Monday, December 31, 2007


DECEMBER 31, 2007

This will be the last entry of the year, since time is winding down and folding itself away, but it will be brought out again like clean laundry, at the appropriate moment - January 1, as a matter of fact. Following are entries from the past few months, in reverse chronological order, which follows the usual blog format. All pics were taken in Columbia and were shot by me. As always, you can click on each one for a larger view.

Betty Boop at Butcher's tattoo parlor at Locust Street and 462.

DECEMBER 17, 2007

An arctic cold front has invaded December, knocking its halo askew, and the winds rape and pillage in every dark corner of the month. There is no escape. Yet, somewhere high up, the sun continues to shine, and a few shafts stab through the clouds. Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” would make a fitting December soundtrack, by turns heavy and ponderous, yet bright and hopeful. Yes, there is an end to misery, and we will survive to reach it.

DECEMBER 14, 2007

Today’s freshly minted morning brought silhouettes in the fog, trying to find their way. Some looked forgotten and lost, waiting for the bus, resigned to fate. Others strode forth along the highway, at the bottom of an ocean of mist.
Remembering one’s blessings is one way to survive the trials of life.

DECEMBER 12, 2007

December is mist, conjuring unsettled fears. Phantoms pass through the air, then fade and disappear. The sun arcs lower. The days are unforgiven and afraid to smile. I’m passing through this tragedy of dread. I’m banishing spirits, with their steady sorrow, to rest.

After the dark language of night
I hold the borrowed hand of morning,
I am done grieving for yesterday,
All roads now lead cautiously forward,
My face no longer covets my mask;
There’s work to be done but
I’ll let others do it as I advance.

DECEMBER 7, 2007

Yesterday, I cleaned up Tuesday night’s snowfall, the first one of the season. Already, I’m tired of winter, physically and mentally. My muscles hurt, my bones ache, my emotions have sunk.

DECEMBER 4, 2007

I feel like I’m hurrying headlong to some end, but I don’t know what. The morning hovered in the low 30s in the darkness before sunrise, but daylight eventually blew in, borne on high winds. Put your ear to the sky and you’ll hear something beautiful, the season changing, the earth turning, the cosmos ticking.

DECEMBER 3, 2007

A few renegade snowflakes glanced off my face today to wake me from denial and remind me of impending winter. They might have blown in from the arctic, for all I know. Cold pounced on us without warning, and I haven’t quite gotten my head around it just yet. The days are as gray as they are frigid, and the sun has forgotten us, having gone south for the season.

The early wreck of winter has fallen on my doorstep,
Driving me to an excess of wretchedness.

DECEMBER 2, 2007

The morning wept right into the night, lending it luminous haze and glossy asphalt. Lights reflected off the evening drizzle, washing the sky a faint pastel pink. Traffic lights spattered green, amber, and red onto the streets as puddles percolated in the onslaught.
I say that’s enough with the rain, already. It seems we’ve gotten rain every other day over the last two weeks. Soon, we’ll be drowning in mud, and fish will be walking ashore to escape the wet, if this keeps up. I wonder if these deluges portend massive snowstorms for the coming winter.

NOVEMBER 29, 2007

In morning’s rude awakening, day dawns on me.

NOVEMBER 27, 2007

At last the rain has receded and the
sky has returned, answering the thankful
prayers of the earth, but the wind has brought
winter in the midst of an ice age.

Yesterday the deluge. And now the wind. It’s already torturing the wet grass and telephone lines. The sky can’t decide whether it wants to look like torn construction paper pasted onto torn construction paper, or upside down watercress. This morning I thought it might be starting to clear, but it’s overcast again, with heavy roiling clouds hanging around.

NOVEMBER 25, 2007

The morning was still dark when I got up today. The sun must have had trouble getting out of bed and raising its head above the horizon. When it did it must have discovered the fields of frost waiting to be shone on and melted. What a monumental task so early in the day. Or maybe it doesn’t want to shine on a world where virtues have become faults, and vice versa. The last of the autumn leaves are barely clinging to their trees. The rest have fallen, and most of them have dried so brittle they crumble in your hand. Soon they’ll decay back into the earth to be reincarnated as atoms in another tree - those that haven’t been burned or taken to a landfill, that is.

