Crossing the Rubicon

Crossing the Rubicon

Whatever moral ascendancy

the Presidency once held was lost today.

The 2/3 of white men

and 54% of white women

who voted this charlatan in;

must now allow reason to overrule passion

and admit that this is cancer –

and vow to neither cringe or retreat

until we the people excise its poison.


Pisces Rising

Nick Masesso, Jr.

“Fix your hair just right; put your jeans on tight, or wear a dress, so I can get it off real easy. Cause I’ve been thinking I’d,  like to see your eyes; open up real wide the minute that you see me.” Up All Night – Counting Crows

dress held up

Angelica sat in front of her dressing table mirror with her hair brushes, lotions and perfumes. She took down her hair. Looking over her shoulder she sensed the falling darkness in the hall as Angel swallowed the light on the stairs and listened as his familiar steps approached;

Angelica and Angel slept unaware until the sound of the milkman’s bottles clinking together on their stoop stirred Angel. Awaking he threw an arm over her soft breasts and tussled with the tangled bedclothes, a single muslin sheet that covered them, until he was pressing his muscled body fully against her, tightly; as if he were…

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 “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four” – The Beatles

The phenomenon that has more people born in August than any other month, while more die in January, interests me for the common fact that I was an August baby. The former factoid owes its existence to the proud results of a joyous Christmas season, while the later has more to do with the deadly flu season. Applying a result for it and a finer point to it; today is my birthday.  

As another happy birthday grin greets my morning mirror I pause to ponder the realization that this blessed event seems to circle round more quickly with each increasingly shorter year. I generally spend weeks celebrating this touchstone since it’s just short of miraculous for a whole host of reasons. Far from doing differently this year I am adding to the festivities surrounding this concurrent with another constant, occurring simultaneously, a perennial vagabond surrender to the magnetic pull of the road rolling out and back in again like an ocean wave caressing the beach of my life. I’m pulling up stakes in my beloved California and heading home to the frozen tundra of Wisconsin to be a Packer cheese-head fan and, grandiose and ambitious as it sounds; a country gentleman.

These dual events give rise to obligatory ceremonies of bon voyage; both to the reminisced chronology of the many victories, defeats and glories of these past years and the soul connections of old friends left and to the hello’s of new imagined vistas with ancient undertow. I’ve logged five celebrations thus far, each with a single special person, each pouring more alcohol through me than I usually down in a year. Since these Salons have me awakening woozy at the crack of noon, I’m waiting until I get past them before planning the check list that accompanies relocating, mundane tasks that escort leaving a routine worn deep these thirty-four years. 

Once we get past 20,000 days alive we’re bound to be polled on our acquired sage wisdom; posited in questions mostly having to do with what has been learned; variations of the same query: What’s the one nugget of knowledge I have stored in the vault I’m willing to impart? What mantra can the petitioner add to their daily meditation?  It’s hard to resist that fifteen seconds of fame when all lean in to gauge your response to this question and since I’m known for engaging in a juicy pontificating, even when not asked, I’ll have at it.

What I’ve learned, which isn’t far off from what I always wanted and mostly got, is knowing that the best revenge is to be happy and have fun. Since this punch line often lands with a thud I’ll reach for something more profound and add a warning that may please no one. Despite what religion, politics, consumerism and what we felt when first meeting that last great love would have us believe and strive for; there is no perfect happiness. As Charlie Ponzo, my great friend and barber for twenty years till’ I decided to go full Monty and shave it all off, rapped about our past, present and future for the better part of two and a half hours, the notion emerged; perfect happiness is just a place we visit.

By pure luck and marrying wisely he’d just returned from a vacation at the Ritz Carleton in Paris, widely considered the finest hotel in the world. It wasn’t the $300.00 bottle of champagne that greeted him and his wife in their ninth floor suite (the tenth floor is reserved for royalty and celebrities) or the view of the Eiffel Tower out his balcony perch, or the orgasmic dining or the topless nubile nymphs on the beach overshadowed by hundred million dollar yachts that dotted the harbor at St. Tropez that made the trip and the story special. It was that a kid from the projects had landed in that place after having come from just plain Oakland.

Even when we experience what appears bad or evil or wrong; things like poverty and ignorance and violence, we know without them we wouldn’t have a steerage mechanism to good and loving and right. It’s not perfection, which we can experience in moments, but the balance of knowing, based on opposite experiences, just how grand a thing can be, while those born into the luxury Charlie was passing through will never get as high; since for them it just another day in paradise.

There is no perfect happiness, no pot of gold at the end of some imagined ultimate rainbow. We can only get as high as we’ve been low. In this somewhat crazy round about alternative universe it’s the good times that make us happy and the bad times that show us just how happy we can be. 

Marathon Man

“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

The kid looks like he’s twelve and too polite to say “with your eyes, in a couple years; you just might need a German Shepard, a white cane and a tin cup” – but it’s my interpretation of his medical diagnosis. I make a mental note to add it to my nightmare shit list, along with being hooked to a dialysis machine, having no cash and all the other boogie-man things I worry about whenever I slip up and forget to stay in the now. Maybe none of it happens, maybe all of it; but not today.

Those coveted magical hours asleep have passed me by now. Even though I’ve been twenty-five thousand one hundred and eighty-five days alive today, sixty-nine winters, sixty-nine 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. It will award me fifty to one hundred meteors per hour in my treasured midnight full moon 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 Barker’s on the Midway.