Sitting in his nowhere land…
Union Square, even on a mild day, can be cold in the shadows. Men and women sleeping in doorways, or gathering on street corners shooting themselves up. As if these people do not exist, others hasten on by resisting pleas for money or smokes, on their way to buy clothes or meet for lunch.
San Francisco is out of sorts. Sickened. The city’s lower streets filled with years of doldrums, as if that malady had blown in under the Golden Gate Bridge, and the coming down of the mist off the headlands, tender as sleep, somehow nullified the pain of homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, and mental illness. …
I cannot get enough of winter’s lit up mornings. Watching birds in bare limbed trees, hedgehogs grumbling, squirrels darting through leaves, looking for friends to cuddle up to and sleep with. Even my cats lose interest in the frosty outdoors long before noon, returning to sleep the afternoon by the fire.
Friends are fewer than they’ve ever been. I’m too busy putting work into work, neglecting friends, and putting off making respectful decisions that would enable the care of both.
I’m long past the stage of apology.
Anything I could say to those who might have needed me is too little, too late. The trick with autumn is letting it lie where it falls. The business of a good man is not that he must pick himself up but any friend who may have stumbled amid the yellow leaves. …
Zimbabwe in 1999 was a hellish country. So many problems. White people making up less than one percent of the population but own 80% of the land. The political talk was that change was coming. Some said land redistribution, but I wondered if it was no more than an idea to keep the local elected leaders happy. It was bullshit.
The taxi driver’s name was Samson. His name was all I got out of him in English. His taxi was a beaten up Simca 100 GL. I wasn’t ready to break the news to Suzie, so I took Samson to a bar. We had two glasses of Coca-Cola, and I bought him a pack of cigarettes. When we left, I was still thinking about how I was going to tell Suzie my decision. But it wasn’t my decision. It was the Commissioners decision. …
I’m just a man hiding behind words.
I never expected every day would be a golden day, days that shone. In fact, most days revealed that nothing in the world is extraordinary or innovative, but most times ordinary, tough as beef, chewed on until it’s ready to be thrown up.
In this past year, days have been tough, and I wondered if some of those days would ever tender up enough to be gotten through.
It’s hard to draft a story on days like this; it’s hard to write anything at all. The computer screen stares back at me. It is a blank page. …
I arrived back in Zimbabwe the day before New Year’s Eve. I had taken the hour-long flight from Johannesburg to Harare. The driver from the Commissioner’s Office was waiting for me.
It was stupidly hot. The sun, merciless, beat down on the shimmering brown flatlands as we drove into town. During the drive, I took a call on the driver’s phone. It was the Commissioner. He wanted me to finish up my contract in Bulawayo. The killing of the rhino had escalated. It was out of control.
I was not excited about returning to Africa. At first, I fell in love with it, and then it broke my heart; it broke it in all the usual sorry ways of the world. While flying over Africa’s grand landscapes, it was exciting and romantic, only to find that on the ground, it is a cruel place, more than any place I’d been. …
So what if the world is quarreling about partisanship? To what crippling misfortune are we being moved toward? The country is engaged in a perfect storm of insanity beset by so many points of mistrust.
Is civil war possible in our nation’s democracy?
If I stay awake long enough from this nightmare, I see the world through a fog so thick even common sense cannot see through it.
No! I won’t be defeatist, even at this late stage. Surely, I’ll live long enough to see a common revolt to overcome the lies and anger and division.
Conspiracy theories have no age; humanity has moved from one to another since the birth of Christ. I am a western man, quite free to live in the world, celebrate that I can be whoever I want to be. But honestly, I think my mind has been asleep. …
Life’s journey toward grandchildren
I never thought I’d know the day
When I couldn’t simply sail away
To sail my boat under a lonely sky
Never to ask a reason why
Sail away on the wind’s first breath
Leave a world frightened to death
Not consider what man does wrong
Hear the dolphins sing their songs
Sail to somewhere on this day
Tell the wind I’m on my way
A new tomorrow on every dawn
Don’t count on me come the morn
That reckless sailor from long ago
Now has grandchildren to love and know
They will grow with Grandpa around
Not be told the old man…
On the day before Christmas Eve, I arrived in Oban. Hearing the screech of the gulls, smelling the lobster pots, and tasting the salt air cleaning my throat, I knew I was almost home.
Boarding the car ferry, the noises I thought forgotten came hurtling back: the yells of the men calling out, the piston-powered doors, the dragging chains, and the pungent smell of exhaust fumes spoke to me like old friends.
Leaning against the ship’s rails, staring out toward the Isle of Mull, I felt the shudder of the ferry’s engines slipping us silently away from the dockside. In minutes, we were plowing across the Firth of Lorn, passed the Lismore Lighthouse, toward Craignure. It has always been a magical entrance to secret places. …
When they told me that Pony Dalgleish had been diagnosed with a mental disorder, I felt the bitter chill that a friend feels having lost touch. Tim Dalgleish was given the name Pony by all of us boys in his class at school, for the reason he liked to keep his long hair tied up. The last time I saw him, perhaps a decade ago, he still had a fine head of hair, silvered of course, but tied up the same way. I felt envious, having started to lose my hair before I was thirty.
When I tried to get an idea about the seriousness of his illness, the information seemed vague. The physician told me that Pony didn’t understand consequences anymore; his first reaction toward people was insensitive and unsympathetic. Really? That’s a mental disorder? How many times have I felt the same way? …
If my writing were a friend, a rough kid you knew in school, a kid you never lost touch with, accepting of his faults, would you take his calls given his inability to explain himself in a coherent way?
Or would you see him only after a length of time, maybe a quick catch up? Someone to spend time with and reason that you’re joining up to talk about your once shameful lives.
Or meet up to wander together through well-known streets on foot. Streets that no longer have mystery, but walked with him offer a different experience.
Maybe he was once a friend, but now a person to ghost, knowing he is still a boy who never found a sense of longing, content listening to sailors talk of their far-flung wanderings, or a man who daily falls in love on the tube heading to the West End. …