in the small places

Remembering Her Through Streams of Words

I’ve always felt that I, human, am frighteningly small and whatever this is that we exist within is big, bigger than anything I could describe with human words. Not even numbers, math, arithmetic can illustrate what this is in ways we can fathom. Or even believe. Yet, we are in it. We are swallowed up by it. It ingests us and digests us as we move through it, trying to find our way to the other side of it. If there is another side. If there is only one side. 

We are the grain of sand upon the beach of these galaxies, all swimming inside a mass of multiverses. We are floating through space, circling things we cannot see, and being encircled by things we may never see.

I bend inquisitive words to my will, hoping to breathe life into the mouths of their newly fleshed selves, hoping these words will help me to feel big inside this nameless ancient thing. I wonder about this hope I carry and whether it is authentic. Do I truly want to feel big? Do I want to know what this is? Or do I want to feel a greater sense of what I am in all this? Maybe I am terrified of the realization that I am sand. Or the molecule that sits upon the sand. Or the molecules that make up the sand. Maybe this is what frightens me, to realize how seemingly insignificant I am in all this. I am absent the ability to understand it. We all are. So there is no one I can turn to for answers, because we are all the many molecules moving around inside the form that is sand. Trapped by invisible limitations that won’t allow us to be anything other than sand; anything other than human. We cannot escape, we can only be.

I’m lost. I wake each day, sun warming my skin, and find myself yet again trapped inside this mysterious flesh that won’t set me free. Each sunrise renders me small and ever shrinking. I am acutely aware of this aging body I inhabit that will one day stop. I will be motionless, still, ceasing to realize the smallness of everything I’ve ever known. Becoming smaller as the abyss takes hold. Ultimately, ceasing to realize the bigness of all that I will never see or hear or smell or touch. Will there be something else once I leave this prison? Or should I count this as a mysterious gift I cannot decipher? Will there be the chance to explore that which is bigger than me, and smaller than I could ever imagine? Does that which is smaller than me contemplate its existence in the way that I contemplate mine? In similar ways? Maybe we are the only beings that contemplate existence. Will I enter the light or the darkness, or a peculiar amalgam of both? Will I go into permanent unconsciousness or permanent existence and sentience? Will I BE; or not be?

I think. 

Then…

…I bake words in hot ovens so they may rise. I fry them in cast iron pots, black and seasoned over the years to add flavor to everything that touches them. I take words into my hands and toss them in a buttered pan, so they can flavor my existence and find the truths I cannot see. The words seek out the roads less traveled, the paths to uncharted places only the stars have seen. I want to go there, to the uncharted places. I want to become big; then small enough and wise enough to commune with the ones who know what it is like to feel small. They live and love and look up and out, wondering what else there is…who else there is. I sauté words, preparing them for my still growing imagination. I imagine big, trying to offset my feelings of smallness. I have trouble seeing the power of smallness in this moment, even though I know there is power in the small. I know it. I do.

If we let it, realization of our pending death could open portals into other worlds (and words). Maybe only into the worlds in our mind, but maybe into tangible worlds waiting for us to find them. If we fearfully attempt to pretend death isn’t coming, we could deny ourselves a magical journey. 

My stepmother died Friday, April 20, 2018. She was kind. 

Her journey thrust me into deep meditation. I went to the hospital. Saw her lifeless body. Her mouth was agape due to rigor mortis, so it could not be closed. It was surreal. She’d only been dead for two hours when I arrived. Her body was still warm. 

Warm.

Warm.

No movement. No breath. No heart beat. Lifeless.  But warm. Warmth is life. 

It was life.

I kissed her forehead and my lips warmed. I spoke to her, feeling that she was still traveling and would hear my words. I wanted my imagining to be true, for her traveling soul to smile as I spoke. 

I wanted her to have a soul. 

So I spoke to her, not knowing if what I conjured in my mind was true. As I sat staring at her, I no longer knew what was true. In truth, I never did. I’ve always tossed our existence around in my mind, never landing on anything I could say I know for sure. We make claims about faith and hope and utter knowings we cannot prove to anyone but our dream-selves. Our fear of not knowing gives rise to claims of “personal journeys” only we can experience. There it is. No proof required. Convenient methods we use to allay our fears. We are creative beings. We are. 

I watch.

She seemed small on that hospital bed; small, vulnerable and helpless. Not even the doctors could bring her back. In that moment, they were helpless demi-gods who once dreamed of omnipotence. They left the room, dragging their words behind them, littering the floor with their helplessness. She was a prisoner inside a body that was warm, but motionless. And she was leaving this place, never to return. She was inside a cage-less, warden-less, fence-less prison that would hold her for a time we can never number. We often ponder how long we could or might live, but we rarely ponder how long we will be dead. If we care for this body, we could be here for 90 years, maybe more. When that time expires, we will be dead for millions, billions, trillions of years…if this is all there is, this moment, this body and these words I leave for you to read. No soul-spirit, just words that will one day ash and find the wind. If this is all there is. If.

