Thursday, June 12, 2008

marina and the sponges of glass beach

Once upon a time, living sponges roamed the land. They went squishing through the streets of Glass Beach, a small village by the sea, searching for children. When they found them, the sponges made them cry by making the saddest sound anyone had ever heard so that they could drink their tears. It was children in particular that the sponges were after because the saddest sound anyone had ever heard occurs at a sound frequency that is outside of the hearing range of adult ears. Also, the tears of children are much more tasty than those of grown-ups.

One of the victims of the sponges was named Marina. She was a dreamer. There were people who believed she could see the future. One unparticular night – a night that had the same number of stars in the dark sky as all the other nights – a night that smelled of the same salt of the sea – a night that was tickled by the same wind of the wings of the Great Birds of the trees – Marina dreamed that someone threw a rock at her. In the dream, she ducked and the rock missed her, but by the time the rock hit the ground beside her, it had transformed into glass and it shattered on the ground sending shooting-star bits of itself in all directions.
The sponges new exactly where to find Marina because she often fed them well. They climbed the front stairs of the blue house, slipping a little on the sandy wood, and squeezed through the space between the door and the floor.
Someone passed and noticed the clumps of wet sand on the stairs, but that was all. They found marina lying in her bed, looking at the bright moon. They breathed in their abominable way through their hideous pores and the saddest sound anyone had ever heard was unleashed into Marina’s tender ears.

Marina’s tears were so hot that night that when they fell on the sand of the beach, the sand turned to glass. After Marina’s sobbing that night, the beach was full of millions of marbles winking at the moon.
The village children saw the glistening beach through their windows. They thought that they saw fairies dancing in the sand.
The village lovers saw through their windows. They thought that it was phosphorescence from the sea.
The village elders saw through their windows. They thought that the sky and its stars had finally fallen.
The bats saw the beach upside down from where they hung in the trees. They thought all the winking marbles were little fireflies, flashing their last flashes before going to sleep.
Everyone flew to the beach.

The commotion of this thunderous gathering caused vibrations in the earth and air that moved towards the sea. When these vibrations arrived at the island of the Great Birds of the sea, they flapped their great wings making a sweet and salty wind blow towards the shore. This warm and mighty breath of the great wings pushed the waves of the sea, and the waves grew and picked up speed.

When they got to the beach the children, the lovers, the elders, and the bats each chose a marble of the sparkling multitudes. Each looked deeply at the treasure in his or her hand. Looked at the bubble that contained a star. Looked at the galaxy inside the star inside the young and still warm globe of glass. And, interrupting these simultaneous reveries, the tidal wave came and the sea devoured every last one of the star-gazers. Including the bats.

Marina watched from her window, as the children, the lovers, the elders, and the bats disappeared into the sea. It lasted two instants. In the first, the mouth of the sea opened as wide as possible and inhaled in silence. In the second, there was only dark and wet noise. And the sea returned to its easeful yawning. Drops of salty sweet water lightly sprayed the window. The sponges also saw, from their perches on the sill beside Marina, dry with immense thirst.

After the tidal wave, the Glass Beach village was populated by Marina, the sponges and lonely youths. There were no children laughing, no lovers with loudly beating hearts, no elders sharing the old stories, and no bats to eat the mosquitoes. At first, everything was silent. Then, the village was plagued with mosquitoes hungry for the blood of humans, next came the herds of spiders, hungry for mosquitoes. Eventually the spider webs consumed the entire village. They didn’t leave a single survivor.

One day many many many years later, a little girl with a mind full of magic, walked along a shore many many many miles from Glass Beach. She found, in the sand, among the sea-dull stones and broken shells, a marble. She picked it up and looked at the universe inside, clouded by time, but filled with wonder.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

just a taste of the being little/being big zine (available at together gallery May 29)

you never looked like a rope
taunting me
from above.

you looked like you
but only so
before I met
face to face
my fear of heights

a page turned; we were

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

wonder world

At the beach I sit and wait for something.
I sit on a chair that is so low that I can feel the sand easing itself around to accommodate the space that I take up.
I sit and look at the ocean and then I go into the ocean.
I never know what to do with myself once I’m in the water.
I dive through some waves.
I float.
Sometimes I try to find the right way to be in the water, to trick my body into thinking it’s a substance like air.
It is a thick version of air, I tell my body.
It is cool thick air.
Waves are wet wind, I insist.
My body is never convinced, and something comes. The feeling comes, invited or not.
And I go back towards the shore into being in just air.

