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BLOT: (22 Jan 2016 - 07:55:59 PM)

Poem: In the Rain

Patio table with rain drops, close up

1. In the Rain

In the rain, the cold water pools into your sighs and in the rain
My breath falls out along the sidewalk's gentle slope and the (
hill curves off around the street of happy homes
and happy men and happy lights and happy
) terror of seeing what it means again and again,
A feeling high moment closes low and slowly

Hands reach and touch in the rain, hands reach and miss each other
By the faintest horizon, mere microns wide, gray and blue atoms
And shadows all the shape of yesterday on windshields
With the sound of dreams knitted and stitched, wounded and healed,

in the rain in the rain.

Plans and cards played out until the spades run flush
in the rain, and cheeks and lips heart open until the knowing
Blush, must have been the the rain, been the rain

A night ceases to dawn in any meaningful way:
So many stars above the day, so many above the pain.

In the rain, the cold water washes into the words
We said and with the rain the syllables bleed into a jumble
Of painted lines and asphalt cracks and floating leaves and
Nonsense debris, worlds lost into steps taken, feet run away

Through the rain, through the long shape of distance.
Looking back, looking back, down the maybe, down the out.
In the rain, my face reaches down, a mask of rain, in the made.
Trees bend with the rain with the weight with eyes dark in the green

hidden green blinking awake and quickly breathes

And all I had to say...

2. Was This

I can't even begin, I can't even end,
And the hope of the day is the sunset
When things have come around full
Circle before the twilight awakes forget.

Baby teeth memories full of the sound of
Utensil drawers mouthing forks and knives
And the everyday markings of happy times
And the everyday tools of simple lives

Pull me back to when a window was a soul
And the outside was something inside me.
When I marked joyfulness as the sad state
Of days between having the pain of poetry.

And you were a puzzle box, known but young,
With a complex key to bend your lock,
And you were a song inside that plays to ear,
And a heart inside that played to the dark

Words inside of me, the night I wore.
I turned the key, you opened mine,
And the days spent under leaves and light
Spilled out roads of dust and eyes.

The first argument was a pattern made,
A painting of colors and washed lines.
The last good day was just another name
For all the moments we wasted time.

And when I fell in love with the dying thing,
I fell in deep with the absent smile
That you wore to pass the hours,
I fell in hard with my own sad while.

The heartbeat in a room, carpet and cloth,
And old comfortable chair I slept upon,
The walls where our pictures hung, the smell
Of smoke and sad and days long gone.

And when I looked back, mirrors looked forward,
And the clouds outside were quiet gray.
"I love you, but I cannot," was your words.
And silence was all the words I could say.

3. It is Just

Rain in the west
Wears the sun as a shroud,
Gravity into whispers.

Flowers waterlogged
Close blooms and minds.
Red and yellow eyes.

Pools gather in grass,
Shimmer in the dying light.
Lie still.

A young child laughs.
Feet run through rainfall
Sleeping in streams.

The smell of pines
Crawls out of shadows
And down young roads.

A man stands alone
With himself,
Turns back to the east.

4. I Have No One

Not all clouds are thunder and lightning (you say), the storm finally passes
Gray skies are gray skies even at night, so dark so dark, lightless
And of all the stars I have ever named, the brightest hardest named
Was the sun. I see you as I see myself, a reflection of the other else,

I have no one.

Slamming into the sky, ravaged and barely breathing I bleed
Just to see. I release (I say) I accept. I become something mildly felt.
Scalded by the edges I had forgotten the rhyme and reason of, which
And where, all behind, the missed goodbye falls back into the now and

I have not forgotten all the shit that you have done.
I have not forgotten all the songs that we sung.
I have not forgotten the times come and gone.
I was just hanging on to needing someone.

Like a flute my tongue plays at notes and tunes and humming and
Dancing with the vacant feast where the food has gone all awry
Until the eyes are drained and how could I have possibly been blind
To the past outside, filled with the glaring scars of past storms?

