A plane flies over at 30,000 feet. Not the first time. We’ve seen it all before. Some of us first hand— and to one passenger in first class sipping his bottomless Mimosa, having another, reclining at a Virgin Airlines exclusive forty-five degree angle, staring with bull eyes through cotton windows as those precious stock symbols of his tick by, watching someone else’s dollar fly into a hungry engine wing as if being shredded, as if being pureed solely for his amusement, juiced, from cash to kale, taking it in with but a grin, and from where he’s sittin’ it looks, well, from there it probably doesn’t look like much down here at all. Or does it, Captain? Au mais contraire, from here, ground zero, my hammock clinging with dear life to the limb of a ripe banana tree, every fruit whispering pick me, pick me, all eyes peeled on the infinite ripples forming over a Pacific-fed, saltwater stream who’s current stimulation is supplied thoughtlessly by the trope of water nymphs hanging out on lily pads a gently blowing— yes, from here, from where I’m laying it all looks pretty good indeed—looks to me like all I could ever want or need. Sure is peaceful, I think, but it’s peace having taken the most provocative of form I’ve ever seen. No love lost here—
And so paradise was founded by a group of individuals who cast themselves out a society intent on doing everything in its power to wring, like dirty dish towels, the creative juices from its plump, oily participants, their faceless master, unbeknownst to them, determined to harvest them of soul, suck them dry of tears, kill joy, roll them flat, cut them into matching squares, bake them hard as rocks, watching them grow old and wrinkle like dehydrated raisins in the sun— So what becomes these people of the prune?
To escape this fate us lucky few fled like rebels on broomsticks and laid stake to a small hunk of unprotected Californian land. It was close enough to see the screen of smog backlit in Hollywood spotlights but far enough yet to spy the stars. ‘Hi Tom, are you really out there?’ Here we set out to find another way to be, or not to be any way at all, or to be but what ourselves.
For me it was easy. I had only a few requirements. All I ever wanted to do was spend my precious time Reading and Writing and Watching movies that inspired inspiring visions I could call my own… in a land where sugar plums grow on fairy trees and the elderly walk with candy canes, there is a quiet man, but there would be no elder folk if he could have has way, we’d all die young or not at all, grow up without falling to pieces, the fountain of youth runs red awash thy neighbor’s borrowed blood, knock-knock, another cup of raw sugar please, and the sun offers their only hint of passing time— Wouldn’t be long before we lost track the seconds, said good-bah to sheep, closed our eyes on their white-washed world views and let fresh a coat of darkness that would rinse clean the boundless canvas of a whole body painted black. Here, we have all the Space we’ll ever need.
Here, we have everything we’ll ever need— to bathe in the salty pool that collects an ocean’s waves; that is if I am to bathe at all; to rub dirt in my open wounds, the same dirt where carrots are tended to and gummed by toothless whittle wabbits, where tomatoes are groped first by only virgin hands, all our limbs pure anyway when rooting around the rich, dark, chocolate soil that lies beneath our former’s cracked, clay and barren lands; toenails of all the boys and girls stained purple from stomping homegrown grapes into healing wine; heels black as ash for we have walked the searing coals; palms cupped together holding dearly to each drop of passive rain; clothes reduced to little more than tattered rags, relics of a vintage cult to which we all belonged, one led by Euro-fashion queens and suicide kings, these rustic robes tied together in some cases by patches of groomless hair; body odors more like musk than melon; urine running clear like molten ice; and for us men, our semen sweet and soothing from the mug like fresh whacked, warm milk of coconut. Drink up, baby dove.
It was inevitable—if for no reason other than their possessing Viking hearts—that our sons and daughters would grow up one day and ask to leave the magical fortress we’d created here, for ourselves at first but later adding them, so they could explore the nightmarish plain we left behind, decades ago, the one that presumably still surrounds our invisible, un-moated walls. And what choice did we have but to let them go, not warning them, merely wishing them well, sending them on their merry way, hoping in vain that things had not gotten too much worse in a power driven, pac-man-eat-pac-man, fruitless world. ‘Good luck,’ we sang, ‘be safe,’ we mused, as we watched our offspring made weak by birth in captivity go one-by-one, or skipping in uneven groups of two-by-three, shaven lambs catapulting themselves headlong into a slaughtered, roasted, boastful belly overstuffed with pig ears and bacon bits. Go ahead, gorge yourselves if that’s what you really think you want, you need. But what if they never come back? Will we then have made the greatest mistake of all by sheltering them so long from the domineering, hellish world, filling their minds with nonsensical ideals the likes of whimsy, us knowing all along that one day when tested these morals imposed upon would hold up like Willows against the outside world’s hurricane force winds? Perhaps we should have asked these questions sooner; perhaps we were shortsighted in our vision; perhaps we had deluded ourselves into believing our actions might somehow resonate in the atomic bomb sheltered, lead-lined, bubbled lives these people on the outside led; oh how we would affect change! But we didn’t. No we did not at all. It is crystal clear now that this has been, at best, an experiment entered into by a group of reckless radicals, of freedom fighters from the fringe, of Alien hippies engaged in matrimony by the rings of Saturn, of ones personally meant for this life but, and this cannot be stressed enough, grossly unprepared to make that decision on behalf another, to play god on behalf their unborn child. Yes, what a foolhardy, beastly idea it was for us to choose to mate in here. So best of luck my dear, be you damned to here or there, I hope with all my life you find the courage to smother their flames of hate or flee before they char and pick clean your last piece of infant flesh, sucking warm marrow from your bones while flossing gaps between their yellow teeth with your stretched tendonness. Très bon their appetit.
