Fiction

Scent of a Rose, an Inspiration

Long before the internet and books and an understanding of our tiny place in the galaxy, there were the Muses.

Some say five, some nine. Regardless, they were there to stir passion in the soul, to let us see life beyond ourselves and envision a world of perfection and emotion. Their presence and the way they perceived the mortals that surrounded them, was much the way the Guerlain , or Gertrude Stein or Victor Hugo perceived a rose: A rose is much greater than just its delicate shape, color & form. The scent of the rose, filled the space it occupied and it was much greater much more expansive than the sum of its mere physical parts.

The Muses open the doors so that we can become and became greater than our shape, form, color. They fired the intellect; they inspire the soul to be more than our physical presence. I watched last night, in a simple gathering place, where their powers of love, strength, beauty, inspiration, mirth, and an openness of soul and generosity, recharged our souls, filled us with strength of character and set out to a world that sometimes waits to destroy us and tear us down. These Muses gave us the powers to stand tall against that overwhelming force, just by being there, by being warm in spirit, by laughing without care, by dancing with joyous glee, by listening sincerely to our words or by just being who they are at that moment.

Those Muses, recognized by the ancient Greeks, anthropomorphized by culture after human culture were present last night , walked among us last night and filled each one of us with the power and it should not frittered or flicker to waste. We are a very lucky and blessed group of people. Open our heart, drink in with your soul and become the rose: let your presence be greater than the limits of your physical form and fill the world around with the scent of your knowledge, your intellect, your creativity.

I’m not looking for any comments unless I have made a mistake, It is just the way I felt this morning when I woke this morning.

There is little here to argue or disagree with.

Maybe it is simple by recognizing the family that has formed, by how by such a random chance, these souls have brought together to share a space. Maybe it is just my brain trying to scratch out a simple thought.

Till again!

A Burner Tale

The hot wind blows relentless.

Alkaline dust blinds you and you are lost in a dust cloud. It seems that it never stops. And then all is clear and the lights and the faces and the shapes reappear. You are surrounded by some of the world’s most creative artists, but most are just people who have decided to give back to this magic place. Everywhere you turn, there is something new to explore, a new drink to try, new people to meet. Looking out over the Playa at night and watching thousands of strobing and twinkling LED lights or blast flashes from a 100 foot Octopus or a fire breathing dragon your mind scrambles to decipher what it is witnessing. 20 cupcakes in a row pass your path. The Space Shuttle ambles by. A sectional couch makes its way to the deep playa.

And you do this for 7 days, And on Saturday night, the Man is surrounded by 70,000 people and more art cars than you can count with different sounds from each one. Fire dancers like you have never seen parade, and fireworks explode that would make the Magic Kingdom cower in jealousy and then out of nowhere, an explosion that slams your chest and the flames and the cheers of 70,000 mesmerized as the towering Man burns to a pile of ash.

And on the next night, the temple that amazed you all week is surrounded again, but this time the art cars are silent and the people are silent and the spirits of the photos and the mementos and the scribbled poems on the temple wall of all we have lost, of dreams we seek, of hope we hope, burn quietly against the backdrop of a black night sky and surrounded by the silence of reverence.

Who wouldn’t want to spend those 7 days of life changing experience on the Playa in a place you never believed existed and could be so far from the world you came from?
Who wouldn’t want to take some time and find their way to the Playa, that will change their perspective on the world forever?

You want to go?

Thank you.

The day I learned the Castanet faded

The day I learned the Castanet faded

Down the road alone.

Yesterday I learned of the passing of the hand fashioner of the castanet. Another loss in evolution.

Snap

Going going…soon gone,

Castanets and flamenco.

The low pitch castanet clack of the seguirillas. Flemish themes of loves, Flemish themes of the mischievous, of the playful. Sung slow and sexy and somehow out of the fires of hell, it was borne in a Flemish hell, a Flemish Hell of Bruegel.
Seguirillas with Sentiment, Seguirillas sung in ancient folk tones in ancient poetic form…swirl of the tailed gown, swirl of the ruffled tail gown, songs sung in low pitch to the snap clatter snap of castanet.

