Height of an Era

In the beginning there was life. When asked to recount what it was like, he demurred, unable to bring up concrete memories. There were the phantoms of experience, lingering—fleeting—sensations of a bygone era, or the beginning of an era, or maybe it was the end. He could not know. But there once was life. Vibrant, abundant life, unrestrained and laughing, the kind only seen in a child. With the years, the color faded, no doubt a consequence of weathering: erosion, compaction, fracturing, melting, solidifying. He wondered, at times, whether that old life remained, but in a new form. Or if it was possible for something to be lost indefinitely, to leave a space permanently empty. That life had been present once; if not now lost, then it was morphed or hidden. Both, perhaps. They’d ask him again, where, where is that life, to which he would shrug, maybe walk away, maybe not. They might stand and watch, shrug as well and go about their day. Sometimes they’d chase after him, tap him on his shoulder, lock eyes with him, and, when he failed to say a word, move on, just like the others. Occasionally they’d grab him and keep repeating, life, life, life. He didn’t understand. He likely was unable to hear what they were saying, or see what they were seeing.
     They saw remnants of a different day, and seeing this, they prodded him, lightly, indiscernibly, and tried to put those pieces together. These seekers, they’d look as deep as they could, into a void only barely illuminated by the distant life. They’d say, there, there it is. do you see? see, there, there, and in the great glare of their own awe, their fabricated, faint glimmer of life would burst into a sun, suddenly illuminating the great void and allowing them to see. But that light was their own, a reflection of themselves, a projection of themselves as they once were, or might be. The void remained, a porous vessel now, just barely retaining what was presented to it.
     Sometimes a looker would pull back, say no. More often than not they said this right away. They saw the void and chose to remain distant. Others, seeing the void for what it was and knowing exactly what they saw, chose to fill it as befit them. Not like the awed suns, those desperate voices digging about blindly. These others knew what was there, reveled in the ability to play as they wished, to lull and to sway it, to infiltrate and toy with the remnants of that bygone life. He’d stand there and watch with his glazed eyes, trying to make sense of what was being done and how it was being done. Yet every time he had, or thought he had, a grasp of what was there, it would all slip between his fingers and fizzle away. The others, by then leaning back and fiddling their fingers about in the void, would smile something of a knowing smile, but maybe not. They’d say, hey now, relax, we’ve got the reins. just go along, don’t worry, which of course he didn’t. But he did. He did that day. The day before, he did and he didn’t. The day after was the same.
     They said that life was like a parabola: it started at the bottom, where you were born and pure, then slowly climbed until it reached a peak, somewhere in the muddled years of adulthood, then flowed back down to the other end, gone and pure. Yes, he said, it is all a parabola. But that parabola was just the fantasy that they’d unburden themselves of the climb’s detritus—enough to pick up the pieces of what had been shed at birth—and that maybe, just maybe, there would be life in the end as well.

Robert’s (silent T) Lot

A Trial

Robert (silent T) could not make heads or tails.
     “You said once, not long before but sometime recent, that you were headed out to the barn, the big barn, the one with gold eaves and silver awnings.”
     “Platinum,” Robert (silent T) reiterates.
     “Platinum what?” It’s the judge.
     “Does it matter?” asks Robert (silent T).
     “No it doesn’t matter. Let me ask again.”
     . . .
     “Ask what again?”
     “The question I asked before.” The judge stares.
     “Yes, but which question you asked before. You’ve asked many questions.”
     “I have. Why don’t you recall them?”
     “I never said I don’t recall; I said I don’t know which one you are referring to.”
     “And why is it that you cannot recall which one I am referring to, Robert (silent T)?”
     “I didn’t say I couldn’t recall—”
     “Recall what?”
     “What are you asking?”
     “I’m asking the questions, Robert (silent T).”

