Fall is in the air,
whispering memories of:
1. Arm wrestling on the lawn in Elmwood Park,
2. Tip toeing the ledge over St. Pat’s weekend at NYC’s Roosevelt Hotel,
3. Bunking in Evanston post Elkhart, Indiana,
4. Mixing Manhattans in Lincoln Park.
Fall is in the air,
whispering previews of coming attractions.
The first word in the title of this heterodoxical-say-“what?” fiction is pronounced with a long “b” as if its first letter were followed by an “e.” Like “before” or “beneath” or “beyond.” Though it’s not. And I’m stinging and whipping you into a fury about its title for a reason. Which might serve the truth, I apologize, only after you read it.
My favorite time of day is when I first wake UP. Somewhere between Peter Pan’s Never Never Land and 671 N. State Street in Chicago. To see my endodontist.
Where I’m warm. Curled under and cuddled by a sheet, comforter and blanket. Virtually between metaphorical Eternity and literal Now-ness. And my sight, hearing, smell and taste are also – I’m not a pediatrician, so I’ll simply say – prenatal.
Where a glass is neither half empty nor half full. Philosophically or psychologically. Or choose-your-own descriptor. If you’re anal. But, I won’t go there. No pun intended.
Where “Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear,
seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” Said Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s 1599 tragedy. A quote I was required to memorize. 363 years later.
Where “Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadfull. For thou art not so. For those, whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow, die not, poore death. Nor yet canst thou kill me.” Wrote John Donne around 1609. Remember? Tell the truth!
Where parents’ responsibility is to dissolve their child’s dependency relationship. According to my Industrial Psychology Prof. over 45 years ago. Which I didn’t understand. Until I became a Father. And, where life’s responsibility is to dissolve the living’s independence. Which I dreamed up. Last week. Strangely…
Where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – from physiological, safety and social to esteem and self-actualization – is pragmatically irrelevant. Cuz you’ll have no needs or wants. A need being something you have to have. A want being something you would like to have, but is not absolutely necessary. According to SOCIAL STUDIES FOR KIDS, whose web address I’ll share. If you’re interested.
Where, “Without much experiencing for someone and, more generally, I should think, without much mental activity of any sort (however overt or, alternatively, just covert) there’s very little value in a very long life, or in an exceedingly protracted existence.” Mused my favorite UW Prof. “One of the world’s most original and unorthodox philosophers.” According to his NYC publisher.
Where idioms like “The devil is in the details,” “The early bird gets the worm” and “Break a leg” are useless. Unless you die and enter Figure-of-Speech-Dom. (= Dante’s PARADISO for linguists.)
And commonly misspelled words like “judgement” and “congradulations” and “disasterous” are forgiven. If you’re Catholic, and appreciate the Sacrament of Confession. As a matter of faith.
And Jimmy Durante’s signature sign-off during the 1940s on TV, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash — where ever you are!” makes perfect sense. Especially if you watched TV during the 40s. Which you probably didn’t. Right?
Where the word “bmow” reverses to “The hollow muscular organ in which the blastocyst develops into a fetus, and consists of a main portion with an elongated lower part at the extremity of which is the opening.” According to STEDMAN’S MEDICAL DICTIONARY FOR THE HEALTH PROFESSIONS AND NURSING. Available at Amazon.com from $6.69. Used.
And heterodoxical-say-“unorthodox” fiction like this one might be read. Or might not.
But that’s not a good reason for not writing it.
Why? Cuz it grounds your B-eing. Earthling! Shows you existed. Exercised your sense and sensibility. S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d your imagination. Thought about thinking. Wrote about living. Waxed about writing.
For reasons I can’t begin to process, I was tempted to end my fiction with T.S. Eliot’s quote, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” But didn’t. Perhaps because I didn’t understand its gift. Though, on reflection, as Socrates said about his role and that of a gadfly in Plato’s 399 BC APOLOGY, its presence might have further served “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.”
I’m sitting in a chair
A chair in a room
A room in an apartment
An apartment on a floor
A floor of a building
A building on a street
A street on a block
A block in a neighborhood
A neighborhood of a city
A city in a county
A county of a state
A state in a region
A region of a country
A country on a continent
A continent in a hemisphere
A hemisphere of a planet
A planet in a solar system
A solar system in a galaxy
A galaxy in a universe
A universe of matter
15 % observable
85 % dark.
Emails from my friends:
the streets are greased with blood, one
poet arrested. 5 demonstrators dead. It’s on.
I was there once, funky nightclubs,
themes & memes clutter a university town
3 in the morning
promises of friendship
in stickled English. Alexis pissed against
a 16th Century church. All this would last forever this
was torn down by rulers’ thieves
just doing their job. Failure.
Yanukovych thought it was some guitar solo
until his ears are cut. The wolves of want are restless.
Gaols fill with crows.
There is snow & now & a petty sowing of futures.
Be quiet as you roar; that duality of a movement chasing
jobs, liberty, the relaxed elegance of a page.
A kind of tough copulation
as mufti & uniformed rivers meet on the streets of Kyiv.
This was rehearsed & rewritten. The protestors are just like me.
The police are just like me. I met a sailor
on the plane – they’d taken his language (Russian), his
children were strangers.
This stockade, a picket of pens. Social networking
as WMD. Elena has put on atypically sensible shoes, stepped out
into the weather democracy demands.
Natalia had come back from the US in 1993, her
6 jobs, her love of country, her
stupidity says a suit.
Has change changed nothing? In the western Oblasts
hands are still out for their cut.
So many thrive the crooked state,
feed in the decay.
Russia has needs. Everyone is a terrorist now, all nations
are imperial, that
sounds right to me.
The airport is being strafed.
When a people moves against its people
the blood clusters, a babbling contusion
that refuses to dissipate or congeal.
Nataliya applies for a job in Poland
Vasily says he will not fight.
This country doesn’t make sense, perhaps
no country does. I write another letter.
A long green caterpillar
undulating along a tree leaf
reaching an edge
cautiously stretches out
into the space ahead
bobbing up and down
weaving side to side
many legs moving gently
for the next solid place
to put its feet
the next step to take.
Nature Morte: An image depicting inanimate objects; a still life; a
reminder of the ephemerality of all things. A recovered record of the
everyday; a requiem for the unimportant, for the individual’s story; an
exhaltation of the minor narrative.
The Wonder Book of Knowledge by Henry Chase Hill (1921), with 700 illustrations
Originally published by John C. Winston Company, Philapdelphia, PA
Read the online version (or download it) at the Internet Archive:
A Wonder Book for Girls & Boys (1851)
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Illustrated by Walter Crane
Originally published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. USA
HTML version on Project Gutenberg