Monday, January 11, 2021

The United States of America is a domestic violence situation

The United States of America is a domestic violence situation


A few days ago a rally of Trump supporters became a mob. Trump supporters believed the election was stolen. Trump has taken every legal resource there is to challenge the election and all his challenges were thrown out of court because there was no credible evidence to support even the suspicion of fraud on a scale that would’ve come close to tipping the electoral count.


Trump has always claimed he won the popular vote in 2016. He didn’t. The Republican regime had four years to do voter reform and used the time to gerrymander and suppress votes while hyping the lie that voter fraud was a serious issue. Republican judges, Republican Senate, Republican Executive branch were unable to find evidence of voter fraud. Mitch McConnell stated this on the Senate floor last week.


They did find a great deal of evidence that Russia had interfered with the election, not only by hacking Clinton’s email, but by an intense disinformation attack through social media. It is amazing how easily both Democrats and Republicans fall for fake information weaponized to create discord among Americans. Trump’s political career began with the claim that Obama was not born in the United States. He said he had investigators in Hawaii who would find evidence that Obama was really born in Kenya. This wasn’t true, but there are still people who believe it, and now they believe the 2020 election was stolen from them. There is no evidence, but they believe.


Our family admired Billy Graham. In his later years Billy Graham seemed to embrace a universalist faith and an openness to Muslims, for instance. His son, who took over the family business, is another matter. After 9/11 Franklin found a market niche for preachers of hate against Muslims, as well as intolerance for people who don’t at least pretend to be heterosexual. Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Junior, another preacher’s kid, made a killing selling their Hate Christ to struggling working people whose needs have been neglected by both parties for decades. People whose backs are against the wall, or who think their backs are against the wall, are susceptible to demagogues who manipulate their rage


Donald Trump is the Hate Christ anointed by rightwing televangelists who preached that Trump came to save the unborn and the State of Israel. He promised to make America great again by making the televangelist cult the state religion, by building a wall and putting children in cages and, above all, protecting the Second Amendment, and the profits of gun manufacturers. The preachers had convinced their followers that Democrats would take their guns away. They convinced too many of their armed followers that Democrats are a satanic army that will enslave them.


A few days ago, the rally to support Trump, became a call to combat the alleged theft of the American election. Trump and Rudy Ghouliani claimed this theft was happening inside the Capitol at that moment, when Congress was diligently following Constitutional guidelines for the transference of power to a new administration.


Donald Trump incited an insurrection with a massive disinformation campaign through social media and TV exposure on all networks. He created a political movement out of internet rumors. A significant part of America has been neglected by our government and cheated by our economic system. Trump said he was listening to them and he would help them and he would make America great again and would give them something to take pride in. He told his followers that their real enemy was in the Capitol destroying their last hope. No wonder they broke down the doors. Donald Trump planned and incited an insurrection.


I know that many people still believe Trump and still believe an armed revolution is inevitable. These people are armed to protect their families and to prevent tyranny and to kill Americans they don’t like. Some of them talk about a civil war


I don’t know how many people in the military or in police departments, or who are just heavily armed civilians, believe they have to fight a civil war right now, but January 6, 2021 was a demonstration of their fury and of the insanity of the Trump movement.


Right now we all need to study and practice nonviolent conflict resolution and treat this national emergency as a domestic violence situation. These national conflicts manifest themselves as domestic conflict. And there are weapons in the house. We need everyone to put their guns down.


We need to be able to trust our brothers and sisters.


The United States of America is a domestic violence situation and it always has been. We need to come to terms with ourselves and we need to pray for ourselves, pray to whatever is within your soul as your transcendent source or reference point, and face your self. 

I need to face my self. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Telephone

 


Emptiness of emptiness, Qoheleth says. Emptiness of emptiness! All is emptiness. All return to their long home, and the mourners will have their parade in the street. The silver cord snaps, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to earth as it was, and the breath returns to the Creator. Emptiness of emptiness, says Qoheleth, all is emptiness.


The god you imagined you need to please is no more than a particle of dander adrift in unlimited space. Emptiness is form, form is emptiness, blessed is the name of the Lord. 


I try to talk to my soul doctor about my soul sickness, but can’t quite describe the troubled state of my mind. Later, after our WhatsApp therapy session I remember it is time for my annual MRI to check in on the tumor that lives in my inner ear, ringing in my ear, like the telephone of Doom. I don’t want to answer it. I mean I don’t want to worry about it. I don’t want it to be a problem. I want it to disappear on its own, like magic. But I have to make the phone call and make the appointment.


