Thursday, March 31, 2016


I was never comfortable in my
skin, still am not; it's as if I'm
annoyed at being human  -  that
sounds funny, but it's not meant
to be. I can swear to lots of things,
and a few of them are, (I swear),
that I see things and hear things
that other people don't. I sense
variations on the shades of things
and the essences which prove that
things aren't. Simply are not. Just
not there. It's not much fun : have
you ever tried to explain to someone
else a sense of the non-reality of
their world. It's almost non-sensical.
Back in Pennsylvania, when I first
bought that old farmhouse and land,
the barn which I possessed instantly,
for me, became the ghostland of that
present. In the creamery-room (like
a workroom for the milk business of
the barn) there was a 1957 calendar
on the wall, just left there, as if
they'd just exited yesterday, and
were coming right  back. There
were some tools, and chain left
there, on the workbench. Even
something I'd never heard of,
something called a 'creep-along'
or somesuch; kind of a ratchet-lever
and a cable thing, with a big,
rounded hook at the end. It fell in,
somewhere, between a winch and
a pull-bar. We'd even use it now
and then to drag a car along with.
(I was left with five junkers in the
yard, a 1960 Mercury Turnpike
Cruiser being my favorite of them,
but it was already a black wreck).
Funny how you can run across
something never known before.
Having it just left there, that tool,
I always felt it was like getting a
million dollars, freely. In fact,
just today, running along the
roadway at 50 miles per hour, I
came across a serious hammer
with a real good claw end, right
there on the dividing line in the
middle of the road. Normally, I'd
pull over immediately to retrieve
something like that  -  it having
fallen off a truck I'm sure, bet in
this case traffic precluded me from
stopping and trying to get it. Too
bad. I was out of my skin with envy.
See that! See what I'm saying  -  the
same guy (me) who goes around
banging the drum for nothing
existing, all hung up here over a
hammer. That's what Life is like - a
predominant over-riding assumption
about the world we live in, seen as
real and experienced as spirit too.
I've never been able to put my finger
on it. Anyway, back to this barn  -
upstairs, where the hayloft would
have normally been, this previous
owner (known locally as one crazy
dude, problem-infested loner),
Denton Parmenter, had built walls
and a bathroom and stuff. Never
finished  - his intentions had been
to rent these out to hunters  -  it all
was just set in place, ready for real
flooring, wall-spackling, paint, etc.
It had a bathroom, had a sink, all that.
In the bathroom, crazily enough, was
a pile of magazines, called 'Arizona
Highways.' All dated from about
1960-1964. This was like 1970-71
and it was weird to say  -  for a few
reasons. The time and dates and place.
And Arizona, oddly enough, through
the pages of this magazine, was still
congratulating itself on its highway-
building and its connecting of all sorts
of far-flung places within the state by
new roadways. Car and truck travel,
and it even showed campers and
vacationers driving all about. It
was all just very weird and
disconcerting  -  here I was in the
wilds of dirt-road Pennsylvania,
galvanized and happy to be away
from it all, and this stupid magazine
on my premises, for some reason,
was promoting and celebrating access
through highways, travel, speed and
roads. How this had happened, and
all the strangeness of it, I never
understood. But that's how linearity
is  -  straight-line craziness, always
at work.
To me, there was always something
more important in straight-line
everyday living than anything else.
School and colleges didn't make
any real sense to me, still don't.
You have to buy the dream with
that stuff, and I never did the buying,
let alone had any part of the dream.
I heard somewhere once, a long time
ago, a quote, and I always liked it,
that 'Colleges are like old-age homes,
except that more people die in colleges.
There's really no difference. Colleges
are part of the American institution;
everybody respects them. They're
very rich and influential, but they
have nothing to do with survival.'
And I sure found that out soon
enough  -  underscoring and
reiterating for me just what that
little quote meant to sum up. If
it's not you, don't do it.
There's more than two sides to
anything; I've found that out. And
everyone's got their own side, so
how many is that? Like God once
said, to Isaiah : 'I form the light,
and create the darkness. I make
peace and create evil. I, the Lord,
do all these things.' That was
pretty stunning and who are we
then to squabble over all the grays
in between? I know not me. Earthly
life is just a temporary sojourn, one
wherein nothing really exists at all
except for its own terrible, fleeting
moment. And that includes the good.
And by the way, along the way, this
Parmenter guy, after he left Pennsylvania,
his kid came to visit us once, about age
20, wanting to revisit the place he'd 
grown up in. I asked about his Dad, 
why he left and where they all had 
ended up. Here I was, living my own
version of reality in what I thought was
the hog-wallow wild-outs of a deep
country Pennsylvania, and this kid 
said, 'Dad? Dad just had to get away 
from all this, he said it was too built 
up  for him. We ended up way out 
in Ohio somewhere, at first. It's all 
shut down and beat-up, and then we
moved some more, way out to the 
country. There ain't nothing around
us now, 'cept for birds and stuff, and
some Amish people a few miles off.
Dad's real comfortable now, but 
he's getting old now too. But
I'll say hello to him, for you.'


