Countdown to Infinity

I tell her she reminds me of snow covered trees

On a cool winter morning.

Or something romantic like that.

She smiles and turns around

Her red jacket spins effortlessly in the air

while lightly hugging her hips.

We count down to the rhythm of memories

of the year soon past, and

TEN her eyes glitter in the starlight

NINE My arms wrapped around her waist

EIGHT Her soft lips tingling against mine

SEVEN My fingers tracing lines and trails through her long brown hair

SIX Our clothes melt away into puddles at our ankles; her thighs resting on and then soon grinding against my lap

FIVE My hands grasping to unclip her bra

FOUR Her delicate face shattering with an ecstasy that we share as I enter her

THREE The rough motion of my body wrestling with hers, her breasts rise and fall like waves in high tide

TWO Her soft shallow breath now gaining ferocity, building with notes of love, hate and

the combination of all 525,600 moments, the conjoined pleasures, pains,

all collide as the clock now is about to reset in a broken dance of ‘I wanted’ and ‘she wanted’.

ONE We finish.

We’re lying together, breathless, lovesick

While thoughts of all that we’ve done crash into the shore.

The gaze of her hateful eyes meets mine, one by one the stars fade away, and we sit deadlocked;

Tasked with the torturous feat of facing one another again.

ZERO This isn’t what we wanted.

Giordana

When we met

There was a river between us.

Pulling away at the banks.

carrying old trees

along with it.

She asked me,

“Do you think you could love me?”

and I only turned my head.

Watched upstream

For something back there

to flow down to where I was

No, I don’t think I could.

But the river doesn’t slow,

And the further upstream I go,

the further away it pulls and carries her thoughts and feelings and

whatever hopes she held with her for the future.

I walked upstream

Hoping to find that one old tree that I once had to leave behind.

Her question haunts me to this day.

Not because of my answer,

or because I left it hanging in the brisk morning air to freeze and drop into the river.

“Do you think you could love me?”

And I walked the other way.

It haunts me because it is burned into my mind

like a brand of that stubborn sensibility;

She held her hand out to me

So that we could plunge into the river

Together and be carried downstream together.

But I left her to float on

alone, and I walked the other way alone.

When I came to where the old tree had been,

There was only a hole

As it had uprooted, and had itself plunged faithlessly into the river.

Those words still singe my brain even today as I look back to where I had been before

“Do you think you could love me?”

 

The Watcher at the Gate

There is an old man who stands guarding a gate,

always watching

And if you ask him what lies beyond it, he will tell you, “I know that not.”

The gate has been there since the beginning of all things

Bronzed by the passing of time

Worn by the rain, and snow, and wind

“The gate,” he will say, “leads to twilight.

But what else is unknown to me.”

And when the time comes, he will call your name.

You will find yourself standing before him

He, robed in grey

will step aside

And tell you to pass through

Then you will pass through

And you will know what he has never known

Children of God: 1974

CONFIDENTIAL

From official Transcript at Radio Telescope Lab, California, August 21 1974

9:03 pm

Rogers:That’s a shift 32 degrees West.

Smith: Correct.

Davidson: Whoa.

Smith: What’s that?

Davidson: I’m getting something pretty strange here.

Rogers: Describe.

Davidson: The wavelength sounds like a radio signal.

Smith: A neutron star?

Rogers: Could be but there haven’t been any observed in that area before.

Smith: Something new then?

Davidson: Maybe.

Davidson: Weird. It almost sounds like Morse Code.

Smith: It’s not consistent in any way?

Davidson: Yes, it is. Sort of. It repeats itself. Not like a neutron star is what I mean.

Rogers: What are we looking at then?

Davidson: What the hell?

Rogers: What’s that?

Davidson: I transcribed it as if it were Morse Code.

Smith: Okay and

Davidson: You’re not gonna believe this guys. It says “Hello there Earth.”

Rogers: (Static)

Rogers: Quit fucking around.

Davidson: I’m not. Seriously. Listen.

