April 6th, 2022
Holy Moments Found In Everyday Life In Omaha
What if days weren’t measured by productivity but by the accumulation of instances we are enraptured within them, like holy lucid moments with the notion that everything connected is set apart for that union.
All interactions a looking-glass into individual existences. The inner turmoil acted out, portrayed in the flesh. Constrained by the noises we make with our mouths. Sound symbols that solidify abstractions we try to define. The whole of human history. All of it. All the time. Everywhere.
I slept in on Saturday. What a relief. The ease of it. I laid there a while. Roiled in it. Even the sun yawns and stretches itself out over the course of a day. It too rolls and lolls around. It lingers up there a while until it settles over the hills and the houses beyond Omaha, beyond the green stretches of corn and soy and the Rockies somewhere over there along with the swelling of the Pacific.
So much of what is stagnant has participated in the dynamic aspects of its own origin.
Even now the Great Wall sits and stretches across China a stale symbol that once swallowed bodies in its construction.
I laid there and accepted my inactivity as a victory over fatigue. Contentment my trophy.
When I did finally rouse myself free from the couch it was close to 10 and there was already much movement happening down on 50th with cars rolling by, the very friction of their mobility shaking the frail walls of this hundred year old house (At night the windows rattle almost to the point of breaking when a heavy wind thrusts through Chicago toward Saddle Creek and wake me with their convulsions). I threw on the same clothes as the day before and hoofed it up to Blue Line with my laptop bag in hand.
The place was packed. A line formed along the wood-paneled wall where just on the other side the machines grind and work up a sort of music of their own. My friend Cale waved me down to his table. We shared a few words about romances and music before he split, leaving me his place to sit and work. It wasn’t long before the bustling of the place got to me. The humdrum of chatter and children shrieking in their jubilation. I couldn’t hang. I closed the computer and got the hell out of there and into the sunlight.
I thought about going home but it was too nice out. A cool wind whipped in the stain of a warm day. God if these days weren’t meant for bathing in the warm bliss. My skin dipped in golden light with a cool nipping as Winter’s chill recedes.
I took a seat at one of the black metal tables in front of the place and flipped open a book on the theory of prose. How the whole thing works. The stories. Their framework. What it means to construct a tale. How it unravels. Resolves. It was written by a guy named Viktor Shklovky, a Russian Formalist. Intellectuals who gathered round and pontificated over literature. Criticized it. Put it in a box and packaged it. I’m grateful for the endeavor. His work, and others like him. They laid it all out there to be built upon. I sat studying the foundation looking for cracks. Wondering how solid it was. Periodically I’d stop and solserenade.
In a way a day like this can make me reminisce. I am eight years old. I am eleven. Chlorine burning my eyes. The smell of it on my skin. In my hair. Small droplets of water in rivulets upon my side, rolling down and collecting towards the flat of my back as I laid there on the hot concrete after swimming in our community pool the water pooling beneath my body. My parent’s laying out. Somewhere in the water my brother’s wrestling with friends, neighborhood kids. Some moments are eternal. And I sat there in my past and stared up at the sky and the fleet of white tufted clouds sailing across the blue not giving a damn about anything. Nowhere to be. My worries in some place like Bermuda.
After a while I notice the green OPEN sign over at Dundee Books. I remembered an email Ted Wheeler sent out for membership renewals. I got up and crossed the street. Contrast to my repose.
Agitation may be the stuff of progress but sometimes its nice to lay in the sun knowing that even without me the war of attrition is as eternal as a blade of grass silently growing there beside the concrete path that leads to the door of Dundee Books.
A young woman sat behind the counter. She smiled. I’d seen that face before though not in that same space. It was familiar. Like I’d met her somewhere before. Not in Omaha. Not then. Images of her surfaced. Yet they were without context. I smiled back. Said hello. Told her I needed to renew my membership. Afterward I wandered around the place. Scoured the shelves. Looked for something to stick out while I waited for the two other occupants to purchase their books and clear out.
Towards the back wall I found Bolaño’s Savage Detectives. A book Brenton Gomez had told me to read. I snatched it. Fanned the pages. What a name. Bolaño. Pure poetry in its phonetics. I took it to the register. Set it on the counter. I asked the girl her name. Ella, she said. With a wide smile, brown hair and freckles. I asked her if she’s from Omaha. She isn’t. Denver. I don’t know her. I ask her why she’s in Omaha. Creighton for Journalism. Graduates this year then heads back to Denver for law school. I wished her good luck on the long road ahead then left.
Why did I think I knew her. Where did that memory come from. A dream?
