Friday, October 18, 2013

Day 40: Whosoever Arises Shall be Assisted with Great Power (What the heart is and what it feels), a forty day finale of unbidden joy...


 Status: The finale that is DAY 40 of Succulent Sobriety starts out with the story of a succulent soul mate. Over the last (shit) eleven years I have been blessed beyond the dilatory discourse and scattered scope of human measure to have a feminine-dual, a genderless splotch, a narrative time signature, a creature of poetic pulchritude spiritually sautéed with metaphysical grace, a creature who more or less creatively complements every subatomic facet of my being,  a dome light casting a corporeal key-hole silhouette against the molecular quilt of reality, the plosive hiss of the bride exhaling a punctuating breath across the  doily valence of a  promenading veil. 

The highlight of my life has been shared with this individual. Our rapport is as gentle as the stubby dactyls on a newborn’s footprint or the incipient wisp of the first clean  breath of spring. No money, no literary accolades could possibly supplant the canteen of joy stowed inside the area code of my chest that somehow resembles the horizontal winged-gild of this creature’s smile. Snap a cardiac sonogram of everything that is inside of me and you will see an emerald park bench abutting the shores of Lake Michigan outside Chicago, my arms buckled around the lower hemisphere of her lithe anatomy, lifting her up because when you are madly in love that’s what you do.

For a long time this swaying  black-haired creation with wings was my muse and I spent about two years scribing her looong romantic missives, pounding beer after beer while crafting poem after poem buoyed beneath the scent of her spirit, basking in the mystical fragrance of her memory, orienting the cursory cyber arrowhead of the mouse across the screen saver where the subtle hyphen of her lips would atomically dissilient into bouquets of loss as I passed out at the helm of my keyboard, a city skyline of aluminum cans in various Frank Gehry stages of corrugation in front of me like a neglected shrine of votive candles planted at a forgotten rockstar's grave.
Physically I have not seen my feminine tandem since autumn 2006  (nothing like being separated by the nuptial tarp of the Atlantic) but the residual patina of her smile accompanies me daily like a stuttered pulse.
She also gave me the copper, which is the most precious thing I own.
 She also gave me dreams.

When our dalliance was a daily waltz groping with the interior narrative of discovery I would nocturnally harvest five or six portentous dreams about this creature a week where I was reeled out of my body into a pasture of cumulus and light, coalescing, finding myself somehow being as one with her. Over the last couple of years the dreams arrive maybe twice a year where I wake up, my sockets dripping with tears and longing.  
The following dream I experienced in the catacomb darkness of my mother's basement where I crash when I can't sleep, the night of June seventh, the night Succulent Sobriety was originally scheduled to end. 

In the dream I was with my dear friend and literary curator Natashia Deón and we were giving a reading for DIRTY LAUNDRY LIT (coolest lit series on the scalp of this planet) and we were in Hollywood only we took a shuttle bus with a bunch of writers’ I have never met and ended up in a desert.  Our reading was scheduled to transpire in a remote cave, tenebrous and dark, as if the eyelids of the planet were welded shut in supplication and prayer. We lit candles and saw a mandala indicating that the cave was a sacred Hopi Indian site. As we began to read the cave was illuminated, metaphysically transmogrified into a holy place replete with sweeping stalks of Doric columns sprouting like ivory husks in the arable acropolis in the field that is eternity. There were spangles of light ricocheting in baubles and orbs and the more we read the more palatial and Parthenonesque the dream purlieu became we discerned that, where once there was darkness was now an altar bleeding with light brimming artists' of diverse color and age and ethnicity, each one  serving some greater universal consciousness via the development of his/her craft. Via giving everything that is inside of one's chest for one higher goal.

It was a symposium of peace and heralded serenity and there was laughter and no bias and somehow, more individuals kept appearing, plopping out of the quantum ether like soapy childhood bubbles on  Easter Sunday and laughing and giving and loving free from the invidious sociological manacles of bias and spite. It was humanity as an aesthetic apiary of oneness, all lifting their hands and worshiping the light they were helping to create by their spiritual altruism,  and there was joy dolloped with unifying fits of laughter and when I turned around in an almost a carousel of dervish display of  soul-wrought wailing I espy her behind me, the dark-haired girl of my dreams.

