This is not an informative blog regarding the hagfish. It is, instead, an autobiographical work by me, Ann Murray. I am not a fish. Sorry. This in one form or other, is the story of my mishaps, and also, some of my haps. Fair and Balanced and all that.



Monday, December 27, 2004

For Rivi - With My Heart Full of Hope

By one count, 22,000 are dead, by another, 23,700. Nature's fist slamming down on the earth, making a massive display of a point that will be lost in the shuffle of petty concerns, greedy enterprise, political wrangling and meanness.

We will memorialize September 11th, 2001 until we as a people, are so tired of the words, we will finally tune it out.

For this extraordinary display of power we have only tasted slightly through the hurricane season, we will have instant amnesia as long as our lives are not directly affected. What an infantile nation, full of self-indulgent children who don't want to learn any lessons from what life brings us.

When the towers fell, I had the thought that one slap from the planet could take entire countries out with a single event. And it has nearly done so.

Will we learn anything from this might, which in the eye of a rational beholder, reduces humanity to the importance of dust? Isn't it time to begin the long journey toward adulthood and perspective? Isn't it time for us to be a little bit kinder, a little less interfering with the happiness of others?

I have a friend whose family is in Sri Lanka, another whose family is in Malaysia. What can I say to these people? So much grief may await me in my mailbox one day in the near future. What consolation can be offered? This from only two friends, two individuals. Think of the hundred thousand lives that will have been so badly torn and damaged, and add a potent quantity of grief.

This is the world. America is not the world. It is merely a fortunate place.

We should be in mourning for the losses of others, but I doubt many of us will do that. It's far away, and we are safe...we think. We will turn to a TV station that amuses us, and we will still hate blacks, and gays, and whoever else has the nerve to disagree with our politics or religious views. Not one iota of open heartedness will result from watching a genuine tragedy of unthinkable immensity as it continues to unfold, hour by hour, day by day.

We will fight insane wars for the purpose of financial gain, we will call strangers enemies, and we will kill them. We will keep on keeping on.

Meanwhile, nature settles into a quiet phase, and builds up it's rage for the next time. Is it trying to teach us something? Ask yourself that question. I do.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Path - Dedicated to Ara

I do understand.

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Blind Love - Tom Waits

Blind Love

Now you're gone, and it's hotels and whiskey and sad-luck dames
And I don't care if they miss me, I never remember their names
They say if you get far enough away, you'll be on your way back home
Well, I'm at the station, and I can't get on the train

Must be blind love, only kind of love is stone blind love
Blind love, the only kind of love is stone blind love
With your blind love, oh it's blind love, stone blind love
It's your stone blind love

Now the street's turning blue, the dogs are barking and the night has come
And there's tears that are falling from your blue eyes now
I wonder where you are and I whisper your name
The only way to find you is if I close my eyes

I'll find you with my blind love, the only kind of love is stone blind love
The only kind of love is stone blind love
The only kind of love is stone blind love
With your blind love, oh your blind love, your stone blind love

It's your blind love, the only kind of love is stone blind love
Stone blind love, the only kind of love is stone blind love
With your blind love, the only kind of love is stone blind love
Stone blind love, stone blind love

Were it not for blind love, some might never be loved at all. Is it because they are unlovable? Or because they are unseen, kept safely invisible to those who only see what they recognize as being proper to love? An eternal question in the game of life.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Razor

She has a black razor, a gift from a Prince who stands high in her estimation. The Prince arrived long ago, in the dead of night, bearing the gift. He laid it upon a small marble-topped table in her living room. He said little, since the gift was so laden with implications one might derive from past experience, or from dreams, or sometimes, from terrible realities.

Each morning she stands looking at it before starting the day. It is always close to her in thought, as though there were links of fine chain connecting them.

The black razor is mysterious. It speaks it's own language. It tells tales of nightmare landscapes, and of flying on wings that sprout from the shoulders of some who drink a secret potion, unafraid of the result. It speaks of escapes that are accomplished not by going outward, but going inward instead. Interior magic is heavy, dense and powerful. Its potency can not be diluted by exterior sound and fury.

She loves the black razor with a peculiar intellectual twist. The flame is not dampened by this, but fueled instead.

She is perverse.

At times, just after nightfall, she kisses the blade, imbuing it with her spirit, and breathes upon it, leaving a film resembling smoke. When it clears, the eyes of another look out at her.


She loves the long sleek lines of it, and finds a deep, almost erotic pleasure in pressing the flat of the blade to her cheek, feeling it's cool surface warm to her own temperature. It becomes a part of her. Ever dangerous, ever mesmerizing, never sheathed.

It is the constant reminder of life as it might trickle away through a cut across a vein.

Or, of a close elegant shave, leaving a sensuous silken surface behind.

On certain nights, she is awakened by the presence of the moon. It sits squarely centered in the window.

There was a fine crescent moon in a dark sky. It was the colour of ivory. Small clouds moved slowly across it. It was the magic vehicle of witchery, which enables peculiar loves to fly toward each other soundlessly. Speaking in ancient tongues too arcane for others to know, thoughts are exchanged.

The palm of her hand promises either genius or madness. Is there a difference between them?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hagfish straight up... water, no ice, no twist. First person singular. No artifice.

Time to talk. My house. I do the talking.

