Monthly Archives: May 2007

No more Zeke

Zeke’s popularity among readers of this blog has been a great help to me in the last months. I can never repay the kindnesses you have shown, and I will always be grateful.

I’m not going to be writing about him here anymore, at least not in the manner in which I have been. He may pop up as a character in a story here and there, but he won’t be the subject of any more posts.

Writing for one’s audience is a tempting thing, and I don’t think it’s entirely a bad impulse. There’s been another dog at work here, one owned by a guy named Pavlov. People comment more on the Zeke posts, and I find myself responding to that in choosing what to write about.

Someone once referred to the writing I do here as being in the “open a vein and bleed through the keyboard” mode, or something similar. It’s not a bad description of the way I write, for good or ill. There are drawbacks to the technique. Writing about one’s experience of the inevitable sorrow in one’s life inevitably opens the door to people who will tell you you’re not feeling the proper emotions. My patience for that sort of response is thin enough at the best of times. Yesterday it made me want to do violence to my computer.

There is enough sentiment these days out in the blog world, attached to arguments I have studiously avoided, that by the act of writing a blog one is obligated to write about certain things: the underreported political issue of the moment, the taking of sides in inter-blog arguments. If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know how I feel about that assumption of obligation. It’s enough these days to utterly deprive me of the desire to write about anything political. Pile upon that the assertion that my feeling of loss, as expressed in a post, is egotistical because it doesn’t fit someone’s personal religious beliefs (based on a shallow misinterpretation of zen aphorisms at that) and I come close to tossing this thing out onto the Wayback Machine scrap heap.

Besides, even I’m getting bored with my whining about my dead dog.

So I’m taking him backstage again: he is, after all, my dead dog and not the Internet’s. To all of you who have sent their best wishes, commiseration, shared grief and shared stories, I can’t express how grateful I am. You truly touched us.

When I feel like writing about something else, it’ll show up here.

Tylecodon pearsonii

Tylecodon pearsonii
Tylecodon pearsonii

This morning was one of two exceptions. Sunday morning was the other. Otherwise it has been an unbroken string, four months of mornings, of that befuddled emergence from dreams to waking life, each varied dream truncated with morning light and gravity jostling me into the mattress and The Realization. It doesn’t matter what the dream is from which I awaken, whether he is a character in it or nonexistent or irrelevant. The Realization comes each morning before I am fully awake, before reason begins to diffuse into sleep to attenuate it.

He is gone. He is gone.

I carry out my daily tasks, for the most part. I laugh. I am joyous. I am angry. I go whole days without succumbing. But there it is, a fire I must walk through each day on rising, the smoke smell to linger in my nostrils all day, sometimes so strongly that I can smell nothing else.

It is not sadness, exactly.

I think it is insanity. Weeks of not going to the desert — a trip desperately needed — because of my duty to tend to a hole in the ground. Nights of panic when I realized at midnight I had forgotten to tell that hole in the ground good night, to tell it what had happened that day. Nothing else made sense. A wind-wave of a tule flower, an inch back and forth on a five-foot stem, could make the floor fall out of my heart. I felt the existence of life on Earth had been intended to give rise to him, and now that he was gone that world should fall apart, crumble and scatter in the wind, a dessicated chrysalis outgrown and shed, discarded.

Insanity. Death is the point of life and this whole pulsing world a cauldron of it, his death no tragedy though I am stricken with it, his life a happy story though it will sadden me from this day on. I am emerging, slowly.

I still talk each day to a hole in the ground.

Two months ago I found a little plant I liked, a Tylecodon pearsonii. The clerk was hesitant. “Do you have children?” No. “A dog or cat?” A rabbit. He warned me to keep the plant away from the rabbit. It is the most toxic plant to be found in South Africa, responsible for many livestock deaths a year, and he handled it once ungloved and his lips were numb for hours, so potent were the glycosides in the sap. “If a leaf falls off this plant and a bird picks it up, you have a dead bird.”

Death glistens in the front porch sun; life buried dark and deep out back. The front porch doesn’t tempt me. I tear my leaves from off Zeke’s grave, oregano and basil and sage, each of them full of evolved poisons, phenols and terpenes, ketones, methoxylated benzenes. It is all a matter of increment, and the herbs cut through the smoke.

“Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Lucinda Williams

These ol’ woods are kinda quiet, there’s never too much hoppin’ here
I think I know the guy that owns ‘em, but he won’t see me stoppin’ here
He lives a few miles down the road over in the next town
The snowflakes are lost angels, they look kinda pretty comin’ down
Oh the woods are fillin’ up,
Branches brimmin’ like an overfilled cup,
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep.

I got a horse that thinks I’m crazy, he shivers and he snorts
He don’t know why I made him stop here, he’s not the contemplatin’ sort
He shakes his sleighbells like some old time Christmas kinda thing
Aside from that and the snortin’ it’s quiet, can’t hear anything
Except the wind out on the lake,
He thinks there must be some mistake.
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep.

Miles to go before I sleep,
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep,
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep,
Miles to go before I sleep.

You know the lake is frozen over, the ice is gettin’ thick
It doesn’t snow much where I come from, when it does it doesn’t stick.
Sun goes down early here, it gets dark by four o’clock
And I got promises I gotta keep, we’d better walk
Oh I’ve been feelin’ dark and deep,
I won’t be gettin’ off so cheap,
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep
Miles to go before I sleep.
Miles to go before I sleep.
Hey hey, miles to go before I sleep.

Warning: heteronormative blog post

A photo taken 12 years ago today:

hewing to convention

It was a good day overall. I’ve described it here before. We are thinking about that day fondly, and feeling rather sharply the absence of one of the wedding party, our ringbearer, seen here in his black bowtie waiting to walk down the aisle:

The ring-bearer

Looking toward Essex

looking toward essex

Night comes on the landscape long before the sky notices. The road noise in your ears has stilled, the rattle of breath in lungs has stilled, the sanguinary thrum itself has stilled and all is quiet. All is quiet, save a sage sparrow or two off in the yuccas. You can hear the shadow of the mountain travel across the valley floor.

No one in miles, no one knows where you are, and yet you are never so alone here as you are in the city. Here are the flickers and the cottontails, the orioles, the night lizards. Each one regards you frankly, threat or source of food, or source of shade. There is guile here, but not yet. The ones with guile will sing later.

Shadows deepen on the land. Your cup in gloved hands: a sip of tea, and the warmth runs down.

This is life, then, all the scurry between visits mere dreamtime. Or is it the other way around? Either way the stillness enters, an adiabatic cooling of your city mind diffusing into the violet valley air. This is what matters, this is what matters. Concern peeled off like layers of barnacle, littered the Barstow roadside, the skin beneath clean and raw. This is the whole point, is it not? To be here unencumbered. To be unencumbered here. A long life with a few such moments is well-lived, and the sky the color of longing.

The first coyote of the night, a mile away and sounding close.

The second, right behind you.


If you haven’t read Theriomorph’s blog, you should. And I’d say so even if she hadn’t linked me 18 times in the last week. Zeke’s fans will find this post the best-written thing in their day, most likely, and this post is absolutely stunning. But it’s all good stuff. O world that has such writers in it.

Speaking of which, my darling adoptive niece and coblogger-in-absentia says that she may have time to write more good stuff — whether here or at her own place she leaves unspecified. I’ll take either. Go poke her with your metaphorical reminding stick.

[Update! Funny I should think of this today: check out the date on Kat’s last entry.]

And speaking of cobloggers-in-absentia, a poll.