Smith: What.

Smith: He’s not kidding.

Rogers: Let me.

Rogers: Holy shit.

Davidson: Right.

Rogers: Can we send out a signal?

Smith: I mean it would be pretty easy.

Rogers: Let’s send one out.

Davidson: I’m asking who we’re speaking to.

Smith: Some kids with too much time on their hands.

Rogers: Yeah probably.

Rogers: What now?

Davidson: There’s a new wavelength. Hang on.

Davidson: I’ll be damned.

Davidson: It says “I’m not kids.”

Rogers: What the fuck?

Davidson: I didn’t transmit that part.

Smith: What?

Davidson: I didn’t say anything about kids.

Rogers: Ask again who we’re speaking to.

Davidson: Alright.

Davidson: God.

Rogers: What?

Davidson: It says God.

Rogers: We’re talking to God.

Davidson: The signal is claiming to be God.

Davidson: It says “Hello Michael.”

(Static)

Rogers: Are you fucking serious?

Davidson: Another one. “Yes.”

Smith: What the hell is going on?

Davidson: “I know you.”

Davidson: “I’ve watched you.”

Rogers: Anyone else feel that?

Davidson: “Do not be afraid.”

Rogers: How is it getting us these radio waves so fast? Based off where we’re listening It should take hundreds of years.

Davidson: “I exist independent of time.”

Smith: He can hear us speaking to each other?

Smith: This has to be a prank. Someone in a closet or something?

Davidson: “I am coming.”

Rogers: That’s great but who are you?

Davidson: “God.”

Smith: There’s nobody else in here. I checked everywhere.

Davidson: “I will be there soon.”

Smith: Where are you hiding asshole?

Davidson: “Close.”

Davidson: “Proxima Centauri.”

Davidson: “I will be there soon.”

Smith: Why are you contacting us?

Davidson: “I am coming.”

Smith: But why?

Davidson: “Do not be afraid.”

(Power cutout approximately 18 minutes)

Davidson: It’s back on.

Rogers: Any more signals?

Davidson: No.

Davidson: Hang on.

Davidson: “You are afraid.”

Rogers: What do you want?

Davidson: “Tell your people to prepare for my coming.”

Davidson: “In one thousand years I will arrive.”

Rogers: What do you mean? Prepare how?

Davidson: It’s just repeating.

Davidson: “Tell your people to prepare for my coming.”

Davidson: “In one thousand years I will arrive.”

What I Saw Last Night in the Woods

I think I found myself wandering the woods last night. I dunno, maybe it was just a dream. But the moon sat heavy in the sky. Shining beams of stupid white light down among the trees. The forest was illuminated in an ugly outline with gradient shades of grey. It’s boring. There was a little house in the middle of a circle of stumps and I think an old lady sitting at the window watching the lightbugs or whatever they’re called. Fireflies. That’s the word. Watching the fireflies buzzing around the porch light. I didn’t go in because I don’t know her, and I don’t care if I ever do. Just an old lady.

I could hear the stream trickling to my right. Flowing like water does, downhill. It just does that. I dunno. The coyotes howled or whatever that noise they make is called. Yelling at each other to mark their territory or ask each other how it’s going or whatever the hell it is coyotes talk about. Other than that it was quiet. I wish there was a point to this story, but there’s not much point to anything to be perfectly honest. I don’t really care. I just went for a walk or something. And that’s what I saw.

Concerning Fate

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we can’t escape from. Everything worked out in exactly the right way that we’re forced to act. And we have only one option. We have to do one particular thing, we don’t get to choose. That’s called a nexus point, I think.

Take us for example: you walked off the bus and into that store. I saw you buy that book. That book. Of all books I don’t know why it had to be that book. But that’s the one you chose.  God and the Heavens or whatever personification of the universe that you prefer to believe in put you and that book there. Ganesh, I don’t know. Whoever you think controls the Universe. That’s who put that book in your hand and told me to follow you.

