Vert-ical

October 14th, 2020

A gaze outside the window: eighty thousand shades of green. I haven't, cannot, count them; the number neatly suggests itself for the sake of its roundness, the ouroboros of an eight, the open conduit of zero, the way the mouth mimics the shape in the speaking of the thousand. Whole, unyielding, immense. It's a rampage out there, an annihilation by green. Tinges teeter now together, now at odds at every angle vying for the light to lend them further recourse to greenness. What seems at first a single organism is in fact a twist, helices long since untraceable divulging tree, vine, moss, bromeliad --and as leaf-cutter ants march down these chimeras bearing banners emerald, peridot, and tourmaline, still other species shuttle up, or out, or circle round, inching verdant abdomens and fluttering seafoam wings.

The sunlight fades and sets the sky a soup of grayness against which all the green seems only louder, sharper, more assertive of its space. Come the night, however long, or through whatever storms dare churn the land to opaque ruin, the green offers its patience. From nearly nothing, it will fill all crevices, arch over those not yet overwhelmed, it will cover your shame; it will reclaim the fruits of your failure. Green is the substrate. The inhale, the exhale, the respiration, the expiration. It will fuel your desire, deepen your gall. It will spread over your grave.

On ye naegl

October 12th, 2020

I scour the polish off my nails and see what's underneath for the first time in a couple of weeks, though it feels like ages. In fact, I'm shocked, somehow, at what they look like under the even, opaque paint in which they've been so regularly covered. They're normal yet alien; their obvious anatomy and the form belying function are jarring somehow, like a persian cat seen just-washed, a fifth of its former glorious girth, or an actress staged always in the myriad trappings of Elizabethan costume suddenly naked. The pink nailplates are as shiftingly unhomogenous as August sunset, morphing with time and movement. Once escaped from the finger, the nails are white as chalk, infinitesimally banded, telling some story about the state of my health, or the woes of my mind. The instinct imposes itself: repaint them. But I decide to let them be, to take a break, to sit with the reality of their plain unornamented humanness awhile. And I drift to an examination of their tireless protection, and the shelter similar biological structures serve to other forms of life.

The keratin responsible for most of the nail's composition is by no means a resource exclusive to humanity. Along with chitin, which evolved earlier and so finds itself more readily employed among the insects and arthropods, keratin is one of the toughest biological materials in existence, and other genii of life have made ample use of its potential for resistance and defense. Most vertebrates, in fact, make use of some sort of keratinous compound, expressed variously as hair or fur, hooves, and the outermost layer of the skin. Then come the claws, the horns, the feathers, the stuff of which fight or flight is literally made. From turtle shells to fish scales, eagles' beaks to sheep's wool, what keeps the tips of my fingers and toes safe from the thousands of things I touch every day so serves the rest of the animal kingdom tirelessly, silently. Even spiders' silk, if somewhat further from the amalgamation of keratin in my nails, carries with it some measure of this precious stuff. Indisputably useful; capable of countless manifestations of shape, color, size; easily replaced --one can't help but suspect that keratin is a sort of plastic put together by the fates of the earth, which I suppose is fairly ironic when considering nylon wigs and acrylic nails.

The nail may be natural, but like the majority of things that may ever live, it's dead. At least, the nail plate itself. When keratin fills a cell, hardening it, readying it for utility, it swallows up all else: organelles, nucleus, all. The nail matrix, the source of cells, lives on, but what it produces is a sort of ghastly conveyor belt, wherein life uses death to shield itself from the same. As with any keratinized object, the human nail can tell a tale of the bearer's recent battle performance. Obvious problems --poor hygiene, blunt damage, are borne easily on those parts put forth in a fight. But the nails will tattle further. Vitamin deficiencies, genetic defects, lack of sleep, dehydration, overexercise, neurosis, even the innocent fact of age are laid out in the manuscripts of toe- and finger-tips, ready for the reading by anyone who can.

Honest and strong, ancient, morbid, my nails look a little less strange in their examined state. Still, I think I'll paint them purple.