NOVEMBER 24, 2007

This morning, leaves fell as I passed - over me, in front of me, behind me - vast piles of which had collected under almost all the trees, blanketing the grass with colors. Not many pedestrians were about, and I didn’t care, since I was wrapped up in my thoughts. A lone crow proclaimed his morning territory from a treetop as I walked underneath, but apparently he wasn’t satisfied until he flew squawking over me as I walked away. I replied with some half-assed Donald Duck quacking in his general direction. That must have put him in his place, because he didn't hang around and simply disappeared into the crisp autumn air.

As I walked across Janson’s Field about ten minutes later, I spotted several crows jockeying for position in the trees near Mount Bethel Cemetery. They made a noisy display of their efforts - much like politicians - to let the world know of their presence. I wondered if one was the bird I’d argued with.

The trees look naked and frightened now that they’ve let their dresses down. All around town their bony tendrils reach skyward, grasping at heaven.

The naked, awe-struck trees grasp the sky in stunned embrace, their outspread branches questioning heaven. (I hope this prose isn't bordering on purple.)

I planned to walk past the high school, but the closer I got, the less I felt like seeing it. The place still radiates oppression. My closest approach was the intersection at the bottom of the hill, right before the Route 30 overpass, and I didn’t want to go any further. I didn’t want to see the school that was once run by a homophobic bully of a man who caused me so much pain and anger. I walked down Ninth Street instead, where I saw what I presumed was a small group of cheerleaders heading in the direction of the school. I hope their high school years will be better than mine were, which wouldn’t be difficult.

I love fall, but it’s passing so quickly.

Leaves are falling
Crows are calling
Trees undress, and
then confess.

NOVEMBER 23, 2007

We are in the dead of fall. I’m in the midst of death. I see it all around: Leaves fall, flowers pale, grass fades. The day cocks its head to see what else is coming. Casualties lie face up and face down, their once proud colors fading to brown. Cold creeps along the ground and slithers into cracks and folds. The sun watches from a distance. The day’s not quite blazingly cold, but gives a reception just chilly enough to be off-putting. It’s not exactly extending its hand in friendship. Of course, there’s still work to be done - caulking and patching - but the weather today is not my friend in that respect; I don't feel like working out of doors. Anyway, even if shelter is a requirement, it’s not necessarily fulfillment.

"Autumn has come to rest
in her garden
come to paint the trees with emptiness
and no pardon
so many things have come undone
like the leaves on the ground
and suddenly she begins to cry
but she doesn't know why
heavy are the words that fall through the air..."
- Adrian Belew

NOVEMBER 20, 2007

Snow. Yesterday morning. It was everywhere, like some giant bedsheet God spread out the night before. Some areas were covered more completely than others. Giant snowflakes were abundant, at least the lighted ones mounted to the downtown streetlight poles during my morning trek. [Insert chuckle here.]

This morning my back hurts, as it’s been for the last few days, although I don’t recall straining it. Some of the old-timers here say it’s due to the weather, which has been “raw” lately, that is, cold and wet. I’m beginning to believe that. We’ve received a generous amount of rain over the past week, enough to saturate everything in sight, and temps haven’t been out of the 50s, sometimes dipping to the 30s overnight.
Before work today, I drove to the first block of Locust Street and shot pics of the rainstruck streets and brick sidewalks. The borough must have installed some sort of sodium streetlights that cast a yellowish light, lending the bricks a golden sheen, almost like a yellow brick road.

Below: The yellow brick road? [Click on each pic for a larger view.]

NOVEMBER 18, 2007

There’s more sorrowful rain this morning, not a deluge exactly, just a steady weeping. Will it never end? October’s reds and oranges have given way to November’s umber and rust, and soon we’ll surrender to December’s pervasive gray. I find the current conditions ideal for seclusion and introspection - preferably inside - considering fall’s raw face today.

Silver streets glisten
Golden leaves shine
Wrens and sparrows huddle
in the gray green pine.

NOVEMBER 17, 2007

On the walk home last night: Everywhere I looked, cars were racing drunk, and porch lights popped on automatically as I passed. How I hate those lights.

NOVEMBER 16, 2007

November has passed its halfway point, and hasn’t slowed down enough to notice, hasn’t looked back. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that time is racing. Why won’t it keep still for a while, stop in for tea, sit down and converse? It’s always on its way to somewhere - or somewhen - hurrying to the heat death of the universe, the final entropic hum. It’s about to crash ass over teacups into December, which, in turn, will smash into January, and we’ll have a pile-up before you know it, and then what’ll we do?

