Friday, August 27, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

        Anger is a tricky emotion because it comes with a corrosive energy that can make you feel amazing. It is easy to give into anger because it feels good. And all the animalistic forces kick in. You can feel the pulse of adrenaline inside you. It is electric and hard to deny. Some people become uncomfortable when they are angry, but it is often an inability to navigate the baser desires. We are humans. We are not comfortable with the idea that somewhere, deep in our genetics, is buried the desire to hunt, maim, kill, overpower. We ignore that little piece of us until we get angry. Thus, humans are ticking time-bombs. We can be the most peaceful of species, but we never forget the hunt, and we can do evil to each other that animals would never even think of. An animal may kill one of their own if there is reason, but they will not humiliate, imprison, or torture. 

Perhaps this is why we like cats - we also like to play with the things we kill.

    We are often at odds, one might even say war, with out baser impulses. We tame the desire to fuck everything that movies and has the proper equipment - some can’t fight it, the lust is too strong and they ruin relationships, marriages, maybe their lives. Same with every base animal instinct. We watch violent movies to scratch the itch, and it sorts of works. But it still leaves us divided, simplified, as people who fear anger and its repercussions and those who court it, chase it, live for it. You can’t necessarily go chase an antelope down and rip it’s throat out, but you can skydive, watch an MMA fight, cheat on your spouse, get off on dominating other people. 

Scratch that itch.

Humans are so varied that it can be mind-boggling, especially since most of us default to a lack of awareness that we are individuals and that the rest of society might have different goals, ideas, and philosophies than we do. In some ways, it is this inability to drop the “I” lens that cripples our world. Lions aren’t worried about the things we’re worried about. They see themselves as an established hierarchy. 

Yuppies are always talking about “getting back to nature” but they mean that they will camp in air-conditioned RVs, eat trail mix and not shower for two days. If you dropped them in the middle of the veldt, they would not last long, but they would learn way more about what it means to be human than their “back to nature” counterparts.

If the other animals are capable of deep thinking, they mus

t be outraged. Puny and weak with a big brain, and we rule the animal kingdom. Claws can’t compete with bullets, and the strongest elephant can be brought down with a big enough gun. It doesn’t even have to be that big. And if we wanted to, we could destroy the earth and most of the animals living on it in a heartbeat. 

Scratch that itch.


  1. It's a terrifying, precarious position. The sheer responsibility. But then, those who don't acknowledge our individual potential to commit atrocities are the most dangerous of all. Acknowledgment gives us a glimmer of hope, that we can control it, perhaps even begin to fix it, make amends. Sorry for the pop anthropology, but your words made me stop and think, brother. Which is what all the best writing is capable of doing.

    1. Like everything you write, JD, this gets right to the bare truth of things. I wish more people understood what you've said here. Maybe we'd be in a better place.

    2. Truth. Bad truth. Humans are endlessly fascinating and frightening. I love what you've written here. It's so raw.

    3. We are the most dangerous, most destructive species on the planet and anger is a strange emotion. Rein it in! It is mind-boggling what this emotion can cause when you look around the planet. Well said.

  2. Midnight in the garden of blood and eagles.

    We’re bleeding from puncture wounds, something viscous, crimson, and warm.

    No one tied you down, you rolled up against the dock, buffeting and clunking hollow through the solitary night.

    How does anything lay claim to any of it?

    Humans, I think I’ve fallen out of love with you now I’ve learned you spurt dirt-drenched aerosols in a jet out front of your faces whenever you laugh or cough or yell or sing. Ew. Really. Fucking ew. That was a revelation on the disappointing side of the ledger. You initially gained points for your relative hairlessness, lost most of them with this. Wear a damn mask, act like a fucking grown-up, and you might regain a few.

    Ha, wait. You know what this is like, the strings sweeping over us, the low notes growling under your hallowed contralto like the final tales of long-forgotten wolves.

    “Something’s comin’ over the hill, and I ain’t so sure you gonna like it.”

    “Well. Try me, cholo.”

    Remember, compadre, we always came to this same piece of waste ground, filled with hazards, and each time we tried to create our own jogo bonito. The feel of the ball a-spin atop your foot, quieting its gyre at the exact right moment, the hock, the updraft, the rainbow, that feeling when you let it fall and check it with your instep, dead, or nestle it like an egg in the nape of your neck, the heartbeat pause, and then all your friends stream your way, laughing, cursing, and take the ball and do more joy to it, calling you always the best and most beautiful names.

