It Will Be Winter Soon (A Poem For the Darker Half of the Year)

It will be winter soon.

The cold has arrived, and

ominous white flakes

float the breeze,

like ash on the wind

in Pompeii.

It will be winter soon.

So suffocate your houses

with plastic sheets,

and tack on the lath.

Wrap your windows like Christmas

presents for the dead.

It will be winter soon.

It may come tomorrow,

or it may arrive in

the dead of night.

But when comes, it will be

ivory as bleached bones.

It will be winter soon.

The roads will be choked

with barrels of salt.

Better put chains on those tires.

Better keep some blankets in the back.

Lest you want to curl up with old man Winter . . .

It will be winter soon.

The barren branches stretch

and grasp at the dead white sky.

Tiny flakes drift down like

perfect feathers tickling the ground.

A snowflake is a still drop in an frozen sea.

It will be winter soon.

And the rust never sleeps.

It will eat through your cars.

It will eat through your flesh.

It will sink teeth in your lily white ankle

in December and not let go ’til Spring.

It will be winter soon.

Some of the old shall be snapped,

like a frozen-through pine.

It will put a stop to the young

with a sudden glare of black ice

shining ‘neath a frozen sun.

It will be winter soon.

Haul out the shovels,

and prepare your back for breaking.

Put up a Christmas tree, dazzle your wits

with electric lights and exclaim that they

are better than the sun.

It will be winter soon.

The stars shall shine beautiful,

yet indifferent. People will stay

in their beds and make babies.

Because if it is death outside,

We strive for life inside.

It will be winter soon.

Time for holly jolly.

Time for good cheer.

Because the weatherman says,

all clocks stop now —

Old Man Winter is here.

 

 

Copyright 2019. Tylor James.

Quarter-Century: A Premature Memoir (An Essay)!

July 2nd, 2019.

The earth has carried me in its orbit around the sun twenty-five times.

My gratitude to the earth and the sun.

On this tiny blue world which has had countless civilizations rise and fall and ninety-nine percent of its species die out, I happen to be here, sucking in air for the moment.

Isn’t that cool?

It’s a moment I call life. Life is a fractal phenomenon of countless other moments, a collection of them. Within the bounds of my moment, I’ve witnessed the civilizations which have rose and fell within me. Sometimes they’re realized and I say, “Ah! Today, I am born again.” Sometimes they go unrealized and I groan, thinking, “Not this again!?”

To wake upon a planet teeming with life and with loved ones nearby, ready to help you up when you fall down. What more can a person ask for?

I am blessed — not in a superstitious sense, but by the holy Brownian motion of reality. Like a shook-up snow globe, the flakes have landed just so. I am happy with the snow globe.

Today, I sit here in the chair, typing away, reflecting on where I am and where I’m going. I proposed to the love of my life, Tessandra Voje, a week back or so. She has agreed to share her moment with me. We plan on getting married next year, sometime in the fall. Her daughter, Rosemary Voje, bright and funny young lady I am glad to know, sometimes calls me ‘Dad’. She’s been calling me Dad more and more lately and dang, that feels really good.

I’ve just written a novel, my first one, and am in the process of shaping it into something readable for the public. It will be a finished product within the month. I’ll be sending it out to publishers. I’ve been writing “seriously” for the past two years and have collected a wonderful amount of rejection slips. Dozens and dozens…

Two ‘maybe’ letters from editors have popped up in my email inbox though, and I figure ‘maybe’ letters are a good sign that things may be slowly turning around.

My dream is to write, become published, and get paid for it.

I may not have the last two things down yet, but I sure have the first one. Writing is a light in the pitch dark. The pen is a third eye, the one which allows me to perceive reality in a clearer and happier way. If I didn’t write, I’d probably have to pay a lot of money talking to a shrink! A lot of writers say that. I don’t imagine they’re lying.

I write every day and have an aim to be prolific, to write not just one book, but dozens within my lifetime. Any agent or publisher out there looking to write a contract with a strange fiction writer, consider yours truly!

