Heat

“Compared to war; all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.”George S. Patton

The bone-dry Persian Gulf heat has sweaty index fingers on the fruit of America’s hands slipping across hair triggers mounted on floating space age kill machines set to deliver silent death from the sky over another religious backwater whose people still hack enemy heads off with scimitars over some incomprehensible nonsense that probably never happened in the 12th century. In the aftermath we’ll likely have delivered more Hatfield’s and McCoy’s style vengeance, killed and maimed more innocent Syrians, than the devil of Damascus Assad wrought in the obscene and sadistic heat of his chemical weapons attacks.

Unlike the heated anguish ridden and tormented moans of outrage over collateral damage from drone strikes that kill far less than errant rifle, mortar, cannon or war plane fire; it’s not likely we’ll hear much heated fervor over our morally indecent and disgusting offensive; drowned out by shouts of moral equivalence; cynically justifying our atrocities by claiming it a lesser sin compared with allowing the criminal power to have its way. Our atrocities, in this way, become acts of good, not evil. There’s a lot of heat there and there’s going to be a lot of smoke and we’re also about to cause a lot of fire. The ghoulish, slobbering, soulless arms merchants, whose blood stained profits increase with every heated exploding blast of gunfire, can be heard popping champagne corks all across America. And so it goes.

The heat in my northern Midwestern hacienda is the kind that only wastes the foolish. As Rudyard Kipling opined in his classic poem Gunga Din “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” and that fits here like a hot oven mitt. It’s been close to 100 degrees for a week now with humidity in the high 70’s. I haven’t left the house in three days since just walking out on the porch is to enter an overheated sauna. The spectacle of heat lightning, apparently misnamed, is to have a ringside seat to a strobe light extravaganza that illuminates the sky from midnight to high noon in a shooting star instant that continues for hours on end.

This heat surpasses the thirsty South African bush, the sweltering mountains of Columbia, the monotonous desert of Las Vegas, the arid high desert of California and the parched sand beaches of Miami and even the dead calm middle of the sun scorched Pacific Ocean at the equator; all places I’ve roasted, boiled, cooked and wilted in the intense passion of dead summer.

There is another kind of heat, that emotional heat that turned me to vapor as I burned joyously transported watching Donna leave. The sway of her liquid hips and hot meal of tits and gravy hypnotized and gave rise to warming euphoric ecstaticism that caused the kind of delirium only topped by triple doses of high strength codeine or sailing on an ocean of heated breeze on San Francisco Bay.

Some say we can never repeat the heat of compassionate surges that accompanies the enraptured moments of first love; while some wish we could douse the flames of hell that fry our souls when the wonder of that marvelous miracle phenomenon evaporates. This seems more a masculine experience since men dominate because of physicality and thus have mercy; where women do not. When it’s over for a woman, it’s over. You’re not getting an appeal. Men are left to burn in their skin.

It’s a burn that leaves a blister. Even men who’ve mastered the things that make men loyal and perhaps dangerous; an inability to be bought and the absence of fear of either jail or death, are not immune to the pulverizing loss of love. Often those who walk into a room carrying that rare contagious calmness that all the great ones have; surrounded in an aura of that uncommon weird light, protected by their armor of innocence; when faced with the damage of that particular hot weapon of personal destruction, the loss of a good woman; burn to a crisp .

Men invulnerable to the classic onslaughts of jealousy and betrayal and fear often have one terrible weakness. They have no muscle for loss; their dignities felled by a quasi-religious masochistic flagellation of having loved like a fountain and left with nothing, become incinerated by the heat that conquers their extraordinary anachronistic romanticism. It’s a personal hot war of the heart, first person singular; as deadly and vicious as the collective war we are once again about to embark upon, and when we’re in it, either the euphoria of first love or its demise, all other forms of human endeavor; shrink to insignificance.

It was the heat from our sun that shone on amoeba in primordial ooze, catching fire, causing us to evolve over thousands of years that made us the feeling, compassionate and loving mammals that will save us. It was the heat of oppression those fifty years ago today that caught fire and caused men and women to demand equality.

It’s the heat of scientific progress that discovered steam generated power that now threatens to fry us all asunder as our planet suffers super-heated global warming. Similarly and perhaps ironically, it’s the heat in men’s hearts, striving to survive, that will warm our collective consciousness and chart a path out of that seemingly intractable dilemma.

Blue Moon

“There’s an angel on a ribbon hanging from her armoire door. There’s a cupid with his feet crossed on the bird-cage by the door. There’s a baby angel drummer, his eyes are open wide; and two more tiny cherubs on the mantle side by side.” – Too Many Angels – Jackson Browne

Not so long ago I left my rented loft in the shadow of the freeway and said a long goodbye to the ghost I left there in that perfect writers’ garret and snuck away in the deepening night with the ocean at my back; looking east.

Tonight an ancient breeze carries the smell of the lake and its piney phantom scent seeps through my castle walls that keep me distant and wisely at bay from this supernatural night. The full blue moon cuts through my flickering candle flame carrying the sweetness of life still and alone on dark eyes; an orphan, as the real world recedes and my land of dreams awakes again in silhouettes of the unknown; another facet on heart cut obsidian jet-black volcanic glass formed in the rapid cooling of this dark, warm, narcotic American night.

