Friday, August 29, 2008

Without the benefit of an octopus.


Removed from the wallpaper existence of near anonymity for the first time since basic introductions before those I did not fully know so well here at the dinner party, I motioned slightly, with my glass, toward the speaker at the head of the table, and it was regarded well enough as an appropriate enough response to whatever question or statement had either been asked of me, or made of me. In truth I hadn't heard a word of it, only I knew that the conversation had ebbed my way and that the eyes of all in attendance awaited some sort of reply. So I raised my glass, and it did follow that the entire table concluded with the same, and smiles appeared both warm and with grave sincerity. Those seconds were sparks of joy to me. But such dark sparks. My gesture was taken in amiably, with curt nods and moments' glances. And just like that, the attention flowed back in the direction of the head of the table. Such fast, dark sparks of fleeting light.

Sipping very lightly from the pint glass, wishing I could just find it in me to make use of this night and drink with the effortlessness of celebration, I lowered my head. To either side of me sat dozens of guests. It was a rather longish table, probably the largest in the house. This dining area was one flight up from a smaller one, the usual one; the one I remember from years now past. Apparently the way things had been going, since my abrupt departure so long ago, were indeed fine. How poorly thought of me to have put myself into the position I had. In every respect, I held my eyes closed for a bit, still not quite comprehending the cheerful words that filled the air, but just breathing easily of the aroma of food that had not been prepared inside of a large, filthy tin vat.

With little delight I stared at my plate. How remote this blessed plate looked to me, how much of a teasing glance every minute seemed as it ticked away. Dinner, the food itself, I mean, would be only moments away now from over. In such freedom, and such ease, people did not take care to eat slowly, but filled themselves with a rival energy just sort of haste, in due preparation for the drinks that would inevitably follow so hotly on these aromatic heels. Then would come the hours and hours of drink. I craved it, but feared it all the same, as it would signify the succession of time. At this table, yes, we'd all still be sitting for another few hours yet. If all went well.

Murmurs arose suddenly, and then a crickets' hymn of applause, so gentle that it might not have been heard if one were positioned in the next room over with a pint glass held between the ear and the wall. And then the sounds of knives and forks and soup spoons took hold. There was a glorious attempt at restraint, but it lasted the snap of a finger, and then it was over with, and mouths were filled with the luxuries sent from the angel employed here as a chef. All the while I sensed a great dread in me.

As soon as dinner was officially over, I reminded myself, there may be police waiting for me, to replace the act of sleep with that of arrest. Dear God, it might even happen before this dinner could conclude. The very thought seized my stomach so as to prevent me from enjoying the provisions set before me. It would be horrible; I would be searched, stripped of my possessions and shoved into the heartless gray cell from which I'd sprung just days previous. Or worse, perhaps . . . into a worse cell yet, some damp hovel ever filthier. In the reflection from the pint glass, my silhouette seemed so harmless. I could not place myself into a position of acceptance. Not yet. I had to do something.

If I'd have known three years ago what I do now, I don't believe I'd have mixed myself up in the business that I once did. There is something to be said about a comfortable suit that actually fits you, the feel of the room abuzz not with the harrowed moans of the disquieted but with the spirited glow of enchantment, and of course, a quiet, respectful dinner, void of tears and admonishments. I raised my glass again, without thinking, and others cheered too.

My only thought was of my eventual return -- the very certain final return -- to that bitter house of Hell that I'd sneaked out of by sheer force of bribery and, with even more force when it came to such things, the use of knives.

Nobody stays out for long, though, do they? I raised my glass a third time, and it was received with questioning looks on the faces of both those who knew me and those who did not. But of course, this was a celebration, so mouthfuls were swallowed, glasses were raised for the third time at my behest, and the room clinked glasses. Cheers.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Just for tonight, only.


I want to get to know you better. If you raised your eyes from the glowing sidewalk, and if your gaze didn't drift back toward the sight of the house in flames, and if you'd have turned and looked behind you, across the street instead, seeing me, I would have looked into your eyes without blinking, until the heat from the blaze started to hurt me.

I just want to get to know you better. Someone pulled you away from the overhanging garage as it caught, lighting up the darkness under the awning through the holes worn through it with rust and bad weather. You started to back away as the flames worsened. In your heels, and that smart little dress.

I stared at you, almost even through you. Your whole body was on fire, with the lightness that only angels have in them.

I watched your house crumble, wood exploding and popping, and you cringed and cried. Everyone across the street was crying. I just wanted you to turn around and see me. I wanted you to see through me the way I saw through you. My eyes were burning almost as badly as your house was.

Thank you,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Everything could just disappear.


