Monday, November 08, 2004

The Engine of Desire

"By indentifying with our desires and taking them too seriously, we not only increase our susceptibility to disappointment, we actually create a climate inhospitable to the free and easy fulfillment of those desires." -- Alobar at the Caves of the Bandaloop, Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins, p. 107 (1984 hardcover edition)

Who could drive a car to his desired destination if he had to elucidate every pump of a piston, every gurgle of fluid and every turn of a cam shaft. I'll tell ya who: nobody, that's who. A nation would stall in its driveways, a world would halt in its ruts and roadways with panicked, ignorant, overwhelmed drivers. "Dammit! I know how to drive this thing," they would scowl at themselves inwardly. Smiling their rictus grins at their neighbors and highway fellows they would sweat and swear at every moment of delay and specifics. A few awkward inches would reluctantly come the way of a lucky few who remembered their high school shop class and driver's ed. But soon most of the drivers would bang their heads on dashboards, their fists on steering wheels and pound their palms on guiltless upholstery. A few would begin to walk sullenly to their destinations. Some would scratch their heads and pop their hoods to stare uncomprehending at the machinery hidden beneath. A great many would grab their cellphones, carrier pigeons and call out for their personal Pheidippides to get word out that dire fate, cruel kismet and a damned unlucky break had stunted their will and broken their spirit. Their appointments, meetings and dates must needs be rescheduled or postponed. Of course their own voicemails, extinct fowl and fabled runners would be intercepted by the messengers of their fellows sending similar warnings.

All this turmoil because instead of letting the cars run themselves with just enough intelligence and forethought to get us where we're intending to go, we substituted our will for their nature.

And yet. . .

Could this be exactly what the crushing majority of us do regarding our natural desires? Instead of allowing the nature of the desire to bring us where we want to go: the fatter bank account, the panties of the ripe-thighed starlet, the dark mahogany desk of the corner office; we believe we must chart the course of every spark and fuel droplet and ooze of oil in our engines to get us to our desired destinations.

The engine of desire is enough! It is sufficient! Our spirits urge us: Simply Want. Press on the accelerator of need to power the engine that will spin the shaft and rotate the wheels to bring us to the glowing palace of certain fulfillment. Steer blithely towards those Grecian columns that speak of wealth and safety and a fatted vault; turn briskly while indicating into the ivory gams of the randy tartlet; and settle into park as you coast into the Cordovan leather appointed director's chair behind the walnut work desk.

Give fuel and the stingiest of navigation to this multi-horsepower beast set at your disposal by the clever gods themselves, and watch each wish of yours materialize as if from hands of prescient and obedient butlers. Take note that even in moments when the bulk of people struggle behind the wheels of cars they powered just moments ago, a select few will ease their way among their fellows wondering what's so hard about this car driving business after all. Their minds will be upon their desire, focused and at ease, while letting the great beast at their disposal of its very nature take them where'er they point it.

Point then the power steering that directs the engine of the beast-Desire towards your most secret and marvelous wish. It will rise before you like the fabled Candy Mountain with it's rivers of gin and gulches of steaks and arroyos of cheese-dipped nachos. Ride on, oh gluttonous brother! We have no judges but our bellies and our more urgent organs. The gods can only smile upon us at our ease, and wrinkle up their brows at our unnecessary struggles.

Remember we are gods who let the force drive flowers through green fuses and manifest desires by the scores each moment. Without a thought, without a hesitation, but to imagine greater pleasures to create.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Making People Happy

You simply cannot "make another person happy." All you can do is embrace happiness for yourself and become happy (= become happiness? become joy?), and hope that by experiencing you, and by experiencing your joy, the other person will choose to embrace happiness and joy.

That being said, you can do good deeds; you can give love; you can give good advices; and you can listen carefully to what other people are saying. These actions can help make others more receptive to embracing joy.

So, when someone you love is in a dark room, remember that there is simply no way for you turn on the light for them. All you can do is promise them — from experience — that there is a light-switch to be found.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Love is Edges

I thought that love was dissolution. Eliminating boundaries to interpenetrate with the Other (thank you, Mssr. Lacan). What joy to experience the oceanic love of the divine mother and the sky father. Two bodies, two souls realizing that all is one as they are one. A marvelous melting of separateness into unity.

