I hope fully that it’s not the last,
because ‘last’ has been crossing my mind a lot these days.
A lot compared to what/when?
When the d words (demise, destruct, delete) hover,
like gulls above the ferry, waiting for a tasty morsel.
When I have premonitions of my last day, (d-Day) being this day, I get up, do morning stuff, and scan for disorder. Being a (Virgo), I quickly make things orderly. I check lights and faucets.
I put laundry in the bag and wash the dishes.
I close the door behind me, step into the garden, so very alive (the garden I mean), beep the car open, and seatbelt up.
After saying thank you in side (of me) AND out loud,
to the dusty dash, I step on the gas.
I drive and move mindfully for a couple of hours.
Ask me about my d-Day after those few hours have past
and I’ll be like, ‘Huh? What’s a d-Day?’
I have no idea how we started at a Bookstore
and wound up here, at d-Day.
Just thought of two words, man and life and the signifi . . .
Wait bro, let’s finish one story before starting another one.
Let’s return to d-Day and close it out.
The gull swoops, drops down and plucks me from earth.
I am in the bird’s crop, (really, no longer an ‘I am’) heading to Heaven. Where else in this Christian country, would I wind up? Me?
Certainly not downstairs.
Scene 3 (continues at my house):
Total strangers are prying my front door open.
The neighbors are dazzled by the array of emergency vehicles
crammed onto our little country road.
The workers, police, military and medical personnel are button-lipped. Maybe zipper-lipped is a more effective term.
Not a word is spoken , not a rustle of leaves.
They bust the door down, now using sledge hammers,
backed up by robo-cops and vigilantes aiming weapons,
high powered and automatic, at whoever may appear,
from behind the shattering door.
Scene 4 (The Neighbors):
I heard he was a terrorist.
Are you kiddin’ me? A fuckin’ terrorist?
Where did you hear that?
On FOX news, earlier today.
Where is he from?
I thought he was an American, but he’s brown.
He sounded American to me too.
He is probably in one of those cells.
Yeah, They laugh and say good morning, but underneath
they’re just waiting to burn your Bible and kill your family.
It’s like that Netflix movie, The Americans.
Yeah! That’s the one about Communist cells. Right?
Right. What country do you think he is from Jude?
Oh I don’t know, maybe Nigeria, Arabia, Samoa, or even Africa.
The leader gives a signal, all those secret cells spring up
and take over. Just like a locust black plague,
they will invade us, and darken our country.
You guys know Jude is fucked up, right?
Yeah, he’s trippin’ on that PCP again.
Scene 5 (back with the crew):
The crew has walked in over the smashed front door
and stand there inhaling exhaling inhaling ‘Welcome-Loving-Peace’
in the air, over and over, ‘Welcome-Loving-Peace’,
while relaxing more and more and . . .
We, you, me, and the crew all know the writer died
in the vehicular collision. Please be advised, no animals, including humans, were harmed in the above mentioned incident. Well, for this story’s continuity,
just one human was harmed.
Enough about harm and d-Days.
Let’s get back to the last bookstore.
Maybe not the last bookstore I have visited,
but this bookstore visit touches on shock and fear.
It took place in the late eighties.
At the time I was perfecting my collage art
and creating the largest works I have done.
The bookstore this happened at was the Barnes & Noble
in Silverdale, WA.
For some reason or another, Barnes & Noble invited me
to hang work in their store,
in the snacking/sipping/scarfing/slurping, quiet-zone.
It’s where folks sit to get away from words.
But this snippet is about shock, horror and fear,
as opposed to being about stores or books.
What happened in that Barnes & Noble still adheres,
as much as is left, to my memory lobe.
This dilemma of thought loss shows up in the human
Dementia transpires from adhesive loss.
The ‘thought adhesive’ becomes brittle or less sticky
with age, enabling gathered thoughts to drift away.
Call it a current consequence of human aging.
I will record, as much as there is left to remember.
The store manager gave me a choice of displaying
whatever I wanted to. Which two pieces will I hang?
One, already completed was named ‘Spirit Rising’.
The other, ‘Temptation’ was in a beginning stage.
The contract (I recall signing) stated something
about ‘no nudity or sex’ to be displayed.
Sexual components contribute to temptation,
so I had to rethink substitutes for sexual images.
I do believe I arrived at the best compromises,
given the guidelines.
When the day came, I needed assistance to hang the works
because the framed pieces were large and heavy.
Myself and the assistant manager climbed adjacent ladders
and hung ‘Temptation’ first. Viewing it from the close-up ladder height,
I thought it was a bit risque, but realized it was high enough that seated visitors would not look up and if they did, would not see the details clearly. Please view this work by clicking below.
We then moved the ladders over to hang ‘Spirit Rising’.
We measured the hook locations and hauled the piece up.
We were positioning it on the hooks when the young child(maybe 8 or 9) started screaming out loud, at the top of her lungs. She jumped up, pointing at ‘Spirit Rising’, screaming, ‘Dead people. Dead people’, over and over. The child’s mother stands and shouts, ‘How dare you hang that in here? It’s a disgrace! Take it down!’
The mom gathers her things and her sobbing child and rushes
out of the store. We are up on the ladders in our own states
of shock, embarrassment and confusion.
Everyone is now looking up.
We descended the ladders and I acted like a handyman.
I didn’t mull around long, to see what others were saying.
The only other imprint I retain from that incident was the old guy
lowering his New York Times to look up. In the next moment the paper was up again, hiding his face. I recall thinking when I read the NY Times I folded the paper into quarters to manage the wide pages easier.
People have shared with me that ‘Spirit Rising’ scares them.
Are you one of those people? Just curious.
I give my take on it below. What is yours?
These works were created before the digital age.
Most images in these two works were resized
and printed many times on acid-free paper,
on Kinko’s copiers. Resized so when I returned home,
one of the sizes would fit perfectly on the piece.
Can you imagine all the paper that got recycled?
Another note 1:
I may or may not get back to ‘man and life and the signifi . . ‘
Time will tell.
That was the last bookstore I remembered having an incident in.
Here I am stepping out of ‘I gotta go pee’ to actually getting up
to do it.