On Accounting and Accountability

October 5th, 2020

Here's a shot of what my desk looks like on Sunday evenings, more or less.

accounting

Sometimes there's also a baby duck, or a shot of vodka-cum-creme-de-casis, and of course there's two, sometimes three other monitors for other systems churning god knows what trials and tribulations tied to the time, but all that aside: for an hour or so, this is the meat and potatoes ((I don't think the duck would appreciate this joke....)). But what is it? It's a stack of lists, basically, getting re-listed as other lists. Which is boring as fuck, it's true, but inasmuch as this is weekly household accounting, and given I've been doing this shit week in, week out for over a decade, it's also a font of information with high potential. For...?

Say I want to track gas usage car-over-car, or country-over-country, or year-over-year? What's milk price inflation like recently (trick question, nobody's fucking with the price of milk, look at fringe convenience shit like canned vegetables to see it)? What's more expensive, beef or bison, and how much does it matter whether you're in Argentina? I can tell you how many eggs my household ate in June of 2015. Or whether a general effort to consume more produce over time actually came to pass, and how.

Combined with a few other key trackers, such as the calorie count, weight, and total price of canonical dishes typically made in the house, and daily-weekly schedules that plan and mark progress for any number of work projects and personal endeavors, this pile of data lets me put a real statement behind the kind of feeling-statements that do not much more than gnaw at people and cause arguments. I'm not doing as well as I'd like to with Egyptian Arabic probably because in the past three months I've only spent 14 hours with it, despite having apparently wanted to reach something more like 40. Meanwhile I feel great about the gym and it's likely a result of planning for 3, 2-hour sessions a week lately and managing on average 3.5.

There's nothing novel about household accounting, naturally, nor is what's contemplated here anywhere near as tight, expressive, or demanding as the an0 standard. Aside from the obvious benefits of answering the kinds of questions thrown about above, all this helps address a few common problem areas. For one thing, contrary to what you'd be tempted to think, it helps me be a little less anal. Yes, I want my grocery receipts, and I'ma be miffed for a few minutes if one gets thrown out, but because I know I can fall back on this moderate hillock of data if any interesting problems crop up or I'm being taken to task over whatever, I can let go of a lot of stupid shit I'd probably be carrying around otherwise. Worry has this bizarre relationship with assholerly wherein chronic worriers (who pretty much universally would never characterize themselves as being assholes and on the contrary would be shocked and hurt to be given such an assessment) end up choking on a kind of bolus of inferences, suspicions, and undesired potentialities, which in turn spurns them into periods of extremely anal behavior, as though to atone for the previous period of inattentive worrying.

Discipline is also fairly well built out of making and following the commitment to keeping track of things thusly. And no, my record isn't perfect; there've certainly been low periods where I've thought I knew better than to stick to this, or where I thought feeling bad meant it was a good idea to slack --and of course keeping track gets a lot more complicated, and becomes more of a pain in the ass, when traveling, which is a fairly common challenge for me. But more often than not, I've kept good track, I've been consistent, and even though it's ultimately just lists, it's nevertheless something, it's a record, it's a concrete and lasting effort, size and meaning notwithstanding. Knowing it's possible helps plan and motivate other things, larger, or more meaningful, that require long-term focus.

I also credit the regularity and familiarity of this weekly ritual with a better, hygiene, I guess, concerning arithmetic. It's a fine opportunity for a digestible portion of adding in the head, a practice far too often neglected, which is likely responsible for giving most people I meet hives when asked to perform basic operations like this. Like its parent task, this is a small thing that yields happily over long periods of time; I don't use a calculator for this like I don't use an "app" to figure out how to drive somewhere, and just as I'll probably be one of the only folks able to get anywhere if landsat croaks, I don't shake and try to change the subject when I need to do some arithmetic on the fly ((Anymore, yes yes. Like most things, I only know how to describe the problem because I've had it.)).

And that's it, now I've got a cash discrepancy this week to go and chase, and meanwhile I was scheduled to write something on nature today, which this most certainly ain't, and besides that berry vodka line talked me into it, I'm two in and I've got all manner of nonquantitative thoughts to nurse.

Hummer

September 27th, 2020

Rain, drops bigger than his head, made on all sides to beat the wings that beat themselves against the wind, and his domain as every day, but briefly, was not his. A warlike warble followed the colibri to his shelter, some secret emerald cove where in his stillness he could not be seen. Rain rolled off leaves --more massive than his life, but smaller still than his daily will to flight, to fight against the largeness of the world in which he was a brilliant jewel, and almost imperceptible. Who knows how long a quarter-hour's shower stretches on inside the minute cogs of a colibri's mind?

