Impressions of David Atlee Phillips (1988)

27 01 2011

 Sometimes an actor, sometimes a fan,
 sometimes a chief, always a man,
Loved by the women, and feared by the men,
 who will put Humpty Dumpty back together again?

Scenes burnt beneath his boots from 20,000 Ft.
 twice he fell into the mist, there was no time for sleep.
 Under fire in arid office, under strain in jungle rains,
 he cried once to a tree for hours, yet he carried well his pain.

3 older brothers shared the cause, the truth now if it kills,
 the battle rages on today, the war is fueled by wills.
 He tried to help the weak survive, when being stepped on by the strong,
 when chaos reigned the world of reason, an infant full of dawn

His children are alert and brave, Their fight is not denied,
they roam the world and carry on, they would like to be defied,
2 women brought them into life, his memory lives in them,
and we are here because he’s gone, we know who was his friend

If all men were angels, go the words, we seek to hope this so,
he made mistakes as do we all, but which are those we know,
we shan’t be sad, he lived quite full, he knew this is no bloody game,
and if God forgives transgressions, then I guess we all can do the same.

Respect and love are intertwined, his dignity not bled,
Have a good time I said in parting, he knew just what I meant
So pass in peace my Father’s brother, I feel you were my friend.
It’s nice to know that you have found, that this is not the end.


2020 (circa 1988)

20 05 2008

    As we see it now, it overrides our lives like color unto drab
There is no earthly concern other than aquisition
The important issues lanquish into apathy
It’s hard to say
What’s so important about avarice in existence?
They’re both a form of greed, we live to kill, and kill to live
Why can’t we understand,…they both lead to freedom
Freedom from greed, is that bliss?
Freedom from existance, is that serenity?
We can’t even define those five words.
Someone give me a definition of existence.
Serenity in existence…now that’s interesting,
I’m greedy for serenity, yet everything around me that has to do with
Humanity, says I must’nt be serene.
No, I have to be productive for society, otherwise it will fall apart.
That’s what they tell me, but….
If I try to produce serenity in other human beings, I will be severly
Reprimanded, and they will do everything they can to make my existence,
Oh! He’s just another fool that thinks what goes on inside,
Is more important than what I can see outside of myself.
What’s more important than myself?…Yet at the same time,
What’s so frightening?…About myself?
It’s imperative I remain outside myself,
Otherwise, I will have to face myself.
Oh my god, it’s full of stars!
And it goes on forever!
Oh my stars, it’s full of god!
And forever it goes!
No, no, I can’t handle that.
It’s too dark in there!
Did you ever hear the word entropy?
The stars go out real fast in human beings.
When I was little, I remember it replete with galaxies of binaries,
And nebulae, and novas, and suns, and systems, and stars upon stars, And shifting colors, and bands of streaking iridescence…but,
Little by little they started going out, when they kept telling me,
You only go round once, so go for the gusto, ’cause when you die,
It all goes black!
If you believe that, then you can join the crowd of absolute idiots,
Unmitigating cretins, that live to kill.
They think they’re getting rid of us,
Us unbelievers,
It would be a good idea, if they would fall into one of their own suns,
One of these days.
Get burnt by the radiance of themselves!
That’ll teach’em!
Then they can teach us.

The Wind Poem (197?)

20 05 2008

    Tis now the time of howling winds
that rush and flurry o’er the mount
of rumbling, thundering rainy nights
that crash and roll without a count

To pass away with dawning light
leave land and air with sun and clear
but remembering yet the turgid eve
the soul of Wagner I did hear

For just returned from chaos now
with pathos full out in it’s flight
an attempt was made at freedoms door
and met the lock,…..embedded fright

and yet so near with mouths agape,
and struggling on to remain intact
tha blast of sound and recorded light
found it hard to grasp the fact

But even then the thing was done
while peaceful was the path behind
the power was replenished soon
while those who were…..remained unkind

To another place with psuedo thoughts
a place devoid of any fauna
to listen to utterings and structured tales
and to brush the cheek of a black madonna

Then away to dreams, and a wish to leave
the two were close when a wish came near,
a wandering creative force in quiet,
with hunger stayed, and a desire to hear

From rolling hills and aqueducts
to serpent curves and fallen leaves
back to slow intensely being,
and to one who’s honest among the thieves

‘Tis now the time of howling wind
of clear and steady freezing night
with stars above and across the bay
unwavering send their icy bright

Through misty glass with candles warmth
returned am I from evils feet
and moon pervades the windy gale
and Bach rings out,………he’s yet complete.

