Monday, February 29, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
"Did you lose something"?
The man watched the robed imposing figure, down on all fours out in a field of flowers, gently rocking to and fro.
"I most certainly did", the large man chuckled.
"Wallet? Contacts"? He looked closer at the bearded man. "Mustard seeds, perhaps"?
"No. Just a bad batch of mushrooms".
"Oh. I see. Can I help you up"?
"I can manage, thank you. I am the Lord after all".
The man shook his head sadly. "Sounds like you still have those mushrooms coursing through your innards".
"You don't believe me. I am the Lord".
He held his arms out. "Show me".
"I knew it".
"You want me to wave my hand and, oh, make it snow purple violets maybe? I don't work that way".
"So you work off the ol magic mushrooms then"? He laughed.
"No. I only work off the power of faith".
"Well, I work off the power of whiskey". He raised his hand to his chin and thought for a moment as though trying to recall. "The Lord walks into a bar and says to the bartender"......
"STOP"! Thunder crackled angrily in the distance. A chilled wind came up and the man shivered. The large man stood up shakily and held out a palm to the man. "I've heard that one".
art: Christ in the Wilderness by Stanley Spencer
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
It was a balancing act along the rocky shore to get a good photo in dawn's light of a magnificent checkered lighthouse that appeared to me to be the anchor for all the firmament above. The silence was golden to boot. There was only the occasional after-shave like slapping of waves upon rock formations. I welcomed the good soaking of my city shoes. There was no scenery like this in the badlands of Indiana I must say.
But there was a another sound beyond a shallow dune as I worked my way back up a sandy trail lined in pompous grass. It was the sudden cry of hopeless grief. A woman stood erect and motionless upon the rocks looking out to sea. I moved closer as the echoing grief dissipated.
"Hullo there", I called. She did not move. Closer to her now, I could see she was holding a harpoon. She appeared to be in a wedding dress and wearing a gold emblazoned black wool jacket of an 18th Century nobleman. She had long magpie black hair tied in back.
"Hullo", I called again, breathless now, barely audible, at the bizarre site. "Was that you. Crying, I mean?" She turned her head and said her first words as though she expected me to be there.
"He has gone". Her voice was low and thick, not the cadence of a woman who had been grieving. A British actress at the edge of a Royal Albert Hall footlight I'd say.
"Who is gone?" I stood just back and to the right, pushed my glasses up closer to my eyes, and peered through my binoculars into the burned out morning mist trying to be helpful. I'm like that when I see a woman in a wedding dress standing on rocks, you see.
"A man", she replied.
"A man I was going to kill", said the bride.
"A groom then, I see", I nodded.
"I was going to kill him", her voice cracked. She dropped the weapon and turned away. I could tell she was crying. Her shoulders bobbed.
"I'm sorry", I said. For the first time she turned around and moved towards me.
Her eyes shined.
"You're a kind soul". She searched me with those shining black eyes up and down. "You're dressed most unusual", she summarized after the inspection. "What is that around your neck?" I touched my binoculars. "Binoculars".
"What are they for"?, she asked.
After explaining the theory of magnification, I noticed she wasn't paying attention, but looking sternly into my eyes.
"Your eyes are different. More knowing".
"That's me", I said humbly, "All knowing".
We were silent, close now, looking out. I was about a foot taller. My heart was calm, never calmer. Dizzying wave after clear wave rolled up at our feet. I asked her her name. "Tatyana," she answered, like I was her first. I told her my name. All three names. And then she said goodbye.
"I hate goodbyes", I said. "Must you go?" I loved her. "You can shoot me if you want".
She smiled and touched my face. A lovely pale hand. She picked up her harpoon and we shook hands like Russian comrades.
photo by Caroline Knopf
Monday, February 1, 2016
how it was
It was a Sunday, as I recall. Holmes kindly offered the extra soft bed as we arrived at Baker Street the previous night in a heavy mist seemingly coming up from the saturated ground. Mrs. Hudson had hot soup and a silver container of scalding black coffee ready for these cold bones, bless her sweet heart. Holmes did not eat, instead curled in his favorite chair in the dark, smoking and watching the smoke rise. I knew well enough not to interrupt his tortured thoughts, so I retired quietly.
In the morning I was awakened briefly by the repetitive creaking in the hallway from pacing footsteps upon the wooden floor. And then there was a sliver of candle light, the door bursting open.
I sat bolt upright, clearing cobwebs from my eyes and mouth.
'Holmes! What's wrong?'
'Bring your revolver!'
There I stood in my bedclothes at about half past seven, blue steel gun cocked, Holmes hiding out of sight at the window behind the curtain, fearful.
'Watson! They are after me.' He could barely speak now, a hopeless wisp of his former voice, chest heaving in and out, gesturing for me to come to the window.
I looked sleepy-eyed down into the blue morning mist. It was quiet, except a poultry wagon, with the insignia, Moriarty's Fine Poultry and Vegetables, had lost a wheel and had spilled its contents into the street. A happy, patient dog, tail wagging, was devouring the spilled contents. My friend looked deathly pale as I turned to him.
'Those chickens, Watson. Running across the street over and over and over again. They are after me. Mean devils!'
'Calm yourself, Holmes,' I pleaded kindly. 'There are no chickens. Sit over here, old fellow.'
Then it dawned on me. As Holmes was hunched over, shivering, I walked over to the desk. Yes, it was there. The dreaded empty syringe. I grabbed his arm for close inspection.
'Oh, my dear Holmes. My dear Holmes.'
This is how it was, occurring in various forms, in the darkest shadows of his life. The greatest man in London, I would like for it to be known, despite these shadows, was a rather splendid and fine fellow.
art by Adolphe Valette