Waxing Poetic On Beautiful Landscape Portion Of Our Fiction

01 May

cross-man

Cross Without Man

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Stop short I must. Because despite my zeal to write them, speak them to you, I realize my words appear to effect an attack on all things you apparently still hold dear, using examples of verbal exchange that you may not even remember given our difference in ages which may have been the measurement of what sanctioned our friendship in the first place. Young and impressionable minds of a certain stature soak up much that a mature busier mind tosses off in a fleeting moment as general knowledge perhaps unaware of the intensity with which the uninitiated might be paying attention. Couple that with the genuine urge to teach which was your passion, and we have an immediate imbalance. I may have been a fool, but I am nobody's fool. With each passing year I am still astonished by others as they recall something I have apparently said to them, invariably almost in passing, and yet the impact on their lives is alive and vital to their own surviving calculus.

Fortunately, we have the madcap antics of Christ and his disciples to clear us of any whims we might have of linguistic perfection. The needling paradox of Christ as I see it now, is that however plain it might be to us that Jesus Christ is the Word, words almost never suffice in explaining one’s faith in God to others, to oneself, or especially to rogue fictional character pushing for an importance that not for the taking. Perhaps here I might insert a poem I wrote in Corpus in 1982 as I struggled among various underpinnings of faith in religion, in myth, or in anything available to mind and intuition proved only by mass acceptance and repetition. A favorite definitive effort:

        DIED IN MY MOUTH
        A silent tongue unravels the strangling noose,
        Its path, unheralded by truce.
        Odd scratched and scribbled graffitti,
        Peacemaking my splintered head,
        Ballets in dizzy nymph

        Arousing the needy.
        A parlor hunger, birds unfed.

        My mind, a blank page.
        My head leaps as a small frog,
        There is no comfort.

        The nothingness crowd is quoted no more,
        Altared but undevoted they pay by nod.
        My mind, a cluttered page.
        My head sleeps as a burnt ephemeral log,
        There is no comfort.
        (Yet told around gracious Sin Avenue
        camp fires spotting downtown Machinery Row
        to the lilies laughing over a fine glass
        of the best Napolean brandy
        noonday dollars never doubt
        where sheer distance is divided by
        voteless cog, the mist of democracy
        is seen reflecting upon our names
        an appointed fog grazing upon
        the tracks of method....)

        And the saint thus
        Spoke scantily to the prophet:
        "He who demoralizes another
        "Can claim no morality for himself."
        To this the prophet said nothing, but
        He knew in part the saint
        For a shanty fool.

        (And the unfed,
        Left to perish among
        The unwelcome, left to ravish
        The beauty of beast, and the beast
        Of beauty, established
        Many fine logics.)

        I fell blank at such a formula—
        Asses built on caged numbers observed,
        Deserved and dirty word reserved
        For quaint molecules and family,
        Where my occupation is a gift to anyone
        Stroking along fishy fables,
        Mentality tables, cradled
        Images, daisies, nightsies,
        Keepsies.

        I am the yellow sheep
        I can’t earn my keep
        Proving the fallibility of this text
        World without maps
        World without worldliness
        Matterhorn

        My mind, an accurate page.
        My head keeps to its own symbol,
        There is no comfort.

        I wonder what proof died in my mouth.


In Corpus Christi I lived in a tiny garage apartment measuring eight feet wide by twenty feet deep. Painted a heavy pink like the main house, it was comfortable and private. My landlord lived with his elderly mother up front in the rather small big house. Don Allard Gottselig was first generation German American. His parents, both career telephone company employees, had immigrated to Corpus to escape Adolf Hitler in the 1930s although his father had been deceased for several years before I arrived on the scene. Over the course of a very complicated year, Gottselig became my third and final mentor on the basis on his admitted inability to pigeonhole me, or figure me out, as he said he prided himself on just such a spirit of discernment. His early quip that at age 25 I was going through a premature mid-life crisis, immediately caught my attention.

