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2012 Archives - Amanda SledzAmanda Sledz

11
Dec 12

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Psychopomp Volume One




If you feel inspired to wait it out until the hardcover, the magic date is December 20th. That means I can’t promise it’ll land in your lap prior to this year’s scheduled global panic. You’ll also be able to buy the Kindle version this day, and thanks to science you’ll have many hours to peruse your purchase, salute your preferred deity, and take a nap. Should things proceed as predicted by people who shy away from reading, remember to arrange yourself in an orderly single file line with a single bag of personal artifacts. It’s unimportant where this line is going — what matters is that you’re in it. Should things proceed as (un)predicted, tune in to this website for consolation prizes, or locate another doomsday more likely to reveal the desired outcome or exit strategy. This isn’t a test. Maybe consider it a new year anyway, just because you can, and abandon every soul sucking enterprise or entity intruding upon your personal happiness. This requires bravery, a good sense of humor, and frequently decisions other people call crazy. This word is sometimes a signal that you’re on the right track. Consider the accuser carefully. You are loved.

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19
Jan 11

Death Posturing

You’re done for. There’s one thing, then another, and there’s nothing after that.

What does that mean? A cleverly concealed pocket-knife could wiggle me away from a railroad tie-down, and suddenly my sour mid-life expiration could alter to paper-skin ancient, eyes pearled and body bent to occupy chairs that wheel and rock. Or maybe future-me belays from broken cells to cyborg, monocle red-laser eyes special-crafted to aggravate cats and melt thicker thoughts from enemies. Half of me bones braced for dusting, the other half sculpted new, locked in with hook and screw.

No: you’re done for friend. Tally your hoe for the waltz-step through endless white curtains before frail begets faint and both retinas blink blank.

Huh. Well, movies suggest quaint segments of life should be summoned from my switchboard for long walk companionship.

- A hair-pinned and pressed grandmother I never had, apron-clad and bespeckled and pulling a tray of cookies from an eye-level oven.

- Running around an endless oak my Midwest backyard didn’t know, not pursued by a bell-bottomed sister screaming and swinging a neon-green plastic bat.

- A chaste slow-dance sponsored by Hallmark, swaying driftwood to puritanical tracks bleating of love as candy-hearts and water-spun roses, embracing someone well-washed I wouldn’t love.

In this canned universe no one is giggling maniacally in a way that inhibits oxygen intake, and never at creatures who audibly sigh and scowl “Come on!” after eighteen agonizing minutes in a pharmacy line.

No. My friend, this isn’t a movie.

Switchboard triggered even still. Images summoned from sun-baked scalp:

- Me tent-locked during green-sky opening, water rushing underneath (vinyl surfing), testing stakes. Outside wind speaks a more threatening tongue and activated ears ask eyes to answer.

- Mambo bullwhip-crackling wet green ground to coax drummers furious as she summons lost Africa from belly slumber for Papa Legba. Oh, Papa Legba.

- Me fay-cozy between two monstrous redwoods, boots pressed to one trunk and back suction-cupping the other, daring tension to inch me upward, or rigid curve me catapult.

- Freshly plucked baby in my thrice-born arms, learning air without water. Me drinking in. Spirit lands unseen.

- Tomato caterpillars caged in Styrofoam egg cartons, round padded feet slow stepping fresh-clipped leaves for rapid gobbling post antennae inspection.

- Wild-haired man burdened by backpack, patterned and pierced, blue current skulking the street after me so I don’t leave – not then, not ever.

- Bodies thick on a fire escape suddenly more dangerous, talking in spirals about events that lightning struck uniform corpses to make us all mad magicians, striping our eyes, dotting our lines. Then many are two and touching.

- Lying on a blanket in the high desert plains, techno-blasted and cowboy-capped, dehydrated mouths calling sounds from lost dimensions where all are copper and exterior-wired.

So you’ve accepted death?

Not for a second. Three times this bell has rung for me, a stale drone from far-away towers eating air for the ankle-grip. Three times you’ve finger beckoned and I’ve snaked away in debt to doctors and water. I could still learn to swim a little bit better, could still highlight heart with a kinder crayon, could still find words to darken white pages (no curtains, no waltz) letter-sparked by anonymous alchemists to leave me better remembered.

