Safely Soviet

I never knew what Melissa meant when she said that. Safely Soviet. She said she was Safely Soviet. Was she Russian? No. Her family came from England, not from Europe or Asia, and she was not a member of the communist party.

She never wore paraphernalia that might suggest a political bent of any sort.

Melissa liked nice jeans and expensive shirts – preferably men’s cuts, which flattered her figure and, she said, were generally more durably made than their feminine counterparts. She liked expensive shoes. Her car was a Mercedes Benz, and she replaced it every few years, always with another Mercedes Benz.

Melissa lived in a nice house, not exactly in the suburbs. She’d bought the New Hampshire property in the nineteen eighties for almost nothing – then proceeded to landscape the place for almost a decade before finally buckling down to build her house. The beautifully forested property had a plunging backyard that overlooked a lake – and a piece of private shoreline where she could sunbathe or swim without fear of interruption or observation.

Although she never married, she became pregnant several times, on purpose, and gave birth to four beautiful children – two boys and two girls. They grew into proper citizens, a close knit bunch, each of them self reliant and balanced. They had practically raised themselves, she liked to say. She’d never had the problems one normally hears about rebellious teenagers, or dissolute drugged out college students. They all chose stable and reliable careers. They all built their own homes too, following their Mom’s model, but all four married having children of their own. The marriages were stable and unremarkable, again with none of the normal turbulence one associates with married couples. And their children were healthy, normal children as well.

Despite this normalcy, when anyone asked her to describe herself, Melissa would say “Oh, I’m Safely Soviet!” And then she would chuckle quietly to herself, and never offer an explanation.

Charles used to go for long walks with her when they were in their mid sixties.

Charles lived on a neighboring property – with its own beach holdings, and one day, the two of them had met at the boundary between their two beaches.

Melissa invited Charles in for a glass of wine, after deciding that he was likely not a serial killer or a Republican. They’d hit it off, and started taking walks in the hills around their homes. Charles had a large and robust golden retriever. Melissa said she loved dogs but had never wanted the responsibility for one. In her home, she had two cats – they were independent and standoffish, but at the end of the day both would sleep on her bed if she let them.

Charles laughed when she told him that she was Safely Soviet. For some reason, it sounded right in his mind, and rather than pursuing an explanation from her, he simply smiled and said “I guess that describes me as well.”

They never talked about it again, except at their wedding a few years later when they both declared that being Safely Soviet was what drew them together, and that it is what assured that that they would never separate.

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I went out for a drive this morning – just about forty miles, to see how the landscapes have changed with the season. Lots of bright yellow trees. When you get far enough out on the road, you can look around at the various mountain ranges, and by the colors you see you can guess which areas are higher and lower in elevation by the difference in the color changes. Higher elevations are colder, so they started to change sooner. You can’t always tell simply by perspective or positioning. It’s weird that way.

When I drive out here, sometimes it feels almost like flying. You ride up and down the ribbons of road and watch mountain rise up and fall down, and it seems like you are sailing through them.

Walking is the same.

You walk up and down hills and the vistas change constantly. In most parts of the city, you see vast expanses of land – big open plains intersected by occasional mountain ranges. The ranges are at various heights – the plains are deceptive, as they are not flat.

You only know that if you travel though – looking out from town you can’t see the varied canyons and arroyos that intersect everything.

The mountains, seen from the city, appear distant with a vast sky above, with a fantastic variety of clouds. This time of year they are mostly high atmospheric clouds. Today there are a lot of whispy cirrus up there. Later in the season when the weather gets colder, we’ll see more lenticular clouds looming over the higher ground like invading UFO’s.

Today the high clouds are more whimsical. They are too wild to contain faces or shapes – unless you include wild, undulating dragons. Anyone who looks at the clouds with anything resembling a healthy imagination can easily see where the amazing creatures we see in ancient drawings come from – gods, demons, dragons, wizards. These skies have them all. Warring angels.

Sadly today I did not bring my tripod – so the photos I took will be less sharp than I prefer – still, I think I managed to capture some intense views and I’ll enjoy playing with them when I get home.

This cafeteria is spacious and not too noisy. There are tables, too tall for the chairs they are paired with. All right I suppose for eating. For writing or drawing not so much.

Today the plan was to go to the library, but I got waylaid by the clouds. They simply jumped me, grabbed me by the eyes and pulled me out there. Then I found a five dollar bill in my pocket that I’d forgotten was there and coffee suddenly became a possibility.

Cold weather is coming.

Not Boston cold, but cold enough to let me throw my window open wide at night, better to hear the coyotes. That old German habit, learned in Heidelberg: Frische Luft. Fresh Air.

For now, its a cool but not oppressively cool afternoon in the city (it is a city after all, even if a small one)

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The Family Agent

The first time he went to an open mic it was at the bar inside the student union at his college. His best friend, also a Dylan fan, had implored him to go, if only to egg him on. But instead, Wally brought his own guitar and harmonica, and a neck brace for it which he’d fashioned using a rubber band and a coat hanger.

