Monday, July 12, 2010

Flavor in Space: Ch 53

How will i leave this room with the sand colored walls?
How will I leave this city of the night?

At some time in the early morning, already the sky is bright. Through the window, slid wide open, I see the fog and clouds moving by. Wind rattles the window pane. I sandwich a paper crane between the window panes. The crane was made from poetry paper when I served tea to my friends here. Once garbage, now a crane, it softens the banging of old window panes.

Hours later, rain is falling in, dusting into the room. Outside, sheets of water pour down. Closing, now it's only heat and sweat that I feel, and a personal silence.

Swarms of dragon flies cluster by the towers of the Truth in Hope temple. The stones of the temple walls are not the usual beige, but almost brown and orange in places, wet, and glistening.

The clouds will break into the old roof of curved ceramic tile, the droplets finding their way through the boards will become rivulets, and old walls will be torn down into sandy mud. Is that the future of this house? I won't be here to see it?

On the other side of the galaxy, having passed by a thousand worlds, I'll land in one far away. And what then of this old room, where I have slept, and awakened. What of this city of the night?

Flavor in Space: Ch 52

At the New Post Station, the city of the night lies to the northeast, the devil's direction. The city here is called Ohcikubak, meaning both "the city of the bizarre" and "the city of song and dance." By one of its many kaleidoscopic colored gates, a huge phoenix splashes across building facades, the symbol of feminine power.

The streets are named for cherry blossoms, alleys and paths spin off at odd angles, lined with pink billboards, blaring multicolored light bulbs, thousands of technicolored doors, each leading to halls of perfumed parlors, each of these hawking fifty different methods of sweet intoxication.

Names on the signs parley double meanings or allude to sticky garden spots of someone's fantasies...

"Moth King/ Ego King"
"Ms. Crimson's Castle"
"Kangaroo Court Decision"
"Marsh/ Chat over Tea"
"Striking/ Diversion"
"Washing Boat"
"Waiting Dream"
"Southern Seas"
"Orange Prince"
"Hair of the Dogs"
"Desert Inn"
"Found Night +1"
"Cat Root"

The rooms are run by women, women who spill out onto the street, glittering in red, pink, purple, and green. Their heads are layered with long loopy blonde locks. To the right, a group of white collared executives are ushered out blushing and laughing, followed by the crowing of lovelies. To the left, men, dressed in silken suits and robes, eyes beaming from bushy orange manes reaching nearly a foot high above the eyebrows, follow the women, trying to syphon off a section of the the lady's earnings in his own plush bar. "Men" are sexual objects here; if they are not passed up for the objects of the sex shop entirely.

This is the city of flowers, of beauty, of art. Those who work in the city of the daylight, rigid with service, status, and accounts; they come to the city of flowers for drunkenness, for equality, for kinship. They are with their brothers here, cared for by their sisters... for a price perhaps... and hence things are really no different here, just status taking another shape, the servants getting served:

One bar has its name written in fat black plastic tape, "Love and Peace: Life is a bitch but I Love bitch and bitch Love me. It's Your Choice."

The city of the night will only be a place for drunken fantasies bred in the oppression of the daylight, froth boiling over from the control of the pressure cooker of the towers of men, unless...

Unless there is meaning in art, in theatre, in play, real shadow and shade beyond the sparkles of color and midnight lights. This is the sober work of Toulouse Lautrec, Okuni, Picasso, Utrillo, Yoshino, Jakuchu, Rikyu....

Flavor in Space: Ch 51

At the New Post Station the city of daylight lies to the west. A temple to men, huge metallic phallic buildings scrape the sky. Men and women, dressed in black slacks and white creased button down shirts stream through long corridors towards their planned work hours. At lunch, vast courtyards of grey stone and brick are populated by men and women sitting on mathematically spaced benches, apart, unspeaking. A few fellows puff cigarettes at the corners of long ashen granite staircases. In a far corner lies a marble statue in a house of brick: buxom and round, sexual, yet cleaved below thigh and above belly.

