fly me. or not.

I am trying to find a way to Seattle and back that involves as little money as possible. For reasons about which I can only begin to speculate air travel is less expensive than both rail and bus but no matter which I were to choose I cannot really afford either one. So this may all be moot in my particular case but it still seems pertinent to say:

Looking at the anecdotes posted at for SEA and SFO sent me diving for a Klonopin. These stories are not particularly graphic and do not consist of the most horrible cases of TSA personal encroachment that have been passed around, but imagining myself in the place of the people describing their experiences as they went through the security line was enough to send a cascade of cortisol through my body. And so I do what is necessary to counteract it.
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I may have been six years old the first time I flew back to Seattle. When I was six nobody knew where Seattle was.

I may have been five, or even four–I do know that I was two when we flew from Seattle to go live in Marietta Georgia and shortly after that we flew back, and thus I began flying back to Seattle when I was too young to be afraid to fly and I have continued to fly back to Seattle through a debilitating fear of flying until this day, if you leave out the few years when I would not fly but instead got into the habit of taking the train back to Seattle.
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jim broadcast. opt to descend.

jim broadcast

a trojan horse

“why did you watch it if you
did not like it.”
“I thought you liked it.”

you recall a term
for violet place settings. I
picked at a dried piece of yesterday’s
supper with my thumbnail.
that one trilled note piercing
surprised me the thrush
flapping out of my throat.

dismissed from sunday school
the latchkey carpenter
at loss as to
what to repent
his trail petered out dripping pitch
whose hollow scent would stick with you
fingered your collar
turned up in style
manual transmissions
spread southeast into
spanish moss and swampland.

how do you know the mosquito is not a vector
you’re not dead yet that’s how

and when your mother granted you birth
and you drew the short straw
amicably limned tincture of cedar and fir
and that sentinel sat up nights
a sight for lines or tents
your ice canoe
headed out
to skate on the underside of
“his eminence in exile”
“seattle lsd ’96′”

fragment 01

This might not be finished. Or that is I know it is not finished or rather it goes in there somewhere in that thing I keep claiming to be writing but so I thought I’d post it here on my blog just to make sure that no one labors under the illusion that this place is for linear thought only.


the miraculous thing about language is that it always says something even when there is nothing to say. which also makes it sometimes despotic and sometimes seemingly quite helpless to do anything about anything at all for what is there to do but to talk about what happened.

I could say that I’ve spent my life in search of a diagnosis. today I would say that it would not matter what classification I was slipped into in the language that medicalizes what it does not know: the intricate switches that run the length of the spine and the femur and the tibia and out to tarsals and meta-tarsals so-named just as though they stood for something else but the heck of it is that no matter what one says about the charge that is borne along continuously arcing low-voltage sparks across intervals smaller than anything one can see and how all braided together like the metal grounding strap that used to sometimes hang off of the engine block like it was supposed to go somewhere but stopped short of its destination and you never knew if someone had yanked it away or if it had slowly corroded to powder at that point where the washer around the bolt was supposed to hold it close to the automobile body quietly thumping over the tar-pitched expansion seams in the concrete freeways running under a sun that prevailed over its black sticky elasticity until it ran in rivulets off into the grass holding nothing together anymore except your shoes to the ground.

there were no words for that and he knew it and it was not even a matter anymore of trying to work something out for himself in his head it was or was it that to enter polite society and not to ask for more than one’s due one had simply that is you had to talk to them. there was no other way. in all of the universe where both potential and the real took on the blazing insignia of infinity and wore it rushing against what was frequently referred to as heaven but which chafed too at its own bindings revolting even against the patterns it etched in archaic habits ever scratching the same number again and again until what was written there was no longer the same but something like a crowd unleashed with every intention of doing nothing other than turning itself inside out with the energy that crackled from ligament to bone.

but it was not like that. if there is anything I do not know, it is that I do not know what eventual significance might ensue upon taking flint to the skull and spreading its contents on the bare rock in the sun to be read as bird’s entrails might be read or offering the interior of passion itself out pounding the sidewalk or blindly sweeping the floor for spare change and pulling up dust mites and paper clips.

there was not really anything anyone could do or that is there was not really anything that anyone would do realistically one hears the question all the time if only there had been something we could have done and there probably was but it would have been against all good moral and economic principle to do it. as I said you could interminably question what precisely you deserved out of it all but it is not as though you do not ask to be shown every possibility and then be served up two: if whatever it is cannot retire itself to the contours of a negative dialectic then whatever it is is probably demonic and should not be encouraged lest a message be sent to the youth of this nation to do other than nod sleepily or rather gregariously mingle on the cutting floor of what I always thought of as the film that would be made if the script were written on the floorboards of the elementary school where I walked with my satchel and waited solemnly for someone besides the deities I was offered to bear me up on their wings and away.

