TEAM SPORTS

WHAT IT IS

They looked like members of the same sports team, uniforms clean and distinct, helmets affixed and identical as they executed complex plays on the field with precise interactions and decided purpose. There was no time for the hoopla that constructs the shrine for the headliner and there was certainly no time to tease out nibbles of wisdom on subjects that towered up to the windows of practising philosophers, busy plumbers, rehabilitated dock workers or academics looking for reason, but finding the jars sometimes empty. They played ball, sang songs, and wrote books but it was not their place to fill the chambers of desire with the knowledge of science or the science of certainty but instead they paddled in their own murky waters and presented it as human insight and indelible truth. Undaunted, customers placed these perils of wisdom in there own attitudes, adapted them as their own and dispensed them like pollen in the month of May. Questions too thick, examinations too broad or statements too deep were not allowed. The grist poured out of the taps of social media and piled upon the mezzanine, allowing most to play with it, some to ignore it and a few others to wonder where all this advice come from and why it weighed so much. As cumbersome as all this is, what of the coaches, investors and owners who take the team out of the arena and stuff them into closets of mesmerization where gems of lifestyle are set out in a fashion, so the picking and choosing are made easier. It is a confused mash-up of truth, lies and be-as-I-am’s, but in its own way and in its own time, this may be the only thing left floating around in the either.

It was Adnan who started naming the white crown sparrows. Ruth scratched the ground relentlessly, Aaron found plenty to eat, Robinson was quick on his feet, Greinke used his wings more than most, DiMaggio…Slim’s booming voice startled Adnan and Hobbson from their little game when he returned and told them their piece of Missouri paradise was just down the road.

WHAT IT IS NOT

On a privately owned left handed dirt track some eight and a half furlongs long, just outside of Greensburg Indiana, Miles Hobbson sat on a rickety fold out chair, his fingers feeling around deep inside a canvas bag filled with raisins and dates from his native island of Nevis, given to him by his old friend Aquena. The two horses in front of him relished in his offerings, as did a small flock of white crowns that scurried around his chair. It was Miles’ intention to ride these horses into dark reaches, rip out what little light he could find then exile these wastelands to the asteroids between Mizar and Myrtle Beach. But the human psyche was silly putty and Hobbson could not get a decent grip as what made the clock tick, let alone predict an accurate time. Dodging the fantasy of cause and cure, ignoring fact, and embracing fiction, Hobbson stood as a testament to the hopeful, seeing himself as a child soldier prepared to slay the idea of hopeless, as adult children often do. His optimism lapped the shoreline in the endless pursuit of the perfection that was his world, not a world he occupied or a world he was familiar with, but rather a retreat from rancor who’s steel sword now lay rusting down the shoreline from Myrtle Beach or some other such place. Adrift on this earth, Hobbson was well aware of the conflicts and harmonies and the unwillingness to solve the simple and caress the complex as a show of the difficulties our society faces and our abilities to do little about them.

Essentially a stiff, Hobbson needed to parlay a strength in a weakness and to that end these two horses in front of him, in the hands of the right person, could turn copper into gold, wealth into substance, hostility into euphoria. He reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of raisins and dates, treats like no one on earth had seen before.  

The Bison in Us

WHAT IT IS

The translucent man took off his thick sunglasses and squinted into the harsh sunlight at the Bison standing in a field. He looked closely, moved a couple of steps in its direction before deciding it was not the mechanical bull.

Johnny sat on a wooden milk crate, turned over and used as a seat while he replaced the B string on his Yamaha guitar. Molly had seen better days, too many days forgotten out in the rain, too many nights close to the fire made her warped, pock-marked, and peeling veneer. Still, in Johnny’s deft hands, Molly could strum out a melodious tune, full bodied and generous to most people’s ears. He slipped the guitar over his shoulder, shifted it around to his back, picked up an empty gas jerry can and walked to the highway, occasionally fingering Slim’s two hundred dollars in the front pocket of his jeans.

Across the street from the Shell gas station, Hombre’s Little Texas Bar & Grill enticed Johnny inside for just one beer. The bar was dark but had a warm, friendly vibe and as he spun a barstool around, Johnny noticed a mechanical bull in the far corner chewing up dandies and throwing them to the floor. He was only on his second sip of Coors when a silver tongued gent in a cream colored suit and black Stetson rolled up to the stool beside him. He introduced himself as Big Hank, and while eying up Johnny’s old Yamaha, boosted that he was a country and western concert promoter out of Pittsburgh doing a show in Ellwood City and looking for an opening act for the Dixie Twins, his top performing group in his vast stable of artists, his words. If he drank only one beer, if he got a can full of gas from across the street and if the old van would turn over, he promised Big Hank the Coyote Apples would be in Ellwood City the following night.