Two Birds and One Stoned (1970)

20 05 2008

Near the helter-skelter islands in the Dukedom of Dormir
lived a strange and wily man who sat and pondered fear. And
he fed his geese and ducklings with the fervor of a martyr,
and he spoke with people near and far who came to trade and
barter. Opals and piglets and diamonds and lyres, scorpions’
stings and cathedral-like spires, scimitars’ edges, a
crystalline flight. He smiled and he bargained in the days
that were light. But many such days were dark and bereft ,of
light, and of warmth and the things he had felt. People came
not from their travels from Mir, and there was no one to
relate to continue the sphere.

    ‘Twas on such an evening he fell into sleep obscure and
profound and behovian of peace. A sleep of desire, though
full out of grasp, irresolute future, and beckoning past. So
under these gables an image was formed, a dream that was
deemed, prophesied, and forsworn. The swirling and roiling
began to come near, then passed the abyss and became very
clear. A path in the mountains which led to a growth, a
cascade of foliage on splintery slopes, a profusion of
greenery never seen until he had shivered and touched its
pastoral sheen, and passed through its lacework and under its
fall, and saw the great opening that glimmered and called.
Then he sailed through a tunnel that pierced deep the earth,
that shimmered and trembled with its increasing girth.

    The passage of time was loathe to his fate, and he soared
ever downward to which was bespake, and into a chamber of rich
blue and gold, of cobblestones velvet on tapestries bold, to
touch and to wonder their stories untold, of women beloved, of
men being hunted, of such scope and passion the senses were
blunted, and to other sanctums and vaults to bedazzle. A
labyrinth of visions in this castle of castles, then into one
room whose dimensions were smothered and lined full of books
with metallicized covers. The sanctorum of knowledge, the den
of the sage, whose wisdom rang out from each yellowed page.

    But try as he might, there was no stopping his flight,
and he flew ever onward, now upward toward light. And thence
to a cavern of enormous proportions, supported by columns of
emeraldic contortions, and radiant light from some hidden
place that rippled and played on the great carven face.
Surrounded by flowers and tropical ferns, nectaric waterfalls
swept down in their turns, and sated the thirst of the
creatures of Mir, and yet they were not, though albeit were
here. Crustaceans and fowl of pulsating hues, from rose-
colored yellows to amethystine blues, and he and his dream
filled all the space, and he looked once again on the huge
carven face.

    A face of the total, a face of the void, a face of
creation, and of which was destroyed. But what he remembered
when he finally awoke was the thunderous voice, and the words
that it spoke, “The secret of living is simply in giving, and
it encompasses naught but these words. And so to go free, to
see and to be, you must search for the two mighty birds.”

    He awoke very slowly, his mind yet sharp. The dawn had
not come and the skies were still dark. And he pondered the
message, the sound of the voice, for he felt it spoke truth,
and in that he rejoiced. Like the pass of a cloud, the day
came warm and light, and he laughed and he worked in utmost
delight. And some came with horseshoes, and some came with
corn. And one woman came with a small crimson horn. Such a
mute mellow sound that came from its flange, a timbre
compelling, a note to entrance. So he gave her a buckle of
pale baby blue, that gleamed like the sea sky in fresh morning
dew. And as she departed, she spoke very low. “The cavern
you seek is in Mount Ab Initio, and the sound of this horn
will lead you on the way. But tarry a while and await the
right day.”

    But several months passed, and the winter drew nigh, and
the wind shook his bones in the snows that piled high. Then
came the Spring with its sharp reborn green, and he set out
with the horn to find what he’d seen. After days in the
mountains, he found he was lost. So he sounded the horn in
directions he’d crossed. The note rang out soft and long and
precise, and then from the east came its echo in thrice. And
he started anew, his voice singing low toward its snow-covered
majesty, Mount Ab Initio. And then on its slope, with the
high sun at noon, and its gray barren rock like the face of
the moon, into his sight came the opening within, but with no
verdant luster as then it had been. Then came a noise, as of
rushing air, and two mighty forms swept out of their lair, and
flashed o’erhead from out of the maw. And he fell on his
knees and trembled with awe, and the gap in the mountains had
closed fully clean to a cliff-starkened rock with nary a seam.
His mind in confusion, his thought full arace, he cried out to
the air, “I must see the face.”

