I’ve set up this page so that I can keep track of some of my own writing. Feel free to comment on whatever you read here. This page will keep changing to reflect any additions I make to these works in progress. Enjoy!
There is no notion smaller than its poem …
24 April 2012
There is music in every sigh,
goosebumps in the echoes or memory.
Words drip from cavernous ceilings
Rushing slowly toward those forgotten
Sentiments left to rot on the cave floor.
2001: Author’s Note
For as long as I can remember the seed of this narrative has been brewing within me, gestating and anticipating my implosion with the urgency to record these loose strands that seem to have permanently littered my existence. It has struck me as strange at times, to know that there is this thing, that I cannot define, nor know, or see, whose existence plagues me so.
I sip tea. Tea is medicine, my grandfather always said. The best medicine. And we should all know the taste of 3 or 6 sugars. Sweet tea brings joy. His mantra.
For me, it is quietude, inside. Forces my interior empire to quell its storms and placate its volatile potential. It works, not always, but mostly. Brings me to the point of focus, where all the world’s colours gain a clarity that we don’t often experience, where words themselves meld into fine, perfectly formed sentences that startle me and others and the page itself. Clarity that echoes – the three dimensional shadow insight that you appreciate when you are absorbed in the slow sinking of a perfect sun into the line of a distant horizon, the way the sky turns chameleon shades as the earth swallows the sun whole. Immaculate. Clarity with clarification.
I was born in the shape of this page; its texture hardened when I accidentally left it in the pant’s pocket that I washed. I found it in good time, just as the water was being sucked into the red fabric. But when it dried, it left a hardened, solidified glow, its creases embedded now in the paper itself and its lettering blushing with the courting of water. I was momentarily afraid that the letters themselves would leave; ink off the page, rats off a sinking ship, memories off my life. But they remained. Steadfast: a testimony to my life and its telling. They are the martyrs of my soul.
And thus it began … with these words, across this page, a sluggish snail leaving its trail, visible only in certain lights and at certain rare times of the day. A sticky trail that glues you to its passage and then repulses you with its implication.
But this is the beginning, and the beginning would be nonsensical without some glimmer of the end.
And the end then, is now:
Me. Here in this place, this magic Big Apple of a world that crystallises modernist thought, capitalism and the market economy. This place where the pace is fast and it’s easy to get left behind and find oneself in someone else’s shadow, lost and alone. Deserted. I often think that New York City is a place where both the deserters and the deserted go. A place that calls for people without shadows, yet, ironically, a place filled and overflowing with shadows.
Perhaps here is where they come to find their shadows, to discover their subaltern selves, their egos, their essences?
I see these people, shuffling along, or walking briskly. In some lights they too are shadows. Half people. They look sternly ahead, focusing on the goal – or they look down, absorbing the slant of the earth, as if to ensure that it is still and not moving, reassuring themselves that it is they who bring movement to the equation of living. Strangely ethereal it is to watch the passing of this race.
Following that, everything here has its place. The streets meet each other in perfect symmetry and seem to flow, one into the next, as if G-d ordained it so, anointed it with his oil and approval. Even the corner stores seem to have been planted with the surety of that miracle of creation – New York was the 8th Day that went unrecorded in Genesis narratives. The 8th day where G-d looked out from his space ship and smiled and said: “This is good.” He nodded his head when he saw New York, a nod and a smile and a glimmer at the magical potential of this grand city.
I imagine, though, that G-d would be disappointed. For in my mind, New York is a disjointed, superimposed place that seems to be hiding something awful beneath its concrete streets. A solid, insular, mini-world with frightening potential.
I recall the summer, when plastic cows littered the city-streets, decorated and artified in surreal costumes not befitting cows. They were marvellous, if only because they brought some element of Nature into the Park Avenues and mid-town streets and financial districts. For a time these unnatural cows reigned supreme, bringing with them a distinctive magic to the otherwise concrete sidewalks and faces. People paused to smile at the cows, smiled at their garb and their expressions. The irony – the artification left the cows mimicking humanity, dressed in human drag, icons of civilisation on street corners and outside major organisations. The cows were laughing at us and few noticed the sardonic flicker in their eyes.
Now, in winter, strangely, I miss the cows, for they brought a peaceful flicker to this place… They exist still, immortalised as refrigerator magnets and statues in Hallmark stores strategically placed around the town. They no longer ring of that freshness. Instead they have become a parody of themselves and, in turn, of the city and its people too.
But enough of the city itself, for this is not a narrative of New York’s faces, nor is it an account of G-d’s creation mistakes.
Rather, it is my story and New York City is incidental, except for the fact that I am here – well, most of me is here … the rest of me … well, it’s around, somewhere, out there in that wide blue yonder that professes to be the beginning and end of the universe.
So, how is it that I have come here, to this whale of a city, to be immersed and drowned by the pace of things and the cows and the people?
And here the story begins …