I think about things that’ve happened within these past twenty-five. I am curious about the young, expressive boy that walked in the sun and was in love with horror movies and wearing masks and costumes. I know that boy still exists somewhere. To this day, I love horror movies, and I love wearing masks – a mask is an identity. Today I am playing the identity of a writer. I’m getting pretty good at playing the part. Tomorrow, who knows what I’ll be?

I read this great line from the Tao Te Ching:

“He who defines herself, cannot know who she really is.”

Isn’t that great? I try not to define myself. I put on masks with a curious joy and say, “Ah, there’s something mysterious beneath this mask! What could it be? Is it really even there? Hmm.”

I think of turning 21, when I lived on Knowles Ave, in and out of the bars, trying to fall in love with people. During those years, the moon was brightest. I stood under the moon, on the warm street, smoking cheap cigarettes, looking like a pale skeleton, and knowing that I was young but not knowing quite what youth was. There was no room for intellectualizing youth — I was youth.

And I am youth.

I wish youth the best. When it leaves me, I promise not to cling. In another forty years, when I’m an old man, with hair falling out, hunch-backed with a cane, I’ll say, “At last! I’m in my prime.”

And I am prime.

I remember picking up the guitar, old dusty friend, and deciding on a whim I should do something with my life. So I taught myself to play guitar, harmonica and sing and I became a performing singer-songwriter. I wrote an album or two worth of songs, one of those albums recorded in a friend’s house studio (let me know if you’d like to listen to it, I’ll send you a copy).

Tessandra was there recording that album with me, several of those songs written for her. Sometimes it’s as if she always has been here, just hiding behind the curtain of space and time, waiting until I was the right age to know her. Life is full of fun illusions like that.

Sometimes, too, I think of my Grandfather. He was a writer and a lover of literature and I’m  sure he’d be proud of me. If I ever write a western novel, I’ll dedicate it to him. I still have his letters, the ones where he tells me I’m his “favorite young author”. I have his rejection slip from Bantam Books in a black suitcase. Seeing it fuels me to want to one-up him.

I return my thoughts to the planet flying around the sun at 67,000 MPH. I am on that  planet, in some strange dimension where there are masks and people and horror movies and literature and love and music.

I can’t get over it. There are people around who love me – we are rare things.

To be a conscious creature with a brain and a spinal column, upright, breathing, as the sun and rain replenishes.

It’s the awesomeness, the mystery, the wonder, I keep coming back to. It’s my religion.

On my 25th birthday, I am a holy man in his pajamas.

Greater things to come.

Your friend,

Tylor J. Mintz

A Short Walk with Randolph Metzger (SHORT STORY)

They hauled him, black bag over his head, through the jeering crowd, toward the gallows. He endured the wild curses, demands, and insults as one does with a cold wind. He accepted, and shivered. But what hurt him, what affected him, was hearing them shout his name…

My own name, he thought. Why does it make me cringe? What is it about a title I’ve had since birth that brings these shivers up my spine? Makes my hair stand on end? Gives me gooseflesh?

Randolph Metzger.

A name given to me by my mother, not without a lofty pride. It was my grandfather’s name. My grandfather – a heritage of honor, a noble Captain of a ship. My grandfather the courageous explorer, loving husband to my Grandmother Rosemary, and lifelong giver of alms to the poor. By all accounts, my grandfather was a great man.

By all accounts, I am not.

Hence, up ahead. The gallows. I see only black. But I know that noose is there all the same. It’s almost as if I can smell it…swinging to and fro, in the wind. It smells of an odd mixture of pine, sweat, and desperation…

A shiver ran up his spine. His spine was like a long fuse, burning up into explosions of fear inside his brain. His temples throbbed. His knees began to tremble.

So this is how my life ends, thought Randolph Metzger. As a short, nightmare walk toward grim fate. With blackened sight. With hatred, stuffed into my ears. With cold, hard prods from the guards, and sharp jabs and gobs of spit from this stupid, undulating mass of serfs.

Ah, but there is a brighter side. There is, there is.