I get tumbled, which is something that hasn’t happened since I was younger and smaller and less aware of the ocean’s behavior.
I saw the big white wave and realized that I would be tumbled and I let myself be tumbled like a pebble in the big white wave.
I didn’t open my eyes, but I wish I had. There was no space or time for anything like that – but wouldn’t it be a sight!
That timeless anti-gravity chamber that the ocean held me in, forcing me down which I eventually found out was up.
It tricked me into believing that up and down were switched – the compasses spinning in their cases!
I lived in dark sound for countless eternal moments.

And then, the sand at my feet, the water’s surface at my waist and the shore, the horizon, the sky.
And the world is back because I am back.
And the world was there, complete and tame the whole time.
And, also there, was the wide existence of things in it that continue relentlessly without me there to activate any of it with my consciousness.

How comforting and sad to realize the tumble is over.

I get tumbled. And this is a rough one. This is God's wet hands pushing and pulling. My face and shoulder scrape hard and surprising against what I expect to be the surface, a place for breathing. That sandy ocean floor didn't feel anything like concrete when I was walking out into the then harmless water. It is a joke what a sloshing hollow mouth moth this mass has metamorphed into.
This tumble is a real punishment, I start to believe (still not allowed by the white water to rise for breath). I'm being taught some sort of heartless lesson. Smacked brusquely by an elder sibling and told it will do me good--toughen me up.
Only this isn't just any superior -- this is the elder -- the toxic air in my chest begins its stinging pounding. This is the It and perhaps even the All. The biggest big. The constant and terrifying rattle, the pervasive frequency we only hear when the refrigerator stops its infernal buzzing.
My hand, which I don't realize is grasping for anything until -- finds itself full of meaningless sand, and then, in the next instant, emptied by the slippery thug, Ocean. There is something greensalty in my mouth. I am the nonsound blasting of the underworld. I am disintegrating into vibrating layers of drifted seafloor. The wave is subsiding, quieting, but I am still held within it. It is beginning to be warm and simple in its destruction of me. Little me in big it. "I will," I say to it, "breath in your velvet salt air." If it comes to that. But it never does, and so, it obediently doesn't.
I am, predictably, blasted by my promise out of the wet dream and into the dry one. Up and out, I am spat. Past and present. Born and gasping.

