more than four kittens in Ohio

Ever since Pandora first played me "Ohio", I've been listening to it obsessively. Well, what passes for obsessively. Y'see, Pandora's music license doesn't allow it to make songs available on demand, I don't have any portable mp3 devices, and at home I usually let rando player or Dave pick the music, because I like most everything we have. So those are the main reasons I'm not yet sick of either Ohio or "Steam Comes Off Our House." The latter is a beautiful track off of "Ballads of the Book", an album composed entirely of collaborations between Irish poets and musicians.

Said album also has a track which wins my personal award for best song title, "A Calvinist Narrowly Avoids Pleasure." Ah, alcoholism. Like any other vice, it can create great and inspiring verse even as it eats away at a man. Especially the chemical vices, for some reason. Many famous bands have a "heroin album" which stands out among their other work; one band I can mention even has a "crack album."

My continued creative drought has me trying to calm myself by considering the nature of other people's creativity, or creative work in general. In case it wasn't obvious. Of course by increasing my conscious awareness of the machinery of the creative process I'm totally shooting myself in the foot. One of several reasons, not all of which I know, that a songwriter can have a substance abuse album is that abusing a substance erodes one's identity, erodes one's control over the fine operations of one's psyche. And in so doing, drives back into the unconscious much of the mana (libido, attention, whatev) which is often taken up by the concerns of living and trying to stay sane.

I did actually write a song last week, but I don't count it. Its principal use in my book is as an intro to [the only road]. Uses pretty much the same chords as the verses to that song, in fact.

emptiness
at the bottom of the cup
emptiness
on the phone line, pick it up
emptiness in my mind
when I try to divine
what the future holds
it's beautiful, it's beautiful, it's beautiful
and cold

emptiness
where my father used to snore
emptiness
between the ceiling and the floor
emptiness in my heart
flung it out like a dart
left you scarred
it's beautiful, it's beautiful, it's beautiful
and hard

emptiness
in the gestures that you make
emptiness
trailing panic in its wake
emptiness in my hand
but the flames that I fanned
gonna burn a long while
it's beautiful, it's beautiful, it's beautiful
to see you smile

to see you smile
to see you smile
to see you smile


I am still emotionally wrestling with my desire to be able to forgive Mom for many things. Things I can't remember, things I can, things I've been told about but wasn't present to see. And irrationally, to forgive her for outliving Dad. She couldn't have helped his numerous medical conditions, his stubborn insistence at sticking with a job that got him nothing but stress and disappointment, or his refusal to accept the aid and comfort he continually felt the compulsion to offer, even when he lacked the means to deliver it. The whole decade-long mess of a divorce and the years of rancor that preceded it could only have been prevented by both of them changing themselves radically. Which neither could do--for many reasons, not all of which I know. But I had one parent at whom I was less angry than the other and now that one is dead.

I am not a rancorous or vengeful person, now. But I had a lot of rancor and desire for revenge back in the day. A lot of the sneaky psychological warfare bullshit that she to this day believes to have been Dad's doing was me, in my spare time, easing my own hurt by lashing out at her. Hence the "flung it out like a dart / left you scarred" lines. (I must take a moment here to preen for rhyming "heart" with "dart" instead of "apart." Take that, cliche rhyme.) But my experiences then are what led me to my current views on revenge in general. If it can't change the person's mind about the things they've done, if it can't prevent future harm, and since it sure as fuck can't remedy past harm, then all it can do is give me more memories of having been a beast. And any is too many.

But why did I bring up "Ohio", back there at the beginning of the post? Because I've been thinking about politics more than I prefer. No, I still haven't registered to vote. I know it's gotta be in the next couple weeks or I won't have a chance to vote in November. The evils visited on me, my fellow Americans, and the people of Earth wherever America sticks our greasy little fingers, are a little like the bug bites that mysteriously appear every morning on my body. I'm not sure how it happened, I don't know what I can do to prevent it, and it aches and itches constantly in places where it wouldn't be polite for me to scratch. I can't bomb our bedroom with bug spray. We sleep there. I can't throw out all our mattresses and bedclothes. We can't afford new ones. And I can't realistically get behind the abolition of our system of government, either. I can't think of anything practicable with which to replace it that would be an actual improvement.

