sentimentality I have for the old ways is quickly dashed by the fact that film was far more expensive and time consuming. It’s funny to see people now shooting on film as if it has magical properties. Surely, if we handed a digital camera from today to someone back in the 70’s, it would be seen as magic. In addition to the pleasure of looking at the world in any way our naked eyes cannot (which is the main purpose of photography in my opinion), I like the ironic feeling of making a negative as the final result from a digital file.