Walking Cross-Town. And Recycling.

My right eye is pulled down and right, to the gutter on 42nd street. A half-eaten sandwich, a bite out of a slice of yellow American cheddar cheese, and its wrapper moist from Italian dressing. A few feet further up, a Bic Pen with its partially chewed blue cap, a cigarette butt and a flyer for Chinese take-out.

This discarded potpourri waits for the next big rain, or the morning sweepers to push it down from one storefront to the next and to the next, when it eventually drops down a street drain, bumping along the dark tunnels, and ending in the Hudson River, where a bottom feeding catfish nibbles on it.

I’m rushing (again) to catch the 6:10 Metro-North home.  I can’t explain it: the mind, my mind, that is.  It’s locked on trash.

Last night, I tossed an empty box of Eggo Frozen Waffles into the trash can in the kitchen. My eyes scan the trash, as my tongue works its way across my lips, lips lightly coated from Log Cabin Maple Syrup.

“Why isn’t this paper in the recycling bin?”

“What paper?”

“All of the paper that should be in the recycling bin.”

“Because it’s soiled.”

Soiled? I dig down. I find unsoiled paper, an empty plastic stick deodorant push-up, zip-lock baggies and empty envelopes.  I toss them into the recycling bin.

I dig down to the bottom for one last pass and my hands land on raw, moist chicken fat. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. @ 80%.

It’s cold.

I’m zigzagging cross town.

I hit red lights and turn to walk up avenues. I approach walk signs, and turn back down streets.

The skyscrapers cradle the wind currents, they gust and swirl, and find the exposed skin: the neckline, the forehead, up the pant leg — both eyes gush water.

I reflect on a conversation from the day before.

“How you feeling?”

“Much better thanks. But I’m a bit shocked at how quickly I tire. And I have these intermittent bouts of lightheadness. Destabilizing, really.”

“You had material blood loss. You know that red blood cells take 4-6 weeks for complete replacement.”

You had no idea. None. Zero. How little interest you take in something so important to your sustenance. Yet that doesn’t seem to rock you as much as knowing the older you get, the less you seem to know. This jolt makes you lightheaded. Or perhaps it’s the speed walking, and a shortage of red blood cells.

I slow down. Way down. The lightheadness grows.

This movie is running in slow motion. Other pedestrians pass you by. Others pass you by. This makes you uncomfortable. You are losing, behind, slipping, slowing. Increasingly you are feeling ok with that. Really? Are You? Not really. You try to accelerate…want to…can’t…don’t…need to.

I stop. [Read more…]

Jimmy

open-gate-bo-bartlett

Tuesday.

I’m leaning back in the chair.  The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.

It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.

~ 1967

I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.

The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade.  Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things.  We were in the First Grade.

He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.

Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

rob-woodcox-surreal-angel
perhaps one day
we’ll understand:
why it hurts to be here,
and there,
and then.

— Kimberly Grey, from “Conjugating in The Opposite of Light: Poems


Notes:

  • Sources: Poem – Hidden Landscape. Photo – Rob Woodcox from Surreal
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Walking Cross-Town. With Snaps.

dark-hands-paint

Snap a picture a minute, from the instant we open our eyes in the morning until we go to sleep. Calvino‘s words.  And they’ve stuck.

Snap. A pigeon, wings fluttering, in her soft landing.
Snap. Powder blue Converse sneakers.
Snap. A leafless tree on 48th rising out of concrete.
Snap. A wind gust from a passing truck lifts a green ribbon, it floats, twists and lands – softly, gently.
Snap. The morning sun, luminous, warming.

Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Billions of Snaps of Light, stored, restored in a snap.

The Scoreboard? Light: Billions Served. Non-Light: ~ 30.

And, yet, here they come. [Read more…]

But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn

english bull terrier,pup,puppy

Laddie was a useful dog on the farm for the next few years, and there were moments when he did good things and we understood each other— once we sorted two ewes that we needed for a show off a hundred others we didn’t need in a field and walked them home. But it was a rare moment, and I always knew he wasn’t as good as he should have been. Sometimes he’d run home when I lost my temper and shouted at him. He lost trust in me. I knew whose fault it was. Mine. I knew that I’d let him down. I look back and think he would have made a good dog if I had known a bit more. But a man’s life comes full circle; you can learn, and do better than your past. I am determined not to make the same mistakes again.

~ James Rebanks, The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape.


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

close-up-face-eye-freckles-portrait
It
Troubles me that time should make things sweeter, that
Instead of learning to perceive things as they are I’ve
Learned to lose them, or to see them as they disappear
Into the insubstantial future. Everything here is mine,
Or lies within my power to accept. I want to find a way
To live inside each moment as it comes, then let it go
Before it breaks up in regret or disillusionment.

~ John Koethe, from “Between the Lines,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55. Poem: The Distance Between Two Doors
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

They are merely carried. . . set down, picked up, and dropped again (do over)

portrait,blond

Make no mistake. Everything in the mind is in rat’s country. It doesn’t die. They are merely carried, these disparate memories, back and forth in the desert of a billion neurons, set down, picked up, and dropped again by mental pack rats. Nothing perishes, it is merely lost till a surgeon’s electrode starts the music of an old player piano whose scrolls are dust. Or you yourself do it, tossing in the restless nights, or even in the day on a strange street when a hurdy-gurdy plays. Nothing is lost, but it can never be again as it was. You will only find the bits and cry out because they were yourself. Nothing can begin again and go right, but still it is you, your mind, picking endlessly over the splintered glass of a mirror dropped and broken long ago.  That is all time is at the end when you are old – a splintered glass. I should never have gone to that place, never have accepted the engagement, never have spoken….

~ Loren Eiseley, “The Rat That Danced” from “All the Strange Hours. The Excavation of a Life.”


Image: Broadstreet.com.au via Starwill

Walking Cross-Town. With Smoke.

red-walking-sven-pfrommer

The bi-fold doors open.

We spill out of the train into the underground tunnel at Grand Central. It’s Monday morning.

I’m walking briskly in a free lane. Not exactly free. Under foot is a yellow warning strip, with hundreds of half-moons of steel affixed to the two-foot corrugated shoulder on a highway warning of trouble. My eyes bob ahead and down, wary, looking to avoid toppling down eight feet onto the empty tracks. Livin‘ la Vida Loca.

I bear down on a commuter who is ambling along. Buddy, move left. I’m on his heals. Compressed air is released from the lungs, the Jake brake is pulled, the exhaust valves fly open, the big rig vibrates, rattles and slows.

He has thick soles, black lace-up orthopedic shoes. He is limping badly. Vet? Amputee? Back injury? I cannot pass him on my left, commuters are thick.

And then it comes. A memory, smoke grasped… [Read more…]

I was wondering why so many people had turned out, when suddenly: an electrifying moment.

forgive

“On a weekday evening in early September, more than 400 people, from their late teens to their early 80s, crowded into a standing-room-only event on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The topic was not politics, film, fashion, celebrity or any other subject that could be expected to draw such a crowd. The topic was forgiveness. Sitting in the audience, I was wondering why so many people had turned out, when suddenly: an electrifying moment.

About halfway through the discussion, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, a speaker and the author of “Jewish Literacy,” asked this question: “In how many of your families, at the level of first cousin or closer, are there people not on speaking terms?”

Two-thirds of the people in the room raised their hands. I, along with everyone else, gasped.

“I know,” he said. “It’s a staggering figure…

~ Bruce Feiler, How to Ask for Forgiveness, in Four Steps 


Notes: Quote – Thank you Susan. Photo – Stefano Corso.

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