Strike Another Match, Go Start Anew

For the 1st anniversary of a crooked yellow house.

From a chair in the kitchen I watched the house burn and not slowly. Frantic orange tongues lapped the walls and the ceiling. I remembered old friends but I was not lonely. This is not a house. This is not a house. When all the books went up, when they contracted into ash and the words were sacrificed to the ghost of smoke, it was no doubt a metaphor for everything I wanted. Burn it all down. Burn my will and my hopes. My expectations are the punch lines of jokes. It’s getting hot in here. The foundation is caving. Old pictures? Letters? There’s nothing worth saving. All my fondest things are representations of craving. Let it all burn and get the fuck out the house!


I had a buddy Jay who dumped a bottle of 151 on his head and lit himself on fire. He told me once, “Jon. I just don’t feel strongly about anything.” I said “Jay. You lit your head on fire.”

When I’m running, sometimes I’ll get overwhelmed with this overflowing feeling and I’ll want to SCREAM and I feel like I might spontaneously combust into a torrent of vital flames. In a good way. Heraclitus believed fire was fundamental, that fire gave rise to all things. It gives rise and it devours. Can you imagine? Everything, the whole wide world, constantly rising and falling in simultaneous flickering.

Do you burn? What for?

But do you burn with the intense purity that leaves no ash? 


The first time I sat with the Roshi he told me “The very best thing you can hope for is old age and death. That’s as good as it gets. You are in a lose/lose situation. Your body? Your body is a house on fire. Get out of the house. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!”

My skin, dry kindling. My mind a forest fire.


The past. The future. Everything you know.

Burn it.


We're All Made Out Of Shipwrecks

And when all the maple trees catch fire and melt like ice cubes on August sidewalks and you drink the entire Atlantic Ocean and it’s still not enough—it’s never enough—you’ll find yourself alone with Las Vegas in your face and the wind will blow like hammers. You will think, when you’re able to, in fragments of language that, eluding meaning, shine only for themselves: My skin is made of risks. Deserts. Gambles. Camera tricks. Words fall like rain but all you do is listen, get wet, forget. Count your breath and chop off your head. Take walks alone. Pay attention to the street meeting your feet. Breathe breathe breathe until the future is a broken window and you find yourself on a park bench with the sky knocking on your head. Maybe you’ll meet a drummer and you’ll talk about panhandling.  Maybe you’ll become friends and get coffee tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be a strange world if—when you were never lonelier, when you could actually feel your bones disappearing—a friend appeared and he played drums for a band that kicked ass like this?



Sometime during the blur of December, 2010, I found myself at the Rio waiting to score coke but the guy was super late so I just hung at the bar, drinking, texting him, thinking about coke. He called. He said “I’m on my way. Do NOT… text me again.”

“Okay. But why are coke dealers so averse to texts?” I texted. Decisions such as this are why my binges never last long. I am not built to last.

In the bathroom he took my $120, slapped the drugs in my palm, and grabbed both my shoulders. He said “Lose my number. Don’t call me again. Or I will kill you.” I stepped on a scorpion that night. The morning fell like a tree.


Tonight I heard a guy tell a story about another guy Ted. They found Ted in the desert cut up in several pieces. He said other things about cocaine and money and gratitude but I got stuck on the part about the pieces. I stared at the palm of my hand as if it was the only palm I had ever seen in the world, and my fingers, and my wrist, here, all in one piece. 

And I imagined being Ted. No. I am Ted. Dead, scattered, in pieces. I thought about Dionysus and the Titans, luring him away from home with the promise of marvelous toys, and then tearing him to shreds. Didn’t the pieces of Dionysus then come alive and ensoul the world? I can’t remember if that’s right or if I’m making that part up.

I wonder. Is that what happened to Ted’s pieces? To mine? Perhaps our blood soaks into the hard sandy ground to become future pigment for lively red rocks. How many times, I wonder, have I narrowly escaped pieces? How many times will I be sliced into pieces before I finally let go and go out—get out—break out—into the animated rain and the soul of outside? 


73 days. Misty pieces all of a fog.


Amor Fati

I'm leaving tomorrow to run through you Saturday.

My post two days ago missed the mark. It was lopsided. It's hard to express how you really are. Miserable is never the whole story. Happy is never the whole story. The practice of writing is the practice of moving closer and closer to a saying that unsays itself in an effort to explore articulated silence.