Arms move like waves deliberate.

Eyes, like birds watching prey, never losing sight and pray, dance gypsy.

Flamenco is like a gypsy, like our true selves, no boundaries.

Just distinct deliberate movement. Movements with purpose.

Arms moving like undulating waves, intentional, conscious.

Repeat.

Repeat like a replayed song on repeat and snap flash, snap flash, flash fire :

Do not lose hope

In canto jondo

in ancient Flamenco song

from Lorca who heard

the rhythm of the birds.

To Falla

Who heard the ancient words as gypsy heart

as gypsy fire spirit?

Most pure

primitive and ancient,

and pure and then snap

snap snap.

Clap a vision.

The purity of ancient song released my visions.

And it all came rushing. The rhythm of the castanets brought a memory of a little restaurant in dark street fog of North Beach. Crowded wood tables. Their only dish of simple fish cluttered paella and full glasses of fruited Sangria were pushed back to the walls. Cooks became dancers, bartender set aside the bottela for a worn guitar, fingers snapping gut strings, hands shake clacking castanets and we were mesmerized and safe from the cool night fog wrapped in the now moment of the gypsy flamenco. The group assemble forgot all but the night and saw the swirl and the flash and all became exotic.

Vision of Hemingway rough drinking on cobbled Spanish alley streets while a war raged in burnt hills. Smash drunk, comrade battle drunk arm in arm and singing of Spanish women fighting alongside poet freedom brothers.

And the gypsy danced while they drank to forget the blood.

Vision of old friends in Barcelona watching a turtle crawl, claws clacking on textured cool concrete, slow sliding under a bush as the heart fade feeling of a lost love moves back but is never gone,

Vision of Nazi teeth clattering in lonely nights, frightened by gypsies, frightened by their dance and clack snap of the castanet that lead gypsy spirit anywhere. Heil and no respect for the state, for the line, for the boundary, for ours, for theirs. Heil and no respect for anyone lifted to a god. They only followed the ancient song rhythms of the birds. Heil and boots marched unison empty. Nazis squirmed, and forced them singing, dancing, swirling red tail dresses, arms waving overhead into fires. And the Nazis died and the gypsy slap dances and fingers pluck taut strings

But they never died.

Visions, a mind rush of thoughts about the Las Ramblas in Barcelona and parrots in gilded cages lining the street, and drunken red wine afternoons fading with friends in green spaces.

Along side the lap, lap, lap rhythms of summer slap waves, of mediterranean waters against crusted pier posts.

Today, the loss of the castanet man brought vision to me. Maybe it was the primal rhythms of birds. Maybe the next time we meet in the falling rain to the sss sss sss of the drops and splash of tires on asphalt.

The Early Hours of a Desert Festival (WIP or Unfinished)

It is a place of worship, a capturing of a new spirit.

It is Love in pure form.

It is the new way, the new light.”

Eduardo Barbudo on The Joshua Tree Music Festival

 

Thursdays drive up to the high desert is filled with anticipation and speed along the I-10.

The first climb to the Morongo is met with little resistance from my old bus. On the trails second and final climb to the high desert, a truck ,heavy laden with cement, slows our climb and prepares us for the desert.

You move slower in the desert. You conserve your energies because you know who is in control and you want to survive. After reaching the second crest, the challenge to reach the High Desert is nearly complete.

I arrive, carefully position my home with respect for the Masters I will respect for the next four days: The Masters of the Wind, the Heat and the Sun. The encampment is assembled quickly and simple decorations of whimsy set out to adorn the shade structure we have built.

Time is slow here. In time, in a molasses slow time, we meet Becky, then X-Ray David, both new escape transplants to the High Desert from the lower cities round L.A. They smile broadly and wander the campground waiting.