The guitar was an old beat up Takamine (he used to joke that if you didn’t have your own guitar, you could “Take-a-mine!” It rarely gleaned a laugh but he repeated it incessantly just the same.)

It was a cold night and Mike had not brought his gloves, so by the time they got to the student union, he had to spend some time warming his hands over the radiator in back. Wally went into the main room and found a table in the corner where there was room to stow the guitar cases. He walked up to the front of the house and asked how he could sign up – a young woman pointed to the corner of the bar and said that the list was over there. Wally went over to the bar where he saw that the list had lines and numbers on it, specifying start and finish times. Apparently everyone had 15 minutes, not more. So he signed himself up for an early slot, and Mike for one a bit later in the evening, figuring that Mike being the more accomplished player of the two, would want to play when the real talent got started.

Then he bought two beers, and went back to the table.

Mike came out a few minutes later and Wally told him about their set times, and the two of them tucked in to drink their beers and work on their song lists.

Both of them planned to play Dylan tunes – but different ones, the only point of contention being “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” which they both wanted to play. Years later, looking back, Wally thought that the best solution would have been for them to team up on the song, but instead they argued about it and it took a few beers before Wally gave in and just decided to do a short set.

As the first performers played their songs, Wally got braver. He thought that he was better than most of the others and by the time he took the stage himself, he’d gained some confidence and that went over well with the crowd. He’d never sung into a microphone before and he improvised some business around how strange it was and how he hoped they’d bear with him – but it was a good mic with a big sweet spot and he found it pretty quick. He started to play Blowin in the Wind, but when he reached the first harmonica break, his instrument popped out from between the rubber bands, landing in a pitcher of beer on one of the front tables. Wally sagely suggested that the table “tip” him the pitcher so he could fish it out, but the dark haired woman sitting there poured herself a beer then reached in to retrieve it for him. She said that if he sang good enough, she might just give him a glass, but only after his set.

Wally took off his harmonica holder and set it down on the floor beside him. Working with the moment he launched into a talking blues riff and proceeded to improvise a song about losing his harp and having an angel give it back to him. The audience went right with him and soon, he was making up all sorts of crazy verses. When he reached the end of his set, the bartender sauntered up and said keep going – Wally flushed and realized he’d been hamming it up – Mike was at the back of the room at their table, alternately laughing at Wally’s patter, and looking pissed off – Wally finally settled in, put his harmonica back in place and did a few of the Dylan covers he’d originally planned on, but interpolating new lyrics about what he was seeing in the crowd that night.

When he finished, again to thunderous applause, he went back to his table, where the woman with the dark hair had relocated, bringing not only a fresh pitcher of beer, but also a round of shots.

Mike went up and did his set, which was passable, but with nothing like the response Wally had received. When he was finished, he put his guitar in its case and stalked off on his own, leaving the bar and hailing a cab before Wally could even say “good job” to him. After that, they never jammed together again.

I wish I could tell you that Wally had a quick rise to fame after that night – but the fact is that when he went back the following week, he was practiced and smooth and the cute awkwardness that he’d used so well the previous week was gone. His second set at an open mic was flat and disappointing to him and it took nearly a year for him to get over that and to understand why it had happened.

By that time, he was a much more accomplished player and had written a very tight group of twelve songs that became the core of his first album, but that is another story altogether.

The most aside from the difficult but crucial lessons that came from those early performances, the best thing that happened to Wally after that first open mic is Suzanne – the dark haired woman. They started dating later that year and when he finally began playing out again, she began to represent him as his booking agent. When he got back to open mics, she went with him, always working the angles and helping him to start making money from his music.

Almost fifty years have passed, and Wally and Suzanne have been married for half of that. They have three children, all of them singers and songwriters themselves. Suzanne is now the family agent.

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I don’t remember Dakota. Dakota is not a memory for me. Dakota is a secret – and a memory for someone else, perhaps my friend Diane, who knew her better.

Even so, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about Dakota amen.

Of course since it is not my memory, I have to make shit up. For instance, I think that Dakota had very long very red hair. I think she was smart as a whip. I believe that she was religious but also, in her own way, an atheist.

Dakota had a room full of guns, but never ever bought any ammunition. She kept the door locked up tight, she said, because that kept the guns out of the hands of the bad guys. The more guns she kept in her safe, the fewer guns found there way out into the small town she lived in.

Of course one could make the argument that buying the guns put more money into the hands of gunmakers. “Oh no,” she’d say. “I only buy guns from sellers at flea markets.”

What did she use to protect herself and her family and her home?

If you took a walk with her around her house, she’d tell you that there were weapons everywhere. That shovel for example could be used to bash someone’s head in. She had a vast collection of knives in the kitchen and she had a uniquely complete understanding of human anatomy. She could also slice onions more swiftly than anyone else I’ve ever known. Once she told me that if I saw a knife in her hand and I was threatening to her, I’d not have much time left to live. And I was her friend in these manufactured memories. Imagine what she’d have said to an enemy.

