LOVE TO HATE

WHAT IT IS

He was drifting deliberately, in a kind of hypnagogic state where he attempted to control the delirium in the hope that explanations of his state of mind might make sense in a world where pandemic messages flew over his head and landed on distant and foreign individuals. His grasp of social isolation lies not in discomfort but in embracement, his desire for community was twisted into strands of what-ifs…pre-pandemic…and his way out of the despair was to invent gratitude and display it as the farce and sound bite it had become. The need to document the trivialities of this era would be left to the participants climbing social media ladders as they cast their perforated nets on to diverse crowds who looked for simple truths during exhausting times. Waking up from this would see the carnival tents unfold and fashionable rides resurge, while the fringes stagnated and staggered to the finish line amidst announcements that the worst was over.

Jolted out of his dreamlike state, the translucent man was mesmerized by Little Mr. Deakins as he ran in circles, kicking up dust and flapping his silly little wings, all this while being observed by a goat standing on top of a woodshed. As Little Mr. Deakins became more animated, the translucent man decided further investigation was required and to that end he got up and found a severely wounded Feather next to the woodshed.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Mrs. B once saw a movie where a cow stood on top of a barn, making this goat standing on the woodshed roof seem sensible. Sensibilities is a walk in a minefield of compromised information, manipulated sincerities and commodified science doled out by mavericks whose love of hate is the contraption that turns the next page. The next page is important to keep chaos clear and continuing, to add to banter and to mimic the right of free speech. I think they call it,  the god given right of free speech. Mrs. B saw a lot of god givens in her time on this earth ,from the priestly pedophiles to paganist preachers whose agenda stole the civil out of civilization and attempted to replace it with a bitter stew of contempt and deceit. And it continues to vacillate, liberals & conservatives, democrats & republicans, science & lunacy until the birds in the middle just want to fly skyward to get away from it all.

Mrs. B knew there was no plane large enough, no avifauna fast enough or raptor strong enough to take us away from it all. The all of everyday was the responsibility not to flinch in the face of priestly pedophiles and their ilk and to offer what comforts could be commanded. Feather looked up, knowing she was in good hands.                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Determined Resolve

WHAT IT IS

She checked them off her acquaintance list, her it-will-get-done list because a moth’s bucket list is full of the kind of holes that render such a register pointless. In fact, the whole concept of a bucket list seemed inane, as the pleasure resided in the arbitrariness of the performance not the  predictability of planning. These performances might be catching a warm updraft in her wings, bringing her to dizzying heights or tasting the first thistle flower of summer or presiding over the inevitable trials of life and death that is the moth’s world. Life was short for a moth with no time to waste on complexities of ecosystems defined by those scratching their heads to create the most profitable way to utilize that which belonged to no one.

But a moth to, must sometimes tow the line for the greater good and dispense of her carefree ways, giving up on arbitrary and follow the path of planning. To that end, and at the request of No.1, the moth was dispatched to aid Hammer in protecting the entrance to the land of one hundred women at the center of Plot 82. In the week that followed, copious amounts of spider silk were meticulously woven together and bound with the moth’s hair until an impenetrable wall protected the entrance way. Hammer, with the moth perched on a nearby rock, studied their work and hoped it would never be tested, believing it was Feather who possessed a far better chance of success.

WHAT IT IS NOT

A knight’s ritual before battle is varied and particular to each individual as they entomb themselves in chainmail, steel plating and other protectants they must believe will keep them alive. Feather fixated more than most with the condition of her horse, fussing over her barding, adjusting the chamfron and constantly checking the fit of her caparison. After checking her partner for the third time, Feather began her final preparations. She braided her long hair in two tight strands, then twisted the strands into one, curling the hair to sit atop her head, held in place firmly by a piece of silk given to her by the fairy from Ellesmere Island. Reaching into her tunic, she found Hammer’s straight razor, placed it carefully against her forehead until droplets of blood dripped onto her armor. With the middle finger of her right hand, she drew a half moon with her blood, she was ready. Feather had only one weapon, an ancient sword possessed with its own soul and driven by its own purpose and who chose Feather as its instrument to inflect and heal, to create balance and imbalance.

Wreckless, the horse, was the first to feel the unfamiliar rumblings beneath her hooves. She lifted her legs rapidly and swung herself around to face the unknown and as her ears twitched northward her nose scented what was about to come. She exhaled a mighty breath; she too was ready. A malicious M113 armoured personnel carrier roared across a fallow corn field and turned on to the road a quarter mile from where Feather and Wreckless were waiting. Time stood still as Feather mounted her partner and the twos fierce gallop brought them behind the lumbering menace. Unsheathing her sword, Feather hurled her weapon into the tracks of the vehicle believing it would cripple the monster, but the sword was merely ground up and spit out onto the gravel road. Feather tried the tactic three more times, but the beast lumbered on toward Plot 82.

At the request of that little voice which confuses justice with self interest, the one that nudges us to correct historical wrongs even when we plead our cases to judges who were absent and remain absent, that voice, through the chips and scares of the ancient sword, spoke to Feather and placed her in a space of determined resolve. It was not enough to be nudged to correct historical injustices, it was not enough to proclaim absence and innocence and it was not enough to put responsibility at the doorstep of the other.