    “Towards us you were bound, and ’tis us you have found,
and we will tell you all you must know. And that is to wait,
and ne’er again see the face, until comes the day you must go.
And that is the time an unbeknown date, when you are to die,
and choose you your fate. But if ever you need us, you have
but to blow, and we will come instantly, like the firefly’s soft
glow. And now you must know us, so look if you will, and be
not afraid, and sit very still.”

    A troubled dark shadow crept over the slope, and an
immense silver shape cast out all his hope with mercurial
swiftness, spattered and spilled, it shimmered and sparkled
like lightning bestilled. A huge argent bird with plumage of
woe, it spoke to him, crying in the voice of surd snow, “I am
called Sadness and I am called Sorrow, and my wings make the
ill wind of yesterday and tomorrow. And when I kiss your
eyes, crystal eggs will I lay, for the eggs are your tears on
that wretched day. So may never you call me, not even in
pain, yet fleet will I come like the fast-falling rain. And
into your heart, and make you forlorn; with two piercing notes
from the small crimson horn.” With a rumble of thunder and a
rush of cold wind, the bird it had gone; and the light shone

    He was warm and alive and, when spent was his dread, came
a great golden bird, with the sun round its head. An aura of
brilliance, a corona of flame, it sang and it rilled, as
nearer it came. And he shielded his eyes and looked up to
stare at the shape incandescent in the loud ringing air.
Scintillant, prismatic, its splendor bestudded with flashes of
radiance that streaked out asunder, it gleamed and it
glittered, it hovered and spun, and glowed out its luster to
twice that of the sun. And the man felt a trembling so deep
in his breast, and he smiled at the vision, and his mind came
to rest. “I am called Rapture, and I am called Joy. And my
song is the laughter in each girl and boy; my wingspread the
smile on each of their faces, the dark and the light of all
conscious races. And only once will I kiss you there on your
mouth, and your eyes will light up as my presence is now. And
a softly blown note from the tiny red horn will bring my
flight to you in eve or in morn. But never forget my human-
like brother. To call on the one is to call on the other. In
a blaze of gold light this bird it had gone, and all that was
left was its echoing song, and the dry barren landscape and a
weak, filtered sun. And the man turned around and started
slowly for home.

    As the years passed, his life became worse. He was
weakened by sickness, and slandered and cursed. But at each
downward turn, he thought of the face, and the crisp crimson
horn in its well-hidden place. And only once did he use it,
in the last drastic measure, to call upon Joy, and to call
upon pleasure. Now in matters of numbers, the reaction is
quick, but in matters of heart, there is time’s ebbing tick.

    And when the firebird had gone whence it came, and the second
was there, and called out his name, and filled his next days
with despair and remorse, ’till he returned to his labor with
the utmost of force. A decade went by, and he was unable to
toil. And he retired to a forest of sweet smelling soil.
A green wood of pines, erect, tall, and thin, with others
contorted and twisted by wind. A canopied shelf of needle-
thin leaf and a sun-speckled carpet, light brown underneath.
A place of contemplation, a grove full of peace. He pondered
the changes and awaited release. And then on a night of the
full beaming moon, he knew death was near and would come for
him soon. Precious horn in his hand, he softly blew thrice,
and waited with patience the birds he’d enticed. A breeze had
been gently caressing the trees, and now it had stopped, and
still were the leaves. A curtain of silence descended around,
and he raised his tired head from the moon-tessellate ground.

    And then came a stirring, but not that of wind, but of all
that around him, and the structures within. Before the white
orb-scudded gray-mottled clouds that sifted and flurried like
archaic shrouds, and out of the ether, came the two mighty
birds, to be with their caller, and hear his last words.
Iridescent and shining, they hovered o’erhead, and he sat
himself down on his pine needle bed.

    “You’ve blown on the horn, and we’ve come to your plea,
but there’s naught we can do, what must be, let it be.” “In
these last nether moments, my mind it is clear, and I know I
have conquered that which men have named fear. And I called
you but once, in drama and shame, and you came to me quickly
like a hot roaring flame. And I learned of the balance that
you spoke to me of, and it taught me but one thing, and that
is to love, to be free and to love like a storm-scattered
spore. For where freedom abounds, it will create yet more.

