8/1/2018 0 Comments
Flickr: Ben Seidelman
Looking for Marmalade City, An Episodic Enlightenment Story in Seven Belles Lettres
Birth Time Unknown
Overcast. Solemn. There is a long moment among the streets and their strip plazas then when everything is empty and nothing happens save for a small bit of wind parceled out from the sky. At least the rain is coming, one might think. But it doesn’t for a while. The Gods or someone or something like a cosmic council is behind the scenes configuring, calculating, deciding on something and the verdict or result is not quite ‘in’ yet, thus no sun, but no thunder, lightning, or rains either. The hospital was against logic and reason practically empty. How could it be? A vacant but running hospital. The woman in labor is tended to. She is white and has a French Canadian name. The year is 1973, and it’s before many things. The bricks are old that hold up the hospital. They are an uninspiring hue, and then finally it rains on the entire building, the township, and on those less than desirable strip plazas. The woman is in some sort of psychological and life trouble above and beyond the process of giving birth. But, a baby is born. Its summer. The air had been unsettled before the storms. June storms. Different pressure systems, - dips and rises and fluctuations. The doctors and nurses forget or simply neglect to mark down the time. And for the sky, the water, the darkness in the day, it will be hard to guess at. Time. Birth. Knowledge. Storm. Double crown. Difficult star. Mercury. Dread and joy together. Hazards and fortune. The magician. The universe makes or lets what it wants and doesn’t always attend to what a low context society deems important. Grace. Care. It might give you some of those. Even love. The love of the constellations. A council has spoken.
White. Hunter Green. Orange, purple, and pink. Riding in the winter. There is a Chinese restaurant somewhere to the right with what I even know then is a beautiful sign for its neon glow. I can’t read the words. I can’t even understand the idea of not being able to read words. There are not a lot of cars around. I am not happy and I am not sad. I am utterly confused. I am lost. A lost soul. My mother even says so, and not in a pejorative way or fashion, - just stating a sad fact, - even in a loving way. But I like chocolate donuts and she buys me one of these because I do in the end feel more sad than happy. She is worried I may be cold so puts me in long underwear each time before the nursery school she takes me to. But,- once inside I am hot, and itchy, and can hardly move in the long johns, which are under already tight fitting corduroy pants. The other kids paint, and are adjusted. I am speechless (they think I may have a hearing problem), - and confused as usual. Later in life I will keep the idea and practice of eating the chocolate donuts and eventually not only take off my underwear but never, ever, wear underwear again. Besides, my guru, Osho, said never to wear underwear because it inhibits the chakras and their natural movement. So,- I am forever buying chocolate doughnuts as I stand,- clothed, a patron of sugar and dough, with no underwear winter or summer, spring or fall- because I am trying to be free, gain enlightenment, and also balance the universe for the long john days. And you have to start somewhere or you’ll never begin at all.
Warm is the Rain
I am in Ft. Lauderdale, and I walk down a corridor on the third floor of a building. I wear the t-shirt that says my name, which is Brian, on the back. It’s a gym t-shirt from school. I for some reason love this t-shirt but there is not a lot that is special about it. And its red, a color I am not regularly fond of. Its peculiar to think in my way of thinking that it is sometimes later warmed against putting children’s names on shirts because a predator can call them by name and the kid forgets in the moment that your name is on your shirt so to speak. I don’t know if it’s an urban legend type thing or if it ever happened but I suppose it could. Why give evil a chance? So I think they got away from putting those names or else it just went out of fashion. I do know that the kid Adam Walsh was abducted earlier and killed not far from there, in Hollywood Fla., which is where we would visit and I was around there at the time, - somewhere after, - because my great aunt lived there and we went there always for a few days, - away from the beach and the pool and the fun. His poster was later all over the place, at the pier- Have you Seen Adam?- and I asked who the kid was and my mom just said to hold her hand and stay close because someone took that kid away. I loved my mother and she was a good mother, still do, - still is. Well, I walked the rain, beside it. It was late August and I was feeling electrical and inspired, almost enlightened, - kundalini must have been everywhere, I must have been everywhere. The water was falling, and it was warm,- and the wind from the Atlantic Ocean there- at 1750 South Ocean BLVD,- Jade Beach East Apts,- blew it into the walkway and then I went from joyous to over-joyous. There are no words. Something about the natural elements, - about feeling that on my skin after living in Canadian winters and prosaic summers. This was a place, if you think about it, - where there must have once, - even hundreds of years ago, - been pirates. This is not far from Cuba, - and even the Caribbean, - though they classify it as sub-tropical and not tropical. And it’s close to or even in actual Hurricane Season there, don’t forget. To my left as I walk the open green and white stucco corridor are metal hurricane shutters. Maybe it was the beginning of a hurricane. How I loved it. To feel that, - to be in that, - - because when something external is so forceful and imbued with confidence and prowess, - it shakes you out of your small self and you get in touch, whether (ha- weather!)- or not you want to. You could become enlightened from such a Zen slap from the universe, - delivered via the natural elements. Probably somebody found me, as usual, and tried to bring me indoors and also into the secular and ‘sane’ world saying something like, ‘What do you think you are doing!’ And Burger King is inland! - And the mall and roller rinks and you can go to an air conditioned movie theater. Forget it. - Its paradisiacal to the max, hyperbole intended! Oh David Bowie says wild is the wild, but I say fine, - Warm is the Rain!
The Terrifying Angels and This is She (Misinterpreting Rilke or is it so?)