She had a collection of drones, some of which she’d outfitted with a simple but effective system for deploying very precisely fired darts. Once she’d demonstrated it for me by attacking a very dangerous ringed target in the backyard. Every one of the fifty darts she fired from her array of drones found its numbered mark (she had labeled each dart with a number and placed a matching number on the target). I was suitably impressed.

She wore a beret with razor blades sewn into it, invisible to the casual onlooker, but deadly in the right circumstance. She had a sign which she hung over her door and, ironically, directly above her “Welcome Home Sweet Home” mat. The sign said “If you enter my home uninvited, you will never leave.” She was very proud of that sign. She also had a sign that said “Politicians spit the shit out of your mouth before entering.”

It was like that with her.

Diane knows her much better than me and she says that its true in fact: I made all that up about her. In reality, Diane was far more lethal than anything I could imagine. “And don’t you forget it!” Diane says, every time we talk about Dakota.

In my head, Dakota was born on a motorcycle, driven by her mom and bigger than any other bike on the highway. It was a Harley Davidson, but through some miraculous acts of mechanics, it was also an Indian and a Vincent Black Lightning Special Edition. It was an artisanal motorcycle and was crafted with a singular seat devised solely for the purpose of allowing the rider to give birth while riding across some beautiful expanse such as the Painted Desert, which is, in fact, where Dakota was born.

When Dakota was growing up, her mother was incredibly vigilant. She’d say to Dakota “I’m watching you, I’ve got eyes in the back of my head,” then she’d lift up her hair to show Dakota that she wasn’t kidding. Years later, I found that extra set of eyes to be fascinating – though not nearly as fascinating as the extra pair of arms and hands, or the vestigial wings which, she said, might some day grow out into a full set of wings.

“Who knows?” She’d say. “They might be like wing versions of wisdom teeth – only showing up late in life. Maybe we could call them wisdom wings.”

Dakota’s Mom had a lot of things to say like that.

She once had me and my own Mom over for lunch and while we ate an excellent chicken curry with rice and home made garlic naan, she told us that God was, in fact, not a being at all as we know beings.

God, for Dakota’s Mom was a virus that infected us when we read books. God was the written word. In the Bible, she’d explained, the word was with God and the word was God, so literally the Bible revealed that God was not a creature like us, but rather a virus that infected us with itself through our eyes, entering through the eyes and sometimes when read aloud through the ears. In fact, the folk tradition had been a way of transmitting the virus before writing was introduced by God. God was very good, she said, at replicating itself.

She also explained that other forms of virus inhabited the world of words, not all of them as benign and sometimes helpful as the one called God.

Some of them, she explained, are evil and carry evil ideas and harbor evil wills against us that they wish to accomplish. Most of the time those evil thoughts are contained via the building of churches – there is a secret, hidden spirit in the word kingdom that comes forth when an evil one expresses itself and it pair bonds with the evil thought to self limit: people exposed to such viruses become convinced that their virus is the only one, and that there are secrets which must only be shared among members.

Sadly, in recent years, with the advent of the internet, some of these self limiting mechanisms have been suppressed and so the evil viruses have spread unchecked.

That is why Dakota’s Mom taught her to use all the weapons that I described previously – because eventually the churches infected by these viruses would try to cleanse the good viruses from the world and thus be permitted to enact their evil plans.

It was an interesting lunch.

As the years went by, I forgot this stuff, but Dakota never did.

She had a collection, a secret collection in her home, of words written down in holy formats. She had become an illuminator early in life, and was expert in the fabrication and binding of books.

She kept a concordance, many volumes in fact, of all thoughts both good and evil that had entered the human wet work, as well as including diagrams and illustrations of the various struggles throughout history between the various tribes of viral language. It is Dakota’s theory that there is one great and true Uber virus that will infect the world in the coming century to eradicate all of the evil ones. “This one,” she says, “Will clear our minds and reveal to us the absolute truth. We have to be ready.”

And willing. Sometimes, she adds that we have to be both ready and willing.

One day she said that the proper word for these word viruses is plasmate – the cross bond with us in a kind of symbiosis. They do not exist in the world unless we take them into ourselves. There are plasmates and there are homo-plasmates and all of them are of varying degrees of good or of evil.

Dakota is also a great lover of animals. She lives with a variety of such companions: three cats, a dog, two iguanas. She has a large aquarium with an octopus, a great purple one that loves to linger at the bottom of the tank in a revert. Dakota claims that the octopus has a pure form of intelligence, entirely un-touched by homoplasmates or other viral language things.

I don’t pretend to understand this stuff, I’m just telling you what I imagine about poor Dakota.

