Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis

There were black flies buzzing about my head, when you and I gave a slight wave of recognition. I haven’t seen you in a long while. I’d really been hoping never to see you again- now that we were done with college, and upon leaving we mutually decided not remark any sort of goodbye. So it was, that we’d passed from each other’s lives.

But in this unexpected encounter, we have ruffled the undergrowth of the land I’d now decided to reclaim in peace. It was where I’d laid out to dry the spot cleaned fibers of my youth, and shook out the dust against the side of the old college apartment.

I knew looks on my back, so I was twitchy, walking the hiking trail stalked by my old friends- the benevolent and righteous observers.”You’d better get mean too boo”, and so it was then in my head the last time we spoke.

Since then I’ve become aware that calcified grudges are hardest to weed from the garden.

We were all just kids then, but old enough for my own paranoia to seep in to the fungal tissue of my brain, like spores which make good on their promise in age. In the growing moss on the spinal column, and raised heartbeat as we pass one another, there is a certain sickness in the growing mass which hopes to spread. But I know that no one will ever truly win this war of my own imagining.

 

I know there is no parade in the city, nor felled opponent at high noon in the desert.

Rather, there is a quiet field of black mushrooms, come up out of the ground, in the spot where our mutual hatred silently slipped past one day in July outside the library.

-RSD.

 

 

 

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Great Camp Sagamore, and other Visitations of the Past

In the morning, in Prozac dreams, I have known myself to go to war. The fields of battle used to move and speak to me. I knew them as friends, from when I was younger than I am now. At the end of our time together, none of them ever said goodbye, even though I wasn’t planning on doing it myself. It still hurt. I am still a child, and a bitter one at that.

I’m back at Great Camp Sagamore, where I started my college days years ago. It is an almost untarnished, well-polished, and immaculately maintained memory. But there too- is the salt of my old forms of warfare. I have held many grudges since then. It is seeping through bulkheads. At night, the rivets begin to loosen, and the outer hull ripples with the passing of undetected icebergs.
You will never get your revenge, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. Scratches and scrapes against the bottom paint. I’m waiting for the boiler room to flood, ear against the floor where below the ice echoes like sonar into the deep. I like to imagine the reverberation of my calamity can be heard for miles around, though I am sure it is nothing more than the blip of a plane splashing down into the Pacific, and the victor makes a token of rocking the wings, before turning into the sun.

We wore sneakers in the long dew-covered grass at the beginning. Remembering my former self from those early college days is like stepping into the dawn. Like the faithful old mornings here at Sagamore. Step outside, and you are in it- you re filled with a strange sort of hope. But then, where to now Sir? Calls the mate. You can do anything but you could also do nothing, so sayith the Lord, or something to that degree. I was never one for scripture, though it has been filling my uncertainties like caulk in a rotten bilge for some time now.
We used to lay on the stained old pool table in the basement of the dorm hall, talking of nothing, and flirting of even less. But in the years that followed, happy college days became a curdled memory and coagulated with a great deal of mutual rage.
I wish we’d known it sooner, before I waltzed over to her house four years later, and divided I wanted to incite the truth out of her. I was not to be disappointed of what followed. And I was no longer alone in my tarnished memory of myself, though I think it had been that way for a long while before then.

The sky turns a more pleasant shade of blue over the great camp, as the true morning comes on. The sky is free of planes, the lakes free of ocean liners and icebergs. Only the black flies encircle my head like dive-bombers. A quaint reminder of the cost of the war I’ve been waging, and the strain on the economy of my being I have wrought in myself.

 

RULE 1 OF THE INTERNATIONAL LAWS OF WAR

I’ve seen you in recently taken pictures.

The niceties of souvenir t-shirts, suns of the south.

Fuck me, maybe you’ll soon have one of your own.

For them, you stand near the back with a smile.

When they grow up, they’ll remember you, and they’ll recall the warm Florida air

the way I once did,

In pictures and in trinkets.

I found my lanyard of park pins in the attic, a couple weeks back,

While my mother and I were emptying the house

For the realtors to take their photos

Of everything set right.

The Buzz Lightyear pin, that used to flash when the battery was still good,

Was the one I remembered the best.

Like when I was a child, and you jumped on my bed to cheer me up.

“To Infinity and Beyond” you yelled,

And your weight broke the wooden bedframe.

I can almost remember our old house back then,

In pictures with our old dog, and the tiny back yard

where the previous owners had left a rusting old boat hull.

In the new pictures, you don’t look much older than you did

in similar photos of you and I.

Back with my bowl cut hair,

when I barely came up to your waist.

It’s not their fault, I keep saying.

But I can’t help but think when I see them,

of your excuse.

“We’re not the only family to end up this way.”

And in that vein,

I can’t help but reply to your nameless figure,

If I should decide to keep the name.

“How painfully, abhorrently common “

With those fucking mouse-ear hats,

And those God damn smiles.

hladová zeď

The ancient Soviet pipes,
Left the water tasting
Strongly of Iron
from the kitchen sink.

The old TV tower, like a monolith
Alien in the sky over
The Jewish quarter,
And the medieval city.
The cluttered old cemetery.

