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In This Room of Unenchantment

In This Room of Unenchantment

I thought that the panoramic windows overlooking the other world had been painted over. Or, even worse, the concrete walls of a banal existence grew together like steel kudzu, forever hiding the Wonder from me.
And so, locked within this blurry room of Unenchantment, the captain of my ambition and hope, the steel of my spine, was swallowed by ennui and anchored by lethargy. The kudzu overwhelmed the window because the captain peered out less and less; his eyes were perusing dank corners where rot is infectious. Where lazy amblers crowd and fill the air with the stink of stasis, where streams are brackish and all decay of the fruits of the imagination lead to no new growth.
Thus, my imagination, my raging captain so aware of that window began to fall away. He fell out of my head, plummeted from my shoulders, slipped from my arms and legs to splash on the floor in this room of Unenchantment. We became two, the corpse ambling on incomplete, refracted journeys, connected at the feet with the two-dimensional captain, puddled on the floor, mimicking the corpse like a shadow in the retreating light of Wonder.
But it was the recognition of that shadow on the floor by this aimless husk which lit an ice-encased flame within my blank outline. How can I see this shadow in the complete absence of light? How can I recognize my dissolving captain if the panoramic window has been completely overwhelmed? Guided by the frozen fire, I see that there is still an aperture of light steeling its way into this room. Slender, yes, but I can also see flickers of shapes moving in that other world! So I rush over to the aperture and grasp the closing edges with hands made strong with automatic labor. They are the edges of shutters, and the shutters give, just barely, but they do give. Although my vision is poor, I can see birds with wings that stretch eons beyond and I feel a presence in my ankles which I haven’t felt in too long a time. The captain has started to climb back inside the husk! I try to push the shutters back some more, but I am out of breath. I’ll have to push them open an inch at a time. I know I’ll get stronger, though; I’ll be able move them more than an inch very soon.
And I’ll open them until I am once again surrounded by the panoramic window, bathed in that brilliance, where the captain’s eyes are behind my eyes.
And all shadows are washed away.

Uncle Cleveland

Uncle Cleveland liked the long, black cigars. Hand-rolled. He could care less if it actually came from Havana. I have several memories of my dear Uncle hanging from a miniature replica of his Mohammed Bridge in the greenhouse, cigar crunched between his simian teeth, while he growled, "I can get just as good a cigar from some pretty bitch in Ybor City than I can from Fidel's purgatory."
He inhaled then exhaled the heavy smoke from his flat, forward nostrils. I saw the beginnings of tar buildup in his ever-present mucus.
"Boy, pour me another glass of Sanity and Reason."
I left my respectful distance, crouching and brushing through ferns and flowers so dense with color, they painted my face with lush residue. Approaching Uncle Cleveland, the stench of refuse, human shit, animal sweat, cigar smoke and alcohol enveloped me. I did not gag because I loved and respected my Uncle.
A liter bottle of Banana Likker stood on a glass table beneath the replica, shadowed by my Uncle's swaying burden. The neck of the bottle towered over a carefully manicured banzai tree in the center of the table. I unscrewed the cap of the Likker and raised it to him.
Uncle Cleveland hung from one of the main girders of the miniature bridge by his left hand. The muscles and tendons in his arm throbbed. As usual, he wore rust-covered overalls and an old Yankees cap. "Never the Giants," he had once said. "They play a devolutionary game." I stepped a little to the right to better reach his left arm, dodging the huge drums of shit and garbage he clasped in each foot. The bottom of the plastic drums brushed vegetation sprouting from the greenhouse floor. His breathing was tight with exertion, but controlled.
Grinning at me, Uncle Cleveland lowered his pint glass and I filled it with the Banana Likker. "Always the left hand to hold the Sanity and Reason, cause it's the same hand I use to wipe my arse." Glass full, he lifted and emptied it in a few seconds, subsequently placing the glass above him on the bridge replica. He glanced down at me for a moment, at my smooth face so different from his rough and pocked and hairy. His brown eyes moistened, but not from the Likker.
In a fury, he shook and jolted below his replica, testing its strength. I heard a whimper from the construction after his tantrum, but didn't say anything.
He spat out his cigar.
"This bridge won't break," Uncle Cleveland sobbed. "No one's too heavy for it. No one."

Dream - Diaspora Doorway

Dream August 5, 2011 Diaspora Doorway

I should have written this earlier, because it has faded.

I was standing on a barren beach, my head thick with memories of having walked for days and nights without rest. My knees made rending and cracking noises. Ahead, high on the beach near colossal sand dunes, was a small service station. The building was constructed of searing white concrete blocks and was bathed in fluorescent light whose source was nowhere to be seen.

A slender dark hand rose up from the sand at the side of the station, waving at me, then it vanished. Stepping closer, I discovered that the station had no doors, and the hand had emerged from a deep stairwell plunging deep into the sand. I descended the stairs and came out on a vast platform glowing with that mysterious light, a wide corridor ending in a glass wall that faced an indigo expanse bristling with stars.

