I thought I was dying, I felt the cold up close
and knew that from all my life I left only you behind:
my earthly day and night were your mouth
your skin the republic my kisses founded.

In that instant the books stopped
and friendship, treasures restlessly amassed,
the transparent house that you and I built:
everything dropped away, except your eyes.

Because while life harasses us, love is
only a wave taller than the other waves:
but oh, when death comes knocking at the gate,

there is only your glance against so much emptiness,
only your light against extinction
only your love to shut out the shadows.

Pablo Neruda



And yet the plongeurs, low as they are, also have a kind of pride. It is the pride of the drudge - the man who is equal to no matter what quantity of work. At that level, the mere power to go on working like an ox is about the only virtue attainable. Débrouillard is what every plongeur wants to be called. A débrouillard is a man who, even when he is told to the impossible, will se debrouiller - get it done somehow.

George Orwell - Down and Out in London and Paris 


The Prodigal Son

represents the hidden drama of the soul. When we enter into matter - taking upon us a body and embarking upon a lifetime of experience - we are truly going off into "a far country" to be tested, fed on scraps (compared to our true spiritual heritage), degraded, and alienated in many ways. One day, however, true enlightenment dawns. The divinity within is recognized, the "sleeping Christ" is awakened, and we return home to the waiting "Father."

Tom Harper - The Pagan Christ



How fragile yet these bodies be that betray us upon the want to work. Shall I paint from bed? A mirror and a drug-fogged mind? I convalesce to want to move, to Overcome, to betray it back for proof of strength. Or to make us friends that I may listen, to slow satisfy the want to be of good use. There's trouble in stillness, a spasm of fleeting peace. I feel time! I feel old! I'm subject to the world and its moralities! How fragile yet though is my pride, that I must sit and feel, still.



Jet set janitor

I sit above and watch the storm roll in, tile balcony like a cruise ship, high above the water - infinite horizon. Lightning hits the open expanse and a ten-count thunder cracks at the shore. I watch ocean liners and tiny boats traverse across the greyscale sky, obscure views of islands 50km away. Our host - a Japanese lady from Sacramento, a million-miler, cropped hair and a floral lazy dress, buzzing kinetic. Next time you come to my place in Tokyo! I joke with my friends, my job is International Toilet Cleaner! Toilets in Tokyo toilets in Cali! Best staff in the world! They bring me more blankets and tidy around the remanants of breakfast, backyard orange bananas broken wild from Lord Cavendish. 
It's raining over the infinity pool. My partner said, build it small! She says. My pool in Sacramento, strange shape no good for laps. I say bigger! So I bought the whole place, bye bye partner! I love her choice I say, fresh blankets in hand, staff at the ready. Soon I'll get out of my kimono, new and silk, when the waves stop in infinity. She'll start her laps too, soon, we dirty glamour'd. 



Twelve dollar poolside massages smell like rose oil and Empire while a team of tiny hands skim plumeria from the pool and sweep around our discarded sweat-soaked clothes. Bamboo swishes in the wind, unripe mangos sway above the water tiled below in volcanic rock inlaid with a stone yin-yang. 
Did I know my temples ached this badly? Or my calves or the outside edges of the soles of my feet? I'm half awake under strong small hands - our place spotless in a scurried instant then quiet behind the stone wall packed with green insulating from the busy narrow streets full of scooters and Aussies.
I fight off jet lag with naps and caffeine, strong iced coffee gritty from the finest grind, sweet from dark cane syrup. I'm tempted to drink the sludge, to stay awake past 9 pm today while my brain and body fight over the bright hot light and the witching hour of my internal clock. I try not to check the time at home. I look. My eyelids fall heavy. On vacation you nap. But dinner falls somewhere around three am in my dislocated state.
I've given up on clothes, on time on movement. I write on a carved teak day bed on silk pillows, Matisse, colonial, exoticized. I lap up serenity, so easy on an airy room I didn't have to clean myself. My mind rests on home, still in yesterday and back to silk pillows and new sandals bought from lovely ladies for special morning price - good luck to be first customer. 
Even washed, skin still fragranced from oil from flowers - light skinned pretend princess. O sloth and decadence, the richness of taking. If I fluff my own pillow, it's enough for today. 



First, the heat. Thick, a force and entity humid - plants grow giant and in saturated hues, lush, hyper-green. Colour rules and the exaggerated sunshine burns vivid - clothes and hair will never dry.
Offerings everywhere. In the airport bathroom a woman bows quickly to a potted rhododendron and a fresh bowl of marigolds. Incense and clove smoke hangs in the atmosphere along with the exhaust and hot garbage. I step on petals in the street, dodging tiny rafts of flowers and rice left for the dieties - little folded banana leaves clutching incense sticks destined to be ground underfoot and swept up with straw brooms and replaced by women and men carrying trays of them shrine-to-shrine. 
They wear patterned sarongs and ride scooters one-handed balancing holy fare against the frenetic street. Every corner, ledge, vehicle - petals and scent. They stop and bow. Sprinkle with something like holy water from a bright painted vinegar jar. Move on to the next carved stones, motifs of stylized clouds point upward like clouds, like smoke. Small gates to heaven, daily trampled and refreshed with prayers, for synesthetic gods... 


What seas break in us, in the night of our being, along beaches that we only sense in the full flood of our emotion!

What we lost, what we should have loved, what we got and were, by mistake, contented with, what we loved and lost and, once lost, saw that we had not loved but loved it still just because we had lost it; what we believed we thought when we felt something; what we believed to be an emotion and was in fact only a memory; and, as I walked, the whole sea came rolling in, cool and clamorous, from the deepest reaches of the dark, to etch itself delicately along the sand...

- Fernando Pessoa 


The medieval apothecary garden

cared little for aesthetics, focusing instead on species that healed and intoxicated and occasionally poisoned. Witches and sorcerers cultivated plants with the power to "cast spells" - in our vocabulary, "psychoactive" plants. Their potion recipes called for things such as datura, opium poppies, belladonna, hashish, fly-agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria), and the skin of toads (which contain DMT, a powerful hallucinogen). These ingredients would then be combined in a hempseed-oil-based "flying ointment" that the witches would then administer ca finally issuing a special dildo. This was the "broomstick" by which these women we're said to travel.

Michael Pollan - The Botany of Desire