Link Policy: Links from this site exist because I have found some merit in the places they lead to. The meritorious are things perceived as funny; profound; poetic; of intriguing content not necessarily understood by me, but recognized as good stuff; brilliant minds reflected; fine photography; great graphics-non photographic-as in fractals etc; or the deep and tortured-which I am qualified to recognize. This is the spice that gives me life without terminal ennui.

I do not like stupidity, self-congratulatory puffery, reliance on dumb sleaze and/or profanity to attract/keep an audience, or hearing about the new pink sweater someone just bought. I will not link to these sites. I cannot promise you the links I have will lead you to Wonderland, in fact, some of them might just lead you into hell. One man's Hell is another man's sweet spot.

I do not suffer fools well. It is my hope, that I don't send you to the house of a fool. All of life is subjective. So is taste.

If a site I've linked to starts to bore me, I will delete it. A piece of advice--if you use a link from this page, bookmark it for yourself. My level of tolerance may be different from yours. This advice is given as a courtesy.

Reciprocal links are appreciated, but not required.

Anonymous Comments: While your input is appreciated because it shows you've taken an interest in my work, there is something sorely lacking. It is personalization. A name would be the acceptably polite thing to attach. A first name would do nicely. (Not looking for the strawberry birthmark here.)

Content: Please bear in mind that I am a writer first and foremost. No writer worth his or her salt will deliberately bore the reader. Embroidery makes the cloth more interesting. I have the intention of doing that. If I fail you...what can I say? Nada. If you want meat and potatoes I suggest a cooking site. They can be loads of fun and full of horny innuendo too.

Here you get nepenthe, hemlock, sensuality, the occasional aphrodesiac, sarcasm, and sometimes, stiletto sharp nastiness..maybe like today. Plus, horny innuendo. In the mood for "lite"? A word I hate incidentally--trip on over to Hagfish Lite, a name chosen in sarcasm. Stupid (but not always stupid) humor is another facet.

It is appreciated that some of you would like to advise me. If I show distress and angst, it is part of the process of my life. Please understand, you do not know me. You don't know anything about me.

You only know of me, that which I choose to tell you. Take it with as many grains of salt as you need or wish. Above all, don't let me bring you down.

This is a book, slow in the crafting. It will never be published anywhere but here. You are in a gondola, lying back on the cushions. I am the gondolier and the storyteller.

Sometimes I weave, sometimes I spin. There is always a center of truth in what I tell you, but whether the truth is mine or not, is only for me to know. Your perception may be based on your own imagination, not mine.

Storytellers carry you away on their breath. If you open your eyes and look down to realize only a breath is holding you, you might fall on your head. You wouldn't want that, would you? Drift, I won't land you someplace unfriendly. Maybe.

New Places: It is with pleasure that I introduce you to some new places I've found. Starting at the top -
World Through My Eyes
This is some of the most beautiful photography I've seen . The photographer is sensitive, but also very much aware of line. A combination of inherent mathematical consciousness, and soul-beauty. Visit. You won't be disappointed.

In alphabetical minds to explore.

Within the layers of this place, if you look carefully, you will see struggle, honesty, intelligence, striving, nobility, sorrow.... One human being making the best of some of the hardest days. A musician, a writer, a worker...a man self-described as, "a wormfood man applying unaccepted philosophy to this crapshoot called life - or something." Walk gently here with good intention. You may come away humbled. You won't be the same, as you leave, closing the door softly behind you. Remember...there are layers. You must seek.

The Vault of Buncheness
Oh my, how I love this guy. This is a man one would find described as killingly funny. The description would be true. And he's a food maven. Better yet. He's irreverent, so smart he makes my toes curl, because I'm an intelligence junkie, and he's living in my old home town, well...almost. Close enough for me to smell the "dirty hot-dog man" wagons. And I can hear the screech of the subway.... He would ask why I wanted to hear that. I would tell him, try this place for a while, friend.

Friday, November 05, 2004

To the invisible man, C. W.

You did not enter my life. I entered yours. You are twenty-five years old, and you are almost as cynical as I am. Almost as cynical as S. J. Almost, only because it takes time to perfect that patina which is a sign of longevity.

I sniff at you, and the scent is too familiar to walk away from. You remind me of someone I love. You are beautiful and frightening in your reality. You are terrible in your reality. You cause me to cringe in your reality. Your reality is a honed razor poised at the jugular.

I have maintained for many years that I do not fear death, only the means through which I achieve it. Am I lying to myself? I believe death is the surcease of all pain, and that it brings with it absolute termination of consciousness. The burning...heh...fizzling question that floats ectoplasm-like through my atmospheres is I fear obliteration?

Answer: No.

Reason: Obliteration ends comprehension. Comprehension is required to allow fear to exist.

And you? You speak of dying. Do you fear it? I do not think you fear it. Not at the intellectual level. Perhaps at the cultural level you might. But you are intellectual first.

You hold life in a death grip. You continue to breathe in, breathe out, even on the worst days.

Through words, you are immensely powerful and provocative.

My greedy indulgent side says, stay, live, write more. I am already addicted to the recounting of your harsh life, and your contradictory self that speaks a million languages.

Live. Who am I to request that?