I had a choice, and I chose to listen to his call. I followed you. I chose to get into your house and when you picked up that knife, you chose to stab me. We don’t always get a say, chum.  We may find ourselves at a nexus point here, my friend. I’m bleeding out on your floor. You’re not going to call the police because now you’ve killed someone. You have no choice but to dispose of the body. I have no choice but to let it all happen. Don’t worry though, if God forced us into this, surely in all his wisdom he won’t punish either of us. I mean, it was all part of his plan, right?

So please don’t be sloppy when you get rid of me. I don’t want you to lose control of the situation and have no say in what happens to you next.

Castles in the Sky

I think I was twelve when I first noticed them. They always came before a storm. Magnificent white castles hanging just above the clouds at my parents’ farm, being carried away by the gentle breeze. Every once in a white they would appear and sail across the sky. Blue banners adorned with golden lions hanging from their towers with unearthly splendor, rattled and flapped as the castles pushed forth, ever onward into foreign lands. Birds landed for rest on the tallest pillar, then leaped off to glide back to wherever it is birds go. I often wondered if anyone else could see them; but, it seems to be a vision only I would ever enjoy. I always found it comforting that something could be so clearly seen, and yet only by me, and yet so far out of reach. I remember one time pointing to a castle, and upon mentioning it to my mom she laughed because “Children have such good imaginations.” I assured her that it was not imaginary. She took me to a doctor.

They gave me pills and told me that they would make the castles go away. Why should they go away, I thought. I loved watching them float on the wind more than anything. It was calming. At school during a difficult test, I could look out the window and know that something amazing was happening just outside, just above. So I would pretend to take the pills; and the castles became my little secret. I wanted so terribly to one day visit them. To fly up and land alongside the birds. To see the people who lived in the castles and experience their world.

One day while sitting in the living room reading some school book about the history of Quebec, my mother entered and sat down beside me. She asked, “Do you want to play a game?”

I jumped up. Of course I wanted to play a game. Virtually anything would be better than school work. So we decided we would play hide-and-seek. I closed my eyes. As I counted to ten, I heard my mom’s footsteps trailing off into the kitchen. I knew this would be easy. Grownups don’t know how to sneak, I thought, all they do is stomp around. I opened my eyes. Two big, brown blobs slowly came into focus. My mother’s eyes, only a couple inches away, gazed deeply into mine. “What are you doing?” she inquired.

“Don’t you know how to play this game?” I said, laughing.

She took a step back, “What game?”

Still laughing at her antics, I replied “We’re playing hide-and-seek.”

Her face dropped, “Who is playing?”

I stopped laughing. “Me and you.”

That’s when I understood why I needed to take the pills. As the years went on, the castles drifted from reality to memory. Sometimes in my dreams I could see a feint glint of blue and gold shining in the sky; but it always remained formless and dim.

I inherited my parents’ farm. The country life grew too difficult for them and they moved to Calgary, leaving everything they had back at home to me and my wife on the condition that we work hard to keep it. Many long, hot days were spent in the canola fields, and often weekends were spent driving to and from the city. This was one of those weekends. The sky was darkening as it was getting late in the evening. The sun began to hide behind the mountains in the distance. Then out of the sky there came a tremendous crack. The clouds tore open and poured out their guts onto the ground below. Soon the rain was too dense to see through my windshield, and I pulled off to the side of the road to wait out the storm. Thunder crashed and clapped, turning the valley into a violent bowl of utter chaos.

Hours later the rain mellowed down to a few lonesome drops, and the clouds whisked off into the distance. I turned the ignition and continued the drive home. There was an unusual silence in the air. Up ahead I saw a young lady blocking the road. Her car was pulled off to the side, and she stood gazing up into the milky way. When I approached, she took no notice of me until finally I honked. She glanced at me, then continued to stare into the night sky. I rolled my window down and poked my head out.

“Hey!” I shouted, “What are you doing?”

She laughed quietly to herself, probably realizing how silly it was to stand in the middle of a road at night. As she stepped off to the side of the road I waved and politely smiled, while I began to drive by.

