Monday, November 24, 2008

See the World!


I know I've done a terrible job of posting lately and I haven't even gotten around to Part III of this desert saga I've been working on, but things have been a little out of hand. How out of hand? Well, tonight I'm off to Fiji and from there...well, let's just say that if you live in New Zealand, Australia, Bangkok, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, and, perhaps, large portions of Spain and want to meet up to take photographs or eat food or have advice to offer, please get in touch! I don't know that I'll make it to ALL those places, nor do I know exactly how long I'll be gone, but I'll go until I can't go no more. I'm going to TRY to turn this into a travelblog if I can, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here's an abandoned pool and church at Fort Ord near Moneterey, California. Oh, and I'm serious, if you have a mind to, drop me a line at jmhouse at cityofdust dot com! More soon...

Wires from God

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Last Morning Pt. II

I turned away from the risen sun now hanging blood red before me and thought of a time--it now hardly seemed to have been my life--when I was waiting at a train station. A different desert. A different country. She arrived late that night and we nearly ran from the platform to the hotel, her bag banging against my thigh as I clutched it tight. I didn’t feel it then, but my leg stayed black and blue for a week. When we stepped out of the hotel and into a blue-grey dawn three days later it was only to get bread and another bottle of wine. Six months later we were married. I loved her so much that sometimes, watching her come toward me down a crowded city sidewalk, I felt like I’d been stabbed in the stomach. Almost unendurably painful and beautiful beyond words.

Five years later things were different. I’d say that I somehow loved her even more but something had risen up between us. Secrets will do that. Lies. Deception. Anger and tears. Finally, silence, worst of all weapons. We had been apart for three months and I was waiting for her in another city, another country. The train pulled away from the platform and she had not been on it. I tried to reach her by phone but there was no answer. Another train arrived and departed. And another. I doubted her and in all this that is the one thing for which I cannot forgive myself. I found a rundown hotel and stayed drunk in my room for three days, in honor of a time long ago. When I emerged, wrecked, into a bright summer afternoon I could hardly catch my breath. Everything was gone. I believed she had betrayed me, finally, but what I did not know was that I'd betrayed her. If only I’d been able to trust in her love for me, a love that I know now could never have been extinguished, no matter to what wretched depths I succumbed. If only I’d believed that she still loved me I would not be here in this endless desert waiting to die. I would be with her.

Photos are of the 16th St. Station, West Oakland, CA.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Last Morning

As night gave way to the first light of dawn, Tony pointed his .45 at the horizon and emptied the cartridge. But the sun kept rising, day crawling ever closer, unstoppable.

“Fuck you,” he muttered, ejecting the clip. None of us wanted this day to arrive. Not Tony, not Ruiz, not Jimmy, and not me. About 30 feet from us lay Michael in the spot where he’d bled to death sometime in the night, the only one that wasn’t going to see this day and the only one of us that might’ve wanted to.

They say that everything happens for a reason but that seems like nothing more than a mundane truism to me. Of course everything happens for a reason. Someone drinks 13 cans of Budweiser then drives their car into oncoming traffic. Or someone gets mad and shoots somebody else’s son or daughter. Action and reaction. Cause and effect. But that’s not what they’re talking about, I suppose. They’re talking about a “higher purpose.” Some kind of grand design. Sure, whatever. I don’t know about any of that. I don’t know about anything anymore and I’ve spent most of the night doing nothing but proving that to myself again and again.

I look over at Tony now, sitting in the sand, his legs pulled up to his chest, his forehead on his knees. There are hours yet to go. I watch that sun climb ever higher into the cloudless sky and think, “Yeah, he’s right. Fuck this day. And fuck all the days to come after it.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Salton Sea

It’s like going to sleep not caring if you wake up. Here’s to one more endless night in a motel at the end of the world with nothing but a pile of ashes for a bed. The salt stings your eyes; the listless sun will handle the rest of you. A bloated bird, one-hundred thousand dead Tilapia, the endless stench. It’s in your sweat. There were dreams, once, at least for a little while. But you better be careful what you invest in. Keep your assets liquid so you can get out if—make that when—you have to. Don’t get too deep into anything or anyone out here.

I guess none of this matters now. You watch the day rise out of the scalding water and fall down the mountains, keeping company with the dead and the mad, pretending you’re different, not like them. Sure, you’re just a spectator, not a participant. Then why don’t you leave? Nope, this is it, the end of the line. You'd almost forgotten about Chinatown, Jake, but it caught up to you out here in the desert. It had to. So, welcome to where everything finally stops. Greetings from the Salton Sea.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Last Night

This is the last night you’ll ever drive these dirt roads. The sun sets behind you and the mountains are cooling, darkening to a deeper blue. The blinding heat of the day fades to a whisper as clouds of dust rise up behind you, where you’ve been now lost in the distance. A shallow mountain river thick with boulders runs beside the road and you wonder how many times you have been in that water. Sometimes you swam alone, the river and the birds the only sound beyond your breath. Other times you slept on the warm rocks, your bodies touching, less alone than you ever imagined possible. But as with this last day of this last summer, you know there is nothing you can truly hold onto and the more you have tried the more quickly you have lost what you’ve had.

You loved this place, the mountains stacked one on another and rising to the east, clear streams and cold rains, sleeping under moonlit skies, the long pines blowing overhead. But you hated that through it all you still felt lost. So close to perfect and so utterly wrong.

You pull the car off the road and step onto the grass. Beside the river you see a cloud of midges hovering above a still pool. You can smell the sweat that has dried to your skin and you reach your arms into the cool river to cleanse yourself, ancient hemlocks darkening the valley. There are no words for what you feel, at least none you can recall, so you look at the sky and the water and the hills and wait for it all to pass. You know you’ll never be back, but that is not your thought. Instead you ask the forest to tell you what it is that you fear you have missed, that you are always missing, that will never come again. The trees are quiet as darkness falls.

The gravel crackles under the wheels as an owl crosses the road ahead, noiselessly, lit only by the headlights. Of so many nights, this one is the last.

From Oakland, CA.