Saturday, July 11, 2009


Here is something I wrote last winter. It started life out as part two of this post, yet I'd hoped it would grow up into something bigger. But life, and the mind, moves on. Come here and speak my dear foundling... I walked. It's good to walk. I once loved to walk the streets of a city, any city, in order to see a place without the plastic. When dusk falls, the cities facade--as presented by City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce--crumbles. Only real people exist after dark. I traced unlit streets, figures moving toward me, literally lurching with the pull of a briefcase to one side. Taxis shot by on these narrow paths, slaloming the figures, the telephone poles, and me. Near the top of the street a dozen women are huddled in the doorway of a woman's shelter, waiting for it to open and looking very cold. Despite being very well dressed, they could be extras in some Depression era film. The lights of Shijo well up and I move along its covered sidewalks, in front of Xmas trees and winter coats behind glass. Here are more young, well-dressed women, striding quickly toward home after work. I dogleg up Teramachi, following the covered streets in order to stay out of the rain. It's more crowded in here, young dudes with big hair lurking around, squatting in front of closed up shops. A few have their guitars out, each song always in the same pitch, the monotone caterwaul always loud and sincere. Oike-dori is busy and bright , the neon blue of the fountains mocks the water that flowed here in better times. I drop into the subway, encountering now the couples, many heading home as it's a worknight. As if in opposition, the solo subterranean figures look lost, ruffled hair, faces hiding behind books.

Through all this I have the new Dylan on the Pod. His latest is a greatest hits collection, each track having once played soundtrack to my previous walks spread over various countries. The words are universal, international, interversal, descriptions of characters like those I pass on this night. Dylan remains ever the griot, stripping bare the same facades that daylight encourages. And with these truths I slip into a certain state, one step closer to the reality of the beings with whom I know nothing except for that they are right here. I could break the wall even further by making conversation, but that moves the truths from the universal to the personal. I prefer to keep things general tonight.

This illumination is blinding upon entering a bar. There are many people there, but there is nobody there. Aside from one friend, everyone is new to me. Where did they all come from? I'm feeling too separated, too happy in my own protective zone of the general, to connect. The darkness here helps, as does the smoke from the fireplace now filling the room. I chat, I joke, but I give nothing. I am enjoying the company of these people who I've never met, hearing their stories, but I deflect any questions. The only real necessary communication, ordering a beer, ironically leads to a situation even more disjunct, where the order never comes. I keep one eye on the window, watching the rain. When it lets up, I go.

I'm alone now, but for Dylan. His words follow me to the towering Sanmon gate of Nanzenji. Architecture of such size tends to diminish the personal. I stop awhile thinking of other nights I've sat here, yet these memories intermingle with memories brought on by familiar songs. I'm in many places, many times, many states of being, at once. The night feels heavier all of sudden. A city this old is full of ghosts. And they are here, mixing with my own ghosts. I begin to move toward home, through a night that becomes more the feel of autumn, with an increase in the wind. This wind swirls the leaves along the street, along which go my thoughts, constantly scattered, scattered.

On the turntable: Andrew Bird, "Noble Beast"

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