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"He lifted the thick yellow hair from his forehead.
The scar showed, pale and puckered, on his right temple."
Brave New World
"You spoof of visibility in a freakfog."
Liberty's Author had loved the High Lonesome ever since that turbulent moment when the whirling presence of God rushed down into his teenage mind with a wounded tornado roar:
He rises up from the tent canvas and wobbles around his leaning spinal column like a weary gyroscope. Semi-erect. Thinking anew. Rocking to and fro upon his knees in a groggy trance of bisyllabic iambiance as if dancing on the death bed of some prior incarnation.
"i am, I AM!"
From the gley bog of last night’s funereal fog, his hell-harrowing headache has launched its nightmarish lift out of swamp bottom at the bright morning advent of an indian summer sun just as Kahuna bursts tail-wagging through their tent door with his father’s prized Washington Senators baseball cap. Purchased by Lincoln at a 1965 summer Saturday matinee Minnesota Twins vs Boston Red Sox knothole game, the young retriever has fetched it for him from the beer-scented bleacher seat near last night’s campfire.
Feeling like some homunculus hatched like a barleycorn fart from an overcooked peacock's egg, our cryogenic Daedalus, imprisoned for years on ice after being burned by the high heat of a mean beanball, tugs his tattered cap from her mouth, snugs it firmly down over a furrowed brow and messy camp hair, canine saliva drooling, trying to recall just how and when he'd originally misplaced it.
Long since pardoned from those eruptive bouts of prairie dog radicalism which once politically tempted him, his aging mind feels momentarily oxidized into some kind of Copper Range weather vane, at one with Lake Superior's unforecastable atmospherics, hung in space here on this "Crossing Place" with nowhere to go but 'round, breeze-blown by an a posteriori experiment on pareidolia still awaiting concrete transfiguration, clothed only in what he's accumulated from coincidence and figuring perhaps, like flatulent hungover Falstaff, that it's 'better to be eaten to death with rust than scoured to nothing by perpetual motion'.
On the other hand, perhaps not:
" 'Tranquility Base here...' Lifting both arms parallel to the forest's water-logged floor, he fishtails his head from side to side in precise avian pivots. 'The Eagle has landed.' "
His 18th birthday present from NASA where the celestial watchmen of world freedom had not woken in vain. Or so it certainly felt on July 20, 1969, four years following that Excelsior tornado which transformed him into someone whose mirrored image reflected a sudden traumatic absence of self-recognition --"Who is that? That's not me!"-- for he'd been then but a 13 year old boy subconsciously baptized by the spiritual shards of some ominously shattered stainglass vision and tasked to piece it all back together without knowing why or how.
" 'By the waters of Minnetonka...' "
Athalia coos the Lakota Sioux's northern plain song into his amateur naturalist ear as he bangs the black-n-white keys of her parlor game piano, all 88 of them facing a tomahawk chop sooner or later given enough parental patience on this Christmas Sunday morning where they sit side-by-side, MAJOR and minor, in strict rehearsal for their string-hammered rocket duet to Mare Tranquillitatis:
"Moon Deer loved Sun Deer
They loved through tears
Unobserv'd, by way of fugue-state, he's privately return'd to the childhood of mother's house and his, steam-hoisted from that faeth fiada mist now swelling within him to resurrect the unfinished mansion of an inestimable mystery.
With copper "torch" in hand and mind's-eye adventuring, he gazes inwardly from his masthead crow's nest down past the wavy patina of fathomless time where pirate souls quicken and hearts drum submarine beats, our tent pole isolato dwelling not on annihilation but rather a necessary gathering of "20 Questions" he must perforce ask taskmaster Mom.
"Nineteen more times through this scrimshaw lattice and we'll winnow the wheat and chaff of your baby step ivories, son."
"Nine years old thee may be now but soon a teen thouest will be and therein's your gut-bucket gospel truth!"
