The 17th of February 2010 – Brisbane, Queensland

(found blanched by the unnaturally hot sun, letters faded, meaning slipping away)

But what is a smile and why? For who and for whom is a smile and why?

We gnash teeth, clench fists, furrow brows in the name of salvation, yet for who and to whom and why? What is and what isn’t and why?

We declare protection and mercy, extract tax and credit, obey oaths of loyalty, mete out a solemn forgiveness. But for who and to whom and why?

The cool just waited. Yet it did nothing! It could have run. Earth could have pushed it farther down, out of reach, into its own molten core to be gone forever. But the coal could just waited. No. It did not. It did nothing!

The fish boil alive and their homes melt in ultraviolet light. Earth turns an ashy color, an unfamiliar color – but unfamiliar to who and for whom and why? Earth melts, shakes, becomes unstable, becomes unsafe. But to who and for whom and why?

Can there be more than us? Can there be anything without us?

And that question! Asked to who and for whom and why?

There is an infinity beyond. A darkness, inky blackness. Written off as useless, called a vacuum, called merely and simply “Space.” Yet it is there. It is there and it dwarfs us. It makes us so small, this mere and simple “Space.”

And it, it all, seems so, so – inhospitable, incomprehensible. But to whom and for whom and why?

The 20th of August 2014 – Middletown, Delaware

(found by the torn-up pages of a poetry textbook)

Oh Captain,

There is still time and always still time. What is the worth of mourning when there is work that can be done? What is the worth of mourning, especially the mourning of the self, for the self, by the self? When we cry, why do we? Have we been eluded by our past, abandoned by our present, lost by our future?

Or has nothing changed? Perhaps the shadows move, but pain comes from the view, from the adjustment to a new light. Behind the clouds the sun is always shining. Even if it always rains, at least you’ll find a rainbow somewhere, even if you need to squint to see it.

I dreamt last night, amazingly. There was this softness in the world, this perfumed air that I could never tire of, this glow, this smiling glow. I dreamt, and I was free.

Of course it was painful when I woke, to feel chained again. Rain crashed against my bedroom window and only a dimple alone in the pillow beside me. Yet I realized that I dreamt and therefore am alive. I know you do as well. I know you still live. Because you dream. You dream wonderfully. We all can.

A dog is barking. How beautiful. A carpenter hammers on the rafters of a neighbor’s roof. Melodic. The rain crashes down against my bedroom window. Unbelievable. Somewhere up there is the sun. Somewhere up there I have found it.

This is the world.

Find the day. Seize it. Grab hold, and let it run. Let go, and let it run away. Shiver in the night. Close your eyes and dream. Find the day again. Seize it.

-My Captain

The 6 Ju 03 – 

(found smudged, or something)

…ar Matil…

Have you ever loo… out of a window and thou…how far…op migh…e? But it isn’t that. It’s thi…

Have you ever loo…of a window and wondered ho……he world got so small, even though none of it had changed, even thou…t a single part of it had changed at all? Ha…u ever?

When the question gets so long, well, it for…t it has to have the pro…tuation.

Have you ever? Will…ever? I fear I may alrea…ave.

I climbe…p to the top of a tree at th…p of a mountain because I thought it would give me a better view because I thoug………..ld make it all make just a little bit more sense. I got up there, standing on the top branch. The highe……py-top branch. I thought it wou…..ake a little bit more sense.

I saw nothing. I looked and looked and saw…utely noth………t nothing. So what am I to do with that?

Perhaps I should have opened my eyes a little wid……..haps I should have opened them up at all. Perhaps there was nothing to see. Perhaps there wa…….ing to see.

Haven’t you any dreams, Matilda? Haven’t y……ars? Haven’t you any impulses or drives to achieve or – at the least – to just not completely fail?

Have you done this before? I wish I………..ew more. I wish I had a way to make the pai…..and…he joy more. I wish I could manage a way to relieve the world of so much of its dullness. I wish.

I wish.

What am I doing? What am I so afraid of?

Juneau

The 17th Today 2003 – Close Enoughsville, Burgundy Terrace

(found torn into shreds and pieced together in such a way to make it appear in such a way as to allow one to read it or misread it as necessary)

You All-Singing and All-Dancing Crap,

What now? Where? Is this what the world has come to? Is this the apex and pinnacle of imagined progress?

Didn’t you have a moment, ever – I mean, haven’t you ever had a moment where you let the world exist around you? Have you ever not maintained the superiority of ego? Have you ever allowed life to live and not just yourself to exist within it?

What, truly, are we doing? Have we killed sincerity so convincingly? Have we any options other than sneering over glass screens while leaning in forced-suaveness against bathroom doors or gyrating like epileptic, rabid dogs in an elaborately-conscious ritual attempting to divorce oneself from one’s own ego?

What happened to trees? What happened to sweet air? What happened to the feeling of floating one once had while walking along the breezy bank of a forested stream?