Bolstered by the sword’s determination to redress, Feather and Wreckless found themselves face to face with the M113 in a headlong duel to an oblivion unknown. With a collision just meters apart, Feather held the sword above her head and hurled it at the turret, splitting the barrel in a fiery explosion and paralyzing the vehicle. Smoke and bodies scrambled on to the road and shots from the dislodged INSECT agents whizzed toward Feather…her armor no match for these modern injustices.

ICONS IN AN IMAGINARY WORLD

WHAT IT IS

Hammer and Feather marvelled at the simplicity and comfort of being back together again. Conversation, muted or stated, glances overt or concealed and whispers of appreciation penetrated the sphere of tranquility that was their gift, granted by the fairy of Ellesmere Island. Hammer wedged himself between a smooth chunk of granite and an ancient oak tree allowing him a good view of the two grazing horses while Feather stretched out on the prickly grass, looking up at the blue sky visualizing the dark explosive sky that persistently probed her thoughts of late. Feather’s blue was nurture, but nurture has a way of unraveling when the costs out muscle the benefits or when the costs were miscalculated by sincere bright eyes whose exuberance tipped the scales when the overseer still hadn’t shown up for work. This polite tug of war, when magnified, reveals unsettling ripples in the fabric of nurture leaving dangling conversations of who gets to wear the fabric and what to do with it when it wears out.

Feather’s participation in the tug of war was limited at best, never really knowing which side to line up on or how hard to pull once a side was tentatively chosen. Now, with her days dark, a foreboding  sting challenged her comprehension and delivery of nurture as she remained unsettled about what was ahead. What was ahead, finding the one hundred women haunting the interior of Plot 82 and planning their rescue.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Slim confidently navigated the luxurious Escalade, his index finger resting on the bottom of the steering wheel, performing occasional manoeuvres when potholes appeared, or racoons dashed across the road. Not a man to be burdened by a lopsided business deal, Slim couldn’t help but smile when he thought about the Jesus drive he now possessed, giving up a few barren Missouri acres in exchange. As he drove on into the night, Slim was spooked by a series of loud noises, followed by hot white lights filling the dark sky, Slowing down, Slim was mysteriously drawn to the lights, so he turned down a gravel road and chased the dancing glow for several miles.

Stories abound about the secrets and treasures the night brings as it unburdens the stark trappings of daylight, the big brother of the gong show. Everything is so precise when the big brother speaks, and the meaning of the words can’t be softened or changed or twisted into something unintended. Fortunately, when the brother sleeps pixie dust falls from the brother’s final photons and night is king again, even if only in illusion. Mingled throughout the particles of light, the long defunct Coyote Apples performed the show they were constantly denied, and the sound was sweeter then humanly possible. Countless fans pounded the stage with their fists, arms waved and swayed in the air, and a sea of bodies floated into the melodic stream of this imaginary event. Slim looked out the driver’s side window at the three performers, ghosts of what might have been in this world, icons in an imaginary world.

IMPEACHED SILENCE

WHAT IT IS

The flight above revealed unfamiliar terrain and uncertain depictions to a birds eye that had never ventured to this part of the continent before. The lust for adventure held court in human endeavours, its addiction never reaching the whiskey jack, the black bear or the immensely satisfied. Although granted buckets of suave de vie and crushed under the weight of the astonished stares of approval, the adventurist eventually finds a plane of existence where the laundry must get done and the sink’s dirty dishes discovers a cure for itself. It is too predictable to observe the adventurist as a preoccupied warrior on an expedition of exceptional achievements, but it might be said that the faster one can run from oneself, the better the adventurer might be. The coming, the going, the running, the walking are all a dress rehearsal for the main event which was accomplished yesterday and realized tomorrow.

Pickles, taking instructions from Ellie, who in turn was advised by No.1, suggested the whiskey jack might want to fly to Missouri to witness the great adventure of the translucent man, Little Mr. Deakins, the horse, the duck, and a growing parade of adventurers heading for Plot 82.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Graham stood in the middle of the airfield, squinting at the cracked crystal of his Seiko, trying to determine if it was 2 AM or 2:30 AM. A monotonous taping by his thumb on the watch along with a gentle circular motion of the hand and wrist convinced him the time was nearly 3 AM. He did not marvel at his presence, enveloped in the utter darkness, and surrounded by a perceptible silence because his sleeplessness became a companion to his soul, something to bear witness to new demons and old comforts.

Like everyone, the old comforts stood on sturdy foundations where the truths slew the lies and any fuzziness was dealt with in the early morning hours when no one was around. Regrettably, as the fuzziness was excommunicated, new demons peaked around the corner, competing for space and acknowledgment. Graham hated the new demons, detested what he believed they stood for and despised their attitude as he sat alone in the wee hours, but yet, there they were! Shards of doubt slopped around like impurities in a glass of water, a glass of drinkable water that when gulped down in great haste could still satisfy the thirst of confusion. The question with no answer, was would it truly and systematically satisfy the thirst or just put it off to another sleepless night. As Graham refused to think about it, he was flooded with thoughts about it.

