Caroline stared out the window. This was an all time low. She just couldn’t seem to get anything done.
Caroline stared out the window. This was an all time low. She just couldn’t seem to get anything done.
It was all too much. Too much sensory input, too much pain, too much light, too much noise, too much to remember and process and, unfortunately, too much still to do.
The beaver closed his eyes and pictured that beach in Tahiti, with its swaying palm trees and coconuts rolling gently on the beach. The, with a sigh he opened them up again and smiled up at Rowan.
Time to get to work.
O M G,
you call that poetry
It don’t even rhyme,
except that one time
Well I won’t call it bad,
its obviously all you had
But don’t do it again
just save us the pain
Caroline hadn’t had much of a life up until now: no friends, no dreams, no real interests. When she had first arrived in the city, she had hung out at these odd little cafes where people would get up and slam.
Slamming, or poetry slamming, or spoken word art generally, was an odd new trend where people would compete by standing up and reading their poems aloud, depending more on rhythm and flow than rhymes and structure.
Caroline tried it one particularly depressing night with no great success.
We Are Base
by Caroline D.
Have you considered the beast that’s inside you?
The animal that lurks
and screams from inside?
Have you considered,
letting it out, letting it ride
across the savannah?
Tearing, rending, chewing, spitting,
trying to derive some sustenance from the
meager flesh of the animals that scurry and hurry and pretend they are doing something important,
Those pathetic weak and childish beasts that swirl and spin
clogging your minds with the dust of their travels and leaving you nothing but a gritty taste on your lips and a brain filled with the stink of their passage.
Have you ever wondered
if you could survive on their leftovers,
the remnants of their lives, the sadness and the pain and the failure and defeat
Of your fellow man who thinks,
That he, or she, or it
is better than you,
I’ve never wondered.
I’ve never had to.
cannot be caged,
my beast cannot be held back,
my beast cannot be denied.
From the moment I was conceived,
my beast has roamed,
and run away.
My beast has lost and won
and lost again.
My beast has survived on the leavings,
scavenged the corpses of others less strong,
gnawed on the edges of their success
My beast has known hunger and desperation and fear and emptiness.
My beast bears the scars of the struggle,
the aches of constant failure
and the price of its existence.
But my beast survives where others
lie in heaps and piles and mounds and walls
of bleached-out bones and scraps of fur
and the small, tiny treasures
that every beast, every soul,
carries with it
to the end.
I once considered recalling the thing,
bringing it home to rest,
to curl up in the warmth of my mind
content, peaceful, happy with itself
Full of hope and sustained by the future.
I once considered caging the animal inside
And feeding it
And caring for it
and loving it
And trying to make it,
But I hate the beast
I hate its teeth, its claws, its smell
and I hate the way it hungers and slathers and whines and
round and round trying to get comfortable
trying to rearrange my mind to suit its dirty needs,
its slimy, selfish, horrid ways
I hate the beast and so
I cast it out.
work for me,
bring me its tribute,
Who cares about its victims,
who cares about their lives
No one cares about
Not even me.
So if you’ve ever wondered
What it would be like
to set free the animal inside
and free yourself from the pain
of cowering in fear of your own soul
don’t fear, don’t hide,
don’t dither and dodder or wither and whine about
why or why not or how, or what or when
Set free the caged creature, just cast open the gates
There is no need to worry
Leave the prey to their own
I remember. I remember the blood: the salty-sweet taste, sticky and thick, yet somehow running like water across my skin, into my eyes, my ears, my mouth … I remember …
The cage and the curious vets and zoo keepers and the bright, bright lights …
Lights. Light. Streaming in from the ceiling, dancing and playing and then that sound, that tiny moment of blinding, deafening, overwhelming noise that seemed to go on and on and on yet was gone before I could recognize it. What was it? The light dancing; the noise smothering; I remember…
I forgot? How did I forget? How could I? I …
Where am I? Where was I? The police. The people, the crowd screaming. No one had ever looked at me like that before. No one had ever treated me that way. They kicked me, stepped on me, tripped over me in their selfish panic. They treated me like nothing, an animal; and the blood. Leaving me lying in the pool, drowning in someone’s life.
What the hell happened? Why don’t I remember? Why am I remembering?
Friday October 13, 1981
New York Times Editorial Staff
Guggenheim Gunshots Kill 4
A man diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia opened fire with an AK-47 today while visiting the Guggenheim museum. Witnesses say that he started screaming and then brought out the gun from a backpack before spraying the crowd of visitors. Two students from NYU were killed immediately and an elderly couple later succumbed to gunshot wounds. 15 other people were also injured in the attack; none seriously.
The man then escaped across 5th Avenue into Central Park but was apprehended later in the day trying to enter the American Museum of Natural History. No further details are known at this time.
In an odd twist, a beaver was found unconscious and covered in blood at the site of the shooting. He had apparently been standing close to the murdered student although no one recalls seeing him there prior or have any idea how he managed to enter the building. The beaver has been temporarily transported to the Central Park Zoo and is under observation by zoo veterinary staff.
The Museum is now investigating new security procedures regarding bringing bags into the building as well as looking into how a wild animal was found to be roaming the premises.
The sharpness of the shadows that danced across the dingy ceiling of the old apartment was broken down by the tiny hills and valleys of the chipped and stained stucco. No longer a coherent whole, the luminous artifacts had become something different, something reminiscent of…
The beaver craned his neck up and slowly turned, following the graceful white pathway that spiralled round and round, up and up until it ended in the bright glass skylight that seemed to dance and swirl with the intricate architecture, the light and the shadow performing a lively Troika. Mesmerized the beaver continued to turn, becoming entwined in the movement and the joy of Mr Wright’s architectural masterpiece; it was all he had hoped it would be and he savoured the moment.