Johnny polished off his beer and was heading for the exit when he overheard a rowdy conversation between a couple of real estate agents extolling the virtues of a land deal they were setting up in the state of Missouri. For two hundred bucks, a twenty acre parcel of ranch land waited for those with the guts and  grit to go for it. The agents had ten parcels of land, deeds and titles were sitting upstairs in a strong box in their room.

Steve stayed in the bar for another beer, while Johnny and Mike went upstairs to finalize the deal. It seemed like a long time to be in the washroom, so Johnny knocked tentatively on the door and it squeaked open a bit and he looked inside at the open window. Mike and Johnny’s two hundred dollars were in the front seat of a white Continental, its suicide doors flailing uncontrollably as it sped down the gravel laneway leaving a thick plume of dust as it headed out of town.

WHAT IT IS NOT

How he came to this place was a tale only twisted strands of debauchery could reveal, as this and many more have been divulged over treachery and time. How does this breed coalesce over brutality and convert the repulsive into the ordinary and the bland? Perhaps it is the scattered march of a directionless world unencumbered by its own trivial contemplations that does not see any sketches on the wall, any documents in the desk or pronouncements of any kind.

Bison skulls piled fifty feet high and a hundred sorrows to the east and west can not compete with other tragedies because the scales we have created have criteria of significance, measurable accounts of misery and estimations of how we center ourselves along the line of the equation. In the shortness of our geologic time, whether in help or hindrance, a hierarchy of milestones dominates the passage between the ancient and the modern, but the elasticity that binds the two gives rise to confusion of who is ahead, who will dominate and will anything or anyone come out on top. Unfortunately, the repetition of history is more complex than we have been led to believe because the cause and effect are driven by both the devious and the favorable, with the ends and the means lining up very differently.

Today this Bison stands on a piece of land a mile from Plot 82. There is no fence, no herd…just this lone creature with the purpose in his eyes to participate in a new piece of history and if he is lucky, influence the criteria.

WATER WORRIES

WHAT IT IS

It is when water meets an unintended consequence, its use bastardized for warped motives that divorces it from the core and commodifies the place it holds, this is when the foundations are rocked. When we politicize the trust it has, alter its spirit, kill it half to death before stomping it down just in case…dare we say…we could be in trouble now! If the ancients had it right and the myths and mysteries were that of givers of life, preservers of harmony and healers unfamiliar with intolerance, it begs the question of what have we done to this simple chemical? Going beyond distortion to altered to blurry, the place this fluid inhabits is as dark as a dungeon and as transient as a fashionista, but it still grasps its own purpose and is master over its spectacular gifts. That we rearranged motive, misunderstood reason, and completely collapsed meaning for water is yet one more simple gesture on the way along a path were enlightenment is dragged onto the auction block…just to see what we might get for it. The cost we extract will be cushioned by providence and natural brawn, but the durability of these traits cannot be endless, and exploration of their expiry dates may show them already passed.

Hammer finally finished. His task was to hollow out an acorn nut, fill it with water from a fast moving river and have it delivered, via carrier pigeon, to his ailing Polacka where it was said on good authority, by those officials who issue such notifications, that his Polacka would fully recover.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He would vanish for days at a time, usually before sunrise. Secretly stirring around the campsite, looking in on those sleeping and finally checking his look in a piece off broken mirror used to start the campfire. Little Mr. Deakins, being a rooster after all, bore witness to this ritual in the early hours and often shook his comb in polite approval as the duck became airborne.

Flight was the elixir that would not intoxicate, would not weave threads of fantasy into shimmering wings to lift unfortunate terrestrials like Little Mr. Deakins into lands of awe and seasons of unbridled possibility. Head down, shoulders square and heart centered in civilization, this brigade of the incapable, with all their blandness and folly, wake daily and march to where no accolades are bestowed,  and no grandiose contribution acknowledged. They do not look to the future with its cloudy proclamations of evil decrees ordering what must be done, by who and at what cost. They know the cost is theirs to bear, a pragmatic lot they are and a pragmatic lot they will remain. When all this navel-gazing is behind us and the historians deliver their brand of the truth, the brigade will collectively roll their eyes, scratch their heads,  and cry out in unison…REALLY!

Where did the duck go for days at a time? Little Mr. Deakins knew, and he was OK with it. To some, water is hope that keeps it all going and represents the little bit more, while to others water is a tasteless, odorless ,etc., etc., etc., etc.

A LEAF HOLDS ON

WHAT IT IS

A strong wind can push you around, not like a storm chaser practising sanctioned voyeurism, but more like the commands and the denials that we square off against in our day to day lives. Winds of persuasion, gusts of inspiration mix with crystal clear caution and jostle to marshal the forces that influence what we become and what we leave behind. These breezes are diminutive by nature, but the ability to morph them into weather balloon size and status is just another exceptional hallmark of the human experience. Whether riding on the updrafts of anxiety or the lows and highs of immaculate pressures, it may be wise to turn inward once in a while, look away from the storms and check the ledger to confirm the pluses and minuses of our lives.