I cannot tell a regular story. I cannot work a regular job. I cannot hold a regular conversation. I cannot keep a regular schedule. I do not follow the regulations requiring me to hold onto my financial information for however many years it is one is supposed to do that because it strikes me as patently absurd to do so.

I cannot tell you what I was going to tell you but it is not like there is something else that I cannot tell you but more that the eyes and skin of the universe sit waiting in each of us but not even waiting to squeeze through this bottleneck where superstition and belief are both indistinguishable and incomprehensible but more than likely to kill us off because apparently what the universe cannot do is believe in itself or it is not yet intelligent enough to do so dumb things whirling about and colliding and occasionally sparking that wildfire that spreads so far in such a short time that whole empires rise and fall without each other’s knowledge in this far corner or that and if out of all of this there is only good and evil if workhammers are pulled as often as guns and brandished at this or that one life without a nose for wealth in the colloquial sense but that everything we need presents itself literally makes of itself a gift and no other hand driving it or giving it only warm blood giving itself up for cold blood or viscosity for capillary expansion or any of so many more possible exchanges that naming them would run off of every page and continue doing so forever the myth that one must tug at the earth and crack it and otherwise batter it being the founding tale of one of our stonebroken clan among many brought up on the hard dried mud flats of petrified riverbeds in all bad luck but now in the middle of tall trees that drip their own rain on moss and teeming loam day and night since before anyone even had the sense to write it down then why not describe a dream less impoverished before turning over to sleep sated with the radical generosity of the dirt that is not ours but only itself only.

I may have said this but I used to count the rows of planks in the tall vaulted ceiling of the sanctuary surreptitiously looking up as though that were not the most appropriate place to look given the sermon but counting them made it clear the arbitrary nature of everything that unfolded underneath it and I knew it and I knew it but it was not something enough to hold onto me when they grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the baptismal pool I had long hair then and come to remember it was not just the walk which kept me so long from walking but it was also the dunking I had been afraid of being submerged since breathing in that lung’s worth of chlorinated pool water and I opened my eyes underwater for the first time and recognized nothing but kicked harder to find the ladder we all were swimming towards and as soon as my hand found the rail and my head broke the surface I gulped in a mouthful of oxygenated relief and then began to cough and kept coughing and could not stop coughing and through nausea and chest cramp coughed and coughed and coughed and the teacher who had not noticed before taking us to the deep end that unlike the other kids I had not learned to turn my head up out of the water to breathe asked with a laugh did you swallow the whole pool.

so there was that too. underwater for even a second was too long. I started practicing in the bathtub when it became clear there was no escape.

I cannot tell you how many planks there were in the ceiling but I can tell you that I knew already that there would come a time like no time when my having sat there would be of no consequence even to the heavenly beings invoked on my behalf on a daily basis. what I did not know is that the church had no door out or rather that one church contained another church contained another and another and if there were anything at all to do it would have to be to dismantle every one of them piece by piece examining each component and setting it in random piles to be used not ever again for edifices but as recombinant DNA that might fly and take off without notice for parts unknown and find the rhythm of the time spent heading there itself granting that exuberant peace speeding not home but home speeding itself but although I have managed almost to disassemble one single church it appears to me that the next and the next and the next are each slightly bigger holding more territory more armaments and more crowds willing to die rather than see them taken down even when they know the buildings themselves obscure both sight and sound of the unbearable reach of interstellar space waiting with more patience than we may live to see for us to live to see it.

Not expecting to fly

I almost cannot stand the sound of small aircraft flying overhead. I am reminded of this by the feeling I get when I hear a single prop engine plane passing over the city, something that does not happen often in San Francisco, I think because the airspace here is so crowded that most non-commercial low-altitude traffic is prohibited without special dispensation. It may be that the rarity has actually increased the intensity of my response, which I cannot explain very well except possibly in terms of what small mammals might feel when the shadow of a raptor flashes over them when they are out in the open. Do I run? Take cover? Freeze?

Panic in Place: I never was in a war zone in which Cessnas were frequent flyers. Unless I was. By “almost cannot stand,” what I mean is that it takes great effort not to jump completely out of my own skin and run around the house throwing knives and trowels. My reaction to the sound of a small propeller engine has worsened as I get older, but I don’t know if that is because of the airspace restrictions here or because I am getting brittle with age. There are other ways in which that seems to be happening: I’m less tolerant of social situations in which I feel uncomfortable and less willing to put myself through experiences where, in an earlier life, I would have dissociated in order to endure them and then endured them as best I could. I do not like to dissociate anymore because when I do there is no particular time frame in which I can expect myself to get back, and, unlike some periods of my life, I’m happiest now when I’m all here.

I cannot actually place this sound in any but a metonymic proximity to any particular traumatic event in my life. On the other hand I have been told by more than one professional that my childhood was in some ways like a war zone, only it was a very, very protractedly quiet and slow-moving war and one in which shots were lobbed wrapped in Bible verses and homilies about how one should feel shame for this, that, or the other thing. Or the other thing over there. Or that one waaaaay off in the distance.