I realize now that the small places are not much different from the big places. Just as a thing can be so small we cannot see it, a thing can be so big we cannot see it. That is the way of galaxies. We are here, in this big thing, but cannot see it or its neighboring galaxies with our naked eyes. Everything is big and small all at once. 

This was my stepmother on the hospital bed, big and small all at once. She reminds me to be humble and live well. Because there is a journey up ahead that nothing in this life can prepare us for. This journey could be magical or tragic. But it will be.

i built a story

I built a story that was tall and wide, stretching across miles of land like the Great Wall of China. I did not use brick or stone or plastic or metal or wood. I used the purple haze of stardust, sprinkled on sea foam paper that chewed my words into wide-eyed children, nutrient rich and ready for the mind. The paper sang to me, calling me through time, reminding me that it too has a story to tell that even the stones would bend to hear.

I re-flesh the ancestors with naked language that sometimes wants to forget itself; but remembering is the only panacea. I re-flesh memories, piecing together what was forgotten, clothing forests with leaves and branches and ancient trunks, and the dead things that cover the ground to re-life the soil with nearly forgotten ichor. The words grow up through it all, breathing through time to reincarnate, if even for a moment, what fibs tried to erase. I picked the fragrant words that bloomed, and built a story, tall and wide, stretching across miles of existence like a galaxy, big and aged gray, ancient and ready to tell tall tales about its life and what it had seen.

ilt

burn with anger, woman

Burn with anger, woman.  Your fire voice was temporarily extinguished with water, but you did not let it drown you. You turned everything that touched you to steam. The destroyers dissipated into the air, mixed in with the ancestors who lost their way and told un-truths about the place of woman. They now mourn their ignorance. They are gone, in form and thought, the ideas losing footing and the voices fading, with those few unenlightened left who are unable to grasp what is needed to survive the next great wave of time. They say there are 2,000 years in each season, and the patriarchy that has almost dried up mother’s milk is coming to an end.

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burn with anger, woman was originally published on zaji

the clouds in prayer

The clouds interlace fingers seeking prayer, an impassioned supplication to the un-gods.  They spread across skies gathering stories of un-time, spaces inside cycles that collect memories we will never touch, nor taste. Nor see. Clouds beseech the un-gods, begging for intervention. But the gods are children of a lesser world, Earth merely a blue and green ball in their sand, useless castles jutting toward the sky. They play. And laugh. But the clouds do not laugh. They watch as fingers interlace, knees bruise from centuries of thanking. And begging. The un-souls want to return to spirit. But tears are not the answer. The gods mistake them for rain. The gods toss fists full of sand to the Earth for those with the bruised knees who stand only to survive this un-World. The clouds watch and wonder, where are the real gods? The ones with love and power; and the desire to stop the pain, change the Earth channel, frequency, so that the violence does not outweigh the peace. So that potential is realized in the tomorrow. Change the channel now, so the un-World can shift into an awakening we can touch. The clouds drop tears upon the sandbox. Their prayers go unanswered. Their gods  enjoy Reality Earth, because Reality TV isn’t where the real drama lives. So to soothe their unrest, the clouds cry down on us. Their tears bring growth to forgotten parts of the un-World. Maybe they are the gods we’ve been waiting for. Maybe their tears, like holy water, will cast out the evil that lives inside this un-World. Maybe.

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the beauty of a teacher, and her students

Every now and then a bit of beauty falls onto my lap and reminds me that there just might be a pinhole of hope for humanity. Very few of us are as lucky as these ex-students to have found a teacher who truly loves them and wants for their success. Sadly, there are far too many teachers who have fallen into the trap of teaching for a paycheck, rather than teaching to save our future. Not all, of course, but many.

I honor teachers who love their students and do whatever it takes to ensure they are properly educated in the subject they teach.

my first and last

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Photographer Unknown

It was the mid 80s. I was 18 years old. I was working at a local video store renting out videos for a Prince height Italian man whose accent betrayed his birthplace, which was clearly not Italy. He was a Bronx born Italian, who mixed Americanized Italian with yiddish insults. When I didn’t move to his liking, he would look at me and let slip, fongool, from his lips. Back then I didn’t know what it meant, but it was clearly an insult and an expression of his disgust with my perceived inability to return the videos back to the shelves in a timely manner. At other times, I would get a well timed, mashugana.

At the time, Blockbuster didn’t exist in New York. It would be several years after I worked at that Mom and Pop video store before Blockbuster would open in the very same plaza where I worked. They took the corner lot, several stores away from the old video store.

It was at my local video store that I would meet many amazing people. One woman, who was a Prince fanatic and often told me that her and her boyfriend had an understanding that if she ever met Prince, she would no doubt have sex with him. She told me that her boyfriend understood and accepted his fate if she were to meet Prince in a private space. She was deadly serious and made no bones about it.