I have not forgotten all the pain you brought and spun.
I have not forgotten the rain and the gray and way the clouds
Behaved when in the wind they westerly dreamed blue skies
And blue eyes look out into the midnight and blue eyes, mine...

I was just hanging on.
We have no one.

Poetry

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: January 2016


BLOT: (02 Jan 2016 - 02:52:55 PM)

The persistent myth of the stars being wrong in "The Call of Cthulhu"

Sketch of Cthulhu with note to R.H. Barlow

One of the most persistent pieces of Fan-canon (or fanon) across all genre-fiction is inspired by an attempt to reconcile the ending of H.P. Lovecraft's short story "The Call of Cthulhu" with the current take of Cthulhu as a black-magic science fiction anti-christ, a harbinger of Earth's final days with powers so inhuman that once he arises, there will be no hope for humanity. In the short story, the climatic battle between the Great Old One and a few human sailors goes really poorly for the sailors until one of them decides to hail mary the whole shebang and rams the star-spawn-supreme with a boat:

But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtake the Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting the engine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mighty eddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the brave Norwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly up to the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a bursting as of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousand opened graves, and a sound that the chronicler would not put on paper. For an instant the ship was befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seething astern; where—God in heaven!—the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawn was nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widened every second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam.

[Note: All quotes from this story are taken from the H.P. Lovecraft Archive version of "The Call of Cthulhu", other versions might vary slightly.]

This seeming paradox of an otherworldly titan being bested by a single strike from a ship has led to one of the persistent questions, as asked by a recent Reddit post (for the umpteenth time): "How exactly was Cthulhu defeated...?". And like with most of these similar posts, the top answer is simply: "The stars have to be right"*. Meaning that the stars were wrong. Or, at least, were not entirely right, with a common assumption being that if the stars are very wrong at 0.0, and are right at 1.0, there exists some value (for now, let's say s>0.7) that the stars are right enough to result in Cthulhu being able to increase in power, but not so right (s=1.0) for him to fully awake. This is not merely the claim set forth by redditors and message board fans, in Kenneth Hite's Cthulhu 101, we see the standard fanon answer (page 18):

That's just because the stars aren't right. When the stars are right, it don't matter how many boats hit him. He'll sink whole continents and lick off the people like salt off a pretzel.

There is an interesting horror-sociology at play here. "The Call of Cthulhu" is a story that I suspect many people come into long after being exposed to the popular version of the material. When people read it, they are reading it to confirm their vision of Cthulhu. A similar thing happens with Dracula and vampires, where people assume the death-by-sunlight is an integral part of the myth, only to find that Dracula himself is perfectly capable of wandering around during the day. In the case of the big-C, we are exposed to him as a powerful sleeping demi-god who will destroy humanity and the boat-strike being even temporarily effective does not jive with our version of events.

Part of this is because some of the most important lines in "The Call of Cthulhu" are often overlooked. I quote them below, from section "II: The Tale of Inspector Legrasse," emphasis mine:

These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape—for did not this star-fashioned image prove it?—but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serve to liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them from making an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncounted millions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but Their mode of speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinities of chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by moulding their dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals.
Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

Lovecraft had another game in mind with the text. It is not that Cthulhu would arise and wipe out humanity, it is that humanity would reach a point of immorality so vast that it would welcome Cthulhu. In this way, Cthulhu is an analog for a Paradise Lost-esque Satan, who will enable people to achieve even greater heights of ecstacy and destruction when they let him, acting as a sleeping tempter. Until then, two things are required. The stars must be right, and someone must awaken Cthulhu. In the context of the story, it seems that the Alert's crew were either preparing to do just that, or were waiting for someone who could. Note the slight play on words, "alert" comes from the root of someone watching out, but also brings to mind...wakefulness.

Of course, the greatest damnation of the story is that it relies largely on a narrative dump shared by a single cultist, Castro, for background information. All you have to argue is that Castro is wrong or lying about the details, and then you can assume any number of things. Cthulhu might not need the cult. Cthulhu might not need the stars to be right. Cthulhu might be a piddling minor-dictator who has masterminded one of the greatest agit-prop campaigns in history.

