Awaken to an unbearable stench, a stench so awful that will give you nosebleeds and make every hair on your body stand, a heat so intense that makes your skin get soft as if about to melt…what is this feeling, where am I, where am I going, walking in pitch darkness, with every step hesitant to whether there is a floor, reaching for a wall.
I begin to feel something crawling up my legs, penetrating through my skin and crawling from within, causing extreme pain but I dare not scream in fear of deep down knowing, where I am, knowing it can only get worse, I reach a loud sound of a door opening creating light slowly, a door so tall that you cannot see where it ends, upon opening fully different sounds fill my ears, brings me to tears, the shouting, Shouting of voices, so many shouting, so loud...one after another, one on top of the other, making It hard to understand what they are saying, I walk until the door closes behind me, the light is brought from the flames, surrounded by fire I am, the crawling on my legs got higher and as I look down,I see maggots cover my skin like a layer of clothing, I brush them off screaming in pain, I then notice my skin melting away, like a plastic spoon I would burn from the tip as a kid to watch it drip.
Now I can see others around me, so many, some down to bones but yet crying and screaming in pain, the itch, this itch which at every attempt of scratching removes my skin, I saw no end to the flames, the people, I close my eyes screaming, why! why! why!
I awake to my wife shaking me in my bed
“Are you ok, you were screaming”
“It was just a nightmare babe, lets go back to sleep, I’ll tell you in the morning”
“K, but before you go back to sleep can you check where that burning smell is coming from”
The woman spun around on the chair, her cigar dangling from the corner of her mouth. “I accept dollars, euros, sterling silver, broken hearts and secrets.”
My fingers drifted to the pendant around my neck, then yanked the chain hard enough to break. “Here.” I handed it to her. “There’s a heart inside.”
The corners of her sangria mouth rose, her violet eyes hungry as she turned the necklace over in her hands. “Yours?”
She let it dangle, holding up the chain, then slipped it into her pocket quickly. “He's yours.”
We allowed the smoke to envelop us, as was tradition, while undertaking the sacred duty of starting the fire. It was a sort of rite of passage for my cousin, David and me as the firstborn grandchildren. Our job was to help my abuelito gather the wood as he cut it from a dead tree in his back yard.
When we were a bit older, we were eventually allowed to help cut the wood down to size for the repurposed oil drum turned wood-burning grill my papi made. We called it “el tambo.” It had a wide hinge like opening near the middle where you put the firewood and the top of the drum had a custom grill, not to mention the 4’ exhaust pipe my papi made so the smoke would disperse above us but the sudden bursts of wind those chilly autumn evenings brought rebelled against his brilliant chicanada.
My abuelito’s house is out in the counties, in between miles of fields in the winter lettuce capital of the world. Every weekend of my childhood and adolescence was spent at my abuelito’s house and starting around October, almost every one of those weekends was spent making carne asada around “el tambo” until it got too cold. Even then, my papi and abuelito often braved the cold desert winters in order to make elotes cocidos or a giant hoya de menudo atop “el tambo.”
As I breathed in the deliciously smoky air like a sweet incense offering, I watched the flames dance seductively and listened to the crackling of the fire while its warmth embraced me like an old friend; its smoke purifying and cleansing me. It was then I invited the smoky essence to permeate to the very depths of my soul; that’s why woodsmoke still reminds me of my abuelito and why now, after a bonfire or barbecue, I don’t immediately wash my jacket because I want to be near him again, if only in a memory . . .
This is the Monarch
that rules the
of our sky
red and black
of one body so thin
as to slip perpetually
of summer’s nectar
lest the fluttering
from its heart
drop into the firepit
of a churning
one and two
in this bovine
scape of buttercups
with the illustrious ones
war-painted in blood
...taking in the Sun.
I’d like to hold our thoughts
Is it wrong...
to want this Independence
and long to be possessed?
to be Part
of a World-in-progress to
halve the Self ’n seal it up
sliver of doubt in between
clouding things that scream
like poverty of can do spirit
and lack of naked gratitude
into please and to welcome
in tangible good nights
across the darkness
of our countrysides strangely
familiar, dependent, yet free
A Word Red
I identify like nothing else with these traces that have been left. Slit and stare, a history evokes itself from curtains of mystery that are there. Stamped. Close my eyes against the glare; It’s what I see everywhere! Red, as it pulses through these veins. It’s inked across the Heart with its contradiction; and has crossed the mind as a Conviction. A rejection. Lost, late, final notice: my Eviction. So much cut from the lines; and at the tape. So much said— ’n red. I’m not against it truly, not at all, but to be so raw, ripped-open and exposed in every flaw... is to have been bled... to have been read... and discarded by all.
UNLESS it means something to you,
it will NEVER matter.
Socrates, Jesus, and Confucius didn’t leave any writing?!
(Perhaps they did, anonymously, and their notes just disintegrated in the drawer...
Or their shared words were signed "Billie Bob," and were consequently barely read...
Or Perhaps their shadows rose and set, but their figures never really lived at all..?)
Ideas evolve over time. Written collections are added to; revised. Statures of persons described grow or fall... But always there is a start, a point of departure. What if there were only a Gospel according to John? Would it have the same clout, with nothing else against which to corroborate the Life of Jesus on? Surely not. But should that stop a person from writing if he/she is moved by what was witnessed? No surely not. Yet it's better for the preservation of the story (history) if it be reiterated by many mouths... and certainly better by someone else other than the main character involved.
