rhythm

da da dum

The air’s breathless, the space…motionless. Sun, pavement, and distant drums. Full-voiced percussion, like a jacked up truck, radio blasting. It’s a summer parade and the pressing crowd around me surrounds me. Would it look silly if I turn and run?

The drums. Yes…the drums. That joke about clowns? Okay, we get it. But who’s freaked out by drums?

They advance now…the drums…and the resonance closes in. Uneasiness ricochets about the hollow of my chest. Anomalous somatic energy, and a spastic, weirdly thready, response. Distressing spectrotemporal interdiction, riveting normal precious regulated cardiac rhythms.

Dissonance. Internal physical dissonance.

The sun’s beating down, and the drums…they’ve only arrived. It’s not déjà vu. But it’s happened before.

No one else feels that? Apparently not.

A discernable commanding hum echoes discomfort within me. A tug of war. A battle of nerves. A competition as old as humans…fight and flight or rest and digest. Or just some acoustic oddity, in which the encompassing rhythms of those pounding drums drown out the life-sustaining silent pulse of my seemingly absent heartbeat. I’m standing. The system must be working, right? It’s a minute, scarcely a minute. Can’t I stand and breathe, hold fast and breathe, one short minute, or can’t I hold my breath, and wait, patient, wait for them to pass?

The sun’s beating down, the clamor of flashy color surrounds me, and columns of noise and noise and noise approach, now, right in front of me.

The distressing crescendo. The tipping point. And then.

Then, the dazzling procession moves along, and a restorative transition falls into place, as it should, in a quiet, effortless, intuitive pattern.

Like the waning end of a thundering storm, the metrics of summer, a day in the sun, and the vanishing hum of distant drums.

Da da dum da dum da dum. Da da dum.

_____________________________

This is an odd piece I drafted a few years ago. I pull it out from time to time and play at it. It sounds fictional, but it describes a physical reaction I’ve experienced, yes, to drums.

reflections

Prince

It would be remiss to remember his words without remembering his image. Pearl buttons, ruffled collar, and head-to-toe fair weather clouds. An impish grin, big brown eyes, and a medley of style and spirit, working like a magnet to draw you in.

Ready?

One,
Two,
One, two, three, four.

Yeah.
Seems that I was busy doing something close to nothing
But different than the day before
.
That’s when I saw her, ooh, I saw her.
She walked in through the out door, out door.

She wore a raspberry beret.
The kind you find at a second hand store.

A video popped up for me the other day. It was an event honoring George Harrison. Prince and Tom Petty were among many musicians performing George’s song, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. What a great performance by Prince.

Prince…Tom Petty…George Harrison…John Prine…John Lennon…Janis Jopin…they weren’t all there, of course, but such great talents gone too soon.

Some of this is a re-post, more or less. You can’t help but remember Prince this time of year.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Image and lyrics from Raspberry Beret by Prince & The Revolution (1985).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

2022

patterns


The pasty smell of drywall and paint…tell-tale leftovers from the morning’s work.

Sheer curtains scarcely move at the open window, not enough to call it a flutter. And the afternoon sun floats columns of dark and light about the architecture of the panes and the surface of a half-drawn shade. Plaids, squares, rectangles.

The air works a gentle song from the chimes outside. A soft musical chant. I hear children down the street, and a distant car engine. Repetitious drumming, the tap, tap, tap, of a small animal.

There’s covid and war and the contradiction of what should feel normal in spring. Reactions feel confused and hollow. Optimistic/pessimistic/oppressive. Unworthy of a sunny beginning-of-spring afternoon.

2022

quiet

I dreamed there was an apparatus that could remove color from life. A device that could flip some switch to colorless. Like an unusual variety of color blind where everything goes black and white and gray. I felt the urgency of the dream. Not necessarily the craziness, but I felt the urgency.

In our dreams…in all our dreams, I suppose…everyday endeavors drag mentally. Our movements are ineffective, slow, tortuous. Navigation is near impossible. In this dream, I had some important assignment related to color. It required painting or coloring, and I stood challenged, facing a wooden color wheel and pondering the task at hand.

It was critical. Either I accomplish this task, or all sense of color would be gone. Luckily, dreams seem to end as haphazardly as they begin, and before the need for realization.

heavens

clouds

The picture of a cloudy day, unpretentious treetops, and a white expanse of nothing. A simple palette and few expectations.