Doubt was a sign of weakness, a misalignment of order, a whiskey jack off course.  A busy mind could render doubt inert, fix a cracked crystal and impeach perceptible silence.

BLUE LEAVES

WHAT IT IS

He was not always broken. His gimpy walk a sad reminder of an athletic adolescence and a strong adulthood where a leg up from his old man twisted him into a businessman in which risk and success were measured and secured by his father’s generosity. This entrepreneurial veil not only concealed the blemishes of his life but served to dislocate him from the realities of the business world, leaving dominance over others, disrespect of colleagues and a pathetic fantasy of superiority to occupy his path as he staggered from one marginal enterprise to the next. For Clive Clifford it was position within situation, a feeling of belonging where a measure of authority coupled with inconsequential freedoms gave rise to a satisfaction that only he had to recognize and only he could drive down the street or bring into a mall or gaze at blue leaves in a park.

A trinket retailer, a seller of knock off running shoes, an insurance broker, an ice cream vendor, used car salesman, and a host of other vocations dotted Clive’s resume. It was the last dot on his resume that proved most momentous. Missouri was enjoying an unusual warm spell as October days were pulled from the calendar and November’s fresh face awaited Veteran’s Day celebration on the eleventh. Clive didn’t pay much attention to his hot air balloon business; he had a high school buddy run the day to day and Clive pocketed a bit of cash at the end of the week. Two days before Veteran’s Day, eight war vets climbed aboard Clive’s balloon and before they reached sixty feet the propane tanks exploded, and all eight veterans and Clive’s high school buddy died in the tragedy. His entrepreneurial veil could not hide him from the lapsed insurance coverage and costly lawsuits which took down Clive and his father within a year. The father took off for the great beyond, the stain of humiliation being too much, and Clive took off to Pennsylvania to start over again.

WHAT IT IS NOT

On a privately owned left handed dirt track some eight and a half furlongs long, just outside Greensburg Indiana the red dragonfly examined the blue leaf the translucent man had told him about. It was the ordinariness, which was bypassed, leaving the extraordinary washed away to be trodden under hikers boots as they marveled at what the tour guide pointed out. To pursue and capture the meager, find out why and how it fits in, then shatter it into manageable pieces of observation and dissection will allow us to decide if we like what we see and if we don’t like what we see, rejection will always be a fall back position. The translucent man wanted a symbol  of simplicity, a symbol easily overlooked by confidence men, politicians, and captains of collateral with their repayment schemes of zero percent and zero interest. A symbol to brush up against them, scratch their armor plate and leave nothing more than a confused feeling rising from there own propaganda. The vision of a stance, its flag quivering  before the onslaught was the translucent man’s daily routine, and, truth be told, he took some pleasure when the captains looked but could not see what tangible was, when chaplains preached and moral misfits cheered for something else, anything else.

With great care, the red dragonfly rolled up the blue leaf and stashed it beneath his wing. As symbols go, you couldn’t get much more ordinary than this, even as its extraordinary gifts were transmitted to those simple enough to hear it.

FRAGMENTS OF FOREVER

WHAT IT IS

Hobbson looked past the trail of Missouri dust kicked up by Slim’s SUV to see his old friend Adnan sitting in the passenger seat. He wondered why this break with Adnan did not occur sooner, as their two worlds had been drifting apart over the past few months. The burden of unmeshed gears grinding on to a dystopia drained Adnan into a state where liberation from oneself had to be fought on a level of commonality, perhaps even triviality. Years of optimistic invention, exuberant aspiration, and architecturally exact schemes to provide pathways of enlightenment led to dingy hallways of race and rancor where battles, replayed over and over, are meant to cripple spirit, and eradicate hope. Adnan, and others, speculated the fragments of forever were born of dissatisfaction and that the grand scheme was to sow the seeds of discontent and then wait a few generations to see what rots on the vine, and what bears fruit. The road is forever, when the prod of racism is relentless, seamless, and abiding, striking its tentacles maniacally and sharpening its intent to ensure survival from one generation to the next…from one propped up pillar to the next. The busines of picking up the banner, holding it high for all to see has always been better suited for the young, but Adnan now felt a certain betrayal inside himself as his lights of enlightenment began to flicker and shadows of uncertain destines clouded his vision. He needed what no one could give and what he gave belonged to no one, just slivers of incoherent memories to a cause where fragments of forever just kept piling up.

Hobbson’s attempts to settle Adnan’s soul was a mis-firing canon, an alien rattling around in a brown man’s house where commonality and trivia described a drab day at the office. Hobbson simply could not reach to Adnan’s depth, as Adnan’s lifeline kept missing the mark it was intended for. Hobbson still possessed his mission and it was squeezed unconsciously into his fist and his fate, bring him forward to a place futile and fatal. As the last spec of dust disappeared, Hobbson turned to the west, looked at his watch and counted down the seconds until his spirit appeared at the road’s edge.

At first he didn’t recognize the horse, it was older, somewhat unkempt, and slow on its feet. But who among us, after twenty years, remains intact?