I said you remind me of someone I love. He is a tree filled with dark flowers. I hunger for the blossoms he sheds, that fall upon this strange virtual paper, and leave their indelible mark and scent on my life. And you are like him. You both tell true and naked horror stories.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Yellow Moon

Yellow moon like butter
Sitting on a dark plate.
Warm moon says love
Who ever pleases you,
And even some that don't
But love, because I am
Followed by cold skies
Distant and unattainable,
And you are a distressed
Bitch goddess who needs
A little softening up, like
Butter on a dark plate
Resting beside the sun.

Monday, November 01, 2004


High-tension-wire days and nights. Sleep is more fitful than ever and silence seems an odd course to take, but it is taken. Against whom or what, to protect whom or what?


If we are silent we do not inflict too many deep wounds, only the wound of silence itself. If we practice silence, we inflict the wound upon ourselves also, and so it goes, round and round.

The moon hangs in clear skies, and the same moon covers all the silent ones with the same light. Is this communion? Is this the kiss in the dark?

A breath is caught in the cold of night, hangs as visible mist, then is gone. An exhalation that says the word "sigh", but if there is no one to hear it, did it really happen?

When the eyes are closed, darkness covers all things except reality.

She kisses the arch of a certain distant foot. Not in humility, for she is never humble, unless it's part of the worst game in town.

She displays the palm of her hand.

Evening Descends Over Hanover, PA

Click photo to enlarge.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Dream Tigers

Dream Tigers

The Dream Tigers came again last night.
They breathed on my face, taking my air away.

Their feet are so huge, they never sink
into the featherbed.

Some nights I don't know they're there,
but on the nights when they feel hungry
they nibble at my fingers, swallowing
the tips like cherries. I can't ignore them then.

I smell them when the air is heavy with fog or mist,
and I try to lie so still they'll pass me by as they
prowl, searching for something new to eat.

My cherry fingertips grow back. The Dream Tigers
know this, timing their voracious night walks to
coincide with a fresh crop. I tried sleeping in a tree,
but they climbed better than I, and knocked me to the
ground to teach me a lesson. They reminded me then
of my evil stepmother, who beat me black and blue,
but never where it showed.

The Dream Tigers know the cherry tips of my fingers
are ignored by others, and laugh at me for caring
so much whether I can push a button to light the room;
or write a letter asking to be rescued from them.
They know they are supreme in the Land of Night,
where Anything can happen, and sometimes does.

I want to run away from the Dream Tigers, but
they're faster than I am, and I fear that if I annoy
them too much, they'll eat my legs instead, and I'll
be there, smelling them, and listening to them
rumbling as their appetites sharpen, finally eating
until I never grow back again.

A. Murray
Based on a dream told to me by Richard Sellers.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Autumn Sunday

Sunday. A day that has always carried with it enforced rest, in the back of her mind.

And what's worse, it's autumn, the least enjoyed season, and the most challenging when it comes to skirting deep winter induced depression.

Everything that could happen in the way of bad events seems to happen in the fall of the year. The word, fall, itself, conjures up grim memories of bygone days and hours. It was in the fall that she fell, never to walk properly again, and it was in the fall the forced separation from her mother when she was seven years old took place, leaving a bitter segment behind itself that never sweetened with time, and it was in the fall she'd made hard decisions concerning other lives that depended on wisdom she was unsure of, and on and on...

The sun shines with a defiant brilliance, while swarms of birds shriek and complain of the upcoming trip south. They are everywhere, cacophonous and repellent. Starlings, the accidental natives, with little to commend them as birds go, perch in the trees all around her home. They make it impossible to ignore the cold northern air that has settled over the region. They are the harbingers of discomfort.

They fall silent as suddenly as they had begun the discussion of flight plans. It is eerily quiet, save for the music coming from the living room. From the same window through which she watched the disappearance of the blue and white umbrella, she sees the flight resume. A mass exodus.

When the geese begin their journey to a more amenable clime, the vision of their chevron flight which invokes poetry so easily in many, strikes her with great deep sadness, while at the same time, thrilling her with it's perfection, and more so when they break ranks and engage in a chaos of design.

Their cries across evening skies that are often shot through with outrageous sunset colors lining charcoal clouds, say less of abandonment than invitation to come along.

Come…fly with us, we know the way to escape from this, and as you like us, we like you. Come be with us. You will be one of us; you will be a kindred soul among us. We will alight near friendly waters, and we will coast on the winds, and warm air will caress us into a sense of continuity, and safety.

But she has no wings.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Plume

He was standing on the corner, just strumming his guitar….

That was the first time she saw him, but she was too involved in buying a feather to pay attention to a skinny raggedy man, playing for dimes and quarters, while the reality was nickels and pennies…and not too far you can get on that.

It was weeks later that they crossed again, she with a bruised face, maybe a broken nose and a fifty in her pocket. The air was damp from the night and the river, and she was beyond caring. She came toward him like a moth approaches flame, full of wondering what the hell it is, and unable to decipher any answer at all, and equally unable to break the hold of the light. It was the music.

The john had grudgingly given her the fifty after she'd gotten shrill and loud about the sum since she normally got a hundred…he had been unceremoniously brutal, slapping her repeatedly across the face while he stroked his cock. She figured it came to two dollars a slap. Deduct the cost of the torn jacket and the panty hose, and she was in the red, with no prospects until the bruises healed.

When she'd started the shrill complaint about the money, he grabbed her by the arm and swung her toward the stairs, letting her go flying so she rode down them on her back. The jacket just one more casualty, having caught on a protruding nail when she brushed against the wall as she slid.

