this is the title

This is the process of describing a thrice-daily perambulation along a specific grid-like configuration of streets and alleyways. It’s the beginning and the end all at once with the middle excised for brevity’s sake. Words are fit together to form a compelling narrative designed to exaggerate the significance of this chain of events. Through the use of a complex algorithm, details from thousands of similar perambulations have been extracted and connected to form a generic description suitable to represent the ongoing series.

Turning a corner there appears a panoramic view of downtown. One day there will be two more buildings on this block instead of a field, obscuring the view and evicting the red-winged blackbirds whose raucous calls now punctuate this observation. No more will the barn swallows arc with precision above the grass, soaring overhead and below knees. The city is a gaping mouth fitted with concrete teeth and asphalt tongue. All open space is in flux, available for negotiation by any wealthy interested parties.

Navigate another leftward right angle turn to complete the rectangular route. Arrive at the correct set of concrete steps leading up. Note the foul mess at the nest box opening left by the fledged house wren brood. Ants move in to investigate. In the garden coneflower blooms open. On the arched trellis coral honeysuckle buds battle to stay ahead of the aphids. Manual removal of the latter seems to be aiding the fight. Along the second level railing the gold dust plant exhibits the lush results of another vigorous growth spurt. Looking around, all appears to be in the usual foliar disarray. Now climb the steps, open the door, shut and lock it.

This is the conclusion of what was begun in the first paragraph. It serves to tie up any loose ends and bring the narrative to a satisfactory close. No new information is introduced so as to avoid confusing the reader, thus preventing any lingering uncertainty as to the nature of what has been heretofore presented. Thus, to be accurate, the true ending occurred with the period following the phrase ‘lock it,’ meaning one could actually stop reading there and not suffer any ill effects.

‘to reduce the fever of feeling’

Outside the wind howls. Inside a trio of snowmen converse in the vicinity of a conference of paper birds. Last night the ‘artsy’ neighbors continued their grand tradition of slamming doors and other unidentifiable objects against floors and walls for several hours between approximately midnight and the archetypal 3 AM hour. Result: current state of apathetic grogginess. Desire for absence of shared walls swells with each passing night of lost sleep.

Days less measureless than before. Crystalline structure of incipient routines inches out beyond the borders of a now worn and tarnished impersonation of L.B. in Rear Window. Except there never was anything even vaguely menacing to observe, only a sea of moment-waves rocking gently against the fragile hull of this origami sailboat.

Return to Pessoa’s words: no novelty in the universal, no comprehensibility in the individual. The old ruse of intentional obfuscation falls flat. But still the urge to fit words together roils inside. Maybe to do it, like Pessoa says, ‘to reduce the fever of feeling.’ Yet if all is unimportant (which it is), why bother describing any version of it. Unless perhaps to merely locate and handle the words themselves. To dive to the bottom, seeking words buried deep in a consciousness whose mirrored surface rests fathoms above undisturbed layers of sediment. Yes, perhaps it is for that reason: to extract anything worth contemplating from the granular level, to slip some small truth from the interstices and examine it from all sides, even if only to then return it unseen.

happy holidays

She stepped outside to smoke and the cigarette began to complain about the plight of its kind. We are oppressed, it said. We are pariahs, it continued, and we reject our role as straw man for the cancer industrial complex. While she did not necessarily disagree with the cigarette’s point of view, its continuing monologue made smoking difficult and so she extinguished it, a revolution snuffed out before it ever began.

Prior to this incident she used to walk and smoke at the same time every night. Not wishing to spark revolt, she soon gave that up.

After all, she thought, routine will either save us or kill us…or perhaps both, and possibly at the same time.

the tricky truth of time

I have not been to work in 11 days. I will not return for another two. I love this time. I have been taking this break at the end of the year for at least five years running. It has become important to me, this shucking off of the past 12 months in preparation for the new rack of days about to be set.

What happens is a curious thing. The coccoon of time unravels and I am released into a nebulous world of days and hours unmarked by the usual frames of reference. On occasion, I find myself searching my mind for what day it is. Recall is often laborious. When it does occur, I laugh quietly. I lose track of what days the recycling is picked up, when certain shows air on the radio, who among my circle might be working at any given moment.

I know it is morning when the yellow light pours into the sunroom from the east. It warms me over my shoulder as it falls across the pages of my book.

I know it is midday when Farley starts angling for a walk.

I know it is evening when the last light fades, leaving a gloom to settle in the house.

But the weekdays tend to blur into the weekend. Morning hours are in general distinguishable, one from the other, but the afternoon hours caper gleefully, spinning in circles around the maypole, daisy-chaining their elastic selves around my helpless body, freeing me from the snare of routine. They tempt me into running for the hills. Crouching in the thickets, they whisper to me snatches of their secrets, of ‘p time’ and ‘m time,’ with the laughability of it all unconcealed in their twinkling eyes. We are not binding straps, they say; rather we are possibility, we are discovery, we are whatever happens between the beginning and the end.