    But the ultimate question that resounds in my heart, ‘Are you
the only two birds from the primeval start?'”
“No. In each living being, there exists in their
sphere, two more giant birds, and the dragon of fear, the
gorilla of greed, the panther of passion, the viper of
violence, and the rose of compassion.” “I have one request
before my fate calls: can you will yourselves down to become
very small? Because now that I know that you must come too,
it’s best we’re together and share in the truth. And kiss me
again to abide in your charms, and stroke your soft down in my
weakening arms.” Then the two immense birds dwindled down in
their size, and their luminous beams shone forth in his eyes.

    And Joy kissed his right eye, and Sorrow the left. With his
crystallized tears and emotions now cleft, he stroked their
bright plumes and audibly sighed, then slashed both their
throats and quietly died.

A Fale (1967)

20 05 2008

(The beginning of the end of the story by Razzledorf Rebumpkin)

    A thousand million things have gone reeling through my
mind: of worlds and girls and traffic snarls and thoughts
tremendously exciting. Red and gold the ripples of but one
which I was seeing; black and gray are waves of the other, the
one which I was fleeing. It came to pass on this bleak night
in the house of Hansel and Gretel, in the house of the girl
with salmon feet and bright disordered mettle, with diamonds
and rubies all in her hair, and her flash-lovely eyes in fire.
We came to the place known only to us as the house in the Land
of Ire.

    Now also in this land lived a lovely witch who rode in
the skies with a fox. And one lived in a cave with a donkey
or two and a rooster she kept in a box. Now the donkey, the
rooster, the fox, and she were said to have magical powers to
bring rain to the land, or sea to the skies, or love to the
poor dying flowers, and the flowers in turn would face towards
her and give back her magical powers, with a fragrance so
sweet of lavender peat, and of candlelight scent in the hours.

    Now one day the witch flew away from the home in the
valley of myriad streams to go to the land of a man she had
met who was known as the seer of dreams. She said, “Can you
tell me the time of the day, and all of the worlds we have
seen: the world of the dove, the world of the love, and the
world of the mountains of breen. And what is its color, and
why it’s alive, so peaceful and fertile and clean?” He said
of the time, “It’s much like a rhyme; it comes and it ripples
away,” and he said of the dove, “It’s the same as the love,
and the worlds are together forever. And the mountains of
breen have always been clean, and the color is far velvet
green.” So the witch thanked him much, for his wisdom and
such, and said she must travel again.

    So the seer reached down to the base of his robe and
produced such a beautiful gem. First it flashed red, then it
flashed green, then again it went silver and blue. This jewel
is the night, and this jewel is the day, and it works for one
person but you. And that is the one that you love, who fits
like a glove, and who stares at you as through a mist, and
just counting some that day will become, and soon you’ll be
reached and be kissed. So when you’re in trouble, just reach
for this bauble, and it will turn any night into day, and
likewise, in turn, a day into night, and nothing will know
what to say.” Then the seer reached out and stroked her long
hair and vanished out into the air.

    So the witch followed suit and quick as a hoot she’d
traveled as far as the moon. And the dwarf that was there
said, “Good heavens, my dear, I didn’t expect you so soon.”
But to say more for the dwarf, he was not quite as short as
dwarfs are expected to be; his eyes were a puzzle, and his
hair was quite long, and he repeatedly said, “Do you see?” “Do
I see what?” the witch always said, while on both her hands
flowed her hair. “Why, the table I made,” he’d cry with a
grin, and he’d fling both his hands in the air. Now this
answer wasn’t rightly what the witch had wanted to hear, nor
not at all wrong, nor not at all right, but not exactly just
what she had feared. But nevertheless, he’d stamp both his
feet and he’d laugh in his luminous beard.

    But then that they’d forget, and they’d speak with regret
of their friends who had lived in the clouds, in a white
serene house with a terry lene mouse and a cat named Jebidiah
Benign Hossifatt who wasn’t so bright, but usually right in
the things he would say off the bat. But their friend was a
horse, who was special of course. He was known as a winged
unicorn, with silver white hooves and a long flowing mane, and
a multi-hued pearlescent horn. And they’d lived there for
years, without any tears, until came the time of the war, and
bad flying things, and electrical rings and storms that raged
just out the door. Now one day, you see, they were just
having tea when the window shuttered in with a crash, and the
table went flying and the mouse started crying, and there
instantly followed a flash. And Jebidiah said, “Vile! It’s
the big rubbish pile, who never can find where to land, and
wherever he’ll go, there’s always black snow, and an evil
falls over the land.”