Perhaps the biggest slap to the extended-universe version of Cthulhu is found in Lovecraft's own writings, "The Shadow Out of Time," which is a rare (nearly unique**) glance into the future of the planet. In it, we see that there will be a beetle-race that comes after humanity, and there is discussion of the war with the flying-polyps**, and mentions of the year 16000CE, but there is no mention of Cthulhu rising. Precise canon in Lovecraft is dangerously elusive, but since this story ties into "At the Mountains of Madness", and that story ties into "The Call of Cthulhu" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth", then it seems like a strange thing to leave out. Unless you argue that the "dark conquerors" are an allusion to a Cthulhu cult triumphant (one that eventually dies out and gets beetle-replaced).

This all becomes academic when you take Lovecraft-lore to be supra-Lovecraft, though, which most would. It is really only viable as a debate when looking at the original sources. Cthulhu, in the expanded-lore, is a dark god that will one day bring about a holocaust of fire and pain and wipe out humanity. Just not in the original story. Not exactly. As for where Lovecraft intended Cthulhu to end up in this original tale, we have the final paragraph of the short story:

Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which has shielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for the Vigilant sailed over the spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—but I must not and cannot think!

* Another common fan-theory is that the being encountered at the end of the story is not Cthulhu, but only something like an advance guard.

** In the short story, "Nyarlathotep," there is a depiction of a nightmarish future world where much of humanity is wiped out and dark realities are commonplace. It is, though, notably non-specific.

*** The polyps are not named in the story, and much of their description as basalt-loving creatures that are partially out of space-time and who were driven underground years ago might be applicable to the star-spawn, but current canon assigns them to a wholly different bucket.

Lovecraft

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: January 2016


BLOT: (01 Jan 2016 - 01:12:19 PM)

Goodbye 2015, and, I suppose...resolutions

It is weird thinking back to 2015. I do not remember it, not as an entire unit. My memories prior to about August are very fuzzy. I know I went to a conference (ALLA/SELA) and talked about copyright. I remember giving talks about science reporting, and copyright, and "Welcome to the Future History of the Book." I remember some work stuff, playing some games, reading some books. But it is fuzzy. Dreamlike, almost. And it feels years ago. I much better recall the past four or five months, but even that is through a filter of time dilation and imprecise order. I remember making a trip to Boston + Salem + Providence + a scattering of other cities, which was the event-highlight of the year, but that feels like nearly a year ago. I remember making new friends, but the way it played out is strange in my head. This is all to say that I recall 2015, but it feels like a moment of imprecise time.

Window with blinds partially open, looking out into a gray day

There were good moments in 2015. I started writing again. Despite some ups and downs, I managed to complete at least a dozen poems worthy of publication, and have three or four stories so near worthy of publication that I will start trying to get them a home as soon as I can finish polishing them. As for the poetry, that gives me enough poems to start seriously considering publishing a collection, and I plan very early in the year to put on a show...somewhere.

As said, I got to go on a trip to New England around Halloween, and that is a highlight. Not only did I get to spend time with Jason and Katie Sharitt for the first time since last October, but I got to see most of the major cities of the United States: Atlanta, Washington D.C., Baltimore, New York, Boston, Providence. I got to spend the day before Halloween in Salem, which was a fairly crazy time, very busy and full of people in costume. I got to go into one of the oldest museums in the country and just have down time. I got to see Boston's Chinatown. I got to visit Little Italy. I got to hang out in an upscale hookah bar, to visit a neighborhood tea shop, and to hang out in a bookstore dedicated to Lovecraft. I got to walk up and down the street where Lovecraft was born, and visit his grave. There were so many moments that had this "slice of life" characteristic that it would be hard to give name or description to them all, but it was nice. Even the ridiculously long train trip had the flavor of a life event.

