Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Time's the Next Eruption?



My wife Donna and I (joined by our neighbor Mike) went to Mount St. Helens last Sunday (September 27th, 2009)--we went to the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center, saw the film about the eruption (the documentary plays twice an hour)--after the film we proceeded to look at some of the exhibits, but chose to quickly exit the center so that we could go on a hike to take a closer look at the lady herself. The magnitude of her 1980 eruption puts to shame all the other explosive wannabes. During our visit she (the eponymous Helen) seemed to be venting a little wisp of steam on her western lip, but for the rest of our visit the volcano and adjoining lowlands were all swirling clouds of dust and ash that whipsawed down the devastated valley, pirouettes of alkaline powders.





We hiked out to a viewpoint where we could see Spirit Lake (home to the legendary curmudgeon Harry R. Truman, who was killed in the immediate aftermath of the May 18th, 1980 eruption). Past the lake sits Mt. Adams, another volcano that bides its time on our shifting and tremulous North American tectonic plate...







The facts of the case are commonly known: beginning in March of 1980 Mt. St. Helens began to awaken rather ominously. Her north face bulged, earthquakes occurred with regularity, steam and volcanic matter spouted skyward. As time passed and the novelty of the events began to fade, many people crept in for a closer look, ignoring barriers put there by state and federal officials. On May 18, 1980, at 8:32 am PDT, Mt. St. Helens erupted with the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States."



Twenty-nine years later and the valley below its north side is mostly dust, with some greenery poking through. We saw a herd of elk in the far off distance, and could follow the winding feeder stream that is the headwaters of the Toutle River. Knowing that the power of her eruption killed many humans and animals, and blasted trees down like pick-up sticks, we looked in respectful awe at the living mountain. She let us go this time, and we were much obliged...





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Still images by mjs...

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Friday, September 25, 2009

The Opinuary Column*



The Opinion
Life is precious
has died
having been shot at
and much maligned
shocked and drowned
throttled in its crib
blown up by a drone
invaded, destroyed, mocked
bulldozed, beaten, suppressed
buried, bombed, immolated

rushed to the emergency room
it was denied care
it had a previous condition
it missed a payment
it lacked the proper documentation
it made others uncomfortable

The Opinion
Life is precious
was born and raised everywhere
it sang like a little bird
held gently in your hand
marveled at, cooed over
until that day when it could walk on its own
and took those delicate steps upon this crusted earth
this dance floor, this majestic carnival

and it sang too much
and it danced too strangely
and it upset some folks
and it needed to be corrected
and put in a box
and draped with a flag
so we could coo over it again

The Opinion
Life is precious
was at a wedding
in a hospital
skipping rocks at the lake
riding a bike
drawing the sky
listening to Elvis
holding a parent's hand
reading about love
making mistakes
trying, trying to get it right

it knows that it will endure
in the smaller frames
in the quiet lives
in the drunken expositions
in affirmations in the street
its death will be its life
or so it will insist

The Opinion
Life is precious
has requested that we
keep some small portion
of its remains in an urn
some scattered by the sea
a river, a spring, a meadow
a mountain, a prairie
some on the mantle
some sparkling portion in our hearts
this is when we
fall to our knees
for it is gone
this precious life

don't string up the bandits
too clever to not be all of us
don't rail against the dark
for that is where we are born
don't start eyeing rocks for combat
or bullets, or shards of hate
we trained the young to kill the young
and that was our reward

The Opinion
Life is precious
is survived by forms and shadows
echoes, remnants, ripples
stories, music, light
spices, sand, dogs
the eulogy of the setting sun

in lieu of flowers
feel no shame in love

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The Opinuary Column appears Friday afternoons at Jesus' General.

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*Special Collectors Free Verse Edition

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mystery at the Gallery









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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amber Liquid From Glass Globes



A new work by Carl Jung is in the process of being published. Actually, it's not a new book--he wrote the epilogue in 1959 and died two years later in 1961. And yet this book (The Red Book!) could be viewed as the psychological equivalent of a sacred text being unearthed in Ur, with nascent--yet ancient--wisdom riding the wind into our lives at full gallop...