It's so early, but something is eating at me from the inside. It's been going on for a little while, but every here and there the indifference parts like a curtain, and the cast of characters inside me just stand there and blankly stare out, naked and unable, effortlessly apparently vague and questionless, limitless but without depth. Until the inevitable time where everything closes again and it dawns on me that bottling it up feels a whole lot better.

It used to be that I just didn't feel I had honest human blood in me; that somewhere inside my veins coursed the lineage of something distinctly inhuman. Kids, right? What a silly lot. Somewhere along the line that turned into a faded portrait of just some regular guy who didn't care. And people will say it's harder to frown than to smile, but motor responses are more dignified than to lay everything out on the line because you think you're smart enough to know the difference between the way most people in your neighborhood seem to be growing up, and the basic reality of grasp of concept. Especially if you don't have anything in life to lose, what's more indignant than posing as somebody who gets it? If I were to present a perfect case of very purely bland basic facts: No friends? Dumb job? No desire? Not even any expectations anymore? That composes a smile way more honest than the one you get when you give somebody a birthday gift, because a smile that means nothing means more than one that does.

So for a time I coasted along. So empty of anything moderately meaningful that you'd have counted me among the happiest people you'd have known. After all, it's easier to smile than to frown, if you listen along with those people who tell you stuff but don't know what they're talking about because they have husbands, wives and children they got saddled with too young in life to take it back and so really they're just kind of projecting.

So I coasted along. I got a car. I bought a couple CDs and listened to them at night in my car alone.

Then there came the years of trying to understand and reach back. But empty sand buckets are only so reminiscent of the vast beach it once tried to contain, and eventually that beach isn't so magical anymore, so you lose interest. I tend to fade away and just let the tide carry me further and further, against its own tide, into something less like the open sea and more like some front hall closet full of dusty jackets that only get taken out once a year.

Thank Christ that your twenties are just a constantly overlapping perspective of things, otherwise I'd have been stuck thinking like I did, in all those coils of interchanging lack of belief systems. It's not fun just coasting along unless you like it. I bet if you're rich, that you like it. Not to break the subject, but I bet if you're rich, it has to be pretty fun.


At some point I grew a little faith, I think. And it was not faith in miracles, or in humanity, or in opportunity, or in passion or people or anything like that. Far from it, in fact, as it was a faith in nothing. Very literally, I grew to adore nothing. There is something in absence that can be felt more profoundly than love from another person. It wipes away desire, it takes the tenseness and worms out of the belly, until sickness simply doesn't exist anymore. Ailment may humble you, but sickness is just a frame of mind. And it doesn't have to exist in some respects. A sane man can eradicate sickness. A pair of crutches is no match for something eddying inside your head that'll give your nerves repeated punch-ups until the dawn of your death.

Lately I think I've lost faith in nothingness. I see myself in the mirror more than I used to. It used to be that I'd button my shirt up and comb my hair and be nondescript and presentable. Now, I start to see that there's an actual body in the mirror that does exist. I can't feel more lonely than that, really. Just being there to see me back and not having faith enough in nothing to understand that it's just a reflection. But it's not just a reflection. I've clocked into work enough times now to know it's not just a reflection -- there really is this walking person that does the things I do, and who resents doing it. I resent saying Yes when someone asks me a question. I resent saying No if I don't want to answer. Not because it means anything, but because I'm just plain tired of myself. Of hearing my voice, of being part of a conversation, of being around. I'm coming up with a shyness lately that's so thick I feel like it's smothering me. Getting stuck having to rely on your motor responses to get you through is like a sort of idiot prison. Feeling on the bottom of humanity's floor is a weight off one's shoulders, but you feel the pressure of all those strides and jaunts across your person, surely, as life just carries you on, and on, and on, until you're so riddled with disease and infirmity that you beg to be let back into that emotional prison and feel those ambitious others just rolling right the hell over you. Maybe that'll happen to me.

It's just stupid and lonely seeing yourself in a mirror and finally realizing you're really there when all your life it didn't quite seem like that and you'd already learned to live with it. So you have to learn to not exist within the you that does exist, regardless of how grudgingly that may be. I shouldn't be surprised that I have to do this over and over again. I blame it on faith.

When I dream, I don't exist. I am curled up on the floor and frowned upon, or being chased, hunted or pushed out. When I dream I don't exist, I am closer to me than I am when I am awake.

A blessing fell over me when I discovered the therapy of photography. That beautiful [silent] world of structures and hope and being. Something exists within that quiet frame, something that above all, I want. I'll always feel indebted to the guy who invented the camera. It's a world in eight days, or seven, or how many days or other it took to make this one. It's one of those.