What is that feeling of knowing someone we’ve never met before? Is there a word to define it?
I headed home with these thoughts swirling in my head and once I arrive I realized I didn’t want to be there caged in with the sun out, working like a time-machine. Like a thing persistent in our memories.
I walked back up to Blue Line. Back to the same chair. With the same sun. The sky. Everything. Read a little of the Savages. The pace is good. The prose simple. I paused. Took it in. Began again. Rinse and repeat. A familiar face sat next to me. LaRue. We shook hands. We talk of literature. About Borges and Cortazar and how in New Orleans he’d met a writer who knew of Amanda and Carl at Jackson Street from back in the Berkeley and Frisco days and he told me how this writer fellow took him to all the dusty bookstores of that Creole town in search of Hopscotch and found his own books in the process. The two of us spoke about desert landscapes and literary figures and stories told in the wake up their demise, where their bodies lie in the earth.
Such a conversation built up an appetite. We walked to the Bungalow and I made us mushroom tacos with kimchi. A simple feast for two bibliophiles. We talked some more about our travels. He in Mexico. Me in Paris. Both of us down and out of sorts. Our pockets flipped inside-out. That sort of thing. As he left he said something that stuck with me ever since.
He said it as I closed the door and I smiled and only after closing myself in did I realize what he’d said: it’s not often we get these organic moments.
Spontaneity. Being in it. And I stood there behind the door for a minute, enjoying the organic moment.
When he’d gone I left again (still not ready to settle within the walls). This time in the opposite direction looking for another place to sit in the sun and read and by the time I got to Lola’s I didn’t want to walk any further and sat right there at a bench along 50th. There was still enough light and warmth and breeze and I sat there and read more Bolaño. Bolaño! and his young poets in Mexico City devouring books and exploring their own existence in that mass of latin loquaciousness. Smoking marijuana. Drinking and walking the dusted streets of De Jefe.
Cars passed from Underwood to Dodge. Faces I’d never seen. No feelings of familiarity in that world unto themselves. And just like that it got cold and more clouds rolled in from the north west at a slant across the sky and devoured yellowy blue with grey. I got up and headed home this time to stay but then I’d remembered there was a show at the Holy Family Community Church that I wanted to go see. James Schroeder’s Mesa Buoy record release show.
When I got home Bernardo Soares (aka Bernie Sanchez aka Sanchito aka The Basque) called me and we talked for an hour about relationships. The movements of them. A push and pull affect. How two become one. Connected. Understanding the importance of this union. And what a beautiful gift it is to have another broken human as a mirrored reflection of the brokenness within and yet still love and work through the triggers and the traumas, to explore this reality and what lies beneath its surface.
An hour had gone by and I was running late, but when I got to that steepled structure the congregation had just taken their seats to some Satie performed by Dan McCarthy and then afterwards Megan Siebe with her voice a sweet growl angelic at times playing folk hymns of her own witnessing. The arrangements simple. And then afterwards Jim took the stage with David Nance and friends and they played the gospel. I sat enraptured. I’d found heaven in Omaha. Scripture with dissonance. A country waltz reverberating between the walls.
The whole hall a cathedral and my body possessed by intangibles. They grew and expanded about the room and then would collapse into syncopated abstractions.
A grating noise. Each player in their own world and then all at once they would come back to the motif and the whole group would become one again. I looked around the place and most people sat stiff in their seats observing. A stale cast of onlookers. And I thought what if life were an arrangement. A symphony governed by the music of the spheres, where all events coalesce as they spiral inward and outward in their efflorescence. What if life isn’t predetermined, but a series of alignments gravitating upon the same motif. All our senses contingent upon this perception.
Across the room I could see symbols of my past sharing the same space no more than a few chairs away. I’d glance over and remember. I’d remember. I’d remember the happiness inside those memories sustained by the keeping of them. A feeling of longing expanding and contracting within me.
Damn it if I can’t hear the music playing within us all. Even now.
April 27th, 2022
Absence Makes The Missing More Meaningful
It’s been six months since I moved out of the house on Fowler Avenue. And in some way I’ve been trying to get back there ever since…
April 19th, 2022
A Madman Has Been Loosed Upon the World of Literature
Sometimes I wonder if I made him up, as if he were a figment of my imagination. Like some conjuring out of complacency in order to bring a little chaos into my world…
April 13th, 2022
Nature Is Within And Without. . .Change My Mind
A strange tapestry of light hangs over the western horizon. The sun a white circle of light cauterized through the veiling. Black clouds sweep in from the south that brood with brief flashes of light…