And now she was standing in front of a loser without a hope or a dollar bill. The music was soft, as if it was being played for the musician only, and she was being allowed to eavesdrop on a private conversation. She reached into her pocket, and fished out the fifty. Blood money. She dropped it into the case at his feet. He finally looked up at her. He was smoking a joint, and offered her a hit. She took a drag, sucked it in, holding the smoke deep in her lungs, while staring out across the street…still disconnected.

He waved the joint away when she passed it back to him, bent over the case, laid the guitar in it, paying no attention to the fifty, clicked the locks on the lid and stood, all in one motion. He offered her his arm, and said, "where to?"

As they reached the second floor of the apartment building, he grew aware of the tapping of her stiletto heels on the small black and white tiles of the floor…the way she seemed to be a beaten drum in an echo chamber. Just before the third floor he stopped her on the stairs. Standing behind her, looking at the torn nylon encasing her legs streaked with blood, he reached down and took one of her shoes off, held her foot so she was standing there like a crane, and placed a kiss in the hollow of the arch.

On the fifth floor, she turned to a door, took the keys from her purse, and walked into the apartment, without looking back at him. She heard the click of the lock, and the security chain slide into place. He was a quiet walker, and she felt him behind her before he spoke, asking if he might take a shower.

He came into the kitchen naked and un self-conscious, seating himself in front of one of the plates full of eggs and potatoes. They ate in silence, and didn't look up at each other until he finally raised his eyes, assessing the damage. All he said was, 'better put some ice on that."

After a while she rose from the table, and took his hand, leading him to the bedroom. He lay down on his belly, stretched so long and thin, like a white stripe on the red sheet. He heard her in the bathroom running the water, and he thought he caught the sound of a muffled sob…a woman crying into her bath towel…classic scenario.

He was half-asleep when she came back, and stood beside the bed. She carried a long ostrich plume, soft as a cloud. She ran it slowly down the length of his body. Over and over she slid the plume down his back from neck to feet in one direction. He slept.

Somewhere around three in the morning he came out to the living room with a towel wrapped around his waist. He reached toward her and said, "you'd best come to bed now, it's late." She followed him, and folded herself down beside him.

In the morning, she wakened to the scent of his skin, and his long warm arm laid across her like a shield.

Years later, after his songs had begun to sell, he bought her a fur jacket, and a pair of silk stockings.

For S.J.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Falling Away

She thought about the falling away process. She recognized it came in clusters. Several people close to her, all dying within a short time, several friends leaving her sphere at the same time, whether they were acquainted with each other or not. It left a strange veil of cold over her to think about it.

Things are presaged by dreams in her life. Some so distorted, she only recognizes them by a remote similarity of color or design in a waking incident, and often put this down as déjà vu, until memory forces itself upon the conscious mind.

The other dreams though, are starkly real, They play themselves out in the conscious and aware mind with a jolting adherence to fidelity. Those dreams give her a sense of having lived too long in the present time warp, and a desire to escape through a small opening, if she could find it. The truth of it all is that searching for the entry/exit of a particular time is futile. Time wraps itself around some, and force-feeds events into their lives no matter how valiant their attempts to escape might be.

She pulls her wrap closer around herself, staving off the chill of knowing too much at times. The affliction is coveted by the uninitiated, who imagine it as a magic carpet ride...this ability to understand.

There were times she tried to tell them what it was like, but it was a waste of breath to explain how it felt to recognize the horror of phantom pain in a limb severed in an accident, or to know the emptiness of the bed of the widow, or the hunger for a gentle touch the leper lives with, even as the flesh loses it's capacity to receive sensations.

Or how it is to feel the fear of the cancer victim, waiting, terrified of death, knowing his kiss will come. Or of how she sees the deadened eyes of the newly hopeless, recognizing the echo of the moment before the heart ceased looking for a solution.

The chill passes over her again. She knows it comes from within. The room is quite warm. She calls it by its name. It does not leave, but dogs her steps as she crosses the room, lifts the dark green watering can, and gives continued life to the hanging plant.

Later, as she leans back in a chair not designed for lounging, she sees a spider making it's way across the ceiling, and wonders, if it fell onto her tongue, what it would taste like.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Slip-Sliding Through a Mad Mind

Oh, how I wish you were close by, so that I could sit with you, talk with you, letting it all spill out like suspicious fruit from a dangerous cornucopia, telling you my strange not so strange ideas of grand conspiracies that will bring down the world.

I would talk on and on perhaps concurrently exhausting you and your patience with me.

I do know you love your silences, the absence of other humans in the same room, your ritual solitude. I love these things myself, but for me, too much of a good thing can be poison, and I may settle for the wrong companions in a moment of weak loneliness, or jump from a high place.

What if I was to allow the words to escape the chamber of my mind where they are safely locked away, and one of them heard me? You see? You see? How close I get to the breaking point….

And I fear you’d turn away from me in disgust because I talk too much. You would say, "listen to this, have you ever heard of this band?" as you put on a loud piece of music whose appeal escapes me, and I blurt out, "got any Satie?" and ruin it all.

Oh, and I think of our writing. Yours is careful and under control. You know just where to put the punctuation marks…oh, god, it does make me wish I’d been a scholar instead of a dreamer in school. All those little rules utterly escape me and you know all of them. I feel in awe of this.

