2017 was like riding on the carasoul horse but the turntable was in a tight square room.
far rockaway christmas
this holiday comes in a harsh month.the east coast is cold, the hardwood trees are dormant and safely wrapped in their bark. in copses and shallow wooded areas around cities, their roots seek purchase in the rubble soil of landfill. The sparse urban parks placed by city planners on what was a swampy wet land, matted and webbed ,with salt water refreshing it twice daily. Occupied with the sound of gulls and scurrying crustacean creatures. when I stood waiting for the infrequent bus, on holiday schedule, I could know this. I saw the pavement and asphalt concrete boulevard as the thinnest crust. I knew the swamp was there. Just walk two big blocks at the end of Queens, and there was the ocean, it hung over the streets and in the air and the miles and miles of traffic lights glowing hazy.Yes the air is salty.
to this day if there are buses in my dreams, they are not calming or adventourous. buses are anxiety vehicles in my dreams. they seldom come before you get cold or harrassed on weekends and holidays, at night. for those of us who work nights, the holidays are the worst for public transportation. Out in Far Rockaway, the city stretches for miles . Miles of empty buildings, blocks of developements, half public housing and half older residents. The mechanics shops, one aging supermarket, the public school, the waterworks dept building, all empty. Occasional cars go by, someone comes out of the door in an apartment building, I watch everything, and wait and wait for that bus, that ferry, that air boat over the swamp. They have a sway to them, the buses. You see them approaching, bumping over potholes and crevices in the asphalt, and they rock, like a rectangular boat would.
I never wear a watch, I don’t like having bands , either leather or metal, around my thin wrists, but I got off duty at 11pm and have been standing on this sidewalk for less than 15 minutes and more than 10. My feet are cold but I try to remember I am standing on sand, standing in the reeds, that somewhere layers under my feet, is the memory of the wetlands , and that all that scurrying and squirming in the mud generates warmth, that motion is energy and that energy heats. I stomp my feet and bounce my legs, flap my arms, try to stay warm. If I light a ciggerette, the bus will come, and I can take it to the subway, and take the subway into lower Manhattan, and possibly meet some friends and celebrate the holiday one more year.If only the bus would come, I could lift a glass and hang out with the girls, and tell them I had to take an air boat to get there, and they would laugh.
My age comes up when I want to write, because I am dealing with it as a vantage point now. It is long enough to measure , and the instrument to measure with is not cake, or party, or bottles or landmark.
Where I came from, there was never such a thing as a good guy with a gun. There were western movies, they had guns, but they never looked good to me. The guys I mean. They would interupt criminal activity, but they were not very appealing in any way. I mean any way for real because I am a dyke and I was then too. But if there was portrait of the type of man that I would pay money to not sit next to on a train, he would look similiar to the characters in an american western. So, no, from where I come from, there were no good guys with guns. I don’t think anyone in my family hunted, even extended family. Fishing, yes, many of us enjoyed fishing, that cold and scaled form of killing.
On to the 60’s and guns were still not okay, I was extremely shy of the idea of violent revolution involving weapons such as guns. The thought of knife fights among gangs was disturbing enough. Cops had guns, Soldiers had guns, Gangsters had guns, Hillbillies had guns, Dangerous people had guns.
It was not until my eyes were opened by the Black Power movement, that I saw that, yes, sometimes good guys had to have guns to protect themselves. Yes, if the oppressed had a weapon of equal destruction, maybe some harrasment and abuse would back off.
Of course that did not succeed. Oppression did not stop, it just went undercover to rise again in the murder of civilians, particularly Black civilians, by a different kind of cop. A cop raised not on westerns but on constant war and violent media, and a new kind of glory attached to it.
And guns, oh my the guns!
I will tell you that terrorism of this kind works, because somewhere inside I am terrified, and getting old and slow and frail does not help.
I never knew a hero with a gun. I have seen guns up close only rarely. I have lived my life without them, or the need for them. I shot one off, about 4 times I think. I hated it in my hand and I hated what came out of it, and my eardrums were probably harmed. I was disgusted when I realized that it was a machine made for just one thing.
Am I a liberal? No, no I don’t think so. I am a Marxist. I do not believe in a Welfare State, but it has to be so until things get right. I do think the gun violence in Chicago is carnage that is not brought up in the media enough. I do believe in regulating guns, and to hell with the 2nd amendment. But I also know that the people who would ship me to Cuba for my statements, are many and they are organized, and, they have guns. They believe we live in a Godless society and that they are ordained by GOd to defend their faith. Which is ridiculous except that they are convinced their faith is under attack, (thus the right to bear arms). This is not some Black Panther defense, these people are not being attacked, but there are folks (politicians) and business people, who tell them that they are.