Just an observation, apparently a much-needed observation since your beautiful and adoring wife Ann burst into tears and immediately kneeled at my legs, grasping my hand, exclaiming great thanks when I told you how difficult you make it for people to open up to you, standing right there in the kitchen in hers and the boys' presence just as I was leaving my wonderful three day stay at your Sharpstown home to hit the road back to Corpus, never to see you again.
I basked in the shimmering focus of the enigmatic. I was continuing my studies, now adept at the library frolic, frisky along the glimmering prisms of eclectic titles. Although still very much a slow learner standing at the edge of the woods I was beginning to move past my own age of innocence into something more worm-eaten, something more grounded in the works of men who had asked similar questions to mine. I would press Gottselig with tough questions and odd banter. He said he admired my knack for dismissing the banal and getting to the heart of what he was the first in my life to resolutely sum up as the eternal questions. Of course, I've heard that phrase many times, now, but it goes without saying an autodidact will always be surprised how how much he doesn't know, while the four year scholar will often seem content and proud that four years ago long and away, he once studied at Colombia, got his degree, and is now smarter than anyone when he returns home to his hick hometown among friends and family. As autodidacts, you and I, we seemed to have veered at a certain point when you realized I wasn't just another bright, but blank white canvas, and would resist overbearance. I know it must pain you that your wife has now left you. Yes, I remember. You insisted over the phone that she will always be your wife, beautiful, intelligent Ann, never some other man's. Did she leave you before or after your stroke? I don't think you made that clear to me. But like me, everything is a test from God, and you weather your trials and tribulations. If she left you after your stroke, that makes me particularly sad, even angry. Adultery is common, and understandable for a woman, especially for a sensual robust woman like Ann, to feel thwarted by persistent and pernicious forces she cannot understand, no matter how much she tries. It was you who introduced to me the whirling concept of sexual anthropology. But cruelty after the fact? To walk away as you succumb to weakness? That seems to step into another circle perhaps Dante has already been privy. I do not know. I found Dante rather boring. Just an observation, apparently a much-needed observation since your beautiful and adoring wife Ann burst into tears and immediately kneeled at my legs, grasping my hand, exclaiming great thanks when I told you how difficult you make it for people to open up to you, standing right there in the kitchen in hers and the boys' presence just as I was leaving my wonderful three day stay at your Sharpstown home to hit the road back to Corpus, never to see you again.

When I was a tyke, I used to tell everyone that I knew how to swim because I'd seen it on TV. Later, when I was twelve, still never in enough water to test those skills I'd seen on the screen, I nearly drowned when a teammate on my Little League baseball team named Stan Googe and I went swimming in the pool at his parent's motel in Darien. The Googe grabbed me as I went down for the third time. I remember fearing the worst because I'd also heard about the three times rule. I got as much out of those dinner parties as I gave, and no George, there was no sex, at least not as long as I was around.
Gottselig. A well-educated man in his early forties, he was a social worker for the Corpus Christi office of the Red Cross. He was also a practicing homosexual. And although it was several months before our formal landlord-tenant relationship melted away into a welcomed friendship we immediately shared a mutual respect based on our differences, and there were never any designs to infect the other with our distinct behavioral memes. I have not talked to him either since those days, but on a visit there during the Thanksgiving holiday in 1992, my brother whose ex-wife still lived in the area, and I drove by the Indiana Street house just for old times sake. I was dismayed to see the shrubbery had overgrown and the paint was peeling badly off the little pink house. However the same automobile he had bought new the year I rented there was still parked in the driveway, a tan 1980 Chevy Chevette, twelve years later, and I assumed that his mother had since passed away and he was aging if not ill, the elements of time and a fixed income probably consuming more energies than he could serenely apply to such matters. It made the sad, and I wish I had the nerve to knock on the door. I had and still am visited at night with many dreams that distort that period, that house, Don. None of them to do with sex, but of friendship to an old friend perhaps in need, or perhaps fully recovered to his own high standards where he and his friends at some point invited me to join their silver and crystal dinner parties, carefully planned and executed. Then I would return to my cottage in the rear. Surely I was being used as a prop for their liberalism and lust, but they commented on how sophisticatedly I fit right in. I would always grin, thinking not all long-hairs are drug-addled bums off the street, but actually have watched a little TV too. That's a joke. When I was a tyke, I used to tell everyone that I knew how to swim because I'd seen it on TV. Later, when I was twelve, still never in enough water to test those skills I'd seen on the screen, I nearly drowned when a teammate on my Little League baseball team named Stan Googe and I went swimming in the pool at his parent's motel in Darien. The Googe grabbed me as I went down for the third time. I remember fearing the worst because I'd also heard about the three times rule. I got as much out of those dinner parties as I gave, and no George, there was no sex, at least not as long as I was around.