As evening cool approaches, we explore and find the Astronomers, an unlikely crew of Star gazers, primed with beer, butchered vans and a trailer of equipment and telescopes that looked serious, seriously more than the price of my Saab.

 

They have been working to bring the universe in full color glory to an outdoor widescreen. Promises of “you are going to see the Crab Nebula like never before.” I never seen the Crab Nebula and maybe have never seen any Nebula. If something or someone was coming, they want to know.

They make me nervous because I am not sure they will warn me if they see blood thirsty aliens heading to the Earth off ramp, looking for a snack and bio break on the way to the Crab Nebula.

I wander to leave.

Outside the fence that sequesters the merry band of desert skygazers from the festival goers, the sand path wanders past little gypsy galleries. Artists moved through their spaces silently, trying to catch some last whisper from their Muse on the right choice of color or flourish swirl or sparkle that somehow captures their soul spirit on every form of canvas laid out that evening in the desert.

Gaia sits tranquil by the banks of the tiny reed lake, awaiting just like everyone, for the arrival of the spirits, still sitting in LA traffic or behind desks in offices scattered throughout the lower lands. In silence, silvered fish glide just under a mirrored surface.
There is no L.A. in their world, just gliding and silence.

We wander through the gates where the music magic will happen. The Hydration Station is primed and ready to relieve parched dancers. As it has at a hundred festivals before, the Java A Go Go is ready to deliver a boxers upper cut caffeine punch just as a festival fan wilts under the demands to wiggle or to clear a head fogged by unknown pharmaceuticals.

The Bowl stirs with antlike activity, long-haired carpenters nervously swinging hammers, laying cables, focusing flashing lights and lasers that will soon astound a thousand bouncing heads, a thousand bouncing fists raised high over the desert floor. A bassy thrill of Boom Wow blasts as they tweak the sound system. We leave ants to their finish work and soon discover that all the gates in and out of the festival have been given gate names : Floodgate, Watergate, Tailgate, Instigate and Tollgate. Ah organized festival humor. Past the gate, we head to an area loosely cordoned off with orange plastic roll fence. A man approaches, waving us back as we have found the only grounds where the festival goers will be forbidden to tread.

As the young but gray haired man approaches he tells us that people, people actually live here in this conglomeration of tumbled buildings, left over brainstorms from fairs past.

As it was said, this is a place where things are brought whose sole purpose is to deteriorate under the desert sun and to be enjoyed as they do so, slowly but unforgiving under the desert sun. We visit exchange pleasantries, learn something of the past of Matt and move on. Later he is told, when comes to our camp, that it is likely he is being featured on America’s Most Wanted as it this a a corner of the planet they would never look. He laughed and moved on.

Friday morning begins as lavender mountains melt to gold. The last of the darks cool breezes return to hiding and the first tiny beadlets of sweat begin to appear. Coffee done, press washed, we wait in the narrowing shade for the tribe to show. All day, passerbys rumor of 3000 then 3500 people on setting their sights on this desert village. It will be beyond tight.

And then Charly walks by with pretty rocks and acid and I am struck with the simplicity of her youth and skin and Bowersox dreads. She pulls out a small black box and like a travelling nomad, carefully describes each colored stone, patient with an old man who has no intention to buy her other wares. Although I blush with feigned embarrassment in the heat of the mid morning sun, Diana tells her of her beauty and she accepts it as a child innocent. Her tiny breasts are round and unhampered and she acknowledge in graceful youth the approval of the elder women from a different age. She nods approvingly never intended to strap her body with bonds and corded girds. In a flash, she is gone, filled with free market, refreshed by a quick moment to cool with us in the shade.

Two butterflies flit dance unaware of the coming flame of the Sun. Tents stir and campers stand to escape the heat only to see the sun overhead already in control of the day.