I have a crazy indifference to sounding sane sometimes when it’s flying forth, and don’t care how it comes out. You, on the other hand, construct. I spew like a fountain, or a girl caught unawares by a friend telling a joke, when she has a mouthful of soda pop.

You build.

When you tell me about something you’ve read, you’ve understood every word on the page. You’ve given it deep thought. I pluck data haphazardly from inelegant sources, the Internet, tabloids and pulp fiction, often imagining I know the meaning of it all. Your comprehension puts mine to shame, I sadly confess to you here. You are the intellectual; I merely act the part.

"All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances; each man in his time plays many parts."

Oh, I could sit at your feet staring up at you like an adoring hound, and learn so much, with an air of innocence disguising my abysmal ignorance. But if you uncovered the sham, if you found me out…. I can imagine the cold withdrawal coming down over your face like a curtain that may fail to rise again. Oh dear. Oh dear.

Perhaps I should eat this little orange colored pill. Maybe I should wait.

But then, I still my yammering voice, my dismayed heart, and I remind myself of two things: First - While you might enjoy being a learned king for a while, the crown would weigh on your head eventually, and the job would become onerous. You’d want to toss it off, and start to laugh. Second - We are friends. We love each other. And if you laughed it could be because I made you do it, and if you got too tired from it all, we’d just curl up on the floor and have a little siesta.

Like dogs.

There is nothing evil, or even strange afoot. The world is a wonderful place. Repeat one thousand times, and call me in the morning.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Blue and White Umbrella

They have been friends for so long, they're like an old married couple, except that there's a certain tension she feels when they're together which he doesn't feel. This is a major inequity between them as she sees things. She sees too many things.

At a terrible juncture in his life, he lost nearly everything solid; his home, his son to a different family, a lot of money, business, self-esteem, confidence, and whatever else could be lost by one person. There was finally nowhere to go.

Knowing that being under the same roof would kill them, she still told him to come share her nest. It was that or almost the street, and she couldn't bear it. Because that's what friends do for each other. They stick.

So he came with bag and baggage, and in the very beginning it was possible that it could work out without too much hell to pay. But the very beginning lasted a brief time, an almost instant spontaneous combustion of good manners and consideration took place.

She felt the nest to be under attack. She ousted the newfound enemy that lay beneath the surface of her friend, unseen for almost twenty years. It was hard to decide which was worse, to finally know him too well, or to realize she had been friends with a stranger for so long. She gave it deep thought. And concluded little.

As the warm months slid by in too much rain and disappointment, her friend came to his conclusion though. It was time to move, and so he told her he was going somewhere worse. He was running blind.

On a storm beaten day, with rains threatening flash flooding, and enough dreary sky to reflect sadness that might have slept through it otherwise, he came to see her, and to collect some belongings he'd left with her.

He went back and forth, filling the car in the down pouring of sky water, carrying a big blue and white umbrella, his feet squishing in the saturated earth. When the work was done, they sat together in the kitchen, talking as though it was any day, in any week, in any month, in any year of their long time. They were so casual, a stranger would immediately know something was wrong if he happened upon them. They acted the way people do at funerals sometimes, as though burying a beloved were something they did every day.

He rose to leave. They said casual good-byes...see you later, drive carefully.... At the door though, when he was half out and still half in, he stopped, put himself in reverse, and stood before her, bent to her and embraced her. She kissed his neck and smelled his cologne, one of her favorites. He half laughed, and remarked on it, then drew himself upright. She saw his eyes with threatening tears, the whites reddened and saying so much.

Then he turned, and once again the casual good-byes....

She watched the top of his umbrella passing the small kitchen window, then, looking through the exposed full-length window of the front room, she saw the umbrella still moving along, this time in full view, completely hiding him as though he were already gone, and she wondered if she would ever see him again, or would her final memory of him be the blue and white stripes disappearing around the corner.

She was composed as she sat there, but soon enough the distress signal reached the heart, and she wanted to fall on her knees, rend her garments, throw ashes on her head, and wail in great lamentation.

Love knows no boundaries. It does not carry a card of identity that tells you, this love is for children, and this love is for marriage, and this one is for your parents, and this for friends. It is simply love, and it can break any heart in the world.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

In Pennies or Gold Dollars?

Where shall I spend my heart, and how much of it? Shall it be on a prince across the mountains, or on a stray dog, or perhaps a goldfish?

Shall I spend it in pennies or gold dollars? Shall I bankrupt myself, or be cautious, conserving so that I might live a little longer in less poverty?

The unanswerable question rises and falls like a dangerous tide coming in during dark hours. Autumn has been announced. It is official; whether it pretends to be summer still, or turns on us like a savage wind shaking the soul as it does the dry leaves on the maple or oak.

Nature tells us we will need extra warmth now. We do not grow a winter coat over the summer months; we need a source of heat, but is that passion? Is passion a shelter against the inevitable blizzard snows that choke places into silent submission...?

Oh, for the reassuring carpet of violets to be spread before me again outside the window, the violet lawn of spring that tells me no decision need be made on the issue of spending that which is so unused and perhaps of lessened value since the shine is off the coin, as the bloom is off the rose.

Now the wind is up, and I hear the restless shurring sound of leaves considering whether to stay through the night, or to fall gracefully when there are no witnesses. There's a chill in the late air, and a certain restless quality to sleep that bespeaks the fact of need. And I needs must check my bank balance one day soon, and reach a conclusion.

