Monday, June 25, 2007

Diaphanous Wisps of Life

It is rather nice when someone offers you, as a small testimonial, those restaurant gift cards. One can live it up at little or no cost in a place one would not likely choose if it weren't for the free-o card. So today, off we went, with plastic meal tickets in my sweaty paw.

On the way the hugeness of a June afternoon was breathtaking. The trees swayed in the warm sunshine and cool breeze. Wildflowers were scattered across the landscape and the sky was a giant bowl of sapphire and the only clouds were a few diaphanous wisps of cotton. A daytime half-moon looked down upon the tender earth with great and motherly love and a small herd of cows grazed on the hill.

"My heart is like wax."

In the restaurant we were seated among the din of chatter, clanking china and beautiful women. Platters of fancy food were everywhere. Our waitress arrived.

She was young and her eyes were bright and innocent and gave off a glow of kindness. She was quick and modest and glided around silently on secret feet. Her hair was pulled back and as she bent to her task I noticed her small, fine earrings of pearl and the diaphanous wisps of hair on her cheek.

"My heart is like wax."

The meal proceeded in all its grandiosity and deserts were slung and hand clapping happy birthdays were sung and beautiful women shrieked and cackled with laughter. Outside the window summer blew by like a brass band.

Within the hugeness and grandiosity of life it is the diaphanous wisps that draw my attention. Innocent eyes, a lovely smile, a kind gesture or a cup of tea on a chilly night. For all the drudgery and trouble in life it is these tender moments that we must grab and allow their sad beauty to melt our hearts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Today was a pleasant trip to the quaint enviorns and into the ivy covered Tudor cottage on which my old and trusted Psychiatrist has nailed her shingle. Among the Persian carpets and antique desks that befit the drawingroom of a European sensualist, my Doctor suggested that I go to the hospital. My psychosis had reached a level of great discomfort. When I revealed the type and content of my delusions and hallucinations she was disturbed. My irregular work schedual had deprived me of regular sleep and the opportunity to take as much psychiatric medicine as often as I needed and apparently it caught up with me. I briefly imagined a pleasant stay on a nice ward in Westchester and it was inticing: the food, the women and the drugs. But I shrugged if off as a willow-the-wisp of my imagination and also thought of: a strange roomate, group therapy and endless television. Throw in a Doctor or Nurse with a crappy attitude and the specter of hospitalization loomed on the horizon like a storm cloud at sea, and me in a very small dinghy! So I offered to dope myself up, at regular intervals with Perphenazine, the Dom Peringnon of older anti-psychotics, and call the Dr. on Thursday. A bargain was struck and my hospitalization will be honored in the breech, but now it is sink or swim. Work has been sporatic and the time off is welcomed by this wary-eyed mariner, now standing watch in the crow's nest of sanity. And at such a golden time of year, with sunshine, breezes and sudden thundershowers. The smell of wildflowers has adorned the atmosphere and the wind is love-sick with Spring. The goddess of nature, her long and lusterous hair bedecked in Daisies and Lavender, reclines on her starry charpoy, far up in heaven and wistfully sighs at her creation: the waving grass, the majestic trees and sapphire skys.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Sweet and Sad Psychosis

I did as best as I could yesterday to quell paranoia and helped my daughter to move her belongings out of her dorm room. Today she graduated.

So we travelled to her campus among the majestic oak and ancient pine trees and in rolling meadows and hills. The graduation ceremony took place in a natural ampitheater and nature was at her best. We took our seats and waited for it all to begin. A Brass Band, dressed in Tuxedos, entertained the families.

Just before dawn I had had a dream where I was standing outside a tired old house that resembled the home of my boyhood. A robin fluttered and I watched the vivid orange and grey-black feathers. The bird flew into the house and transformed into the earthly form of my deceased father. He took a seat by the window and lit a candle. He looked out at me with knowing eyes. I walked down the front lawn and noticed the seashore. The sea rolled right in front of his house. There was a ragged stump where the waves washed up against. My father sat and waited patiently for the rest of us to come home.

Back at the commencement the graduate's fathers began to look like retired nightclub singers. The grandparents like broken down Vaudevillians and cigarette girls. In front of me Filipino men in tropical shirts, brilliantined hair, pencil-thin mustaches and horn-rimmed glasses conversed in Tagalog. There were goateed southern gents in linen suits and bow-ties and "girls in their summer dresses."

One fellow even wore a straw boater. Thankfully there were no racoon coats and eukeleles among the ivy towers and Pomp and Circumstance.

There were some poor speeches and then they all got up, one by one to receive their degrees. My own daughter's name was called and she was given her diploma. I thought I was going to die! My sorrow was entirely incongruent with the circumstances and I noticed how happy the other families were. But for me it was death. She graduated today and tomorrow she is gone forever. My job is over.