    Venerated, unseemly. The ribald colours of longing.

    “Come. This way.”

    “You know where we’re heading? How long we’ll be riding?”

    “Follow the spiral dust, and give thanks to the night songs of coyotes.”

    “Señorita, if we don’t make it, won’t you feel good about me right to the end?”

    “Keep singin’ and playin’, music man. And meet me in Laurel Canyon. Your luck has to turn.”

    Drenched with salt from inside, collected near the shoulder of rock like scarabs, we peek around it, and we see the hopelessness the world tried to spare us.

    A black hole spinning blind and silent, an accelerating cluster of stars sucked processional into its holy ravenous lightless maw.

    Death. It’s not onrushing. At its moment of truth, it’s a quickening absence, a sucking of an ebbing wave pulling you into the riptide. You feel it hollow and infallible in your chest, an intake of breath and a twinge of hurt before a vast unbreathable pain and before pain is then erased. A great accumulative loss and a great mercy both. That moment. That volatile, hectic instant before everything’s gone.

    True, the past echoes and echoes and echoes. Some of it is a story, poured from cut crystal, pored over by feeble old men, teased and unraveled and dreamed of again.

    For who, no one knows.

    Hear me, though.

    The truth is a story too.

    And while the landfill’s where it ends, for now—like love and loss—it’s only recycling.

    1. That last line is perfection. And this bit is pure genius, "...collected near the shoulder of rock like scarabs, we peek around it, and we see the hopelessness the world tried to spare us.

      A black hole spinning blind and silent, an accelerating cluster of stars sucked processional into its holy ravenous lightless maw."

      Love the way you make the clunky English language dance. <3

    2. Oh I love this. "Fucking ew" has to be one of my favorite things. And that last line. Also like the soccer references. Pardon me, football.

    3. Thank you, my friends. No idea how this ended up a SoCal thing. I've never even been there... at least not physically, lol.

      Laurie, how about a compromise: fútbol? :D

  3. The gowned figures loomed over Adelaide Green, two on each side, casting long shadows across the white draping. A curtain separated Ms. Green’s head from her body, like a sterile sideshow act.

    “It’s bigger than we saw on the MRI,” the left-hand resident said, “and not as well encapsulated. You think there’s still a way to get it out without endangering anything else?”

    Silence save for beeps and blips of machinery. Then, “We can only try. But the odds are not with us.”

    The nurse glared at the lead surgeon.

    “Yes, I know,” the surgeon said with a weary sigh as he poked and prodded. “Patients have been shown to understand what’s being said in the operating theater. But current thinking is that honest assessment by an operating team can stimulate a patient’s immune system to fight harder.”

    “You mean your current thinking,” the right-hand resident said under his breath.

    But the renowned brain surgeon heard all. Behind his magnifying goggles his eyes narrowed. “I highly doubt that attitude is patient-positive nor useful right now. I’d throw you out of my theatre but we’re shorthanded enough as it is. Scalpel.”

    The instrument appeared in his outstretched hand. It hovered above the exposed brain. “We’re almost there, Ms. Green,” he said to the left hemisphere of her frontal lobe. “Just a few more minutes and soon you’ll be back in your chair doing your thing.”

    The nurse cast a sharp glare up to the gallery, where a man in an expensive-looking suit jabbered on his cell phone, when he wasn’t scowling down at them like a displeased god. “We’ll make him happy, at least.”

    A few more minutes turned into an hour. An hour turned into three. Tissue was severed; the intruder made its boundaries known. And then, as the lights burned bright and sweat beaded on residents’ foreheads, a louder-than-expected thunk of success sounded in a metal pan.

    Four held breaths, it seemed, released at the same time.

    “Wow,” the left-hand resident said. “I think you got it all.”

    “Congratulations, Doctor,” the nurse said.

    He patted Ms. Green’s shoulder. “Congratulations all around,” he said. “That was the largest writer’s block I’ve ever removed. Now”—he cast a quick glance to the gallery—“let’s put her agent out of his misery.”

    1. OMG. The payoff is gold. Thank you for this. I needed the grin. :)

    2. Ha ha, sheer brillance! Never saw this coming, which made the punchline all the more hilarious!

  4. "My grand-dad was there. Lived through it all. C19. C25. Necro-pox. The second civil war. The dissolution of the United States. He said he knew in 2020, when he was 14, where the world was headed. But I don't think he could ever have imagined the shit that's happened these past few years." Alex paused for a moment. Gave a little chuckle. "No, that's not true. He probably could have imagined it. He always was a big fan of horror novels."