The thing is a tumor that has occupied the inner canal of my left ear, near the auditory nerve. It is not cancer, but if it grows it can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear, loss of balance, dizziness, facial numbness or paralysis, and if it grows big enough to press against the brainstem it can prevent the cerebrospinal fluid from flowing between brain and spinal cord, the golden bowl and the silver cord. The fluid could build up in my head (hydrocephalus)  increase pressure in my skull, and threaten my life.


Why worry? It’s all in my head! If they need to they can cut into my skull and remove it. No, it’s not like getting a tooth pulled, it is brain surgery, but a hospital website assures me that “improvements in imaging technologies and skull-base surgical techniques have made surgery for acoustic neuromas safer and more effective than ever before.” So, every year, near Thanksgiving, I get an MRI to see if the thing is growing. Between scans I have a whole year to put the thing in my head out of my mind. But now it rings, the telephone of Doom. Pick it up.


I try to imagine soul lightning shooting up the stairs of my backbone, out the crown of my head, showering me with light, and radiating a rainbow nimbus in the emptiness, a blessing. 

Pick up the phone.


Hello?

Gone, gone, gone

 


The famous flamboyant combover still wraps the skull of the corpse that somehow still stands at the center of this dismal farce, brain and heart both dead, yet the mouth moves and noises spray out that sound like words but are not words.


"How does it still stand?" "What do the noises mean?" reporters ask experts who recite ancient fables and the latest magic numbers and the rest of us watch from our sofas until our souls drown in puke.


Where’s the playground, Donald?

Is that where you’d rather hang around?

Not buried in the ground:

Here lies a class clown.

Rust In Pieces


You were a bully and a class clown and learned nothing in school but that you can get away with it all.

Torturing the disabled and mocking the poor and uncool and nerds who got good grades — what the fuck do they know? — grabbing the girls and exposing yourself.

You got away with it all.


Your first big business deal was when you sold your soul to a Mephistopheles for morons, for natural bullshitters like you, for fascist idiots like you, who taught you the art of perpetual litigation, obstruction of justice, laundering money, conning the rubes, and getting away with it all.

 

What the fuck do scientists know?

This is Your Reality Show. 

If you don't count all the Covid deaths it doesn't look so bad, and if you don't count all the votes you are a winner


I am serving you an eviction notice. I’m canceling your culture. You are no longer to live rent free in my brain and you need to vacate these sacred premises. You foul the air with your virus and gas.


If it were only that easy, ignore him and he’ll go away and I can be serene, but he holds my attention like an unending car alarm at 4 AM. I don’t want to let it keep me awake. I don’t want to let him keep me awake. I want the end of this assault on consciousness. I want to go back to sleep, back like we were in 2015, asleep.


This will not be over when it's over, I said.


AP called the election for Biden, but I knew because of the cheering outside. It sounded like the World Cup celebrations but I knew it meant Biden won, and I knew it wasn’t over, and i didn’t get out of bed to go dance in the street. 

Outside it was like the liberation of Paris but I stayed inside and watched From Russia With Love, starring Lotte Lenya.


Unless you talk to normal, sensible, people, you would lose all hope in human evolution, to the extent that it is in our hands or heads. It is hard to not hear the anti-reality crowd claim the need to heavily arm themselves to fight the Stalinist Biden and the ISIS Bolsheviks in the Democrat Party who have manufactured tens of thousands of fake ballots and stolen the election, just like we knew they would.


Is this what I need to be thinking about now? The surge of fascism in the States of America? Can’t I go back to sleep?

I just open up an IPA  and watch Thunderball until sleep takes me away — gone gone gone to the other shore. Amen.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

ofrenda



I’m reading a book that is disintegrating in my hands. Pieces of the pages break off because the book is an old Bantam paperback and I am trying to finish it before it crumbles into unreadable dust. I am not offering this as a metaphor. This is simply a slightly exaggerated description of something I did this morning before I made my oatmeal.


I read this old Chinese poem in the book:

“We eat, excrete, sleep and get up;

This is our world.

All we have to do after that —

is to die.”


A hungry ghost is shaped like a tear drop, they say.

Its neck is as slender as a needle, 

and its mouth as small as a needle’s eye,

and its stomach is as big as a mountain.