I walked alone to retrive the car in tear stained wingtips. I visited, for the last time, the most serene place on Vassar's campus, The Shakespeare Garden. I viewed the herbs and flowers mentioned in the plays and poems that the Bard had written about.

"I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where ox-lips and nodding violets grows....."

I'll do my best to hold it together the rest of the day. There is a dinner in a restaurant later. But throughout the day I could see that sweet old man, sitting in the window, watching the sea roll on and waiting for me to come home.

"...The bird of time has but a short ways to flutter,
And the bird is on the wing."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Subway Rancheros

It was springtime in New York. I was heading downstairs into the subway for a long ride. I was not looking forward to the Psychiatrist's visit I was about to undertake. I was not feeling up to talking about my weaker points. I was feeling a little tired and glum.

When I reached the turnstile I recognized that subway smell: a combination of oil, steel dust, urine and body odor. Strangely, I was comforted by its familiarity. I also remembered some musicians whom I had heard perform in the subway once or twice before. My heart began to swell and I wished to see them again. I sighed and went further downstairs and got on the express train.

There was a load of New York regulars on the train, a very diverse group. Businessmen in suits and ties doing the Times crossword in pen. Working women in conservative outfits and heels. Sullen African American men in odd hats and ridulously small sunglasses. People from many foreign countries all crammed together and busily minding their own business in their own narrow spaces.

The train stopped and three fellows strode into the subway car. They wore open-necked shirts and blue jeans, western boots and cowboy hats. They were very short and dark, their faces maps of central Mexico. In this urbane world they looked like they had just finished a cattle drive. In their hands they carried Campo Guitars and a Buttonbox Accordian.

And then they began. They started struming, picking, squeezing and singing an uptempo song, in Spanish, of a sad and beautiful, lost love in two part harmony. The atmosphere in the subway car suddenly changed. Crossword puzzles were dropped and people looked up and actually smiled. The little fellows laid it on, their strong voices moaning out that happy, sad and sweet song as the train rocked while it roared downtown. My heart swelled.

The goddess of the Universe, on her starry throne had decended into my world. She reached down and caressed my tired face with her bejeweled and flower-soft hand and looked into my eyes. My worries fell away and I was swept up by the simple beauty of that little accordian, the plinking guitars and that sweet, sad song. My heart opened up and I felt love for the entire world.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Haiku Number 12

Sad lady on train,

Hugs herself while deep in thought,

Teardrops fall like rain.

Haiku Number 9

Long, brown, spiral hair,

Cascading on dark shoulders,

Sad eyes and Roses

Thursday, May 3, 2007

O Vincent How Lovely

Vincent Van Gogh was very ill. He was supported by his brother Theo. Vincent reportedly sold only one painting his entire life. But all he did was paint. He must have painted compulsively. A pauper, a mental assylum patient, a troubled lunatic, his paintings are now worth millions and millions. Seldom has one so scorned in life been cherished so well in death. There are a couple of other examples of this: Can you think of them?

Why do we love Van Gogh's paintings so much. He painted such strange paintings of mundane objects: Sunflowers, assylum gardens, wheatfields and the sky at night.

What resonates with me is how, even in his simple subjects, Vincent paints the temporary and the eternal. He always seems to paint the relative and the absolute. The relative is his main subject and in the foreground. The absolute is in the background and can be barely noticed.

"Starry Night" depicts a village, nestled among the hills at night. There are some small houses with candlelight showing in the windows. There is a church with a steeple and then the sky is ablaze with the moon and swirling stars. The town is relative. The moon and the stars are absolute.

"Cafe' at Night" shows a small Parisian cafe' with tables and a waiter in a long apron. It too is lit by candles and is empty of people. Above an apartment window is lighted. Between the buildiings a narrow stretch of black, nighttime sky is seen, lit by stars. The foreground is relative, the background is the absolute.

"First Steps" depicts a small peasant's farm with a hut and a garden and fence. A man is stooped down in the furrows, his shovel lies by his side. A wheelbarrow is nearby. A woman in a long dress stands apart from him holding up a toddler who is about to take her first steps. The farmer, stooped down reaches out his arms, expecting the child to attempt to walk to him. The painting shows the characters in their old fashioned garb from the 1800's. But it pulls at the heartstrings. Every parent today does the exact same thing, in modern garb and surroundings, with their own children. This is the tenderest painting. The relative is in the peasant's home and their period dress. The absolute is expressed as parents and children from antiquity and far into the future have and will re-enact this scene on their own. Vincent knew about the eternal aspects of humankind. His simple paintings are so tender, raw and elegant. In his own way, he was bringing heaven down to earth.

O Vincent how lovely are your paintings and how horribly you suffered. How much sad beauty was in your heart.