Month: January 2016

The 11th of October 1982 – Wichita Falls, Texas

(found beneath the middle cushion of a leather sofa)

Dear Ralph,

My goodness.

I don’t know what it was, but it did just strike me to reach out to you. How long has it been?

I just had a memory of you that knocked me right off my feet, that hit me harder than a tornado, that pushed me down on this couch where I’m not much more than a lumpy sack of potatoes. And that’s where I still am, on the couch and trying to catch my breath back from the tornado of you that stole it all away.

I’m wrinkled now, Ralph. I imagine that you are too. I’m wrinkled and forgetful. I couldn’t find my shoes the other day. Oh, Harry and I searched all over the house for that old pair of shoes. You’ll never guess where we found them.

You just won’t Ralph. Or maybe you will. You did always know me well, maybe even better than Harry does.

Well, the shoes were on the shoe rack in the foyer. The shoe rack! Where else would they be?

I know I walked by there three or four times yesterday morning. I just don’t believe how I never even saw them. In my defense, Harry moved them while he was vacuuming in there. So they were on the shoe rack but in a different place.

You just walk past something for so long that you can’t ever see it for what it is, I guess.

Ralph, I don’t know. I just don’t.

Does that make sense to you? I remember that it used to. Harry doesn’t understand when I tell him that. He’s been so wonderful to me. He always cleans up my mess. He’ll help me find my shoes. But he’ll never understand when I tell him “I just don’t know.”

Last week we all went apple picking, with James and Marilyn and the Grandkids. It was just a whale of a time! And Harry, gosh even though he’s that old, he kept picking me up so I could reach the ripe apples on the top branches! It was just a whale of a time!

But I still just don’t know.

So I just had a memory of you, and it knocked me right the heck over.




The 16th of July 1967 – Charlotte, North Carolina

(found by a pile of horse manure)

Oy Marci,

You ever seen a donkey with a top hat on?

Yeah? Yeah.

You ever seen a cat with a mouse tied to its tail with a pretty pink ribbon? You ever seen a cat like that except with a saucer of milk between its paws and trying to lap up the liquid with the tip of its red tongue?

Yeah. Yeah?
You ever seen two dogs chasing each other’s tails, except running in concentric circles that get tighter and tighter until the two dogs become a single dog put together, except with one end of the dog being made of a squirrel body and the other end of the dog being made of the head of a Bengal tiger?

Yeah? Yeah?

You ever one time turned on the television, except the only thing that happens when you turn on the television is the blender in your kitchen turns on and suddenly there’s a man at your front door trying to sell you vacuum cleaner accessories, except when you go to the door and open it, it’s not a man out there at all? You ever opened the door and expected to see a man on your porch trying to sell you vacuum cleaner accessories and instead saw this little two year old seal doing tricks with a balloon on its nose like you usually see at the zoo?

That ever happened?


You ever tried to put on your shoes except when you put on your shoes you remember that thing that happened and it strikes you deep to the core and you feel the blade of a cold knife in your back and your hands start to tremble? You ever think about the first time you ever fell in love and just feel like puking out your guts? Huh?

Yeah! Yeah!

Marci, you ever had somebody look at you, I mean really look at you and hear what you’re saying to them, hear what you’re really saying to them when you reveal your true soul to them, you ever had that and had that person not flinch?



The 6th of January 1902 – Dublin, Ireland

(found in the drift)

To Who Ever Stumbles Across –

There isn’t nowhere I fit. There isn’t a place nowhere for me.

I just’ve got myself and I been walking for so long. Ah, my fete are heavy and my hands are stiff. My eyes don’t do more than squint anymore, for all the winds that have lashed up against my face. I been walking for so long.

Ah, my body is tired and acheing. Ah, there is this feeling that I have all of the time and I feel it very deep and very low in my spine. I feel an anchor there, a cold and dragging anchor. It freezes me. It makes me heavy.

Ah, but for my lonesome fete and my trembling hands. But what am I to do anymore?

I haven’t got nowhere where I fit.

The snow falls thickly and makes it hard to see much farther out than my own nose. Horses pulling carts grunt and struggel all thru the streets. A man shouted out a warning to me and I dived out of the way, to the side of the street.

I landed here, almost sitting like in a stool, here in this snow bank.

I’ve been apart from things for so long. But now I’m seated in this snow bank. The packed snow feels soft underneath me. I can relax in it. The snow is falling all around me. Perhaps I will be swallowed whole by it.

Now my eyes squint from the snowflakes which blow into my brow. My stiff hands struggle to get these last words onto paper. Ah, my fete still ache, but they are not as heavy.

I fit here, dying.

I do not even feel the cold.


The 30th of August 1985 – Hampton, Virginia

(found in the back of an old notebook, filled with scribbled poetry)

Dear H,

It is all a fiction.

I do not understand, and I won’t. Neither do you. Don’t pretend. Don’t let your eyes glass over. Listen to my lunacy. It is the truth.

When I close my eyes, it all feels so real. That’s what bothers me. That’s what gets my goat.

I know it isn’t. I know I walk through a world that is created, as much or even more than it is real. I know that it isn’t true, that it wasn’t true, that nothing is true. Nothing is true because nothing exists – nothing can be proven to exist – outside of the confines of my own mind.

When you told it to me, it did feel so real. I could feel it even without closing my eyes. And I wanted so desperately to believe.

I had never believed before. I had never had that hope. I had always thought that faith was something given to the weak to keep them from getting restless and resentful when seeing the riches of the strong. I thought that there were those who did not need, who did not get any sustenance from it because their sustenance was won in the field.