Close Encounters of the Costa Rican Kind

August 9th, 2020

Lately it's not too likely to run into anyone you know --or anyone you think you'd like to-- out in the streets of paradise. Folks roam doggedly towards one-track destinations, lacking something of the ruminant charm characteristic of this place. They've been spooked into complaisance, it'd seem. I couldn't tell you by what. In any case, the space they've left is happily occupied by other organisms in this teemingly biodiverse traproom of a country into which everything nature crazed up seems to fall. Allow me to recount a few new friends and neighbors, those dear hearts and tender non-people getting their best impressions in while homo sapiens sleeps.

* * *

The Kiskadees ((Possibly not an exact identification, though if they're not Kiskadees they're most certainly professional Kiskadee impersonators. Part of living in the crossroads of so many species is ready confusion and Everestian discernment. At least for the lazy amateur.))

It all started when I attempted to plant some poppies. Not those kinds of poppies, don't get excited. A few pots on the balcony, and some pumpkins aside, because I've never had a balcony pumpkin before, and anyway the seeds were there. A couple of weeks later, I couldn't help but notice the pumpkins seemed to be doing fine, sprouted as expected, following some normal course of plantitude. But the poppy pots had nothing. Not even the loneliest suggestion of a tendril of green pushing up from the dirt, which --well, it seemed somehow re-done. A somnambulous sprouticide, in which the perpetrator attempted to sleepily cover their tracks? Whatever, I planted more seeds. I very carefully patted the topsoil just-so.

And a few days later noticed the dirt all tousled again, no sprouts. No seeds, in fact, either. The pumpkin plants gazed on, shrugging in the wind with what was now several inches of proof I hadn't hallucinated my attempt at gardening. A few days later still, as I was holed up in some dark corner of the house trying to separate уже and ещё, someone in a different corner excitedly exclaimed there was a kiskadee hopping around the hallway floor. However softly I tried to tread over there, of course, it was still a trundling horror to the tiny bird, which flew off to the balcony, where his lookout-friend was waiting. I stood unseen awhile and watched them take turns jumping into my erstwhile poppy pots. They hopped, they scratched through the contents, they took little fancy-pantsy premium topsoil dirtbaths and ate the occasional ant off the side. And the occasional seed, though by then not many were left.

I've been told I ought to keep supplies fresh. After all, a kiskadee attractor is something just as much to be observed and admired as a pot of poppies, even if it's quite a lot louder.

* * *

The Crocodile ((Or Alligator, what the fuck intractable animal identification persnickettiness has come to sit down all over my story!))

A pleasant morning at the beach. Miles of powdery sand still unscorched by the day's sun, moderate waves neither too tame to challenge nor seemingly orchestrated for getting as much up the nostrils as possible. A fresh breeze, a string of pelicans skimming the water like an unhooked pearl bracelet being brandished gracefully over an enormous bowl of soup...well, maybe not so much. Em.

But it was a nice day, and I stretched under the benevolent sky, watching the hermit crabs wander to and fro. Everyone else was in the water, naturally, but between a freshly broken toe and a monstrous case of ennui, I was intent on saving fun for later, whatever that means. I watched a line of surfers decline to attempt any surfing. I stretched on the sand and drifted into serene nothingness. Eventually I had enough of nothing and got up to join the more animated world, at which point I spotted MP jolting hard, intentfully, towards the shore, whereat he collapsed on the slick sand and sat panting, shaking his head at the sea.

"I saw a fucking crocodile."

"What?! No you didn't."

"I did, a juvenile, I saw the eyes in his head. He fucking looked at me."

"How big was it?"

The man put his arms out wide enough to freak me the fuck out.

"I was just about to go in. You sure it wasn't a log or something?"

"Not a chance. I'm not going back in there, what the fuck."

"Wow. You know, I might've had trouble believing you if we hadn't seen one here before."

It's true, we'd seen a baby, possibly a caiman rather than a crocodile, years ago, in roughly the same spot, parked on the line where the sea meets the sand and utterly refusing to move except to lunge at anything it deemed sufficiently impudent.

We all went for a wave-hop and a swim a good half-hour later, and no further sign of the beast was found, even if a few initial jolts were had at the sighting of a suspicious stick.