During those gritty twenty months of wandering through Corpus Christi on an unrehearsed cavort to crack the code reinforcing heaven on earth it was indeed my sound pleasure to learn that not only do lean rigorous Nazarene theologians, boorish Appalachian coal miners, big city unreformed lawyers, zealous vegetarians on the supper take, millionaire ballplayers mopping up life on a single talent, culinary specialists with an eye for the spices, steel-hardened biker broad roughnecks laboring on an icy rig out in the Gulf of Mexico, top shelf economists stuck on desk duty, foul-mouthed construction workers, brainscorched rock & roll lemmings, dinosaur poets in search of the perfect metaphor, early shore race-threatening Connecticut yankees, Alabama rednecks, 20th century negroes in search of the lost dynasty, and let’s not forget the well-defended forts of snowdrop women of all cuts and reward, and children of every coinage from sea to shining sea, all speak in their own peculiar jargon, genre-busting the human identity, each group ceding a language built and maintained for the esoteric control of the situation at hand to its own groomed members, so yes it can be stated simply and securely that not only do all of the above—but alas—also goeth the homosexual underworld into a language of their own making. And I do not find that amazing in the least.

It was about this time I began sensing God’s signature was to be written on me, whoever I am in the eyes of the world. The tortured buzzing of sectarian flies had never synthesized me into accepting a comfortable slot in the security machine, neither when I was younger, nor even now, as I approach forty years old. This in itself proves nothing, but then what does? short of the resurrection?
In my middle 20s and remarkably naîve as I evidently behaved at the time, but is often a behaviorial mask I use to illicit what may come from whomever I encounter as a possible source of color, anecdote, knowledge, rumor, legend, myth, filthy lie off the assembly line, this somewhat lateblooming recognition of widespread babelism did not exactly alarm me, but neither did it convince me that any of these track thinkers with their tuning forks of self-serving tongues possessed a thimbleful more spiritual aim or aptitude than I had already intuited lived within me. After a while second-guessing gets old, and Father Time commands a muster, a stand, a strength to live out the consequences of that faith, even if that means waxing poetic on the breath-taking landscape portion of our fiction. Resourceful and convinced of my mark, I knew only the God who dwelled within me, knew of my genetics and my blood, my habits nasty, gnarly, and nuanced, pleasing, well-prepared, and productive, and this God spoke of historical things.

This knowledge of God however chiseled deep gorges of restraint into my very being and I found myself unable to preach, unpersuaded that I might be right about anything great or small, and I suddenly knew myself to be a relativist, a solipsist, a sightseer thwarted in my desire to point fingers and lay blame on the state of things in conflict. All arguments could be justified, and who was I to state emphatically my own special warping of facts filtered through the prism of eternity’s pulp? But on the upside of things, from within this mix of spiritual release and mortal confusion, after five convulsive years of great visceral strife I was finally able to shake off the yoke of textbook fear that the Jehovah Witnesses had been so successful in grafting onto me. That fear was truer than feathers on a chicken. My journey into the claims of God versus the claims of Man was not ended but had barely begun as my true nature under God became linked with the testament of my contemporary times.

