There is something majestic and royal about a large, grandiose ship leaving port, casting off thick mooring rope, to trek onwards to a new destination. The horn bellows in salutation, thanks, and auf wiedersehen. Folks wave hands, blankets, teddy bears, tissues, handkerchiefs to no one and everyone. It is an exertion of excitable energy. It is a testament to the inventions of humankind; Combustion engines and steel construction. Elegance and terror and strength. You’re living in it now. The spray of salt water comes up from the ocean deep with a little naval baptism. You are blessed and now one with the water, all your land sins forgiven. You are new. Your soul blessed and renewed, to start a new life on the this months long voyage on this vessel. The halls still smell of fresh, white paint and the newness of a classroom on the first day of school; Like you are the first student to have ever entered it, no one else has been here before you. Hotel rooms too; The illusion that no one has come before you; You are the first, everything has been untouched, just kept pristine by magic and good intentions. As the dock and shoreline get closer and closer, a slow-motion zooming out of the world you once knew, before long, your only line of vision is the place where the sea meets this sky; This one, holy horizontal line. We are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop, we are stuck in an infinite loop – And suddenly your mind begins to become the water, and suddenly you are staying up later and waking up earlier until you no longer know what time it is, and no that clock can’t be right. And then you’re pacing in your claustrophobic cabin, afraid to eat, afraid to talk to anybody for fear you’ll be eaten. And that’s why, when you finally make your exit down the gangway, you drop to the ground and kiss the dirty earth of New York and say a prayer to God incarnate in the Statue of Liberty herself, that you’re blessed because you made it, and if you had to have gone just one more day, you’re not sure if you would’ve made it.
Trees that never blossom and grow fruit. Cactus in the desert, thorny stabs at first approach. Ah, yes but their bulbs are filled with water or aloe vera, or some hydrating, nourish sustenance. Sandy hourglass trickles through Time. Some Arabian Nights early-Hollywood fantasy. Where white men still get all the roles. To succumb and adapt and still not get it. Hopeless, desperate, dejected, depressed. Everything you do is for nothing, for naught, forgotten, forgot. I plead with hands outstretched, a perfect dove shadow-puppet, flapping fake-winds and not getting anywhere. The air is different here. It is the grand illusion where I have no wings and nowhere to land. This is not West Caldwell Airport. JFK Jr will not come back to life. Smile immortalized on newspaper headlines and documentary archival footage. Wading through memories that are not mine. It feels strange to slip on another stranger’s skin and walk through. And even then how could I possibly understand? I would never presume to. Human compassion can get you close, but cannot duplicate the experience of what it is like to be someone else exactly, someone else untouchable. These pears are infertile and will not blossom. They didn’t feel like it today. Not in the mood. Unconvincable, unpersuadable. Seeds were planted and the soil sucked. The soil sucked them dry. They got eaten by animals. They got forgotten and buried and did not activate.
Circular, diamond-studded watch face ticks away minutes, then hours – really seconds that become longer periods of time. It all adds up. We’ve found some way that makes sense to organize and catalog something we call Time. Water sundial, passing of Sun and Moon and Stars. Moving at a mathematically predictable pace. Had to figure it out from the ground up. It’s not my strong-suit, so I’m not sure if I ever could have done it. That’s why it’s all mysterious magical science to me. Some believe in Alien intervention, but I’m not too sure. Doesn’t that shadow the capacity for the human spirit and intelligence? Why should we not believe that we landed on the Moon, built the pyramids, and discovered astrology? It is too easy, and perhaps a cop-out to resign ourselves to “outside intelligence”.