Does any of it actually matter?

I can’t hear you. The sky is breaking. My palm boasts six stars.

No one’s read to me in awhile.

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12
Aug 10

Drinking Games of the Future Part 4 – Present Tense

Sitting in my own lap, thumbing through messages dispensed from self ankle-deep in almost-sleep. Dreamy awake state summons her most dignified 1940s radio baritone and announces: Present. What about the present?

Hakim Bey and Robert Anton Wilson and Carl Jung and Frederik Van Eeden and a thousand philosophers and dreamers and writers and dead white guys have argued that there isn’t any becoming, you already are, as a means of pressing face into the dog pile of present.

Of course, reading is not comprehension (remember those separate scores on standardized tests?) and I’ve never been the sort inclined to let others figure things out while I take them at their word. Especially dead white guys.

So: 14 hours of trance space and free writing. 150 pages scribbled and scrawled reveal Not Much in the way of worldly reflections. Instead somber mug slapped by sitcom, MadLibs filled in with fart jokes, ancient gods warning the studio audience when to laugh or clap. Still I probed for something nothing to do with me or any BECOMING.

Myth figures are stubborn.

Presently, my dear, you’re supposed to have fun. Shenanigans and giggles, Sour Sally! Look, that trumpet was blown years ago. Made a sound like ArrrrroOOOOO. End times take time. Mind yours. All you can alter is your here and now. Yours. The star of handwritten myths.

Awake. Present. Now.

Now: pressing finger to swollen spider bite, the first of the season but not the last, angry against sun-starved skin. Eyes rise to giant trees with turned down tops circled by hawks hunted by a furious murder of crows.

Present: dancing with other women conjuring maiden-mother-crone, and feeling shoulders previously trapped in permanent curl mimicking Lake Erie’s summer storm waves release and puddle floor, feet stomping memory and mist. The alchemy of sound and internal waterfall frees golden wings, and in a burst my howl unseams. The whole room is active alive and partly cloudy, Oregon’s always skies.

Awake: interacting with Named Trees, skin meeting familiar/familial bark. A message from the sticky top branches: why should dead gods and fanatics have all the fun? There’s plenty of story. What is your super power going to be, maker of legends, creator of myths? What will it be, today, for me?

Dream: speaking an alien tongue punctuated by clicks and intentional stutters, sliced by extended hums and aums that roll teeth over tongue. Charcoal stained hands hover over a table while giant cards slide and form towers and pyramids of cups and swords.

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07
Aug 10

Drinking Games of the Future 3 – 2013

Just like sci-fi authors thought cars would fly but mimeograph machines would crank out purple tinted sheets of paper forever, our predictions of maybe-tomorrow are likely wrong.

Envision the world noticeably not ending in 2012: hundreds of thousands of saluting citizens standing holding hands on the edge of a cliff, eyes closed and breath held, waiting for the kick from behind…only to find that time is passing and their hands are getting sweaty and they have to breathe and let go, and well…get some sleep. The alarm is going off.

The calendar rolls over into 2013 and everyone stands around, nail-biting directionless, hoping for another apocalypse promise potent enough to renew the tail chase. Monday morning splinters every survivalist dream: garbage trucks feed the landfill; mail trucks drop-off garbage; the bus driver is in a bad mood; the passengers stick plastic devices in ears and hunt for a glimpse of future happiness through the window; the passengers leave the bus and walk through doors that automatically open and tightly suck-seal behind them. Later the same passengers don’t enjoy a miserable ride home, where they log in to their computers and social network sites and update their statuses, maybe with a solid sentence of abbreviation. In 2013 words are officially inconvenient.

