home again home again lickity jig

Rain rain glorious sea level rain. It can be hard to keep track of me sometimes, what with all the driving up and down the west coast. This month I journeyed into parts further south with old friends Joel and Charlie. The three of us are collaborating on a book of the Peruvian experience, which I hope will be the bookend to our various travel guides – and a distilled extrapolation of our time under the southern cross. (Please sing along with the Crosby Stills Nash and Young song here) The elevation in the Andes made all experiences just a bit more intense, I’m sure.

I brought Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez with me during the trip. It was an invaluable mirror and a source of great amusement. The appendix in that book is Steinbecks attempt to exorcise Ed Rickett’s ghost. Please find it at a library near you, it features some of the best writing about a person that I’ve ever read.

So I’m still a bit with one foot in each world, and the sifting and sorting back into western civ in the midst of the holiday buildup will be a further exercise in bridging realities. For now, suffice to say that we spent thanksgiving on a small boat breaking down in the middle of Lago Titicaca, using the floorboards as paddles and having the time of our lives. So many things I am grateful for – mostly that the adventure continues, and that there are people to share it with and lots of love to greet me on the return home.
thanks for filling out your parts in the story.

the goldfish forgotten

I watched Me You and Everyone We Know at the Laurelhearst Theatre on Burnside last night. Took myself out to movies on a stormy day. On the way there I watched a pigeon’s last moments in the intersection crosswalk, just before a car whose driver couldn’t have seen the hobbled bird fluttering near its front tire, drove forward on the green and ended the pigeon’s struggle. A flash imprint of city on my eyelids. I felt the pigeon’s panic, its will to leave.
One of the first scenes in the movie, which is brilliant, shows a goldfish in a plastic bag forgotten on roof of a car. “The best thing for this fish would be to keep riding at a constant pace, forever.” Miranda July is welling up almost beyond her eyes. She says a few last words, tells the fish that it is loved, drives steady in front of the unsuspecting driver of the car.
In other city news, I bring you a silly poem from the day of the dead:

Samhain Tailgate

Just across the freeway under that big rose garden dome
the trailblazers are playing and down below me
there is a tailgate in progress – and a man in a blazer
standing on the back step of his old winnebago talking big
and lighting his cigarette with a long stemmed butane lighter.

Tailgating the Blazers is comforting groundlevel activity for such
a pregnant day. four floors up I watch the storm blow out
the tail end and the sun flares up in the last of the clouds
making a break for it east down the gorge.
Fast break down the lane, and taking it to the hole.

New moon dark now just beyond the lights of the city,
just across the river, and the curving span of dome –
high budget entertainment to ward off the spirits
on the eve of the day of the dead, November first,
samhain when the skin is thin and soft like on the back
of the hand and the worlds merge and re-differentiate.
A night for rising into the ether, our prayers go out beyond us
like kites extending, we become channels for that universal wish,
which is: to know both at once, to glimpse beyond
and find comfort, to send those we’ve lost
the invisible tools, to come in handy
if the journey is epic and strange.

The influence of momentum and enthusiasm on outcome;
it’s why people cheer in the stands. It’s why they build altars
of cerveza and cigars, of honored saints and treasured photos
to feed the dead their favorite things, to bolster
a soul’s strength during what can be a long crossing.
It’s why those remaining behind will drink and smoke
and savor the relics after a week of offerings,
to imbibe the gift of spirit that the dead make us in return.

the crowd goes wild.