The most surreal moment of that whole trip was me on my little starter Android phone (I've upgraded since then) using a blue tooth keyboard and a very crappy 3G connection to try and help a friend, at 1am, brainstorm a paper about Emily Dickinson while in a cramped little train bed heading through a very dark South and North Carolina. Ah, the future is here.

The most significant event of the year, and one I have not talked about much, was I started therapy back in August (well, September before I started it properly, but August was the first initial visits). Towards the end of July, and the start of August, I finally dealt head on with some (or all) of the issues related to my younger brother's 2014 death. It is a little more complicated than that. Just the act of getting back into writing (for the first time since 2013-2014) meant I had to spend several hours a day dealing with emotions, plotting, things of that sort. That dredged up some stuff. I started hanging out with people for the first time in a bit, which most of my friends probably note since I had been scarce for several months (and even around October 2014's The Stars are Right, I was in such an obvious-in-retrospect funk that I'm sure someone had to notice). Around the end of July, start of August, I hit what I would call a manic couple of weeks. Afterwards, I was tired and drained like I have never been before in my life. I made essentially two blog posts hinting at it, one about an I Ching casting, and and one where I gave advice to my younger self. You would have to read between the lines to see me talking about my exhaustion, there. Well, maybe not in the I Ching post, but there you go.

Therapy has gone well. I have not had to get on any anti-depressants. I have started talking about grief vs guilt vs trying to avoid emotions. The last couple of sessions have been mostly about self-identifying behaviors, but it is obviously winding down. I have a couple of more sessions scheduled, and then probably a couple of more sessions past that, but I think that will be it. I've fixed a lot about myself this past few months, mostly in the sense that I have done quite a few personal inventories where I have at least acknowledge bad habits and built up a few good ones in their place. I will not pretend like I am magically fixed for the duration, but I have a much better vocabulary for dealing with things.

Since my manic weeks followed by exhausted weeks, though, a lot of things have derailed. I have not read very much. I have not watched many movies. I have not played many games. I have had a few projects in the fire, but the heat has not gotten very loud. One of the sadder losses was that the writings I had worked pretty hard to get ready to go took a backseat to just trying to feel ok about the day. All of these things I need to work better at getting back. I lost enough weight that people began to notice. I need to take advantage of this and keep up some of the healthier habits while not doing it for the wrong reason.

My brain rewiring about that time is partially why the year is so fuzzy, why time has dilated for me, days have become weeks. Weeks have become months. Months have become...some indefinite period of time longer than a month. It is not all bad. When people tell me things like, "The year has just flown by!," I get to experience time at a slower rate than most. As a person in my late 30s, when years tend to rush together, it has actually been nice to just experience one, experience it fully, even if it was not the best year of my life.

In this light, my resolutions are simple. I had none for 2015. I had only a few scant ones for 2014. I had way too many for 2013. I'd like to start with basics. Here you go...

Goodbye 2015. You were an arbitrary measurement of time that began ok, went poorly, but ended ok. I doubt I'll forget you, but you made me better.

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: January 2016


BLOT: (24 Oct 2015 - 01:17:18 PM)

But if a Look Should April Me/Dear With Your Sweet Face. The E.E. Cummings Project, Chapter 1.

Though I have gotten back into writing poetry lately, I found myself in need of a full on project to give me an excuse to play with form. An odd idea struck me, at first as something like a joke: take poetry by E.E. Cummings (or ee cummings, if you prefer) and to rewrite it into more of a traditional style with very few of his syntactic tricks (while retaining some of his grammatical ones). As I talked about the joke, I realized it might be fun. I also realized it might make an interesting opportunity to rewrite other poets' poetry into a style that might have fit something that Cummings would write.

leaves from an autumn tree

What I didn't quite realize is that there is no simple one-for-one interpretation for a lot of Cummings verse. While some of his tricks are just parlor, there are times when his seemingly broken verse says something that could not have been replicated in more precise terms. While I strive to get better at only touching some of the meter and rhyme and syntax of his poetry as I go, for this first one I decided to go ahead and take it as set of themes and wordplays, and to retain those while expanding out the poem itself to be a little more "Doug".