"O brother..." This being his latest fraternal exclamation of expressing masculine exasperation at her wily use of King James elocution for maternal manipulation which he'd adopted and co-opted courtesy of Dad who was "Man-of-the-House" AWOL during the holiday season way out west (and down under) in "Dreamland", frankly yanked away from his cyber-engineering position at Honeywell by some esteemed council of eastern seaboard eminence grises for clandestine assignment on another code-breaking Navy sabbatical with that "damn 'Underseas Systems' project" (as Mom was wont to air-quote) which the Twin Cities defense firm had been Grey-Ops'-ing at least since Dad transferred there three years earlier in the fall of '57.
"Just a wee contrarian seabee drone me be," he'd confessed to her on their autumnal overcast airport drive, "quarantined in an oceanic hive with one quiet brilliant beautiful voice periodically pinging the sonar of my personal conscience. Yours, truly..."
Lincoln couldn't confide to Athalia the exact location he'd flown for until Christmas Eve when, temporarily freed from honeycombed captivity within a classified government facility harbored fathoms beneath drifting Groom Lake dunes nearly 30 nautical leagues northwest of Las Vegas, he let it slip, on an all too brief shore leave by way of a phone booth cubicled inside Pinky's Polar Bear Lounge, that "Sin City's making me seasick for home sweet home."
He sweet-talked her then from an extravagantly lit stretch of neon skyline, plucking familiar heart strings every which way he knew, elevating his morose mood with an imported Russian vodka martini vibe, Death Valley dry, shaken British Empire style and punched up by a vending machine pack of unfiltered Camels whose cellophane wrap he uncrinkled with a curvilinear flourish of solitary disgust and social exhilaration, ditching thereby last New Years' Day pledge to hop aboard the tobacco wagon and "ride it smokeless til '61", clanking down dimes like that profligate pacific theater persona he once poker-faced through a running numbers game of statistically risky prognostication and tilted roulette financing which underwrote a savvy bevy of promiscuous impersonations--sailing his fabled "seventh ocean" to oriental seaports in pursuit of gentleman rickshaw romances funded by gambling profits procured from loaded poop deck dice rolls and card-counting blackjack whose brief courtships led to implausible erotic denouements at the "Hotel Shanghai" he later multiplied and embellished into a prurient anthology of rarefied sex tales wryly raconteur'd with the shy monastic reticence of an upper midwestern rural sensibility anchored by a tenor church mouse belltone that never rang quite F Clef enough to suit the skeptical baritone chorus of his perpetually cash-poor shipmates.
But could a shadowy species of spook work have found cohabitation within that chiaroscuran spectrum moiring wide and deep beneath the bow wave of Dad’s penitent pleas for wartime absolution, a twilit realm he’d carefully submerged beneath confessional misdirects with frothier surface admissions of mathematical chicanery and bungled pre-marital flings? Almost certainly. Christened “PENUMBRA” for conjugal detours into a binary blacknwhite code-language Athalia and he employed whenever conversing on nation state cloak-and-dagger, third world revolutions, extraterrestrial contact, extended family crises and other child unprivy what-have-yous at the dinner table—it periodically emerged in alphanumeric strings of letters and numbers no child could untangle from any thesaurus except perhaps Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (though their ever curious son had unsurprisingly tried, commandeering a small spiral notebook, musket-loaded with pencil stub, laid like a blank napkin on his crumb-filled lap and standing sentry for scribbling on whenever gastronomical asides veered toward the inscrutable).
It was at one crucial Sisyphean pivot during an erratic though incrementally upward sloping learner’s curve (which he’d accelerated unawares through a disciplined navigation of diatonic music’s dynamic unbalanced tonality whose shifting center of gravity, the “Circle of Fifths”, his mother had adapted into rigorous scale exercises for he and her as a way of mnemonically capturing the emotional tension and resolution of she and Lincoln’s arcane deipnosophistry) that….hmm, oh yes…the boy over-excitedly realized one night, while coughing up a half-chewed mouthful of spinach, those suppertime subtext transfers of his deceptive parents nearly always coincided with the non-appearance of a new moon.