I have flown in a small airplane. It’s even possible that at some point I held the wheel of one, although it was probably my brother who got to do that. For me at the time it was natural as anything: my dad and my brother often hung out at the local airstrip and sometimes I would tag along. We didn’t have enough money for a plane of our own so my dad and brother would strike up conversations with airplane owners, become friends with them, and eventually get to fly with some of them. If I was along and there was room, I flew too. It didn’t scare me then. I was still quite young and quite immortal.

And although I did have what could have been a traumatic experience in one of those light planes, it turned out to be fine and nothing really happened and it wasn’t until we were on the ground that I found out that the pilot didn’t mean to cut the engine right then and was actually looking around for a place to crash land when he got the thing running again. Bubble in the fuel line maybe. They weren’t really sure. In any case I was still too young to take brushes with death seriously. Either that or I had already had the one brush with death that rendered me immune to later ones. I cannot keep a very good handle on the chronology of my childhood between about 8 and 16, but I think that this flight was part of a dealy-bob that our church youth group had going where we were rewarded with fun airplane rides for doing something, although I don’t remember at all what that something was. Obviously it didn’t have anything to do with knocking on doors and asking for money, as I was never any good at that. Selling Girl Scout Cookies was an exercise in terror for me, and usually consisted of my wandering up and down our street, gathering the courage to ring a doorbell and ask if they wanted to buy any cookies and then wandering up and down some more till I could bring myself to ring another doorbell and by the time I had rung maybe three doorbells I was completely worn out. I tended to sell cookies to my family and to myself and sometimes to schoolmates, though often they too were Girl Scouts trying to unload their own, so success there was spotty.

Interestingly, my parents would not go with me to sell the things even though I was scared to death to ring those doorbells. They thought it would do me good to have to do it alone. Many girls’ parents would take their cookies to work to sell them for their kids. My folks wouldn’t do that as it was cheating: if I didn’t sell them myself by myself the money was somehow ill gotten. I’m not sure I understand this reasoning now but I did feel plenty guilty for wishing that I was one of the girls whose parents sold their cookies. Especially if I voiced that opinion out loud.

As far as I can recall, there were no particular flights of light aircraft overhead while I was selling the cookies, but it wouldn’t surprise me if there had been. Because of our proximity to the airstrip, small airplanes were always flying back and forth overhead and at night when I would hear them I actually really wanted to be in them, flying away, anywhere didn’t matter: away was enough.

I can’t really say that I remember small planes flying over our house that one summer when the afternoons were spent in a futile game of nerves as my brother consistently knocked down every excuse I had for not wanting to “play”–what was the code word? Was “play” it? I don’t remember that either. Writing about this is not easy, not because of the memories it brings to the surface–those I’m used to in a certain sort of way or rather they exist with a life of their own no matter how and when and where they get talked about–but because there is no adequate vocabulary for the ways in which the desires that coursed his flesh and made his flesh make itself at home in mine without my ever wanting it there rose up and destroyed pieces of me, one at a time, negotiated its way past every obstacle I could find within me to put up to stop it. In the end eleven year old girls are no rhetorical or physical match for fifteen year old boys especially when they live under the same roof and can promise and refuse those tokens of sibling respect that seem insignificant now but were desperately needed for simple survival especially when the kids are left to “take care” of each other for most of the hours of the day.

What I hear, though, in a single prop engine light plane is humidity, heat, stillness and inescapability: when I asked those planes a few years later to please fly me away somewhere they never sent a rope or a ladder or any signal that they could hear me at all.

I never said anything. I was certain that god and his agents would punish me for simply being available and unable to rewrite the narrative of every fucking afternoon. Having been taught that to be born is to be damned, any move I made outside of the safety of the kingdom was itself bound to condemn me even if I did not want it and did not ask for it, even if I resisted to the point my own mental exhaustion and bewilderment that no help was available: that I could become exhausted was my original sin.

For now, I’ll skip over what happened next and before that particular summer, just letting it sit that before this I could already be found pacing the house in a panic if I were alone and my family was late coming home, having been taught that the rapture was going to happen any day now and that I wasn’t yet fit for transport. The following summer my body was made the home for the desire of someone I didn’t even know except for the interminable amount of time it took for him to do whatever it was he had to do; when I think of it, I cannot remember how it ended–or that is I cannot remember what happened between the time he turned me back over and the moment he said ok you’re on your own. But I can guess. I’m not sure where the airplanes were at those times either but somehow they have become the soundtrack for everything that still reaches out in the dead but palpable silence of a hot and sticky evening sequestered somewhere in a room-shaped cell in my brain, a room with a window that air never moved through and which caught prayers and flung them back down upon the carpeted floor.

Later, a few years later, he took flying lessons himself.