I see them swagger, singing now
at  the top of their lungs. The bus
roars by, with thirty of  them at 
least, in song. It flies a flag at the
front-right side. Fleur de Lis, or 
some coat of arms. I think they 
were headed to the killing 
grounds. Like an old film, 
still running in my mind.


Sharpshooter Romanowski wants 
to recollect: things said in the heat 
of the moment are now disowned. 
'I didn't say that,' he swears, and if
you say I did, it wasn't what I meant.'

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Walking a big city is like walking
in the woods  -  except the trees
are people and, maybe, the cars
are squirrels, and other ground
animals, maybe the taxis are
birds and the buildings, the
buildings all around, instead
of being trees of anything
towering, they instead represent
'awareness,' the closure of place,
the wrapping of the situation into
and around oneself. Hard to put,
exactly; but I get the very same
sense of wonder  -  perhaps even
more  -  in such a scene, than I do
in the densest most unspoiled part
of any woods, any Hacklebarney
or Stoke's Forest hereabouts. I know
it doesn't exactly sound correct, and
that nature people usually disdain
urban things and city people, but in
my case the swing-set has equal seats,
thanks, and both are comfortable.
You see, I think about a lot of things
as I walk, and in so many ways it's
like prayer, more than anything else.
The strange part of the idea, the
conflicted dichotomy, is to decide :
should I walk with an empty mind,
in  a 'meditative' manner, or should
I walk totally consumed with a
presence, of prayer, of God
consciousness, or whatever? It
all sounds simple enough, but it's
not really. All around me, as I walk,
is the presence of humankind, but also
of Godkind. I get astounded by the
idea of 'Man', the engineer, the designer,
the maker, who can craft so heavily
all these many things  -  the spires, the
tall buildings, the vast roadways, the
railcars. A million imponderables all
going on  -  as it is  -  at once. Wherever
can I even begin my thoughts?
I am reminded, again, of something else : 
One of the problems with prayer is that
it's said to be, after awhile, completely
consuming, so much so that, once done
correctly, it becomes automatic and you
need no longer consciously set about
praying  -  your life and your being just
automatically always are. Totally and
completely absorbing, of the body-feel,
the body-concept, and of the complete
and conscious (and unconscious) work
of that body. Automatic holiness amidst
the unholy, amidst all other things. Sort 
of like a halo  -  except instead of being 
at the top of one's head it's everywhere,
and it's around you too. In the middle of
a vast city, any city, you can feel it  -  
why? Because of the unholiness 
prevalent too. Like some magnetic or 
electric consciousness, the dichotomy 
is set off, ringingly, between the two. 
You feel that current flowing and 
fighting, and, if prepared and done 
rightly, the prayer side always wins. 
(Prayer's not the right word, not even 
a good word, here, for this. But 
it's all I have without ponderously 
right now inventing another one : like
'Manifesting', or 'Gracifying' or some 
other awkward concept). The complication,
as I see it, for most people ends up
being that they can never just 'do' it,
mindlessly. And if you're not doing
it that way (if it's not, therefore, only
a simple meditation on the 'screen 
of place') it's useless. Most people
screw it all up by insisting upon 
praying FOR something  -  a result, 
an earthly end product. How's it said,
'God don't do vacation homes.' 
Meaning, of course and simply, that 
if you're asking for things by your 
praying, what actual good is any 
of it and where do you (or anyone) 
get off doing that and thinking that 
your 'human' concern deserves it?
Aren't you trying to lay up some 
kind of treasure  -  a one that's as
negotiable, really, as any other 
useless thing. You can't just go
ahead and play the 'God' card as it
pertains to your health or well-being,
or possessions or wants and travels.
It simply doesn't work that way. 
It has to be an empty yet solid, 
consuming sense of presence that 
anyone else cannot really even 
talk about to you and with you 
over. There's no difference, again
between someone greedy for 
material treasure or greedy for 
spiritual treasure. You can't 'want' 
something from your prayer. It has
to just be. That's why we are, at base,
each a 'one', alone. To base our 'pray'
upon the  Monad that we are.
We are NOT the mass.
Just the other day, this chubby little 
guy in leisure clothes approached me, 
as he was handing out little religious 
cards about being 'Saved' and 'Salvation'  
and all of that  -  his church, his mission. 
Personally, I, right off, disliked his look  -  
way too colloquial and way too much in a 
comfortable vein. I'd have been much more 
interested and impressed if he was 
bedraggled, ascetically thin, unkempt even, 
and hairy. To be factual, he seemed a bit 
too much of the 'Vacation Harry' sort to me. 
Perhaps that works in Idaho or Indiana or
 Ohio, but not here. Fact of the matter is, this  
little Blimpo was interrupting my moment, 
my prayer time, by his applied, (misapplied, 
as I saw it), concern for me, (seems too as 
if everything is always paradoxical for me). 
His demeanor was annoying  -  in the manner 
of any such thoughts of 'God' being pleasant 
and fruitful and happy always are  -  everything 
lacked 'gravitas'. Evidently I looked to him 
as someone who needed that special extra 
moment -  he seemed of a concern for me, 
which I suppose was OK, but I couldn't get over 
the other idea of him just needing or seeking 
another ass for the pew in that little mission 
church building of his he was advertising. 
Anyway, the topping on his helping of 
whatever here was what really got to
to me. He stopped, looked at me, and 
asked, quite face to face, if there was 
perhaps  'any need for prayer, anything I 
wanted that needed praying for right now?' I 
said 'no, thanks,' and he moved on.
His next contact. a woman some hundred
paces from me, I noticed, evidently did
acquiesce to a prayer need  -  as I saw them 
both together, on the sidewalk, facing each 
other with heads down and his hand onto 
her shoulder. Amazingly, in a moment, as  
she walked by me, on the same path she'd 
been before, she was holding a tissue and 
I noticed her eyes were
streaming with tears.


