Sunday, December 29, 2013

sweet gum shadows

***11/ 18/ 13

There was a point to the unfinished book discussion which I have come to terms with; rather, I have come to terms with coming to terms with.  I was getting there before I meandered and petered out.  

If confessed, is denial still denial? Strictly speaking, it would lose its most vital characteristic--its un-confessedness.

So, for the time being, I'll maintain that I am not afraid of death until such a time that the bejeezus squeezes through my pores and/ or sneezes full-bore through flared-out nostrils, scared-out at last, itself and its apostles: all-living-hell and holy-crap. 

But for now let me confess: back on 10/ 10, there was an element of denial that kept me from disclosing my point.  (To be fair, there is also an element of denial that keeps points undisclosed to one's own mind. But I don't think that was the case on 10/ 10.)

It's not death that has me sweating, it's the thought of unfinishing that's  got me bothered. I know that elsewhere I've said that forty-ish is as good and fair age to shuffle off as any-- to think otherwise would ungenerous.  This is not that kind sweat, not the cold one occasioned by the faceless reaper double-checking his Google Map just outside your door.  It's just a cool a sweat, really, the kind that annoyingly plips from your pits to your obliques while waiting alone in your boss's office.

Not finishing what, though?  Life?  Sure, but not in an ungenerous way.  Something less abstract than "life"; as such, life strikes me as just a vague sense of forward progress and air.  

So . . . less abstract how? 

I think I mean . . . less "air" and more photosynthesis. Fewer Pan-boys and more sweet-gum shadows on the wall. As a compulsive metaphorist (and nonce-wordulator, by the bye), I am given to panning abstraction for real, faux gems. In a manner of speaking. To flicking a willow's worth of lightning-bugs into a lidless jar in order to watch which ones will simply go on glowing and which will remember they can fly.  In a manner of speaking.

However, "metaphor" is nearly as abstract as life, and it's not some Grand Elusive Moby Dick of One which I fear I will never spear. It's more like I'd trade in whatever is left of my figurative poetics for the assurance that a certain box of Sam's-Club trail-mix will not be listed amongst my survivors. More like, you can keep the taut conclusions of my lifelong pondering if you'll just give me long enough to bore-through these final filaments of cotton between my craggy big toe and its last disturbing hoorah.   

Speaking of old clothes, I needed new ones.  I have always been stubborn when it comes time for a new wardrobe [read "a pair of jeans and a shirt that buttons"] and don't get me started on shoes--suffice it say, when shoe shopping became my own look-out, only two fingers would likely pull the trigger, jungle rot or a cluster of spiders. (You're welcome for both images.  Be sure to stop at the merch table on your way out to peruse my complete description-collection of filthily ruined footwear.)  

Speaking of old clothes, I needed new ones.  I had to buy new pants when I intentionally lost 25 pounds at beginning of the year.  When I unintentionally lost another 25 (yes, still very funny, Fate and Irony, you hunchbacked, hag-twins!) last Spring, I reluctantly bought a new belt.  

I'm happy to report one of the most resplendent (sad but true) bit of news of 2013, currently those britches and that belt are in-cahoots, having regained 25 pounds--first, intentionally, through gritted teeth, gagging on Ensure or baby-spooning toddler oatmeal; next, unintentionally, acted upon by the very steroids which reopened jaws and gullet, driven to consume like a teenager.  

Our Birmingham summer rained itself out, my new jeans served well five days week, on one or two of which I would actually venture outside, thus subjecting them to only the elements of a mild autumn.  Now late fall has brought its customary chill to our Birmingham days , dragging its disproportionate overnight brrrr-freezes in tow.

My newish jeans remain dutiful and most capable.  My closet is plenty packed with 20 years-worth of perfectly functional overcoats, which is to say stubbornly amassed, long sleeved grunge flannel and the immanently more timely and chic (ha!) long sleeved earth-and-clay-toned button-down corduroy.  And this apparel also remains dutiful and most capable.

So, with winter on its way, I needed new clothes.  Well, pajamas, stocking caps, and socks. Pajamas because my legs are practically meatless and no match for the cold, stocking caps because my big, bald head plumes body heat like a factory smokestack. Socks in case those filaments of cotton soldier through the holidays and continue to worry me, who knows, clear to next Halloween at which point I will cut the hole myself and frighten trick-or-treat urchins with my unwholesome big toe. (Stop by merch on your way out for a lithographed, artist's rendering of my description.)