Damned this way by desire, greed, anger, and ignorance. Generating violence, and suffering, and unforgiven debt. 

Driven by the fierce winds of karma to searching for tiny pieces of food in sewage and garbage dumps on the outskirts of town.


Stop chasing phantoms, phantasms, and phantasy, and just sit down and be quiet and do nothing. Can you do that? Can you do nothing? Do you know how?

These demons and angels and ghosts and monsters are generated by your brain, so settle down and get sane.


It is 1221 palindromic time and I burned some medicinal herb, full disclosure, and I’m ascending with John Coltrane’s Sunship. I’m sitting at the window to the center of the world. I thought it was misty but I’m told it is raining and then I see the dust-like water particles blowing about. Watching the actions of the wind in rain and trees and inside air currents twist the smoke as it ascends to the ceiling and amid vibrations from long ago, ancient sounds in the sounds encoded in the CD, and carried by the air, carried from dead musicians, transmitted from the next world to me, carrying the Sunship to me.


It will rain tomorrow, they say, and it will be clear on Saturday and the moon will be full and it will be Halloween and Dia de los Muertos and we are building an ofrenda in front of the church and bringing offerings for those we lost this year, or somehow remembering them, honoring them, trying to pay our debts to them, but debts are only hungry ghosts generated by our brains, like an old horror movie. I look forward to the great spirit blowing the clouds away for Allhallowtide and the Moon giving her blessing, and we need to find a good mole connection.


Come live with me and share my pod and we can breathe together.

Conspire with me, go inside with me, come close, unmask, and kiss

We can perform alchemical rituals of bliss, 

blissed out, mixed up, entangled, interconnected —

and mutually infected?

We better get tested.


They say it’s only quarantine-age love,

but our love comes from God,

come live with me and share my pod.






Friday, October 23, 2020

Gary Luckey




Prompted by my bladder, I get out of bed around 4 am, and turn on the coffeemaker and head for the plumbing. Then I look out the kitchen window hoping to see Venus at the moment it rises above the rooftops, but I’m always too early or too late, and now it is too cloudy. I go into the dark studio with my mug of coffee and light the candle and sit on the sofa and look at my phone.


A message from my sister was sent at 10:35 pm:


Gary went to Heaven a few minutes ago. He loved you dearly.


It almost seems I was always conscious of Gary but I had already accomplished more than two years of infancy when he appeared at our church and our home. We were new arrivals to Florida and my earliest dim memories come from Midway, Kentucky, and Jamestown, New York. Lake Park was a small town. My father preached at a Southern Baptist Church on Park Avenue and Gary’s parents ran Luckey’s Grocery, also on Park Avenue, and near the railroad track. Gary worked in back as the butcher. I remember the grocery being a general store that sold feed in printed bags that country women made clothes from and I remember the smell of the butchery and the bloody sawdust on the floor and strips of fly paper the men hanging out smoking cigarettes and talking and arguing and a baseball game on the radio. The Luckeys, James and Lela and their sons Glynn and Gary attended our church and sang the hymns.


Until the 1970s Gary had greased back black hair. I believe he was named after Gary Cooper but he  looked more like Montgomery Clift, maybe, but not moody, and Betty was kind of Liz Taylor, but more Scandinavian. He and my sister were in love and they were a very good-looking couple. I was a little blonde kid. Gary said I would walk up and down the aisle at church, stop at each pew, and stare at the worshippers sitting there. When I was that age he rescued me after I was abducted by two teenage boys. They stripped off my pants. One of them said, “Here comes his brother” and they put me in a garbage can. Gary lifted me out and found my pants. I couldn’t describe the boys, I only remembered that they thought Gary was my brother. Gary isn’t my brother, I thought, he is Glynn’s brother. I am Betty’s brother.


When I was 2, Betty was 13, Gary was 17. Now I’m 66, Betty is 77, and Gary was 80. 


On his 80th birthday, Gary had symptoms of Covid and was waiting for test results. The next day he was hospitalized and eventually put on a ventilator. He was in the hospital four weeks and died October 15.


This is from the obituary:


He was born on September 20, 1940 in Ft. Myers, FL to the late James Franklin and Lela Stewart Luckey. Gary graduated from Palm Beach High School, and Palm Beach Junior  College. He was a member of the renowned Palm Beach High School choir. Gary was a quality control technician for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft near West Palm Beach for 38 years until his retirement in 2000. He owned and managed two restaurants at Brighton Seminole Indian Reservation called The Wind Mill Cafe and Alice's Restaurant. Gary was an avid hunter, fisherman and fourth generation Florida Cattleman. He was a member of Notla Baptist Church and loved signing in the choir. 