Sometimes I look for heaven past the treetops.

I could shut my eyes and envision the divine among those dreamy colors that shine through the back of our eyelids. But I don’t.

I picture heaven somewhere far, far up past those treetops, and the stars and planets, and past a vast emptiness that’s not ours to see.

It’s a cloudy day. The browns are browner. The greens didn’t bother to shine.

winter

winds

High pressure meets low pressure, and we get loud howling winds. Fast-moving currents…not the ones that move miles aloft in the jet stream…I don’t think we’d hear those…but the noisy whistling winds that whip through our old favorite branches in the backyard.

Winter’s best sounds. One is just a whisper…the soft hiss of icy crystals falling on us from a dark, starless, snowy sky.

The other is a roar.

This is about the roar. A cold, noisy, winter night, and the roar. The howling winds that bend branches to the point of breaking. Those winds.

Me?

I’m inside.

I’m enclosed and surrounded by architecture, and busy with life. With heat, with electricity. There’s this and there’s that, and I’m hunkered down, as if I can ignore what’s going on out there, a hundred feet, two hundred feet above the rooftops. Still, there’s the hum that finds its way past the insulation of walls and windows, past the white noise of every appliance, inside, that cycles off and on.

It’s hardly exceptional. Barely a simple blink or nod, on an evening in the middle of winter.

But it’s not simple. It’s unexpectedly comforting.

Compelling?

It’s as if there’s something I’m missing this winter. The noise of the wind comes like a note to self, a reminder, of the icy cold that comes at the darkest, coldest, emptiest part of an eye-watering cold winter night…when my hands, my gloves, clutch a scarf and the top of my coat up close to my neck, and up over my mouth. It’s almost instinctual. We move to hold onto that little bit of warmth released every time we exhale. But the chill of the howling wind is shrill, strong, and indifferent. Try as I might, it takes my breath away.

That’s comforting? Yes, it is.

winter

wintering

There’s a drag that comes from lack of sunlight. That’s for real, and the lure of sleeping in on a winter morning is a real temptation.

I’m not a morning person. We know who we are. Years ago, I was in a carpool with a woman who was a morning person. I’m not sure she ever stopped talking for the entire ride into work. It worked out fine. She didn’t seem to mind that no one responded. Other than her and the driver, everyone else in the car was asleep.

This is how it works with me. I open my eyes, and even before the sleep fog clears, a whole litany of unwelcome thoughts line up for attention. Really…can’t I just get some coffee or OJ?

The thought that wakes us at 3 am feels like a heart-thumping immediate crisis. What if there’s a new killer COVID variant? At 8 am, it’s not quite as dramatic, more like a mental listing of every conceivable worry and bad outcome I might need to deal with that day, or anytime in the next six months, or the next six years.

So how does this relate to winter? In the winter, I wake and the sun’s shining through the shades, or it’s not, and either way it’s something to be happy about. Well, maybe not happy, but relieved. It’s something like the winter clause. I have good reason, loosely based on science or nature, to postpone, to hesitate, or to give in. To succumb, to hold back, put off, delay, and dispense, everything I don’t want to deal with, in effect and with great affection, on the pretext that it’s winter.

winter

january

January’s a fresh start. It’s also a cold, unembellished, minimalist reality.

Branches stretch tall in a cold winter sky. The way they’ve always done. Like some fabulously strong declaratory sentence.  

Sometimes those trees come down. I’ve seen them come down, and that’s a sad day. But when I look out, I see strength. The ancient strength of magnificent trees who throw all caution to the wind and stand between me and the heavens. As is their way.

Bob Dylan

white pines & music

Tall white pines and a path that takes you. It doesn’t lead you, it takes you.

Do you know the long soft needles of a tall white pine? A pine tall enough to meet the sunny sky in the last moments of a December day. North Country meets Norwegian Wood meets what? I don’t know. It’s gentle. Or it’s pain, or it’s a place to leave behind.

When you choose your favorite lyrics to a Dylan song, it’s hard to find THE lines. I have this thing – sort of a pretty unimportant guiding principle. If I single out the same musical lyrics more than once, if it’s a sequence of lines or a few words, if those are the words I remember or I want to remember after I hear a song, then I guess I love those words.

In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day

Bob Dylan works a magic with images nobody else can do. And in the middle of all that you find words you plainly love.