Found

Day 13: Serially Found
Writing Prompt: write about finding something

Found

Like so many seashells,
you came rushing onto Kayak Beach, along many waves
washing gently, then roughly. Gently, then roughly.
Alternating and aimless. Aimless and sure. Sure and
roughly remained…into our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you happened upon the shore of Kayak Beach, as
indiscriminate a destination as any could be, yet you
cannot stay, cannot be let…alone. You see, you are
not native nor mythical, historical nor neutral. You are not
Miwok, mermaid or link posterior to paper uncles,
brothers or sons. Your anthropology is of little use,
here. Even a throwaway coke bottle, glassily disposable
sarcophagus of a bottle, as impossibly likely as that would be,
would have been better than being the wrong sort of accidental,
discovered face down and incidentally. Touched
and turned by our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
the shore at Kayak Beach is another fragment of your
story that is now another fragment of the stories
already here. Like them, you will be detained. You
will be quarantined, examined, and catalogued. You will
be policed, sanitized, and reported. Reported and
deported into hands that are not our hands—

two, four, six…
to be exact—
as debris from the bay.

Like so many seashells,
you came wet and slick to Kayak Beach with ten
fingers and ten toes. You were big, heavy, and male.
At least 6 feet, 2 inches. One hundred eighty-six pounds.
Four decades, plus some. With hair. A head full of
hair, nearly medium length, lustering russet
in the sun with no patch of baldness. Your eyes,
perhaps once cinnamon in shade, are now
bark.

You were perfect, though not perfect.
Your eyelashes are short, save for a sharp lash branching
like a laden limb from the left lid. And there are tanless
lines lining the sides of your face, smooth and
goateed, with demure lima bean shaped indentations
on either side of your nose. Once upon a time you may
have been unkindly called four eyes or more cruelly fag, freak,
nerd, geek. Then again, glasses may have been post-pubescently
prescribed along the years to middle age. We can tell you
took care of your teeth. Brushed and flossed regularly. But cannot
tell if you were melliflous or stunted in speech. There are no caps
and no cavities. There is, though, a chip on the front right incisor.
Could you have acquired it playing sports, getting pushed around or
in a fight, or less remarkably from ordinary clumsiness?

There are moles.
Twinned moles on the right side bone jutting from the elbow,
several across your back, one above the knee, on your clavicle, and
on your big toe, the left one. Your toenails, by the way, are craggy
and overgrown, not at all like your square, impeccable nails.

There are scars.
A toyon berry sized one snugged in the bend of the right
knee. And less oddly, another on the side of the upper left arm,
puckered into a small mound. You were immunized. We have
similar puckering in similar places.

There is a birthmark.
In the center of your chest, away from your heart, a
crescent of stars, faintly scattering away beneath the hair
just short of the right aureola. There was, is nothing
else, save that you are circumcised.

You came to us
—at the eleventh hour in the eleventh month—
without music, without claim of who you are, wished, or were set to be.
Rain was in the air and with it, the season’s cold.
You were dressed dark and fitted in medium lycra shirt and shorts.
Shoeless, soxless, muscular, and lean. Unclaimed and unfound. You are
John Doe.

We do not guess what shore you fled to flee.
And will not guess what shore you sought to seek.
Or what siren call called you down, down and
down from the Golden Gate to the scyllian waters
circling our island of 800 acres Angel land
with its own history to bear and its own ghosts to carry.
We leave be. Amongst the three of us,
among us three you are Solomon. Puente. Atlas.
A real name. Not perfect, though less perfunctory.

Like so many seashells,
sprackled along the coast of Kayak Beach, we do not covet
you. Were we not so kelped in our humanity, its salt of
sustenance and shit, we could have seen, yes we might have,
so to speak, seen yours wrangling through wave and anti-wave. We
would like you to be interned into the higher places in our hearts, but that
would be false.

Forgive us our weak regret, our limpid sorrow. We
are not angels. We are human. And selfishly alive.
Your face is a terrible photograph we are trying
to remember lightly so no shadow is left, no trace felt
in our hands having ever encountered—

two, four, six…
to be exact—

of them ever having encountered you
(as debris from the bay) at all.

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Fig or Rat’s _ _ _ about Religion or Politics

Daily Prompt: Polite Company
“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

Never in a million years would I talk to strangers about religion. And yet there’s something fascinating about people who proselytize.  It must take abs of steel to drop into neighborhoods full of at best indifferent and at worst hostile unbelievers and attempt to share the word, corral and convert the unsaved to the flock. I remember doing an environmental stint going door-to-door and it was hard work invading someone’s sanctuary. Many were sympathetic, but even the sympathetic were put out to be disturbed and pulled away from whatever they were doing. I’ve been on the other side of the door, answering to the bell to one of these believers armed with their Awake pamphlet to spread the Word.