WHAT IT IS NOT

The gift, transformed into a curse, then rode on an indigent horse from tragic teenage trials through to early adulthood, never stopping long enough to see the cracked bricks below the feet or notice the domino effect of real possibilities collapsing around him, became a type of mantra that hung around his neck, like a medallion given to him by…a friend…a girl friend. Jack Sampson’s gift was music, and his curse was the highwire act the Coyote Apples lived on while on their way to shady tunnels where what you asked for was paid with promises unkept and dreams unfulfilled. The dream followed, is best pronounced by the accomplished so there can be no doubt to its authenticity, but the root of the dream escapes scrutiny, shuns publicity, and is pasted into the back ground as an afterthought, or no thought at all. The host, a sometimes hostile and negative conveyance of the dream, fails to mention the virtue of the common, those who build the roads or fix the plumbing. Sacrilegious to some, the daydream of unbridled environmentalism or global harmony or just enough food and shelter slapped on the TV tray as they watch Musk’s rocket reach for the stars, will mean singular dreams of individuals might be placed in jeopardy. If you can not dream a difficult dream, you can always run a marathon, launch a rocket, or hang a picture, so to speak.

Jack Sampson’s marathon was in its infancy when the other Coyote Apples exploded into a cauldron of drug abuse, laziness, and other forms of self destruction. Eventually lives were sorted out, dreams put on hold or altered or denied or laughed at. Jack joined the army and dreamt of a small farm, a few animals and was satisfied that Musk’s rockets would never touch him.

RANDOM IN LEGEND

WHAT IT IS

In some circles, in some very small circles, she had become some what of a legend after her dust up with INSECT’s prototype nano mechanical pollinator that left the robot at the bottom of a water filled mud hole at the edge of a Missouri corn field. The wasp did not ask for this random event to be thrust upon her and she did not relish in the retelling of the story. Those who are infused with courage when fear is the weight at the end of the outstretched arm are compelled to practice fulfillments to the fearful, so their courage towers as a statement to worthiness. That fear could overtake them, that randomness could collapse their world and dissolve a cloak of attained integrity, was not a realistic story line given the rarely mentioned reasons why some are chosen and why randomness is never the invited guest. Once we have given back, performed service, and laid out the appropriate illusion, we place the politics of the facts on a back burner so far from reality that even the likes of a Kelly Clarkson would never find it, or her way back.

The wasp can be anything if it fits into the confines of a contour where the dictates of the natural world are both predictable and trustworthy and randomness does not get to glance through the window where invited guests are not. This wasp, summoned by No.1, had greatness flowing from every body hair along her exoskeleton but her desire to exist among the wild plants was a randomness she could not control, and her fate was sealed by a chance encounter with a mechanical robot.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He was on the top rung of an eight foot ladder, both feet firmly covering the THIS IS NOT A STEP label meant to discourage such individuals from a debilitating fall. The object of his mission was a cracked fuel pump on his crop duster that dripped small amounts of the precious liquid whenever he reached heights greater than a thousand feet. A small crescent wrench in his back pocket, a #2 Philips screwdriver in his left hand, a tube of Hysol patch-all wedged between his teeth, and a soft rubber mallet were the initial weapons enlisted for this most critical assignment. As all reasonable generals will attest, the first attacks are often tweaked to accommodate circumstance, some things added, others taken away, and it was no different with the pilot/mechanic as the screwdriver was ditched, the rubber mallet replaced with a ball-peen hammer and more fortifying tubes of patching compound was hauled up the ladder. As the fifteen minute repair mutated into an afternoon ordeal, the top of the ladder and nearby engine compartment became infested with more and more tools, deemed necessary to effect the repair. Now on his third tube, the mechanic had to reach a particularly difficult spot at the bottom of the fuel pump, and to accomplish this, he braced himself along the edge of the engine compartment, rose up on his toes on the top rung of the ladder and reached deep inside the engine compartment to apply the patch on the precise spot on the fuel pump. Predictably, the strenuous pressure the toes placed on the top of the ladder caused it to topple over leaving the mechanic dangling off the side of the aircraft.

As he sized up his predicament and noodled scenarios of escape, a wasp landed on a spent tube of patching compound, then casually walked across the tools spread throughout the engine compartment. At some point the two locked eyes, the hunter, and the hunted and at some point the mechanic had to let go and fell to the ground. The wasp too, let go, but did not fall to the ground.

