Saturday, January 7, 2017


292. 6 WAYS 
It was a catacomb.
It was a cavern, a 
tomb. I tried to 
make some sort 
of sense of the 
life I was presented 
with, but so difficult 
had it become. I 
had once learned 
to manage my 
tongue, say the 
least I could say, 
but that never 
precluded me 
from speaking 
my mind as well, 
when I had a 
real opinion on 
something, and 
not some crummy
old media-induced 
crackpot echo. I 
knew it was going 
to be difficult. 
is one thing, real 
talk is another. A 
lesson I had learned 
 -  and this is pretty 
crazy for a human 
person to say  -  is 
that you have to love 
what you use as 
language. As a 
writer, you have to 
quite simply love 
the words you write.
If you don't, if you 
end up being cheap 
and cavalier, they 
become nothing. 
Bookstores everywhere 
are filled with 
such junk  - the 
story line and the 
brazen appeal. 
I have to admit, and 
I do so here, willingly, 
that I often heard 
voices. Yes, I'll 
say that again, and 
it's true for this 
present day as 
well. I often heard 
voices. Not so 
much of this stuff 
comes from nowhere, 
you know. Those
were my own voices,
speaking things only
to me. All I had to do
was stay properly attuned
and they'd keep coming. 
People, on the other
hand, would say things, 
weird things, over 
which I had no control. 
They were not using
my words, for sure.
I did not love that.
An instance: one 1960's 
phrase  -  always 
completely without 
any understanding to
me  -  went something
like '6 ways from 
Sunday,' or '20 ways 
to Sunday,' or '40 ways 
from Tuesday'. I forget 
exactly. And I haven't 
ever heard that phrase 
since  -  back then I 
heard it 5 times a week
without comprehension. 
It was a real 1960's thing.
Was it code? What 
did it mean? Who 
originated it? It turns 
out to mean something
like investigating a 
situation from every 
angle. As in, 'Hmm. 
There are 6 ways 
from Sunday to get 
this done. Let's 
examine them all.'
I'd imagine, a 
week having 7 
days, the core 
of this was getting 
to Sunday, or from, 
with the use of 
the other 6 days. 
Who knows? It 
was imprecise, 
and the people 
saying it just 
mouthed their 
words. No one
knew, and this
phrase perfectly
captured a form of 
the tense sort of 
'glib' that was then
always in the air.
And then, oddly enough
I learned to use that
same imprecision
in my own work.
Nothing was ever 
closed out  - 
whether art, 
drawing, writing, 
poetry, whatever 
I did, I found it 
'right' to leave 
a certain imprecision 
for the reader or 
viewer to work 
out on his or her 
own. If I closed 
everything, every 
option, up, what 
was the good for 
the viewer. There's
nothing more boring
than a closed and 
rational system. One 
needs to be able 
to sort and sift, 
and come through 
an experience with 
one's own sense 
of completion, 
learning, from it. 
Tactile. Soul and 
spirit. It's the 
same with 
learning. If I 
were to tell 
someone the 
point and lesson 
to be taken 
from everything 
I did or wrote, 
they'd remember 
nothing of it. 
Better they 
came up with 
any and all of 
it as it fits 
them, as they 
structure their 
own reality 
around suggestion. 
That's how my 
own life was, 
and I was 
working hard 
at it. I guess it's 
abstraction, but 
I don't know, 
because to me 
it was all clear; 
even back then.
Hearing voices.
Clear light.
I was faced with 
a dilemma, and 
I guess I tried, 
amidst all this 
stuff around me, 
hounding these 
print shops, by 
which I figured 
would at lease 
always keep me 
somewhat near 
to 'Art'. It was 
a shot in the 
dark -  better 
than being a 
pharmacist or 
somesuch baloney. 
In these 'roles' I 
took on, Appellate, 
and at St. George 
Press later, when 
all this stuff finally 
began happening, 
I had to portray 
some happyland 
jerk, a regular guy, 
at home in the 
world, getting 
along with everyone, 
making the requisite 
small talk  -  about 
politics and 
Chernobyl and 
Patty Hearst and 
Reggie Jackson. 
All that junk, really.
All the most normal, 
abhorrent to me, 
stuff in the world. 
It was part of being 
invisible, of somehow 
sidling back in, 
between treasured 
cracks, to remain, 
at my core, what 
I really was, 
while letting 
others see what 
they wished in 
me. Man, I had
scars. I never knew
how much of them
others were seeing.
I guess those are the 
only markers 
the world allows 
you, and the 
only thing the 
world wants 
to do to you, 
as well, is 
tarnish you, 
beat down to 
death whatever 
dream or 
of elevation and 
you might have. 
It's pounded 
into you. Up 
and down Main 
Street Woodbridge 
it was all on parade. 