* * *

The Gecko

I've heard that Costa Ricans generally dislike limpiacasas, the little house-dwelling geckos that abound in Central America and distinguish themselves from nearly every other creature so found by emitting a loud sound rather reminiscent of a boisterous cackle. Something about a superstition involving dermal contact negatively impacting one's soul. I exempt them from all charges of pestilence on account of their not having any obnoxious behaviors whatsoever, and moreover being adorably evocative of a tiny reptillian squirrel on just about every count. A tiny reptillian squirrel that laughs.

We've long had unknown generations of geckos making camp in and around the house, and now and then will spot one rushing off to some important meeting. But the relationship is generally a distant one; they have their business, we have ours, and any hanging out to watch a film or whatnot is done at least at a few arms' lengths.

Which is why Nikki was so particularly exceptionalized by the sight of one swimming in the carrot juice rapidly approaching her mouth, recently. In the hubub of attempting to unpack a farmer's market's run worth of produce into an already-overstuffed fridge ((I had just made moussaka and tiramisu, and there was a big pot of minestrone in there also, which asides a full cheese drawer and like seven kinds of chilera and a handarm of plantains and eight jars of cold brew in various stages of completion...oh and of course the refrigerator has an alarm, like all self-important appliances these days, and for some unknown reason I sit around writing shit like this instead of taking a sledgehammer to the back panel and hitting until the beeping stops...when I say hubub I mean it.)), the poor girl took it upon herself to pour an innocent glass of juice, which glass she'd gotten from the usual perch for drying dishes, by the sink. And so she poured, and in a heroic organizational fete attended to the screaming refrigerator door, re-capped the juice jug, exhaled, and drank --and immediately let out a screeching whine, something between a surprised water buffalo and someone whose card was just eaten by the ATM. She dashed the few paces back to the sink, pouring out all the contents of her glass, from which emerged a rather vitaminized gecko.

Following his near-fatal engulfment by girl --not to mention by carrot juice--, he scurried behind the dish soap bottle (sudsy and probably toxic), and was eventually coaxed out towards the whetstone (you know, where the knives are sharpened), and afterwards, the far hinge of a cabinet door (the metal hinge, not all that forgiving against tender gecko flesh). Whether his poor choice of refuge will continue to place him in the path of danger I don't know, but I have my suspicions.

* * *

That's all for now, 'til the next critter dares, or the masked men come to their senses.

Cold Knocks

May 4th, 2020

I told him once that I'd always wanted to walk through a city like I owned it; no one on the street, no cars or noise or closed doors.
"I've done that," he said,
"It's easy when you're in a war zone."

The snow that day had no trace of warm tones in it. The sun was smuggling light and heat to and fro somewhere far above the clouds, which reflected the same uncaring blue and gray that were all the banks and blankets of snow had to offer. My legs were already hard and numbing under their thin nylon veil by the time I'd walked the three kilometers to the meeting place, an ugly intersection whose several bus and tram stops marked "The Hammer". I was fifteen minutes early, as was my habit. The time was usually spent preparing my mind for the meeting; sweep off complaints, tidy a few topics, put something interesting to rise in the oven. But there was no oven that day, and the rest of the work was thought through quickly, so I walked a while through the frozen paths that wound around The Hammer's blue-gray concrete apartment blocks.

The meeting time came and went without event. I paced the building's fronts now, eager for a sighting of him. "Any moment now," I told my legs, which insisted on taking more steps, no matter how small, so long as something in them kept moving. "We'll be off in just a moment," I told the rows of pigeons huddling together above the doorways. An hour passed, an absurdity made undeniable in ten minute increments by forlorn references to my phone (which neither rang). Though each minute taxed me, it delighted me all the same with the promise that it couldn't be much longer.

Another hour turned my hope to endurance. I ducked into the decrepit magazin on the corner and pushed myself slowly down each aisle, pretending to consider the junk on offer. It was all TO-CE-HD goods; to be torn open, contents enjoyed, husk discarded, like me. I didn't have what with to pay for any of it, not that I would've wanted it anyway --nor that I'd've been allowed to. I could feel the clerks staring down my suspicious perusal. I made elaborate scripts of finding some (nonexistent) text on my phone, rushing out to meet the sender, not finding them, and going back into the store. But this only worked, inasmuch as it did, a couple of times. Eventually the hostile atmosphere was worse than the biting cold outside.