“Did you see it?” she called out as I pulled past.

I braked, and yelled out the window “See what?”

“The castle, up in the sky,” she answered. Then she danced and sang to herself, while I sat in the dark with my truck’s engine grumbling, waiting for me to push the gas.

The Long Road, Vol. 2: The Songstress and the Dive

I stopped at the first hotel I could find. The hotel clerk was a grey-haired man with eyes like dull, unsharpened pencils. He only sort of watched me come in with one eye half fixed on an old Canadian Geographic magazine that was rounded at the corners due to repeated use. “Looking for a room?” he asked; but didn’t quite seem to be talking to anyone in particular.

I asked him if he had any vacancies.

“What does the sign out front say?” he replied in a tired, surly voice.

I hadn’t even noticed a sign. “I didn’t think there was a sign.”

“I can tell you without even looking that is says vacancy,” he said. The clerk licked his finger, and slowly brought it to the corner of the page. He flipped pages with the same grace possessed by a grizzly bear breaking into a garbage can. “It always says vacancy. We’re never full.”

I assure you he was very proud of himself.

“Can I have a room, please?” I finally asked. My eyes were now heavy. They felt like bags of sand desperately trying to pull down the curtains after the first act of a very long, tedious play.

“Yup,” The clerk said. “Yup, yup.” He continued to peruse his magazine. “Have you seen it before?” he asked.

Seen what? I want a room! “No – uh, seen what?”

“The Yukon. This issue is all about the Yukon.” He looked out the window and his vision faded into a far off dream of the past. “I planned to go there when I was a young man,” his voice fell into a deep sigh. He reached under the table and pulled out a key. “Room 445,” he half-whispered. His eyes were glazed, transparent, and shimmered in longing for a life he would never live.

The lights in the elevator buzzed as I rode it up to the the fourth floor. It was not so loud that I could not hear the dreadful music emanating from the old muffled speakers, but loud enough that the sound was drowned out and the notes fell flat of anything resembling harmony. There was no ding when I reached my floor, and so the elevator doors startled me as they opened. As I stepped into the hall, the buzzing followed me in every light bulb which was hanging overhead. Constant buzzing filled the air ever so delicately, but yet sharp enough to slightly assault the ears. This is life, I thought. Endless minor annoyances; unavoidable; unstoppable. Then came a soft sound from below the floor; a subtle array of strings vibrating in deep harmony. The harsh percussion of drums soon followed through the paper thin floor and walls, and then a voice joined. Muffled through inches of cheap  plywood and carpet, the voice crashed vaguely familiar tones into the hallway.

I marched back towards the elevator, encapsulated by the soft melody protruding through the fabric of the hotel. Down to the first floor. The music grew stronger and louder. I could see the old clerk still sitting in his chair with the magazine sprawled across his lap and his head tilted back, dreaming of far away places. To the left there was a door which I had not noticed before. There was the source of the music. Jazzy bass notes rolled across the floor. The violent strum of guitar strings streaming through the air were accompanied by that sickeningly sweet voice. As I entered the room I saw the bar was populated mainly by rough looking men who had likely spent far too many late nights awake driving down the same road I had turned off of.

The band was an ensemble of older men with beards. In the middle of the stage, like a fiery ember, stood a young lady with her lips nearly pursed around the microphone. I can’t remember most of the words she sang; but during long nights I can often hear a few words echo through the empty air of my bedroom:

“I will never be set free

Because I hold myself in chains

Prisoner of my own ideals

Abuse runs through my veins”

I sat awhile and listened. The song soon ended. The band performed a haunting rendition of “Lilac Wine”, then some other old jazz songs; but the room focused always on the woman. The singer was the pearl of this hotel bar. Her red hair scorched the dark air that seemed to be watercoloured by cigarette smoke, and she looked deeply under-dressed compared to the rest of the band, in a tee-shirt with the words “Come at me” written across the breast, and jean shorts that barely came down far enough to cover anything. Her shoeless feet tapped as she sang, as if in tune with a completely different song.

