Kali-Yuga Invites You Home


Propose to me a dream. Anything you want. Get into a car and drive west, point the picture of your dream against the spreading panorama of a space that in time becomes mountains and deserts and mesas, becomes forests and headlands and the impenetrable scrim of the pacific, a horizon line ever retreating. Watch your dream take shape and become form, watch the shapes move and dance and run off the edge of the earth. Chase them. Chase the forms your dreams take, the cold shadow that grows on the slick line of the sand here in the ever lengthening purple of the sunset that never stops setting that never ends setting. Stay here and watch the sunset burn into your skin, carry the sunset in the red light of your skin, the toasted tightness of your California, salt glazed and itching just a little as you lay down to touch up close your dream. Reach it, make a move toward it and finger it lazily, turn it on, make it hard, or wet, or both, or all things rippling and pulsing- out beyond this place you have found to rest here in the dunes at the edge of San Francisco. This place- where we realize this place has no end, it is a loop playing again and again, dreaming itself into mythology, dreaming itself into a fantasy and a nightmare. The day will come when the earth itself will ripple like the contours of your dream, turn wet and hard and pulsing with the plate tectonic supercharged releasing its pent up wet dream into the nightmare of crushing earth, stone, dust, concrete, sand, liquefaction- turned on and turning under this swiftly built city of exploitation and demand. 


Is this what we dreamed off  when we drove out west, the sky getting bigger every day until it consumed us and we could never return to the idea of the sky we had been given as a child in the stone dark east? Migrant. Explorer, colonizer, demanding, demanding the sky be as big as possible always. 



Is this what we dreamed? Moving toward death, the cataclysm of the west, the ideas of freedom which are actually always just an allusion to death, to the Ultimate freedom dreaming of our own death we are twisting and turning under the sheet of the sky, the razor slice dune grass wrapping around our ankles and slicing the soft soles of our feet, the rippling earth the can swallow even the dome of this sky, can swallow space and life and the life of space, the very idea of space that we have constructed here, the idea of infinity, of freedom and infinity, the land of California has the power to eat everything- all that it has made room for it can eat in one shuddering orgasm of its nighttime convulsions, its remaking, reimagining power is so great. 



Is this what we dreamed of when we dreamed of the west?




Get in now. Make sure you know what the dream is or you might get lost out there. Get it good and write it down, draw a map and make the boundaries clear, what you are willing to do and what you are unwilling to do, what services you will provide, what you want this story to be about. Look at this thing in the face, don’t let yourself be fooled. This is the power of the dream, it can destroy you with a shrug of the shoulder, it’s apathy, it’s disinterest can grind you down just as surely as its want. 


Get in now, smooth the road out in front of you, remove the obstacles, the drug dog in Illinois, the sheriff in Arizona, the guts spilling out from parasitic water in the foothills on the Nevada border, a small arroyo, boulders in striated rose and blood, yellow bands and inky brushstrokes of pinyon. 


I am so in love. In love, a state of being, a wanderer finding home. A tenuous experience, so many contingencies to happiness, to pleasure. Love I will not allow with any mortal being- but the land, the earth, I am a fool for this love. I am a fool because even in the most extreme aloofness of my lover I am whole, I am tended, ecstatic. This is the thing- this is the nature of our relationship with the earth, an extremely dependent state, every feature of our being intertwined with the earth’s capacity to give. 


August Fire

August Fire

The black and gold cat they call Mountain Face is moving swift and low out of the dark line of the woods, down the hill and across the bleached grass lit pink by smoke filtered sun. The ominous taste is in my mouth, and the sky has not cleared for days. On my way up to the farm the radio said the fire is now the biggest in state history. I drive past the staging ground for the fire fighters, a dusty tent city on the north end of State street just before I turn west to drive the switchbacks over and down the tight ridges and canyons to get to this sixty five acres at the edge of the redwoods. 


The old road between the one and the 101 is pitted and coming apart in fissures and chunks that surprise with a bone shaking bounce. I know the road- so I zip close and in control- slow for the big lumps that would throw me off.


The smoke is idle in the valleys all around- erasing rows of ridges to the east and west. At the peak above town I stop and take pictures of the disappeared mountains of the national forest, the smoke pouring slow, decadent and insistent. Its a bad acrid smell. It’s telling a tale, it’s giving evidence and can not be ignored.


Next day in the early morning I begin to work, before the heat of the day, I am reaching, then squatting and ducking, over and under a hedge of marijuana chest high. The flowers are ripe and sticky and the fingers of my left hand are thick with the plant’s resin. This is the beginning of harvest. The left hand holds, as tenderly as possible, the ripe full flower, creating leverage as the right hand finds the base of the stem of the biggest fan leaf and removes them one at time from the branches. Careful not to tear the plant, I can tell right away if the leaf will pull off with a twist or a pluck- it is a practiced move that first tests the resistance, the vitality of the hold of leaf to stem. I start from up above and then once I have thinned the big rough fan leaves, move down below to the understory.  I practice being methodical and work my way from one plant to the next, down one side of the hedge, as far as my arms can reach, clearing all these leaves until the buds to be harvested are nearly naked, trembling from my touch in the sun. Weird stinking flowers, sparkling and gooey under hand,  all beneath the fringy canopy of this clearing in the redwood forest, smoke taste in the back of my throat. At some point in my work I realize that it is time to cut the whole plant down. The bugs that feast on the largest leaves and build webs in the flowers, if given enough time and heat, are starting to make their move. The plants need to be cut down now before the valuable flowers are destroyed by the webs of the multiplying mites. 