    But now back to the witch who was fit to be stitched, for
she remembered this ever so well. She was flying along with
the fox and the cat, and they’d come from the tropical dell;
and she felt with a start in the pulse of her heart that
something was wrong down below. So she went with a care to
see what was there and soon they flew into dark snow. And it
got darker and darker, and then it got starker and starker,
and suddenly went fully black. And they tumbled around in the
midst of old cans and dry broken-down bubble pipes. And there
were other things there, that were caught in the snare, things
ugly and beastly and mean, like minotaur’s heads and uniformed
feds, and things that should never, never be seen. And in the
midst of it all they continued to fall, until they came down
with a bump. And all three got a lump, they were literally
stumped. They didn’t know where in the world they could be.
It was cold and then hot, and then wet, and then dry, and
they’ll tell you they still couldn’t see.

    But one thing had fared: they knew they weren’t scared.
For the witch had powers to behold, and the powers were fair
in her heart in the air. And she bade the cat and the fox to
come close, for she had decided that enough time had bided to
find out what this thing was they were in. So with courage up
front, and a magical stunt, they began on their terrible hunt.
And the cat started howling, and the fox started yowling, and
the witch began speaking in Latin: “Non illigitimatus
carborundum,” she said. “Everything here has begun in my
head. So spin around, spin around, we’ll finish this plight.
Be gone with your demons and devils of night. Away with your
evil that lies in this place! Straight away to your own land,
and leave not a trace!” So spoke she these words with her
face full aglow, and all of a sudden there was white crystal
snow, so gently falling, but with a sound ever so loud.

    But then it quietly returned to a bright, peaceful cloud,
and off to the right was the sound of a grouse, and off to the
left, was the white serene house. And all of her friends were
there at the door, beckoning and calling for them to come
o’er. “You must stay a month, or a week at the least. And
we’ll celebrate your victory with a magnificent feast.” And
so then it was, the place was abuzz. And friends came from
great far and near. And some of the dishes you simply must
hear. There was eggplant and breadfruit and olives and oil,
and honeydew cakes and rock candy soil; figs and bananas and
litchees and cream and all was so lovely, it seemed like a

    But then all were gone except the witch and her friends
and the unicorn said, “Now we must make amends. We all have
just been through a terrible strife. And you came just in
time and gave us our life. So a gift we will give that will
be as long as you live that will float in the sky o’er your
land.” Now the witch had sat next to a blue dragon snap, and
the unicorn came and put his head in her lap. “Just follow
the spiral on my horn with your hand, and think in your mind
of your own lovely land” And as soon as she’d done this,
there appeared up above, the most beautiful colors, that were
made out of love. “The violet is for the color you wear. The
indigo’s for the brilliant night air. The blue is the color
to go around your head. The green is the place where you make
your bed. The yellow is the one to fashion your sun. The
orange is the thing to eat and have fun. And my blood is
red,” the unicorn said. And his horn had spread out like a
fan. So the witch said goodbye, with a tear in her eye, and
that’s how the rainbow began.

The Red Pearl (1967)

20 05 2008

    Over the horizon came a long graceful yawl, and the man
there on board was strong and sea tall. He was watched for
the first time as he walked down the bank, as free as the
wind, but he looked sacrosanct. “Very strange,” people
thought as he looked neither way, but they felt from his
presence he was enjoying the day. Then a woodworker stopped
for a rest and a smoke, while all ears were turned as his
voice softly spoke. “Please could you tell me a room with a
bed, for I’ve traveled some time, and I feel nearly dead.” A
clear, steady gaze from ocean blue eyes made the carpenter
wonder as he swept off the flies, “Just go up those stairs and
turn to the right, and there see a man with hair of salt
white. And he’ll give you a bed and a place for the night.”

    Thanks were then given, and the man made the lease, and
he said he was there for some “quiet and peace.” But the
people of there didn’t care for his sake, there were tourists
around and money to make, and hotels to build and boats to be
rented, as if they believed that could make them contented.
So he went quite unnoticed for nearly a month, while the
people kept on and continued their hunt. Then one summer
night under cold glistening stars, he began making round of
the fisherman’s bars, asking questions in one, being silent in
others, while curiosity grew amongst townspeople and brothers.
Then some of the elders decided to go near, when he came in
the bar and ordered a beer.