Eventually the room got quiet when the band stopped playing, and packed up. Most of the patrons went back to their drinks and guzzled away whatever troubles they happened to be facing. I sat alone. Soon the speakers played fuzzy rock music that was barely legible, and the customers became rowdy, laughing with one another. I sat alone. The bartender asked me if  I wanted anything else. I said no. “It’s last call, you know,” he told me. I assured him that my answer was not changed. He wandered off to offer last minute hangovers to the regulars.

I sat alone, looking into my empty glass. Suddenly, a sharp, yet delicate voice appeared out of the space immediately next to me. “Never seen you before,” she said. I looked up as I nearly pounced out of my stool. “Where are you from?” she asked.

A bonfire flowed like liquid out of the top of her head and just past her shoulders. “Not here,” I said.

“Everybody’s from there,” her ocean blue eyes were a little too big for her face, but nearly seemed to make up for the size of her lips.

I stirred my straw around my glass as she leaned forward.

“That’s my husband,” she said, pointing to a skinny man wearing a snapback turned slightly to the side.

I sat unsure how I was expected to respond.  Better say something. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” she said. “He’s an idiot.”

She hopped up out of the stool, and bounced onto the floor. “But I love him,” she said as she leaned back against the bar.

“I don’t get to make many friends,” she told me, “He only lets me talk to people when he’s drunk and not paying attention.”

Had I been watching him, I would have seen her husband suddenly and without any premeditation throw a shot glass across the room, which happened to cross the path of a rather burly man wearing a wife-beater. It crossed his path in the head. That’s when the woman said, “Nice meeting you, friend” and sauntered out into the lobby. That’s also when the burly man threw a punch, missed, and landed himself on the floor. I don’t know what the husband screamed as I left the bar looking for the woman; but I didn’t find her. I returned to my room lost in thought. Is that really all it takes to make a friend?

 

 

 

The Long Road, Vol. 1: The Golden Hills at Twilight

There are few things in this world more solitary than the hills of Highway 2; but the setting sun has a habit of hitting them in just the right way – and they shine in a deep magnificent golden hue with silhouettes of hay bales and barns burning their forgotten mark into the horizon – then it plays with your mind.

It happened during the summer after she left. I was left with an unbearable emptiness; I was a jar with the last remnants of sweet red jam scraped out and left on the counter to be forgotten. The house was empty, too. The world felt empty. So, I drove. With no idea of where or when I would stop, I drove. Just hit the Highway 2 and headed south. There are few things in this world more solitary than the hills of Highway 2; but the setting sun has a habit of hitting them in just the right way – and they shine in a deep magnificent golden hue with silhouettes of hay bales and barns burning their forgotten mark into the horizon – then it plays with your mind. You feel as if you’re being relieved of the broken pieces of the past that weighed so heavily on your shoulders. The hills carry them away with the light of what was once a scorching, burning heat-filled summer day. Your eyes widen as you drive on, clouds hang mercilessly like glowing red embers fresh out of the fire. The cold air moves through the grass – now dark grey with anticipation of a new night – it produces a sense of helplessness, yet not of hopelessness. there is hope still that the sun will rise once again and paint the hills in majestic copper tones of tall grass leaning against the breeze. There is still hope that the peaceful calm of twilight will remain indefinitely,and cleanse your mind and body. There is still hope that there will be an end to this emptiness that is so tirelessly shunned by the hills beside Highway 2.

And so I drove on. I drove until black shadows overtook the horizon. Until the beams of light protruding from my car could no longer pierce the unsavory darkness of the empty void surrounding it.

There is a town called Nanton, where the world stopped forty years ago. It is a place that has no concept of time. The world outside carries on, pushes forth; but Nanton is trapped in thick molasses. It knows what it is, and what it shall be forever. Sleep drives deep into the mind when in Nanton. “Rest. There is no hurry,” it whispers in your ear. “There will always be another day.”