Because the version of her that I carry in my head is a tragic figure, batshit crazy and probably headed towards a horrible and violent end. I tell you this now because she is lurking in the back of my mind, she is like a virus of my own, a secret homoplasmate who lives deep down in my dark mind, where those others (like the Banana Queen and Live Doug, and Billy Oaks and Betty Daniels live, all the ones who speak up every now and then or write when I’m wandering in some revery but still have a word count to accomplish.

You will never see Dakota without a book. She keeps a book with her, or more precisely, she keeps a manuscript with her, at all times. In it, she writes out everything important which the homoplasmates impart to her. This morning she was writing about metanoia, and protonoia. She was collating a chart about how these things interacted with a node of consciousness that was even now spreading out in a new collection of fortune telling cards, soon to be published by a company in Massachusetts which had only before printed playing cards.

The artist, she explains, was infected by a particularly virulent strain of an ancient virus that expresses as a kind of witchcraft. If the cards are printed, she fears the world will be profoundly changed because this one will, quite simply, get into everyone. All you have to do is see the cards, even the backs of the cards transmit the protonoia. It’s like calling the evil thoughts on the telephone, but once they are on the other end, you can never ever hang up.

“Promise me,” she says, “that if you see those cards you won’t look at them.”

I don’t have the heart to tell her that if I see them, it will be too late, if they are as powerful as she claims.

When the first small creatures from Proxima started to appear, Dakota was among the first to buy one and to nurture it to live inside her knapsack, where she could interface with it periodically. It paired with her and as a result she has a natural buffer against the intrusive languages so that when she writes in her manuscript, she is protected from contracting any viruses that are not wholly beneficial to her.

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The Merzes

I want to tell you about Fred and Ethel Merz. Fred and Ethel were a mated pair of pigeons who hung out in Harvard Square when I was playing music there. Fred was a venerable old bird, with one wing damaged and missing a foot. That first season, Ethel never left his side.
The first time I met Fred and Ethel I was sitting at a table at Warburton’s cafe, before they had been taken over by Au Bon Pain, having one of their excellent scones. It was a sunny day in early autumn, and the table was shaded by the big green market umbrella.
I’d finished half of the scone and set it down on the table while I took a break from eating, and started painting in my journal. Fred hopped up on the table, gave me a brazen look, and then snatched up what was left of the scone and tossed it to Ethel, who took the whole thing and flew off. Fred sat there looking at me for awhile as if he was contemplating stealing my coffee as well. Then he just stood there watching me work on the little gouache image I was painting in the journal. Eventually, I moved over to my pitch and prepared to play a rent set.
During the second song, Fred fluttered over and settled down on the headstock of my guitar. Ethel perched herself on the back of my guitar case. I was always amazed at Fred’s balance. He managed to stand there on my guitar, with only the one foot for purchase. As I played, I could feel him adjusting his weight when I moved. He stayed there for a long time – when I stopped between songs, he’d flap his wings in a sort of applause.
Pretty soon, my companions had drawn quite a crowd for me.
After that, I saw Fred and Ethel a few times a week. They didn’t come around at Warburton’s again, but they’d find me if I played around the corner at the Harvard Coop. I took to buying a couple of extra scones so I could feed them – they were partial to the unglazed orange peel ones – I had to have more than one, because the smaller birds would always take a big share – so I’d break up two scones in small pieces for them, then leave bigger chunks for Fred and Ethel.
In return, they helped me maximize my earnings. Ethel would march back and forth between my guitar case, and the feet of people sitting on the nearby park benches – giving them a funny look, and then stalking back to the case as if to remind them to tip. Sometimes, if someone held out a dollar bill, she’d take it from their hands and put it in the case next to my Cd’s. And Fred would find his perch on the headstock, clapping his wings between songs to encourage applause.
People used to ask me how I’d trained them to do that, and I didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t something I taught them, it was something they did all on their own. Somebody suggested that they might have been trained by another street musician – that perhaps I reminded them of someone else and I suppose that’s a reasonable guess.
Anyway, when winter came in earnest, they disappeared. The following summer, I caught glimpses of Fred, though I never saw Ethel again. I don’t know if she was just making herself scarce, or whether she’d passed on during the cold season. Fred stopped to say “Hi” now and then, but he never took his place up on the headstock again, though he never turned up his nose at a good scone.