My own sense of well-being was instantly corrupted when two or three interpreters, straight from the urging of the spirit, such as it was, had to remind the holy there gathered that "outward appearance was not what was important but that which was on the inside, and that one should overlook..."
Failing to meet the standards of one assembly after another, I was beginning to feel ready to invade the smoldering world of rock and roll in the first person singular, ready to spin forth gracefully or not, a perfumed insult to the carefully separated, sound against sound, word against word, hairstyle against hairstyle. It would be vanity on trial. And I would make my way into that world delirium confident in my own words, words I had tested time and time again in what had always in the back of my head seemed like a preposterous hoax of coincidence and wishful thinking, but on faith transformed into the living breathing word and will of God, the voice and path of one thin soldier ready to swing along the pendulum of foul play, God’s buffoon, if you may, in unshunned step with what I had perceived as Jehovah’s masterplan mapped onto our own hypermanufactured age. It was about this time I began sensing God’s signature was to be written on me, whoever I am in the eyes of the world. The tortured buzzing of sectarian flies had never synthesized me into accepting a comfortable slot in the security machine, neither when I was younger, nor even now, as I approach forty years old. This in itself proves nothing, but then what does? short of the resurrection?

In this light I am reminded of my last visit to Houston some evening when you took me to a businessman Christian's meeting, an odd appellation I thought, but I was there with you to give them a shot. Gathered in a fine house full of genuine, nice-looking, smiles a mile folk offering gracious hors d’oeuvres, an ecclesiastic folksinger on acoustic guitar and an opening prayer conducted in these same warbling unfamiliar tongues I had also witnessed at Oral Roberts, and despite all my research, I considered mere syllabic automation, basically, a hoax. My own sense of well-being was instantly corrupted when two or three interpreters, straight from the urging of the spirit, such as it was, had to remind the holy there gathered that "outward appearance was not what was important but that which was on the inside, and that one should overlook..."

Instead of presuming flattery or favor that I was being "accepted" I felt chafed and slandered. Hearing that mature born again christians still had to pray themselves conscious of such a fundamental principle as hair length on a male was preposterous to me. That folk-singer on stage surely didn't arrive by way of the Gregorian chanters or the John Wesleyan devotional hymn school of praising the lord in song. No, he stole the style from long-hairs and colored folks, but cut his hair short to meet his Maker's will, or something like that. And the colored church music I sat outside an old shack Baptist church in Darien to hear, not unlike Jerry Lee and Jimmy, was not exactly what I call devotional. It was ecstatic. George, you prepared me to understand that these people were no ordinary life-long churchgoing frontrow hypocrites the stereotype depicts, but rather, seasoned lambs of Christ girded in faith, bubbling with joy, repackaged shakers and movers, apostles of self-confidence, full of zest in their relationship with the Lord and oh so financially successful according to their firebrand challenge to the sowing and reaping doctrine, and oops—perhaps this is where spiritual blindness was allowed to seep in. A doctrine based on financial success leaves little room for the sheepskin and sackcloth crowd. This cash cow for believers concept however, is an Americanized doctrine, yet somehow, it does not really seem to cure what ails us, but certainly seems to open up huge languishing holes for watershed grievances to take root.

It is often used in connection with the Government Survey System. Yes, as you said of me in 1978, I am a born surveyor, but did God create me to take a job at some engineering or construction firm measuring distances from sticks to stones, from pipes to wood, with chains and transits, knuckleheads and time clocks? I think not. What's a mere job to God the Messenger?
Don't get me wrong. I am a proud believer that the American system is serving God’s purpose, but so have the many others which preceded it, and frankly, experience has ranked me lower than a crass amateur in the fluttering ways of money, so in seeking a level perspective my only interest is one of a universal nature. Each man trapped within a system must posture himself and others in whatever resources are available to him. God will polish the coin according to his own plans, not ours. Does this explain petty thieves and robber barons throughout the ages, no, but life goes on its dizzy way, and each trespasser must figure each barbed wire fence out for himself, until the final trumpet is blown.