JUNGLE MISDIAGNOSED

WHAT IT IS

An affluent group of thugs occupied the best smoking spot, wore the coolest ripped jeans, and spoke with confident authority on all things sports and girls. Their obnoxious behavior and callous disregard were Brown’s microcosm into his future after high school, a future that dissected the mutilated memories of high school but failed to reconstruct the tragedy into anything resembling common sense. Brown was anointed The Turtle by this group of boys, mainly because he was slow and methodical, but also because quick and fast lived in a place of privilege and prestige, dogma passed on from fathers so their sons could meet the challenges of the jungle, the same jungle where they were scared witless, a generation before. That the foundation shook from machismo, was then misdiagnosed as a grand and purposeful orchestration, did led both generations to a place were analysis of anything was thought best to be avoided. This perpetuation was the mud caking the tires, causing them to spin wildly and making certain that forward was backward and backward was a constant state of incomprehension. Brown believed it was some crazy combination of knee-jerk reflexes, accommodating submissions, and polite coalesces that kept his jungle from swallowing him whole, then puking him back up for gawkers to examine. Would history have anything to say to Brown or the turtle he was named after? Not likely, as history is seldom read.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He was very much use it; the world rushing ahead of him in an excited fashion, proclaiming the significance of their task, the reasons for their decisions, and the triumph of their truth and grit. He knew ambition was the crutch that helped win the race of accomplishment by keeping mania locked away at a safe distance, and should mania appear at the edges, an afternoon at the gym or a fresh coat of paint or an evening of small talk would wrestle the beast to the ground. Distracted and determined is not an altered state into the window of our lives, it is a survival malaise that keeps us from asking the crazy questions of universe and quantum and quarks. Even if we were to ask the questions, the answer would float so far into the cosmos that most of us looking up would wonder why gravity could not keep these answers simpler…suited more to what’s in our simple toolbox.

The turtle was simple. He carried a simple message from Buck-jimmy to No.1 and on his five hundred and sixty first day of walking from Lake Tomiko to the state of Missouri, he was caught in a trap set by INSECT agent Brown. As Brown looked at the turtle he did not feel the machismo of a gifted trapper who orchestrated some grand event of cunning, nor did he feel apart of a superior species chosen by others to wreak a particular brand of havoc. Brown’s tools did not explain the cosmos and the turtle’s tools did not explain Brown.

INTRINSICS & EXPENDABLES

WHAT IT IS

There is a covenant of sorts between sisters and brothers, husbands and wives, partners of all persuasions and it runs along the rails of fierce loyalty, etching memories, real and otherwise, into the intellect of the participants. Incidents of human folly, gestures of judgement and jealousy, and the creeping character of envy can often fail to shake the covenant when the bonds are strong. It is anyone’s guess why these obligatory traits do not unfurl across the range of humanity, but the sheer size of the territory coupled with our diminutive compassion compass may allow us only so much coffee in the cup. Of course, the maniacs of misery can flip this whole thing around where brothers torture sister, husbands abandon wives and partners disappear into the tyranny of their history and lives are spent in a sea of turmoil or in convalescence or in rehabilitation.

Jared Deakins rode this rainbow of dysfunction, but a recent visit to see his sister Jill began to reveal his covenant still possessed tenets buried somewhere within both of them and it revealed a promise of a future together. The hope was a plodding hope that sustained him until he caught up with Little Mr. Deakins, the duck, and the others where after weeks of separation Jared was glad to be back among his comrades. It made him think of that which was precious. Not the insincerity of gold or platinum platitudes of market place wizards, but rather intimacies and connections of soulmates, of creatures…dragonflies and blue skies.

WHAT IT IS NOT

The monarch imprinted the contents of Miller’s envelope into its antenna, then passed it on to No. 1’s first lieutenant, the red dragonfly, who immediately understood that the blank pieces of paper inside was the canvas that INSECT would use to portray to the world their quest to display superiority in a war between the intrinsics and the expendables. Falling all over themselves in a sprint to declare why their hard work, devotion and dedication has elevated themselves past others who work hard, share devotion and practise dedication, only seems to amplify the habitual drone of the of this most common wisdom. Boasting about themselves as they attempt to fortify an odd justification of the apples they eat or the estates they occupy, can only lead to some nauseating moments as the self-congratulatory machine grinds into high gear and we sit dumbfounded, knowing not only have we seen this blurb before, but the creative minds behind it will force us to endure it many more times in the future. Underpinning all this commotion are the expendables, left to experience child-like explanations of a world in order for the intrinsics to feel safe in their beds at night. INSECT’s blank canvas would not be passed on to evening newscasts for announcers to enunciate victory and surrender as described by Graham and his cohorts because the red dragonfly had already begun the story of loss and losers, and although victory and surrender would not be their celebration, neither would be being expendable.

AUGUST SUSANS

WHAT IT IS

The August Susans swung in the afternoon breeze like they did for years, taking delight in the warm sun that they fancied was a second cousin because of their kindred color and generous presence. The Susans, ragged, wild, and spindly , never spent time with the orchid family but instead were assigned the gravelly ditches and the precious clumps of soil between barren rocks where resilience took root and practical matters of survival and sustenance prevailed. Showiness is the drug of extravagance that needs a hit often enough to jolt us out of the belief we may already be in a zone of contentment. The swirl of desire connecting us to the objects we cherish, with its brother and sister appendages, serve up a powerful chunk of peer pressure, perceived entitlement and a seat on the bullet train heading straight toward what insight and introspection might deny us. The denial, more often than not, is whimsy let loose to flutter about with no intention of deciding something meaningful but rather entertain duty and direction with the sole purpose of pretending insight and feigning introspection.

