Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Ocean As The Ocean

The ocean sounds like true night.
The ocean sounds like the first time you heard your parents fight.
The ocean sounds like a million gears turning 
each with several missing teeth.
The ocean sounds like a two stroke motor, 
quilting the nighttime air of your neighborhood
on an open window, hot summer night;
you walk shirtless up the blocks
trying to find the sound that hums in your jaw
but it's not there.
The ocean sounds like the meaningless voices
of everyone who's ever lived and died,
stretched out on a great roll of electromagnetic tape
that leaves you speechless.
The ocean is everything you've known
and will never know
in your last minutes
of everlasting regret.
The ocean has always been there.
The ocean is waiting.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Ocean As A Parachute

It was getting to be afternoon.  Sand had gotten into my mouth, past my braces and the wires clamping my jaw shut.  I had no choice but to swallow the stuff.  My fingers compulsively flew up to my face, massaging an aching jaw.  I worried that my face was still too puffy, swollen, ugly.  Who was I kidding anyway?  She wasn't going to show, the girl I had run into walking her dog along the beach the previous morning.  Her golden retriever had bounded across the dunes straight up to me and stuck it's wet, sandy muzzle straight into the crotch of my khaki shorts.  She apologized as she pulled her dog out of my groin.  

"It looks like I peed my pants,"  I remarked, trying to make funny out of awkward.  She looked up from the faux piss stain on my shorts.  Her hair was short.  Her eyes were brilliant blue.

"What's wrong with your mouth?  Have you got something stuck in there?"  

I had managed to make it for two weeks and some since the operation without stooping to writing my words down on the scratch pad I had been lugging around.  My dad gave it to me.  He got fed up with trying to decipher my nasally mumbling and impatient gesturing.  Whatever.  It sounded perfectly understandable to me.  What I wouldn't do for friends and family, I now did for a girl.  I began scribbling.

"You had surgery on your jaw and it's wired shut?  That sucks.  Hey, how do you eat then?  There's not much of you to begin with.  You might blow away with the wind!"

She was right.  I was skinny; skinny when I went into the O.R. and even skinnier when I woke up.  Even before the operation, kids told me I had this huge, peanut head stuck on a pile of flimsy twigs.  The swelling in my face exaggerated this to great effect.  What the hell though.  I wasn't going to dither about what we were talking about.  I just wanted to keep on talking with this pretty girl.  I continued with the pen and scratch pad.

"Milkshakes, huh?  So everything has to go into your stomach through a straw?"  That's wild."

We walked along for a bit through the dunes.  She talked about her high school and studio choir.  I wrote down that I played guitar my school's choir.  That wasn't entirely true.  They let me play a three note thing in a Beach Boys song at some ham dinner thing.  Still, I had to put something on the table.  Adolescence was working some serious shit on me.  I was not a real good looking boy; not by a long shot.

"We're staying up here so I gotta head back in.  Hey, why don't you meet me back here tomorrow at 11:00 in the morning?  We'll go down into Long Beach and get something through a straw."

I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the day and long into the night.  So I made my way out to meeting place and waited, squinting through the salty drizzle.  At first I thought I had gotten the time wrong.  Hurry up and wait is a way of life in my family.  An hour or so later, I remained at the spot.  I drew in the sand with a stick and tried to look like I wasn't a rube being set up.  Finally, it sunk in that the whole thing was a joke.  Fuck.  Yet again, I came out on the other end of an interaction with somebody and wound up so embarrassed and humiliated that I wanted to fucking die.