Tongue-tied, ample lipped, flaming
doozie you are. Wash my hands with
oil and water. Here's where it all comes
together. Every night, same damn thing.
The negative till is empty, and the cash guy
is out of cash. Hastings-on-Hudson got
nothing on me. I look out over the roadside
cliff : I see nothing but depths below. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Charades and beery James the
kinkadoor. That's the name they
give the concierge in this foreign
place that does the shirts. Gravy
stains and milestones, all together.
Here the Lincoln is parked near
the doorway, the watchman stands
still by the sink. Outside the window
there's nothing but rain falling down.
(There's room at the inn all over this town).


I kind of like the pyramid claims I
read about once : way before Homer,
way before the once we read about after.
They were placed here by a magic hand,
from afar  -  landing but for a moment in
their own time, but like twenty years in ours.
Hard, besoiled labor, in an instant. They left
without doing a thing, but, in turn, they left
us, all, with implanted stories of the great
stress and turmoil it must have taken to
make up those grandest of mysteries.
(And, anyway, they're only a waking image,
and not really there at all).


Accounting firm, or lawyers, 
or something. It was all I could 
see on the fourth-floor window. 
Looking up to a seascape of sky.


I was going around today thinking of
what was my favorite house. Dumb
self-question, nearly stupid, and with 
nothing to go on. What caught my 
attention was, in strolling along College 
Avenue, Rutgers, by the Alexander
Library, I saw a few Mansard Roof'd
houses still in good use and grand
repair. The Mansard Roof has, these 
last 5 decades, been considered dour, and
sour too. An architectural monstrosity
to be avoided at all costs. To me, it 
never came across so badly  -  Lewis 
Mumford's book, 'The Brown Decades' 
has always been one of my favorites. 
It  -  the Mansard Roof, I mean  -  
always looked separated enough 
from the regular duty of ordinary 
life as to make it, if not attractive, 
then desirable. I'd love to live in 
a nice one  -  garret-high, southern 
light, all that. I researched them once 
and was surprised to find a large part 
of their history had to do with stealth
and illegality. Bad tactics by landlords 
to get around things, taxes mostly. 
Real estate taxes. Seems like, a long 
time back, it being illegal to house 
people in upstairs attics and the 
aforementioned garrets and
studios, there began a mad rush
to the 'falsified' look of the Mansard
Roof window casements so that those
attics and things would begin to appear 
as rooms and extra levels, which they 
were not. But, I still think, people 
must have somehow been pretty 
stupid to think that sleeping twenty 
people on an unfinished attic floor
would be concealed (and also, how this
would save the 'tax' money of showing
extra floor) by the addition of pleasant-
enough looking outcrops and dormers. 
It's still all pretty confusing to me, but 
the intentional (or not) look of the 
Mansard Roof continues to please 
my Brown Decades eye. So, walking
along College Avenue (the Alexander
Library is right along there, plenty of
old-time New York and New Jersey
collection books about the early days)
today, I just carefully gazed at the 
housetops that I saw : a few already
taken away and being replaced by the
'modern', and another few in a now
progressive state of disrepair. Still,
a few shone on, and stood out.
It's funny to me how, over the years,
housing design has deteriorated, even 
as people have grown more wealthy and
wealth-orientated, making sums unheard
of to me before. Flying off to Europe on
whims, for vacation, homes at the shore,
living like kings and queens in most
every other aspect. The world has 
certainly taken off from its more 
humble beginnings, at least around 
here. But the diminishment of taste  
-  in the other direction  -  has proceeded 
with precipitous speed. In fact, we live 
amidst, now, a real overflow of bad 
taste. There are entire towns (Elizabeth,
New Jersey comes most immediately
to mind) where the rows of older 
homes, having been done over now 
probably two or three times, in two