Bella and Dizzy  were no fools to the lure of extravagance and their zone of contentment, often misunderstood and misjudged, was robust enough to ignore the decorated agitators and strike a pose they could live with. The dreamy Susans reminded them they had come full circle, starting out years ago when Plot 82 was established and now back as Plot 82 was about to be destroyed.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Cinder Willoughby rifled through the desk drawers, first the top right, then the bottom left and back to the top right again. The drawers were on a rail and roller system causing them to open quickly and with too much gusto, creating far too much racket when the roller hit the end of the rail. He pined for his old rolltop desk where wooden drawers running along wooden rails gave a measure of predictability when the hunt was on for a special pen or a particular piece of paper. Willoughby’s long time assistant insisted an office upgrade was in order after Willoughby won the Dickson Prize in Medicine. On the fourth visit to the top right drawer, Willoughby found the old photograph of what appeared to be black eyed Susans he came across in the high Arctic nearly twenty years ago.

On a scarlet morning with Willoughby dragging a sled full of gear, he struggled across thick muskeg heading to a large rock outcrop where still pond water was the object of his research, thanks to a puny grant from the Canadian government. Cresting the top of the outcrop, Willoughby saw a massive trench scored into the ground and thousands of what looked like black eyed Susans lining the unusual formation. Over the twenty years hence, Willoughby and a handful of fellow scientists synthesized, dissected, extracted, and reproduced the plant in the hope it may prove useful in the medical field, and it did. An extract from the root when combined with ancient water found over ten kilometers below the earth surface, proved to occasionally restore blindness in some individuals.

FOLLOWING IN FOOTPRINTS

WHAT IT IS

The target, both exceptional and intense, was the mission Miles Hobbson chose for himself. Knowing complete failure was a strong possibility, this result did not completely deter Hobbson from the task of tacitly altering pieces of  human direction, but it did offer moments of self doubt, that he, and many others experience. A younger Hobbson imagined notches on a leather belt, a Colt six shooter his vehicle of persuasion, dirt covered Olathe cowboy boots a testament to his mission and a herd of mustangs ready to tame only to be released back into the congregation to disseminate the message.

The truth of it was, Hobbson named his piece of miraculous hardware the Jesus drive after the person who’s path he believed he could both follow and dislodge. The older Hobbson, of course, knew the deep scares of a Messiah would not be dislodged and following an imaginary path into someone’s constructed vision of the world might not be the wisest maneuver. The only logical thing for Hobbson to do, was to slice his ambition into wafer thin pieces and execute these resolutions, dispensing the word like a priest from a pulpit.

Knowing nothing for sure, gambling on uncertain outcomes and puzzling over possibilities, Hobbson was left to watch No. 1 and a billion insects hold up in a stand of white ash trees. A bustling gravel airport nearby hosted three crop dusters and a slew of INSECT agents mulled about the place. Seemingly random people walked down neighbouring roads, some with ducks, roosters, and horses, all converging on a piece of land near the airport. Hobbson looked down at a deep lobed plant at his feet and wondered if it was sarsaparilla, then more importantly, wondered if it would survive.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Wild plants with edible roots and leaves, mushrooms for gourmet feasts, berries to create tempting deserts and all this sniffed out by Jackson and then magically created by Mrs. B.  over an open fire as the translucent man salivated in anticipation of the evening meal. The translucent man had done well since the arrival of Jackson and Mrs. B. With improved strength and vigor, most days saw him rise early, walk strong and allocate nuggets of advise to those around him. He was unconcerned that this artificial bubble of foraged foods, local harvests and unsolicited fates of fortune could not be sustained in the real world where real people suffered and slogged through a predicament much different from his own, because he was, after all, a messenger of doom not the purveyor. He admired these tiny bubbles of idealists and wishful thinkers and believed that in a different place and time their views might hold specs of truth, not enough to slay the drive of industrial creation and consumption, but at least offer a meaningful alternative that up to this point only existed in the catacombs of our dreary expectations. The translucent man knew well the banner of the just cause and the unjust consequence that walked in its footprint, allowing him the latitude to embrace and digest the endless parade of causes from the dethroned king to the triumphant peasant story.

The doomsday clock that was the translucent man, now burdened down by extra hefty issues and fools dressed in presidential garb, rattled him greatly, to the point where they began to slip from his grasp, leaving him to float in a quagmire resembling apathy until he saw the simple offerings from Mrs. B. and the looks of humility from the others; the translucent man knew his way forward was possible.

UNFOCUSED

WHAT IT IS

It was a crawl that seemed never ending, a loop going on forever, past the same birch trees and bracken fern, over the same lichen covered rocks and through soggy peat moss until he reached his final destination, an army surplus tent, its roof dotted with tears and holes offering little protection from the Pennsylvania rain. If he could twist his narrow life path so it formed a horseshoe, allowing him to see the direction he was taking, he might put aside the booze and drugs and opt for a less destructive path, but these horseshoes are given out infrequently and when they are, a large dose of smirk, arrogance and ego are encased within the gift. But youth or spirit or pieces of unspent logic would not allow him to examine his horseshoe, either because the stakes were constantly shifting making a ringer impossible or the stakes were too high and failure the dead ringer. His life, characterized by himself to see himself, was more suited  to the boomerang philosophy where the out going returned as the incoming, sometimes bring a providence, sometimes not.