“ ‘I yam what I yam, I’m Popeye the Sailor Man!’ ”
Buckshotting a bit of spit spinach into both Athalia and Lincoln’s eyes with a froggy sing-song affectionately if not quite accurately loyal to the cartoon seafarer’s voice, their ebullient prodigy made what may one day be rhetorically catalogued by millennial historians as the boy’s first inept attempt to enter into and triangulate one of their encrypted dialogues.
“Equal temperament, my dear, equal temperament. Especially when we’re dining.” Mom always knew just what to say. “Now what’s all this about Popeye?"
“Sure, um yeah, could you please pass the olive oil. This salad’s tasting a tad dry.” Scrawling down Dad’s apparent nom de guerre then post-haste during their quickly whispered sparring match after she did:
“Idlewild North” –investigate
(to be continued)
My time-travelling charm for "Harrowing Hell": http://tinyurl.com/mgcya25
It's a brave new world,
"The sun's o'ercast with blood: fair day, adieu!
Which is the side that I must go withal?
I am with both: each army hath a hand;
And in their rage, I having hold of both,
They whirl asunder and dismember me."
"As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the Blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour,
This crumbling pageant shall devour
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky!"
A Song For St. Cecilia's Day
Martyred in 3rd century by three sword strikes to the neck, St. Cecilia is the Patroness of Musicians.
Her Feast Day falls on November 22.
" 'I see the storm coming and I know His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me, I believe that I am ready.' "
Senator Kennedy quoting President Lincoln
(July 4, 1960 in NYC)
"I saw three ships come sailing in on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day."
I Saw Three Ships
(Traditional English Christmas Carol)
My "Via Dolorosa": http://tinyurl.com/lyfpyw5
"And when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."
"He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, he came
to those who knew him not...and sets us to the tasks which he has to fulfill for our time."
The Quest Of The Historical Jesus
Frontispiece to the Book Of Durrow
"Extol him that rideth upon the heavens...[snip]...the chariots of God are 20,000, even thousands of angels:
the Lord is among them...[snip]...his strength is in the clouds."
(A Song of David)
"The story really began in the middle sixties, the period of the great purges in
which the original leaders of the Revolution were wiped out once and for all."
"The child of imagination is the child I fear."
Herod the Great
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Isaiah 53: 2-3
"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son..."
"The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!"
"This country is going to say yes and Minnesota is going to be in the lead."
University of Minnesota at Duluth
(September 24, 1963)
"For the first time in his life, he felt a sense of possible purpose working itself out in history"
"And then, as we have taken the sacrament
We will unite the white rose and the red:
Smile heaven upon this fair conjunction,
That hath long frown'd upon their enmity."
Earl of Richmond
"Stunned by that loud and dreadful sound,
Like one that hath been seven days drowned
Which sky and ocean smote,
But swift as dreams, myself I found
My body lay afloat;
Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,
Within the Pilot's boat
And all was still, save that the hill
The boat spun round and round;
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Was telling of the sound."
The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
From a prophecy on the Mariner's Scroll once shredded into confetti over dreaming Endymion's head:
"If he utterly scans all the depth of magic, and expounds the meanings of all motions, shapes and sounds;
if he explores all forms and substances straight homeward to their symbol essences; he shall not die."
"More white and red than doves or roses are;
Nature that made thee, with herself at strife,
Saith that the world hath ending with thy life."
Venus And Adonis
T-Minus 11 Days and Counting,
T-Minus 12 Days and Counting,
Traffic jam of Chryslers rescued from the City of Bangor after she ran aground near Keweenaw Point in late November 1926
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep"
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
Operation Northwoods: The Motorcade Begins its Winter Journey to Calumet
T-Minus 13 Days and Counting,
"The Wall Street group turned the stock market into a maelstrom where the values of all the land crumbled away to almost nothingness.
And out of all the rack and ruin rose the form of the nascent Oligarchy, imperturbable, indifferent, and sure. Its serenity and certitude
was terrifying, Not only did it use its own vast power, but it used all the power of the United States Treasury to carry out its plans."
The Iron Heel
(Chapter X, 'The Vortex')
T-Minus 14 Days and Counting,
"While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened--there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind---the entire orb of the satellite burst at once
upon my sight--my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder--there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice
of a thousand waters--and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the 'House of Usher'.
The Fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allen Poe
T-Minus 15 Days and Counting,
"In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed in the Maritime Sailors Cathedral. The church bell chimed till it rang 29 times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald. The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call
Gitche Gumee. Superior they said never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early."
Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald
T-Minus 16 Days and Counting,
"Love, Strife and Death and that which is beyond Death; an atmosphere formed by the worship of Nature and
the enchantment of Memory; a combination of dance and song like the sweep of a great singing bird..."
Gilbert Murray on "The Major Spirit of Western Song"
"Well I hear you in the morning and I hear you at nightfall
Sometimes to be near you is to be unable to feel you, my love"
Edge Of 17
November is truth-telling season and thus a composer's personal confession: Stevie Nicks was my first songbird inspiration and remains to this day the melodic angel for all those muses who sang after. So for you and you and you, lyrics slightly altered, here is Havrylak's one-track take of Elton John's Your Song recorded on a "primum mobile" whim early one Sunday morning in the spring of 2005: http://tinyurl.com/ml94mly
T-Minus 17 Days and Counting,
"Sura 18 is the apocalypse of Islam...[snip] Sura 18 opens up, silently, majestically, in the heart of the Koran the question, What lies beyond or after the Koran? [snip] Sura 18 is pregnant with the Sunni-Shiite split and the whole subsequent history of Islam. [snip] Sura 18, and the Koran as a whole, like Finnegan's Wake, shows us preexistent traditions, Jewish, Christian, Hellenistic, pulverized into condensed atoms or etyms of meaning... [snip] Out of this dust the world is made anew. [snip] In the tragic view of history taken by the Shiites, things went wrong from the moment the prophet died. The problem is, What comes after the prophet? The question is, Who is Khidr? And, What does it mean to be a disciple of Khidr?--the question at the heart of Sura 18. Pursuing that question, Ibn Arabi said that he had plunged into an ocean on whose shore the prophets remained behind standing."
The Apocalypse of Islam
Norman O. Brown
T-Minus 18 Days and Counting,
"He saw the problem before him as plain as a map. The fantastic thing about war was that it was fought about nothing--literally nothing. Frontiers were imaginary lines. [snip] It was geography which was the cause--political geography. It was nothing else. Nations did not need to have the same kind of civilization, nor the same kind of leader...[snip]... they could keep their own civilizations...[snip]...if they would give each other freedom of trade and free passage and access to the world. [snip] There would be a day--there must be a day--when he would come back to Gramarye with a new Round Table which had no corners, just as the world had none--a table without boundaries between the nations who would sit to feast there. The hope of it would lie in culture. If people could be persuaded to read and write, not just to eat and make love, there was still a chance that they might come to reason."
The Once And Future King
T. H. White
T-Minus 19 Days and Counting,
"The doctrine which they most strenuously inculcated was that of the transmigration of souls."
Julius Caesar on Celtic eschatology in The Conquest of Gaul c. 50 B.C.
"This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him."
Herod describing Jesus in Matthew 14:2
"But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.
Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them."
Jesus in Matthew 17:12
T-Minus 20 Days and Counting,
"The philosophers of King Charles' reign were busy finding out the art of flying...the humour so prevailed
among the virtuosos of this reign, that they were actually making parties to go up to the moon together."
Addison & Steele
(July 20, 1713)
Turning back time tonight.
T-Minus 21 Days and Counting,
"This is extraordinary," said the Wart. "I feel strange when I have hold of this sword, and I notice everything much more clearly."
The Once And Future King
T-Minus 22 Days and Counting,
"Kennedy, I think, wanted to be a writer--that was the thing that came across to all of us who knew him at that time.
There was never any talk about him going into politics.
At that time, he thought if anybody went into politics, it would be his older brother Joe. And that was it. "
Alvin Cluster, PT Boat Squadron Commander
T-Minus 24 Days and Counting,
"His killing had no purpose, no reason or rhyme."
He Was A Friend Of Mine
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