I traced the snow-capped tramlines two blocks, always circling the focal intersection. My parabolas were punctuated in the landing alcoves of half-crumbled hruschebas, where I turned down several offers from old women sweeping the steps and wiping down the trash cans to let me into the buildings --for the view'd be too narrow, and I'd miss him, and it would only really be two or three degrees warmer in the stairwells anyway.

Finally, like the sun through the mountains, like a first kiss, I saw him, his familiar shell, the outline of a hat and coat, the brisk and even movement that's always identified him past any particulars of shape or size. Had the delay been my fault? It wasn't my fault, but some broken piece of equipment, which was now all settled, and being done, the first point of the agenda was to go to the lawyers'. Except my frozen legs and feet would not cooperate with his speed over the ice, unaccustomed as they were to the slick frost. I grew up on the beach, and to this day don't really know how to walk on snow and ice --especially at anything approaching a normal human pace. So I slipped. I slipped and slipped again, I slid around like an idiot only occasionally catching up with him to hear an admonition or three and then fall behind, panting and barely not wiping out on the sidewalk.

He had enough, and told me to lead him to the nearest cab station. Hadn't I mapped out and memorized the locations of all the (informal, unmarked, a quintessential Romanian strategic delight) cab stations? I hadn't. I had no idea. I had panic, and the complete abandonment of feet from reality --nothing useful. I had nothing useful to give.

He told me to walk to the north train station, another four kilometers or so across town. The rush of my remorse, huge and all-enveloping, was still not fast enough, and he was gone, turned on his heels, before I could say anything more than "okay" (not that anything more would've mattered, as I knew, as I know). I let myself fall into a slow and mournful gait in the right direction. The blue and gray world congealed with brown as I neared the city's center and the traffic sent mud mixing into everything. "He'll meet me there," I said to myself between bitter oaths against the local cabbies. Bitter oaths against myself. Wild but silent protestations against my intentions being so terribly, utterly divorced from what I actually did.

On the right street but still considerably off my target, my phone rang. "Where are you?" A clumsy report, insubstantial on the second pass and finally clear about my insufficiency on the third. "It's been half a fucking hour, how slow are you?!" I should have actually calculated it, but such obvious things weren't obvious to me then. What was obvious to me then was that I was sorry, which is what I said. "Walk to the cathedral downtown". "Which one?" No answer came back. I had heard a gentle music in the background over the call, and drifted into wondering if he was at home, that home that I had never been to, some set of walls that existed somewhere unknown in this city, a nirvana entirely closed off to me, secret and of course tantalizing. What color were its walls and were there plants? Which way would the windows face and how would the light fall in his room, did he have pajamas? I searched after useless, unknowable details, ignoring the very real ones in front of me. I lost my way.

The phone rang again, the adrenaline cutting through my daydream and dividing the warmth of fabricated reverie from my frigid path. I knew where I was; it wasn't right, and it wasn't far, but it wasn't enough. "Jesus Christ, so go to Badea Cartan, and hope you get there before nightfall." Was it almost nightfall? Almost. The crows were beginning their chorus of vespers; the traffic was peaking. Badea Cartan, the market, was far, and I wasn't at all sure I knew how to get there --not from where I was, anyway. Through the stiffness of cold I forced myself to map out how I'd get there from somewhere else, and how I'd get to that somewhere else from here, and how I could trim off excess streets, because by then, at least, I'd understood that if I didn't get to that market before the next phone call I was going to be walking the streets forever.

I tried to shut out the impending sense of doom and focus on walking faster as I moved through less familiar routes. The sky was turning pathetic shades of winter's sunset, and sent along a steady sheet of frozen sleet, soaking my hair and running down into the collar of my coat. The air thickened to stew, the world outside a meter's bubble incomprehensible. I had long since stopped being able to feel much of my legs, or my face, and my fingers hardly knew how to hit the right button when the phone rang a third time. "Well, so are you there?" "No!" was all I could muster, over and over again. The line was dead before I had them all out, before I offered up my fear of being well and truly lost, this time.