So the lead guys rustle up a helper for me and the two of us hack the branches off the plants until the pale woody stems are sticking up like boney fingers from the earth of the raised beds. Lars is working fast across the row from me, a big solid person with California all through his face. His smile is easy, his whole body done in broad golden colors, blue eyes sparking, his voice too, is home to me, deep and lilting, stoked, and at ease- with work, land, and himself. The branches, with the heavy sticky flowers, we pile in massive rubbermaid bins- breaking down two or three plants and stacking them this way, gently at an angle so the flowers are intact.  Then we move into the shade, and buck them down. This means we take a branch and cut it into smaller pieces, pulling even more of the fan leaves until just the flower is left and the plant can dry on a hanger in the cool dark barn.  Standing in the shade with the leaves building up in piles around my feet we work in teams, and the surfer boy working next to me chats me up nonstop. It is fun- we talk about all the far out stuff, Lumerians and mass extinctions, climate change and the changing world of the Marijuana economy. We trade UFO stories and fire predictions, we talk about the lights in the forest no one can explain, raising children in the wilderness and the pleasures of surfing. Time slides by and there is no phone to check up here. I listen to the shouts of the kids and the wheels of the skateboards on the half pipe under the redwoods. Chickens fluff and peck in the garden and the old one eyed dog named Einstein warbles and growls in his dusty dreams in the dirt of the driveway.  Stretching suddenly and inexplicably getting up and nosing around my legs looking for a pat on the head, a blocky remnant of some rotteweiller line in him and he is a tough looking sweetheart. I watch him walk stiffly away looking for shade and I let my eyes wander over piles of plastic grow pots and stacks of heavy duty rubbermaids, irrigation tubing, pipes, wires, generator parts, a dirt bike partially tarped, a caged plastic fuel tank, an Audi sports car from the late 80’s, kids toys in a profusion of color and decay. The woods make the strongest impression but the sound of the generator kicking on reminds me of how dependent and tenuous the little foothold in the forest is, how linked to carbon capitalism these once underground operations really are. 


I wanted to stay away. The pay is terrible these days and my past is thick around me up here,  but the land is so achingly beautiful and the night so perfectly quiet and crusty with stars and the dreams that come while I Iay beneath that sky are so strange and strong, that I go back anyway.  In the night I hear rustling, the green house plastic flapping, I see a red light that increases in intensity and then fades out in the little windows of the cabin where I lay my sleeping bag out. I feel so tired and so good up here, it feels like I could be abducted by aliens or the world could end and I would be alright with that. These woods make me want to disappear, they are so beautiful and strange.


I want to get away from the city and the confusion and the people and the feeling of incredible futility, the race towards our own annihilation that I observe every day from the windows of my apartment. Cars and trucks and buses hurtling as fast as they can through the block I live on, the only block on the road without a traffic light. Some mad urge is in play- to go as fast as one can through this one intersection before the next light catches you, demands you stop and wait. It is absurd to watch and it tells me all I need to know about the likelihood that we as a community, that we as a nation, that we as a global species will slow down enough to prevent the cataclysmic undoing of the delicate balance our climate rests inside- the precariousness of our ability to survive on this planet is willfully ignored in the rush to get to the next intersection, the next destination, the next whatever. 


When I do return to the city I can think only of the trees and the smoke, both of which appear to be linked in an unfurling edge, a fractal line sparking and moving in the wind and the sun. Trees and smoke, the heat and dust, the dry burnt line of ridges still not healed from the fires that raged through Redwood Valley last year at this time. My friend Sean lost his home during that inferno, I know he stopped growing weed shortly thereafter. When I saw him this last time we sailed out into the Bay and looked north to see the double plumes of smoke rising from the fires in Mendocino this year, fires they say are the largest in California history. A beautiful sunny day, sparkling bay and porpoises racing beside us and he never mentioned that loss, even as the smoke up north thickened and crawled across the horizon in a gloomy yellow circle. 




From The Throats of Angels

In the dark leafy close mountains 

there are more ways than one 

to get somewhere 

and I am sure we are not going 

in and out of focus 

for no reason at all

 

There must be something 

That hides in there

A feeling anyway

Of love and loss

 

And so I take my heart from my chest 

in a triumphant gesture 

and look at its glistening meatiness 

in the quiet of my grief 

and I can say 

it does not look like this 

forever

 

That in between 

someone will have a reason 

to wrap arms 

gauze bandages 

flower essences 

tribal tattoos from the vending machine in the supermarket in Joshua tree 

around me 

 

There is some soft light 

and a good feeling 

of being together 

and knowing 

the quiet 

the way 

to consider 

the silence 

as speech

 

Me you and what we want 

unfolding in between 

Our grey hairs multiplying 

and the folds of flesh 

piling up in the creases 

and to remind us of mountains

 

And that memory has no volume 

and slides and shifts 

only occasionally taking up space within me

In the form of architecture 

In the form of the architecture 

of dreams

 

For I am as always house haunted 

and there I am again 

thinking of place 

and how extraordinary it would be 

to find a place 

to build a bit 

in the stars 

in the sea 

in the forest 

in the river

 

That you and me are here 

to be aware 

and think out loud 

in picture form 

and try to show 

and share 

the rising 

unsettling notions 

of multiplicity

 

And this is why I sing to the trans and the poly and the multi

 

But further and further yet we need to go.

 

To sliding in and out of meaning and of knowing

 

If only to recall 

in brief 

and unpredictable moments 

the strange light that emanated 

from the throats of angels

tall as towers 

that picked you up 

and tossed you with joy 

back and forth 

as if a toy 

 

and you remember this to me in the shivering dark of our little house by the sea.