An Arrest

Robert (silent T) had been picked up.
     “You’re under arrest, Sir Mister not-so-gentlemanly Robert (silent T).”
     “For what?” Robert (silent T) knew why.
     “You know why.”
     “No I don’t.”
     They cuffed Robert (silent T).
     “Would you like your rights?” The officer asked this morosely.
     “My last?”
     The officer stared.
     Robert (silent T) grimaced, said, “I want a beer.”
     “Rights served.”
     Robert (silent T) was shoved into the cruiser.

A Toke

Robert (silent T) was high that day.
     “Why?” asks Bethany (silent ANY).
     “No sense. None. I know.” Robert (silent T) exhales.
     “But why.”
     “Are you dumb?”
     “Are you a misogynist?”
     “Are you daft?”
     “Quit repeating yourself, Robert (silent T).”
     “Don’t call me dumb.”
     “Where are you going?”
     “I’m going to the barn.”

2012 Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Réserve

From the vintner:

Les Dauphins
Côtes du Rhône • 2012

‘Les Dauphins’ represents all that is good about the heritage of classic French wine. It comes from the sun drenched vineyards of the Rhône Valley in the deep South of France.

Expect classic Côtes du Rhône, bursting with ripe summer fruits, all backed up with rich, spicy, peppery flavours.

The truth:

Les Dauphins grabbed my attention by being in the bargain bin. It was eleven dollars, I believe. Also, being a French wine—and having a date with me—helped, even though she wanted Italian wine. My solution? I bought both bottles. Baller.

Its label is fanciful enough. It looks like a young girl trying to look like a woman. I don’t know what that says about me; I did, after all, pick up the bottle. In any case, the label sports old-fashioned script (think 1800s), a scene of a chateau, and pretty blue and red colors. It’s a matte label.

The nose is vaginal, with hints of acidity while still exuding an enticing levity (whatever that means).

The tongue is light and delicate. There is no hint of alcohol, and the musky flavors of the vine are only just present. I must admit, I quite like it. Like my date.

The wine’s consistency is that of blood in a strong anticoagulant. Its deep maroon color is very appealing.

The aftertaste is . . . almost nonexistent. The alcohol is almost unnoticeable, and pleasurably so.

Out of a score of “Will Buy Again” (WBA) or “Won’t Buy Again” (WBA), this wine earns a WBA.



No Turning Aloud

I stand at the corner of Wyatt and Earp, unable to decide on which street to take. I know that Wyatt will lead home; take me back to that which I feel so ambivalent about. To walk along Earp means the inevitable conclusion of our little saga, and this is something I am equally ambivalent about. I now wish to find a third option, one that does not involve returning from the direction I have come. I imagine this third option as stairs that climb up above the buildings in front of me. The stairs are made of stone—granite, to be specific—and do not have a banister on either side. They are, and have to be, wide enough for only one person to traverse it. Also, too narrow for any movement other than forward. I place a sign at the beginning that says, in very clear letters, “No Turning Aloud. All Turning Aloud Must Be Done before Ascension.”
     I don’t have the need to turn aloud, so I climb the stairs and watch as the streets below reach out to the horizons: Wyatt to the northwest, Earp to the northeast. From above, both streets look surprisingly lovely. So much so that I almost yearn for them.
     The stairs continue to ascend, and I along with them. Somewhere, there must be a plateau. This is where I will be able to stop and drink from the fountain; this is where I will rest and eat from the trees. But it is a long journey, so to preoccupy my mind, away from my tiring legs, I begin to whisper some poems.

     Eyes like skies,
     Spanning the world
          but oh so empty.

     I built these stairs
          to reach their depths,
     But the higher I go
          the emptier they seem.

     I stop for a moment and look carefully over the edge. I’m very removed from Wyatt and Earp street, yet I no longer yearn for either. My legs speak to me, and to quiet them I resume my walking.

     From afar,
     That which is separate
          looks fused.
     If I knew no better,
          as most don’t seem to do,
               then I’d turn back now,
     Only to find it remained separated
          all along.