Could the truth be otherwise?

What if love is edges? Identities not melding like cheeses in a fondue pot, but meshing like the gears of a Patek Phillipe. The whole is greater than it's parts yet the parts are not consumed. Their purpose becomes clear when they are together. Gears by themselves are mysterious playthings; together they are the zenith of craftmanship, ingenuity and functionality.

Gears without teeth are helpless wheels. Sliding by one another smoothly while the watch face remains immobile and insensible. It's the teeth that make the gears useful, that mark the heavens in their paces. Was Helios himself, that fair lord, son of the morning, more true in his paces than a Bulgari entwined on a supple wrist?

This is love: finding that purpose which is greater than ourselves. The meshing of the tearing teeth of our nature with its matching set: be it lover, friend or true calling. We cannot put one tooth out of its natural place. Though we chisel the gears of ourselves into new shapes, still the teeth regenerate like hydra's heads, grinning and feral.

Know this: a fellow gear exists. Several fellows. We turn them as they turn us. There can never be substitutes or replacements. Together we keep time, lift implacable weights, run at speeds inconceivable. Spin gears! Keep those cutting teeth sharp! Your brothers and sisters will meet you and spin around their own centers, reveal their own uses, whirr their own greatness. Blunt not your teeth at the illusory demands of passing fads, transient lovers or mere wages. Pull any plow, dig any furrow, shovel whatever manure is before you, but let your teeth glint pointed and oiled. When you spin with your fellows, your music will become the song God made you to sing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees
Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.

The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather's wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.

And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

The Dream of Suicide

"Sure," he said,
"The dream of suicide has crossed my mind.
On more than one occasion, I might add" —
My heart raced at his... tone:
A handful of times, maybe, but,
I'd never brooded over it so gravely. Never.

"Call me later," clicked the line
As I attended to my life of paper.


The Path of Death

Sweet Death! You pluck the most ripe fruit
Each swollen drop will water your domain
The sunlit world may mourn the ligthened branch
Yet spring will come again with fragrant blossoms' scent.

Come Death! Though many fear your touch
Embrace me to your much-maligned breast
My eyes alight with Heaven's waking fire
Your wings bring me to angels' holy song.

Oh Mighty Death! Speed your pale horse to me
Your scythe an instrument that sings with will
My face turned towards your comings' roiling wind
The ground foretells your hoofbeats with its quake.

Cruel Death! Pass by me not
Your song crescendoed to harmonic bliss
Then hooves passed by, the music fading fast
The wind of passage stinging in my eyes.

Unhappy Death! I ripen in life's field
You pull another to your dusty chest
The light of heaven swept me like a wave
And passed to crash on a more distant shore.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Night Before Issue 1