***

The first generation of Luckeys to migrate to Florida from North or South Carolina after the Civil War rounded up scrub cattle, feral cattle that inhabited the Florida wilderness. Gary was a cowboy, but had a regular job at Pratt Whitney. I helped him for a brief time in my early teens, feeding and herding and mending barbed wire fences and it was fun to play cowboy. I became a fan of cartoonist Ace Reid, who drew “Cow Pokes” on calendars sold in feed stores. I imitated Reid’s style, drawing lean slouching cowboys who evolved, in a couple of years, into drawings of hippies, and I also evolved into a hippie.


I’ve been trying to think of what to say about him for the past week. I finally talked to his son, my nephew, a couple of days ago. His name wasn’t in my cell phone and then I texted his ex-wife by mistake and then I called and left voicemail and then he called back from a tree stand in Missouri. I’m not sure what a tree stand is except that it is where hunters station themselves. It made sense to me Tifton would go hunting. Tifton is a lot like Gary. I told him I didn’t have anything to say and I wanted to say something.


Gary was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. Lori called him a raconteur. He was at home in wild Florida and knew the name of every plant and bird. He introduced me to the semiotics of tracking deer. His family ate what he killed — deer, hogs, rabbits, fish, gator tail. He cooked the best steak I ever had on a fire in a hunting camp. Sometimes, when he had a hankering for swamp cabbage, he would cut down a cabbage palm and chop it up with an ax to extract the heart. He also took me fishing when I was a kid, usually west of Palm Beach County, deep in the woods. One night, on an impulse, he bought a couple of rod and reels and took me snook fishing at the Jupiter Inlet near the lighthouse. He pointed out the phosphorescence in the water caused by plankton, but I don’t remember if we caught anything. Stuff like that. 


He impressed Lori when we were watching an alligator swimming in Fish-eating Creek toward the opposite shore. “Try calling him,” Betty said, and Gary made a sound in his throat. The alligator made a hairpin turn and headed toward us. Fortunately we were sitting in a pickup truck.


Some time ago, Gary read Abraham Heschel, the rabbi activist and author of God In Search of Man and The Prophets, and for a while was interested in converting to Judaism. When I last visited Betty and Gary they were attending a Baptist church on the Seminole reservation and she played piano there. His love for the prophets never left him and his favorite Bible verse was from the prophet Micah — “what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”


I took refuge at Betty and Gary’s place during a personal crisis once and went to church with them. The pastor had all the men in the congregation line up in a row, all these men from the tribe, and Gary and me, and we sang a hymn we knew since our old church in Lake Park —


“He hideth my soul in the cleft of a rock, that shadows a dry, thirsty land.

He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with his hand”.


One of the first memories that came to me when I heard he was gone

was of following him through a swamp at night. The water was halfway to our knees and I had on sneakers and he was barefoot, and I was staying in his foot steps, confident the water moccasins were getting out of the way of Gary Luckey.




Saturday, October 03, 2020

the Chip Swan file




The other morning one of my neighbors texts me to say there is a big white envelope for me downstairs. I put on a mask and pick up a plastic grocery bag with the remains of three turkey legs from last night. I will get the envelope, go out, throw the bag in a dumpster and take the big white envelope upstairs. 

Is it the absentee ballot? I got on the elevator and the elevator goes down and the elevator door opens and I walk out and see the big white envelope and se the address and name of the sender.

Frank Eberling.


My high school writing teacher had messaged me often for over a decade asking for my address because he found my file, the CHIP SWAN file, and wanted to mail it to me. Each time, I sent him my address and kept watch on the mailbox and the shelves in the lobby -- and nada.

Now it is here, all the stories and poems I wrote for his Creative Writing in senior year, Class of 72, Palm Beach Gardens High School. Go Gators.

I grab the envelope and grab the elevator and get back to the sixth floor and on my way to my door realize I am still carrying the bag of dead turkey.

Frank wasn’t long out of college when he started teaching at the new high school. Frank had longish hair that tested the limits of the dress code. I was in ninth grade, and it was 1968. Nixon was running for President. He had a secret peace plan and would bring law and order. Everything seemed to be falling apart. The Democratic Convention was held in the middle of a police riot. In certain ways the time could be described so it sounds like the present, but in significant ways it was different.