Somewhere inside I am terrified.
Makes a person want to stay right inside. Deer season starts this weekend I think. There are people with guns all around where I live. No, it’s not criminal. Most of the men up around here work in contracting, some own businesses, a few loggers , and they have guns and they go and shoot animals when the season allows. I am not afraid of them, but the fact that they are weaponized would give me pause if they needed a dressing down.
Why the need for such a thing? Such a life and death piece of equipment that you wear, like an accessory? Who is going to hurt you, baby boy? What are you afraid of? Should I blame your parents? Should I blame the life you were born into that was life and death from the start? I have compassion, but the ground needs to be levelled here, justice, fair, safe, unarmed.
It is not fair to me , as a citizen, to have you walk among us, with your nuerosis and fear and triggered testosterone, wanting to go bang bang.
You can say that it is a cultural thing, fine, but I don’t think it is. This shit started when Janet Reno was Attorney General and the Waco tragedy happened. There were always wackos, but the anti government wackos organized around the civil rights movement, and then got their strength with the Waco thing and then the internet. Southern Crackers allied with Northern Bushmen, Survivor types and sometimes I think meth heads, and here we are.
I’m going to pray for myself, and try to think of other ways we can fight this gun madness with other things than votes. Those of us who live in a rural state like Vermont ,be aware that the 2nd amendment radicals are many.
I think we have to stay away from the words gun control and start looking and feeling and using the word public safety. We have to insist that authorities label these mass murders as terrorism. We should refuse to go to any venue, or to check in any hotel, that does not scan for weapons or ask that long guns be locked in a safe.
Once upon a time long ago in NYC, in the seventies, early seventies, I had rode my bike from Brooklyn to Mid town, to meet a woman for dinner. She worked somewhere near there, and so I sat by the Time Life fountain, after riding around and smoking a joint. So I was looking, people watching, it was getting near 5pm and it was crazy busy, and loud, and polluted. The weed was good sativa, so I was alert and thoughtful. Right there and then I knew I had to leave, get out of the city and make my plan and path in that direction. I don’t mean that night, I meant that was my goal. This was decided on by the realization that a crowd of masked asleep people scurrying around like insects, could be mown down by a terrorist attack.
That is my confession of where my fear of random violence came from. After these past years, it seems I can’t blame it on the weed.
I do not think living in an unarmed society will make Hitler happen again, or Mao, or anything like that. I think Americans are too savvy for that, too mixed and diverse for that. But we sure are scared, aren’t we?
First frost October 1st.I sadly see the Zinnias gorgeous deep red.A warm color, a hot color, did not save it from the after midnight cold. The pumpkin leaves wilt, so did the young kale plants, my 68th Autumn has arrived, and I am apprehensive about time and aging. I do not like feeling this way. I would like to think that I am deep enough to not be bothered by it, but it is the disability since late last winter and all Spring and summer that has left me stunned. Becoming unable to work, which somehow I thought was a gaurentee till I was close to 80, is terrifying. I mistook my willingenss and joy of difficult work as immunity. That willingness and attitude has housed and fed and clothed me for most of my life, there was never anyone willing to do that, instead, I was the provider. I was the one you could depend on for a roof and a meal and warmth. I can see why people my age cash in and either live in one room or something on wheels. I am not bitter, just frightened.
I love my small plot and the dirt that grows dinner and beauty. No one here loves it as I do. And that is one of the loneliest feelings. I was useless to keep the Zinnia going longer than she was able, with the seasons change. Humbling.
But mine goes yellow. Great streaks of yellow, bright graffiti of yellow. Riding the Amtrak into the Bronx, polluted small cliffs of rock, iron sweat marks and the smudge from exhaust, decades of it. That is my brain on depression, and I fight back with yellow, streaking the side of that rock.Or, as a passenger, I cheer it on as the window I look out of rolls on the rails right by it. It’s the center line , geometrically perfect, ribboned on black asphalt. Forsythia, yellow bird lemon. Grapefruit in November.
It wakes me up around 3 between 4, always has been that way. My brain becomes a bright room, with enormous windows and sun pouring through. Yellow snapdragons, not a trace of orange.
It’s a memory of the sun when everything is raining, and your fields are flooded. Anything with wings would unfold in a heartbeat at the glimpse of it.