We are in the mid-town New York office when the package arrives from the printer. Though the wrapping is the traditional plain brown, our account rep has stuck a small red bow on the package along with a small envelope.
“Go ahead open it, Mr. Big Dream,” says Gabe.
Hesitantly I approach the package laying on the conference room table. There are five copies of our first issue in there, that I’m sure of. We have all seen countless proofs in soft- and hardcopy. A myriad choices of paper stock and finishes have been debated and then settled on. Now the elements have come together and lay in an unassuming brown wrapper in front of me.
I picked up the miniature card first. On the envelope it read: “To the JMS gang”. Reading the envelope I carefully massaged it open. The card had a champagne bottle on it with streamers and confetti all around. On the back it read: “You made it! Savor the sweet moment. Kelly and your friends at Print Resources”. I read the card alound and everyone in the conference room clapped politely and nervously. The anticipation was getting to be too much. Tomorrow the first issue of “The Journal of Miskatonic Studies” was going out to subscribers and in one week it would be on newsstands. Eighteen months of writing, editing, hiring, renting space, sales pitches, late night, cold Chinese food, and an unlikely dream were lying in five copies on the faux-cherry wood table. I swallowed hard and stepped up to the package.
“Open it already, you attention-hogging tease,” shouted Jane, our head of production. The throng applauded in support.
“Let the man enjoy the moment,” growled Gabe, “you ungrateful wretches.” Catcalls ensued along with playground pushing and shoving and more name-calling, all quite inventive. With their attention diverted I gently peeled open the package and eased a copy of the magazine out. A gasp escaped me of its own accord. The cover was everything we had hoped for and then some. Raising the magazine over my head with both hands, I turned around to show the team that had made it possible. They reacted just as I had – gasping, their breath caught.
“Wow,” said Thomas, our lead designer.
“Damn,” said Angelica, our webmaster.
“Sweet mother Mary and Joseph,” said Niall, our Dubliner head of sales.
Gabe’s fiancé threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. My beloved glided over and embraced me.
“You did it, baby,” she whispered, her sweet breath in my ear, “you made it happen.”
Then she pulled my mom in for a loving three-way hug.
“Congratulations,” my mom said in Russian, she was smiling, beaming really. “Just like you wanted it’s come true.”
My dearheart and my mom grabbed a copy of the magazine and went to look through it together. Yan and my grandparents came up to hug me and offer their congratulations.
Gabe was getting the same kind of attention from his mom and Linda, his dad and his girlfriend as well as his grandmothers.
After our birth-families, the JMS family rolled up in a congratulatory wave. Jane’s production crew, Thomas’ design team, Tara’s editorial band and Debbie’s sales horde patted us and each other on the back.
“Fifty thousand pre-production subscriptions!” crowed Niall. “Unheard of!”
“That Rolling Stone piece on Gabe didn’t hurt either,” added Tara. Then she boasted, “I’ve already got New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly people calling me for jobs.”
The room grew brighter with everyone’s smiles.
“Did you see the write-up on us in NYPress? They couldn’t believe we wrangled Sedaris, Tom Wolfe and Robert Wilson for our first issue,” said Raj, one of Tara’s writers.
“Money talks, baby,” Maya chimed in. “We’ve got stellar buzz and Debbie’s team kicked ass.”
“Thanks Maya,” Debbie said.
Several loud bangs came in quick succession. Niall, Bill and Susan, the sales folks on Debbie’s team, had liberated three bottles of the Veuve Cliquot. Fakey plastic champagne glasses were handed out and filled to foamy excess.
With an overflowing glass in hand I climbed onto the conference table and called for a moment of order.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I began to a barely restrained crowd, “wizards and witches, freaks and freakesses. Today we’ve reached the first of many. . .MANY milestones in the life of the Journal of Miskatonic Studies: its birth. We are all its mothers and fathers, as well as its aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and second cousins once removed.” A barrage of balled up napkins assailed me at the last familial comparison. I persevered gamely, “Let’s drink to a long and fruitful life for JMS and to many more occasions for fancy champagne!”
“Here here!”
“Na z’dorovyeh!”
“Bottoms up!”
There were many cases of Veuve for our 18 staff and our families to enjoy. I floated from group to group hugging and kissing and celebrating the occasion. Well after midnight no one had left though the conversations shifted to a calmer key. Wandering into our reception area for a breather on a couch, I saw Gabe thumbing slowly through the first issue.
“Good job convincing me Tom Wolfe was worth going after. His piece on SMS porn dating is incredible. He can friggin’ WRITE,” he said.
“Yeah, he came through,” I agreed. “Of course I’m partial to the Wilson piece. He’s still blowing minds and is a great read.”
We sat quietly together for a moment just breathing. Gabe closed the magazine and we looked at the cover: a giant golden apple glowed up from a field of velvet darkness. On the apple in Greek letters was written: “Kallisti.” It not only introduced the magazine and Eris, but also kicked off a month-long “Hottest Girl in New York” contest. First prize: $50,000. Inventive enough, we hoped, to motivate the ladies of New York to submit their photos for appraisal. Voting on our website would decide the winner. Besides the apple and the contest announcement, the cover had the magazine name and the names of Wolfe, Sedaris, Wilson, Cory Doctorow, and Larry Lessig. We had gone all out for the first issue to blow away readers and advertisers. Underneath the name of the magazine in chaste, white letters was our motto in Latin: “Deus est.” The issue was professional without being slick or smarmy, and roared out of the gate with hardcore writers. The NYC booty contest wouldn’t hurt with males 18-44, those elusive bastards of marketing.
“Shit, man,” I said, “we fuckin’ DID it.”
“Yeah, man, we did,” Gabe answered.
We embraced then warmly, like brothers.
“I love you, man,” he said.
“I love you too, brother,” I added.
We sat there and smiled.
“Next week newsstand numbers start coming in and we’ll need to send issue #2 to press,” I said trying to be more sober.
Gabe just waved me off, “That shit can wait till tomorrow.”
He continued, “Let’s go back to the party, grab our chicks and get fuckin’ LAID.”
I laughed, “Amen to that!”
Our girls were talking to each other as we walked back to the party. When they saw us come in they smiled wickedly at us.
“I think our girls have big plans for us tonight,” I said.
“We’re the luckiest guys in the world, man,” said Gabe.
I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “ And this is just the beginning.”
We walked forward together smiling.