The My Lai massacre occurred on my sister’s 25th birthday in March 1968, when I was in junior high, but the public didn’t know about it until November in 1969, when I was in tenth grade at PBGHS. That season rock festival was held at the race track with the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, etc. I couldn’t go, but Frank went.

Anyway, I wasn’t politically aware until near the end of tenth grade. Until then I watched Huntley and Brinkley with Mom and Dad during dinner. I knew enough current events to keep up with Johnny Carson’s monologues. In ninth grade Civics class we were supposed to give a presentation on the candidates and mine was about political cartoons. I drew all the time in class and didn’t pay attention or take notes. I drew cartoons and psychedelic album art inspired doodles that the faculty hated, including my art teachers, but my friends liked. I read many books, but most of them were not assigned reading. So I wasn’t a good student, but I was nerdy and hung up and stunned by the beauty of girls.

I was in tenth grade when Kent State happened, and then I became a radical almost overnight. In eleventh grade I got into an argument about Kent State with my art teacher. I called him a fascist. I got into trouble with my History teacher when I refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. I was not a good student, as I said, but Frank Eberling was my English teacher for a semester and I liked him, and I liked what he assigned us to read, but they switched teachers on us and I’m afraid I was a jerk to his replacement. 


I signed up for his Creative Writing class in twelfth grade

By then, Frank’s hairstyle was a variation on that of Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid, and my hair was hanging below my shoulders. I didn’t smoke pot or drink or use drugs and I was friends with Jesus freaks and I also hung out with the hippies who knew me as someone who didn’t use drugs but could be funny. 

One of the stories in the folder is about hitchhiking to the beach with one of those friends. I tried to write about the strange time when some of our friends joined a church-sponsored Jesus movement, were baptized in the ocean, and straightened up. I didn’t know what to say about it and the story was unresolved. I wrote second story that included a memory of a hunting camp I had been in a couple of years earlier. The description of the rowdy camp and the hunters as an army invading nature isn’t bad. The story was about my growing awareness that I didn’t really want to be a hunter.

A book report on Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is in the folder. I liked the anti-war message, but I didn’t know what to think about the Sci Fi fantasy/ hallucination episodes. I thought they took away from the message (now I think of the parts about being “unstuck in time” as being about PTSD). 

I already had copies of the short stories, so the real gem in the folder is something I didn’t have, an assignment to write a dialogue based on a newspaper story. I remembered writing a dialogue with two people arguing about the Vietnam War. They were saying the same things I often heard people say about the Domino Theory and that we were fighting the communists there so we won’t have to fight them here. I remembered that the process of writing the dialogue forced me to think the opposing views and that it clarified my thinking about the war. What I’d forgotten was the part the dialogue that was taken from the newspaper. The men are in a helicopter, talking about the war, and they see many dead bodies below, civilians, villagers who they believe were slaughtered by the communists until they see American soldiers shooting children and women and old people. The article was about witnesses to the My Lai massacre who testified at the court martial trial that took place in 1971, in my senior year.

When I decided to drop out of school Frank called me. He already knew why I was leaving. I had explained it all in a monologue I wrote for his class. I thought the country had gone insane and I thought school was a brainwashing factory, processing me to join the insane society. School was getting in the way of my education, I wrote.

Frank wanted to drop out too, and he did a couple of years later by changing careers. He shot video essays for a local TV station and eventually directed independent films. Still a cool guy. He met John D MacDonald for a piece he was shooting and it had an effect on him, and he started writing Travis Magee - influenced novels set in West Palm Beach. You can buy them on Amazon.

The CHIP SWAN folder is full of clues to the strange student I was and who this cool teacher encouraged. Thanks, Frank

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Trumpeter



My father, Reverend Sherman W. “Trumpeter” Swan, died twelve years ago, July 9, 2018. I felt we hadn’t finished an important conversation we were having. When my niece called and told me the news I fell into a big emptiness.

I last saw you in March of that year at a rehab center in Sebring, Florida, where you were recovering from hip replacement surgery and dying of cancer.

You shouldn’t be out when it’s like this, you said.

When it’s like what?

It is very dangerous out there. I heard someone in the next room saying, maybe it was on TV, terrible things are happening outside.

No, I was outside and everything is normal. And I wanted to see you again before we leave.