I used to have 
some business I'd 
have to do, through
printing,  with a 
guy named Ralph 
Barone  - I guess 
he was still Mayor, 
though I can't 
remember. He 
had a 'professional 
building' office as
well, not mayoral,
across the street 
from the post office, 
which too was 
newly constructed 
in some sort of 
face-off, by 
which, all along
Main Street the 
old was disrespected 
and the new 
was left-to-right 
trying to replace 
everything. To 
this day, next to 
Barone's mess, 
there's a tattered 
old church house, 
and a church too, 
left standing, 
decrepit, gone 
to seed. As far 
out of the pale 
from the modern 
day as anything 
can be. All these 
business people, 
I realized, lived 
within a certain 
precision  - all 
those business 
guys, Ron Anzivino, 
Bob Wiegers, Ralph 
Barone, Harry Halpern, 
Dr. Feiler (the real-estate 
dentist with the big 
building), all they 
ever did was live 
in a constant 
present. They 
had no other 
sense of place 
or tense. All 
that existed 
for them  -  
history be damned 
and don't give 
me any stories  -  
was the present, 
from which to 
look out and 
proceed. 'It's 
old, it's failing, 
get rid of it, and 
good riddance.' 
The only thing 
that saved the 
land next door, 
and probably does 
to this day, is that 
it's church-owned 
and that somehow 
puts it in a different 
category of place 
and time : no one 
knows what to do. 
It's viewed, in their 
twisted mind-speak, 
as a 'sacred' shamble, 
thus let be. Anyway, 
Ralph Barone was 
a slippery, slimy 
political dude, in that
role, who could stare 
down a cobra to 
strike. Back then, 
he didn't much 
like me and I 
didn't much like 
him  - there were 
interdicts, Vietnam 
War gung-ho militarists, 
'cut you hair or get 
out of town' anti-hippie 
types (they hadn't a 
clue; all they knew 
was what TV told 
them and what they'd 
hear down at the 
(new) Elks Hall on 
Friday nights), 
and he represented 
them. To him, I 
represented 'the 
other.' Nonetheless, 
I had to deliver 
papers to him, 
and did so. His 
office was as 
boring as his 
butt-end. A few 
photos on the 
wall, shaking 
hands with this 
or that dignitary; 
a photo of a ship 
or something on 
the bounding main, 
maybe a portrait 
on the desk, of 
a wife or kids, 
ashtrays, I didn't 
even see a secretary, 
except for the main 
one down in the 
lobby, who let 
me up. He seethed. 
But such was the 
sort of person who 
controlled these 
things : land-development, 
new projects, zoning, 
local spirit and 
local feel. I wanted 
to say, 'Hey, Ralph; 
so, ah, where do 
they keep your 
straitjacket?' I'd 
done my own 
version of 20 ways 
from Sunday about 
everything. Train 
wreck. Seminary. 
A miserable, tawdry 
final completion to 
regular high school 
hauled off and 
dumped into 
some ash-heap 
local high school 
where I had to 
hang with all 
those kids already 
dead; signed sealed 
and delivered as 
they were into 
their acceptable 
notions of future. 
Of which they 
weren't even 
aware of, nor 
what they'd 
already signed and
gotten. To them, 
like the other gents, 
it was all and only
a 'present.' Tunnel 
vision. One too 
many times of 
hearing an endless
'Hang On, Sloopy.' 
Which was like 
the endless, 
looped, theme 
song to their 
silly lives.
That one, last, miserably
cold Winter, I would
walk the freight tracks
from the main rail line
to get to school. And 
back. No one knew, 
but it kept me, as 
well, from the 
skanking misery
of that school bus
routine. These 
were the same 
tracks, another 
section on which 
I'd been slammed 
years before, 9 
or 10 years, 
whatever it was, 
knocked-out dead, 
coma-time, awakening 
again only late to 
some newer and 
other form of 
Earth time, to 
which, in my 
own surprise 
brought me right 
back here. That 
was a hard load 
to carry around. 
Hello Earthlings. 
It's me again. 
I had taken it 
from that point 
on that I had a 
mission, answerable 
to no one but my 
inner self, to 
extend outward, 
bring light and 
warmth to others. 
It was just some 
stupid mission. 
Now, all these 
years later, all 
that's left for me
is to die  -  so, 
goes to show you 
what any of it 
was worth. 
Spinning in 
time, or a form 
of it. I'm at the 
long-end now 
of something 
else completely. 
No, it's not fair, 
but try and beat 
the rap. You can't. 
I walked these 
tracks, frozen 
dirt embankments 
on either side, 
as they cut through 
the junkiest portions 
of the local landscape 
-  swamp and marsh 
or flat, dead dirt. 
Which was good; 
best place for it 
to be. It bothered 
no one else; I knew 
the trains, all those 
tank cars of fuel, 
freight cars of 
whatever  -  grain, 
bags of seed, 
fertilizer. Closed 
and sealed boxcars, 
and open ones 
too. One time I 
even saw an 
entire bucket car 
filled with nuts 
and bolts, whether 
scrap or just nuts 
and bolts for use 
somewhere, I 
really couldn't 
tell. Thousands. 
The clickety-clack 
of the occasional 
train, I'd hear way 
off, and needed to 
be sure then too 
that I'd be on the 
correct side of the 
tracks, walking  -  
75 or 80 slow-moving 
cars later could 
amount to a real 
delay. It was a 
personal warmth 
and silence though, 
in place, that I liked. 
And, I'd muse, just 
like with these 
train tracks, I'd 
have to be sure 
of which side 
of myself I'd 
want to be on for 
the great passage, 
the travel, the 
rolling along.

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