Normally in the dreams we are together and our arms are draped like sails around each other's neck and we are magnetically tugging  and there is this nuclear glow between us. Sometimes I will wake up and feel like she is in the room with me. I almost always wake up bathed in a permeated daze of peace, tears skidding down my cheekbones in an avalanching nostalgia of bliss.
This dream is somehow different. 
In  this dream she is completely ignoring me. When I go up and endeavor to hug her she swivels into the converse direction. When I ask her to worship with me she dissipates into the golden mass. I go on a quest to find her. Everyone around me is glowing and singing in a perennial state of bliss only I am forlorn because I am not with the creature who completes me. I find her again by the door.  Again I traipse up to the swaying dark-haired lass who the last decade of my life has more or less orbited around and again she completely ignores me.
The more I chronicle my dreams over the years the more I have discerned that the residue of my  nocturnal  shadow reacts in pretty much the exact way my physical being would respond in succinct situations, as if my brain can not intuit the distinction between the curtain of dream and the cocktail of reality. In the dream I respond to her as I would in real-life.   I tell her that I love her. I tell her that the pinnacle of my existence in the slated realm of phenomenological being has been spent in the tempo of her breath and golden time-signature of her spirit. In the dream I apologize for verbally exploding on her three years past. In the dream I ask for forgiveness.
In the dream I place the metaphysical talisman of the copper in her hand.
In the dream I kiss her forehead and tell her I love her.
And in the dream she is taciturn, and completely ignores me while this circus of light and spangles of bliss perennially transpires.
She then leaves and, in the dream, I do the only thing I know how to do. I leave the womb of bliss adorned with the chorus of writers' and artists. I exit the womb of the Hopi Indian cave and I go out to find her. 

I then find myself in a desolate alley of an inner city, the dregs of society. When I locate the swaying black haired girl of my dreams she is making out with an Spaniard man I have never seen before whom she refers to as 'Rodrigo.'  I accost them and break up their little back-seat junior high make-out session. I glaze into her countenance and ask her, after all this time, why am I  never fucking good enough for her and in the dream she still doesn't have the balls to look me in the face and barter sentences. I tell her that I love her again and ask her why. Again she is reticent. When the Spaniard lad gets in my face I hurl him to ground and he begins to whimper.

Again I ask her why she is like this.

Again my inquiry is met with a hummed blanket of silence.
I then did something I would never do outside the stanza of dream. I reach into my pocket and fish out the copper. The copper was glowing in iridescent winks. I held up the most precious thing I owned and, sans a second thought, threw it as hard as I could into the direction of my beloved.
I then turn around and walk away.
In the dream I remember that I didn't look back. In the dream I remember wanting to look back at my bride and her fucking beau and even my beloved copper all lying their like splattered bowling pins one final time.
But in the dream I remember not looking back.
Physiology: “An African story called, ‘The Leopard Woman’ paints a man’s story from the other pole of magic. In the story a man a woman and their infant, who is strapped to the woman’s back, are walking in a forest. Hungry and tired, they come upon some bush cows.
 ‘You are capable of transformation,' the man says to his wife. ‘I am not. So why don’t you go transform yourself into a leopard and go kill a cow for our dinner?’

‘What shall I do with our child?’ she asks. ‘How can you ask this of me?’

‘Just put him here,’ says the man, at the bottom of the tree.

She does not want to do what he has asked her, but does. She takes the child off her back and puts in the base of a huge tree.

Soon the transformation begins. Her hands become claws, and her face becomes hairy and changes in structure; all the while she is glaring at the man. She turns into a growling leopard. When she is fully transforms she moves to attack her husband and he clambers up the tree Now she circles around the child as is to eat it. The man knows he should do something, but he’s too frightened.  

Finally she  goes off and kills one of the bush cows. . She drags it back and begins to transform back into a woman. When the transformation is finished she calls back to her husband, ‘Come back down! What are you so afraid of?’

‘I’m not coming back down until you put the child back on your back.’ He says, trembling. If she puts the child back on her back then he knows that she won’t turn into a leopard again.  

She does as he asks and he comes down. She looks him in the eye and says,  
‘Don’t you ever ask me to do that again,”  He resolves not to and they eat the food.


There's a Buddhist anecdote where a man who is threatening to commit suicide informs his Zen master of his plan. Rather than dial a hot line the Zen master nonchalantly turns to the man and says, "Why don't you just go ahead and kill yourself now so you can go on and enjoy the rest of your life later."

Five months ago at the snapping fresh linen outset of another spring I decided to endeavor to go 40 days sans alcoholic ambrosia as a Self-diagnosis, a psychological biopsy to discern why I felt the need to drink all the time.

I made it thirty-eight point three days.

Here's what I have gleaned from the experience:

I've learned that I like beer and that I'll probably always be a drinker and at times, pound more libations into my anatomy than is probably salubrious for my literary longevity.

I've learn that my addiction to drowning down as many barley-pops into my thirtyish frame of being has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with alcoholism as it has to do with shit that has happened in my past; myself employing highly-accented hoppy liquid as a transitory gauze in an effort to heal, wishfully hoping welts of the past will scab over with every voluntary swig. 