You were in the hospital bed, passing in and out of consciousness and in and out of coherence. You didn’t know if you were hallucinating or dreaming. Your roommate told me that the morphine had this effect on you, talking out of your head like this, and fearful.

I thought your visions of tribulation were projections of some spiritual conflict you were undergoing as you approached death. Your confusions and delusions drew from your apocalyptic orientation. Tribulation in the last days. Heaven and Earth will pass away and Jesus will return and take the throne. Some of us may be taken up before then, in the Rapture.

I told you that the drugs they had given you were causing you to hallucinate and that these things you were talking about were creations of your nervous system and projections of your fears, like bad dreams.

How could I have helped you with your fear? How can I reassure you about death without lying but without you dying afraid of my unbelief. How can I believe what you want me to believe? How can I show you I love you?

I didn’t know what to say to you. What did you want me to believe? What did it mean or matter?  We prayed together and I gave you a back rub. I could do that.

My father and I would often talk about the Bible. We could talk from our shared love of scripture, if not always a shared experience or understanding. My way of reading scripture comes from literature and philosophy. You and Mom read scripture every day and prayed often and tried to live righteous biblical lives. 

God is love and we are to love God and to love one another and to love our neighbor and this is how you tried to live.

Both of you believed that holy scripture is absolutely true in every sense. What the Bible says happened really happened and what the Bible says will happen will really happen and now I am thinking about how to talk to you about what the Bible says about death and resurrection and what do I really think about that?

I thought you would die any moment and this was a holy time, so we prayed and I read scripture to you.

Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, chapter 12:

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows.  And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.

I tell you my opinion that the mystical experience Paul described was an altered state of consciousness. He is being taken up, in or out of the body, maybe a dream body, like in Tibetan dream yoga, a spirit body, taken up into the third heaven where he heard things he is unable to put into words, but he is transformed by whatever happened to him. I think Paul’s revolutionary mysticism began with an episode like this in which he believed he encountered the resurrected Jesus, called Messiah.

I read 2 Corinthians, chapter 15. I always read that at funerals, you said.

Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

My idea was that when Paul was caught up into Paradise he was “raptured” — he had an ecstatic experience — a state of unitive consciousness that eludes the nets of language and logic, into the Infinite, and beyond life and death.

Have you ever had such an experience? you asked.

Twelve years later, I still work on my reply.


Friday, July 03, 2020

elephant



Lori quoted Dr. Seuss sometimes:

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”


I can see her saying it and hear her.

This is a message from her.

She is stating that she tells the truth and the truth is that the virtue of faithfulness exists, that faithfulness can be found and is possible and is good.


I am not having a seance.

I am sitting in the dark and gazing into an electronic screen, not a crystal ball, and reading messages from my memory, not from The Other Side.


I don’t remember how many times Lori said the Seuss quote, but more than once, and I can’t recall what the context was, even once, but I know how she looked and how she sounded when she said it and I can see her saying it and hear her.


It is the kind of recollection that sneaks up on me and makes me cry.


This crying would happen in what I call seizures of grief. Grief seizures that belong to the shock of the loss and remind me of my loss and scare me. I read C.S. Lewis’ book about his grief and he said it is much like fear and I thought, no, grief IS fear, isn’t it?

We fear that which would make us grieve.

We fear the loss of our well being and the loss of what we treasure and we fear pain and the grief seizures are painful. What is called the grief process is a period of great pain that unsettles us with the loss of our world and with the reality of death as an Absolute condition of life and conclusion of life.


I recall Lori looking me in the eyes with her sincerity and saying it with her profound inner child:

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.”


As if, How dare I even question her sincerity?

The faithfulness of the elephant is an Absolute.


Yeah, it made me cry, but the pain has changed, because the memory is a joy, and the message is true. The message that we loved, that love exists, love can be found and is good.


The message that the truth of our love is Absolute.


So of course I cry for the loss of love but — this is going to sound wrong — but, the Absoluteness of love maybe narcotizes the pain away — with joy?


Yesterday there was a sudden cloudburst that drenched the city in an instant. Did you get caught in that? — people asked for the rest of the day — or told a story about being caught in it — it was a super-soaker of a storm and I heard there was a rainbow. 


I am inside when that storm hits. I quickly shut the windows before too much water comes in and see how, despite the rain, bright it is outside. 

White midsummer sun shines through the clear curtains of water like through glass.


And I thought I could use that to describe what it’s now like when I cry.