For my first poem, I took Cummings' "darling!because my blood can sing" and Emily Dickinson's "Life--Is What We Make of It" and rewrote them as something of a pair. In "darling!" there is a sense of the strife of life that is meaningless as long as a "look shall april" the poet. This term is best left ambigious, but I think the meaning is fairly clear. In Dickinson's, there is an idea of about life getting meaning from Christ and Death, but by using the words "He" and "Him" instead of which concept she precisely means, it makes many of the lines open to debate. Now, I took arguably more liberties with her poem to make it vibe with my take on "darling!", in that I made it more about an ambigious relationship with the idea that Life and Death means that the question of "We" is more pertinent to the moment and cannot be put off. Many of the original words from both poems are retained, but in a way different from the original.

"But if a Look Should April Me" (by Doug Bolden, 2015-10-22, with apologies to E.E. Cummings)


Darling, because my blood can sing and dance,
And does with your least look or quiet glance,
With your any most very amazing now or here,
To every "is not" under the spring, let pitiless fear
Play host, but if a look should april me, then ghosts
Of "is not" shall be lost on paths of their own knots.

Doubting can turn men's see to stare, joy to why,
Their faith to how, strident air to limp sighs,
But if just a mere look should april me, then
Some thousand million hundred breaths shall spring,
Bright worlds born out of my blue eyes opening,
And doubt unmade makes love darkly sing.

And on those nameless battlefields, for centuries,
Armies may meet armies in bloodshed and immensity,
And hate itself, with no smaller meanness, runs
Back and forth across the years, with nothing won.
But if a look should april me, even for half a when,
Even all my "I can never" shall fall and be broken.

But if a look should april me, even for half a when,
Though such a perfect hope is where despair begins,
And I am forced to look into the forest of my mind,
And there in the mountains of leaves, seek to find
My own death tumbling sticks and twigs into life,
May my fear be stilled, a brook flowing the hills of night.

"Dear with Your Sweet Face" (by Doug bolden, 2015-10-24, with apologies to Emily Dickinson)


Dear with your sweet
face(sweet nose sweet hair sweet eyes
made of rose and caramel)I gasp
Life(is what we make of it)and
Death(what we do not know)and
Who(with whom we met We on the road)might
justify you and us
and me and We with a casual though
Who is no stranger to trust
what others might betray
And Life(but nothing except
everything)this kiss
and your questions and Death(this
And all of this that
I)suffice a moment with all other distance
For We and It and Them have traveled to
Paradise(no new mile remains)
Far and short and far again
the hours shape and preced-
ing our tender pioneer-
ing base cowards we are for stop-
ping I do not know but
Dare we not venture forth to We,?

now

The originals, Cummings


darling!because my blood can sing
and dance(and does with each your least
your any most very amazing now
or here)let pitiless fear play host
to every isn't that's under the spring
- but if a look should april me,
down isn't's own isn't go ghostly they

doubting can turn men's see to stare
their faith to how their joy to why
their stride and breathing to limp and prove
- but if a look should april me,
some thousand million hundred more
bright worlds than merely by doubting have
darkly themselves unmade makes love

armies(than hate itself than no
meanness unsmaller)armies can
immensely meet for centuries
and(except nothing)nothing's won
- but if a look should april me
for half a when, whatever is less
alive than never begins to yes

but if a look should april me
(though such a perfect hope can feel
only despair completes strikes
forests of mind, mountains of soul)
quite at the hugest which of his who
death is killed dead. Hills jump with brooks:
trees tumble out of twigs and sticks;

Dickinson


Life—is what we make of it
Death—we do not know
Christ's acquaintance with Him
Justify Him—though

He—would trust no stranger
Other—could betray
Just His own endorsement
That—sufficeth Me

All the other Distance
He hath traversed first
No New Mile remaineth
Far as Paradise

His sure foot preceding
Tender Pioneer
Base must be the Coward
Dare not venture—now

A brief note about the picture above. I went outside yesterday to take photos for a fall photo context at the library I work out. However, the day was gray and blah enough (at that time, it later got sunny again), that I was unable to do the one trick I wanted, catching sunlightly through autumn leaves. I used a few touch up tricks to try and semi-replicate in post, though.