At the center of the district is a the Oykot Prefectural Metropolitan Government Office. It's dual pylons rise taller and grander than any other building around, a feat of engineering, a wonder of power made solid. And below it just to the east, beyond a wide, clean boulevard, lies the broad, oval, Prefectural People's Square and the low Prefectural Meeting Hall of Deliberation. The oval People's Square is lined by eight bronze statues, all of women, six of whom are naked. The ladies flaunt their metal flesh in powerful poses, facing, obstinately, without fear, the massive towers across the way. Aunties, mothers, and grandmothers squat and transplant primped rows of bright red flowers in the most black soil of beds prepared below the statues.

Beyond the stone monument of male accomplishment, just to the west, is the vast New Post Station Central Park. Hidden among the dense groves of oak and zelkova are the hundreds of blue tarp houses in the homeless' towns. Men sit about on benches, staring forward. The soft din of highway traffic is perforated by the constant sound of the crushing of cans, elderly men recycling the trash of public parks and town squares. Laundry- rags, old towels, old office clothes- dries under black umbrellas beside blue domed houses the size of large copy machines. These are the towns of the floating men without companies, without work, without status.

Flavor in Space: Ch 50

Eventually it seems I have taken up the space man's offer: I venture to a foreign world. This craft, like a long boat, glides up the old canal of Otoyk, and now to the eastern mountains. With what power can we float over mountains? We follow a strange black river.

There are two rivers. This one we see and follow, black or grey, solid; it repels rain or snow, uninhabitable. And there is another river, running deeply in the earth, unseen, ancient, hidden, the final gift of a billion lives.

This other river is a river of power. We use it to fuel our crafts, to lift houses over mountains. Using this river, human dreams take flight as picture perfect realities, metaphor and language take on solid form, imagined heights of status become real physical distance.

The infinitely sided sphere of opportunity, on which, at any moment one stands at the exact center and the exact highest point, is stretched by the power from this hidden river.

Used, the river flows from deep inside the earth into a shallow human world manifesting mutative dreams of power, and then finally dissipating into the sky above.

Light, the intangible thread binding all beings in chains of life dangling in the darkness of space, meets this second river in the sky. The aged chains twist; many break and scatter. How can single generations, single links, handle the sudden encounter with the death gift of a billion lives?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Flavor in Space: Ch 49

Sitting in the moss, I close my eyes.  I see darkness, the void.  I wonder if this encounter with the void is where dreams come from.  Certainly, we all enter it to sleep, and certainly to dream.

The forest stretches on for a long while.  Groves of various shapes and sizes.  Suddenly, the forest ends abruptly at a cliffside.   And standing here, on this cliff, I look out directly at the sea.  In the distance, waves are hardly visible, but I can hear them crashing into the rocks below.  I feel like I've been to this cliff before, perhaps it reminds me of my home world where I was raised; a world, which, although still green, is now beginning to dry out and golden.  Or perhaps it reminds me of other ocean-sides I have visited across the galaxy.

The wide, endless sea reaches the horizon, the curvature of the globe, the end of perspective.  Only a small rocky path appears to lead down the cliff.  Why not take it?  The path is narrow, lined with fat succulents, green with purple and pink lining.  There are blooming flowers too, in bunches, and sand has accumulated between roots and rocks.  For some reason I imagine that if these little nooks were wide enough, they would be a delicious place to lie down in: sheltered from the wind, but within earshot of the beating of the waves.

The path ends right there on the cliff face.  No where to go.  I'm faced with space.  Blue grey sky, hazy horizon line, and blue grey sea.  No more flowers, no more leaves. The end of the land.  Stretching out one hand I swap at the air, loose, fluid, nothing to hold onto.  I grasp the roots and shoots on the cliffside for support.  I hold fast here for a while, facing the space before me with the stone mountain behind me, trying to comprehend something un-comprehensible.

If I were to make a living in this little spot, sleeping on a nook of sand, I would go out to sea and wait for creatures to rise up from the depths and bite.  I would clamber over rocks to find a few vegetables to add to my meal.  Perhaps I could collect the eggs of seabirds who fly out fishing each day.

What is life like to face space on all sides?  To rest on collected pebbles and sands on the eroding cliffside?  Is it a drab world of rainy ocean storms, ceaseless waves, rivulets eroding the stone?

As I wonder, a space ship appears on the horizon and glides over to this spot.  The ship beeps and flags to me.  A savior, he thinks himself, perhaps.  The driver opens the door and shouts:

"I can take you anywhere.  In a day you can be anywhere in the galaxy.  In minutes I can bring you anywhere on this world?  Of course, every journey has a price.  Of course, every mile has a time to cross it.  All you have to do is wait!"