     Here is the plateau, but it’s nothing but a parking lot. Jesus, how silly of me, I almost blurt aloud before catching myself. I step off the stairs and onto the plateau; this is where the divisions become evident, and I see my name scrawled lazily in one particular spot. I move to it, trying not to step on the other names, and take a seat. For a brief moment, truly the briefest of moments, I think I can feel the letters squirm under the weight of my bottom.
     “I must have killed my name.” I say this to no one, but perhaps the other names can hear. In fact, they must have heard, as all of the sudden they are inching away from me. I see desperation in their movements, and as each strains to distance itself, the names begin to unthread and unravel. In an attempt to calm the crawling names, I recite another poem.

     Our lives are like a perpetual inching
     We each pull back
          then push forward
     Hoping that along the way
          something will happen
          something will give
     And we won’t have to move anymore

     The names are now spilling off the edges of the plateau. They don’t make a sound as they tumble down, down to Wyatt and Earp streets. I wish I could hear them in their last.
 This gives rise to an idea. Since I can’t use the stairs anymore, I unravel my limp name and affix one end to a division. Then I let the other end fall over the edge and watch as it flails its way down as far as it can go. My name is not long enough, but I clamber down it nonetheless. As I do so, I listen for the fallen names. How do names die? Do they whimper? Do they cry? Perhaps they moan or laugh or scream or

A City’s Identity: Fixed or In Flux?

A city on its own does not have identity. Before it develops identity, it must provide the materials on which identity can be founded, these materials then being interpreted by perceivers. Created materials—the skeleton of a city—exert an unseen influence on these perceivers. Doing so excites their faculties, instilling in them the desire to imagine and order what is being presented. Every determination of the city’s identity is unique. For example, for some the city will be beauty and peace, while for others it will be squalor and chaos.
      Given the nature of the perceivers, however, not all of these determinations can exist concurrently. Here is where conflicts arise, forcing some perceivers into subjugation. Inflicting subjugation alone will not remove the longing for a particular determination. Just because the subjugated long, on the other hand, does not ensure that a determination will persist.
      Keeping such memories alive proves especially difficult when faced with efforts to purge this newly subjugated determination. Long before a subjugated determination can establish a foothold, it is generally routed and destroyed by the established subjugators. Most purging actions take the form of sardonic inquests, where the subjugated are asked numerous nonsensical questions. Next, the subjugated are tasked with defending their answers to these questions, many times leading to increasingly contradictory statements as the they struggle to survive.
      Oftentimes, some semblance of logic is born of these inquests, creating the peculiar case where the subjugator determination is brought into question by the subjugated. Pondering these new considerations reverses the dichotomy, whereby the subjugator becomes the subjugated, and a nascent determination, suddenly appearing sensible, becomes the intellectual foundation for a new subjugator. Quarreling in this manner helps, paradoxically, ensure that no determination remains constant, despite any efforts to maintain a uniform determination of the city’s identity.
      Routing of supposed subjugated determinations has become a matter of habit. So many determinations have come and gone, in fact, that it might even be argued that this infirm quality is itself the city’s identity. This argument also raises the question of whether a city, or any city for that matter, can truly have identity. Under such a system, it cannot be argued that there are any constants by which to derive meaning. Verily, as time and experience have shown, there are no other options by which to effect a lasting consensus. We now must face the reality that, in this system, all matters are subjective, coincidental, and/or arbitrary. Xenophobia prevents there being introduced any third, fourth, fifth, etc., determinations into this system, thereby creating an insulated form of governance, immune to change.
      Yet it is still believed that there must be a time when the system will be disrupted. Zoological data supports this hypothesis.

2013 Agua de Piedra Malbec

From the vintner:

Agua de Piedra
Argentina, I.P. Mendoza

The spaniards as early as the 16th century followed by the Jesuits and more recently European immigrants notably Italians, were all fascinated by the beauty of the country. The result is a combination of warmth, style, and tradition. Situated at the foothills of the Andes and fed by the purest water from melted snow, the vineyards produce grapes of outstanding quality. Made to enjoy, this wine with spiced red plum flavors combined with this silky texture is ideal for meat or pasta dishes.