    “We was just wondering what you’re all about, with that
beautiful boat and soft talk, never shout” “First let me ask
you,” said the man, wiping his mouth, “Do you know of a shell
in the sea hereabout, that’s as long as you are and blood red
inside; and it’ll take off your leg as quick as your pride,
and once that you have one you never will sell, for in order
to find it, you must live through hell?” The oldest of all
had stepped up to the front, and he said, “Listen my friend,
for I’m going to be blunt. That shell that you speak of, I
know the one; it went and it took my one only son. But I also
know it’s not the shell that you want, so why have you come
here and what do you hunt?”

    The bar was dead quiet while the man got a beer, and
everyone strained to see what they’d hear. There was a long
hesitation and he blew off the curl, then he said to the
crowd, “I’ve come for the pearl. A pearl ’bout as large as a
man’s fist and bigger, and gives peace to who finds it, be he
white man or nigger. And God is my witness that it radiates
bliss, for I’ve held one but once, and had the privilege to
kiss. But now the man’s dead, and he died of old age, and the
pearl disappeared like a burning book page. But before he
died he said where to be near, and now here I sit as I’m
drinking my beer. The pearl is all colors of green and of
gold; it’s warm like the sand when the sun has grown cold.
And it picks up vibrations from all over the land, and
transmits to the holder be it woman or man, radiations of
love, of mercy and strength, and all the secrets of life will
be yours then at length. For once you have found it, you will
always stay poor, but confusion and sorrow will be there never
more.” He finished his tale and went out with a lurch, but
they knew tomorrow he’d begin his search.

    The day came with yellow and hazed-over veils, and the
mountains were misty as up went his sails, with a slight
southern breeze as he left wing in wing, and snatches were
heard as he started to sing. And all on the beach wished he
would find his goal, and there was no sign of motion as they
prayed for his soul. With a hand on the tiller and the bow
throwing spray, the man had been sailing for all of the day.
The sky now was claret into deep purple blue; there was the
landmark that in his memory he knew, so he let away anchor
with the ship set to keep, and went down to his hammock for a
restless night’s sleep.

    The sun came up red and glaring and mean, with rolling
swells coming, but his senses were keen. Then he ate a small
bite and prepared his gear, and wondered how long he’d be
there. “Well it could be a year, or maybe I’ll die here, but
I’m feeling brave. What better place than the sea as your
grave. That’s where we all started with lightning and storm,
then tossed on the rocks just a small shapeless form, to begin
crawling and walking and flying out free, with not much
progress made as far as I see.” Then all was prepared, and he
made his first dive, and the shock of cold water made him feel
well alive. The numbness had passed in seconds so few, a
cacophony of bubbles surrounded his view, then sank a few
fathoms and the water went clear. So downward he started with
no trace of fear, while fish of all wonders departed asunder.
And the sound of his breathing was roaring like thunder, from
gray to gray green then to deep velvet blue.

    Something inside told him he’d started off true, he
stopped for a moment to think of intention, then visually sank
into another dimension. Colorless line separated the cold
from the warm, and the bottom was ninety freezing meters or
more. So onward he went with pressure increasing, adjusting
his tanks with air to be easing. He then spied partly bottom,
a world of its own, with graceful fans waving in currents
unknown, and millions of creatures just went their own way in
this deep murky gloom denied light of day. A long table reef
as if looking at night, which dropped off even more and out of
his sight, and over the drop-off was where he’d find the
shells, in eternal darkness and fish dwelling dells. All
crackling and snapping were sounds in his ears, the sounds of
continuum for thousands of years.

    Then over the ledge and downward again, to meters that
measured at ninety and ten, the pressure was frightening as if
living in hell’s. On a mud-rippled bottom he saw the first
shells, they stuck up from the mud like monsters unknown, with
living things on them just flat ragged cones. He hated to
kill things, but lives had to sever, besides he was searching
for a treasure forever. He wrestled the first one from out of
the muck, then pried it wide open to look, search, and cluck.
Quickly he went through what must have been five, then noticed
air getting shorter and he must stay alive. Also he’d stirred
up a whole lot of mud, and the black-pink was made from the
shell’s ebbing blood.

