what does it mean?

when the star-ships boil clouds up out of nothing,
they send down white fists of lightning
which knead the earth like the legs of a herd of elephants passing

inside the car, a dot on a surface street,
I can't do anything but watch as flying saucers press against the sky like faces by a window, thinking
fuck this
walk toward the highway,
picking gems from amid the broken glass,
combing necklaces from tangles of tubes, wire and hair
I bend and idly smooth the rubble on the road into a curving model driveway, looking up.
my fingers leave tire-trails in the dust.

in this dream, I take pictures with my phone, over and over
and each picture seems to fall out of the false night onto this tiny screen,
each more irrefutable than the last
where is he?
I ask
how will I find him, if this is the end of the world?

in every direction, the travelers cluster up in the sky
peeking down in packs between the tall buildings, which seem to cringe from them,
hysterical fingers clutching towards a fist,
listing like ships' masts, sinking,
homing in on a long sleep, coming to rest amid restless dreams
of raking the rubble into smoother and finer seams,
veins of lost things, faceless people running from a black cloud,
faces invisible from so high above,
from close up,
they fade into each other like the glass and concrete and bones.
make rubble, make gravel, become indistinguishable

and then, suddenly, the visitors withdraw -
secrets pressed back behind closed lips.
the black clouds pale to scars of white against a blue sky,
fade until only the pictures remain, but
the truth is written on our faces,

in my hands,
a cell phone, a length of a gold chain,
two blue stones of different colors,
a pearl,
a long shard of glass, stuck through with chicken wire,
a long cut across my palm, bleeding red over everything else.



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I could sit up there, Audubon aviary and preserve, Wellfleet, Mass.

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Gypsy juniper

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High tide

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the whole beach was bubbling like a jacuzzi
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Goddamn lens.

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And right then, the tide came in

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Bad start

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Show me your face, clean as the morning

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pollywogs and minnows and seawater

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Sun dogs II, Wellfleet, Mass.

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Sun dogs, Wellfleet, Mass.

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No frogs

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First of fall, Wellfleet, Mass.

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Elephant and lily

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doing some additional reading about prions...
i'm fascinated by the idea of a self-replicating nonliving object. as malleable and transformable as the name (protein/protean) suggests, a prion is nothing more than a malformed or mutated protein. yet, unlike a hot dog or a nice omelet, these agents remain communicable for decades, cannot be killed with formaldehyde, resist disinfection via bleach, and can be hereditary, infectious like a virus, or, famously, contracted via food like a bacteria or a poison.

despite this remarkable adaptability in propagation and expression, they're not even as 'alive' as a relic bit of DNA/RNA like a virus. consider this: if you acquired a condition like mad cow/Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Kuru or fatal familial insomnia, you would be suffering from gradual brain death caused by an abnormally folded protein that turned your brain tissue into a something like a honeycomb, almost cancerously remade itself, and was nearly impossible to denature, even out in the open, exposed to air, or rinsed in disinfectants, much less inside your brain.

FFI, the prion disease that most enthralls and horrifies me, is my kind of worst-nightmare medical condition. the condition is hereditary, expressing itself around early middle age. this means you have plenty of time to pass it on to your offspring before you ever figure out if you are a sufferer or carrier yourself. around this time, your body's self-regulating mechanisms begin to fail. you sweat profusely, suffer from paranoia, you lose your ability to sleep, and begin to suffer panic attacks as you remain awake day after day, and eventually simply fail ever
to fall asleep again. towards the end, speech fails you, and gradually, you descend into madness as your body is racked by convulsions and hallucinations before you finally die (generally three to five years after having first begun to detect symptoms in the first place.)

can you just imagine how lonely that must be? even quadriplegics can sleep... and you can forget about alcohol, ambien, or benadryl. apparently opiates and other sleep drops may make the condition worse, leaving sufferers delirious but unable to lose consciousness, plagued by disorientation, completely vulnerable.

as a lifelong insomniac, i know there are few reliable cures for sleeplessness. my parents tell me that when i was a child, they were forced to put up fences to stop me tumbling down the long stairs that led down to our living room, as even toddler-'nessa apparently paced all night long. i remember many how many nights i spent huddled out on the low roof of our back den, rolled in a comforter, smoking, staring blearily up at the stars, as the sun rose to my right and picked the night threadbare, listening to the trains.

at least i knew this was a condition that went into remission pretty regularly. even now, twice the age i was in those days, i know i won't go
for more than a week or so on three or four hours' sleep a night before i fall over and lie comatose for seven or eight hours. imagine if it only ever grew worse, day by day. it's lonelier than hell keeping watch at four a.m, but what kind of agony would a person experience after weeks, months or even years without sleep?

so, i'm working for this pharmaceutical account, marketing a drug called NUVIGIL, which is indicated to treat excessive sleepiness due to apnea, shift work or narcolepsy. the idea is that you take the pill in the morning and experience 'improved wakefulness' throughout whatever your daytime or work period is. having read and reread the Important Safety Information more than just one or two dozen times, i must report that there are a number of truly worrying 'side effects' covered therein. one potential consequence of taking this stuff is merely the potential of erupting in a rash described as toxic epidermal necrolysis (that's poisonous skin death, in case you're feeling excessively sleepy.) another, far more chilling side effect, is disclaimed in a line i'll quote directly from the website's prescription information:
Persistent Sleepiness
Patients with abnormal levels of sleepiness who take NUVIGIL should be advised that their level of wakefulness may not return to normal.
Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of irony you'd experience if you took a medication to prevent you from falling asleep at work, only to find you couldn't manage to do it anywhere else, ever?


Woman transformed,
Woman clothed with the sun,
Woman crowned with stars,
-from the Titles of Mary

my saints,
my stars,
my will,
i want the wisdom to disbelieve, that deliberation,
i want the will to not forgive, and how i want to turn away,
to retire my little prayers, go forth and sin no more, nor want to
or better, perhaps, to have learned to doubt long ago
my friends,
my own good sense,
my word

when i consider all that i must not know
remind me to suspect
and when the benefit of a doubt might do,
remind me
of all i forgive or overlook,
every semaphore, each gesture, each suggestion,
the thousand moments of pause, each pain ascribed to accident,
the specific humiliations,
the blame i can't avoid
i am my own worst enemy, if not the only one.
i'm no child, not an innocent, but an idiot,
that one who never learns.
it's laziness, a refusal to accept what's plain to anyone with eyes to see
so show me how to be impermeable,
as hard as marble, that cold,
pure, shot through with darkness, a scatter of mica
but impervious,
breaking cleanly on the grain,
cut away to reveal the truth
and pure, apart,
nobody's glad fool

Mirror of justice,
Throne of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Shrine of the Spirit,
Vessel of selfless devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
-from the Litany of Loreto