“Where Earth and Heaven meet,” a voice said. A beautiful woman of African descent appeared before me. She grabbed my hand and led me through a threshold to the left. “I need your help.”

On the other side of the door, I was struck by the vision of mountain peaks thrusting up into the black of space through the glass, a column that seemed to stretch into infinity.

The woman faced me. Her features were mobile, shifting from one facial landscape to another, settling into hers for a few moments and changing again. She gestured to the wall opposite the glass. It was a bland, plaster surface; a small square with a burned out light bulb was centered low on the wall.

“Will you change the bulb?” she asked.

“Of course,” I said. From my shirt pocket, I pulled out an incandescent light bulb. I changed the bulbs. Once I screwed in the new bulb, it flashed on, a radiance that burned my hand. Its light was like the sun, and I had to turn away from the brilliance.

Something was growing from below the glass at an alarming rate and I stared in awe. Fifteen enormous chutes, or curved tracks, unfurled beyond the glass to the right of the mountain peaks. They stretched out straight for thousands of feet, then curved gently until the tracks were completely vertical, ending a few thousand feet into the abyss of space.

“Thank you,” a man’s voice said. A very pale man with red hair stood where the woman had been. He approached me and each millisecond a new form emerged from his body, human and otherwise. These life forms rapidly populated the station, milling about, then descended a wide stairwell that opened in the door, leading out to the chutes.

The pale man extended his hand and I shook it. “My name is D. D. Wilkinson,” he said. “Your assistance has been invaluable.”

He turned away to position himself before a control podium that had risen from the floor before the glass. His body drained familiar, but more strange, beings each moment. One of those forms was a professor of mine from Graduate School. She saw me and waved, smiling.

She said to me, “We’re ready to go,” and indicated two ghostlike women who had also fell out of Wilkinson.

I gaped. “You’ve known about this for how long?” I said.

One of the women, who favored Winona Ryder with too much makeup, said, “I’ve been visiting her room since I was a seed.”

They laughed and went down the stairs.

Outside the glass, the chutes were filling up with transparent bullet-like ships, packed with humans and alien life forms. Wilkinson pulled a lever and the first row of ships fired down the track and up into the inky black of space to homes beyond the scope of my understanding. After that initial departure, Wilkinson captained a continual succession of those ships into space, their coronas of atmospheric burning reflecting off the peaks of the mountain.

“I didn’t know that light bulb was in my pocket,” I said.

Wilkinson didn’t turn around. “I didn’t either.”

“What does the D. D. stand for?”

“Diaspora Doorway.”

Dream Over

The Irony Diet

On one of many rambles through the telepathic experiment we call the INTERNET, I came across a fairly recent approach to eating called the Paleolithic diet. I suppose it’s not that recent, some 2.5 million years old. However, most of humanity have long abandoned that menu. So, an old fad that found purchase again in the 1970s, like the future rabid fame of Vanilla Ice on Planet Badrap year 6500.

Endorsed by a gastroenterologist with a name almost as difficult as his career title, the diet is a reflection of what Paleolithic humans ate, the hunter-gatherer meal plan prior to the advent of the agricultural revolution (I always imagine corn and wheat and rye forcibly TAKING OVER). Choice foods include meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables. If you eat grains, legumes, sugar, SALT, dairy, potatoes and alcohol, Slarbar the ascetic caveman will clomp you.


Of course, this meat rich collection is very high in iron. It’s irony. But it’s also full of irony.

Can you climb a palm tree and find a degree at the center of a coconut? Is it possible to learn how to create a written language from the heart of the elk you’ve just slain for dinner? While spending all day searching the woods for tasty roots and mushrooms, is there any time to reflect and measure your strengths and weaknesses and imagine what you want to be when you grow up? And without salt, brother, you’re forced to hunt again in a few days or your family will starve.

Scientists discovered the fossils and other traces of Paleolithic Man, not by reading the detailed journals of prehistoric humanity, but by inheriting the gift of expendable time made possible by civilization. Scientists revealed what Paleolithic humans ate at the peaks of mountains of history, peaks thinly supported by years of personal study and experience and time, but deeper and wider down by the written thoughts of countless predecessors encapsulated in ponderings which take time, time, time.

And from where does this bountiful time to think and build cities and schools and universities and hospitals come? Shaping the focus of the anthropologist?

The farmer is the base of the mountain, and the foods he plants are its deep roots. The barley, wheat, rye, corn, lentils, peas, beans and potatoes. The milk from the sheep, goats and cows. The salt to cure the back of the pig so the family can have bacon for days and days. Beer from the barley to enjoy and alter the experience of men.

The farmer and his crops froze time for humanity. These foods that the Paleolithic diet denies are the benefactors of modern civilization, science and specialization.

It's the Irony Diet.

I am laughing.

Modern mathematics did not arrive in a vacuum of constant hunger and the efforts of every individual to locate food. It emerged from a store of grain, olive oil, wine and sausages cured with salt.

Effectively, here’s an equation for the Paleolithic diet:

-1 + 1 = 0.