But I was only a block away; as I pressed on the market revealed itself through the slurred atmosphere. Really I had been across the street and some short paces away from that open-air sailboat of a building, whose peaks were now obscured in the storm. I wanted to call back but knew I couldn't. I wanted to claim victory, and I hung onto the tiny almost-fact of it as everything else in me slumped towards defeat. I sat down at the bus stop on the corner and took off my fingerless gloves, laying them on my face, trying to feel the softness of their wool against my cheek, and to hide the tears that I'd been fighting back for five hours.

It grew earnestly dark. The sleet crystalized, hardening everything that was wet, clawing deep into my bones, rattling my teeth. The odd car stopped at the intersection next to the bus stop, and people stared at me from inside their warm sedans. I stared back. I didn't want to be in their position, but I didn't want to be in mine --I wanted my living room heater, and a bath, and I wanted to be fast, and intelligent enough to never have to do this again. I wanted not to die at the bus stop by Badea Cartan. A drunk man in winter rags --which is not at all to demean them, they were far more adequate than mine-- approached me and told me I could be his, I was for him. I asked him to leave me alone and after a few circlings-back he did, disappeared to someplace better than my frozen stoop. I waited. And waited.

The phone rang. He asked me if I was going to get better. I said yes. I wasn't worried; I had no doubts. It was too cold. He told me to go home. "You don't have to go fast," he said. I raced back, completing the circle around the city, to my apartment, touching my gloves against the rusted railings of the traintrack overpasses, blessing the cold objects of the place with their promise of impending relief. "I'm going home." It was the sweetest mantra I could imagine, and after I desperately closed the front door behind me, I ran to my living room heater, and spent an hour pressing against it gratefully.

The next morning at six I was sent out to list, map, and memorize every cab station in the city....

The Froth of Our Days: September 13th, 2014

May 2nd, 2020

I pressed the top of the pen a few times just to hear it predictably click. "Next time you have to get the program started the moment I say we're doing something with it." Yes, sir. He might as well be saying "You should anticipate what I'm going to do at any given moment so as to have available any and every function I might require regardless of the cost or the degree to which it fucks you up elsewhere, though I'll still be just as angry if you fuck up elsewhere and apply this lecture to that happenstance instead." He might as well be saying "Fuck you."

I pushed the top of the pen in a few times just to hear it predictably click. A tiny series of victories at having anticipated something correctly. The pleasure of touching something that works was my almost silent rebellion against the tide of broken shit. It worked now, anyway, it would, until one day the ink would run out and the man would want it from me to sign something and he'd inklessly scratch paper. Then the look would come. The look that preceded a different kind of world full of shit. I could anticipate what would come after the look, but there wouldn't be any joy in it. Maybe he'd throw the pen at my head. I clicked a few more times and imagined the man shoving the future inkless pen into my chest. Maybe he'd pull it out and push it in again, maybe he'd fuck my heart a tiny series of holes and kick me in the stomach when I fell, spit in my face and leave me to die on the floor of the post office. Or the lobby at the lawyer's. Or by a bench at the park. The pigeons would move away a few inches but keep on pecking at the dirt. They'd look at me sideways, wary of a broken thing but hopeful I might have had a cracker in my pocket or something.

I made myself dress and went out to preemptively buy water and milk and coffee. It was more than was needed but the security of having it would feel nice, a few more things I wouldn't run out of for a few more days. I liked it outside, for the most part; despite feeling like I was out of my element (what would that be, concrete? I wondered), it was good to see the disinterested faces of uninteresting people, old edifices uncaring about the passage of time, shitty kiosks stuffed with shitty cheap things no one could possibly want but which stuffed the eyes and the mind with low-cost information. It was a world of tchotchkes, some living, some not, some somewhere in between, men going into or coming out of alcoholic stupor slumped up against the doors of theatres paneled with blown-up photographs of tits and ass.

Jabberwock Jaunt

April 30th, 2020

There are plenty of reasons why I'd rather spend the entire paranoia apocalypse in Costa Rica than just about anywhere else, and reasons one through three are about coffee. Nearly as importantly, though, is the fact that a couple hundred kilometers' drive --down a road that knows no rival in any category that matters ((The 34 sports: flanking palm groves, ridiculous mountain twists, sudden all-encompassing ocean vistas, scarlet macaw flyovers, multiple roadside fruit vendors, bridges over egretted estuaries, and probably the least amount of potholes as compared to any other road in CR.))-- yields absolute relaxation. I don't know that any particular spot on the Southern Pacific coast is "better" than any other, nor do I think there's much point to the debate; there's too much beauty abounding, and why stick ourselves with the plight of Paris anyway. This particular escape-from-paradise-towards-interestingly-different-paradises settles itself in Dominical.