Night bus like a chariot.
They’ll sell you water
For a few Crowns, but coffee is free.

My home is somewhere far off,
An old house near but not on
The coast. Where it is quiet most days,
And nothing spits waves high above the trees.
There is no hunger wall, no old fortification,
Climbing the hill.

When the shock wore off,
My boot socks had worn through
Leaving blisters on my feet.
I can still taste moldy cheese,
The day after I left.
Like broadcasts set high into the stratosphere,
Linger in the air
Of decades and centuries prior.
Or at least, so says my guidebook
Of the Charles Bridge.

Brno

When you realize, the new sense-
By the neon light-
Of the sex shop sign,
and the Soviet era tram system
grinds along steel lines.

Strange shock for the foreign frontier,
Where I came to purge the untrue self, or just as well
Rattle him.

Close your eyes, and think of England.
Isn’t that what was said before they were shot
With soviet made ammunition?

The back of the skull.
Former BLOC. Midnight bus
Through the lives of others.
8:15 exactly. Start the bus. Start again
Homeward west.
Start again.IMG_0187

Some thoughts on my time abroad.

In some ways, I wish college and traveling abroad wasn’t sold to us as such a unanimously great thing. That is not to say that I regret my choice to travel to Ireland. However, this notion that traveling abroad will be “the time of your life” is utter bullshit. I suppose it’s more difficult to convey the message, “Go see the world, and yeah we’re not gonna lie, people you love will die, your home may or may not fall apart, and you’ll feel like you have nowhere to go back to. But you’ll grow so much in such a short time”. The articulation would be difficult on any brochure.

So in one sense, I have no regrets. But in another I am forced to admit that I am not happy, and have not been in some time. I’ve had my good moments sure. But they have been hidden in blank stares, and late at night, my mind wanders to visions of you breathing oxygen when the mitral valve in your heart gives out. In that moment, I will check to if my hands are still smaller than yours in those final moments just as they were in those first. I think of my mother, and her disdain. I think of my younger brother, and his arms larger now than mine,  with hints of topography in the scar tissue.

Heaney once called it “The Music of What Happens.” But how the fuck do you translate it? Am I expected to learn to sight read? But I’ll end the tortured metaphor where it lies. It doesn’t really matter, in much the same way that writing doesn’t matter. Not really anyway.

No matter what clever little words or enjambments I might conjure, I am left then with photographs taken of a young me with teeth I no longer have next to a snowman in Rhode Island. There is another of my brother and I amongst a pile of dead leaves. Wedding photos on Martha’s Vineyard after you both graduated the college I now attend. Kodak film. My mother’s camera she used in college. Acrylic sleeves in black faux leather albums. The frames are displayed on the mantle wherever it is you live now, or smashed by my mother on the front lawn you used to cut in the summer.

Ode to Steadman

In beeswax leather, and in morning frost, I can find you still. Here, in the garden, beside the snow drifts that look like the sight of some ancient avalanche, where we lost three skiers last winter. I am waiting with a steaming mug of something alcoholic.

In Woods Hole, by the bakery that my grandmother used to frequent when she lived on island, I am watching with a puzzled look and a borrowed cap. I am watching a man smoking a long cigarette and dressed in overalls shovel snow away from the door. The smell drifted in over the thin air, and it reminded me of bonfires. There was a blizzard bearing down, and it was an hour and a half before the driving ban was to be imposed. I’d made that venture to see a friend I no longer see any more.

-Casual sex will do that to you.

Like my hands on your skin, my writing these days is often lost and aimless, as if I were looking through the dark for something. As if I were stumbling over forgotten affects, looking for the path that leads down to the water’s edge, and the pond where we used to sit in pine trees and smoke cigarettes.

Feels more and more like I’m wandering the projector night- calling out a rainstorm of idioms and eccentricities, having taken in herbal entropy. More and more I feel we’re losing touch with the selves we were beginning to know, back when growing up only went in one direction. Feels more and more like seeing from the eyes of some brilliant madman in sneakers, armed with an IBM Selectric and a train ticket to the campaign trail in the 70’s.

Maybe I’ll see you around sometime, though I can’t remember the historical precedent. You’re standing near an infinity of shorelines- lighthouses are a common thing in a land of bonfires. I aimed a twin lens reflex I had in my bag and you smiled. But I can’t be sure of who you are. I have too many friends I don’t see any more.

-This is not necessarily because of causal sex.

Cape Cod is a maelstrom of everything I used to be- a landfill of old tapes and old manuscripts. Antiquated selves are collecting like nets on the docks, left to dry by fishermen with heroin problems with cracked hands that have felt more than their fare share.

I want to ask their story. We’re sitting in the air that smells sweetly of diesel with a puzzled look and borrowed boots of beeswax leather.

So I’ve begun to evoke the madman himself, to find some answer as to how to continue. I can’t see out the windows, but I know that the train is still moving, the carriage shudders along with the keys, lurching forward and back-

Don’t I know I want to be home? Don’t I know a little corner in the garden, where we christened a place of bonfires, drinking Rosé with poison ivy grafted to my forearm, left from the time Brendan pushed me into the brambles, running to the rhythm of crickets, and laughing through fields of gnat flies.