    "We're definitely living in one now."

    "Right. All because people wouldn't listen. To the experts, to science, even to each other. We could have wiped this virus out before it mutated to..." He waved a hand in a vague circle in the air, indicating the run-down building they'd holed up in.

    Emma leaned her head against the wall behind her. "What has it mutated to? I mean, how do you think of it? Of them? Zombies? Vampires?"

    "Victims," Alex replied, his voice hushed. "I think of them as victims."

    1. Oh. Last sentence hits hard. We humans are so, so stupid.

    2. I agree with Laurie. So much happening in so few paragraphs, and that perfect ending! So good.

  5. I Really Want to Know

    With the sun so high and hot, the only shadows
    lie directly beneath the trees.
    The little buildings and addresses sit there
    in shades of golden brown or sugar white
    like baked goods fresh from the oven.
    But they’re not.

    A few are fresh, all proofed and kneaded by
    same-named bakers, but most just sit there growing
    stale and lonely, even among all the neighbors
    left, right, front and back, we never knew.
    Nobody peers over the walls and says, “How ya doin’?”
    ‘Cause everybody knows.

    Over there, a visitor sits on a folding chair in the bare,
    baking sun, his hands clasped, leaning forward, his head
    dripping, his cheeks even more. I see his lips moving,
    like the old Italian ladies’ do as they click through
    their rosaries, wishing for something they don’t want to
    believe'll never happen.

    And I wonder what he’s saying and I wonder to whom.
    Wife, mother? Sister, brother? Son, daughter, maybe his lover?
    For a moment, I want to step through this quiet neighborhood,
    just to walk by and see who he’s visiting, maybe hear
    his side of the conversation. But then I remember
    why I came here.

    So I pick my way through the yards, not wishing to disturb them
    as I might that quiet man. And I stop by your place, ignoring
    your neighbor. I look down and say, “Hi, Mom. How ya doin’?”
    ‘Cause I figure here, as the cars and trucks roll by,
    where nearly no one talks, except the man and me,
    I really want to know.

  6. Around the corner and down a way, just before the main road, two staples hold what’s left of a piece of paper to the power pole. I’d pass it in its fullness on my way to or from when snow still covered everything. It was hard to read then, weather having already faded it, the home printer’s ink running in tears down to the oiled wooden pole. But I knew it was a picture of someone’s white cat that had left the house and not returned. It could have run away, but I doubt it. It could have gone out and run afoul of a winter-hungered coyote, or maybe it got lost in the expanse of white upon which Home happened to be and a car or snowplow had sent it spinning like a snowflake to join the rest of the white on white landscape, maybe until Spring. And now all that’s left of someone’s plaintive posting for their loved one to come back are two staples and a tear of shredded hope. And I thought about the times I have been spun and hunted and lost. When I didn’t know which direction was Home, or if I even wanted to go there. When the dome of sky and the plate of earth are indiscernible from one another, and you look around you for help or escape and you know not which way is the N on the compass, let alone the road to redemption, you just have to find your way within. I once saw a litter of puppies tumbling down a hill toward the busy road upon which I sped by. There’s was nothing I could do for them, surrounded as I was by semis and fulls – the former, trucks and the latter, idiots. I filed that scene as a short loop that runs in my head and heart for thirty years. I have no idea if the little black bundles of bumptiousness hit road level and found a diverting chain link fence there (I pray so) or if a frightening inevitability ended their lives. I just know that they still live within the Home that is me, just as that cat might live in the lives of its family, or whoever saw its snowy invisibleness now indivisibly rendered in the home within them. Whether we know it or not, there will always be a Home for us, grim, gritty or glorious as it may be, in the memories of others, even strangers. Perhaps someday one of them will remember the shred of me when I passed through their day on the way Home. Theirs or mine, the direction doesn’t really matter. We’re Home.

    1. Such a generous piece, and so contemplative in mood. Now I have the puppies and their unknown fate stuck in my head. Also, this: "Whether we know it or not, there will always be a Home for us, grim, gritty or glorious as it may be, in the memories of others, even strangers."

  7. Lost voices

    Today they banned women’s voices,
    silencing them on the radio waves

    and the world of the silver screen.
    All these disappearing women.

    They’ve already banned mixed-sex ed
    and any males teaching females.

    The advice is to stay in your own home
    because it’s no longer safe on the street.

    How will these women learn to exist
    without voice, identity or presence?


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