But then, there's Indian Summer yet to come, and I will buy me some time with that I think.

There are omens:

Posted by Hello

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What's In A Name?

Thinking about men in general inevitably led her to think of all the men in her life. Too many men; too many boys costumed as men, and men, conversely, costumed as boys.

There were men who were women at heart, and men who prized their testosterone above all else, who would have drunk it at breakfast instead of coffee if it were possible. These were her least favorite ones. Bunk, bulk, and bullshit, was how she thought of them.

The favored men were the softer ones who had intelligence, and sensitivity, who never stepped on her toes because she was female, and they could have. She was kind toward them; listening to their tales, troubles, and dreams. They were the men she smoked grass with, while they talked and played music on the stereo that carried her far away and sometimes into bed with them.

Making love with close friends was taboo. Nothing could wreck a friendship faster than the one eyed mouse visiting the forbidden chamber.

The tumble might be fine, even extravagantly good in fact, but the morning after found them awkward, as though something more should happen now, or more awkwardly, that not only should the night before never have happened, but no other night, afternoon, morning, and all that might lie in between those time slots, should ever happen again.

Paranoia. The horror of expected expectations on the part of one or the other. A realization that this was one the other could never fall in love with "that way". "That way", being, a visit to an altar one day down the line, or at least, an introduction to Mummy Dearest at some point.

Enduring such a visit would have been tantamount to getting dragged home like a slightly disreputable pedigree-free stray mutt that had been found by the roadside, cleaned up a bit and brought to the family fold for feeding.

A loss of friendship that had some merit, because of capitulation to a whim, a twinge in the nether regions, and a hit on the peaceful pipe was a grim thought. She knew this from experience. She should never have slept with Italian Joey. After she slept with him, he was terrified of her, and she never got to wear his cap, which she loved, ever again.

Sex with friendly acquaintances? Oh, by all means! A good way to get nicely tussled, with the distinct possibility of falling in infatuation, or lust, or both. A fine summer diversion or, a nice capper to the holiday season when letdown is likely to bring one down. What better antidote to the blues, than a healthy toss in the hay? So good for the complexion too.

So, she thought of the men that had crossed the threshold, sometimes thinking with a distinctly jaundiced attitude. For example, why did so many men name their penises? And why such inane names? If you're going to tag the thing, do it with style! But no...they'd stand there wagging it coyly at her, saying something like, "look Junior, there's a nice_____ (fill in the blank) for you", or words to that effect. (OR worse. There are no limits to cutesy in the human race. Unfortunately.)

"Junior". And the perfect retort. If this is "Junior", does that make you "Mister Dickhead" then?
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Sunday, September 19, 2004

She dreamed in color.

She dreamed in color. Many don't. The recall of the dreams had always been accepted as normal until she read in some learned tome that it was in fact, not so. This set her apart from the herd on yet another count. She thought that was a nice idea.

The dreams, more than a little laden with peculiar scenes...brought on the sense of colliding with Hironymous Bosch in the land of nod.

War always brought images of intensity and doom, leaving her tired at the break of dawn. The pink pearl light of the sky did little to dispel the sense she was still caught in the clutch of a Svengali who instilled these visions in her because it amused him.

They served no purpose.

As a child it was commonplace to dream of her mother. One dream was of her mother being killed by an atomic bomb.

She awakened one morning to find her mother gone. She was very young, and struggled with her clothes, unaccustomed to dressing without help; a tug on a strap of her overalls that slipped her shoulder, or being supplied with a pair of socks so there was no need to climb on a chair to reach the drawer. The absence of the friendly hand brushing her hair, and fastening a barrette to keep it out of her eyes....

She prepared herself purposefully, and making sure to lock the door behind her with the key that hung on a pink ribbon around her neck, she headed for the cellar.

Pulling open the heavy door, she felt the unease that the cellar always evoked, but went down the stairs regardless of it. There her mother lay, perfect in death, on the floor in her underwear. It seemed very strange. She appeared to be sleeping.

With that deep sense of dread strangulating her, she squatted down and shook her mother. She knew there was no hope of awakening her. The atom bomb definitely killed anyone who got hit by it.

She began to cry, soon becoming so full of loss that she screamed like a wounded animal, choking on mucous and hysteria, gasping for air as the sound of her voice twisted, turned, and echoed through the labyrinthine catacomb maze of the cellar that bound together the buildings of the housing project where they lived.

Ah, she was suffocating from grief. The loss of love, so acute, so infinite, so devastating.... Oh, and the fear of the next bomb, as she crouched there trying to hear if there were sirens wailing, but the sound was her own keening.

And then the voice from far away..."what's the matter dear, what is it, did you have a dream?"

Oh, those sea colored, beloved eyes, so full of concern, was there ever anything so precious as that moment of her short sharp life? That good kind hand pushing back the copper colored hair from her wet, flushed face.

Would that she could place a kiss on that hand just one more time, so many years later....

Click image to enlarge.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Some things have no name.

The seer is supine upon her sofa, eating chocolates. She especially likes the ones with a cherry inside.

In a ritual full of sexual undertones, she bites through the top, sucks slowly at the liquid center, finally eating the candied cherry, then the gutted chocolate shell. Afterward, she licks her fingers, and reaches for another, as she reads a crime filled pulp novel.