Tropical morning

I wake up on a big, soft bed as dawn breaks with salty ocean breezes cavorting through the room. I look over to my wife and fall in love all over again. The lines of her hips and legs tantalize me and like a lodestone draw my fingers to touch her skin. Her back carved like a violin – curves, smoothness, the rich warmth of the organic and vital. Her stirrings echo through her like a volcano waking. She stretches like an indulgent predator-cat. Legs and buttocks flexing and relaxing into French curves and whorls. Shoulders rolling; muscles bunching and unfurling; toes wiggling and splaying. She turns and smiles at me, beaming, eyes aglow.
“I love you,” she says. “I love your gaze nibbling on me. . .and my parts.”
My hands graze her taut, lightly-freckled skin. She stretches again under my touch. I enjoy the muscles of her body – mighty waves under soft skin. Her kiss on my lips is electric, a door opening to the crackle of celestial generators. We hold the kiss, lips on lips, tongues touching lightly. Our mouths part and our fingers intertwine.
“Wow,” she says, reverently. “It’s still. . .”
“Yes, it’s still. . .definitely,” I whisper.
“Definitely,” she whispers back, her hand caressing my cheek.
Together we sit up in bed.
“How about a swim?” we ask each other simultaneously. And we laugh.
“Swim clothes?” she asks.
“It *is* a private beach,” I answer.
“Race ya!” she whoops already out of bed. I leap to catch up. Two steps in front of me her cute butt flashes tan and tempting. Her muscled legs pumping vigorously. Her sleek back golden, split by the canal of her spine.
“God! What a marvelous creature!” I exult to myself.
Nearing the water I lengthen my stride to catch my fleeing Nereid. She manages to dodge my outstretched hand, but as we reach the tropical water I grab her hips and pull her down into the surf with me.
“Unfair!” she yelps, popping out of the surf.
Arms akimbo, she glares at me with mock severity.
“Love and war, dearheart,” I taunt.
We squint at each other playing at combatants. Water glistens on our skin, slicks our hair, makes us shine in the morning light. The tableau is etched into memory – merfolk at play in Mother Ocean.
Then she springs. A mad, marvelous beast is lit by the sun then is upon me. Her mouth is on mine; her nipples hard against my chest; legs flexing around my waist; the weight of her a longed-for exertion. We meld our dual flesh into a unitary glory. My manhood aroused, she slick with the salt of sea and her own reservoir of desire. As she slides herself onto me, around me, engulfing and insistent, she breathes into my ear: “Love then, I choose love.”
The swords of our fear are beaten into the ploughshares of joy and creation.
We make love in the surf warmed by the sun. This is heaven: where love is boundless and forever.

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Mad Beast of the Forest Heart

Driven mad with need I rave and jibber
Tearing a broken swath through the dark forest
My once-sleek fur is matted and tangled
My once-bright eyes are fearful and burning.

Each thought of you is a sword in my belly
Visions of you haunt me like spirits
The bile of despair is the feast that I choke on
Tears rime my eyes – red and unpitied.

First when I spied you, I was Apollo –
Bright as a sun-star, sleek and with clear eyes
You were a dryad – coy yet inviting
Giving me chase yet pausing for pleasure.

Promised you were to a cold Northern warrior
Who leashed you like cattle with other war prizes
Yearn as you might for the warmth of our sharing
Still you remain in chains forged of aurum.

Now you travel in train like a serf or a plaything
Over roads that are cut through the heart of the forest
Your mother Titania grieves in your absence
While I howl at cruel Luna – cold, dumb and staring.