Eyes wandering behind newspaper top, the lift above and scan the casino floor. Something fun and dark. Sunglasses lowered to the middle bridge of the nose, eyes casting downward enhancing the suspicion, the mystery. Drop-top convertible screeches to a halt. Valet hops out and reluctantly hands the keys, having to part with such a beautiful vehicle, the best he’s driven all day. Disagreements as my eyes unfocus. Surveillance cameras watching. Blue raspberry Spiderman popsicle from the ice cream truck. Springboard with the chin tuck at the pool. Slurpee arguments, toeing the line, testing the waters. This watch is not waterproof. Who possibly wears their FitBits so far up the arm like you’re technically supposed to? Fuck the phone, fuck notifications. I don’t want to watch it anymore, check it anymore. Frog in throat, hard to swallow, anxiety in slow-motion. “Watching The Wheels” – John Lennon. Documentaries that are still fresh in the mind hours after watching. “Bird On The Wire” – Leonard Cohen. Some days I just want to close my eyes and be ignorant to the whole thing; Not watch at all. Guardtower. Watchtower. Jimi Hendrix. Guitar reminding us that everything is not okay after all. There is trouble. There is trouble in the water.
Sly & The Family Stone bumping bass lines until early dawn, when the sun comes up and there are bottles and plastic red Solo cups littered around the yard, floating in the pool. Someone passed out on a floatie with their mouth open, wearing a light blue speedo. Oblivious and unconscious. Sunrise creeps in, first giving way to lighter blues and purples, before cresting orange and mysterious golden yellow, as that big side of butter next to pancakes, waffles, or french toast, makes itself known by hot, bright rays rousing even the most reluctant, sticking the knife in a hangover. Three cup trick where you have to find the golden nugget. Yukon Trail and levels ranging from Easy, Medium, and Hard. Cups get shuffled face down at a rapid pace. A game that’s existed for centuries, I’d imagine. A kind of ‘try-your-luck” type deal. A fox slinks away into a forest, bushy red tail following. Luxurious, but dangerous. Cute little black paws. The fox and the hound. Disney tears. Friendships torn apart. Makes us want to believe in fiction.
“Sunflower, bullshit. I want everything beautiful to burn.”
Tiny yellow pedals point outward like triangular rays of sunshine. The face of the blackened middle, smiling to the sky, turning to drink up sun, sleeps in the darkness. Maybe it tilts, just a little. I recall singing a school song, rather a song at school, for a spring concert, at Lacordaire about a sunflower. The whole thing is on VHS somewhere. I might’ve had a dress too that I wore with a sunflower on it. Might’ve been navy blue with black and white checks. Some song and dance routine where we move toward the rhythm and sing songs about how God is the sun and we are just all sunflowers turning toward Him. My mom really liked the song. It was in the sweaty gymnasium, which also doubled as an auditorium. There was a stage in it and everything – bigger than Good Shepard for sure. I still remember that gym, that was technically in the high school. There might’ve been cookies and fruit punch afterwards. A combination that never makes sense outside the context of being a kid. When Hawaiian Punch and Juicy Juice ruled. Capri Sun and Sssips and here I just going on and on about juice. Hi-C! So many flavors, so much cardboard and aluminum and high fructose corn syrup. Plastic straws attached. Parents really put up with a lot of our bullshit, huh? So much commitment, so many activities; Birthday invitations and playdates. It’s a lot. I realize that now. But when you’re a kid, you don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. There’s no context because there’s nothing to base it off of, there’s no experience. You’re so fresh and new in the world and everything is just happening to you all at once. Aging is annoying. Just when some things stay the same, other things are always changing. Like my eyesight. I haven’t seen a legit sunflower in awhile. Pictures, of course. I think my great-grandma had a singing sunflower that may she got from my mom when she used to sell Avon. They always had strange electronic things in the early aughts. But this sunflower had a face in the middle and when you pressed a button it would sing you are my sunshine. And she got a real kick out that. And that was all it did. That was the gag. And I guess when she was feeling blue and no one else was around, she’d hit that button and laugh out loud because that was the kind of person she was. Back before she got dementia, back before she had to have her car keys taken away, back before she had to walk around with a name tag that also had on it her address and who to call if she was lost. Back before nursing homes in Kenilworth that we dreaded to go to on a Saturday. It was a lot. I get that now. My dad always made us go though, despite it all. And I think that was the right thing to do.