But the rust has spread all through the engine now. And I don't have firearms and a country estate and a stockpile of food and clean water. Me and Dave are in the worst possible physical situation for a childless couple in the event of a serious apocalypse. Okay, not the worst possible. But our neighborhood is populous, a long damn walk from sources of water, and about as far from being arable land as it's possible to get in a temperate climate. Not even a grocery store nearby to loot.

Is it terribly cynical of me to leap immediately from contemplating the mess in Washington (or even Springfield!) to a vision of Chicago as a barren wasteland inhabited by vicious, starving predators, most of whom walk on two legs?

Then again, Neil Young read an article about the Kent State massacre, went for a walk in the woods, and came back with a song. A song which points out very correctly that that kind of murderous idiocy "should have been done long ago"; we should have been finished with that sort of thing, moved on to all figuring out together how we can be happy and treat one another well. For dog's sake!

And dammit, with all this richness of misery on the one hand, and wealth of personal comfort on the other, why the hell have I not gone for a walk around the neighborhood and come back with a kickass song?!? What should I do, what have I done that I shouldn't? Ach, my impatience is childish. They will come or not as they choose. Or perhaps they have already arrived and are waiting on me to kick open some rusty little door, to shove aside some finely-wound obstruction...

You see how it is with me. This gnawing little loop is never absent from the back of my mind. I am like a junkie for the music. I haven't had a proper fix in almost two months now. A stinking sonnet and a freaking two and half minute intro song. Maddening, I tells ya. Maddening!

I had a dream a couple nights ago where I met dozens of kittens. I was in a space based on the basement of the house I grew up in (a couple other dreams there lately, in fact), having arrived through one of those portal thingies I never seem to notice in-dream but remember afterward. At first there were only a dozen or so, adorable little fluffy things in shades of brown and black and other colors--predominantly brown. They all wanted them to take me back with them--whups. Freudian kitty slip? Wanted me to take them back with me and be my kittens, but even dreaming I knew me and Dave only had room for a couple more kitties. Three or four, tops. I wanted so much to keep them all, and kept looking from one to another, unable to decide. Then I moved towards the front of the basement, to that tiny room where we stored the never-used camping equipment. There was a rectangular window in that closet that looked out on the gravel and sidewalk which marked the boundary between our house and our neighbors Joyce and Tony's house. There was another kitten there, outside the glass, with a full-grown cat beside it. The kitten looked sick; its eyes seemed too large in its head, its coat was not fluffy, and something else about it seemed off somehow. It looked at me with almost as much longing as the healthy kittens had done, though it wasn't able to muster the same emotion exactly. But I knew there was a reason that kitten and its full-grown companion were outside the glass, that I couldn't let the kitten in, even though I pitied it and wanted it to be my kitty also.


The basement of the house I grew up in was the template for the locations of a couple of other important dreams, a fact I think bears mentioning here. There was the dream I'd had the night Dad died, of a burning man with something terribly urgent to do, then a view of a basement window looking out onto a peaceful scene of green grass and sunlight, then a movement towards the window and a feeling of relief and escape. The images and emotions after that seemed garbled and confused to me, which makes me greatly regret not having made more progress in disciplining my deep mind beforehand. Could've maybe made more sense of it. Anyway. The second important dream in that setting was the one where I learned the demon factory is closed. Off the main room of the basement was the dark and scary boiler room, and through that was the little workroom. Dad had used it as a workshop and reloading room, then when he was out of the house Mom used it as an office. But in the demon-factory-closed dream it was mine, much larger, and totally empty. Unmarked pale blue-slightly-teal paint on the walls, and a rectangular hole in the floor. Through the hole I could see, might as well call it hell, but nothing down there was coming up and I didn't choose to reach through. Couldn't even think of a decent benediction. Which is neither here nor there.

So. No demon factory in my mental basement anymore. (At least that area of it, heh. I've been building that house in my mind before sleeptime lately, and there are other scary areas I've yet to master.) All to the good. And the main mental basement room can now serve as a lost and found for nice kittehs. Wonder what the kittehs represented, apart from perhaps being invisible creatures. Songs? Projects? Beliefs?

I've been leaning towards thinking of them as songs. Mostly because I've got my lack of songs on the brain. I imagine all these songs crowding around me, mewling to be written, and me somehow not able to carry them back with me and give them a home.

Maddening.

2 comments:

Guitar Chords & Songs said...

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Fiat Lex said...

If this one's not a spam, I'll eat my hat. (My new hat, that is, not the one I lost.) Which is a pity since I don't know how to use the minor pentatonic scale.

Stupid helpful spam.