I guess it was always of greater concern that they would one day infringe upon our savory land and burn our people like unreformed witches from Denmark for living a sense they could not or would not ever bother to understand. How simply they refused to fathom the phantoms that foretold their own demise was always beyond me. Ghosts of their bloody past should have haunted their tireless existences with their dying, looping breath but somehow delusions of greener grandeur seemed to quell the petty cries echoing from their dead ancestor’s shallow, unmarked graves. This must be why I’ve slept under flame retarded sheets for all these years. For long as I remember, I’ve lied beneath blankets singed and holy so I would not forget the inferno that drove me here to my quiet, final, resting place. Sure it’s cold sometimes, there’s a draft more often than not, but I’d rather be cold and winded than cozy and cocooned, rather my warm corpse not be wrapped in dead duck down—thread count be damned—rather my icy soul near death than live like one of those flannel-fed, material beings who belong. But to be burned at the stake, I’d rather not— glad to have escaped the fate of those lesser known witches from Denmark, and I suppose for doing me that one decency the people of my time do deserve the smallest token of my gratitude. Well thanks I guess for that.
Maybe this flimsy hold on humanity was why in the early days I still slunk back, head held in fellatio between my legs, to their broken world. Less and less, but still, before that last invisible thread of connective tissue was permanently loped—of course it would be the burying of my mom, not long after my father’s faulty heart gave way, that would cut my cord for good—but before that there was always a string to draw me back— felt like a fishing line hooked through my belly button every time I got reeled over to their side through a revolving door called ‘pop-culture.’ It almost tickled. See, I’ve always had this morbid fascination towards, and this unfounded fear that I must stay in touch with the so-called pulse of their society, the whiny musings of my lost generation, and even as I grew to despise their place at large, I found myself nevertheless instilled with the bloodthirstiness of a middle school biologist cutting into his first fetal pig, and when it came to understanding the inner workings of my fellow man, getting down to what made them tick, squeezing their beating hearts to make the blood pump faster yet, or more specifically, understanding what kept them entertained, to this end I would slide their tiny organs under my microscope minutiae and slice them open with my most precise of instruments, my ejectable scalpel of the corneal kind. It was their guts I longed to see, but never found.
I still have these splintered memories, shards wedged for good, or for worse, healed under the wrinkles of what was my young adult mind of the book I was reading back then while I walked the jagged, picket-fenced in line between their world and what would become of mine. Smuggled guiltily between Nabakov’s Lolita and Kesey’s Cuckoo Nest, I had procured a digital copy, so best to peek at in the privacy of my own phone, of the masses most beloved book from that place in time. It was called ‘The Hunger Games’— wouldn’t be satisfied to say it was the hollow, earth-rattling mediocrity, a sound best left for easily distracted, volcano babies, or the utter laziness, my shoulders fatigued to this day from all their shruggings, of this work, and of its rabid fans, that gave me the final nudge over the edge and into my rightful, infinite abyss in wait— wouldn’t be fair at all because there were a whole litany of other factors that must have played a part—the part of Noah’s Arc, the part of the Serpent, and the part of an ever-shifting Eden were among the roles I cast. So let me set the scene:
I had just moved into a van and left for a cross-country trip to span Los Angeles and Austin, but would shortly thereafter find my stay extended to Brooklyn, while all along the way I was dropping breadcrumbs, spilling whiskey, planting apple seeds in the backyard where my parents watched me fall from an acorn tree, many years ago, snapping my fragile arm on impact; riding these magic bean stalks populated by my predecessors gave me a greater understanding of my place, or may have made me see where I didn’t fit; shared a brief but lofty love affair—and an adopted, expecting cat—with my musician, siren friend, whom I both admired and was utterly entranced by for the trip; lived a month in the Big City where I narrowly avoided digesting more forbidden fruit than one could expel; how rotten; this and more before returning back to the land of retreaded, stomped-out dreams with a litter of nervous kittens riding shotgun, scratching my back even when it didn’t itch, them anxious as I for a place to make our home—
So that is, and always will be, my biggest vice—the unshakable desire to please. To this this day my only regret remains, the one which will at this point undoubtably accompany me to the urn—burned past death by choice, rather than lit in vain like those exclaimed witches from Denmark—is the personally held fact that everything I have ever done is laced with my silent squeals for their approval. ‘Pick me, pick me!’ the piggish pages read. Somehow, my entire life was spent in turn rebelling from and crying out for their prized acceptance. Will the knowing nod of a fellow’s chin be waiting for me in the life that follows?—neatly bow tied and locked, Jack’s lower jaw aching to be sprung from within its wooden box, trembling in anticipation, a million little caskets all beholden with their dying words, ‘was you all along we sought,’ as they pop in perfect uni-song. Perhaps in death I can for once be free. And with that I welcome you to join.