The 4th of September 2009 – Anaheim, California

(found in an uncannily familiar place…or something)

Dear Sel,

I have stared at my hand, stared at my hand until it became a claw, until it became a collection of talons.

I have walked across land until the dirt felt soft as the clouds. I have breathed in water and let the air fill my lungs.

I have smiled until my face became the antithesis of a face, until the smile left the lips and the nose became an oyster’s pearl.

The world is a wonderful place. The mind is a wonderful place.

Have you seen the sun today? Have you seen the sun for weeks?

Where could it possibly go, the sun? And why would we want to search for it, the sun?

I have thought until I thought in an unknown language. I have thought until my thoughts became unintelligible to myself. Yet I go on thinking.

As if. As if thinking were a thing worthwhile. As if windows were actually clear, instead of tainted by foggy translucence. As if.

Sel, have you gone missing? Or is it just a letter that’s gone away? And what is a Sel that is incomplete? Is it what it was before but less, or is it something more?

I haven’t a clue. Sel, you may be long gone, gone when I exhaled the other day and began looking at my hand, looking at my hand until it became a claw, until it became a collection of talons.

What a wonderful world, Sel. What a wonderful mind too.

Breathe in and out, look at the sun, stare out windows and watch the shadows of our imagination play together on the foggy pane. Smile, Sel, smile. Have we ever smiled enough?

I haven’t seen the sun today. I haven’t seen the sun for months. So I went searching. I looked all around the globe, all across the outdoors. There was no sun. Then I looked inside.

There it was. The sun, within me.

Glorious, Sel, glorious.

Best,

Chubby

The 2nd of May 2018 – Portland, Oregon

(found floating in the water beneath a bridge, floating in the rays of shining sunlight)

Dearest,

I think this is it. Isn’t it? Don’t you think?

I don’t know where it came from, nor do I feign to comprehend where it may go, but it is here. Isn’t it? Don’t you feel it?

I have so much difficulty turning away. I have so much trouble just going forward, living on to the next moment because – here, now – well, it may just be too much.

Is it though? Because I don’t think so. I can’t imagine more, and – yes – I’m terrified of less.

It all started when the sun was out that morning about six months ago. The window was open, and a breeze flowed into the kitchen, carrying the scent of lavender and lilacs and the songs of birds. I looked across the table. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything since. I don’t care if I have or haven’t, either.

It was breakfast, and we were eating cereal. We were eating cereal with milk. But with the sun streaming in and the lilacs and the lavender, that was the best meal I’ve ever eaten.

I think that was it. Wasn’t it? Don’t you think?

I mean – I just…well, but.

Wasn’t there poetry here? What happened to it? And the call-and-response? Wasn’t there? Didn’t you think?

I just – well, I just…but.

I cannot write this any longer, and I wish that you were here.

Yours,

The 1st of January 1999 – Minneapolis, Minnesota

(found by a weird-shaped guitar)

Dear Bethany,

You know, I don’t know. I don’t know, you know?

I keep dreaming of cliffs, standing on cliffs and looking out over rivers, flowing with water and fish, swimming through water, flowing through rivers. I keep dreaming of fish and water and rivers. I keep dreaming of rainstorms, falling droplets of precipitation, crackling bolts of lightning and warm cups of lemon-mint tea.

You’ve heard of it, surely. Surely, haven’t you heard of it?

But the kettle boils over because, of course, it always does. The water comes roiling down off the cliff and plummets into the ravine so deep down below. The fish, oh, the silvery, shimmering fish toil and toil so fruitlessly against the current, suddenly swirling current at the base of the tragic disaster. The rain comes pouring down, drenching all forever down, soaking straight through the rain jackets and filling up rain jacket pockets. But I don’t need the pockets. My hands are wrapped around a cup of lemon-mint tea.

Really, it always does. Doesn’t it always, really?

What time is it, and am I still dreaming? Haven’t I always and forever been dreaming? Why, of course there is this question, is there always so much water – falling from the sky, pouring down off the steep side of the cliff, swirling around all the way down there below my feet? But do I even like fish, let alone sushi? Why can’t I ever find that perfect temperature (for my lemon-mint tea is now and suddenly just much too – much too, much too – tepid)?

Dearly,

Steven

The 26th of April 1992 – Brunswick, Maine

(found by the moss gathered by the rolling stone)

But Kathy,

How do you stop?

Now that it has started, now that I have started and you have started and we have started, how can it be stopped?

Yet it is expected to.

From the start, perhaps, might we have been doomed to need to stop what was so hard, so gloriously hard, to even start? I mean to say that, once Pandora’s Box has been opened and the so-many feelings let loose into the world, what is the point of trying to replace the lid? And why? And how?