    So he rose a few fathoms where the water was clear, and a
shadow passed over with a shiver of fear. A fear that he’d
thought of while down in the dark, with all of its menace it
was there now, a shark. Fifteen feet of fury, and not any of
it nice, the water was warm, but he’d turned to ice. All that
he had was a small twelve-inch knife, with air running out,
maybe not long his life. The shark made a pass, but high
overhead, just circling and turning, enforcing his dread.

    Suddenly a thought came: “A shark’s nose is soft. If only by
some means work my way up aloft.” The shark by then thought
that this thing was ill, so driving down hard, he came in for
the kill. But the man saw it coming and flippered up in an
arc. As the huge shape drew near, he stabbed out in the dark.
He felt the knife rasp and go in leathery skin. Then he was
slapped silly sideways by the pain-ridden fin.

    When he woke up, little waves were slapping his neck, so
he swam to the boat and fell asleep on the deck. He woke with
a fright, and reached out in the dark, then realized he was
dreaming of his fight with the shark. A drizzle had started
and he was cold to his feet, so he went down below and had
something to eat. Half a bottle of brandy made him feel warm
and better, so he drifted back to oblivion with thoughts then
unfettered. He slept then unknowing and the wind started

    The sea started rising and the rain began pouring, he
worked in the middle of a rip-roaring gale. Half drunk and
stumbling, he thought of the sail. He’d secured it right
down, but he’d best double-check. So opening the hatch, he
made aloft to the deck. The rain stung his face like a cat-
o’-nine tails, but tight battened down were all of his sails.

    The storm anchors were set and all that moved was lashed down,
including himself to the mainmast and crown. The seas were so
angry but he must stay on top until the storm had abated and
come to a stop. Twenty foot waves now knocked him around, and
wind shrieked through the guy wires with indescribable sound.
The bow rising sharply with a sixty degree list, then smashing
down in the trough like a stainless steel fist. Salt in his
eyes, and an ache in his head, he thought of the two-week long
storms with a fast growing dread. After what seemed nine
hours, so long, the storm had depleted with the coming of

    On the edge of the mountains came a grayish tinge, then
brightened to rosy hue, that made the mountains look as if
transparent gray green with a lightish blue. And the dawn
brought back a memory to an aching weary mind. The woman who
of course had been to him one of an only kind, “Caterina,
Caterina, as if heralding horns came near. What forces came
that keep us apart in pair forever and a twisting inner fear.
If only to brush your lips again and lay with hand on breast,
to release all emotions in a fiery rush and revel in the flow
of your undaunted love and search stillness in your face as
you rest. Why must happiness go like a last flicking spark,
to have you looking and wandering and groping in a horrendous
torturing dark, like a facet on a wave which the sunlight will
catch and startle your not-seeing eyes? Is it like that to be
gone in a flash when before your souls were the skies? Oh
God, or whatever, rid me of this pain. It torments me down to
the bone, but now I am here and here will I stay forever and
always alone.”

    The sun was at zenith when he broke off his train and
began to clear off his ship. He hadn’t been hurt in the storm
that night; but he’d fallen and busted his lip. So again
preparation for another long look to be made in another place,
where the shells were much bigger and the water much deeper.
He thought of a soon-ending race, but races are to be won, and
“I am the one I’m running, neck and neck with myself. And
seeing how there’s only one in this race I don’t think I need
any help.” With this bit of wit, he went over the side.

    He felt better than he had done before, and the color was
astounding, and schools of bright fish angled on with the
currents of tide, down deeper than ever, to a smooth inky
dark, where his torch shot a pale sickly beam to pick up the
shells as they stuck in the bottom, like gravestones in a
cemetery scene. Now up to the first, and it clamped strongly
shut, but his knife had just gone in the edge to cut the great
muscle that held it together, then search in the mucous like a
dredge. He’d wandered through nine while the kelp gently
fanned, then he came to the tenth to cut through the flesh,
and it silently closed on his hand.

    Pain shot through his body as he struggled to pull free,
but the shell closed down even tighter and in bubbles he
silently screamed. The hand was inside just up to the wrist
and he’d felt the bones snap as it shut. So slashing the
knife in rack-shooting pains, he felt the big muscle get cut,
and the edges released their death holding grip. He changed
hands with the knife and he slashed and he ripped, not knowing
how long he did this. He finally stopped and the fever
subsided and the pain turned to throbbing and he returned to
the world on the top.