While two of the Coyote Apples slept in the van, Brent sat in the tent, eyes fixed on the roof waiting for an accumulating rain drop to grow to a sufficient size as to drop straight down and strike the banjo skin producing a sound he was sure he could use at his next gig. The rains increased, the banjo thuds grew louder and Brent drifted into a peaceful sleep where his boomerang finally settled the Coyote Apple dust of fame and notoriety. In his departure, there would be no crawling or apologies or regrets, just a tall standing man still on the lookout for stray boomerangs or bent horseshoes…vet school perhaps.

WHAT IT IS NOT

It hit Little Mr. Deakins that if this was true, what other great wonders might be slipping past him. It all began when the duck and him were sitting on a log waiting for Mrs. B., Jackson, the horse, and the translucent man to catch up. The duck was describing what he saw in front of him and it wasn’t at all what he was seeing. Two interpretations of the same thing…profound, but in his own defense, he was a farm rooster and only now coming to grips with a much larger world.

When you tease out all the special interests, the entrenched positions, and the shrouded agenda you may very well be left with a ball that holds no air, no bounce, no elasticity. The interpretations are left to meander the ballfield where first base is reserved for the righteous, second base for the delinquent, third the opportunist until the field is full and diatribes are pronounced, positions fortified and the whole world goes home with their smug satisfaction tucked neatly under their arms, all the while wondering if they may have heard something said. Contained within these forts of certainties, the Leninists and Trotskyists have altered their name and purpose and are now a modern version of themselves, but the sheer madness and magnitude of the cause scares the hell out of the rest of us. And who are the rest of us? Little Mr. Deakins and duck might very well raise their hands at this point, but of course they have no hands.

A CELEBRATED BOYCOTT

WHAT IT IS

A tranquil day, sitting on a branch listening to insect insinuation, frog dialogue, leaf laughter, chipmunk chatter and a world heavy with commuting flyers, cumbersome crawlers and creatures too numerous to catalogue or contemplate was the considerable consideration on the mind of this small bird as she rested near Plot 82. It has been said that order exists where havoc, imposed by stalwarts of religion or state or commerce, rules in the absence of community or a single mindedness and it doles out a type of uniform all are willing to wear and all are anxious to see how it looks on the other. The uniform, in of itself, need not be boycotted or celebrated because as symbols go, it is the conveyor who decided how the nuance will look. Although the breezes of convention dominate the storms of protest, these universal uniforms of stagnation do inch in a civil direction. If we had a time-lapse of this, we’d have some proof to hold up to generations that all was not lost and with patience and determination a puzzle-piece future may be avoided. We rise and fall on outcomes outside our earthly grasp, and the frustration of a fist pounding the air can be too loud to bare as the shockwaves of the smug recoil around us. There is more at stake here than a songbird’s evening scrutiny, but some simple attention paid to simple truths might allow the uniforms to fit everyone.

WHAT IT IS NOT

He was no ambulance chaser, nor did he possess the gene that dictates the necessity to stop at a house inferno to impede fire fighters or gawk across yellow police tape during takedowns, but Mutt felt certain the emergency crew just off I-44 needed some assistance. Mutt parked the big rig a month ago and set out on a road trip in the general direction of Missouri and found himself near the Mark Twain National Forest trying to calm down the translucent man, miserable at the sight of a songbird he believed ill.

The songbird was just fine, it was the translucent man’s years of living in a portrait of an unwise design, framed with predictable inclination and displayed in a gallery of sloth on a street where those who came either left quickly or stayed too long, as if lost, but still possessing the dream they’d find the way out. Mutt knew of the translucent man, the tortured path, the unending despair, the glimpse of euphoria, as we all know translucent men, bent over and twisted with the blank stare to conjure up sufficient guilt in the intended and create crazy thoughts and deeds of redemption, forgiveness and enormous acts of generosity to keep the slate, if not even, at least less skewed. The guilt only flows one way, and this is as it should be, and while the guilt is directionless and most likely meaningless, it serves as a thin patch of gauze from the medicine cabinet ready to make us all fell better. The translucent man was attended to, preached to, and gently scolded by paramedics, passersby, and Little Mr. Deakins but in the end he rose to his feet and sampled a small piece of the euphoria. Mutt offered him a ride to wherever but today the translucent heard what he wanted to hear, so, he assembled the small horse, the duck, a few stragglers gathered along the way and the trek to Plot 82 continued.  

UNCERTAINTIES/Winter & Weather

WHAT IT IS

The night shift has a certain kind of longevity that extends outwardly and inwardly at the same time. It suffocates an amicable state of mind and replaces it with a thin cloak vacillating between certitude and doubt. Stealing glances into the night’s domain shows a cauldron of thick smoke, sour soup, and faint assurances that a more satisfying presence will ride in on the morning horse. Jaden’s night shift stumbled and plodded through the New Orleans dampness, leaving tiny droplets over the car, the street and the lump of clothing piled up in the corner of the roofless bus shelter.