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So there was this guy, see. And he had a small dirigible and he flew it often over that place. People would look up and smile and wave always hopeful that someday he would begin to offer them rides in it.
So when he flew over main street, thousands of faces looked up at him and cheered.
Eventually he did begin to offer rides, usually in exchange for some other small favor. Merle Johnson brought him a pie once and got a ride. Melinda Pomegranate helped him take down his laundry from the clothesline once and got a ride. The biggest favor he ever accepted in return for a ride in his dirigible was a collection of 180 massive beautiful leather bound blank books, with intricately marbled covers filled with beautiful handmade paper from the Amalfi coast in Italy.
When he received those books he was so happy that he cried.
In the dirigible, he had a small desk and above the desk was a long shelf where he kept the books.
He took to keeping a bottle of nut brown ink in one desk drawer, and also kept a small collection of pen holders and nibs in a small box there. Often when he was in the air, he would take down one of the journals and sit looking out the window at the beautiful landscape below, and he would sketch the hills, valleys and rivers as he went by them.
One day, someone gave him a lovely set of watercolors, in exchange for a ride.
With the watercolors, he began to color in the images he had sketched, although the first group he did this with he could not vouch for the accuracy of colors, seeing as he’d had to paint from memory but later images were made in full color on the spot and the more he sketched the better he became at understanding the colors he saw and how to express them accurately.
A few years after he obtained the dirigible, he made an announcement to the people in his town.
“As much as I love living and flying with you all,” he said, “I feel that I must begin to see other parts of the world.”
Then he explained that he fully intended to be gone for a very long time, but also that he fully intended to return, with paintings and stories and memories to share with his townsfolk.
“I would like one, or perhaps two people to travel with me. I will teach these companions how to fly the dirigible. We will all live on board for the duration of our trip, and I will of course pay these companions for their time and furnish them with food and anything else they should need while we travel together. “
There were two teenagers – Mabel and Silvester who volunteered to help him in his journeys.
They traveled far and wide, first keeping within the boundaries of their homeland, but eventually venturing further north even to the pole, where vast expanses of ice passed beneath them. They went to all the other continents and to as many nations and states as they could access. There were a few remote locations where they could not travel, but the saw most of the world, both from the high views of the dirigible, and from the ground, for they landed daily and slept and ate frequently among the people wherever they were.
This traveling continued for nearly three years.
One day, they were in Rome, and he drew the coliseum. Another time he drew lions in Africa, some sleeping in trees, others as they brought down prey, others still as they frolicked and played along the banks of a long green river.
One day, they attended a festival of dirigibles, and that day they were among hundreds of other flyers in the sky over a beautiful desert city, with minarets and gleaming pools and tall cellphone towers.
One day, they landed in India and found themselves engulfed by a festival in which people pelted each other with pellets full of powdered pigments. The air was an exciting cloud of color and motion, and joy was everywhere around them. Silvester said that Holi was the best thing he’d ever experienced. “Even better,” he said, “Than flying.”
And Mabel’s favorite stop was the three days they spent in northern Mexico watching the migration of the monarch butterflies. Even at their high traveling height they found butterflies on the dirigible both inside and out. But on the ground, they found themselves covered with the orange insects.
Finally, as is always the case with journeys and voyages, they found themselves drawn back to their home.
The journey back was slow and not nearly as easy as the adventure had been because, after three years of mild air, they found it necessary to navigate through many storms during the journey back.
By this time of course both Mabel and Silvester had become adept at piloting and navigating their dirigible, but still the weather delayed them. It took an additional year in flight to bring them back to the old river and the beautiful brick buildings of their home town.
Everybody in the town was overjoyed to see the three return, and they were hungry for tales of distant lands. They were also of course hungry to fly again as there had been no dirigible in the area since the three left.
Mabel and Silvester were married just a few days after their return and the pilot made a gift to them of the dirigible, and all of the empty books that remained on the shelf, although he removed the ones he had filled with drawings and writing to his own home – as well as one final empty volume, to fill up with accounts of his last years.
Mabel and Silvester took many people on many journeys, some close to home, some very far, to mysterious places of magic and intrigue.
It is remarkable that during the lives of the pilot and of Mabel and Silvester, the world was entirely at peace. It was a period of nearly a decade altogether where there was not a single armed conflict anywhere on the planet.
In the end, all 180 of the massive books that had been given to the pilot were filled with stories and drawings and colored paintings and that collection is now called “The Decade of Peace”. In these modern times when so few people remember any time without war, they are much revered.

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Lucid Lucy

There was a February morning when Lucy went out among the Philistines feeling very clear and lucid. She was Lucid Lucy. If you asked her about it, she would say that she had no idea why she was so clear headed that day. It certainly was not about drugs. There was no significant change to her routine. She woke up and had her coffee and and English muffin for breakfast, dressed as always casually. When she left the house she had her laptop in the usual messenger bag, and she had no place in particular where she was planning to go to. It was just a day off, and early morning walk, first to the train station and then wherever fancy took her. 

By the time she reached Davis Square, Lucy was humming with a new and unrecognized energy. Her hands seemed to be vibrating with it. In her head, there was a melody playing at a rapid speed – something too complicated and too quick to define and understand. Although it was an odd and unasked for musical backdrop, it was not annoying like an ear worm. It was somehow pleasing and when she let it move through her it converted the energy she was feeling to something with a strange warmth and charm.

Sitting in the train station waiting for the Red Line train to arrive, she felt the energy first grow to fill her entire being, then shift to become the clarity we already mentioned.  