Your birthright forgotten, your eyes lost and fearful
The thrill of your body broken and buried
I pursue through the thickets that dreadful procession
That bears you like war spoils beyond the dark forest.

I burn for the nights of our carnal indulgence;
I howl for your whispers, the heat of your breathing;
I weep for lost moments -- adoring and tender;
I writhe in the grip of unnatural absence.

Such is the glamour veiling your vision
That kindness seems cruel and aid feels like torture.
Even Titania – your sovereign and mother –
Is rebuffed by your struggles against Gaia’s wisdom.

Aurum is soft and easily broken
No chain wrought of gold can hold the unwilling
You must decide to take back your birthright
To rejoin the tribe of the bold and undaunted.

Burning with need, hope cools these fires
Secretly watching from blinds and through bushes
One day your vision will clear like a still pond
And your chains melt away like vapor in sunlight.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

What does Eurydice?

A goddess jealous of her lover's gaze
Struck down Eurydice in her life's prime
Atropos barely given time to cut
And Orpheus despaired and wept upon his lyre.

While her young lover screwed up his resolve
To brave the Underworld as sly Ulysses did
Confused Eurydice stood on the banks of Lethe
And offered grim Charon his boatman's fee.

Lord Hades taking note of his new charges
Especially those freshly marked with rash Olympian ire
Had servants bring Eurydice to him
His chill gaze wandering slowly o'er her shade.

-- An artist's lover, he could see at once,
Her beauty partly flesh bound with an anxious soul.
-- Fodder for mighty paens to storm-tossed hearts
And wiles that set aflame a thousand foolish youths.

Eurydice, observed, though frightened, did not shrink
From Hades' ancient, unrelenting gaze
Her mortal instincts clinging to her soul
Led her to coyly look defiance at hell's king.

What terrors can death's master have for one
Who's looked into her true love's night-dark eyes
To see love's promise and its stark abyss
And still said "Yes!" despite the ire of gods?

-- You feared your lover as you sought his love --
Growled Hades through the rictus of a smile.
-- The false affections of a thousand rakes
Were safer than a kiss from your beloved's lips.

Eurydice watched Hades form a plan
Cold flames leapt higher in his sunken orbs.
What manner of amusement could she be
To lord of every soul that ever lived?

-- Because your soul has suffered many deaths
Each one to swell the ranks of howling manes,
I grant a boon to your much-suffering heart
That beats so calmly 'neath my searing gaze.

-- Should any lover come to seek release
Of your sweet flesh and your exhausted soul
I will grant passage to the mortal realm
If you can follow the one lover from my lands.

The maiden could remember Orpheus' love
Each kiss a tortured sweetness on her lips
His gaze more fearsome than the lord of hell
And even Lethe could not erase his face.

Eurydice thought death would be goodbye
To memories of her love, her lusts, her fear
But as Achilles' mother did bemoan
Lethe's waters never drench completely who we are.

Should Orpheus come, I shall forsake my dread;
Love will usurp Fear's kingdom in my heart.
I'll gladly pay the tithe that Love demands
And die no more to bolster Hades' realm.

She wandered then the breadth of shadow lands
Until her master summoned her again
He indicated light, near blinding after endless twilight's reign
And simply stated, "Orpheus" then "Follow".

She followed knowing not where or e'en how long
The light her only guide, without a thought
At last her doubts were still
Her thoughts at were simple, resolute

-- I'll follow light wherever it may lead
No doubts of right or truth will dim my sight
Whatever path this light will have me take
I pledge myself to it with all my might.

The light she followed was her lover's heart
That wavered not in its hot, bold resolve
But Hades' is a vast domain
That leaches heat from all who enter there.

Thus chilling doubt replaced love's ardent fire
Eurydice saw only dimming light
Yet followed still without a pause
Her own determination born of cool insight.

Fair Orpheus though his love was true
Was young and burned with love's blind, fleeting fire
True love is hard as steel and resolute as stone
And is the center of a true desire.

When Orpheus turned, fair Hades kept his word
Eurydice reclaimed and Orpheus lightward bound
She never knew her lover loved too much
But no fire burns forever, they burn out.