The truth:

Water of Grape
Argentina, Argentina

Agua de Piedra draws attention to itself by its simple yet elegant label design. At the top is an oval sticker with the words “Agua de Piedra” prominently displayed above the image of a rock and some words. Beneath that is a rectangular, aged white, matte, textured label. It very simply and beautifully pronounces its vintage.

Nose is woody, aged, and wonderful. I prefer Malbec. There is a hint of blood dripping from freshly killed game. I love Malbec. Mossy earth ever so slightly accents the afore mentioned qualities. I love Malbec.

Tongue is floaty and buoyant. It sits atop your tongue like a fairy dancing on a finger. The alcohol is ever so not present, hinting at the mischief it might impose upon you. I love Malbec. The wine evaporates in your mouth like a good steak or fillet o’fish, specifically tuna or salmon. Oh it’s quite delectable. (What am I referring to here?)

The wine’s consistency is that of blood in a mild anti-coagulant. It is not possible to see through the wine.

The aftertaste is that of young wood just barely entering its aging process. I love Malbec. It’s smokey like a kiss beside a campfire.

Out of a score of “Will Buy Again” (WBA) or “Won’t Buy Again” (WBA), this wine earns a WBA.



2012 Capa Garnacha

From the vintner:

100% Garnacha
D.O. Cariñena – 2012

Capa Garnacha, with its deep red and violet tone, is a complex wine that expresses aromas of berry and fruits like dark cherry, blackberry, cassis and notes of exotic spices, minerals and toasted oak leaving a lingering chocolaty finish.

The truth:

100% wine

Capa Garnacha’s initial appeal comes from the simple elegance of its label design, as well as the fact that it has the word “Spain” on it. The label’s deep purple square, framing a defiant bull, relates a tale of passion and power, alluding to what the consumer can only assume is the quality of their wine. The word “Capa” is set in a calligraphic typeface on a silver background, recalling a more simple time of farmers and monks. Beneath that sits a bone white rectangle that elegantly offers the particulars of the vineyard and vintage.

The wine bottle itself imparts nothing special beyond being a standard form. However, this particular form factor appears to be customary of Italian and Spanish wines, which Americans typically associate with quality. The shape therefore is a convenient marketing tool.

The nose offers hints of dirty mud after a day of heavy foot traffic. There are also hints of soiled children’s coloring tools, perhaps Waldorfian crayons. The alcohol is noticeable.

The wine’s consistency is that of blood in a mild anti-coagulant. Held up to light, it reveals it looks like diluted blood. When shaken, it behaves much in the manner that water would. It also refrains from sticking to the side of my stemless wine glass. The alcohol is not noticeable.

The tongue’s foreplay is light and airy but displays a flatness only seen in prepubescent children. Its aftertaste offers an even stronger presence of soiled children’s coloring tools. The alcohol is slightly less noticeable.

Out of a score of “Will Buy Again” (WBA) or “Won’t Buy Again” (WBA), this wine earns a WBA.



Postmortem: too damn sweet.