That was what Ned Doucet was attempting to do, or so he thought. The life of a Pennsylvania patrolman’s weather patterns was defined and succinct, with little variation, but now in retirement Ned was propelled to look past the nightly forecasts and seven day guesses and attempt to see the invisible air columns that toggle between despair and disbelief. Ned did not carry around despair, nor did he shock easily, but he knew something was amiss when he seen it.

On this boisterous day, as Ned stood on an old wooden bridge waiting for Justine Flagstaff, all the leaves…all the leaves…had been swept away, except for one and no matter how strong the gusts blew, the leaf remained.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Sapphire was fixated on the cards she received from Aquena, she trusted her intuition and Cricket trusted her, so the pair quickly changed their vacation plans on Nevis and were biding their time in Indianapolis waiting for Slim to return from a trip to Missouri.

Ellie should have been sentient by now, but she sat lifeless on top of Slim’s file cabinet. So, with little to do but wait around, Sapphire grabbed Ellie, asked Cricket to bring the car around and soon the trio were cruising the quiet roads of Brown County, where teddy bear rumours told the story of super wasps whose venom could wake a teddy bear from the deepest of comas.

A covered bridge made of aged wood and skillful hands, stood as a stoic entrance to the other side and the symbolism was not lost on Sapphire as it was the same bridge see seen on one of Aquena’s cards. We meander often to the other side, to the other side to test resolve or relationships or partnerships. We look for what the other has, what the other does and what manner of palace or peace we have been denied or bestowed. It is true that this materialism has been beaten hard into the ground, but it is also true that messages of faith, community and altruism dance around in pockets of privilege that compete with the coins of consumption occupying the same pockets. The give and take live in the same house, but they don’t hold the same currency with some of the bills going directly to a deity in exchange for good fortune while the remaining bills are weighted down by the misfortune of events and discriminations found on the scales of justice and scales of life.

Sapphire, Ellie cupped in her arms, got out of the car and placed Ellie on the bridge’s top rail next to a greying leaf. The wasp, examining the leaf, eyed up the teddy bear then landed on Ellie’s leg. The sharp stinger gently plunged into her leg and Ellie twitched slightly then telekinesed into the back seat, ready to go.

WHEN A WASP DANCES

WHAT IT IS

Mutt had the puzzled look of a puppy trying to understand his first command. The mechanic hit the air brake, swung open the cab door and climbed down from the rig all the while praising the condition of Mutt’s truck and its mechanical worthiness. If there had been a problem, the combined forces of mechanical engineers and the vessels their spirits moved on, solved Mutt’s transportation problems. At first light, Mutt would be back on the I95 wheeling toward Boston.

Mutt’s encounter with No.1 was a lesson in the art of the muddle where the seemingly apathetic are anointed and notified that inactions are the excuses that create the perforated bags in which the water is carried. Spilling time into an ocean of misappropriated wisdom, gave observers the opportunity to heckle what they did not hear, chastise what they could not see and, best of all, relish in the warmth of their own bathwater. Mutt was not part of this cohort, but he knew of the possibility of their hypnotic effect and often searched his soul to see if the tentacles of supremacy had claimed him.

Mutt broke off a tiny bit of his peanut butter and jam sandwich and placed it on the leaf next to the insect. The wasp ignored the offering at first, but after several minutes he tentatively shuffled toward it. Rubbing his legs together and staring at Mutt. Tthe creature neither heckled nor chastised and if he wore a hat, Mutt thought, he would have doffed it.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Pickles sat in a wicker basket surrounded by potions, lotions, scented soaps and mini chocolates from around the world. She had been fondled and touched by many of the town’s quasi-sophisticated who were undecided if their money would better be spent in the caverns of the big city or over the Wi-Fi waves of the internet. Small town chic waged a perpetual war on itself, inflecting scars of inadequacy that only itself, and a small cadre of keen observers, could recognize, while most everything else just floated down the river to a lake of practicality. The complete irrelevance of this egomaniacal army is not lost on all, bit those that embrace it, walk a line so thin and so corrupt that the human conditions becomes altered in way that shatter not only the truth that is us, but bends our spirits in hideous pursuits of vanity.

Pickles languished in the store front window for weeks and no amount of stings from the local bees, wasps and hornets could restore her sentientism. Finally, after a plea from Leo, No.1 sent his first lieutenant to free Pickles from her coma.

WHAT AN IRIS SEES

WHAT IT IS

Hammer failed to mention it, Mary never realized it and the Polacka just went ahead and did it…ate the wild iris. It is a common misconception that the Polacka is the result of an unlikely union between a Polar Bear and an Alpaca, when it fact the Polacka is a common pet from Mizar that reacts poorly when it consumes bloodroot, indigo, iris and other earthly plants.