Her numerous, sometimes discordant with each other pleasures are: chocolate covered cherries, barbed remarks, fiendish gossip, Puccini's operas, filthy French post cards, pulp fiction full of criminals, but notable for an absence of romance, sexual and/or mayhem glutted fantasies spun out while she lounges in her bathtub filled with bubbles and scented green waters of peculiar origin, arguments with the cat over whom she towers in height though not in intelligence, casting spells (which rarely work properly), being idle, seerhood, having tea and a bagel for breakfast, and falling in love.

Though not necessarily in that order.


The princess paces the corridors of the castle in a state of agitation. She has heard the voice of the king whispering of conspiracies; promising the guillotine to those who betray.

She had spoken too long in the night to her lover, who stood outside her window with a lute, serenading her as he caught the words she said in a tiny basket attached at his waist by a fine silver chain.


The cartomancer sits in her darkened room, thinking. It has been a quiet day with no distressed foolish young things, looking for signs of love that will eventually torture them, in the spread of her cards.

The princess hasn’t been seen in quite a while, and there is talk of blood spilling across rough dungeon floors. And more guarded talk, of great lamentations emanating from the King’s private chambers, but no word on whose voice it is that does the crying out.

The cartomancer reaches for her glass of absinthe and sips at it, her glance moving across the room until it meets with the eye sockets of the skull staring back at her from the bookshelf.

Now, what was his name?


The anaconda of words is present. No one ever promised you anything else.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Full Moon Night

New York City
This was taken along Eighth Avenue from a
bus window on my way home from the work.

The art was done with the permission of city
officials who figured it would be done one
way or the other, so why not legitimatize it?
Click image to enlarge.
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Saturday, September 11, 2004

Woman in Terminal-Staten Island Ferry 1977

I saw this woman frequently in the terminal of the Staten Island Ferry. I believe she was homeless. If not homeless, then terribly down on her luck. I felt bad in a sense, taking her picture. I was invading her privacy. But the desperate have been an obsession with me since I was sixteen years old. I think she was a desperate person, as I define them.
Click image to enlarge.
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Friday, September 10, 2004

The quiescent moth suddenly spreads its wings...

The quiescent moth suddenly spreads its wings as it rests on the windowpane. The design it creates would be loved by my friend R. who would stare at it with reverence were he here. In homage to my friend and the moth, I will stare at it in reverence, for its symmetry is almost a fearful thing to behold in its perfection, and we are but chunks of flawed humanity.

When folded, the moth is near invisible, attracting no more attention than a burnt match would in a filled ashtray.


Perspective is everything, or so my father, the artist, told me. Others, older ladies for instance, declared, "position is everything". Each believed they were right.

Signs of competence in a male sometimes poetically and erotically awakened her. This was caused perhaps, by the fact her mother alone had raised her. The male of the species became mysterious by default. In the eyes of other females she was an absurd woman, placing far too much romantic expectation on the shoulders of men, whom the other women knew to be clods and dunder-headed idiots most of the time.

She was an oddly perverse and often dreamy type who seldom dared to give voice to her fantasies regarding anything. She harbored within, a secret desire never spoken to a lover, to be bound at the wrists occasionally with red silk scarves, and now and again, spanked lightly during sex.


There are many opportunities lost in the course a lifetime.


All that sashaying about in rustling taffeta gone to waste. But then, she was too young at the time to recognize the extraordinary value of seduction through lowered eyes, restless whispering fabrics worn with the face of innocence, and vaguely smoke scented floral colognes.

Of course she learned eventually, but by then, taffeta had gone out of style, and flirtation was a game played for keeps, often with bad results.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The only thing worse...

NOTE: This series has been rearranged to read consecutively.
The only thing worse than being too well understood, is recognizing unequivocally you are undesired.

One might become known for being undesirable, but there is another thing, possibly even worse, to be known for.

It is the ownership of a Litany of Complaint.

Being undesired (therefore, obviously undesirable, in our own eyes...this is called the double whammy) is often a fleeting stage of life, altered eventually by the motion of the stars, or sometimes a new deodorant.

The Litany of Complaint has staying power, and resists nearly everything designed to render it gone.

I have a grand Litany of Complaint.

Many people avoid me because I am capable of reciting from it at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of one of those repulsive baseball caps nearly everyone has adopted.

The only legitimate wearers of those ugly things are baseball players, and farmers. To all others, including the military, and the various departments of intimidation: Invent your own gear. You all look ugly in those caps.

Major chunks of population wander around dressed horrifically, joyfully adopting those absurd lids. They are absolutely lacking in dignity, and an insult to the wearer, since no one looks even reasonably attractive in them, whether they know it or not. Though judging from the styles of the times, it is safe to say that since reasonable taste and even moderate flair have flown the coop, they don’t know diddily.

The military has never been known for making a decent fashion statement, though you’d be hard-pressed to realize it since military costume is so relentlessly affected by so many these days.

There! You see? It’s like an anaconda of words. It will surround you and choke your life away. It has the ability to hold you in its grip merely because it’s hard to imagine that you were so stupid as to get caught by a madwoman with a Litany of Complaint in the first place.

You keep checking, through means of sidelong glances at a shop window reflection to see if indeed it did happen, but you don’t struggle against the grip, because your reflected image is indistinct (as such images are intended to be according to divine edict) and therefore untrustworthy.
So you’re never certain, you see.

That may be what happened to Sindbad.