Pop of a drum in the distance and rainbow flag flap in a narrow breeze.

As the day and heat expands, the tribe grows. Greetings are brief and all scramble to erect their homes, hoarding was shade the desert offers. In this distance, the music begins and the tribe and the other tribes begin to walk slowly towards the bowl. It is a special time when all who pass greet and share and and exchange gifts of smoke and advise of what is to come.

And with the slow parade to the bowl, the festival begins, dust rises, fragrant scents fill the desert area. The scene is primal, if you can see past the RV’s and electronic. The wind as it did in ancient times, moves the flags and carries the sounds of of the festival.

The Festival of Joshua Tree has begun and we all wait to dance in magic dust.

Sometime the next morning, the sun and the wind and the desert reminds us of where we are and who holds court. The tribe slowly gathers, eyes bleary to the smell of bacon and cold beer. They are ready to repeat what they have prepared for, they prepare for the night and the cool and the Boom Wow of the desert Festival

As Words Fail

We went to Gaudi last night and the Evil Bunny set her pain aside and let her body dance frantic till after 2 AM. The crowds surrounding us screamed Insane, screamed with Insanity, and danced as if no one watched. They danced as if Morrison himself had told them to dance with abandon.

I watched and thought of stories I have written and how some were flat and lifeless. I thought of moments in stories past that cuddled and captured the world I stood in at that moment. I swore to write in words, of what it felt like at that moment and especially the music expression of the Artist Gaudi.

I thought in simile and phases like the confusion of a freight train screaming past you as you stood close the the tracks, in the prior silence of the forest or facing a pride of menacing lions. All I wanted to do was know the words to describe the music, the artist, the people and the scene.

I am trapped in a writer’s anarchy. My brain rains uncontrollable adjectives, describing the moment for later while being in the moment (am I alone?), filled with the fear that the words will fade when my body fails and is forced to rest in quiet resolve and sleep (am I alone/ Do you feel that?).

I wake and wonder what were those words, what was that feeling? Can I translate one artistic media to another? Really. Can I describe Picasso’s Dancers or Munch’s Madness or the music of Segovia in a quiet hall in a mountain village in Spain (taste the nutmeg, smell the scented burning wax as he plays?)

Can we translate; a moment. Sitting here I know that I can write of fear of zombies and the fear of hate and loss, and love and loves lost.

But can we describe a song?

And the dancers and the sweat. I don’t know. It is early in this dark hotel and I wonder and wait to be taken behind an old wooden shed. Could I evevn describe that?

A friend laments

Maybe this is personal, maybe these are words that anyone might find a way to just pass the time.

A friend laments
or

Memory is not necessarily History

About the time of the turkey bake, about that special time of year when we most feel abandoned by the past and condemned by our future, someone wrote a letter.

Strange that a letter was written. It must have taken many sips of good whiskey or sniffs of unknown white powders. Strange that a letter was written that seemed to care and that a vision of a past was so chained with the heavy mud of I am the victim.

Don’t mourn me. Don’t help me. Don’t correct me. Just read a long letter and accept that I have chosen to remember and the story as I remember it.

This is about me.

And even if I speak of the pain of death of others, of suicide of others, of separation from others, of being deserted by others, this is still just about me.

Strange that a letter was written. Strange that a letter was written to whom you chose to receive the letter. A letter, an epistolary memory. A recap of your world as you peer back into the murk.

Maybe the letter would have best been written to yourself, so that you would understand and it would truly be for and about you. Maybe there could have been time better spent at a barstool, in a quiet corner of a quiet bar. Maybe a mumbled call made from a darkened room and comforted by a sip and brought back by a sniff.

Memory is funny. Memory is told though our eyes and memories are sometime muddled by times. Memories are sometimes muddled by drugs or other memories or tears or dark rooms. Even if you are corrected and told that your memory is a dream of a past, is a hope of a dream of a past. It is still just your dream of the past. A Remembrance of Things Past as surfaced by eating your own Madeline or seeing a photograph or just listening to a song play out in the echo of a distant room.

