Just now, my story “Ravenous Mermaids” arrived in Bourbon Penn, Issue 17. (!!) You can find the whole story here.
“Ravenous mermaids have migrated from the deep sea and into the local ponds and waterways where the local children play,” says the issue’s intro.
Ultimately, it’s a story about healing, in its own way — by way of ravenous, lovely mermaids with shark teeth; and wild wolves; and the mythology of our lives.
Bourbon Penn 17 looks like a wonderful issue. I’m psyched to be in it, and I’m looking forward to reading all the great stories there. Looking for a journey? Dive into my “Ravenous Mermaids,” if you dare.
Watch yourself, mind.
This morning I discovered my backyard had become a crystal wonderland, and then I passed a crow in a tree meowing at the moon. A couple hours later, he was still at it, sharing his wintry secrets.
Just a tilt can do it. Some of my favorite times are the glimpsed patchwork memories that overlay a moment and suddenly have me living in two places at once.
Yesterday, as we drove through a rush hour intersection and I glanced up at the hanging green streetlight, was it the raised slope of my gaze that fired distinct synapses? Because then I found myself concurrently in a live memory of sitting by a lake house window almost three decades ago, gazing at the creamy sunlight shining past the green trees. Flash! I was there, drinking in the land and quiet. Just as I was when I was fourteen, there I was in Virginia again. And I’ve always been the same me whether fourteen or forty-two.
We drove on through the Albuquerque intersection, and was it that as soon as my gaze lowered the live memory was gone? Or did it escape along with my awareness of where my relaxation and visions were originating. In any case, I was more fulfilled for the memory, as we drove on past the drivers and orange construction cones, that I can go so many other places, and that I’ll always be me.
Our brains seem like such electrical operations, with currents and tiny connections that produce 3D miracles, and respond, just like a faulty radio, to a little tilting or even a good shake.
I was thinking of something else when I realized, O, was I hanging out with my dad last night in my dream? And then it seemed like his presence was recent, that connection we shared.
What was he saying?, I tried to recall.
The chorus of the song playing cut in then, and the timing was perfect enough to feel choreographed:
“And I can only say
that I have hoped for you
safety from fears and darkness.
Are you feeling better
It sounded like him at his best. The song is called “You Are the Light.”
I keep listening to it.
This life, huh? Who even knows about it, but we continue on anyway because it’s mealtime and someone has to cook. We strive toward ideals and then have to learn the skills to accept what actually happens. Society lauds lofty goals and impressive treasures, and then we each deal privately with the real necessities in life—fortitude, forgiveness, adaptation, love. Those are the ingredients that make or break a life. How do we keep going and make a good time of it. Part of creating a successful, valuable life involves looking past the highlighted targets and aiming at those subtle bulls’-eyes that would create the most difference, despite what others say, whether or not anyone else can see them. I don’t understand why there are these two realities so contrasting—the public view of life and the private. But so it is.
(This is what my left hand had to say today. It’s fruitful to give it the pen sometimes.)
Here’s a little piece I wrote almost a month ago, April 28, 2015. I just reread it and thought I’d share. It reminds me of how wherever we’re at, we’re mid-transition, all the time.
* * *
Isn’t it nuts that it’s almost Beltane? It’s fascinating to feel the seasons turn inside me, to feel my soil churning and warming and observe the new growth pushing past my surface, knowing what to do all on its own, how to turn warmth and light and nutrients into all these new aspects of me, growing and strengthening and one day able to bloom. I even have some small blooms opening on me now—like ground-cover plants with many tiny white blossoms—seemingly unscented till you bend way down, get your nose right in there, and then you can catch its small sweet whiff. That might not seem so impressive unless you knew how thoroughly never-ending-winter I’ve felt, how I was trying to be okay with being fallow, since I couldn’t find a choice in the condition, how I thought winter was how I’d stay, so I struggled to swallow the clay and call it water. But now, standing on the raised lip on the edge of May, I see and feel the new shoots growing through my inner compost, breaking up the old death and rot, combining ingredients, adding heat and energy to waste, until my humble opening blossoms release a breath fresh and sweet. Miracles of life. It’s in the live moment that I receive the world and myself.
Here’s a recent little audio piece, a snapshot of now, with help from Matti Greenman of Elkman Films.
In my dream, I was telling the sad giant it was okay that he wasn’t a hard torrential rain like his brother, because even slow gentle rains like him can have the same effects if they last long enough. He was big and bald and crying in a motorcycle sidecar, but the thought that he could cause huge damage too made him tilt his shaved head and smile shyly.
Praying mantis on the screen outside my window, languorously cleaning herself — licking elbows to wipe around and across her ruby eyes, swiveling her triangular head — completely mesmerizes me, puts me in a spell as I observe for I don’t know how long, and then she tilts her head back to face me and we just watch each other. She tracks my movements in 20 degree shifts of her neck’s angle, and finally lifts a folded arm to lick her elbow and slowly, carefully continue preening the top of her head.
I think my spirit body passed my roommate’s spirit body walking down the hall last night. It could be a dream I’m recalling, but we were partially transparent and that’s the way it feels to me. We each gave a soft hey and kept going.