Shot again

He didn’t recall hearing a shot, nor actually feeling the bullet enter his chest, but he knew now. It had hit somewhere around his heart; obviously not his heart considering he was still alive, but it burned slightly and that made him uneasy. He got up and walked a few paces, testing his strength and the stength of the pain, trying to determine whether or not he could actually continue living. It appeared that he could, so his first inclination was to try and ignore the wound and go about his day normally. But he couldn’t really ignore the bullet hole. It was there, somewhere beside that most important organ, shifting around restlessly with his every movement, like an uncouth thought, a deprived desire that one tries to suppress in the back of their mind. It would kill him, this round, he was certain of it. At least if he did not seek help. But he nonethless delayed in reaching out to someone and alerting them to his peril. If someone had asked him why, afterwards, he wouldn’t have been able to explain. It was just something he did, perhaps born of his stubborness and his hope that maybe, if he ignored it, everything would be OK. But it wasn’t going to be OK. The wound became more and more apparent to him, leeching his life from him in minute steps. It was inexorable and he could feel its progression, its gradual movement from life to half-life and then to quarter-life. And then he knew it was time. Not for his family’s sake but for his own, because his imminent death began to frighten him. He was too young, only twenty-five, and he did not want to cease living. He wanted to move. It did not matter if he wasn’t moving in any particular direction, he just wanted to be able to move, to be free to feel the non-kinetic trials of life. He wanted to one day feel powerful and like a man, not a dead corpse that had tragically succumbed to its own obstinateness and stupidity. So he finally called his parents, warned them: “Parents, I die. Please save me.” They began to take the necessary steps to save him. They traveled to distant locations, full of hope, and reassured him that they would bring that hope to him. They made phone calls and spoke urgently. But their actions were slow. He called them again, and again, and again, but they ceased to answer. They were busy saving him, too busy to listen to his pleas. And for the first time the young man felt terror. It was a terror unlike he had ever felt before, one that caressed his face with a macabre sweetness and filled him with emotion. He tried phoning again, but no answer. He could feel the wound consuming him, swallowing him whole and threatening to leave nothing of him. He slouched back against the wall of the mansion, crying to himself: “I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.” Only the wound spoke back: “Tough shit stupid boy. You had your chance.” And it continued to swallow him, happily spreading its fear and its animal nature into the young man’s brain, fluttering his heart so greatly that he thought it might catch the bullet and end it sooner. He was on the verge of panic: “I don’t want to die.” He called again but his parents were still to distant, still too preoccupied. He thought of his sister, and of his mother and father, of how they loved him and he them. Of how he was dying alone in this luxurious setting, a strong young body brought to naught. He coudn’t move now, his body limp and useless. Only the wound pulsated, continued to swallow. And as it finally sucked the last few breaths of his terrified life, he slumped forward and disappeared.


Every day of my yearlong stay here has been full of daydreams. They carry me from my waking moments into the streets, through the tunnels and back up into the buildings. These are fantasies that enrich and enliven my life, much like I imagine the real experience would. They are my constant companions, my voice, my words, accented by the world and all it encompasses.

I don’t write. Not nearly as much as I should. I wonder why this is, although I no longer despair. My lack of authorship is not a point of contention for me, as it once was. Instead I go about my life in a contended state, not oblivious, but slightly numbed. I still wonder, though.

In the moments where I yank myself free of my dreams, I begin to ask, why? Why have I not written? And then, there it is. That specter of an urge, that yearning to throw myself away into the abyss of language and exploration. I remember the promise in my dreams, that hint of the tangible, freed from the momentary experience of my mind. I am finally taken away, carried along by an unseen current that grows in strength and vitality, lapping up whatever it can touch and pulling it into the currents that make up its body. Life is born, form appropriated, made to conform to a new rhythm, meaning contorted and examined, losing and gaining, burning and cooling. This sudden movement is like a spark or a glimmer that rebounds off every undulating crest, reaching up and then diving below. The current itself builds, it swells, splits and becomes two streams, one calm perhaps, the other roaring, maybe. In the distance I can see them converging, and as I roll along, my eyes set at their juncture, my mind becomes lucid and brave. I can see the world, or a world, and I smile a smile that spans their flowing.

It is here that I first reach for my oars and begin to dip them into the current. But it is here as well that I find myself dammed in, as suddenly as the current arose, and I am left knocking up against that sudden structure. I set my oars aside and lie back, stare up into the sky and watch the birds and feel the breeze. I hear the water, a placid body now, lapping against my small vessel, and I slip back into dreams.


For the Intermittent Writer


Short books about albums. Published by Bloomsbury.

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