Accordingly, such a personal tome carries with it Jung's madness and distortions, the collective unconscious, fire, god, the devil--a heady lineup, by any stretch. In the NY Times article, the author had a dream about the book:
ONE NIGHT DURING the week of the scanning in Zurich, I had a big dream. A big dream, the Jungians tell me, is a departure from all your regular dreams, which in my case meant this dream was not about falling off a cliff or missing an exam. This dream was about an elephant — a dead elephant with its head cut off. The head was on a grill at a suburban-style barbecue, and I was holding the spatula. Everybody milled around with cocktails; the head sizzled over the flames. I was angry at my daughter’s kindergarten teacher because she was supposed to be grilling the elephant head at the barbecue, but she hadn’t bothered to show up. And so the job fell to me. Then I woke up.
In our all too human lives we often are waiting for "another" to come along and show us true meanings of our mystery, to pull back the veil and reveal what is behind the mask of the ineffable. In the above dream the teacher doesn't show up, and so the job fell to the author--no waiting for "another" to do the work that you and I must do if we wish to realize more fully what it is to be alive, to be a human, to commune with silence and shadows.
It turned out that nearly everybody around the Red Book was dreaming that week. Nancy Furlotti dreamed that we were all sitting at a table drinking amber liquid from glass globes and talking about death.
I read that sentence about amber liquid and glass globes and knew I had to open the back of my mind and slip outside...

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santa rode his sleigh
on a holiday
he brought along a bag of dangerous custard
he ate it all down
flew into the ground
santa grabbed a pine cone and grew a new body

somewhere in the back
in a busted shack
lay the mottled portrait of the master
purples and greens
the paint was sweating
i think it was an artist in a new body

and we drank amber liquid from glass globes
wearing crimson robes
as the river rose into our sedation
boarding tiny boats
casting hollow votes
we sailed into the slumber of the godhead
we sailed into the slumber
and we drank amber liquid from glass globes
wearing crimson robes
wearing crimson robes
we sailed into the slumber
we sailed into the slumber of the godhead

blake married heaven and hell
thought they both looked swell
they exchanged their vows on the cold stone
saturn couldn't stay
the mandolin in play
everybody grew their fingertips out of powder

the captain and the clown
made a toast without a sound
we all raised our glasses and then fell down
the sky tried to run away
the old man made of clay
grabbed his horns and bellowed even louder

and we drank amber liquid from glass globes
wearing crimson robes
as the river rose into our sedation
boarding tiny boats
casting hollow votes
we sailed into the slumber of the godhead
we sailed into the slumber
and we drank amber liquid from glass globes
wearing crimson robes
wearing crimson robes
we sailed into the slumber
we sailed into the slumber of the godhead

panic is passe
so don't panic
just sit back with Uncle Job
and drink amber liquid from glass globes
drink amber liquid and make a toast to the wasteland

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Image taken by mjs at Indian Beach (a short but rocky distance from Cannon Beach, Oregon).

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Friday, September 18, 2009

The Opinuary Column



No Opinions have died this week, but a disturbingly large number of them are really, really sick. We'll post updates as they become available.

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The Opinuary Column appears Friday afternoons at Jesus's General.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Traumatic Head Injury Caucus



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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "Not even the dumbest, fattest-ass Southern white Republican will yell out like some damn fool yokel in front of both houses of congress during the President's speech on healthcare" has taken a good, long pull on a jug of moonshine and blown its own head off in a terrible bullet catching accident. And yes sir, it is a most demonstrably dead Opinion if ever there was one.

The Opinion, born and raised in a stucco cabin situated on the outskirts of some god-awful creeping moss pile of a town in South Carolina, enjoyed its brief life to the fullest and will be sorely missed by all of us who coincidentally believed that Foghorn Leghorn would stop beating that big hound's ass with a two-by-four every single time the opportunity presented itself. Let's face it: we who thought such things are just as dumb as a post, if that.

Family of the Opinion wish to thank everyone who ever held out the hope that privileged white men who insist that their dicks and the South will rise again will have the good taste to bite their tongues clean in two, the same way that they would have our nation cleaved in two. Talk of brown people, profit-mongering health insurance companies, Big Pharma, a faint hope of a Public Option--who would have thought such a convergence of topics spoken by a mixed-race President could have so agitated a god-fearing white man that he prematurely shot his load with the alacrity of a teenage boy at his first lap dance?

In lieu of donations read the Gettysburg Address or Moby Dick or Catcher in the Rye or whatever lights the bonfires of your mind. You'll be glad you did.

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The Opinuary Column appears Friday afternoons at Jesus' General.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gus Porter, American Legend



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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Time To Show That Uppity Negro How Congress Rolls

Saxy Chambliss (Asshole--Southern Strategy) states, in no uncertain terms, that Barack Obama had best tamp down any hubristic tendencies when he appears before congress--Saxy don't want none of that college lip, understand? Don't talk back to the white folks, boy, for money can buy a whole world of hurt.



Yesiree Bob, Obama had best show humility. Where could he go to learn of such a thing? Maybe he could use his book-learnin' skillification to edumify hisself. Uh-huh.

Ray Charles: Save us all. Please save us all.



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The Whitest Head I Know



Driving east on the 84, September 8th, 2009. Labor Day weekend storms brought rain to Portland and snow to Mt. Hood: it nearly smirks as it wears its ivory mantle, with fall still two weeks away.