Maybe a memory is made while laying naked in a bed while the images of those reflected by the light at our back, play out on the bare walls that surround our view. In a cave, a memory created where we have no way to spin around to find out what really was the dynamic of what happened or why a man is killed in Sarajevo like thousands are but only one man brought a world to war.

Memory is funny. Maybe the difference between a memory and history is singularity and when we base the revolution on one memory we find ourselves standing in a muddy field, surrounded by the bloodied dead who followed us into our battle. They followed our memory and were trapped and now lay dead in the mud. But a memory is personal True History. A memory is true singularity and if we follow it, we end up dead in the mud and really there was no purpose to our sacrifice.

History is universal. It is a mélange of memory not swayed by a single perception.

As you recount your memory, you tend to forgive your actions, forget your motivations and remember how you were moved. But your memory was a compellation of many events, of time, of environment, of other memories of others, of others. Your memories are rarely singular, rarely born in isolation. They are just captured, swaddled in our imperfection that way. They are flawed in their creation and difficult to be used to move forward.

Fool me once, shame, on you; fool me twice, shame on me. And you continue to be fooled and to this day you are the fool surrounded by the fools. And you are shamed and you sip again and just one more sniff.

Well friend as you lament the failures of the past, as you wallow in the sips and sniff of past memories, of the pain that others brought to your door, or pain you welcomed with arms spread wide as you stood at your door and shrieked and bellowed and screamed to capture their attention so that they would join you and drink your wine and share your bread. You continue to this moment to fall victim to your same lamentations. You continue to allow those who so addled your memories to re-enter your space in other shapes and forms and manifestation and continue to fill your past with pain, your present with confusion and your future with false determination.

Those who fail to recognize history are cursed to repeat it.

I look to readers to tell me advise me, to warn me of demons and devils who would smile and take forms to eat my soul. I look to their words and like an alchemist, I swirl the words to make gold rather than just swilling the sand I bring to my magic vessel. They talk to me of Gods, they talk to me of Men and words and views into valleys and from mountaintop where my answer can be found. They talk to me of a burning plain where I might seek answer. Few remember my memories and fewer still send me back to the isolation of my past to find the paths to my future.

***

On Knocking on the Wrong Door, Three a.m.

by Stuart Welch

People were continuously bumping him on the street. His piano was once again out of tune and the hamburger had turned a dark, inedible brown. She darned his socks, but since she had lost the use of her hands in the explosion of her neighbor’s lawn mower, his socks remained holey.
A picture of two boys staring into a glass of obviously purified water had hung in the darkest corner of his living room. He recently replaced it with a tiny crucifix he found the last time he woke up lost (and hung over) in the park. The picture of the two boys bothered him for no reason but enough he thought to affect his digestion.
They stood there blankly staring into the glass of water.
Behind them was also a picture, but not of them.
Today he had hoped to find a new place to hide or hang the crucifix since the space it occupied on the wall was less, considerably less disconcerting, than the picture of the two boys.
But he had nothing to replace the crucifix with so he decided to leave it in this undesirable place until something else turned up that would adequately cover the space left by the picture of the two boys.
Searching for something to replace the crucifix also gave him indigestion and he vowed not to look too hard. On the wall opposite the crucifix that had replaced the picture of the two boys staring blankly into a glass of obviously purified water, hung a ripped portion of a map. It was a foreign map with street names he did not recognize.
Before she lost her hands she had thought it was a map of Zurich. But he did not know Zurich any better than the town where he was presently living or for that matter any town that he had lived in. She was trying to impress him. The map had been ripped in such a way that he could not tell what way it was supposed to be read. Several times in the past he had changed the position, but never knew which way he was moving the ripped map.

A map is hard to read and a ripped map without a legend was even harder.

