|Hollow in the snow by Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin|
Autumn leaves drape over the ground. The parchment texture moistens in places, as leaf pigments turn to resemble how I would imagine our internal organs. We are staying at a house, where the cool drafts pass through every corner, and the outside smells better than the inside. We are in the wilderness, though I feel close to home with my old friend from school days back in the Northeast. He’s his usual nonchalant self. We all feel the way one feels a few hours after chain-smoking for days on end. We’re moving on out. The trouble is, the only drivable car is with less capacity than can accommodate the five or six of us needing to get some more supplies in town. We hit the road, I leave my friend behind.
We soon arrive at another house in much the same condition as ours after a ride through the tamed highway wilderness. There is still a calling, leading us out into the mushroom pasture beyond the roadside horizon. We enter a house much like ours; it is empty, with cereal boxes punctured by hungry worms and roving mice. We manage to salvage some granola and milk. Some stay behind and begin to smoke comfortably upon upholstery pockmarked with careless fire. There is now room in the car for my friend, who I’m surprised to see. At the same time, I find it somehow predictable that he’s mustered a stealth ability to show up unannounced at any moment in this drably subdued, heaving chest of fresh air and color admired faintly around us. With immediacy, we are isolated from our past and our future. Yet, there are pinholes of awareness, where our perception heightens to envision the crystalline beauty of our surroundings. It usually happens simultaneously with my old time friend. We now both live in the North American West, though so many miles apart in this vast regional territory of our deliberately open, youthful minds.
We arrive in a town resembling Northern California, where many young men and women once moved many years ago and simply kept wheeling “trees” to all the naïve newcomer spirits. There is a winking eye of newcomer and seasoned residence in these parts, separating us only by distances of a few miles at a time. Blonde dreadlocks and glass-blown artistry melt in a haze of fruitful laughter amongst new kinds of friends, whose eyes touch upon the truth that most friendships disintegrate into a stock of fiends. Now, we are unstable, and lack any apparent humanity in this consumptive island of molten bread and wallowing dreams.
|The Page Mazeppa by Jean Louis Theodore Gericault|
The dry air is crisp and cloudless over a small town in the dead of the Colorado winter. A silence is treasured with each step. The conservative decisiveness of every citizen follows quickly behind me, like a lingering pet surveying one’s every move. I clamber down from a high iron fence. I see two friends in dense black coats. They greet me simply and inexpressively move on further along their frozen sidewalk path.
There is a young local friend of mine. She is a masculine young woman, resembling Jean-Michel Basquiat in some features of her unadorned, spindly matted hair. She is a bold, creative type, yet stifled with destructive emotion and nasty habits. I can see her hiding a needle in the thick folds of her winter sweatshirt. She walks out into the grayscale concrete light, dimming with a vibratory curse, a mathematical fate, to put her underground. So, she thinks, she will take her life into her own hands, and throw the trash out herself. She shoots up, and meets a couple of tall white guys on an outskirts corner near an open field. I see them as I walk past one morning, thinking of how she was killed. The image of her walking away from me endures.
"whose giving breathes iridescent crystalline surety
under a city lain bare as a leafless twig
in the winter of human occupation
over the frigid glare of our northern memories
fickle, as we approach a secondary wisdom
understood from blind precepts
that erase the open wounds found in deep cleansing
and spiritual promise"
- excerpt from "The Mythic West"