There's nobody home when you talk to me, just so you know. I don't mind it, but I wish I didn't understand it so well. The things you do don't matter, I tell myself, and I believe myself. I believe in myself.

Yours truly,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

You sure do remind me.


Eventful Day / Paint A Pretty Picture / Gave My Best Try.

This morning when I woke, it was later than I'd intended. That's no fair fucking surprise, since I'm pretty sure I didn't see sleep until sun-up (again). It's not what I'd intentioned, but with the best of every gesture there can only reasonably be expected very appropriate failure to follow hot on the heels.

However, what I remember and what I don't are things that are outweighed heavily with the latter presuming its spot foremost. When did I ever become this lad who stood at the bottom of the stairwell that leads to wonder, only to pass out before taking the first step?

Thank goodness by body runs on instinct and motor response, otherwise I just might fall the fuck down on the ground and pretty much fucking stay right there. Oh buddy.

When I did happen to crawl out of bed and have a few glasses of water, I set to cleaning up and preparing the house for a photoshoot with Catriona. And it wasn't until after the shoot that I realized I haven't shot with her since Christmas Eve of 2007. Time has been slipping by at a very fast rate for me this past year; that's over half a year since shooting with somebody who I would regularly think as one of my favorite people to photograph.

Here are some photographs from that time, the afternoon before Christmas, last year:

Catriona boarded a transit bus and disappeared back to her side of town, after which I went out with my good friend Angela to attend a photography exhibit presented by the very talented and intriguing staff of Blue Moon Camera & Machine. This is a shop run by Jake Shivery and houses under one roof some of the finest photographers in Portland, inclusive of the inimitable Zeb Andrews and the aforementioned fine gentleman Jake Shivery.

Spending time with Angela is a great joy, and having drinks with her is just about heavenly:

After two bars and some wine at the art show, Angela promptly deposited my person back home, whereupon I had a short conversation with my friend Shane, who happens to be an exceptional chef who lives in the house that I do:

At which point I was picked up by my friend Jill:

We drove to my favorite bar in Portland. Tim was bartending. The chef dropped a bottle of Corona next to our table and I got doused in it. I love that shit! It was a beautiful day off.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Preoccupied little koala boer.


Sometimes I'd like my life to just stop.

Usually it's the drink talking, but I don't think it must have to take a wizard to pick out those hidden little pockets of truth. Emotional barbed wire is silly and often times more of a hindrance than something you can hold and mold. It feels good, I admit, to just coast by with a blank stare, but this sort of shit is paid with a price. Try banking on it. See the stocks plummet. See the ocean floor and all those kooky little gorgeous unknowable specters making a life out of the bottom. It's just a circle, revolving over and over again, and with each hundred or so revolutions, the same old stuff starts to look a little embarrassing. If you can call wake-up calls embarrassing. Ever felt that funny moment where-n-when you realize, all of a sudden, that it just doesn't really matter?

Good-mornings and good-nights starting to ring a long running, very hollow bell? God I need a hug.

Have you ever woken up suddenly, bright as the explosions in pitfires, wide awake as the moment you are slapped right in the face on a street corner, to find you're standing outside of the world . . . but right in its belly too? Oh tapdances, you're so pretty.

I don't matter.


Here's some photographs...'s your destiny to become something outside of the regular range of availability, I say to myself. Of course, it's only your stupid dreams talking.

...what else have you got to do but not become?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If you forget to be there for me sometimes.


I must have passed out sometime around 10pm last night. Which would have had me in bed by the Witching Hour, which would probably be the first time it's happened to me like that since the mysterious flu epidemic that rendered half of Portland incapacitated and bedridden earlier this year.

By the looks of things (bundled up t-shirt for a pillow, a pile of unfolded laundry tucked into the far corner, the freshly cleaned sheet tossed halfway across the mattress instead of fixed to it properly), I must have been awful tired. During the afternoon, while working on photographs, I'd started drinking with a Mickey's, which is not the usual for me in any respect, but rather something introduced to me by friends who had recently spent the better part of July staying with me at my house. Following upon the wildly galloping hooves of this mischievous intoxicant there flowed a steady but regular stream of other things. But I think that again, the sheer mystery and deviousness of the Mickey's provoked in me an unstoppable end to sleep deprivation; exactly as the first time, in July, I woke up in a disordered bed, not having been aware of any attempt made to sleep -- the next day, no less -- properly refreshed. I do feel as if I can run a mile. But I can't of course, as my lungs are no longer the picture of health. Until the oxygen in the open air is supplanted with Albuterol, there will be no more jogging in my lifetime.


Here are some photographs:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Already made it to the bottom of that well.



