Six hours into the surprise visit, he lumbers on.
My brain unsnaps from its moorings
and drifts like a drunken dirigble
into the torrent of everything I've seen,
smelled, eaten, licked, drunk,
smoked, touched, read, watched, and heard.
It's like he's been talking weeks now
and I remember Nikita Kruschev
on the television at the UN, flashing
those bad teeth and that goofy smile,
pounding those oxfords alive.
I try but I can't quite hear him;
I hear my friend narrating himself.
I remember today is Renoir's 164th birthday
and I don't even like his painting,
but, hey, at least he threw in some nudes.
He looking at me! What did I miss?
He looks for a yes and keeps talking.
"Yeah," I say, "right. . .yeah." I think about
Motherwell's Reconciliation Elegy
and how he charged around the studio,
rolling vast turgid highways
of black oil over acres of canvas.
I think about Alice Neel
painting all those people
and what they thought
when they saw the final product
or what people thought when they saw
the first Cubist or Dada paintings.
My friend looks for a show of interest.
Yes! By all means, encourage him.
I cock an eyebrow. He revs back up
and I think about my favorite color,
that mid-palette blue...a blue bisque,
the color of my grandma's cameo brooch...
vibrantly subtle...is that possible?...
yes, it's the color of Della Robbia's Florentine ceramics.
He goes on about old times, about how it was then,
way way way back when when when
when we were all back where, back when, doing what
with, for, and to whom. My brains coughs up chimes,
resonations, cross-references, cerebral links,
odors, tinkles, cues, and subtle whiffs of distractions.
I hear Charlie Parker play Carvin' the Bird
somewhere in my head and it segues into
Black Throated Wind and lurches into
Foggy Mountain Breakdown. He jumps
from childhood to yesterday, in between, and back.
I think of my
gal and my pal Keelin Curran and Jan Newberry.
I think about
we built in
Brooklyn and Manhattan and how often
one of them--Mel, Keelin, Jannah, Nick, Kevin, Jan, Miya,
Cheryl, Pinky, Fuzzy, Dot, 'Moto, and all our side friends--
memory like blazing comets, like right now.
keeps sensing me drifting and dreaming but
I nod and wink and pick up the reverie, falling, falling
back, back, back to the night my daughter was born.
It was as quiet as a painting in Berkeley,
driving at three a.m. on Telegraph Avenue
toward Oakland, to the delivery room.
I saw a new moon hung on our old sky.
We watched the monitor and waited.
When her robber-stockinged face came down,
one bleat to the rafters started us all breathing again.
He's buzzing in my left ear
and the rhythms say I am safe.
I think about dreams--not drifting
like this, but real R.E.M. dreams:
I don't know which is better,
to dream it or see it,
to see it right now,
or to have seen it.
I don't know which is better,
the memory or the thing itself.
The memory can be repeated forever
but loses fidelity like an old record
and the fictions your mind confects
start filling in the gaps
until the memory becomes a framework
for what we wanted to be, or what should have been.
He nudges me, waiting for a yes, the go-ahead sign.
Yeah baby, take it on home. I think about Casey Stengel.
He suspects I am drifting over the hills and far away.
I nod "um." It is the sun's birthday
and where did the crows go? When he jumps to El Toro,
my mind starts sleepwalking from Boot Camp.
I wonder if I will ever get to Palestine,
or if there will ever be another Palestine,
or if I will get back to Seville or Tetuan,
Chora Sfokion or Brooklyn, Heraklion or Hoboken,
Vinaroz or the Delaware Water Gap, if I will ever see
Leningrad or Katmandu, and I wonder
if I would want to see Calcutta, Johannesburg,
Bhopal, Cleveland, Camden, or Port-au-Prince?
I don't know which is easier:
to listen or pretend to listen?
I think about bottles of beer
chilling in a tub of cracked ice.
Sexy rivulets of water fall down bottles
glistening in the hot sun.
Even my nose is tired.
Should I pee, or hold it?
Should I hold it and focus
on the distraction?
What did Gertrude Stein mean
when she wrote about those
"Pigeons In The Grass, Alas?"
Was it the pigeons or the grass
or the pigeons and the grass aggregated?
I want to bang my head on the wall
to dull the pain between my ears,
and he's warming up for the stretch.
A pipe doesn't slow him down and the wine
just keeps his throat supple, his voice nimble,
and the memories and word torrent flowing.
He talks about the Marines
and six years marching, marching marching
on the parade ground erect and spitshined,
marching, saluting, dreaming, marching, yes-sir-ing.
I remember Nick Gattuccio's name
means Sicilian Dogfish and the time we drained
a demi-john of Chianti in Florence.
He tells me twenty things I don't want to know
and ten I'm indifferent about for every one I do.
He remembers where he left off
and murmurs a bridge to the next installment.
I think about the firefall of light
I saw today Pouring from a rising skyscraper.
The welder is a star thrower,
constellations of pale yellow sparks
from a heaven of beams and girders
with wire and pipe.