I got a call from the girl on the half-shell who’d grown weary of the famine in her soul and the feasts of her senses and the nights she’s seen inside her empty prison walls. So I traded in the darkness for the cool of the evening and the power of her sweet tenderness while the Jazz-man moons lunar gravity baring down on me full of grace rises to meet my journey; her glowing disc enticing the tides in both the oceans and me.

We met not more than a moon rise away at the check-out line. Her straw-colored hair and bright baby blues had the love stirring in my soul; she was clean and cool and lovely. We flew straight into the night like a fire in the cavernous darkness at the heart of the beats pounding in the frontier of my chest. A dream of passion that makes the heart scream occurs only rarely; maybe once in a blue moon.

Her face bathing me in light like the warmth of the sun she appears an apparition as she folds in my arms; a memory of sweet childhood dances below the rectory, vapors in my arms she slipped through my fingers like the sand along the shore that scrapes the ground beneath my feet and all too soon she vanished. I turned my back to the empty sea, standing lost in a raging ocean with the sun burning low; looking east.

Some hours later I found a stool at the coffee spot and conversation that’s at a premium here. I looked around to find the girl with the braids smiling wildly from some mystical inner depth. She is a cipher, unknown, mysterious and a bit ill-omened. But man, that smile; it’s gonna be the end of me.

Happy Birthday

“It takes the night to clear all this mess away; the obligation, the burden and the light of day. It takes the night to fall between the world I obey, and a world where I hear angels play”.  – The Night Inside Me – Jackson Browne

Those coveted magical hours asleep have passed me by now. Even though I’ve been twenty three thousand seven hundred and twenty five days alive today, sixty-five winters, sixty-five summers; the merciless sunlight will not grant me safe sanctuary from its garish glare. So I acquiesce, leave our cherished dream world and open my eyes; embracing the many colored beast and wonder. What fresh hell is this?

I woke up in pieces in this cardboard town; conscious and aware for fleeting moments, then disappearing again and again, insentient; struggling to ebb, evaporate, vanish; hanging on to this tender night a while longer. It’s tough to make it in a world stirring when the heart is naked. We just can’t get enough of the night.

The daylight world outside is tugging like a hobo at my sleeve. I hear fragments of music carried down the wind from some distant radio; like listening to your telephone voice whispering echo’s soft and low. While California’s shaking like your fond memories in my brain, you’re the whispering and sighing of my tires in the rain.

I’ll wait for the setting sun; lying incognito under the Milky Way, holding, lingering for night to set me free and receive my birthday gift. The famous Perseid meteor shower that inexplicably peaks on my birthday will award me fifty to one hundred meteors per hour in my treasured midnight-dark sky. I don’t know what to make of that enchanting supernatural happenstance.

 Tracking my memories from that first day to this, that first victory; the winning sperm from Dad’s joyous moment, beating out five hundred million of his others by the whimsical nature of fortune; through all the other victories and defeats, that despite my mad path still finds me mostly winning; yearning for just one more adventure, one more kiss from your perfect fairy-tale lips.

I should have been dead five or six times that I know about, or damaged at the least. Yet now I’m strongest at the broken places, at the top of my game. Maybe this is heaven; the women loved. It’s to those gentle ones my memory runs. Or maybe, more likely, somewhere in-between, a Purgatory, wrapped in a Roman Carnival, with Barkers on the Midway.

 

Addicts

” Your heart sweats, your body aches, another kiss; is what it takes” – Addicted to Love – Robert Palmer Prowling junkies came a’ cruisin’ last night, sifting scented debris, rummaging tipped trash can detritus in the setting sun; their black bear bellies growling with gnawing hunger. The carnage set right as the sun burned through the sky, your angel face fused in billowing cotton candy clouds, an ember glowing in the dawn. Secreting my treasured image, sleepwalking through first light a grateful somnambulist; I give the day away. As dark gathers into the sky wings of light grow dim and die. Purple dusk fades to orange blush revealing dark armies of pointed spruce in the shadows; my mood wistful in these hours when hearts are naked. A little fog drifts over the lake hanging like gauze, mixing with the chimney smoke that ties the roofs to the heavens; a fine smell of burning pine wood fills the crystal air. The light is holy tonight; set free from a candle brought from Chinatown in San Francisco. I astral plane home lying ’round with friends left; chivalrous Knights beautiful and wise; the good they did in thoughts and wild deeds live on, echoing, keeping sneers from lips of sour scholars. Men and women from which came sweetness, joy and philanthropy and in the end mystic sorrow. When I left the talisman was lost. Nomadic transformation, peripatetic metamorphosis from that place to this, my path now marked by twinkling stars in northern hemispheres; walking under stony skies; burning steps ricocheting, reverberating and resonating in this sacred and sublime wilderness. Hard days came and went; some froze in place, some hide in terror, some ran away; some spread their wings and soared like eagles; finding wisdom not to fear shadows in the night; courage when days of danger truly dawn. Unselfish love was our pulse; gifted without a price. The more we practiced it, especially in the face of withering indifference and rejection, the richer and greater we became. I saw your apparition tonight while surfing the carnival; the ghost of the girl kissed on the tilt-a-whirl. The love struck aroma of home-made banana bread baking like the scent from the nape of your neck carries me home. Your wild calls throwing caution to the wind; massaging needle marks from main-lining your memory pounding in my marrow. Till the sky falls down and I dream again and it ends in you and me; how I’ll wish you were here.