But that is beside the point.

The point is that it is all a lie anyway. The reason why I went to kindergarten is a lie. The reason why I tie my shoes in the morning is a lie. It’s all a lie.

The thing that you told me felt so true. I could feel it even without closing my eyes.

But it’s all a fiction, written and acted out by us every day. But it is no crime, and it is no shame. It is a necessity.

I used to feel it when I closed my eyes. That is how I got through the day. Imagination was my surrogate to faith, my supplement to hope. I used to feel it when I closed my eyes. Then, what you told me, I could feel it without closing them. Now I cannot feel it anymore.

It is all a fiction.


The 3rd of May 1984 – Karval, Colorado

(found beneath a smoldering pile of the rubble)

Dear Agnes,

Perhaps you will not receive this. It is likely that you will never hear from me again. Perhaps you will see me. I do hope you will.

You will never believe what has happened. It is the craziest thing. It is maddening, what has just happened.

The pilot just said, very quietly and calmly, that we are all going to die.

He didn’t say exactly that, but he might as well have.

He just clicked on his intercom and he said, very quietly and very calmly “Well, folks, unfortunately both of the engines have gone out. We’ll have an unexpected and sudden landing within the next thirty minutes or so.”

Then he clicked off.

That was it. Nobody reacted. Nobody made a move. It was like nothing happened. It was like nobody heard it. It was like he had just announced the time of day and temperature.

Agnes, I know that I’m about to die. I knew that for a long time, well before I even got on this plane, but what is everyone else doing?

What is everyone else doing?

Do they know?

I mean, they’ve just gone back to their books. They’ve got their noses in their newspapers and their magazines. The woman next to me is just filling out a crossword puzzle, calmly and quietly. That’s it. That’s all.

What are they doing?

Agnes, I want to get out of my chair and scream in each and every face. I want to say “You are going to die! Your life will be incomplete and ruined! You are going to die before you want to, and you won’t even be sure of the value of it! You are about to die!”

Maybe they will react. Maybe they will just go back to their newspapers and their books and magazines.

I want to shout at them. Not because there’s something to do about it, but because we all ought to know. We all ought to make sure that we know, otherwise we are just wasting life away. Otherwise we are just being dishonest.

But, Agnes, I certainly don’t want to be the only one who knows and the only one who is terrified. It will be alright, or it will be better at least, if we are all terrified and knowing together.

Goodbye Agnes.



The 13th of June 1924 – Delano, Pennsylvania

(found by the knife with the blood and the bandage with the blood and the picture, drawn in wax crayon, of a sun with sunglasses and a smile on its face)

To Octavia,

There must be a nature to humanity. Or maybe there isn’t. But I would, I really would, like there to be a nature to humanity.

Something consistent. Something fundamental.

The Harrisons have had another child, and I was invited over to celebrate. There was quite a bit of champagne.

My point is that I wish we had no choice. Or, at least, that we can condemn those who exercise a choice as doing so out of cowardice more than anything else.

I want us to be feeling creatures. I want there to be no choice, no other option. I want us to be feeling creatures who cannot control what they feel, who cannot feel anything anyway other than intensely, painfully, brutally.

It is easy to weigh the benefits and risks, easy to make the safe decisions, easy to claim that a switch in the brain can be flipped to send the train down a different set of tracks.

But we have to love. Everything and everyone.

Love, Octavia, and love desperately. Love without hope or expectation. Love only to feel the world for what it really is, nothing less and nothing more.

If you want simple pleasures and simple joys – well Octavia, if you just want to be happy – then go down to the butcher’s and find a nice steak, marbled with plenty of fat. Grill it, pour a glass of wine and shut your window.

If you want truth, then, Octavia, love. Send tendrils of love out from your heart at all times. It is a challenge, and it is painful because you will feel the pain and suffering of all the world and all at once and because there are those whom you will love but who will not love you in return.

But we are all connected. And we all can do it.




The 19th of February 2008 – The Big City

(found by a headstone with “fuck you” written on it in red crayon)

My God Ursula,

This place, and it’s filled with these people. What is this place, and why is it filled with these people?

What a travesty! What a joke! What a disgrace to the human spirit!

Frauds, every last one of them. Frauds, phony, phony frauds.

Her with her glasses and knit sweaters like she lives on a farm and can only afford cheap plastic glasses with thick lenses a designer label stamped on the side, like she’s forced by poverty to knit her own sweaters with wool she steals from the neighbor’s sheep.

Him with his tie and his hair gummy with gunk, looking like a shellacked Ken doll you’d find on shelves at your local Toys R’ Us, and acting like he’s important, acting like he’s anything more than a shell, talking through a screen with a picture and a heart on it like any of it means anything other than laziness, insecurity and shallow stupidity.

But that’s all we are is a shell. That’s all there is.

Hollow inside like a cheap chocolate Easter bunny.

And this woman on television, this antichrist, promising salvation and weight loss and enlightenment to all those sad people, and all they need to do is buy this handcream or read this book – the one with the sticker, otherwise she doesn’t get ten percent of the profits from the sale – and all they need to do is learn how to transform a regular sheet of construction paper into an impressive and serviceable doily.

Because that’s what life is. Life is hiding behind materials and making any desperate effort to avoid life. Life is sitting at home and polishing fake glasses, shining the leather bindings of all the fake books up on our bookshelves. Life is furiously working to transform construction paper into impressive and serviceable doilies, anything to avoid looking over our shoulder and out the window at the world, the world where the sun shines and night falls and the wolves howl and the birds sing sweet birdsongs.

Anything but that.

My God Ursula.

What am I doing here?