Soon, though, Colonel Responsibility will beckon with his truncheon for me to trudge down from the hills. Under the hard Colonel’s watchful eye, I will refasten the familiar leghold trap, grinding my teeth as the steel fangs puncture my skin, reopening barely-healed wounds. The yellow light will disappear behind windowless walls. The afternoon hours will sheepishly turn their backs on me, showing me their ugly sides. And I will wonder again about their truth they never fully share.

Soundtrack:  EarthHex: or Printing in the Infernal Method (Thanks, Taidgh!)

every morning

[click image to read]

© 2012 S. D. Stewart Erased from Chapter XIII of Nerves and Common Sense (1925) by Annie Payson Call

see you when your troubles get like mine

Small tragedies and minor victories twist around your idle fingers like woody vines. You trade witticisms like barbed wire slipped underneath your tongue. A single scent scatters a part of the brain already always a bit on edge. But at arm’s length, you don’t ever find the visceral. You won’t ever find it there. So push away the veil of ions, then, and you will see the rush of blood. Warm air on skin, brushing off a touch that never came. Color in cheeks, déjà vu and try to ignore imagination prone to wanton escapades. Think and wish, then, and think again. Fall into the ordinary, fall into it open and true, with wild grit in your gut.


Due to cat needing vet visits, I spent two days working from home, driving Em El down south for work and picking her up in the evening.  I haven’t commuted by car in years, so it was quite a shock to my system.  Blood pressure rises, teeth gritted, eyes glaze over as you follow the same route over and over.  I’m used to seeing the stupid things drivers pull as I ride my bike, but it’s totally different when you’re driving.  It actually bothers me more, probably because I’m already extremely agitated just from the mere fact of being behind the wheel.  Anyway, it got me thinking about people who commute the same route for years on end.  Every day, a vacant thousand-yard stare fixed on the traffic lights ahead.  The rote of it all would kill me in a matter of months.

So after the storms pass, and the dishes are drying in the rack, I step out into the cool air.  That old cottonwood out back sings its timeless song with nothing more than leaves in the wind and I am so thirsty to hear it.  I want to go to sleep listening to nothing but that.  It takes me back to, of all places, Lucy Park and the hidden trails I found that one day, winding alongside the chocolate brown river.  After a deep and full night of cottonwood sleep I want to wake up to the high fluted serenades of the thrushes.  I want to turn my head to the window and breathe in the meadow breeze as it fills the room.  I am so hungry for what feeds me.  So desperate in this urban confusion.  I keep fitting one leghold trap after another onto these withered limbs.

I can’t stop hearing Bill Callahan sing, “My ideals have got me on the run…towards my connection with everyone.  My ideals have got me on the run…it’s my connection to everyone.”

I don’t even know anymore what my ideals are, if I even ever had a clear idea.  I’m so shifty and drifty, I’m barely able to pin myself down most days.  And I’m certainly not running anymore.  Treading murky water, perhaps.  As for my connections, they are few and far between.  Far in miles and farther yet in states of mind.

I don’t want to become institutionalized.  I really don’t.  I know that much. Maybe that’s an ideal?  It’s something I’ll keep fighting against as long as I have the strength, even if it’s with my last few ounces.

routine part ii

Certainly routine has its place in life.  For example, recently an infant stayed at my house for an extended visit, affording me the chance to observe how routines helped both the parents and the infant (unknowingly, perhaps) to manage their life together.  Point to ponder:  even from an early age, we humans experience life as an ordered structure of events.  But when too much of your life feels governed by routine, this can’t be a good thing.  Take office work, for example.  I work in an office setting; however, many of the people in the field in which I work are drawn to it because of the opportunity for travel.  They itch to travel, and when they don’t get to, they are restless.  They seek escape from the office drone lifestyle, so infused is it with the boredom of routine.  I personally don’t want to travel for work, and I suffer the consequences of asserting that preference.  I face the blandness of routine each and every work day, but I don’t think that I wish for the complete disappearance of routine from my life.  It has helped me in the past and I still see some value in it.  In some cases, I even think it keeps me from completely falling apart.  But what does everyone else think?  I feel like I’m talking in circles.  Will anyone de-lurk and weigh in on this issue?  I know there are at least a few of you reading this thing.


Drinking cold coffee and thinking about routine.  Do you love or loathe it?  I’m conflicted, myself.  Stepping outside of routine allows new perspective to flood in, the cracks and gaps full of seeping insights.  But without the comfort of familiarity wrapped around us, we are vulnerable.  There is exposure to the unknown.  There is loss of control.  The older I get the more I think about this.  Do I want to walk along the boundaries, toeing the lines, free to move across them at any time?  Do I want to take those risks that seem less appealing with each passing year?  Does being grounded have to shut off the tap to the creative flow, or even merely reduce it to a trickle that barely hydrates a parched mind?  Is there a way to squeeze a pulsing ribbon of liquid life down to those potbound roots?  Perhaps I have not struggled fiercely enough.  Maybe there is a balance that I just have not yet discovered.

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