So . . . not finishing what?  Let's go ahead and add this entry to the list. Better wrap it up.

Looking back on what I've just written, maybe my unfinishphobia is just a type of miserliness, monitoring my goods, wasting little, wanting little--worried that I'll be scootched against the wall on my deathbed, crowded by unneeded miscellany, unwanted trail mix, and (I confess) unread books. Then again, maybe I've failed in letting the "air" out of these particular thoughts and my "miserliness" is just a metaphor for an actual fret of dying, of leaving without finishing.  

Not finishing what? Life? Sure, in a vague sense, in a manner too close to ungenerous for my liking.  

***11/ 22/ 13

Fun with multiforme.

Party game--just in time for the holidays. 

At your last neuro-doc visit while going through the all too familiar rigmarole of motor-skill evaluation shared by the American Medical Association and the Alabama Highway Patrol (minus the itchy fingers in the former case and the cold hands in the latter), you discovered that after 17 years of nearly perfect performance, you can no longer touch the tip of your finger to the tip of your nose.  Not with your arms outstretched and your eyes closed, you can't. Your long fingers and large nose notwithstanding.

Your first attempt was woeful. You touched high on your forehead. As near your nose as the bottom of your chin.  On your second attempt, you did touch the bottom of your chin. On your third, you flat out cheated, peeking through your eyelashes. Even so, you only managed your lips.  As if to say,  "Shhh . . . I'm concentrating."  And on your fourth attempt, you will concentrate, by golly. But your nurse practitioner has seen enough.  You chuckle gratefully, she grins knowingly.

In the respective case mentioned above, at this point in the rigmarole . . . it'd be all "hands behind your back" and "don't Tase me, bro!"

The game: Have your family and friends circle-up, a la duck, duck, goose, and have them perform the feat--hands out, eyes closed, finger tip to nose--share chuckles and grins.  Then perform your unique rendition.  Share guffaws and no-but-seriouslys.  Yes-but-seriously.  Repeat until, one way or the other, the room is in tears.

The extremities race. 

You will need: (1) bowl teeming with Cheerios and tempestuous with milk (1) large metal spoon forged for maximum clangor (1) cup of your favorite morning coffee.

The object: to walk (20) feet from start line (kitchen) to finish line (computer desk) with the least  degree of mishap.  Degree of Mishap will be scored as follows: (4 pts) the player makes it from start to finish dry and without profanity (3 pts) the player makes it from start to finish with fewer than four sloshes of milk or coffee either stickying the floor or scalding the flesh and no more than two mild swears (2 pts) start to finish, fewer than eight sloshes but unlimited swears (1pt) from start to anywhere but finish. [exception: the whole kit and caboodle is fumbled. . . Kersplat. (100 pts)] 

The rules: the player must have (1) numb hand (1) unpredictably palsied hand (1) peg leg.
*** 11/ 30/ 13

Notes from the lavatory. 

If you require a stool to take a shower, you are not prepared to empty water from your ear like an Olympic swimmer--not from a standing position, you're not.

For the first time since I lost/ shaved all of my hair, I used shampoo ("no more tears" lavender, ladies) this morning on my fresh crop (primarily just a symbolic cleansing, though, sorry, ladies).

***12/ 1/ 13

I wrote this poem the morning after The Iron Bowl. As an Alabaman, I doubt the very existence of a sentient being galaxy-wide who is unfamiliar with this football game (American football game, I should say. Well, US of A'merican, I'll say)  but for the uninitiated, if you even exist, which I doubt, it is a legendary contest between two universities whose fan bases are legendarily fanatical. Briefly, yesterday's game was one for the mythological ages, galaxy-wide. In large part, the bout's outcome was decided by the place-kicker--very often, for what it's worth, an international footballer.  Upshot? Uproar.

Also, this is not poem about football.  It belongs here.

The Field Goal Kid's Nearest Adventures

It's a big, fat line between vitriol
And grace. There's no back and forth on a whim--

There are raw thighs and racked groins--
Because there's a tall, fat wall.

Today I damn the field goal kid,
Tomorrow, I damn it all,
No turning back.

It's a wide, unplumbed moat between grace
And vitriol, no back and forth on larks--

There are waterlily snaggers,
The suicidal dragonflies. 

Today I surf the crocodile, 
Finger-trace her toothy maw, 
No turning back.

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