In the course of dream dancing, I saw my neighbors who had both developed beaks where their mouths had been before. They each had their most precious possession in their beak. Their possessions were of a shoddy quality, and had nothing to commend them. This speaks loudly of the state of affairs all around.

A good dream is one you recall for all of your life.
My mother and I were sitting at the kitchen table in a house I knew to be ours, though I didn’t recognize it. I was telling her very urgently, that a man was coming to kill us. We tried to get away, but as we were rising from the table, I saw the man get out of a car. He walked casually up the path to the house. I watched him through the picture window. He saw me watching him. Our eyes met.

He was wearing a taupe gabardine overcoat. He had red hair. He was a large man, with a competent air about him. Casual but alert. Business-like.

I ran into the bathroom, and tried to lock the door. I heard gunshots from the kitchen, and knew my mother was dead. I stood there in the bathroom. My mind was racing. The door was still unlocked. Then there was no time to lock it. He opened the door, pointed the gun at me, and fired.
This dream is more than forty years old.

For a dream to be a good dream, it does not have to be pleasant.
I was told we never dream of being dead.

Who are the experts?

The only thing worse, cont'd.

Her hair flowed like a copper river coursing down her back. She was inclined toward twisted ankles, and spates of depression.


One day, after shopping relentlessly for clothes to take away on vacation, she lay on her bed, still wearing the black, gray, and white finely checked, perfectly circular taffeta skirt with the hem that measured nine yards around, which rustled seductively when she walked, as taffeta does. There was magic when she spun around and around like a dervish in front of a mirror, making the skirt stand straight out from her body, holding her in a ring of silver.

The pink organdy blouse she wore showed lace covered immature breasts through a haze of fabric, and her skin was pale, like milk. She was quite young.

The bathing suit she had bought was a firm and serious deep tone of aquamarine. It too rustled seductively. That was the year of taffeta.

Her new sunglasses had pale pink pearlized frames, and very dark lenses. She was mysterious behind them.

She lay on her bed with the new things spread all around her.

She wanted to be loved. She believed in love and was sure she would one day have some, like cookies along with the teacup filled with life she was drinking.


A storm came up suddenly. The room was gloomy and all the light went out of the swimsuit, the skirt, the painting above the bed….

The rain was torrential; a mid spring shower that soaked through the earth, and brought out that sharp smell of wet concrete she liked so much because she was a city girl. Wind battered the world.

Then it was over.
The doorknob rattled, causing a stopped heart, a withheld breath, and a clutch of that terror which makes adrenaline fly through the system. The knob turned infinite slow, and life seemed to be near the final moment. The door opened just a crack, slowly, slowly. The entire universe went about its business while her time stood still.
The crack widened only enough to admit the narrow form of the cat that had taught herself the art of breaking into places she’d been shut out of. With that cat triumph sound in her throat, and the greeting of erect tail quivering at the tip, she jumped onto the bed, and settled down amid the yards of taffeta, purring in her pleased accomplished cat way.

In the silent apartment, she made the only sound.
Sudden sun broke through the gray clouds, and it’s light was caught in hundreds of droplets of rainwater on the window panes, which in turn spilled onto the glass wind chimes hanging there, moving slightly in the draft. The room filled with flying prismatic diamonds. They were everywhere: on her skin, her skirt, the walls, the ceiling. This was to be one of the most beautiful moments of her long life.
She knew that even then.

The only thing worse...End

She lost her maidenhead. It fell into a box of conjurer's tricks, and was never seen again though all in the kingdom searched and searched for it.

A prize of gold was offered.

No one ever got rich that way.


In her early thirties; after love had walked away with a beautiful wealthy young woman, whose hair hung like a straight shining black river down her back, and whose skin was Oriental ivory in color, and whose triumph at the capture of her friend’s wild husband was unmistakable; a man named George, who loved her well, came by to commiserate, and to cut off her long hair.

The hair fell soundlessly in thick wavy coppery clusters onto the wood floor, while she waited in silence, not looking down, as instructed by George, who was wiser than many.


In the time it takes a glistening fish to leap from the water, arc gracefully, and plunge into the sea again, many terrible things can happen.

Or, a water lily can begin to open.

It’s the luck of the draw.

Algunas Bestias
(Some Beasts)
By Pablo Neruda
It was early twilight of the iguana.
From his rainbow-crested ridge
his tongue sank like a dart
into the verdant land,
the monastic ant-heap was melodiously
teeming in the undergrowth,
the guanaco, rarified as oxygen
up among the cloud-plains,
while the llama opened candid
wide eyes in the delicacy
of a world filled with dew.
The monkeys wove a thread
interminably erotic
along the banks of dawn,
demolishing walls of pollen
and causing the violet flight
of the butterflies from Muzo.
It was the night of the alligators,
pure and pullulating night
of snouts above the ooze
and from over the sleep-drenched bogs
a dull sound of armor
fell back upon the original earth.

The jaguar touches the leaves
with his phosphorescent absence,
the puma runs on the foliage
like all consuming flame
and in him burn
the alcoholic eyes of the jungle.
The badgers scratch the river's
feet, scenting out the nest
whose throbbing delight
they'll assail red-toothed.

And in the depths of great water
the giant anaconda lies
like the circle of the earth,
covered in ritual mud,
devouring and religious.
Beware the anaconda.
A. Murray—August 26, 2004