He was glad that the two boys staring blankly into a glass of water were standing and not in a position that would be hard to determine which way the picture was to be hung. His deteriorating indigestion found solace with that picture which gave him no trouble. She, since the accident, was too embarrassed to visit him in the evenings anymore. It became a bothersome chore to manipulate coins into the coin box on the bus.
The bus she took to visit him was 154 North. While she was still in the hospital, he reassured her that the bus driver, if he was Christian, would reach into her purse for the coins she needed for the ride. She had tried to convince the driver that she was unable to manipulate the tiny coins and that it was necessary if she were to ride the bus for him to retrieve the coins which she kept conveniently in a clear plastic pouch.
The bus driver usually became enraged and told her to sit. It was always embarrassing.

She no longer came at night.

Many of their nights had been spent with puzzles. They laughed late into the night, keeping many of their neighbors awake, while they assembled the complicated jigsaw puzzles. The puzzles pictured snowy scenes in the country or foreign cities with strange buildings.
They preferred puzzles of foreign cities and would laugh nervously as they neared the completion of a puzzle. After the puzzle was finished, they would lift themselves from the table and stand back admiring their accomplishment. Sometimes tears would run down his cheeks.
Completion was never met with the satisfaction of the first step.
He was upset that one more puzzle had been completed and all of its once individual and separated pieces no longer offered a challenge. She would comfort him and promise to find a new even harder puzzle the very next day. But there were no new puzzles for him to construct since she no longer came to visit in the evening.
He spent more time in the evenings now rearranging the pictures and articles he had hung on the walls of his apartment. His room now offered the challenge of the puzzle.
By rearranging the items hanging on his walls, the room was somewhat different, and all he would have to do was sit in a different chair and see a new scene. But the crucifix bothered him, even though it was hung in the darkest spot in the room. No matter where he sat in the room it always stood out. A tiny tormented dying mannequin, stretched out on a cross, its hands painfully trying to pull away from the nails that bound it.
This was probably the greatest upset to his indigestion.
Once, while deciding where to hang a brass horn that had been given to him by a former friend, his phone rang. She was on the phone and carefully explained how she had talked her sister into dialing a number for her. He did not like her sister. Her sister rarely assisted her since the accident and frequently flew into rages because of this handicap.
Had she left her flowered scarf there?
It was no longer in her closet and she was concerned. It had been the last present given to her by her aunt before she had passed away. Yes, the scarf was there. It was safely hanging on the wall by the door. Its flowery colors had considerably brightened the space on the wall by the door. At one time he had considered draping the naked tortured body on the crucifix with the flowered scarf. But that would only hide the body and he would then always try to remember what it looked like.
Anyway, it looked nice by the door. Hold on, someone is at the door. Yes? Yes; who is it? Who could it be?

No one had knocked on his door since her accident. No, this is apartment #38g. The numbers to his door had been down for some time. He had hung them near the window because he liked their shiny brassy look. You should try upstairs. I’m not really sure. He was very excited that not only had someone called him on the phone, but on the same day, someone had knocked on his door. He was so excited that he forgot about the phone. When he returned to the phone all he heard in response to his explanation of who had been at the door was a dull drone.
He thought she was like the drone. She did not have a name either.
After hanging up the droning phone, he decided that the very next day he would go to the music shop on the corner and buy a piano stool, so he could always look at different parts of the room without having to change chairs.

*****************************

As I turned and walked away from the apartment, I heard its inhabitant mumbling to himself. It had not been my intention to disturb him but the numbers from the door were missing. When I had originally approached the numberless door, I had heard talking but as I neared the stairs to try another apartment, I thought I heard a man crying softly against the door. I never had known about the man or his room or the crucifix he had wanted to hide or the picture of the two boys staring blankly into a glass of purified water, all I heard or knew, was that someone, someone on the other side of the door cried softly as I walked away.

I may have awakened him from a sleep of fits or the freedom of dreams.