Those sparks are like his words,
down iron bars
To disappear like fugitives
By Jack Brummet, Out There Ed. A High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the International Space Station was launched on April 30, 2014.
"The wide-angle lens shows a huge swath of country that stretches from Portland, Oregon (right) to Phoenix, Arizona (left). The largest string of lights is the Ogden-Salt Lake City-Provo area (lower center) in Utah. The Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan regions, and the cities of the central valley of California (Bakersfield to Redding) stretch across the horizon. The green airglow layer always appears in night images." "This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. Video from these cameras is transmitted back to earth and also streamed live on this channel. While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence though the different cameras. Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. Since the ISS is in darkness during part of each orbit, the images will be dark at those times. During periods of loss of signal with the ground or when HDEV is not operating, a gray color slate or previously recorded video may be seen. " To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit here. For a display of the real time ISS location plus the HDEV imagery, visit here.
Here is our monthly roundup of celebrities and just plain folk extending their middle fingers. As usual, these images were submitted by readers; we added in a handful we found along the way in various corners of the Internet.
By Jack Brummet, Lifestyles of the rich and famous Ed.
In the summer of 1799, laughing gas, a/k/a nitrous oxide, became a huge fad among the dapper classes. Humphry Davy—who would later become President of the Royal Society—embarked upon a series of self experiments with the gas. Davy had been involved in the arts earlier, and was a respected poet, and also painted. Soon, the nitrous oxide trials began on a circle of doctors and patients, chemists, playwrights, surgeons and poets. They experimented on themselves and each other.
Davy would later become addicted to laughing gas. But he wasn't just a complete stoner. . he was also the scientist who discovered and isolated potassium and sodium. Davy's self experiments as reported in The Public Domain Review: "In the centre of the laboratory, Davy had set up a chemical reaction: nitrate of ammoniac bubbled in a heated retort, and the escaping gas was being collected in a hydraulic bellows before seeping through water into a reservoir tank from which the sealed box was filled. After an hour and a quarter, by which time he estimated that his system was fully saturated, Davy stepped out of the box and proceeded to inhale a further twenty quarts of the gas from a series of oiled green silk bags.
"While seated in the box breathing deeply, Davy had felt the effects that had become familiar from his many previous experiments since he had first inhaled the gas earlier that year. The first signature was its curiously benign sweet taste, followed by a gentle pressure in the head as he continued to inhale. Within thirty seconds the sensation of soft, probing pressure had extended to his chest, and the tips of his fingers and toes. This was accompanied by a vibrant burst of pleasure, and a gradual change in the world around him. Objects became brighter and clearer, and the space in the cramped box seemed to expand and take on unfamiliar dimensions.
"Now, under the influence of the largest dose of nitrous oxide anyone had ever taken, these effects were intensified to levels he could not have imagined. His hearing became fantastically acute, allowing him to distinguish every sound in the room and seemingly from far beyond: a vast and distant hum, perhaps the vibration of the universe itself. In his field of vision, the objects around him were teasing themselves apart into shining packets of light and energy. He was rising effortlessly into new worlds whose existence he had never suspected. Somehow, the whole experience was irresistibly funny: he had ‘a great disposition to laugh’, as all his senses competed to exercise their new-found freedom to its limit. "Now the gas took Davy to a dimension he had not previously visited. Objects became dazzling in their intensity, sounds were amplified into a cacophony that echoed through infinite space, the thrillings in his limbs seemed to effervesce and overflow; and then, suddenly, he ‘lost all connection with external things’, and entered a self-enveloping realm of the senses. Words, images and ideas jumbled together ‘in such a manner, as to produce perceptions totally novel’: he was no longer in the laboratory, but ‘in a world of newly connected and modified ideas’, where he could theorise without limits and make new discoveries at will.
"After an eternity he was brought back to earth by the sensation of Dr. Kinglake removing the breathing-tube from his mouth; the outside world seeped back into his ‘semi-delirious trance’ and, as the energy returned to his limbs, he began to pace around the room. Yet a part of him was still present in the dimension of mind that had swallowed him whole, and he struggled for the words to capture it. He ‘stalked majestically’ towards Kinglake ‘with the most intense and prophetic manner’, and attempted to shape the insight that had possessed him. ‘Nothing exists but thoughts!’, he blurted. ‘The world is composed of impressions, ideas, pleasures and pains!’ -
"In the early summer of 1799 the nitrous oxide trials began in earnest. In the evenings, after the Pneumatic Institution had closed, the nitrate of ammoniac reaction would begin to bubble in its upstairs drawing room as Davy and Beddoes’ circle – doctors and patients, chemists, playwrights, surgeons and poets – experimented on themselves and each other. Davy was master of ceremonies and also, by his own account, inhaling the gas himself three or four times a day. The laboratory became a philosophical theatre in which the boundaries between experimenter and subject, spectator and performer were blurred to fascinating effect, and the experiment took on a life of its own."