Where, happily, hospitality is humming along, no shoes no shirt no masks no alcohol in gel no problem. "I hear toucans. Do you have toucans here often?" "Yes, in the afternoon, every day you can see them." Sold. Well, and there are other factors, like a very pleasant, minimally chlorinated pool.

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In the Central Valley pools tend to veer on the brisk to shocking side, but on the coast, it's like dipping oneself into endless silk. Utterly perfect and nearly impossible to leave.

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This guy hung out poolside all day, allowing all manner of silly anthropomorphisms as he showed off various poses on the theme of laziness. Friends and enemies --who knows?-- came and went, climbed trees, went about their business in the basilisk recruitment depot I mean mangroves, chomped on yellow orchids...but our friend was committed to the path of most languidity, may he ever prosper (slowly, one toe at a time).

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Have you ever seen an iguana ear?

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Also attendant, wayward baby frogs! Nikki here briefly interrupted her regularly scheduled program of noodling to rescue a tiny guy who was swimming for his life in the deep end.

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All while King Jurassic MiniPok looked on.

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The leaf-cutter ants, perhaps overwhelmed by sheer choice, left emerald carpets wherever their trails marched on.

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And the momeraths outgrabe.

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It might as well indeed've been a Lewis Carrollian dream, giant candycorn fruits fallen from the peaks of plants where ruby-throated lizards rustled and crows impersonated the unpacking, shuffling, and dealing of cards.

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I still don't know what sort of tree this was, but these are its shiv-roots, fully aerated and housing who knows what ecosystems of scaly chimeras.

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But in case anything too terribly gnarly should emerge, there's a very nicely manicured safety zone. Also, for earthquakes.

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...Or Clint Eastwood Octopi.

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The Sealing Wax Palm ((Really its name. I only make shit up like 80% of the time.)). It eats the previous night's sunset and releases it, partially digested, the next evening ((See?)).

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Probably the pool iguana's idea.

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"In here, life is beautiful."

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"The girls flowers are beautiful."

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"Even ze orchestra foliage is beautiful."

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Wild chili peppers peeping out from passionflower vines overhanging the reptile reserve. Every outing here has some moment where the fascination and splendor of nature makes one downright incredulous. "Oh, COME ON!" This was it, for me anyway.

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The coming-down passiflora.

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The wee snake dames' room.

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The serenity now.

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And, why not, let's end with an antique dulap, pentru cheful dulapului. I don't know if it's seen better days, but it's certainly seen a lot of them. Likely enough, other, older days offered up to the hysteria of "pandemic" --but not nearly as consumed by it. The cabinet goes on, and so will we, even if our contents are a little rearranged.

Audience

April 3rd, 2020

I woke and thought of you, I slept and dreamt of you, you unfinished, silent fountain, glimmering oblivion in stolid repose.

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I walked along the catalogues,

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and peered at awful oddities, and rent myself in listless lots, in search of you.

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Would you believe, for being willing, I found your form in all?

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The black, the brilliant, broken ghosts, all beauty something you had bade me see.

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The hallowed halls I entered, the crumbling corridors I left, mere rooms inside your story's speechless lines.

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And in each crossroads of the endless land I gazed upon your pain.

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Your glory called to me behind my shoulder, around each corner, in the eyes of strangers, in the salt of my own will.

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But when I see you, as from nowhere, what is it that I see? Am I even truly seeing you?

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Or dread made manifest, are you a mirror trained upon the hollow of me?

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It never mattered to the ages. It will never matter hence.

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And so I seek to let it pass, and to deny the overburdened synapses, the singeing edge,

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Lifeless, locked in orbit round unasked questions and unraveled seams.

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Pictures taken at Naturhistorische Museum, Vienna, February 2020.

The Good Old Boys Best Spigot Friends Club

February 17th, 2020

spigot-club

GOBBSFC holds spontaneous meetings wherever good spigotry is found to prosper; previous symposia include whether it is better to snooze beneath the nightshade or defy the sandman with midnight cappucino, the importance (or not) of possessing a hat, and traditional ethnic stovetop dancing.

Apply within!