She found herself fascinated, watching people move in a new and revelatory way. The subway platform had become a stage, and the activities of the people going off on what appeared to be very serious and vital missions was some kind of theater, a fiction which only she could see as a fiction.

Finally a train arrived. She sat on the bench as most of the passengers rushed in, driven by their individual purposes, then she slowly sauntered onto the nearest car herself. There was plenty of space – there were only a few riders in the car with her – one young man who was listening to music on his headphones. An older woman with a romance novel was in the seat nearest the front door. 

Lucy took a seat about midway in the car, and just watched everything, wide eyed and excited.

After several stops, she got off at the Harvard Square station. On the way she’d decided that a cup of tea was in order, and she knew of a tea shop on the square where she could have a nice cup and then find an outdoor bench to sit on. If she was lucky, that fellow named David would be out playing his signature blues songs. 

When she found David, he was playing near the stone chess tables, and she was happy to find a seat there. She took out her laptop and settled in to write for awhile.  

She nearly left, realizing that there would be no internet this far from any of the wifi cafes, but when she checked for available connections in her control panel, it turned out that there was a single unsecured connection available. Without even thinking, she allowed her laptop to connect and she began browsing and reading today’s news.  

She found herself bouncing around making various tiny essays into research – first on some science item she found on a friend’s Facebook page. That lead her to a story about a musician who wrote songs based on random sounds he recorded and looped with an app on his iPad. That lead to a story about global warming, which lead to one about Gnostic Scripture – something in fact about the Gospel of Judas. After reading that, she closed the laptop, stashed it into her bag, dropped a five dollar tip in David’s basket (he then happily thanked her) and started strolling around Harvard Square with the phrase “Gnostic, gnostic, gnostic gnosis” running through her head endlessly. Somehow it seemed to Lucy that this phrase, which was really more of a chant after all,was somehow causing her to “tap in” to the voice of God which, truth be told, was actually the case. 

The point of clarity she had achieved that day had, in fact, attracted the attention of a God. Not the God, the big all powerful one that the Judeo-Christian faiths believed in, but a lesser God, one who had been all but forgotten by most humans, although there were small pockets of people around the globe who knew and revered him, but did not pray to him – he was a God that hated prayer! 

He found his way to Lucy and appeared to her, first as a vague bluish cloud, then solidified into something of a recognizable human form. He solidified directly in her path and she had to stop very short in order not to collide with him and she nearly cursed him out for his carelessness, but the she looked into his ancient face and realized his true nature and was stunned.

“You are Pan,” she said matter of factly.

“I am,” he replied. 

She walked quickly over to a stone seat and sat down, in shock. 

Pan sat beside her and took her hand. 

She found that the vibration that had started earlier today was still active and when Pan touched her, it harmonized with a vibration emanating from him. The combination of the two sounds was as sudden as an orgasm but on a much higher order than any physical orgasm she had experienced. With the orgasm came a flood of images and thoughts – the phrase she had been repeating to herself suddenly made sense. This was, in fact, a Gnosis. 

Pan looked surprised. He had not expected this either, and finding his thoughts and his vibration witnessed, he popped back into the blue vapor form and allowed a breeze to dissipate him.

Lucy was so puzzled and fascinated by what was happening that she didn’t notice his departure. Anyway, the thoughts and ideas that had transferred were filling her mind, and the residue of Pan’s vibrations continued to dovetail and harmonize with her own. Deep in her cellular structure, the vibrations were working to transform her. Eventually the vibrations themselves changed into something more resembling sound and Lucy found that with a slight effort of will, she could guide the sound to different parts of her body, where it engaged in further transformations, gilding her flesh and her organs, transforming the blood in her veins into a potent liquor which had ideas and images of its own to impart. 

Then it was if a veil lifted and suddenly everything around her became translucent and she saw that where there had been matter, there was now a latticework not unlike a wireframe in Illustrator, except that this wireframe pulsed and flashed with a life that was terrifying and invigorating. 

Even her own body seemed to be composed of luminous fibers – she thought that if anyone saw her, she would look like a brilliant hairy cocoon, shot through with light from a mysterious spectrum. 