What tragedy. What trumped-up costumery our faces have become. No wonder we all demand annihilation with such ardor and venom.

I dream of yellow fields dotted with log cabins. I dream of making pizza in a brick oven with a long-lost love while a record player plays records. I dream and dream and hope my eyes never open ever again.

Yet I am here. In the haze and the smoke and the beat of the drum and the applause and song and half-closed eyes.

Weren’t we supposedly delivered from this nonsense, both the insincerity of hollow, self-aggrandizing performance and the insincerity of cowardly, self-congratulatory observation? Is there a self that isn’t constructed? Is there a being that is ever allowed to actually be?

What is true existence?

Well, I’ll tell you, it isn’t this. It is none of this.

I am confused.

Dree

The 19th of May 2010 – Alexandria, Virginia

(found by the plot by the wing by the rock by the water and the dust where they would stand, once, a time that is a few years from now but before the next time, which would never come)

Rose,

It is all so much better now.

The food tastes so much better now, once it’s been eaten, don’t you think? Now?

The air breathes so much sweeter now, once it’s been breathed, don’t you think? Now?

The water on the brow is so much cooler now, once it’s been dripped upon the brow, don’t you think? Now?

The thoughts are so much louder louder louder louder now, once they’ve all been thought, don’t you think? Now?

The smiles are so much stretchier – on the lips, stretching – now, once they’ve been smiled, don’t you think? Now?

Haven’t I been there before? Here before, with hands in hands and concern in your eyes because I got scared of the ghosts at the western wall? Haven’t I? Haven’t you?

Where does the memory go? Why does my tongue still tingle, though the spice has long ago been tasted? Where, most of all, does the memory go? Rose? Now?

The wind whips so lovely now, once it’s been whipping ‘round, don’t you think? Now?

The heart beats much faster, once it’s been beating, don’t you think? Now?

I was always suspicious that I was dreaming the world. I was always so close to waking up.

The sun is so much brighter now, once I’ve looked into the sky with eyes wide open, don’t you think? Now?

Or was it back then?

-Jamaal

The 12th of February 1993 – Fine, New York

(found along the road that ran along the river towards Old Carr Pond)

When the snow’s up to your chest, well, that’s when you’re in trouble, Trudy. When the snow’s up to your chest, it’s what my granddaddy always used to say, when the snow’s up there, well, you’re in trouble.

I don’t have anything to do but shovel anymore, so how well do you think I’m doing? I hope you’re well too, out there in California, with the sun and the sand and the smiles.

Ah, but the snow’s up to my eyeballs today. Yesterday it was over my head. Tomorrow it’ll be around my ankles. The snow, well, I haven’t seen anything but snow for about six months. Maybe longer.

No, certainly a lot longer. I haven’t seen anything but snow for about seventeen years.

Always snow, even just a little bit. Even just a little bit around my ankles. Always at least enough to crunch beneath my boots when I’m walking along the trail.

Amazing, isn’t it? Amazing that I’m still not sick of it yet? Amazing that I still get up and look out my window and see the snow and – still – I want to get outside?

Not even to play with the snow. Not even to get the grandkids out and make snow angels. I just mean, well, as much as I hate that snow, I can’t be here without it. It’ll always be around, and I’ll always be needing it.

So, well, I’m getting the shovels out.

Are you planning a trip here yet? Once the spring comes, most of the snow melts away. You remember. Don’t you?

You should plan a trip here soon. The green and the vegetation will do you some good. The sky here’s a lot clearer, and sometimes I need help with my snow.

Warmly,

Pa

The 14th of September 1988 – Bandytown, West Virginia

(found, but torn to shreds, on the brown leaves on the forest floor, glowing in the sunlight streaming through the green leaves of the trees up there)

…but there isn’t any place for that to be anyway. So it’s not that it even matters.

I don’t let that bother me much, though, Georgie. It gives a bit of a sting every now and again, but the sting wears off, and I still get to look around a see the world. As long as I get a chance to see the world, I think it’s worth it for the most part. You know what I’m saying? The sun and the flowers and this sweet smell the grass gets after a rainstorm. Just the world has so much, and I’m here to be a part of it. So that’s what I keep in my mind when I start to think about…

…Not that there’s much of a chance. No matter how many times he tries, there’s just too much traffic, and he can’t get across the freeway.

But I have been doing my stretches, thanks for asking. Has your doctor told you to do any more exercise?

Now, I do get huffy sometimes, and Harold has to remind me, and then I get huffy at him. There’s such a tremendous feeling to breathing, isn’t there? This air that’s been all over the world, probably from the Amazon or from Paris, and now it’s here. It becomes a part of me for the moment, and it helps me to stay alive. I just never stay sure about what any of that means. Does that make any sense? Sometimes it feels like the most terrifying thing, like I’m the smallest leaf getting blown around the surface of it all. Sometimes it just feels like love…