I am in you again, tumbled and thrashed in your furious lather. Reminded that humans are no longer aquatic, but still hanging on, with hairy white ape-knuckles to our genetic heritage.
You are forcing water up my nose and it hurts like hell. I didn't agree to this. I did not submit to your salty velvet air. Not yet. I refuse to breathe you in, but you break and enter, my nowhere head throbbing with the thick salty froth you've forced into my blow hole nostrils. I'm no whale. I can't find shit with my wildly howling sonar.
I'm just little and you're just big and you are swallowing me wetly in your cold blue mouth. I wait for your will to quiet, to spare me, floatingly, until next time. By then I'll grow gills.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Consuelo and Delia sit on the floor in Delia's drafty bedroom in the big green country house near the river that looked like a dollhouse. Consuelo is Indian-style and Delia is crouches. They have been creating a universe on the wood floor, using the hundreds of miniature animals and people and trees and fences and buildings that Delia keeps in a big, rusty three-flavor popcorn tin. It's a game that no one really invented, they just started playing it one day. It’s called Animal Town. Consuelo stays interested for about five minutes, while Delia becomes more deeply absorbed with each of her precise decisions about where each piece belongs. Consuelo is holding Polly Pocket by the head, deciding whether or not to stand her near the magical well (a round mirror from the basement), and not really caring about it; Delia is patiently lining up a family of tiny plastic geese in front of a disproportionately large, and inconsistently urban replica of Oscar the Grouch's stoop when the girls hear something small and wet plopping in the hall towards the doorway of the room.
A frog visitor -- Delia watches intently as it enters her space. Consuelo, not as comfortable with animals of this size and sliminess, inches away as the frog inches towards her. Her blonde curls tremble, and Delia thinks of Goldilocks which pulls a giggle out from inside of her. Her friend is too terrified to notice.
Delia notices first that the frog is injured. The smooth skin on his back is punctured and bleeding and there is another wound on his leg. His flopping movement is lop-sided and weak. When Consuelo sees the blood she whimpers a little. Delia, brave as any magician, stares into the frog's helpless eyes. She wants so badly to cure him, to relieve the pain he must be feeling. Animal Town slips out of importance, and the living creature's pain becomes all she can think of. She starts to feel a gathering of prickly something welling up behind her eyes, it makes her feel a little dizzy, a little bit like she has to sneeze, as if her head were filled with thick, sticky spider-webs. The frog stops flopping inches from where Delia is sitting on her haunches. She stares down at the animal and begins to let the imaginary spider-webs stream out of her eyes and into the frog's. His swollen eyes begin to grow milky, hypnotized.
"Is he dead?" Consuelo peeps, hopefully. Then, noticing Delia's curious behavior, "What are you doing?"
Her friend's voice disrupts Delia, who had been concentrating on guiding the spider-webs to the frog's torn flesh. The webs hang loose for a moment, then dissolve; the ones in her head sink away, thinning and disappearing. She keeps looking at the frog, trying to maintain some sort of connection, and answers Consuelo.
"No. He's hurt." She finds herself insisting, convincing. She is intent on curing the frog visitor, and frustrated at her friend’s squeamishness.
The girls hear Delia's mom coming up the old wooden stairs and wait for her to appear in the doorway. Neither knows what she'll do when she sees the frog, but Delia suspects she won't want it in the house. She thinks for a moment about how to protect the creature from her mom, Considers throwing herself onto the floor between her mother and the amphibian, protecting the creature from the large human's wrath by heroically receiving it herself, but this seems too cartoonish a solution for this real situation.
The grown-up sighs, looking down at the scene in her daughter's room. The frog, the girls, Animal Town.
"Woodstock must have brought this little guy in." The dash of irritation in her mom's voice alerts her to the pending threat she poses to this little frog’s life.
Woodstock is the pink-blonde cat that Delia and Celeste found in the street in Woodstock while on a day-trip to a monastery near there. Skin and bones, he clearly didn't have a home, and so, when Delia saw the gleaming plea in the large dark eyes of the cat, her mother saw the gleaming plea in the large dark eyes of her daughter. There was no leaving him behind. He feeds himself during the week, hunting mice, moles, voles, bats, snakes, and frogs. He has been known to bring half-dead animals like this one into the house, showing off his prey like a trophy the whole family should be proud of.
Delia's mom kneels down to get a closer look.
"Oooo, he's a little bloody, huh?" She goes to the bathroom and comes out with a big wad of toilet paper. Delia makes a sound of protest, feeling glued to the floor, and her mom, already crouching with the frog again, looks up at her and lies because this is what grown-ups commonly do to five-year-olds: "I'll just put him outside and he'll find his way home to his mom and she'll make him better. She’ll kiss his boo boos with her frog lips."
Delia only half-believes her mother and her stomach tightens with vague fear for the frog's fate. Consuelo exhales, flying her relief like a victory flag, wanting all of Delia’s attention for herself now that the frog no longer monopolized it. Gently, because Delia is watching intently, Celeste picks up the frog into the white blob of toilet paper.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

being little, being big

There was once a little girl who loved horses. She traveled the world, searching for her favorite horse. She admired beautifully bejeweled horses with light fur and dark manes, wearing leis of marigolds;

strong, dark, honest horses garlanded with white beads and bones;

divine horses;

miniature horses;

farm horses;

city horses;

show horses;

a winged horse at a circus;

even sea horses!

She loved every horse she met, but she continued seeking her favorite horse.

Her parents sent her, one summer, to Hawaii to visit with her aunt. Their plan at the time was for their daughter to learn to accept peace from her aunty's spiritual way of life, but the young girl thought they were just trying to get some time to themselves. She obligingly went, dreaming of horses during the long flight to the distant volcano in the sea.

When she arrived, her old, wise aunty took one look at her and said, "You are a seeker."

The girl, a little surprised at her aunt's accuracy, replied, "Yes... what should I do? Where should I go? Where will I find that which I seek?"

Her old aunt shook her head, smiling, and turned back to the pot of boiling something she was stirring over the fire. "Child, you need not travel to find what you seek."

The girl frowned, wondering what her aunt could mean by that. Wasn't the path of the seeker a journey to the destination? She looked at her aunt. Perhaps the old woman was losing her mind -- her parents must have sent her to take care of her confused aunty.

The next day, the girl woke up, and not knowing what to do with herself, decided to wander around the volcanic island, to see if she could find any horses. She went to her aunt, who was sitting quietly, staring at the sea.

"Aunty, I am going now, I'll be back sometime soon."