NOVEMBER 15, 2007

Heavy rains assailed us overnight, with a few dashes of thunder and lightning. The rain continued well into early afternoon. A cold, windy front is moving in right behind the rain, which should make for some interesting flash pics tonight, with wet leaves plastered to glistening blacktop. This is the beginning of the end for any leaves holding on to their trees. After the windy weekend that’s predicted, not many will remain.

NOVEMBER 13, 2007

To reach the rainbow, you must endure the rain.

Hope is all
there is, all

I’ll finish my work tonight, then maybe a walk around town. The streets are growing smaller and less strange, but this continued unseasonable warmth keeps the porch potatoes outside. The second block of Second Street smells funny, so too Fourth Street between Union and Cherry, a block that’s also a bit menacing at times. Lawrence Street is full of cats.

NOVEMBER 12, 2007

November: gray rain.

NOVEMBER 9, 2007

In the dark
In the hollow dark
Watching autumn’s dead
The golden dead
Night stops to think
fading to black
Gone to black.

Darkness mothers us.

What’s better than 6 to 8:30 p.m. in mid-November?

NOVEMBER 5, 2007

“My sorrow, when she’s here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are as beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane.” - Robert Frost

NOVEMBER 1, 2007

Time flies. Time dies. Everything new becomes old, then new again. And suddenly, it’s November. October flashed by; I couldn’t get a hold on it. Time is slipping by, right by me. There it goes: right past. When I was younger I could live inside the season, right inside the moment, but now time goes by without welcoming me in, and even if it did, I’d be unable to run fast enough to jump on.

Fluorescent moon, blaring proud, blaring bright,
Swans across the sky in the jet blue night.

(This is my favorite holiday, by the way.)

OCTOBER 30, 2007

Last night, I didn’t nap or change litter or accessorize, as I thought I might, but I did take the brisk autumn walk, powered by a glass of Almaden Mountain Burgundy. Even though temps have dropped, people were still walking the streets, standing on corners, and sitting on stoops, smoking and gawking. I guess it hasn’t yet dawned on them that it’s cold outside. Apparently, it’s not cold enough yet for total lack of obstruction. Anyway, tomorrow is Halloween. At last!
"Arrive in Neurotica
through neon heat disease
I swear at the swarming herds
I sweat the foul terrain
I rove the moving scenery..."
- Neurotica, King Crimson

OCTOBER 29, 2007

We’ve gone straight from late summer to early winter, it seems, with no sign of fall in between. Two weeks ago, temperatures hung in the eighties, with oppressive humidity, but this morning I was greeted by frost on my windshield. So much for gentle transitions, but at least cooler weather is finally here. This is good, considering I’ve been blah and out-of-sorts for too long lately, stuck in a malaise, due mostly to the unseasonably warm conditions of an intrusive summer that overstayed its welcome. Brisk weather is a panacea for lethargy and low energy.

Some impressions:

The houses in their sorrowful rows
Leaning in October silence
Staid in funereal silence
Rain-sodden trees
Weeping leaves on the ground.

Two weeks ago, on my birthday, I prowled the streets of Columbia for an early morning walk before the borough was out of bed, at that quiet hour when the old town’s past lingers just out of reach in doorways and alleyways, or right around the corner. You can almost see the ghosts fleeing back into the shadows. The streets were all mine, empty except for a man sitting at a bus stop who called me over from across the street. I approached, expecting to run or rumble, but he simply warned me of a predatory, long-haired stranger lurking in the back alley. As I thanked him and began to walk away, he jumped up from the bench, gesturing wildly and ranting in an alien tongue. I don’t know what reality he was in, but it definitely wasn’t mine. I kept walking. Looking over my shoulder, I quickened my pace down the street. He was still ranting. Fortunately he didn’t follow.

Last week, I strung Halloween lights in my office, hoping to invoke the spirit of fall, and it seems to have worked all too well. Summer has fled. Fall has arrived. The room now glows a soothing, gentle orange, warm against the chilly outside air.

OCTOBER 26, 2007

I should have patched the roof yesterday afternoon when there was a lull in the rain, at least to see if I hit the right spot. Today, it’s raining again, continuously and endlessly, it seems.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2007

One cannot live forever in the house of eternal delight,
The roof needs fixing, the laundry done, the trash taken out.

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