It's going to be breathtaking. It's going to hurt. This run will be a meandering exploration of gorgeous pain.

It took the Colorado River 17 million years to create the Grand Canyon. How can we not, like those orange and red rocks, yield to the water and learn to love erosion? 



When I was a wee boy and hungry and not yet versed in the process by which one places food in the hole in one’s face, I watched. My brother stuffed blueberries in his tiny voracious maw. But how? WITH HANDS! And a finger pinching the berry between itself and the thumb. Raised to his open mouth. Popped right in.

Study doors. The way outside. The way in. The space between and what that means. Think about keys and locks and latches. There’s those hands again. A wave. A beckoning. A pointed direction or a sudden halt. A pause, an upright finger over the lips. We could live without speaking. We could get by fine with just hands and eyes.

I used to make a really big deal out of my mother’s suicide attempt and subsequent madness. When I was very young, she went away for awhile. It was then that I developed my interest in doors, watching, wondering, waiting for them to open. Who will come and go? What doors would I open? Would I merely take a peek? Or fling them open and leap?

Last weekend, in silence, it occurred to me—for the first time ever and quite significantly—that my mother, after her suicide attempt and subsequent madness, came home. She came home and she stayed home and that’s where she remains. Home. Tiny. Frail like a bird. A silent unwavering statue carved out of loss and grief, and yet not without joy. My mother taught me how to smile.

The beginner learns by watching. All hands point home. Have a blueberry.


Coming Down The Mountain


We rounded the corner, running, and the slender mountain trail snaked through masses of aspens. Lemons. Daffodils. Suns. Taxis. I imagined Vincent Van Gogh chewing on his paint brush and streaks of yellow paint dripping from his crazed chin.

The last night I drank, I sideswiped a woman’s car trying to exit McCarran Airport. Furious, she took down my name, number, and insurance information. But she didn’t call the police. I drove home, gripping the wheel with clenched fists, forehead sweating. I was running out of luck and I knew it.

We peaked Mt. Charleston, 12,000 feet. There’s a triumphant humility at the top of a mountain. You did it! You look in every direction, atop a natural throne. But you don’t forget, because it never fails to remind you with a windy whisper, that the mountain—the mountain is the boss. 

“Nowhere to go now but down!” Jimmy smiled.

To the bottom.

Back through the aspens and all those yellow prayers.


Get Lost

I’ve lately had the feeling that I don’t fit inside myself. Like, my inside is bigger than my body. You mustn’t take that too literally. It’s not like I’m bloated. I don’t have the urge to peel my skin off. Rather—I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but—I feel like there’s more me than the me inside me.

You know how when you’re in the mall and you see a woman screaming at her toddler and you start crying? Yes. Exactly. I’ve been pushing this notion of identifying with people into the territory of actually being identical to them. Do you see? I can’t fit inside me.

It’s confusing. So let me begin again. I have insides outside my skin. A blur, a blend: Imagination / Attention.

For instance, if I pay attention to a tree, what does that even mean? To pay attention? You give the tree something. You give the tree you. Now a tree is usually considered alive but not sentient, but what I’m trying to express here is that by observing a tree, by giving it your attention, the line between in and out BLURS and the tree achieves its own kind of subjective inwardness. That’s what the tree buys when you pay attention. And now you, because you can’t fit inside yourself, are a tree—"your" inside is inside the tree—and you’re looking down at the odd human being, staring up at you, stunned, mesmerized by being ecstatically lost in the forest.

“Hello,” the tree says, feeling you out for the courage to imagine. The future—it dangles on your reply.


When You Drop Your Flowers

If you could just slow down, stop moving, get still—for guidance, look to big rocks in the park or old men bathing in memory while gazing out windows—if you could just dull the frantic pace, not do the next right thing, stop. Maybe then you’d get sad enough to shatter like an expensive vase, become pieces, drop all your flowers, let the water run off the table, splash to the floor, and run out the door into the great big world.

Only broken, with fragments of you everywhere, will you find your voice that speaks to squirrels. And when they ignore you, minding their own business and looking for nuts, seek your answers elsewhere. Get quiet—like an old woman smiling or a stone in the stream—and, somewhere past the wind and the crickets, you will hear your answers in the song of lily pads.