Authorship a funny thing... the question of purpose always being paramount. Every content requires its own convention of narration. And we might stop to ask ourselves, as critics, the very same question a conscientious writer would have to pose and decide no matter how subconsciously: What would be most convincing to the reader? ...Here are a set of principles that I would like to convey... should I, an individual maybe of little or no standing, presume to advance some philosophical propositions myself as if some self-proclaimed guru? Or is that not exactly the kind of thing that people instinctively poo-pooh regardless of the merits of the idea? Is it not better to attempt to share as if second-hand? or better yet to begin to build up the reputation of one such other Maestro through a chorus of probable eye-witnesses?
...Mystification it was called in my studies. While the dictionary defines this quite pejoratively as a "hoax," in application mystification comes across as more of a philosophical suspense. (The stunts of Houdini, for instance, are not a farce, but a subtle art... Intended not that we be deceived, but that we come to see the gaps in our perception, i.e. how easily the mind can be deceived). So it is in writing... historical or not there is always a story, and the story at the end of the day is an allegory.
The "many voices" of the Bible lend a historical credence, which may or may not be contrived. Just as we do not know who wrote the texts, we have no way of verifying that Jesus lived as a man, or only as a well fleshed out educational Ideal. (Believers please forgive any impression of blasphemy—we simply do not know—we believe!) It has long been rumored that Socrates was a literary device of Plato; and suggested that even if there was an actual Socrates, his reputation was inflated by the writings that were built around his person. Confucius equally in his grandfatherly, wiseman mold, could as well have been the friendly face to a set of noble rules to be propagated— a familial code of honor.
If they existed (I mean them no slight! and hope they did) then great orators do not need necessarily to write... there will likely be someone prompted to put pen to paper to preserve their ideas... in part. Though these will be interpretations, subject to fault, and incompleteness of thought. However, a compelling idea is a compelling idea, and it will persevere through the ages and be a "driving force in the world," picked up on, reevaluated and elaborated upon...
Peripherally, I'll note that I have come across two (minor by comparison!) instances where someone posed the question: "Why do you not write?!" discussions being so richly descriptive, thought-provoking and simply Original that the question was naturally put forth... The answer in the first instance was of course "I don't know;" the man being very much a wanderer in Life (shuffling constantly across continents) —and though loyal to his friends he was criticized as being self-absorbed and noncommittal— so it seems almost understandable that locking anything to paper would constitute a sort of personal prison. The second, yielded a more decisive royal kind of "I don't know," because as he said (to my horror) it was I who was going to write it down... I thought he must be joking at the moment, and still haven't sorted it out. But in concluding this write, I'll add that perhaps Thinkers gifted as speakers seek, or draw to themselves, scribes who will help them maximize their life times...
Look Before You Judge.
If all your thoughts are not your own,
As honesty has often shown,
At least allow an open mind,
To let in facts which others find.
For it seems until we do,
The foot grows stinky in the shoe,
Stagnant within new-age rants,
'Til we use our grown-up pants
And realize fathers aren't all wrong.
They simply sing a different song.
A Living Will
<center><i>I<br>Universe<br>bequeath<br>through My galaxies<br>and their planets and<br>continents<br>...Henceforeth to All...<br>My Progeny<br>dwelling upon these<br>the sum of<br>My Infinite Idea<br>that We might<br>knowst a life<br>of consequence<br>and choices<br>...each...<br>to Our own<br>capacity</i></center>
<font face="Helvetica" size="4"><b>Free Will: Yes, No</b></font>
It seems to me, that we have a tendency to approach the question of Free Will rather one-sidedly. Perhaps because that is as much as is revealed to us at given moments... We all too frequently balk at what we can do... abhorring our limitations. We find time and again that no amount of "free will" allows us to do what we want to do, or have what we want to have; all of which we of course want to have without consequence.
The described attitude suggests that we certainly have Will, but hardly free...
If we are able to rise above our obstructed wants/demands, which come from who-knows-where, we might find ourselves subscribing to ideas of discipline, meditation, mindfulness, or other measures towards "self-control." But still, that trickle of self-awareness comes from a bottleneck of some source visible to us only from one side—our own! And on our receiving end there is sometimes but a teeny-tiny droplet; at other times a flood. We know not how, or why. There is no spigot to open or shut, and accordingly we feel hardly free at all.... except, Except!
There is the lesson that every child instinctively knows—ask any exasperated parent—of the profound power of "No."
(...you can bring a horse to the water, but you can't make him drink...)
At this point in my reflections on the matter, I would contend that this is the nature of the Freedom of our Will. We receive what we receive. We have options... as if on a menu. We can accept the offerings with an all-embracing "Yes!" ...We can do nothing and go along with a more or less grudging implicit "yes." ...Or stand in opposition by refusing all or rejecting parts. Meanwhile, being railroaded by the Consequences, regardless whichever path we choose. (The tendency to deem the first two options, and certainly the second, as having "softer" repercussions is faulty. Experience teaches otherwise! Consider, by way of example, how regrettably health-conscious individuals succumb to disease as much as those who have "not taken care" of themselves).
The third option (of Opposition) seems to be unique to Mankind. All of Nature says Yes. It cannot seem to do otherwise.
Where does Man's defiance come from? Truly an enigma... It would seem that this is that streak of Evil... the Opposite that must be overcome to return to "Paradise," towards which the rest of Nature is so affirmatively geared... But how to overcome it?! Why do we choose what we choose? I don't see a key to this insight... in the meantime, we are left struggling with what we No, or think we know...