I've learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong with AA and that there is a certain beauty to throwing up your hands like a referee and a field goal and capitulating that you just can't do it on your own anymore.   

I've learned that everyone has shit from their past and a lot of people who have had less opportunities than I have deal with their shit every day in healthier manners than I ever could. 

I've learn there is such a thing as yearning and growth and sometimes, in order to achieve the level of growth desired it is necessary to momentarily give up (or, in the biblical tradition 'sacrifice') in order to achieve a succinct caliber of growth.
  I’ve learned that I don’t have a body but that I merely live in one for an extremely terse finite quantum half-breath of what is perceived as calculated winks of time.

I’ve learned that drinking six beers a day is healthier than being addicted to something asinine and vacuous and materialistically affirming like, say, Pintrest. 

I've learned that I'd rather have a couple thousand dollars in the bank than an apartment strewn with crushed aluminum shingles and a complimentary beer belly that resembles a yeasty cumberbun.

 I’ve learn not to be shackled to the victim hood housed in the prison of the past. For years I was a slave and felt worthless, felt that I wasn’t good enough because I went to a high school where the avg ACT score was somewhere in the ballpark area code of 9-16 and that, in college, when I realized that I had some mutant kind of gift where I could drink for 16 hours straight and still be sauntering around campus with sea legs, a copy of Ulysses tucked under my arm while my contemporaries, the golden haired-lads with trust funds and futures who are now married to sexy overtly dentally-hygienic wives who sit around shooting vapid texts all day and now live in a subdivision where all the houses look like mortgaged liposuction remain fallen facedown in their own piss-ass weak pilsner.     

I've learn there are alternative ways to have fun other than drink and masturbate all the time.

I’ve learned that the more you work at your particular devotion to your craft and the more it blooms into fruition the more people will fucking hate you (Boy, it just sears more than anything else when a family member or someone you used to date and/or be inside of comes to you and (lovingly) lambastes your ambitions and dreams by stating that you don’t know what you are doing with your life and that you are a flippant failure)  People you thought were your lovers and friends, people you have helped out and supported will stab you in the back, Judas, tweeting the GPS navigational coordinates of the Garden of Gethsemane for 30 silver-laced thumb-affirming Facebook status updates.

I’ve learned that there is no better feeling in the world as a writer then when someone you have never met before comes up to you at a Reading or a dinner party and blithely informs you that something you have spent secluded hours upon hours polishing and crafting means the fucking world to them.


I’ve learned about the gentle beauty of friendship and the privilege of having a Lewis and Clark (or Thelma and Louise if Thelma harbored a penis) type of rapport.  Valena, we conquered not only this state but christened a bucolic slice of the Midwest through our desultory drives and infinite conversations, driving through the dusty arteries of back country roads, writing fairy tales about Goofy Ridge, finding the fallen headstone of the late-great RICK BAKER in Leroy, Illinois (it was as if I was standing over Jim Morrison’s grave at Pere Lachaise in Paris)  witnessing the sun lumber and faint over the reflective glaze of Spring Lake, over the gushy spumes of trickling water at Mathieson Grace, against the tectonic crags at GARDEN OF THE GODS, looking for barns and white-trash leprechauns across the sprawling coifed emerald golf course that is the state of Wisconsin, the covered Bridges of Southwest Indiana,  prostituting each bridge arching across the leaky drain of the mighty Mississippi River,  cringing at the nasal screech of timeless desolation that is a whistle of a country train at dusk or the sight of a prehistoric columbine plowing across a chessboard of dried corn. Two weeks ago we set out for a three hour jaunt to Missouri to buy cheap cigarettes (i.e,  around 32 bucks for a cylindrical carton of Marlboro Special Blend 100’s vs. around 65 in Illinois) and ended up eighteen hours later watching the pilsner  flavored sun transition into an incendiary billiard of light against the back drop of Mount Rushmore , drinking beer in the fumbling alchemical shadows of the  Black Hill in South Dakota, camping out beneath a stain-glass trumpeting jism of stars, running naked with Mountain Goats  (well, I ran naked with mountain goats)…Valena, your friendship has been the highlight of my summer. The growth I yearned for when I started Succulent Sobriety I have witnessed in  your uncharted benevolence and grace. In your shy soda-bread  of your smile.

In the subtle bat and whispering azure of your eyes.
With everything left it my chest.
Thank you.
I've learned that I have worth as a human being. For years I felt like a fucking statistic treating my body and ambitions with as much respect as I would the urinal puck located in the Men's room my favorite West Peoria Watering hole. Worth that is not vain nor narcissistic. Worth in that I have a job to do as a writer and that, as much as I enjoy getting my readers' soused on the happy hour shot of my sentences or hung over on the suds of the page, I also have a duty to get them home safely and to tuck them in and make them feel loved.