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: October 2015


BLOT: (13 Oct 2015 - 10:09:20 AM)

Lately, I have been dreaming of a river and dirt roads

Dreams have been a mixed weird bag for me lately. I do not remember all that many of them, but I get snatches. I remember moods from the dreams more than the dreams themselves. For some reason, a lot of the dreams lately have involved scenes from my younger days, but the present me, or someone like me. And my younger days have been transformed into a strange, epic world folded back over itself.

I have been dreaming of a river. It is nameless, but highly inspired by my days swimming and rafting and walking alongside the Sepulga River in lower Alabama. Around this river is a maze of old dirt roads. The dreams almost always take place in twilight. And along this river and those roads are large, dark buildings of no specific purpose, lit mostly by porchlights and yardlights. I travel back and forth along these roads, and visit some of these buildings—many of which contain multiudes of schools, houses, stores, and such—and though I am never alone in these dreams, I can never remember the people that are with me.

I am not accomplishing anything in these dreams. I am merely existing. No one ever calls me by name, though no one ever seems to mind me being there. I am both at the start of my journey—starting school, going off somewhere new—and somewhere in the long stretches of it. Things stalk the river and the roads, but they do not chase me. I merely must not stop and face them.

In one dream, I was floating under water, covered in fishhooks and light, alongside a flooded school that was somehow still functional. In last night's dream, I was paddling back and forth along the river, always with the sense that I was meant to be somewhere else. I do not drown. I do not even get wet. The river and the twilight horrors of the road have no power over me. I am not a god in my dream, I am merely an ink pen writing out the shape of them. I am a witness.

To better see some of the images of the dream, it might be good to see what the Sepulga looks like. I found this image on a newsstory, Sepulga River challenges through centuries: Pristine waterway unique in region:

Brown water of Sepulga River

The river of my dreams, much like the Sepulga, is more a glorified creek with occasional moments of depth and danger. It winds through swamp land and rock, rarely being tainted by the nearby civilization. It is brown and muddy and beautiful in its own way.

I am sure that everyone reading this has their own interpretation of what this must mean. I will offer an alternative, one that makes a lot of sense as I am typing it. The river (and those roads, and those dark buidlings, and those people I cannot remember and who do not seem to remember my name) are me. They are not some unstructured regret of the past or anxiety about the future, they are my brain trying to make sense of all things I am, as painted in images of my youth and symbols that first awoke in me a sense of awe and fear. The morass of nameless roads and river are merely a tool to try and bring the me-that-was in contact with the me-that-will-be.

Next time I have one, I think I will try and stop and wait for the stalking things. Except, well...

"Lately all of my dreams have been a river"


Lately, all of my dreams have been a river:
Rhyme written in brown rocks and mud.
Lately, all of my dreams have been dirt roads:
Bright rain and clay turning ditches into blood.

That dark river flows swamp and hollow,
A great word of drowning in deep breaths.
That long road touches stars and clouds,
Past houses all windows and little else.

There is a legend of some forgotten place,
A laughter of children and smiling fear.
There is a legend of some forgotten Doug,
In leaves and sticks and the furthest near,

And of stalking things diving into that river,
With the sound of clicks and lonesome strings.
And of stalking things creeping down those roads,
Into the pine trees where the bullfrog sings.

But fear not the stalking things, do not give
Them power to make you stop. Do not worry
About their deer skulls nor their spidery teeth.
Do not fear them, but neither should you tarry.

I and those stalking things, let us dance,
And tell old stories of sin to one another:
Long rivers of honeysuckle and poison ivy,
Old roads full of cracked tire ruts and lovers.