One day she came to me and said she acquired tickets to a Prince concert and wanted me to go with her. She was excited about attending and wildly flipped her dusty blonde hair with childlike enthusiasm.

Here I am, nearly 30 years later, remembering my excitement and feeling it all over again. It was the first concert I had ever been to. And from that day to this one, I have never been to another concert. Prince’s concert was one of the richest and most rewarding experiences of my life.

Seeing him on stage reminded me of how beautiful, creative and talented humanity could be when not focused on the negative aspects of our psyche. He was the consummate entertainer, working his instruments like a champ. He almost floated across the stage and exuded a fluidity that was captivating, mesmerizing and hypnotizing. He was simply amazing.

I left the concert feeling satisfied and truthfully never imagined that I would never attend another concert in my life. It genuinely just happened, and I have no idea why.

Prince was my first and last. Now he’s gone. I weep purple tears.

 

my first and last was originally published on zaji

contemplating life

I sat in the park today, thinking. I didn’t focus on anything in particular. I listened to woodpeckers feverishly pecking away at trees and red pyramids at the top of a swing set. One I saw atop the swing had a vibrant red head, black upper body, white lower body and black tale. It appeared regal. I wondered why it wanted to peck through toxic paint to get to whatever was hiding inside the pyramid.

People drove in and out, some parked for five to ten minutes, others got out to get their morning exercise. I thought about these people and wondered how they saw their lives. What does it mean to them to walk in the park? Why do they want to exercise? For health? To wear a bikini for the summer? Are they walking merely to contemplate life? Or did they leave home to get away from a horrible fight?

I thought about existence and the unanswered question of why we are here. What does it mean to even be here? In 1,000 years, what will sit on the spot where the swing currently sits? I can only speculate.

A dozen more thoughts came and went. They were all theoretical and filled with inquisitiveness.

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Photography by zaji, April 19, 2016

universe

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Undulating within dark words reaching for dying stars.
Nubian night finds us inventing stories of our beginnings.
Ichor is there for drink, if you want, if you dare.
Venus is just up ahead, a little to the left and on ’til dusk.
Endings exist at the edge of a dark multiverse.
Remember your beginnings so you can live.
Souls don’t find rest, out there.
Ethers breathe the breath of life into entities seeking birth.

© zaji, 2016

fire in the caves

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There is fire in the caves.

Defiant flames stretch across indocile walls.
The cold stones can bear the relentless heat.
But can they bear the stories?

There is fire in the caves.

Fire burned alien symbols into cave ceilings.
Their meaning has long been forgotten.
We are not alone.

There is fire in the caves.

The aliens were the ancient We.
The us that is far removed from the Now.
We were the other species.

There is fire in the caves.

Flames climb higher into cloudlessness.
Sunless black sky cries for light.
The flames answer and obey.

There is fire in the caves.

© zaji, 2016

newspapers: the other reality entertainment

Writing Prompt: Newspaper

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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Bird cages lined with yesterday’s murders and celebrity gossip keep no secrets. The fear and triteness won’t swing open cage doors to set free the small bodied beings with wings who don’t care about our words. They remain caged, trapped with sounds humans write on paper about their unsavory behavior and dying world. But they rarely use those words—dying world.

Newspapers aren’t about real news, meaning, the diversity and compendium of human experience across all possible ways of seeing existence. They’re about telling up to the minute stories about localized collective tragedies, and our sanitized collective insanities. Printing in only black and white doesn’t ease the colored stains of the real world. We read now for the reality show effect on paper. Newspapers keep the masses entertained and anxious each morning for the next fix of pain and pettiness. Sometimes, the fix allows us to keep the illusions alive, they keep us believing that we are free. But the paper sits inside a cage or trapped at the bottom of a heap. Irony.

There is really nothing to read but the same old thing. Different name. Different place. Same story and denouement. Sometimes none. Just unraveled threads wrapped in mystery and phantom or real killers, or candidates running for something we can’t put our fingers on. We give it name, but in the end, it behaves nameless.

There is nothing to read. Let the birds have it—our makeshift history. That is how important it is, really, for some. For most. Just a thing meant for waste, then tossed into large black garbage bags that sit on a curb waiting to be taken to a place where history is destroyed, meaningless in the grand scheme of it all. All soon to be buried beneath thousands of years of lifetimes and names no one will ever remember or know.

green all over

Writing Prompt: Green

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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i am green on the inside where the grass, shrubs and trees live and grow. i am green leaves flowing through thick veins trying to find their way to calm green waters of life. i am green skies and dark green soil, seeking green seeds that reproduce outside of dark green fertile flesh. my thoughts are green and grow in green rain and sunshine, birthing strong green men and women who build nations. death is green and takes us all to that after-place where green persists, trying to introduce us to a new life.

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