After eating copious amounts of iris while Mary was off picking blueberries, the Polacka collapsed on the edge of the wetland and bellowed out a pitiful sound akin to that of a tomcat in the throes of passion. Mary did something a blind person shouldn’t, she came running, slipped on a patch of moss and fell head first on to the moaning beast…her sight slowly coming back into focus. This time her vision wasn’t just ocular and although she couldn’t exactly see on a cellular level, she could observe connections and interactions of the world around her that few others will ever see. The timidity of time, the dissolution of lifespan and the forfeiture of ones self to the splendid existence saw the entire ethos merge and submerge for the simple purpose that life deserves life. The boundaries that Mary saw were not boundaries in the ordinary sense, just stations along the way, some, portals to other planes, some obligations to oblivion and still others a fight to the death. It all seemed like a sea of acceptable chaos, with nothing getting ahead and nothing getting left behind as it was both agreeable and tragic and as hard as hell to understand. Mary wished for her unfamiliar vision, something tangible and understandable and over time she’d get her wish and more.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Deep inside a scruffy piece of wetland on the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest, No.1 rested on a wild iris flower after a long day of infecting insects and birds with the enzyme he believed would provide immunity from INSECT’s deadly insecticide 1,4 Dichloropropene. Worry and weary, not traits ascribed to those in this Kingdom, permeated No.1’s habitual natural selections. His ascension to the status of No.1 was by appointment, a directive given by a scrupulous awareness of the coming eradication. Trying to create normalcy in a time of unheard of edicts, No.1 went about his business as a bearer of responsibility and a teller of truth. His march onward would be his end, but nothing he could do was going to change that fact because the forces of someone else’s justice would find him, pass sentence and give the final order. Like his predecessor, No.1 found solaces and turmoils in the deep ravines of the long history of his kind and his fear did not lie in the fortunes of the executed, but in that of the executioners. They were the sheep destined to survive and left to watch the rising sun reveal the madness left behind.

No.1’s sleep was restful and when he woke, he saw Feather at the edge of the swamp, beckoning him to continue their journey.

A Bear’s Story

WHAT IT IS

The confrontation between the Polacka and the Black bear didn’t last long, the tranquilizing dart to the bear’s rump saw to that. CO Micheals tagged the bear, put a tracking device on the animal  and waited for it to wander off into the bush.

Months later, many months later, Micheals got a call from a wildlife management scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation telling Micheals that his Black bear was detected not far from Springfield. Knowing these animals never travel such great distances Micheals convinced his boss that an investigation was warranted, and he was soon on a plane for Missouri. The bear’s wanderlust was not that of a tourist, whose ornate accommodation and promissory understanding keeps them ill informed on most things outside of their specific area of tunnel vision. He had neither the will nor the pretense to reveal a condescension that would bathe over indigenous realms because he came to the party as he was, not what he wanted to be. His trek was outside his history, indeed outside of any bear’s history, and the compulsion to keep moving became a force from the cosmos, that finally became an obsession, then a duty. If the day of arrival materialized, if the slings and arrows and bullets and press releases missed their target, the bear fantasized about his turn on the witness stand. Knowing he would never see that day brought him a measure of sadness, but he really didn’t care about that because another mile awaited.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Tiny LeBlanc was on his third week crawling around Louisiana swamp country, trying to avoid The Chaps, the police or anyone else looking for a piece of him. A diet of arrowroot, wild rice, watercress and the occasional coypu left Tiny a weak and confused man, ready to return to civilization and take his chances.

On his twentieth day of being on the run, Tiny heard a guttural sound coming from the edge of the swamp on a piece of high ground. He cautiously approached, soon coming face to face with a black bear whose rear hind leg was wedged solidly into a rock crevice. Tiny was no hero, but he knew stuck when he saw it and the crippling grip that tightened as you looked around for freedom. Tiny’s freedom, Tiny’s idea of freedom, was not that which is written in a constitution or famously elaborated on a declaration, but his was simpler and more direct. Tiny could see his freedom floating along beside him, as if it existed inside a companion mirror allowing him to look at it but never really experiencing it or altering the events or changing the destinations. The mirror was a cruel reminder of being stuck and it pissed him off enough to look into the bear eyes and decide to get him unstuck.

Tiny saw a fulcrum, just behind the bears leg, he scavenged a strong branch and now all he needed was a diversion so he could get close to the bear. As he pondered what to do next, Kitty-kitty and Kitty-cat scrambled along the ridge above the bear and launched a suicidal jump onto the bears back. As fur flew and cats were knocked about, Tiny lifted the rock imprisoning the bear and within minutes the bear was free and running into his new found freedom.