Her old aunt squinted her green eyes slightly, but made no response beyond that.

"Goodbye, Aunty!" And with that, she packed some bananas for snacking and was off.

The girl walked down the hill.

She walked along the hot, dry coast, over crumbly black lava rock.

She jumped in the crystal ocean and meditated with wise sea turtles and played with friendly dolphins.

She walked through forests of coffee trees, smelling their sweet, syrupy breath.

She walked up another hill, through bright green farmland, dotted with cows and goats and sheep.

She walked through rainbow-colored gardens of towering dinosaur flowers; through jungle so thick it was as dark as the cave of night.

She soon found herself approaching a precipice that seemed like the edge of the world. All she could see beyond the edge was sky floating softly above ocean. As she neared the edge, she discovered it was a cliff and there was a path that led down the steep face into a misty, green valley. An adventurous seeker at heart, in love with the unknown, the girl started down the path.

Right away, the air felt cooler as she descended into the valley, then the temperature grew mild until she no longer felt the air at all, but felt, instead, as though it melted right into her skin, and her skin melted right into it. It was remarkably unnoticeable!

She continued her decent until she reached a completely silent cluster of towering palm trees. She stopped, and looked up at the fronds high above her, and felt herself shrink to the size of an ant. She heard a rustling beside the path and looked up to see the largest horse she had ever seen. It was clearly wild, as she could tell from its unkept mane, long eyelashes, and bold, expressive eyes. She wondered how close she could get to it, wondered if she could pet it, felt magnetically drawn to it.

Before she moved a muscle, she heard the soft, even voice of the horse inside herself, "You may approach me, but please do so with respect. And do not touch me, for I do not trust you yet."

Amazed that this horse had communicated to her, the girl stepped softly towards it. As she neared the giant horse, there was a strange sensation of shrinking and growing, and by the time she was close enough to feel the horse's warm breath on her skin, she stood at eye-level with the glowing creature.

The girl, overwhelmed by this magical experience, could not find words, but felt her heart beating and listened to it. She closed her eyes and listened very closely to this primal rhythm of her beating heart, the first sense of self she had ever experienced, floating in her mother's womb.

When she opened her eyes, she was staring at a girl, who was standing in a silent cluster of palm trees staring back at her. A moment passed before she realized that this girl was her -- it was as though she was staring at herself in a mirror. Then, she watched as the girl in the "mirror" brushed a stray hair from her forehead, while she, herself, remained still!

The girl herself became fearful, and started shifting her weight from foot to foot to foot? She looked down and realized she had, instead of two human legs, four dark hairy legs and four... hooves! Her consciousness had somehow left her own body and entered that of the wild horse! She took a deep breath and thought about how to get back into her own body. She remembered that the journey of her consciousness had taken place in the moments of listening deeply to her own heart beating. So, she closed her eyes and listened for the familiar rhythm. Sure enough, she found the sound. Only this time, it was the beating of the horse's big, steady heart. The beating grew louder as the beating of other hearts joined, then the softer rhythm of the insects' wings joined, then she perceived the even more subtle pulse of the plants' coursing energy, and then, very faintly, the low vibration of the Earth itself joined the chorus of the sounds of life. The girl slowly opened her eyes and found herself staring into the bold eyes of the horse once again.

The horse's voice spoke inside the girl again: "I am your favorite horse, as every horse is your favorite horse, as every being is your favorite being, as this life is your favorite life." The girl felt the nature of her journey shift. She walked slowly to the shoreline beyond the cluster of palm trees and watched everything and listened to every sound and felt the endless journey of every moment.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the bubble alphabet

"a" is for allspice
"b" is for bubble (or breast or belly or berry or balloon or bread or bud or blimp)
"c" is for cell (or cloud)
"d" is for dew
"e" is for egg
"f" is for fig (or fart or foam)
"g" is for globe (or grape or gum)
"h" is for hole (or hum)
"i" is for __________
"j" is for jellyfish
"k" is for ___________
"l" is for light(bulb)
"m" is for mouth (or moon or mellon)
"n" is for nipple
"o" is for oh!
"p" is for pea (or pillow or pearl)
"q" is for queen anne's lace flower
"r" is for rain
"s" is for sound (or stars or seed or sand or soap)
"t" is for time (or tomato)
"u" is for universe
"v" is for voice (or vapor or volcano)
"w" is for water (or wind or wart)
"x" is for __________
"y" is for yodel
"z" is for zero (or zeppelin)