I call out, "You've given me an opportunity to travel space again.  I can be a tourist anywhere.  But how do I know you won't just fly me around up there for a while and then drop me in some nearby valley?  I'll think I've gone across the galaxy but I'm really just in the thicket I went through yesterday!"

"Look Mister!  Your in between a big rock and a bigger ocean.  You're at the end of your road.  If you stay there too long you'll starve to death, or maybe roll out of bed, if you call that a bed, and fall into the crashing waves one night.  I'm doing you a favor.  Take it or leave it.  You spend all day looking out at the sea and sky, but now you can cross both in a matter of time.  What was once endless is now simply a figure of time and money.  My friend, you've got nothing here and so nothing is keeping you here."

I looked about my little crevice of sand.  I had wedged some driftwood among the rocks and it formed a small half shelter from the occasional rain.  The sticks were already falling down.  My stove was wet from the dew and although still a bit warm, it no longer smoked.  A few fish bones and egg shells lay nearby.  Its true, there is nothing here.  In a day, sand and all might very well slide away.

He went on, "There are space stations up there, sir.  Fabulous rooms, bubbles, entertainment centers!  From one of these stations you can see a million worlds below you, all you have to do is flick the channel.  If you want watermelons you can see watermelons.  If you want ladies you can see ladies.   If you want to see the streets of some city, I don't know why you would, you damn well could!  All the knowledge of the world is at your disposal from up there."

"What is seeing a book if I don't know how to read its stories?  Why watch streets that are meaningless to me?"

"Patterns buddy!  Aren't you interested in beauty, in philosophy? In having a good time?  Ride the patterns?  Listen to the music that you personally prefer!"

"Sure, I want joy..."

He knew he was starting to win me over.  I saw that the sky was not endless.  It was a measurement of weather patterns, of hours of travel, of quantity of fuel burned.  The sea was no longer a deep solid color with unknown depths.  The fish too can be measured, and they can be caught for profit.   Space, it too is something I can cross to get to the next mall, the next job, the next time.  The space man started to play some music on his radio.  He urged me to find something I like.

Then I heard your voice.  I felt the sorrow and joy of memories come to life.  I don't know where exactly your voice seemed to be coming from: whether from the rocks, the succulent plants, the little red flowers that bloomed this morning, the forest up on the mountain, the sea, the sky, or the silence itself.  There is nothing for me here, which means that I've got myself all together right here and now, and I suddenly decided to present myself in answer.

I turned away from the space man, and scrambled back along the little path, up towards the forest, the bogs, the insects, the people.  The man flew off, back to some distant bubble I suppose.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Flavor in Space: Ch 48

Some time ago, I made the decision to land here in this world. Having passed through clouds, I now let the swirling skies roll on high above.

On the surface, I started walking on grassy paths. The tips of green leaves didn't rise above my ankles and the pebbles lay beneath my feat.

Slowly, as I walked through meadows and fields, I entered thicker brush. Grasses rose to the knees or even the hips at times. Burs clung to my pants. Butterflies flew about my chest. Crickets bounded over my shoulders. In a marsh, cattails and long reeds began to rise above my head. My feet sank into a slushy brine of larvae and minnows.

Now, I walk in a forest. Long shadows have melded into one shadow with breaks of light. Branches curl patterns into the sky. Early summer leaves twinkle in the daylight and shiver in the breeze.

What I once thought was grass five inches high is now tall pines and a wide canopy of elms. I walk in this world and examine each magnificent tree, climb onto each great boulder.

I wonder if, in time, I'll sink into this moss as well. It will seem a forest.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flavor in Space: Ch 47

I awake in a bath of pale light and birdsongs. I lie in bed recollecting, and recollecting continues until finally I find myself again in this sand colored room.

I'm not sure how I got here, although I could probably find a story or a chain of happenings if I examined my memories.

I fold the blankets and bedding around me. Linens dapple with pools of shadow and cascades of light. I suddenly wonder if I've seen linens like this before. How can any experience (and people pay a lot for experiences!) compare with this simple encounter?

How many days has it been since I have been here? How many days has it been since I have returned here collected for such an encounter. So many days of waking with the next chore weighing on my mind: breakfast, work, or even a future plan- all without the sudden freedom of the present.