What Rainer meant was simple enough. Simple but profound and quite true for most people, then and now. But I misinterpreted it and carried my misinterpretation for a long time. I over-thought Rilke. He said, All angels are terrifying. It meant that in days of old and lore, the ancients, the seers, even common people, would accept the vision of an angel if it appeared whereas in his time even, if one was to show up it would be a more than messy situation. Have we lost touch with the metaphysical, with the sacred, with even and any feel for poetic mythos or with deeper meanings and happenings? Is this what Rilke was saying with his, All angels are terrifying? At the time I had known a woman with intense and wonderful eyes and ways, - the eyes could smile. She professed her love and then eventually the thing fell apart as they often do. If she was a regular person, then who cares and why? But she was not. And when I saw the female and the eyes in real life, and often in dreams, - I saw the eyes more burning with grace and glory than ever, - and I shuttered at her complete and alive beauty, benevolence, and brazenness. She was an angel to me then, and I was terrified. The angel had withdrawn her love, but she still existed. Angels aren’t supposed to withdraw love. I was terrified at what she was. Wasn’t the devil a fallen angel, and the highest angel at that? I knew she was only a human, - but she was more wonderful than a human at the same time. And, - she had descended in to pure secularism and the pursuit of material gain. She said the Virgin Mother was a fairy tale. She was promiscuous and haughty. How could such a thing happen? I turned to Rilke in those moments. I turned his words into something that could help me somehow. It made sense to me, in a particular time, at a certain stance or way or manner, that, All angels are terrifying.
Shallow Words (What they said Before Death)
It’s sad. People grow physically but not psychologically. This I have come to know. Unless you do some inner work a process of maturation does not actually happen always. I ran into this guy who had been battling cancer. He didn’t take the Dr. Cousins route, or the new age route, or any route. He was mean, ill-spirited and made fun of me like so many do. Then I heard he died. And it wasn’t the only time it happened. Another, - in what seemed like good health, looked like a marathon runner, - non-drinker and non-smoker, - well, - he dropped dead. In fact, - I don’t want to say their words. Just think haughty, prideful, and judgmental. We will all pass from the earth. Three others, - making five or six- did the same thing. One was rude continuously, - and he knew he was dying, - and this is my main memory of him- his rudeness. The other judged weight, appearance, and such like- spoke poorly of animals and people, and he died. Everyone dies, so maybe show a little kindness somewhere to ease your karmic burden though maybe I am nobody to say so, - I do.
They All Be like Kissy-Kissy in Mosquito Heaven but I Got Prayer Beads in My Pocket not a Condom
Going back to the jeep from the forest path I have to glance up to make sure no dogs are running towards me. Eight out of ten people are good with dogs. Some are not. Some just let them run too lose when they are a bit aggressive. It’s good to know your environment. Not everyone is there to walk dogs though. I am naïve, but learn. Sometimes there is a couple and they are making out, and sometimes they are in the forest. I just walk the other way. This happens when it is raining and when it is winter also. I never got the feeling it was a married couple. Married couples, - or even long term couples in love, - don’t as a rule make out all the time like some hot romance from a Hollywood movie. Plus,- who goes to the faraway gravel and dirt road in the middle of winter to park two cars, and then sit in one of the cars, or stand near the hood and make kissy-kissy? These are affairs. But I move on quickly,- it’s their business,- and I clutch the prayer beads or the rosary and drive away hoping to see a deer or dove, a pastoral winter scene with barn, Victorian home, wooden fence, and the quiet snow that caresses it all.
In Marmalade City by the Neon Palms Again
I should be back in and along that coastline. I was unawake then, and am awake now. I want to see the old haunts and experience the environs and atmosphere of Ft. Lauderdale and Pompano. I could go skating in the rink, and rise in the morning smelling the salt air, seeing the whitecaps that roll up and over on the waves. I want to swim and accidently swallow water and choke briefly so that the salt enters my brain, my throat, my mind, my soul. Away from books and learning, from writing and photography, from the discordant cities of the north imbued with urban sprawl. If you look at a jar of marmalade in the brightness of the outside day, and better yet in the sun, - there can be sparkles and bits of light. That area is like that, the asphalt and concrete have light, as do the grains of sand. If Whitman walked that beach he would have called his oeuvre not Leaves of Grass, but Grains of Sand. But it doesn’t matter. I want to walk past the bonfire at night and listen to the ocean high tide-song. On a live weather cam I saw the same little bits of sea-weed and an actual cargo ship long and ugly and brownish in the far distant horizon travelling. I want to go to the pier. Do you want to go for a walk to the pier with me? I would show you everything. The little planes that fly banners in the sun adverting patio culture, live bands and a certain brand of happiness for those with enough money and heath, or the old catamaran that sits forever by the ocean, abandoned,- a resting place for walkers. I will see the light that is obvious, the light from the sun,- and also the bits cast on palm tree leaves verdant and trunks terrene that come from neon lights making a cherry glow. But there are bits of light besides and beyond, - it’s all available to the seeker and the seer, and this is not to even mention the inner light of beings and artifacts. I even want to see that ugly old cargo ship. I hope to go there in life, but if not, I know I will arrive in death. It’s all in Marmalade City.
Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer, poet and photographer. Recent work appears at Fiction International from San Diego State University, CV2 The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, and at Catch and Release-The Columbia Journal of Arts and Literature. Brian is the author of Chalk Lines (Fowl Pox Press, 2013, cover art by Virgil Kay). He is currently at work on the written and visual nature narrative titled Pastoral Mosaics, Journeys through Landscapes Rural.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.