I woke up at the inexact time between 3 and 4 am. I stretched my legs and put them up on the headboard, moving the blood . It felt good. I got up to pee and on the way back turned off the lamp that was left on in the living room. Turned on the laptop to find out about the storm, the hurricane, named Irma. I could not envision it. Instead there was yellow.
To think of being deprived of yellow, the mind reaches for the light and turns on the lamp. Not the environmentally safe lamp. The lamp with the bulb that operates on electricity which makes a filament glow. It’s warm and bright, like the sun. The anti-hurricane.
The climate will never be the same, they say. It will rain near the oceans, and rain a lot. There’s no place for that moisture to go except back to the earth.
The place, Labrador, must be beautiful, the North Atlantic a swelling gray flow and endless. I am thinking of that place and seeing it in my mind, but then I see my garden and the bright yellow mustard flower. the two images combine and then i see the yellow painted broken line in the ocean.Like a state highway. And everything is paved over with dark wet clouds, chilly, everything damp, especially the matches. It pours and pours and the chill is equal to the chilled produce section at Hannaford’s. Which sounds cheerful to me, but I am just going to sit here and develop gills so I may draw a breath easier. there are wet spots on the ceiling above my bed and in Gabriels room, but it hasn’t stopped raining long enough to have someone look at it. I would like to have a nice new metal roof, and hear it thunder when it rains.
So I have lived close and right by the Atlantic Ocean before, but never as North as Labrador. Some of the weather we in Northeast Vermont are experiencing is from there, right today and now it is, anyway. It (the weather) came down from Labrador and settled in New Brunswick, and something is drawing it in, and there you have it.
But by the ocean, these long hours and days of rain are not as dark. And here, in our lush rain forest everything is green, everything except the mammals and birds and human made things . Half of the horizon is one large forest and it is deep green, jade green, forest, (duh), green , olive green, silver green, blue green, emerald green, kelly green, and that does not reflect light as well. And while the ocean moves in a roll, or is choppy, or is flat and still , it is water meeting water, and somehow looks and feels righteous.
Here, among trees and bushes and grasses and mosses and vines, and flowers and berries, we have had enough. The woods seem indeed to want to march to Dunsinane.they are swelled with water enough to pull up their roots and march right up.
We could be shifting climates, meaning that with the change that is happening, we are too far north to get all that heat the rest of North America will be getting. Heat rises and so as it meets the colder air that is moving because it is being displaced by warming trends, it condenses, it condenses for fucking days on end. The cooler Labradorian air presses down and rides the air trough and stalls. Welcome to Climate change.
I will tell you this, the berries were excellent this year, my potato plants look elegant, peasently, but elegant. The cabbages family, known as Brassicas are loving it. The snap dragons, as I, are growing gills. The beans are numerous but are not really growing up much, the sweet potatoes are also slow, the dill looks like something Martha Stewart would grow and photograph.(I think the gardening is actually done by others, right?).
The silver ocean, the salty wet rocks, and I remember when boats used rope, instead of poly twine,, and that rope was cold and bristly and would have weeds stuck to it, nice bits of brown green kelp, alive. And empty beaches to run my dogs on, because bathers and sun soakers were not there, but for a surfer or two bobbing along, or a surf caster, and that fresh smell of ocean oxygen.
Inland, there are flowers. And maybe Ents. Lamps turned on, warm food and 99% dry shelter (cept for them spots on the ceiling). An old friend lost her Mom to that place our love goes, in the end. I read the obituary, it was touching because I knew her daughter, when we were all younger and had so many more steps to take. It was mentioned that the woman was an avid swimmer and taught it to others, and just swam. All this water is auspicious, for her soul. And ours too. Perhaps she is swimming to Labrador.
Around the turn of the 20th century, there were no medical facts regarding what sort of disease,virus, or bacteria lurked in the bloodstreams of insects that spawned in swamps. The weather itself, the climate, was thought to be the bearer of illness. It was known as the “miasmas”, a foul air that lingered in tropical tarns, an atmosphere created by heat, humidity, and rotting vegetation. Food spoils, the air is heavy, nothing dries out, the flowers droop with the constant beating of rain, a short walk with the dogs bring mosquitoes to ears eyes nose and neck. There is mildew and it’s coming for your things .
The miasmas, I think, has not been discounted by the discovery of microscopic entities. There is a “presence” in this sunless steam. The ground is full, she cannot hold water anymore, she has closed herself to hold on to any oxygen remaining. The teaming cities of microbes and bacteria that depend on oxygen are in a state of emergency. Minute rivers have flooded their banks, and small insects and worms are now refugees, seeking higher ground. It is just not me, or you, the ground itself is praying for some sun and a fresh breeze, for air. But the miasma sits like a cloud within a cloud, messing with your moods .