Volcanoes are show-offs!

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Monday, September 07, 2009

When the Curtain Comes Down

mother was a visitor
from just another place
daddy was a darkened stone
you could see it in his face

the sisters were all twisters
across the plains they roamed
brothers were incalculable
math did not work at home

we drove in from a theater
for the manically depraved
built ourselves america
it was all the rage
the lights went up to heaven
just as it ran away
and so we bribed the orchestra
to play it all our way
we sat upon the hardest rock
next to prometheus unbound
we know the show is over
when the curtain comes down
when the curtain comes down

lots of cracks in lots of tracts
sidewalks made of bones
walls that blocked the memories
of when the light had shone
a miracle of pretense
that gave us all a home
that's what they called it

what was all that anger
the question must be begged
children of lost dynamics
like so many broken eggs
put you in the frying pan
and add a little salt
oh, to be a scavenger
when no one is at fault
makes me wonder

i'm sitting in the parking lot
the cars are all on fire
the whiskey in the garage
turning truth into a liar
help me, cried the carpenter
these nails are made of clay
i cannot hammer paradise
out of my yesterdays
no way and no how

just what is wrong with singing
when you're singing to the choir
we will cut up the messiah
and eat our heart's desire
we will open up a temple
and sell god by the pound
be sure to visit the lobby
when the curtain comes down
when the curtain comes down

spirit and flesh in fast embrace
tried to join the human race
tried to cross the valley
and discover what is grace
one dresses up in tears
the other dons a white dress
made whiter by the years
and the marks of its distress
one is made the villain
cause you need one is my guess
but i like to think they are
united in tenderness
and sorrow
all you can borrow

what is all this testing
when will restlessness abate
when will we all stop looking for
a master of our fate
was it hidden in the garden
was it locked behind a gate
did daddy hire monsters
i think that daddy was too late
to stop us

happiness is such an armful
but when you set it down
it takes off for the country
for its turn to wear the crown
kings and queens renewing
to an audience of clowns
the lights go up in heaven
when the curtain comes down
when the curtain comes down

mothers and fathers
sisters and brothers
and all you lovers
listen to the sound
when the curtain comes down
when the curtain comes down

we drove in from a theater
for the manically depraved
built ourselves america
it was all the rage
the lights went up to heaven
just as it ran away
and so we bribed the orchestra
to play it all our way
we sat upon the hardest rock
next to prometheus unbound
we know the show is over
when the curtain comes down

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Phil in the ER





wobbly old man phil
still jaunty, alive
legs bowed and bent

wobbly old man phil
confused, dizzy, falling
off to the ER we went

wobbly old man phil
the news was good
for a wobbly old man

wobbly old man phil
came home and slept
and we tried to sleep too

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Iz r chillren reedgumucated?

don't let the prezident
talk to the children
we love the children
and must make them safe

don't let the prezident
talk his welfare jive
he will take his knives
and he will take their lives
oh, yeah

little children
so impressionable
so soft and cuddly
and prone to abuse
little children
so indefensible
i heard them listening
to a.m. radio
oh, no

don't let the prezident
talk all wonky-like
kids should be riding bikes
not turned into his bitches
too big for his britches

don't let the prezident
get all shakespeare on their asses
keep the kids out of the classes
let 'em listen to rush at home

little children
so impressionable
so soft and cuddly
and prone to abuse
little children
so indefensible
i heard them listening
to a.m. radio
oh, no

gather round here now
my sweet darling ones
we will explain to you
why profits must not be messed with

we'll go out for ice cream
and lots of soda pop
just have to put a stop
to that there prezident

don't let the prezident
talk to the children
we love the children
and must make them safe

don't let the prezident
talk his welfare jive
he will take his knives
and he will take their lives
oh, yeah

little children
so impressionable
so soft and cuddly
and prone to abuse
little children
so indefensible
i heard them listening
to a.m. radio
oh, no

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Sun Also Rises



Willamette Valley
September 1st, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ma!

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No Distinction, Variously Manifested



behind the mask
behind the veil
it was just us, waiting

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Image and words by mjs

Note: I was visiting Correntewire and saw this posting of mine from over a year ago. I'm not feeling very mystical lately: politics, and the wealth that feeds it, is sucking everything into its pathetic vortex. Look at how money has totally warped the health care issue. Fuck, but it's bad. Insurance companies add nothing of value to health care--they subtract money and actually deny coverage when it suits their bottom line, yet we have Americans who are up in arms because these blood suckers might have to drop their prices (and actually provide coverage) to remain competitive with a proposed public option.

Ach, but such thoughts kill the Zen buzz, for though I stroll quietly in the garden the rocks are laughing at my worries, and the birds lift their heads in the breeze.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Stripper Club Fail



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