There is much to explore here but I would rather treat fiscal matters later when the chronology permits. I just didn’t want to leave out such an important event, a veritable public enzyme supercharging the reaction of my spiritual molecule, so to speak. Fully aware that any and all of these fleeting moments in time I describe, can be reslated and proposed as something entirely benevolent and thus mean just about anything anyone wants it to mean, I am not placing blame on anyone. The fact that I reacted in a certain homeopathic way is telling of my own nature, and of the rise and fall effects that are peculiar to the individual and usually can not be thwarted without the pressures of an effective discipline administered in the freedom of individual choice or enforced from outside with any power available, which is of course, the complete opposite of the freedom of choice, except to the contrarian who knows his metes and bounds—the boundary lines of the hand and mind, with their terminal points and angles, describing the hand and mind by listing as many compass directions and distances of the boundaries that the surveyor can muster. It is often used in connection with the Government Survey System. Yes, as you said of me in 1978, I am a born surveyor, but did God create me to take a job at some engineering or construction firm measuring distances from sticks to stones, from pipes to wood, with chains and transits, knuckleheads and time clocks? I think not. What's a mere job to God the Messenger?

But years later, here from Washington, I sent Robert Tilton a hundred dollars. His ministry only cashed one of the two fifty dollar checks I sent, that being the one stapled to the front page of a 24 page letter. The second check was stapled to page nineteen, and never made it back to my bank. Several months later, news reporter Diane Sawyer broke nationally the story of Tilton’s ministry fraud, highlighting his tossing into dumpsters outside the studio thousands of personal prayer requests and letters with little regard for his flock.

But it's not the only high stakes example I have of such lightning coincidences. In fact, there are many. Too many to neglect. We are just getting started. I saw God written in black magic market upon a pink bathroom wall one day. My hand had pushed the marker, but who on God's green earth pushed the conspicuous message through the electrical cables snaking inside my head? It read simply, "Do not neglect thy holy memory."
You see, I had worked one day for a political action group that did exactly the same thing. The shaky handwriting of the elderly who would send in a dollar to help the fight for lower taxes was another watershed moment for me. Not that I did not already tie religion to politics, but that I had an example. My job that day was to peel off the money, dump the rest. The questionnaire was nothing but a prop, the handwritten notes that found their way onto the margins of that questionnaire or a ripped out piece of paper as useless to the action group as the length of my haiR.

All monies went to pay for modest office overhead and the salary of one person, Jules, his palatial, and I do mean P-A-L-A-T-I-A-L home on Lake Barcroft in Fairfax County, suburban DC. A very prestigious zip code for very prestigious people. In other words, a scam, plain and simple so that this one man could live high. Oh sure, he talked to a few people on the Hill every once in a while. I mean, what's better than that? A prestigious job among prestigious people, and a wonderful glam palace to bring his women to visit. I forgot. There was a modest salary for my wife the accountant, one of those women before I'd met her, who'd gotten permission to bring me in for a day to help in the backlog of mail. How much did Jules accomplish to lower taxes in the Reagan years? None, I suspect. He was not on the Reagan team. He wasn't needed. Reagan came into power on those words of lowering taxes. In short, his job appeared to be nothing but a typical political sham in fleecing mostly Depression Era and WWII seniors who took their seats at the table in Washington somewhat seriously, a lot more seriously than the rest of us.

Tall tale short, I used what I learned from this one day at the political action office to spot that eye-fluttering televangelist a regal opportunity. That a famous TV personality took him down a few weeks later, I can take no credit, not even as an anointed instigator of the Most High. But it's not the only high stakes example I have of such lightning coincidences. In fact, there are many. Too many to neglect. We are just getting started. I saw God written in black magic market upon a pink bathroom wall one day. My hand had pushed the marker, but who on God's green earth pushed the conspicuous message through the electrical cables snaking inside my head? It read simply, "Do not neglect thy holy memory."

GT

© 1994 - 2013, Gabriel Thy. All rights reserved.

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"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""


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