2013: an unended world leaves everything ruined. Hundreds of thousands of former college students receive love letters from the number one unstoppable apocalypse cockroach, Sallie Mae. Great Idol of Whoops-What-Was-I-Thinking, she hovers above the growing broke class with her hand out, the smirking Statue of Liberty officially christened her mascot. Boston Harbor fills with box upon box of useless degrees, delivered to students in unopened cardboard tubes. The government huffs and balls up tight fists, raping checking accounts and tax returns, directly docking pay. Former students fire back by paying off student loans with credit cards prior to declaring bankruptcy, or asking to be paid in cash, or ceasing work all together, electing to erect tent cities or be perpetually in motion, running away from the empty expectation that the dollar would ever inflate, allowing us to earn more or at least as much as our parents. Burn the whole thing down. Tent cities. Forest Park.

Meanwhile, somewhere on universe-earth, one or two rogue citizens stand on front porches, contemplating the existence of kindred spirits, or maybe wondering about the last time they physically touched someone in a way that didn’t feel hurried. Then it digs deeper and they wonder what it would be like to love without caution, and each thinks that they could probably do this now, because fuck it, what better use of time than that, exactly that. It’s the only thing worth throwing at the stars. Then each one of them sighs, and opens a battered library book to read until sleeping – both certain that no one else living and thinking could possibly agree with something so beautiful and reckless.

2013 could mean anything for me, perhaps sitting underneath a tree transcribing the events of the latest war between the angels, different sides this time, but mountains still tossed while the powerless messenger cries and outlines the speeches of Lucifer and the violent retort of a sword swinging Michael. I could be pushing a shopping cart stuffed solid with bean-guts stuffed animals and empty cans of whip cream, muttering about how something was supposed to happen, on August and the Day of 8, in the 20 and 10, the 20 and 11, the 20 and 12. In 2011 there was supposed to be a tsunami and a wave from an earthquake offshore, the dam was supposed to break and flood the river, Portland was supposed to be underwater. And the green turned brown was supposed to turn to ash, and all of the mountains were supposed to start speaking, these mountains that are really volcanos, seconds from being burped awake from some new magnetic pull, and all these auroras were supposed to speak to me, to wrap my head in a multi-colored cloud during some lost Sunday morning.

Or maybe I’ll have a family passing strangers label “nice” and someone somewhere will color me a “good person” over coffee and inside my burning ears will be the faint tingle of satisfaction. When my head hits the pillow I’ll summon sleep in an instant, and my dreams will be fields of flowers and a gentle hand tucking a stray strand of hair behind my ear, in a sensation so far beyond soothing my deepest sound rings true, if detectable only by bats. I don’t know.

I don’t know.

Somewhere in 2010 reality revealed itself to be a system of mirrors arranged to pull me deeper into maze. In a blink I switched the maze to corn, so the aliens can leave a footprint, you know, if they want. Then I peeled off my skin to activate, to consider the possibility of love as LOVE, of human as super, to embrace what never comes next. The only thing worth throwing at the stars.

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03
Apr 10

Thinking about the train again

All along the railway webs of wire cover cliffs and hold back boulders. We pass through Hood River with all its windsurfers and kiteboarders and white people, and in the observation car everyone sits in plastic chairs and takes turns hating the people on cell phones: “Can you hear me? Now? Can you hear me? Hello?”

The train stops in White Salmon, where no one ever gets on except children boarding without their parents. Smokers abandon their seats for the ten minute break. I join them for air and a better look at the wire net. I’m staring and counting the octagons trapping the mountain when I strike up a conversation with an elderly man who looks like an emaciated Santa Claus, all beard and holly-jolly and knee-slaps. He’s talking about how Oregon used to be, in some lost long ago where people were few and far between and every backyard was an apple orchard and every street was a baseball field and no one ever overdosed on Valium. It sounds like Big Rock Candy Mountain and I don’t believe a word. He says “It’s nice to see you off the train,” and I wonder if he means standing but instead I tell him I’ll be on his porch next Friday, just so he doesn’t miss me. Laugh. Knee slap. Then he spots my tattoo and asks if I’m one of those 2012 weirdos, always fretting about the end of the world. I tell him the world has already ended, and it was all his fault. He laughs again but this one is different (no knee slap) and he looks around and he says excuse me and bums a cigarette from someone else and launches into a conversation about how Oregon used to be, sometime long ago, before conversations of 2012 and the end of the world, and things that are all his fault.

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