Leo Barnard was  the lump of clothes and by virtue of a hot breakfast, an automatic hand dryer and some fresh clothes from goodwill, the man sitting across from Jaclyn and Jaden looked completely at ease, sipping his third cup of coffee. The morning light was soft, soft like the light photographers smile at when they reach in their camera bag to get that perfect shot or soft like the excited scream a partially blind person utters when their sight begins to return and the truth of it was Leo’s vision was once again returning.

Leo lost himself in the first thing he saw, visualizing the robin as a central and a vital character in the theatre of his undiagnosed condition. He beamed at its beauty and saluted it ordinariness while he marveled at the lengths people go through to crown lions as kings, pay exalted tribute to eagle flight or drone on about the might of the Grizzly Bear, when the crux of what could be creation danced before their eyes, eyes seemingly worse off than Leo’s. Who designates the majesty of the seldom seen, elevates it into an ambitious tower then dictates to the lackeys what they must stand in awe of? They are a restless bunch and perhaps a soulless bunch, tormented by the ticks of a clock as it counts down  their end before they see the last white rhino or blue arctic iceberg. Leo studied the robin…hell, good enough for him.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Winter used its full arsenal as it started the assault in early October and kept up the drama until late April flexed a flimsy muscle and May finally delivered the knock blow. The freezing rain of November clobbered and bent the trees, copious amounts of December snow buried anything below four feet and the sub zero temperatures of January created a spectacular silence where nothing moved. Everything and everyone kept vigil through February waiting for the hostage takers to disperse, tolerating wintery jabs throughout the month of March.

The assumption was that Melina Schulz perished during the harsh winter, with no food or shelter her end was said to be inevitable. Massive search parties led by expert trackers and their cadaver dogs turned up nothing, and as the May blackflies gave way to the June mosquitoes the authorities all but declared Schulz deceased. The police budget had room to hire an internationally renowned tracker for seven days, so, the call was put out to Bulldog Snipes to put Melina Schulz’s story to rest.

Bulldog tracked like no other, he communed with ideas and observations that should be and took seriously the natural occurring fractures laid out in the path before him. He did not place himself in the center, but along the edges where reason and precision plant ideas and their growth and direction disclose anomalies that made tracking an inclusive pursuit that pitted him not against something, but apart of something. Bulldog’s seven days belonged to someone else’s ledger because he came to serve a purpose, that to him, ended when the particles of dust settled into the story he could tell was real and could stand the test of time and scrutiny. A simple tale of a robin’s nest disturbed by someone who shouldn’t be there, saw an emaciated Melena Schulz foraging for berries on the forest.

HALLUCINATION STRONG

WHAT IT IS

Kitty-cat’s one good eye, a relative term at best,  scrutinized Tiny as the black bear ruptured his new found freedom by stomping on the Louisiana phlox before vanishing onto the forest. Kitty-cat’s demeanor could be shoved into a bullhorn, broadcast into the coliseums of empty seats and exuberant silence, and his contempt would still rise above the clouds unnoticed by those thinking their feet were meant for standing still. Complicating matters, Kitty-kitty’s make over by the celebrity vet pledged an arrival of approval, a Hollywood accomplishment born of hallucination with sufficient gravitas to allow the winner to hold the key, open the door and walk inside to a room with no walls, just promises the walls would someday be built. If this was once an hallucination, it is now a way of life, with the empty seats filled mostly with covenants of possibilities  and the coliseum’s grand spaces now used as spaces to wander, as we look for autographs from the unknown and phone calls and texts from the unreachable.

Kitty-cat, the battered one eyed feline, was not about to let the platitude dispensers categorize her into the narratives of a history that was not her own. Magnification of her plight, overstating her achievements and showering her with the laurels of positive reinforcement was not the medicine this chewed up piece of rubbish wanted to here. The veracity of her existence belonged to her and she wasn’t about to turn it over to the documentarians and their fragmented pieces of drivel that passed for education or entertainment.

Kitty-cat looked long and hard at Kitty-kitty, damn that city vet did a pretty good job, but not as good as a new opening willow bud or a plate of room temperature tuna.

WHAT IT IS NOT

Hammer sheathed his sword in small increments, pulled it out again to check the edge, then slowly inched it away again. He did this repeatedly, unaware on the monotony as he grappled with the idea that a second Polacka may exist. A new beginning or a fresh start may well be someone else’s hackneyed vision of principles and procedures worn out to the point that some smooth talking huckster stages a near death revival and through trickery and showmanship rises these beliefs from the dark and the deep, casting a new light upon old shadows. Like a Ferris Wheel whose bearings are engulfed in succulent white grease, new beginnings will reinvent themselves as shady slices of aspiration, high on top one minute, falling predictably the next. The mundane and the familiar do not hold tickets to the same concert, they do not wait backstage in the wings ready to go on because their shtick is the brand from the past and any lessons lingering are condemned to a circular future.

These two would find one another. Hammer’s decision to allow two Polacks to procreate was a new beginning like no other. It was not mere pollen from a willow, or another child enlisting into the human horde but if it played out unwisely, the concept of what a new beginning was and who was entitled to it would be splashed around in the weeping pond of aspiration, ripples coming, ripples going.