or three different ethnic tastes and 
variations now too, are simply
outrageously poorly done and as a
not at all enticing visual nightmare:
Porch after porch either redone and 
mismatched, with no regard for quality
or fit, varied forms of sidings put on,
sometimes glaringly offensive and one
right over the other, iron and scrollwork
with pink masonry or stucco, or brick,
work. The clash of a Portuguese taste
ringing up now against a South Asian 
taste, where once before it had been
a Puerto Rican, Spanish, or Black taste,
and before that Italian or Hungarian.
Lingering arches and scalloped moldings
and beams, all haphazard and without
reason. Ostentatious entryways and 
really, really bad front door treatments. 
It's all really rough, and wherever you
do perhaps find some older, original
structure, it's sadly neglected and falling 
in. Inhabited by people barely hanging
on. Many of the once grand and broad
American places have now been taken 
from us. A lot of these houses were
waterway houses  -  think of that. The 
days when one's comfort and wealth,
from trade and commerce, say, could 
be given evidence by your stately home
facing the river, the river traffic, and the
wide expanse of waterfront  -  your cupola
and 'widow's watch'  -  are all gone now.
The rivers have no use at all. Roadways
and interstates ring them, and separate the
people from their proper settings. No one
knows the rights or the values of water and
water traffic any more. All is clogged by
highway and traffic. Even today, on College
Avenue, the steady stream (no pun) of
campus buses and autos just ran by. The
campus of Rutgers is now so far flung  -  
with the urban New Brunswick part of 
it being only a small fraction  -  that there
is need for streams of buses to keep taking
students to and back from the outlying
'suburban' area expanses of 'drive-to'
campus on what was, until 1990, give 
or take, farmland. It's a car-campus
college now, this 'Rutgers'. Why it 
has any, in fact, reputation now, is
beyond me  -  it seems a drone school
for teaching nothing but drone habits;  
a real no-consequence mess just barely
pretending to act at educating people.
It's a grind-mill, New Jersey's very 
own. The old, downtown part is 
nothing now, more an adjunct to the
car-campuses of varied sites out in the
once-woods. The old observatory 
telescope, in its little, rounded, building
is probably the best thing there now, and
I'd bet it too is not long for this world.
There is a great silence, most of the time,
around me, and it's one I'm happy with. It
allows though and it allows a certain other
level of 'communication' with the broader,
interior world, the world which better 
understands some of all this : the mysterious
villains of the unseen and invisible, the secret
spaces, between words, even as they
are being spun. 
So, where does any of this leave me?
I don't know. In flux, always, I guess.
Somebody like myself, I suppose, is
always, needs always to be, in flux. Seeing. 
Observing. Sort of 'renegotiating' the world.
I sometimes swear that everything is in 
constant motion and only stops dead, the
 entire picture stops, when the eye hits it. It's a 
world in motion and all that motion undergoes 
constant change until the next 'stop' moment, when 
the viewers' (alone or en masse) presumptions 
and predelictions and ideas have all changed 
again, still more, and the resultant 'new' frozen 
picture of the world  reflects all that. At only that 
instant, and then it's all off  to crazy-land again 
until the next stop. That's how public opinion
shifts, and paradigm changes and new gestalts 
take effect. That's what Thoreau and those 
Transcendentalist guys meant by saying
'consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.' 
They meant that you simply cannot just 
always be of one mind about things  - everything 
is always underway, on to course somewhere, 
undergoing changing. When we go to sleep
and all those strange rudiments of 'Dream' begin
hitting us, that's exactly what's going on  -  
the world, in flux, re-arranging, trying on different 
guises, trying to make sense of a no-sense deal. 
Hiding twenty people in that attic upstairs, 
behind those false-front
Mansard Roofs.