Costal Roads Taken at Speed and With Great Velocity

It’s in those moments, clearing my sore throat and feeling the scruff of my face against my hands, late at night in my dimly lit dorm room, that I’m drawn into a sort of trance. Back to the days of high adventure, of a romanticized and imagined past contained in a dark parking lot with a single car billowing steam from the hood, and four young men standing round laughing, having torn up the gravel just moments before.

Its in the moment on the dock before I went home with you, and you kissed me on your hard bed in your grandfathers basement, and he died three days later, and I wondered if you ever understood that horrific symbolism. Or if you understood how the blazing taillights of my car at night on their way past Nobska, were like a farewell to the warmth of that summer, embracing all of the things in that small world I loved so dearly.

It was in those moments before it all fell apart, and I fled and reminded myself of the growing power beneath my feet. It was a time of life, and of an infinite and hectic glow that rushed from a high point overlooking the sea, down the winding costal road, past bonfires dug in the sands, toward the rush of life on Cape Cod in the summertime. A time when I felt most myself amidst the cool sea air that blew thick with salt and the essence of July and August.

Laughter in the dark of the green, A bandana tied around your forehead, the way the street seemed alive with an endless handful of months, and an honesty that maybe I just imagined, in that manic dream of that seaside town I swore was real.

I swore under my breath when it was proven outdated. I kicked my desk into the wall and left a hole in the drywall one day I’ll have to explain to you. It’s a different kind of madness, a different kind of wanderlust and fear and paranoia and fright for my life that I’d never felt before, shrinking into dreams of past youth and of the golf course where we loitered and of the sprinklers we dodged and the fires lit and the beer drunk and the cigarettes smoked and your smiles and how in this short happy life I feel I have lived a thousand times over in newly uncovered memories.

Memories uncovered when the mood is right, and the campus sleeps and the cassette deck hisses and I hold my unkept face, and how I haven’t showed, and how I fear for my life as a coward before the whistle and the pulling upward with both arms over the wall. Because in every recess of my life, despite the life lived, I am still in want of the immeasurable years, and of a life both beyond this town, and contained within it. I am in the taillights that wound along the costal road at speed, wishing for understanding in the shadow of the terrible knowledge that comes with age. Knowledge that I am the poorest at ignoring.

Random Recollections and a Feverish Misalignment: Harbor walks no one remembers. Yet it is always a pleasant surprise, when an old friend remembers my living room

This afternoon, I found myself missing that noble and desolate season that can only be found on the dock by the drawbridge in October. Wind swept- the sea turning sour. From these banks I might stay indoors and watch the rain make its way down onto dried leaves and run with Water Street in a dim daylight that pulls away memories formed in the garish lights of the summer night. Back when this was our mutual meeting ground. Back when the porch was filled with glazed eyes of familiar faces from grade-school. These days our friends, and our acquaintances drift from here and all that are left are the sad ones, looking over memories from the safety of smudged single pane windows. Working behind the counter of the old haunt.
These streets in winter spoke of long gone footsteps. Between school days, weekend nights spent in kitchen and taking care of the neighbor’s cat. Wandering the harbor’s edge, speaking quietly of nothing. Trespassing empty homes and gated neighborhoods. Of kisses on the living room couch and my little brother’s attempts to ruin dates. I waited under the light of the ferry office for the bus with an old friend once. The old tree on the Green became a perch from which to observe the quiet street below. I had just started drinking coffee then. I remember the taste in my young mouth in winter and of freckled grins and of the dusty air of the stagecraft room where we spent our afternoons.
I guess there’s not much more to say. I miss that season of years. Of a feeling of unity of self I never knew I had until I lost it. Ages go by with alarming frequency. I know that now. In part of me, I wish to abandon New York for a time, and return in search of something I can’t put my finger on. To try and return on an empty dock overlooking the water. The sea has turned sour, yet the spray is salty and the same. Time to steady myself on the empty season, and shove off again.

To a Man With a Pipe, Unused for Years

From this vantage, I see you of so missed childhoods, of the white canvas sails of Wild Harbor’s rocking vessels. 

You would have painted her with watercolor on thick paper, and I with my pencil.

Where the Knob extends out onto the sea, it is covered only by the sky and the flickering trail of loosely held flashlights.

How I have wanted to gaze on my back at that endless pool, thinking of coffee dates, of teenage girlfriends, and of winter-locked walks. 

How friendships rift, and the view of their ever-changing play in the tides is mesmerizing. 

I painted us watercolor, and it rain together. I cried in the arms of a grandfather clock. 

When rummaging through the draws in the empty bedroom, I found a pipe next to your Colt .45, and a sketchbook you once kept.

The safety catch is broken, the pencil lines are smudged, and now my house smells of tobacco. 

If only I could tell you of my life, beyond what little you knew. 

From this vantage, I can feel your voice in watercolors,

And from this vantage, 

the view is breathtaking.