The church was so silent at times that I could hear the soft, very soft hum of an air conditioning vent somewhere near the pew I sat in. For a moment it overwhelmed me and when I sighed it seemed to be in melody with the hush of cold music from the air conditioning vent, wherever it was. I thought maybe they might have been placed underneath the long wooden benches, but I couldn't just get down upon my hands and knees and go looking for them, and I leaned back, tilting my head, looking up at the rafters; pretending the vast beams and shadows of the ceiling up above were an ocean -- and I about to fall from the sky, into it -- I closed my eyes and let the words of the Pastor seep in.

Up to this point, the funeral had been a complete letdown. I hadn't come here to feel even lower, about myself or anyone else, but hearing these words, and looking around me, at everyone here who were all somehow connected to each each other in one way or the other through the young gentleman up front in the casket, the only thing that could come to my mind was a complete and utter submersion of this church and its present attendance, down into the deepest, darkest part of the ocean that no one alive could possibly still know about, if ever anyone did. I pictured the bubbles escaping from the dozens of breaths, and the light from up above fading until it was just a pinhole.

So I stared up at the ceiling, wondering how long it would be before, after the trails of years finally sputtered out, each of us here would be in our own graves. A hundred years from now, maybe. There's a lot of life left in some of them, I can smell that on the clouds of perfume and aftershave. Still tilting my head back, listening to the solemnity of the sweet words running around the open acoustics of the chapel house but not really hearing what its intentions were attempting to dig into the virulent sadness and silence of those gathered here today, I didn't smile or frown. I just pictured the ocean swallowing everything.

And I tuned out.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

As if the rain fell only upon you.


With an exception paid to showers and lunch and frequent trips to the corner store for Sparks, I've spent the better seamlessness of two days sitting here at my desk working on photographs. This afternoon I did have a short nap, though, on the floorboards half underneath the glass coffee table and with my head rested on a pillow below the likewise sleeping creature Lazerbeam:

Later in the evening there appeared a window of opportunity in which to have pints of beer and tequila with my friend Judith:

Most of last night I worked on a short presentation of the small amount of work I have been able to print from my recent tour with Unwed Sailor:

From the city of Austin, Texas:

From somewhere near the ocean in Florida:

From somewhere on the highway in Texas:


From the Colonel's empty mansion in Texas:

When finally my weekend came to an end and I reached home again, I found Courtney and Tony on the dual sofa machines, discussing what I gathered may either have been plague rites or steps to relinquish the hold drug addiction has on one's life. Tony's only been here for a few days but I wish he'd stay for longer, because even though I don't know him, he seems really funny, and Courtney likes him a lot and I like when Courtney's happy. But then they shut the lights out and so I came up here to say good-night.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Brilliant mice, let us alone.


It's impossible, I think, to get to bed at a reasonable hour. This past week I set the tired side of my face against a pillow before 1am and pulled myself onto my own two feet before the noon bell from the church could toll. It felt nice to get to work before the rest of the world had its lunch hour, and to actually get enough work done by early afternoon to sufficiently feel decent about a nap instead of avoiding it like it's going to set me behind another sixteen hours.

But, I really don't think things like that are meant to last. It's almost 5am and I've an appointment to (yeah) keep by 9am. Back to the ways things always are. It's not a bad situation by any means. However, I do wish that I could maybe someday demonstrate a keener sense of control over myself and my actions. Specifically where it relates to time; I'm almost guaranteed to screw tomorrow up pretty good.

In recent mornings the sound of the fan comes to me like a warning. I've been waking with details of dreams still lingering, without their running off back into my head before I can grasp why it is that I feel so awkward there in my bed. And of course I always give the clock a few seconds' consideration before heading back off into unconsciousness, and upon waking for the final time, I've been remembering my dreams for a few hours apiece before they fade. I'd like to say that I took notes, to jog my memory some. And maybe to sort it out later, because it's an interesting study to consider what's happening in your head without your forward consent.

But no, I didn't.

Did I mention that the Devil can hug a person so warmly that affection takes on a whole different world? Sometimes? I want to go to bed feeling that it'll be better in my dreams. But, I can't manipulate where I land so much. Once I'm there, sometimes I can make my way around things, but, well, I think the alcohol in my bloodstream acts as kind of a barrier between facts and control. And so the dreams carry on with themselves.

Here are some photographs from the recent tour I took across the country with UNWED SAILOR and SYBRIS:

Johnathon, during the late afternoon in West Palm Beach, Florida.

And then Shannon, slightly before last call in Austin, Texas.

These are two people I care care for a good deal, despite the fact that some might wish to argue that I don't feel affection for people the right way. Oh lovely. Good-night.