Jesus on Twitter

How do they do it? I wouldn’t trade places with any of them. But there they are, talking to strangers about religion, their beliefs knowing that 9.9999 times out of 10 they will be shut out. And yet they go to the next person. My strategy with these doorbell ringers is to listen politely,  say thank you and then toss the pamphlet as soon as the door is shut.  I’d like to be rude and slam the door. But they are so earnest that being rude seems not only inappropriate, but the kind of downright were-you-raised-in-a-barn bad manners.

Awhile ago, I was once pumping gas at 6:24 am, my last stop before work, and was approached by a woman dressed in a blue business suit with one of those pamphlets that seem to say the world is going to hell in a hand basket or ask you’ve accept Christ as your personal savior. That morning in question,  I felt like going on the offensive. I listened to what the woman said while I pumped gas and then I told her that I didn’t believe any of it. I shared my beliefs with her and instead of the conversation turning rancorous, it was one of mutual sharing. I didn’t convert her to my point of view and she certainly didn’t convert me to hers, but there was a shared respect for each other’s belief.  I don’t think you can get any better than that.

On a separate note, the other day I was watching Scandal. Oh I see your eyes rolling and if I were reading this, my eyes would roll too. But bear with me. The other day on Scandal the president & his chief of staff are pushing this supposedly seminal bill named after a fallen victim, yet most of the people pushing it hadn’t read it and the only person who actually decides to do so, the vp (if you watch Scandal, you’ll understand when I say that she was wearing the “white hat”), points out to everyone’s annoyance that it’s a bill in name only because it has been so watered down with compromises and quid pro quos that it’s simply cosmetic. I say this to say that part of my reason for staying away from politics is that it takes a lot of conscientious effort to really understand what’s going on for yourself rather than deferring to the pundits. And what really gets me is when you get a measure on the ballot that’s given to you the voter, who really has little qualifications to discern the backdoor implications, because the opposing sides couldn’t find a way to work it out. So lately I’ve found myself voting no not necessarily because these measures come with a price tag or they’re not good ideas, but because as a voter I object to being put in the position of refereeing.

All the Pretty Colors

Daily Prompt: Roy G. Biv
Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image.

If I could take on another talent, it would be to paint. I admire how artists use color–ROY G. BIV (thank you WP for bringing this acronym to my attn)–to visually present the world.

The following artists–Franz Marc, the Edward Saidi Tingatinga, and Georges Seurat–all use color in very interesting ways.


FRANZ MARC

Animals in Landscape by Franz MarcWhat I love about this painting by Marc is that it is a play on camouflage and so visually mimics what animals do all the time with us humans–hide in plain sight. With Marc, the colors compete for prominence, yet each manages to cooperate just enough to present the discrete images of the animals.


EDWARD TINGATINGA SCHOOL

Tinga Tinga PaintingThe Tinga Tinga genre of painting is criticized for its stylized and idyllic representation of the African landscape. However, I love the fact that this style of painting was not founded by some high brow art school, but had a humble beginning in the person of Mr. Tingatinga who used masonite and bicycle paint to create vibrant landscapes. This style of painting isn’t tamed by color, instead it flaunts it. There is a panoply of color, but you wouldn’t know it because the harmonious compatibility is so luscious and luxurious that it taunts the beholder into forgetting that it is wildlife that is on display.


GEORGE SEURAT

George Seurat, Pointillism Painting TechniqueThen there is George Seurat, around whom the style of Pointillism, was developed. Pointillism is a tease at the expense of the human eye. It plays upon the brain’s ability to cohere, basically bully the eye into seeing what appears as hundreds of disparate dots into an image.

Little Moments

Daily Prompt: Powerful Suggestion
What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago?

When you’re young, you think a good life is a life of grandiose moments, worthy of the stage. But really, life is in the daily living of small moments–little treasures and small irritations. These moments build up to the more noteworthy life events.

To You, Oh Wild Richmond

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird
For this week’s photo challenge, get up early and explore the morning light.

IMG_6449

On my way to work, I saw two wild turkeys crossing the road. As usual, I was running late, but I had to stop. I had to take note and witness these unexpected visitors to my pocket of average, unspectacular neighborhood. It was a sight to watch these turkeys strut across the road. And owned it they did!

I live in a suburban pocket within a larger urban section of Richmond. And Richmond has a reputation for wildness, but not the wildness people speak of with a twinkle in their eye. The wildness that, depending on the context, is associated with partying or being a free spirit or being a place of nature.

Richmond’s wildness, unfortunately, in the public discourse is synonymous with crime, poverty and poor education. The more provocative, headline crimes of black on black or poor on poor, but also the down-low, more insidious crime of uneven power dynamics of corporate laissez faire against average citizens and non-citizens who work to create a home for themselves and their families.