And those moments that come, where it feels as though fate has squeezed your hand – a kind indication that, yes, you may take charge of the path your life will take – what to make of them? What to do with them?

I mean to say that, when – for once – you are able to feel the rough leather of Destiny’s reins in your grip, where are you supposed to lead the Chariot of Life? Where are you supposed to drive the horses? To the danger? Do you dare? To the safety? Disturb the universe?

I think I can. I mean to say that I think I may be able to continue. To not stop, I mean to say.

But that may not be the brunt of the challenge. Continuing, I mean to say. I mean to say that the feeling remains, the disaster still looms, the heart beats on.

And how can I say what I mean? And how can you mean to understand what I say?

And how can it be stopped? Why is it desired to be stopped?

That’s more like the question. I mean to say why is it desired to be stopped?

-Steve

The 1st of February 1982 – Evansville, Indiana

(found in the rusted bell of an old trombone)

Dear Llewellyn,

Remember. You remember?

I used to wear that old flannel shirt, that old grey flannel shirt. I used to always carry around a guitar with me, wherever I went. Wherever I went, I went with that old guitar.

It seems impossible.

There was a tree and we sat in the shade. I’d play the chords, and you’d sing melody. Sometimes, when I wasn’t too distracted by your voice, I’d chime in with the harmony.

They cut that tree down. They cut that tree down yesterday.

Or was it the day before? Or last year?

I’ve forgotten.

But I remember. You remember?

I used to have those jeans, the ones that I bought just new from the department store. But you didn’t like the look, and I didn’t like the fit. We bought a belt, big leather-brown belt and then tore holes in the knees.

It seems impossible. Sometimes, at least, it does.

There was a park in the city, and we’d go there to watch the sun fall down from the sky. I’d lie on my back, and you’d rest your head on my chest. Sometimes, when I wasn’t too distracted by your breathing, I’d try to describe the colors.

They filled that park in. All kinds of cement. It’s a police station now.

Or is it an elementary school? Or a hair salon?

I’ve forgotten.

What isn’t forgotten?

Well I haven’t forgotten you or those jeans or the old flannel shirt. I haven’t forgotten the guitar and the melody. Sometimes I do forget the harmony. Sometimes I try to sing, but I don’t quite remember the words. Sometimes I don’t quite remember the pitch. But I remember the big, brown belt. I remember your hair and your breathing and the sound of your voice, and when I remember it all, I get so distracted.

And it does seem so impossible.

Best,

Gareth

The 17th of January 2015 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

(found that time)

that thing in my hand was it there in my hand that thing by the stone on the grass in the sun that time was it there wasnt it there there was a place i would go when I needed that thing was it there or elsewhere underneath the sunny sky with the clouds glowing there that thing was there was it there wasnt it there or else where could it have been that thing i saw it i saw it im sure that i saw that there was it there or else where could it have been wasnt she there as well that thing in my hand warm hand in my hand with the roughness of a well used palm a well worn palm in my hand that thing did i drop it or else where could it have been where could that thing have gone i havent any idea but where could she have gone when she was speaking she was speaking im sure of it or was i alone always alone with that thing in my hand by the stone in the sun on the grass over the hill by the trees with that thing in my hand and just waiting with that thing in my hand and just watching but that thing i dont know i have no clue but there was that thing in my hand and im sure of it was there ever a chance of it coming to be was it ever going to come true to be easy with that thing in my hand that hand in my hand i was sure of if i was at least seventy percent sure of it as sure of it as i could ever be sure of it but no not now that thing in my hand dropped that thing in my hand that hand in my hand that rough palm smiling palm in my hand dying in my hand that thing in my hand with her in my hand and i in her hand that thing in my hand but no more

The 16th of March 1974 – Duluth, Minnesota

(found by the shoes near the crack in the tarmac)

For Streets –

I run, and I don’t run for fun.

I run for fury. Never worry. Run.

Done. Words that rhyme and the curse of time and all there is to do is run.

Away, and don’t we all just have to run away sometimes? Sometimes all we can possibly do – possibly, possibly do, do possibly ever do – is tie the sneakers, find the path and stop. Start.

Go.

She ran. He ran. We ran. Now there is only to run. Run.

Pounding pavement, crunching grass, raspy breath comes through it desperate gasps. One.

Wishing, screaming for the sky – but only beheld in glimmers against the eye. Two.

People passing, passing people. Buildings going, stone going, brick and glass going. Three.

Milk and honey. Loving hugs. Pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Just to get to the end of the rainbow. Four.

Five.

Breath.

Six.

Breath.

Seven.

Breath.

Eight.

Breath.

Nine.

Death.

Ten.

Run.

Eleven.

Running.

Twelve.

Keep counting. Count the steps.

Only steps.

Keep counting.

Run.