In the small town across the state highway, they are lining up for the Greensboro Funky Fourth, a small parade of wonderful folks, Bread and Puppet, a lawn chair contingent, barbecue, music, babies, dogs ,and summer people. Flags everywhere, New England and New Englanders full of the self satisfaction of being a wonderful inclusive part of americana, lawyers and loggers eating hotdogs together, but never really together, you know what I mean?
The sun breaks through, the clouds won’t give. There is a reason we love the matching of yellow and gray, it brings relief to the eyes, that go directly to the spirit. Dispelling the pollution of the miasma, I will wipe the surfaces with a diluted bleach solution, I will light the soy candle of coriander and rosemary, I will light an incense stick, and pick the wild daisies and think of myself as a missionary.
As the mother of a young man, I do not know much of men on an intimate level, not in the consenting adult sort of relationship that women have with men. Not in the romantic context, hardly at all in the professional context, and not in context of friends, although facebook friends seems to be a thing well established, not there either. I have 3 nephews, a son, I had a father, and my sister was married to two of them. I had the beginning of friendships over my life, but there was always a need for me to remain guarded, due to the sexual energy of men, and their need to remind me of that. So my closeness to men is not really mainstream social. It arises from my role as mother, care giver, comrade, and observer. Audience, I give some men audience, certain writers, philosophers, actors, musicians, etc.
Men measure, they are very good at it. Impeccable, if you read history of cartographers, engineers, physicists. It seems to be a natural gift, to minimize and lay bare a thing to its numbers. But going back to the men that I know of personally. Every one of them dislikes strongly what they dub as psuedo science.
Listening this morning as I swept and wiped and washed dishes, I went to my PC on the desk to get some music to listen to.Martn had been listening to some Brian Eno ambient ‘Music for Airports’. That had finished and he was in a receptive mood, so I chose another ambient type recording from an outfit called AudioMachine. As I felt myself respond to this technologically manipulated music, I listened deeper for what was lacking, ie: instruments, a player of an instrument. And what came to me was that this sort of recorded music is something men are very good at producing, and boy does the audience get held, for a moment
Or, qurban, it is a Hebrew word. the word is used in Mark’s gospel, quoting Jesus Christ using the example of Korban to admonish the ruling class about their hypocrisy as religious men. Korban is a noun, describing a sacrifice , or offering to Yahwa , god, the Hebrew god. Whatever that may be, a calf, a lamb, a coin, a sacred vestment, a temple, wine, bread, because the wonderful thing about Hebrew is it’s scope of thought about language. It is an important enough idea to have made it into the Torah, an intellectual feast of interpretation of the law. Christ points out to the well to do clergy, that as wonderful as that may be, the sacred texts, they are written by men. (sisters, please note).
The idea of Korban certainly exists in Western religions practice, and so does the hypocrisy of it, according to Gospel. Witness all the hungry and homeless and witness the temples empty except for services, which are decided upon by the chief honcho, whatever the denomination. No one is sleeping on the pews or the rugs, at 2 am, when most homeless folks are very tired and probably cold and itchy for lack of water. The contemporary super churches, lacking culture or art (no cantatas by Bach, no Michelangelo, ) make it a base and tacky offering, thus have we plunged as a people.
The very idea of taking a resource from the earth, which is given to us at birth, away from whom it is meant for, and offer it to an idea, while there are hungry people, is so not “God like”. Yet our rituals as people, and our NEED for them, (it’s in the brain, circle stuff, patterns, nuero paths and chemicals existing to react and do stuff) give the illusion we are connecting to something. Ritualism , it is so comforting, and, yes, seems to cause some sort of transcendence. So, for this sake, let’s not blame all the early holy women and men who used them. Once the churches armies had taken enough, the best shit was put away from the people and sanctified as Korban.And used in rituals.
Communism is appealing, because of it’s Christ like belief that resources belong to all, and that those who have more are commanded to share it with those who have less. Property is theft, et.al. Materialism is the root of Korban, the human need to see or believe that the most beautiful “thing” we behold is not meant for us, and I think, and feel that that interpretation is okay, it lightens something up inside our heads, the feeling of appreciation. If we can put the materialism in the context of” not meant for us,”it is easier to part with things. To share and give away, another kind of circle.
Religion has preserved some very good brain food for me. Thankfully there is a lot that is accessible, and I guess I can thank Elizabeth numero Uno for that.