It’s a blue planet, on account of its being mostly covered with water. Blue and white, from the clouds, is how it looks from space. First seen in the 1960s, by a Russian dog, then a chimpanzee, who, because they were expendable, but alive, were chosen to test the thin air up there for people, gutsy cowards. Finally a few of us saw it, too. Pictures gave the rest of us a look at it. It’s a blue planet, mostly blue with streaks of white, splotches of brown where the lands are. You don’t see the reds and the other colors from up there. You have to come down and have a closer look.

Come down and look closer and the colors change. From blue to black. From black to green and red, dawn’s own shade, and blood when the blue vein is opened, and paler shades, of fear and dread anticipation, and of blushes in the flushed cheeks, in shame, embarrassment and joy.

We make a lot of noise. The air is full of our sounds. The atmosphere is awash in the wavelengths of the musics we make, the chatterings we transmit, the lies we load onto the airwaves, the hopes we pilot into the skies, the dreams that transpire in fictions transmogrified out of old sheets and enacted on stages. We make a lot of noise, we mostly drown out the sounds of others not of our kind. We pretend we don’t, but that’s another lie we like to tell ourselves. It’s all coming down now, but we don’t like to look or think about that either. We’re an ignorant lot, mostly. Full of ourselves.

We like to eat and sing. We have to defecate and sleep. We’re like the other animals, but unlike them, or most of them, we know we’re doomed to die, and this gives us a certain edge on them, and accounts for our edginess, our unwillingness to let go, or to play by the rules. We make the rules and we sometimes live by them. We make rules that contradict the laws of matter and energy, and sometimes manage to uphold these absurdities, these houses of cards and matchsticks. Then they crumble, always. Someone else comes along later, though, who didn’t see it fall, and tries to build it up again. It’ll crumble, too. It always has. That’s how it is. Things fall apart. That’s one of the basic facts of it all, but we like to contradict that one, too. It accounts for our principal claim to fame, our only real triumph, that we’ve tried in the blank face of the universe to say “so what?” and even “Screw you!” It works for awhile, then it falls apart. Always has, always will. Won’t stop a body from trying.

Many wake to the sounds of sirens, authority’s auditory admonition, emergency’s acoustic signal for genuflection, a foreboding sound of crackdown or fiery cataclysm or bodily breakup. Many wake daily to the minaret’s trumpet or the free-flowing wail of a muezzin’s melismas calling all slaves of God to attend and be reverent. Water flowing wakes others who beside streams have pitched their tents for the waning month while their bleating herds pursue green pastures on the mountaintops of the world. Nobody hears the sudden return to alertness of lizards in the sands of the world’s ever growing deserts, Sahara, Kalahari, Saudi Arabia, Gobi, of varying aridity the sweep of silica in Nevada, Death Valley, Mojave, Great Western Desert of the Outback walking about the songs along the pathways, keeping the dreams of ancestors breathing in the here and now.

Others out of bounds crack their eyelid to consciousness to detect the truth of their ongoing confinement in the solitary. More break the bliss into awakeness finding pains they hoped would flee when the nightly failure of nerve last pushed them over the edge of sleep. Into a kind of haze confused children hunger and cry for consolation. Mothers moan. Fathers groan. Alarms are sounding. Radios blaring: “day’s begun.”

Make it up as you go along and you’ll be right in step with the rest of us. I guarantee it, though it’s hardly within my prerogatives to do so. You’ll be stronger if you drink this. Chew this weed and it’ll make you lighter. Bind your pretty hair back in a ponytail, just like this. Model what the models are modeling. Imitate what all the imitators are intimating that they made originally, number one, first time ever, new and improved, best in show, showcase showdown, next contestant will be the best, you’re not like the rest, listen to this, hear ye, hear ye, come one come all, step right up, see the amazing maze of azimuthally mythical magicians amusing in the crazy new way. It’s never been done, never tried, all new, best of the best, take the taste test, beat the odds, try your luck, strike a deal in the bargain basement. It’ll be nice. Everything’s got its price.

Breathe deep consciously once, then proceed. Pressure waves expand, contract, pulse from the hiss of expelled air through the nostrils to the coiled cochlea. There a waving sea of harmonic hairs pass on their rhythms to the nervous, ever-waiting neurons spilling chemical cascades along their spindly spider threads. Don’t think, just listen. Try to block it out, it keeps on coming. Fasten your attention to your toes and throw it like a wrestler. Up comes the blood bubbling through all the gurgling web of capillaries, pooling in the joints, flooding on to join the main current onward to the atria and, shocked by a second mind deep in the heart’s own tissues, squished all at once into pulmonary arteries. Into capillary estuaries of the lungs it slows and pools, picks up the froth and foam of oxygen and carries it back to the heart, to be forced up from the ever-beating ventricle, against gravity through the jugular to the brain and back again. Try and slow your heart, or speed it up. But just by thinking can you stop it?

Out of the water crawled the beautiful creature, onto the beach to sun herself, to dry her limbs in the warm breeze, bask in the bright air after sunrise. Unknowing, resting unaware…

Lick the milk from your lip. Snatch an apple from the branch. Grind the honeyed grain between your teeth. Slurp tea from silvery porcelain. Munch some powdery pills of minerals mined out of earth the mother of us all. Zinc, iron, manganese, aluminum, copper, flakes and flecks of oxide this and that, salts of the earth, not lost their flavor. Melt ice in a big black cast-iron kettle to boil up some caribou stew, keep the lethal bite of Arctic cold out of the fur-clad limbs. Sacrifice an egg to the skillet, sizzle up some salted piglet. Wash that vomit from your gullet with a stab of liver-pickling jigger to drive away the migraine demons of a mind now reeling in its fatal doom. Raise your hands from the morning’s ghee oblation to address in syllables sanctified by time out of mind a song of praise to Vishnu the creator, Brahma the preserver, Siva the destroyer.

Over the earth’s face wanders the fugitive, cringing at the echoing cries of blood that rise from the ground, that gurgle in the earth’s throat, hounded by a reckoning, harried by the pursuit of plowmen. The first proclamation, the primordial division, the aboriginal vision of a prophecy that, to flee is to follow, to evade is to fulfill. There’s no way out for the ontological outcast, outcaste, let the wretch pass. Throw no stone at the unclean lest one bring pollution on oneself. The scapegoat protects us from the sinful insight of our own vanity. The outlaw must be protected at all costs lest all law fall for lack of veracity, want of authority. Crime constitutes the law, guilt the fundament of innocence. Nor is it safe to know this, those who would utter such are not secure.

Every word tempts impertinence. Each syllable wages an assault on the impossible. The uttered sound flies off in hope and, landing, flowers in hearing. Heard, the uttered word takes sense and makes of it meaning. Every word makes trial, every rise and fall of the voice, each scratch and scribble scrawled up and down or across the wall, calls time into the witness-box of mind. Or does time try minds? All times try the soul. Forever, soul and time, is what one is. While they’re together, until they fall asunder like a fresh fall of snow.


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