All too soon the disconcerted fluids in his inner ear informed him that if he didn’t stop they would soon force the issue and the beaver slowly settled to a halt and lowered his eyes to drink in the rest of the Guggenheim’s unique and, in his opinion, unsurpassed glory. His head spinning and the wild abandon of the dance of light and shadow still swirling through his mind, the beaver drank in the moment and committed the composition to memory.
It had taken some doing — it had taken too much doing — but the beaver’s love of structure and form had finally found its apotheosis. Here was the embodiment of the art of architecture. No simplistic and haphazard dam of mud and wood, no grandiose cathedral, a monstrosity born of ego and venality, no, this was calm and smooth, born of a desire to express the beauty and simplicity of man’s true role in the cosmos. This, this… magnificence, and it truly was worthy of the name, was as human and as personal as any intimate experience yet was formed from nothing more than the freedom of space and light and the shapes of nature: as wild as the forests and as untamed as the seas.
The beaver sat and drank it all in, leaving himself lost in that sweet anticipation and refusing to acknowledge the hustle and bustle of the people around him.
And because he was not truly there in the centre of the lobby on the first floor of New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the feeling was all that registered at that moment; not the reverberating and ear-rending bang, not the acrid odour that threatened to choke him of his breath, not the iron taste of the warmth that spattered across his face and left him half blinded and disconnected from his surroundings.
At that moment the beaver was entirely alone with his thoughts and utterly disconnected from the hell that had mere seconds ago been a peaceful and beautiful backdrop to the archetype of everything the beaver believed good in the world.
People remember events differently. Most people are disposed to winding their memories and senses together in a braided tress, not unlike their mother’s macrame hanger or grandmother’s garlic rope. Our senses act as a catalog, a reminder or even a storage space for things our consciousness tags as important to remember.
And to each individual the infusion of senses into events varies in ingredients, strength and vigour. Those among us blessed with pitch and an ear for life will often wrap a memory in a song, creating a new and distinct work that echo’s the original but, like a virtuoso taking up his instrument to perform, will exceed the original composer’s intent. Those who’s nose acts as a window into the world, will add the memory as an ingredient into the aroma of their favourite dish or establish a new amalgam from such things as a warm summer’s eve or the scent of their daughter’s hair. Sight, touch, taste, all the traditional senses make the perfect packaging for those thoughts and feelings that we choose not to forget, and many that we would not so happily choose as well.
But not all memories are of the body. Not all events can be encapsulated and entwined in things real and tangible. For some, the senses were never strong enough to hold such monumental perceptions, for others it is the singularity of an event, the razor sharp clarity that prevents its adulteration by any of the traditional five.
So how then does the mind classify and catalog such memories? For some, for all too many and all too long, the only answer the psyche can offer is to hold it always in the forefront, to never store or file or move the moment from the immediate consciousness. This state, in this unending form, exemplifies the most common definition of hell for its adherents, a never-ending retelling, that no matter how pleasant in its original, will soon become an overearly and inescapable purgatory.
And sometimes, when the mind cannot continue in its self-inflicted misery, or if it could not ever grasp an event enough to even form the memory, the mind will wrap it in layer upon layer encysting it like scar tissue around a foreign body. There is no memory, no truth, no reality attached to it and our conscious and subconscious selves hold it forever separate and apart, attached yet inaccessible.
But even these arms length creations remain in orbit around us. We feel the effects of their gravitational pull and they can push and pull our moods and thoughts like tides. And they too must somehow be accounted for and tracked by the deepest and most elusive nodes of our secret selves. Philosophers, and scientists alike, writers, dreamers and believers have long felt that there are more things around us that can be be cataloged by the senses or perceived by the accepted modes. Some way, somehow, our minds can perceive and account for the unknown, storing that knowledge in an unknowable place and deriving reason and sense for the effects of the indiscernible. Something that is of us, yet beyond us acts to monitor and control the effects of that which we have sent into exile and acts as a guardian and castellan, something hidden must exist to protect us from ourselves.
There are many ways in which we build our selves, but the strongest building blocks are those we experience and adopt into our souls. Our memories are precious and requisite, without them we would not grow or learn or be able to contribute new and ever-unique truths to our worlds. But not all memories are bricks; some, and every soul alive has them, are flames. Fires that destroy and immolate everything they touch and can rarely coexist safely with the true structure of our selves. Some memories exist only to harm and it is a sad sad day indeed when a mind lets open the fiery gates and sets free the conflagration one anyone’s soul.
A cool morning with an edge that comes only in those waning days of summer. Not yet fall, but no longer comfortable to about breathing the air circulating in the first rays of the sunrise.
It was the time of year that sent people scrambling to examine their closets and ponder the state of their long ignored jackets and throws. A fleece of sweater served well in those few cool summer nights, but something about the first snaps of chill in late summer called out for something substantial; a weighty blanket to ward off the imagined frost and to hold at bay the remembered piercing of winds that were to be real all too soon.
And again all too often you found yourself staring out at eh charcoal skies that showed the feint glow of sunrise, something that had been a rare and unexpected sight these past summer months. The shorter days rushed in on your life, squeezing time into a narrow chasm and anointing the days with all the turbulence of mountain rapids in the spring. The slow, languid pace of the summer had gone and nothing could stop the sudden inflow of time and an air of unfulfilled expectations.