I long to swim rivers, to inhale their name.
I long to drink birth waters that are my
Soul's autumn heat. I long to breathe roads.
I long to stalk the song of nameless twilight.

Lately, all of my dreams have been a river,
Flowing into the ancient pools of youth.
Lately, all of my dreams have been clay roads,
Running past those dimly lit houses of truth.

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: October 2015


BLOT: (03 Oct 2015 - 08:36:38 PM)

On My Drunken Poetry Experience

How exactly the idea came to me to try writing poetry while drunk, I do not know. Surely I have actually done this before, though I can recall no time of doing so. I have done a few other odd tasks while drunk. One time installed a hard-drive and got Linux on it after a New Year's Eve party that everyone else was passed out at. I one time walked to a store, got quarters, came back, cleaned up vomit [not mine], and then did laundry until about dawn. I have read and played games, to varying degrees of success. But not, I do not think, engaged in poetry.

For the set up, I went to La Alameda and got a pitcher of Texas Margaritas. Drank most of it over about an hour or so. I have no idea what the drink-equivalency of that would be, but based on my levels, I would say about 8-10 drinks. Enough to get me past the buzz stage, but I was still coherent. More than I have drank in a few months, possibly over a year.

The second stage was I was going to try to work myself up into a rant. For whatever reason, it was too happy of a drunk for that. Of course the poetry is not exactly happy poetry, but there you go. They ended up being two weird poems mostly about social awkwardness, but being kind of ok with it and trying my best to be sociable.

There is only one edit below, where I left out a word I knew I meant to write. For the rest of the bits, though, this is exactly how I posted them. The first one took the longest, because at that time I was still out of it enough that I had a ton of spelling mistakes and struggled for a bit to find the rhythm of the piece. The second one came out relatively quick, or probably would not have come out at all. Below, I call them "rain" [it was raining last night while I was doing it] and "stage". In the original notes, it was "1/" and "2." That should brace you for the sort of poems that you are about to read.

Will I do it again? Nah. At least I do not think so. It was interesting to try, but as a pony it is a one-trick set-up.

Without further ado...

"rain"


Shadows and the half-beat. Let us sing 4/4 waltz, the end of reason and what shall, in truth, berate, how
might it illuminate and how might it
shape the glance in parentheses
and the anger on the sleeves of the taste

and I am going to find the eye to exist within, seeme seem seam
watch me
without, and whatever shall I feel because how can it matter when I feel struck dumb the taste of
Hello and how are you?

I WANT TO SHOUT.
I WANT TO CURSE.
I WANT TO BE THE

drops of chords in minor
FEEL ME, STORMS! I AM, NOW! Just thinking about

Smoke down the hall and my love is a curse of a mask because I cannot see what is
this is how my voice cracks, this is how I fall down, this is how
and it opens me up to scream, And am I being, am I fully?

i want to shout i want to be the

splatter catches on the window, a drizzle of sound, and I am lost inside the rage of missed
the cars with their headlights and their streets and their walks away from
my tongue catches on words that others can speak, catches on words that others can

BREATHE, me. Iwanttoshoutiwanttobethe

Hello and how are you?
I am the motherfucking rain.

"stage"


little doll on the stage, the dance of strings
and all the crowd all stairs and claps applauses
and then he bends, coughs, poignant
    there in the corner the curtain closing
and puzzle shatters and the enigma pauses

and here is the story of the colors red and hue
when they rose in the sunsets and sunrises
and here is the story of blue and gray and green
when they fell into the final storm of irises

strings cut, humpty dumpty is the god of down
and the pieces damned to watch floors and ceilings
and the little doll all eye rises and awkward silence
and laugh and laugh and laugh the brilliance

there once was a man lost to space
who had a mask of marble for a face
and one day a blah blah
something something blah
and if you could. etc etc etc...someplace.