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Three Times Four

Three times four is a fragrant message to surly individuals with corduroy patterns on their egos and impediments marring their secret hearts.  They mind the store but only on a Saturday afternoon, never on a Sunday.  They live with Mellificent and her cursory pilgrims, the ones who follow and degrade the very ground they walk upon.
Shirking her duties is nothing new.  She shirks with impunity knowing full well that the posture cannot assert and the eagle lifts its wig to show us the new feathers underneath.
A small but pelting snowstorm winks at the frequent but fishtailing division. Who is this pestilent viper we love so well? Who is this torqued pillory, this orchid willow, this ill fronted text of a persimmon graphic?
Philosophy can be magnified but never multiplied.  Plead your case before the trim judge and the firm lawman.  You will bench the path and offer no remorse for guilt is only of the latter sort.  He is Hermione’s and you will bless him, if not his agnostic pie and wenches of the wilting branch.
Government, they say is forlorn but never truly foreign.  I have a small pouch full of cat stuff and peas. You can wiggle the pasty chartreuse theater ribbon and a single walking stick.  I will on the other hand eat the apple pie and stuff the larger of the two turkeys with something I think it will enjoy.
We walked up to the crevice and looked deep into it.
There it is, she said, the Well Being.
Sure enough at the bottom of the crevice was a well, and into it had crept the Well Being.
There should be no sophistry here. There should be no Madonna music here. There should be only one short recording, “More Songs About Buildings and Food” by Talking heads.  No other will be tolerated.
If you ache then you will be the aching one.  If you count your onions, you will have the fragrant finger.
I was keeping right as one does but the air got in the way. It was much heavier than average for in fact it was not air, but a wall. The wall was, perhaps, built of rocky roses and an interstitial highway. We must not rob this filched anchor. Be on the watch for atolls and simple sugars, feeling carefully along the rim making sure not to cut yourself on the sharp edge.
Should blood well around the blade, look at your skin to see if it is broken. Angle your putrid soul along the frequent hedge of paradise, where illusory birds and worthless saints peak out from under their camouflaged halos. I have one Daisy and she is unfinished but not needy or wanton.
You build small hills out of eggs and croutons.
Walter will not eat croutons so he will not climb these makeshift hills.
Have you see the illusion of the wurst and the belt of Orion? Have you loosed your workaholic leopard on the porch and laughed at the jokes your computer tells you?
I don’t ask for your four givens. I ask for your putty whelp and her ignorant paddle.  I ask for your ill gated pogrom and your featureless lagoon.  I see you for what you are and even so I deny and deny you.  I hear what you say and even so I plug my ears with strange new starches and a single octopus. You can dream of Ctulhu but you cannot drain the swamp.
The old ones are coming. Now look!  The old ones have arrived, fully at the time of their arrival.
There are no tautologies that are not reflections of cataloged art collections and in those collections there can be only one Pollock, as our fortune has shrunken and there is no fish in this shroud.  The dream that Smeagol had was one of Hobbits and Dragons and it did not end well.
Gandalf and Frodo, it is said, got blown off course after leaving the gray havens and ended up in New York City, just in time to watch the World Series.  Not understanding baseball, they assumed that the ball was the tiny head of a goblin and they cheered every time it was hit.  After the game, Gandalf determined that Frodo should be armed with a bat.  “It looks heavy, and far better for killing enemies than any knife I’ve ever seen.” But in fact, the bats proved to large and too heavy for poor Frodo.
Later that night, they searched for a safe place to sleep, but no place was available that did not smell like piss.
After the clean and well appointed digs at Rivendell, they were keenly disappointed, but still would not complain to their host.
Maria took pity on them.
“Come up to my place,” she said.  “I have a sofa and two recliners. You’ll be comfortable there, and it may be small and cramped but its clean.”
Gandalf was concerned that there might not be room enough for his wizard’s staff, but Maria assured him that it would fit quite comfortably in the living room closet.
Gandalf went along with them, muttering “What in the name of Gondor is a living room and why does it need a carpet?
I cannot explain to you this idea of snogging mountain lions. This idea of snogging mountain lions is beyond my ability to reason. It passes beyond the pale of my imagination.
Who took the cabinet to the capable church?
Who placed the goblet next to the chalice?
She who drank from the beaker will never hold the fine bone china
Hyacinth does not permit, and even as he dissents, Richard will not act openly.
This death must not rise above the tide.
Who is the behemoth on the berm?
Crystal is the behemoth.
Who is the behemoth on the sea?
Crysis is this behemoth on the sea.
Crowley was waiting for Regardie and they both held tight to their Tarots.  This wheel of fortune is better drawn than most. This Empress not so much.  But of all these cards, my preference is the King of Swords, for he carries a disk and a spear and he speaks loudly in a language I understand.
Speech cannot languish in the guise of a worshiper, it must instead come on the wings of a pear.
Multiply the anvil towards a foxglove and drink the tea of testes not.
Flit to the edge of a worsted catastrophe. This is only an apostrophe –
You look in  a mirror at the toad of destiny and you crawl over the orphan’s widow to see outside and notice if the weather has yet turned as the newsreader promised.

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They may Kiss or tell secrets

There are orchids on top of a box of drawers. Her chest pounds like the oceans in the morning but like the wind at night. In this there is no evil more anchors stove tops and banana cultures small monkeys with aching hearts. I live in the speculative world of ruptured features, off the wall participles, nuggets of antagonistic wealth hidden inside two blessed vessels. She dreams of Prudence and the songs sung one day in the distant past. I have sorted two streams of thought neither one being the curt and succinct one that is required.

Softly without shoes we walked in the giving sand. Avoiding glass like experts we move our warm feet uncut and smoothly belligerent. Taxed only. By the proximity of cold water.