I remember growing up in LA and playing with the younger, the one closest to my age, of our next door neighbor’s granddaughters who visited in the summer. They lived in, “you know, that place, Richmond.” I had no idea where the heck that was, but my parents’ intonation was unmistakable. You could feel the cloud within Richmond and knew that there was nothing rich, nothing enviable about it. I felt sorry for the girls, but more glad for myself that I didn’t live in that place.

Looking back, here’s the thing: the girls did not seem poor, poorly cared for, or poorly educated. In fact, the eldest granddaughter competed in cheerleading competitions which can easily burn a hole in one’s pocket. My neighbors, the parents of my daughter’s classmates, the shopkeepers of the various carnicerias and clerks and passersby I encounter may not have a lot of money, but they aren’t poor or poorly cared for either. And the students in my daughter’s classroom may not yet be fluent speakers, but there are artists and comedians and free spirits who you can already see are beating their own drum, singing their own tune, living according to their own script. There is nothing poor in any of this.

These turkeys are more than the birds upon our tables come November. Richmond is more than a city of poverty and crime. It is a hard place, true, but a place where beauty struts. A destination for wild birds to visit from time to time.

New Kid on the Blog

Daily Prompt: Mentor Me
Have you ever had a mentor? What was the greatest lesson you learned from him or her?

I’m new to the blogosphere and I’m grateful for this very supportive community of bloggers. You have made this “world” very special. Your stories, thoughts, and photos are inspiring. I learn something every day. I consider you all mentors.

There’s a place, wide and windowed,
that’ll embrace the anonymites to
the grandly named disciples, artists,
and just plain ole lovers of the word
to play in its space.

In this little place, it’s come ye, come all.
It matters not what mood you’re in at all.
Maybe on Sundays you’re sharpening up for the
week, but when Monday comes round the start’s
not nearly as sharp as a beak. And Tuesday is
less than terrific with its deadening to-do.
It’s definitely time for a change in weather,
which hopefully Wednesday brings so by
Thursday you’re writing strong toward a
Friday fueled with inspiration that delivers
you satisfied into Saturday.

This place spans the world with all sorts
stories. It’s grand, yet common enough for
any woman or any man to browse, like,
comment, or post as each pleases. You’ll
find yourself surrounded and buoyed by an
ever-present community of mentors. Feel
free to enter.

Edible Museum

Daily Prompt: From the Collection of the Artist
A hundred years from now, a major museum is running an exhibition on life and culture as it was during our current historical period. You’re asked to write an introduction for the show’s brochure. What will it say?

Sustenance Capsule Ban Shrunk

Imagine a time when food did not come in a sustenance capsule.

When food was prepared with natural ingredients such as sugar and honey, and simple spices like salt and pepper, or herbs like rosemary and mint. Imagine a time when there were real fruits and vegetables homegrown in backyards or on farms.

William Buelow Gould, Wikipedia

William Buelow Gould, Wikipedia

Just 100 years ago, before the Quarksian invaders usurped our earth and all things we loved dearly, humans prepared their food. Imagine, our elders organized their days around breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Food for our ancestors was not simply utilitarian. It was the center of celebrations and milestones, such as birthdays and weddings. It was a time when there was a whole industry around food in the form of farms, chefs, and restaurants.

This still life exhibit will transport you back in time.  The price of admission is one sustenance pill. Come, eat with us.

Keeping One’s Head Above Water

Weekly Photo Challenge: Afloat
This week, show us what afloat means to you.

IMG_4909Afloat usually conjures up an image of a sailboat.

Sailing along in the midst of it all, the ability to persist even when life isn’t going your way is a combo of faith, grit, and showing up every day even when you don’t feel like it.

Here’s a silly photo of my girl keeping her head above water with ducky and turtle, two of her menagerie of bathub toys that made it into the photo.

Here’s to all of us staying afloat.

Earth, Our Blue-Green World

Daily Prompt: Interplanet Janet
You get to design your own planet: tell us all about your planet — the weather, the seasons, the inhabitants. Go.

The earth is the place of my birth
so can it, don’t want another planet
We should bicycle, of course recycle
Cut down on greed so it’s less a creed
But more importantly I say with certainty
We’ll glisten if we take time to listen
We’ll solve problems, in the bargain evolve
Every single hour, it’s within our power
to shape this world before it unfurls
into nothingness

Crossing into the Green

Daily Prompt: All It’s Cracked Up to Be
Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.

You've made it to the other side
printed and painted as a postcard
  every caterpillar a butterfly
  every grass flush and green
here, birds chirp proudly and sweet
but never do you see them eat

You have made it to the emerald city
where all is stilled and sublime in life
     not a mean thing to see
     and every hair in place
it is, really, all it is cracked up to be
of red roses in vases and bowls of grapes
yet never nicks nor spills nor any scrapes.

through the looking glass everything looks good
the wild quiet quiets any madness afoot
see, look—there was a crack just where you stood