 I started out towards the surf when I heard laughter in the dunes.  Two female voices.  I couldn't make out the words.  It didn't matter.  I could tell by the tone they were mocking me.  At that point, I was overcome with a powerful urge to walk straight out into the surf and drown.  With my eyes fixed on the roiling breakers of the Pacific Ocean, I headed west.  The chilly water soaked my shoes and socks, wicked up my levi's and squeezed the breath out of me.  It felt right.  I would just keep walking until the waves knocked me off my feet.  Eventually the salty water would fill up my lungs.  The ocean would consume me and all of this would stop.  About waist deep in the surf, I felt those loathsome feelings recede inside me.  They couldn't stand up to the ocean.  My clothes were soaked and heavy but my body felt light and innervated.  I turned toward the shore and headed home.  It would always be here, pounding against the beach, constant, waiting.  I chose not to drown myself that day.  Just a little bit of oblivion would do.  Walking back home in my soaking clothes I smiled.  You gotta be prepared.  You gotta know all your options.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What I Did On Summer Vacation

I went back to Ocean Park on the tip of Willapa Bay.  I went back to the little tourist trap called Long Beach, Washington, in the Southwestern most part of the state.  The Long Beach Peninsula is a hangnail of sand that separates Willapa Bay from the headwaters of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.  It's a really odd and mostly inhospitable place to boast a tourist trap town.  The wind and rain, a result of northerly locale and Oceanic climate, are almost ever-present. Despite this condition, folks have been coming out here to vacation since they put the Clamshell Railway in, back in 1890.  People chance the weather to walk and drive miles and miles of long sandy beach retreating into a mesmerizing expanse of beachgrass and dunes.  My family was one of those families who used to regularly vacation there.  My dad took us because his dad took us.  You either went fishing in the rain or played cards and board-games in a trailer or fishing cabin.  This went on for years.  It doesn't go on as much any more.  

Well, I went back because I needed to go out there.  I felt like I needed to go back and wander around in the dunes, eat steamer clams and drink warm cans of sand grit beer.  My dad and mum were going and invited Dana and I.  As usual, I scheduled this in such a way as to keep Dana off the roster. So, I drove alone along the mostly two lane, winding stretch of highway through rump mountains and towering Douglas Fir down to the ocean.  The towering forests don't go on as much any more either, though.  The Weyerhaeuser Timber Company owns most of this part of the state. The clearcuts along the highway have became more frequent over the years.  Driving through one is like driving through Tunguska Explosion or the aftermath of a hurricane.  They put signs up along the highway that basically say "Hey, we know this looks bad but we're planting them back."  I don't really know why they do that.  

I went back because I've been there a lot over the years but not so much anymore.  There are some other places I've been to and then gone back.  Ocean Park is where I've gone back the most. 

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Good Night's Sleep

We were all of us boarding a plane
headed east to Casablanca.
The airport was a casino
with endless staircases
and cocktail waitresses
in those skimpy outfits.
I kept looking for Floor G
going up and down
in my bare feet
trying to find my friends.
Floor G was the ground floor.
Everybody was waiting,
even you.
When I got to the gate;
no ticket
no passport
no problem.
The pilot was a famous comedian
he led us to a hotel room
in the bottom of the 747.
There were already people there -
blue movie stars, lights and cameras.
They were in production.
The plane took off on the freeway
and flew low and slow.
The countryside was filled
with pretty Dutch girls and Guernsy cows.
Nobody noticed that but me.
Everybody was preoccupied with
the pornographers.
A girl from where I work
started to sob.
She missed her husband.
We tried to comfort her
between shouts
and magnums of Veuve Clicquot.
The plane suddenly landed in Greenland.
They gave us a rubber map of the town
and pointed at the sky
My father was now the pilot.
He told me we could go no further.
The Armies of Greenland were holding
an atom bomb test.
Instead of watching the mushroom cloud,
the Armies of Greenland mobbed us
asking for autographs.
They thought
we were professional basketball players
and we were.
After the atom bomb test
we re-boarded the plane.
As we were taking off
I saw a friend of mine named Vanderpool
recycling cardboard at the base of the control tower.
When I told him we were leaving for Morocco,
he said that the people were brown
they spoke no English
and beer was haram.
They made him General In Chief
of the Armies of Greenland

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Golden Bough

Ahkenaten on a Golden Calf.
Nazi tigers pull the royal chariot
and everyone watches
this our vir triumphalis.
It is our will manifest
in bacchanalia and regicide.
And so we put the sun in its grave,
and his children on the moon,
so that we may live and die
under procession of the seasons,
forever subjugated to the divine right
of the kings who rule us
and who in turn we kill.

Friday, July 3, 2009