I see the motion of the hands, waving back and forth like Sarah’s beautiful hands on her microphone stand. I haven’t seen her in the morning yet, only late at night when I can only imagine the true color of her face.

Two lanes on the highway, delineated by straight and dotted lines.

A truck that has ornaments carved by a Mexican artist on its hood – colorful figures with golden skulls, shiny, perhaps ceramic, and the driver looked at them and talked to them while he drove as if they could hear as if they were responding to him and perhaps they did.

Off the road there is a small path where we sometimes walked, she in her leotard, I in my torn and faded jeans. How did the jeans get faded? I wore them forever and continually washed them and loved them until they were faded.

Have there been oxen on their way to Damascus? Have the Beatles played for them singing Obladioblada? Have there been moments of water moving in a passionate wave? Have there even monuments which fell out of the sky intact, seen and yet ignored?

The aliens have been here, we are assured of this. There are days and days worth of videos explaining their presence. Certain people believe them like gospel.

Today there was wind but now it is still. It is cool outside but not cold. I have the virtuous song of a clock ticking on the wall – where the numbers should be, it instead says, simply, tea time – every hour is tea time, except a few in the late afternoon where instead it was high tea.

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The Movements of the Plates

Allowing for the movements in the plates, the human ones, that are hidden under a maypole in the distinct vicinity of a corpuscular sky. Who were the human ones? Who were the small ones who stayed under the rocks and stones and never, ever popped up their significantly combed but empty heads? They all collected pills, and ampules. They all fell over the edge and into a spinning miasma of politics.

One day, Miranda was walking there among them, working out math problems in her head of heads.  She wore no bandannas for she was no Banana Queen, but she listed this way and that as she walked, like a drunken tailor, like a mushroom too big for its stem.

Holly stood beside her rafting nullified crustaceans and building small walls to keep them in.

Did you ever really like the pugnacious participle? Was your grammar ever beyond reproach?

I had that solitary jar and inside the delicious electricity, the shortened circuit and the impact of a crucible.

Had the moment passed, we would have been obnoxious and joined the fray, but instead time stood still and an orchid became carbonite.  Where, she wondered, is Han Solo, and why is his cellphone on my nightstand?

In that frozen moment when nothing could occur we had no pattern and the pygmies lifted the veil. But as is ever the case the only thing behind the veil was another veil, this one too heavy to be lifted in the time out of time.

Hercules has ballast but no corduroy.  Are you eating vacuoles? Have your sultry Madonnas split the proper knees of their jeans?

Do not be circuitous in this because vessels and orthotics hold sway in the virtual web.  I saw the vertices and counted them one by one but Nonna said no and we had to fluctuate beyond nucleotides and true black.  Even so, you canted the lift to the pilgrims and fractured only two frozen suns.

And that morning, we listened slowly to Gypsy Soul and daydreamed of an earnest Calcutta. Did you breeze the soldier in his beer steeped philosophy? Did you dream her up into tragedies both Shakespearean and Netflixian?

That’s when it moved in the correct way again. Always forward but with memory that could if exerted look back and foresight that could, to some degree, peer forward. That is when we were blessed by the snail in her shell and the hermit crab in his.

Were there nights with casual services, rendered on the regimental fluting? Where there are forks, there are figures and you must account for the autonomy of the anatomy, utilizing the full craft of aromatherapy.

What is the temperature of the disguised tremor, the organism that knows its own pleasure and can always provide?  Who is the Dortmunder with the Frankfurter hat? What is his team, where is his stadium?  In this circus, who is the ringmaster and who the Molly Ringwald? And more importantly, will she bring with her her ringlets?

Paddy was working on his laptop and he discovered the website of a soccer whale.  The whale was known for artful use of the blowhole in the mad discovery of heretofore untapped goals.  This lead to small inroads in foreign trade, and the balance of Miranda was restored.

The gaol and the hammer were disdained.  Fourteen oracles left their perches to join in the seed frenzy.  Never one to rock the birdbath, Christy looked deep into the pocket of her left shirt and her right skirt, panting loudly and calling out to Fragile Bill.

Who is this oriental instrument: He is, of course the bland particulate, the velocipede without funyums, the integrated soapster with his flagellated organelle.  Who is this dangled jackalope: He is, of course the frequently sequestered but oft quoted vanilla wafer, its similarity to a Catholic host not unnoticed.

Three times one is uppity. Please she said, do not be a snob.

The orchid presents hazards, but carries no known or knowable weapon.  Can this be the patter of an integer, padding the world with Pi and eking out its existence on the pulpit of a single hydraulic jack?  Who jumps that bully turnstile, who follows tigers into orbit?

On Friday, the virgin approached Ganymede in her craft.  The other virgin lay in his craft as well, but the divide was great and crossing the black hole would present certain problems

Vacate now.

And forge pistils for the pollination.



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