I’ve learned that, like the dream, no one person or event is going to come along and be the transformation I need. No spontaneous spurt of financial augmentation, no wedding dress strewn like an ivory puddle across the carpet of a wedding suite, and no (and I say this as delicately and with as much cultural deference I can muster) no Deity, no solipsistic cultural notion of ‘God’ is going to come along sprinkle fairy dust, no pastor is going drip holy water or spoon feed me blessed vittles, a mock panacea to assuage my pain, neurologically speaking, no different from what I have been doing drinking fifteen beers a day for the last five years. 
I’ve learned that whatever spiritual currency one subscribes to the ethos remains almost exactly the same: Crucify your ego and then give everything that is inside one’s chest for something greater than yourself.

Then give a little more.

I've learned that, like the dream, change and growth often takes place in patches of our life that are often emotionally arid and creatively dry (the desert) and womb like dark (i.e, the Hopi cave) and that true growth and change often means voluntarily succumbing to the harrowing darkness of Hades, to sip from the silhouette of your own shadow, to embrace that part of your being that is uncomfortable in order to be sentient human being you were destined to become.
I've learn that, like the African story of the wife who is capable of transformation, I can't ask any one person who do the work I need to do to help me grow.
I've learn that, akin to the Buddhist proverb prefaced above, sometimes it necessary to commit suicide, not to the cathedral of flesh that is the gift of your body, but to your old neurologically harnessed methodology of thinking. To look at the world through the the lens different perspective. Death to the infantile ego. Birth to the mature. The resurrection of the body. The life everlasting amen.

 For a long time I felt that the only way to experience the bliss of this planet was to get as joyfully fucked up as was humanly possible.
For a long time I was wrong.
For LAST CALL, the final round for all perusing  Succulent Sobriety, my goodnight faretheewell midnight shot for all is this: Never forget the color of your name. Never forget the  unique key-signature of your heart and the melody of your song. Never stop giving. Never stop squeezing and finding the coppersque gold in others, or as James Joyce's doppelganger posits in a letter to his mother at the end of PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN where, after reading a missive from his mother in which he is to sever himself from the manacles of the past the protagonist Stephen Dedalus contemplates on what the heart is and what it feels before breaking into an amen. Before welcoming oh' life in a Whitmanesque Yawp, going forth to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy soul of the uncreated conscience of  his race. Our race. The unity and oneness sprouting off the scalp of the planet in billions of clustering exclamatory stalks of consciousness all somehow rising as one into universal smatterings of cosmic light.

    "Whosoever arises shall be assisted with Great power," is a golden Baha'i adage.   My prayer for the beatific brow of my faceless readers' is that they may accumulate the audacity to believe in the miracle of their own flesh, to quaff from the keg of courage and conquer their own demons, to inwardly traverse to places in their psyche that are dark and baffling in order to incubate, to be reborn, to grow.


Promise me this, and you've given me the greatest gift any wayward writer, succulent or sober, could ever hope to achieve.

 Thanx for readin' and escorting me on my quest for growth via chronicling the drunken foibles of my past in an endeavor to till the wheat fields of eternity with the seeds of perennial growth for all mankind. In the immortal words of Guru Rumi let the beauty you love be why you do.

As long as we are here we are immortal.



Special Thanks: You. Simply you. Thank you for reading. It means so much.

Extra Special thanx: Kyle Devalk, Natashia Deón , Brianne Ahmann, Larry Bradley, Hollyee Green , J. Whitmore, The Tartan Inn, Tiff G, Kristin F, and of course, (everyone altogether, in unison)
"Where we would be without our good friend Barbara Antoniazzi ???"

Gratitude to my muses who over the spilt calendar squares of the last half-decade have permeated the  high alcoholic content of my poems with the draught of their hearts...each of whom I love rather ardently and each of whom I had to emotionally jettison in order to grow, respectably, Cheri-Lee, who gave me the shot glass of youth,  Kirbie Chop-Chop, who gave me the carafe of  humor (dorkwad!), and Arya  Joon who metaphysically milked and then kissed the keg of all and joy and  amended-peace  (phuckin' Aires!!! I tell you!!!)

Extra-extra special gratitude and thanx: Jenn Gordon, incumbent mummy Beth O'brien, 
 Linda Von Behren, and (oh yeah) the refulgent holistic hosanna's of Valena Jackson.....
love, longing,  drizzled vats of succulent happiness to you all...