    It had been quite a job getting out of his tanks, but
setting up sail, he began to give thanks and scour the coast
in search of a town, a doctor to relieve the pain all around.
He found one at last, and stayed a few weeks, healing his arm
and repairing some leaks. Then again he was off, and back to
the spot. He knew that this time, he’d now find his lot, in
the back of his mind something was sure, a quick flash
impression, short, but yet pure.

    A drizzle had started, but the sun was still high, and a
rainbow beamed forth its arch in the sky. Raindrops dripped
from his face as he stared, enhanced by the colors, it seemed
that they cared, cared to be seen, to be felt and believed.
If only by one man alone on the sea, but one man is all men,
and what is the sum? To love and let live or go cry in your
rum, to love and let live is by far the best. “Before the
next dive I’d best get some rest.” The sea was dead calm with
nary a chafe, and the tanks had been filled and checked out
and safe. Over the port side and into the brine, and
straight for the bottom he made a beeline. The fish he
encountered scattered out at a run, dancing through pale
filtered rays of the sun. Angling on down and following a
ray, he came to the realm of deep dark and no day.

    Little blind things scuttled out of his path, as if he
were a predator exerting his wrath. These little blind fish
without any sight, how are they content in this eternal night?
An unanswerable question and he mused, “What the hell!” And
then off to the right he saw a big shell. Nothing was there
nor in the next twelve, so on deeper down held begun to delve.
He did five or six more then had to go back, he was ravenous
hungry with his air going black. When he returned it was late
afternoon, and it was blacker than ever in this far reaching
gloom. He’d just passed the place where he’d begun to work
with the freezing sea round like an all knowing smirk. “Laugh
in my face, will you? But you are but finite, and out of your
black I’ll rob you of your secret.”

    Just as he thought that, he saw a huge shell, towering
over a cathedral-like bell. It didn’t stick up from the mud
like the rest, but lay on its side, an immense cradled nest.
And wide open it stood, as if then inviting, and he looked in
it then with his heart wildly beating, and he could not
believe what his eyes had to meet. There was an enormous
great pearl cradled there in the meat. “How can this be true?
I’ve found it at last. The future is mine and gone is the
past.” Now reaching in with great care, so the shell wouldn’t
close, he took hold of the pearl and silently rose. Getting
back to the boat, he stripped off his gear, with attacking
relief and feeling some…fear?

    Then he took the great pearl and sat by the wheel. He
sensed apprehension, and wondered “could it be real? I’ve
searched half my life for this thing in my hand, and I know it
started with one grain of sand. But how many years did it
take to grow? And the power I felt of this I must know, from
whence came this joy that surged through myself, so open and
vibrant with no trace of stealth.” He sat for a long time
with the pearl in his hand, looking first at the sea and then
at the land, then back to the pearl and waited and waited.
And nothing at all happened; he felt so defeated. “Yes, I
have found the pearl, but all I feel is relief, but where is
the happiness I felt so beneath? Could this not be the one,
could this not be the place? Oh my God, I’m confused. Have I
not finished this race? But I keep saying ‘I’ and what does
this mean? That I’m aware I’m aware with five senses so keen.
But my mind is so filled with puzzle and thought. Am I going
insane? What has all of this wrought?

    “I know now I’m nothing, not even a mar, compared with
these mountains, this sea, and that star. On velvet green
mountains, the clouds were so white, with splotches of yellow,
electric and bright, the sea ever moving like the stars and
the moon, the sun was descending and just cut in two, and long
shafts of light were thrown from the sky. The man bowed his
head and began to cry. To cry for himself and also the world,
and his sorrow reached out and let truly unfurled, then he
felt a great wind come and blow through his heart. And he was
no longer alone, with blind fish in the dark, for the sun had
gone down, but there was a light, all colors imaginable and
pulsating pure white, with the full-yawning sorrow and a great
sweeping joy. He was filled with the happiness he’d set out
to employ, but it wasn’t even in the pearl; it was there in
the man.

    And he was at one with the sea and the land, in this
magnificent moment he knew he could see the infinite and the
infinitesimal simultaneously, and crying and laughing he said
to the universe, “Absolute be you there, and you are the
first; and awoken am I, and I know I am me.” And with a
stroke of his arm returned the pearl to the sea.


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