and here is the story of the words for shapes
and how the science of souls is crass geometries
and here is the story of the taste of the
    faces look away into their own little universe
and the smile, so small but full of such infinities

little doll on the stage, the chance of fleeing
and this is the story of brown and dark and night
and this is the story of sunrises and sunsets
and puzzles shatter and the such bright, so

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: October 2015


BLOT: (01 Oct 2015 - 08:01:01 PM)

On the Million-Billion Dougs

In 1995, I had a chance for a full-ride at a college that did not quite fit me, and so after one day of being on campus, I went with my gut and turned it down. The next year, I got another full ride scholarship, and set off on the path that led to where I am now. However, there exists out there a version of me that went to that other college. He made different friends, married someone else, and has another life. Maybe he is in jail now, maybe he is successful. He is me in every way but the most essential one, he is not me. To describe this dance of Feynman twins, I one day used the phrase "Million-Billion Dougs", and decided I'd like to keep it around.

What's weird is the first utterance of it that I can find is practically non-sensical: "Out there, in the millionbillion Dougs, I hope one blamed it on things getting a little too hot to handle in a latest John Grisham thriller." Turns out I had very nearly stepped on my Kindle one night and was joking about my quantum-cousins having to talk to Amazon's customer service.

Perhaps my greatest utterance came about in my wedding "vows": "I am thrust through several points, an unwitting traveler in time, my own microcosm incomplete. I stand atop a mountain, a trillion light years tall. I swim at the bottom of a sea, a trillion light years deep. Just another of the Million-Billion Dougs, my many Feynman cousins, legion and disparate, adrift. Adrift, brilliantly awake aloud in the Universe, brightly asleep like MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI, unable to hold my eyes open in a dawn of a distance inconceivable even though it is constantly painted across all the windows of this myriad dream. All those Million-Billion: some have died and some have thrived, and there but for the grace of god go I."

So, why do I use the phrase? I don't know. I like to think that for every mistake and regret I have, there was a smarter Doug who did better. And for every great thing, there was a Doug who did it worse. The infinities of my life live out there in potential, and it frees me to be myself, the one in a million-billion that has screwed some things up and did some things beautifully. For every band I do not like, there is one of the MBD who considers it a favorite. For every hobby I missed, one of the MBD is good at it. For every thing I love, another of the MBDs hates it.

None of us million-billion are perfect, but I imagine most of them are alright dudes.

Plus, one day I hope to have a convention of the MBDs, and it will be an amazing thing, with a room full of social awkward people trying to ignore themselves. Tremble and weep, world, for we are legion.

And one day, the last of the Million-Billion Dougs will die and existence will be poorer for it.

Fun bonus fact, one day I was trying to pep-talk a friend about the GRE and I told her about the Million-Billions, and "Million-Billion" ended up sticking as an occasional mild term of endearment for her. But not just her, you are all my beautiful Million-Billion. And for now we exist, and we abide.

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: October 2015


BLOT: (19 Aug 2015 - 09:44:20 PM)

Dear Doug-Then, Ten Pieces of Advice I Can Give You Now

I had a plan to sit down and write a series of posts—at least four or five—in which I addressed "Doug-then", meaning me in my teenage years, and chastised him for various things. Upon reflection, I don't think I have it in me to be mean to myself for multiple posts. Instead, I figured I'd put all of those ideas, and more, into a single post.

Ten is an arbitrary number, most definitely. I could probably come up with dozens of things to point out, or I could probably end it at half-a-dozen. If I run out before I reach ten, what I will do is edit the post to be, you know, "Seven pieces..." and you the reader won't know about it. I may be literally writing a paragraph that will never read. How weird is that, eh?

In no real particular order...

Goodbye, Doug-then, you've passed on the torch. I kind of wish I could give you a hug, but keep this in mind: you and I, we are the Million-Billion Dougs, stretching out into near infinite probability...all those lives we could have led. We are this life, though, standing on top a mountain of time, under an ocean of space. It is ok. As ok as it can be. Goodnight.

OTHER BLOTS THIS MONTH: August 2015


Written by Doug Bolden

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