Just think! I could be spending the remainder of my days like these fools. Sweating away the years, giving all, having nothing, starving, suffering, proffering sins, aching for a better life after death. Ha!

And there lies the rub. Life after Death, the only thing – the only delusion! – that makes this life the least bit tolerable.

As any wise man knows, if he is wiser than St. Thomas Aquinas, there is no such thing. These poor fools! These lousy, damned Idiots! What do they know with their shouts and damnations? They know only hatred and stupidity and work – that is their lot in service to the King. That is their life.

Why in hell would I ever want a part in that?

Yet even if there is some paradisiacal after-life, it won’t be for me. Not with the things I’ve done.

Indeed. If there be a Pearly Gates, they are open to some, closed to others, and yet barricaded with chains, locks, and hexes for those rare wicked, debauched souls like Randolph Metzger.

For Randolph Metzger the sign slapped across those golden Gates reads loud and clear:

KEEP OUT!

The guard on his left rammed an elbow into his gut.

“HAULT!” he screamed.

“What, god damn you? What?!”

“The stairs! Step UP!”

Randolph stepped up, then up again, and up, up. A new pain radiated up his left leg, following the track of his spine, exploding ghastly fireworks inside his brain again.

My head, oh my head, he thought. Wouldn’t it be a beauty if it just exploded, right here upon the gallow steps?

Randolph imagined his pink, fleshy brains littering the imbecile crowd all ‘round him in one great BLAST! — a cranium ignited by pain and fear and set to fracture, split, and fly all in one breath!

Oh, how they would scream!

The crowd cheered madly as Randolph shambled onto the stage. It was one hell of a great show and – by god! – he was the star of it. The closest he’d ever gotten to the gallows was as a child, when forced by parents and instructors to act in those cute little theater plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes.

Look at me now, ma! He thought, laughing wildly beneath black cloth.

The guards looked at each other and scowled. One of them struck a blow to his stomach. Randolph doubled over in agony. They jerked his shoulders back, forcing him straight again.

“What!” Randolph hissed. “Pray tell, a man cannot have a bit of fun at his own funeral?”

“Funeral?” shouted a guard. “There is no funeral for you, Randolph Metzger! The world should never provide you such fortune – You do not deserve it. No. For you, there is only execution. Justice!”

The guards dragged him to center stage. He now stood upon the trap door, which felt no different to his feet than the rest of the stage. He knew he was standing on it all the same. That cold wind blew again, carrying the sea of shouts and voices even closer to his ears. He drowned in that sea, but did not shiver, did not twitch. They put the noose around Randolph Metzger’s neck, snugging it tight.

Why fear what is deserved? He thought. Why fear at all? What is there at the end of this rope other than the inevitable? I am to be swallowed up by black nothingness. The void. The thing that exists for all mankind before birth…so what?

The shouts from the crowd grew ever more excited. Damnations, condemnations, or insults, it was no matter. He was becoming used to it.

So I never followed in my grandfather’s footsteps. I’ve ever had any desire to! I was never a kind man, compassionate man, a loving man…this is perhaps the most loving I’ve ever been. Here on the gallows, wind shivering my body, enduring the hatred of my country…this! I love all of this! I have walked a short life…yet I have walked in steps true to me and only me. This, I love. This, where I belong.

A voice, novel and foreign, shouted from the stage.

“QUIET! QUIET!” demanded the voice.

The crowd simmered to a low boil, leaving the air heavy, thick. The wind blew. The shivers on Randolph’s spine were pleasurable now, almost sensuous.

My god! he thought. I’ve never felt so alive!

“Randolph A. Metzger,” the voice boomed. “You have lived a life of thievery, decadence and murder. You have cheated and exploited every living soul you’ve ever known. Therefore, you have been condemned to execution by your King and country. You are hereby sentenced to be hung from the neck until you are dead. Have you any last words?”

“Yes,” Randolph replied without pause. “My last words are for my children. I know not their names, nor their homes, nor do I care. Yet if they ever become curious of their old man, and inquire to their mothers about my existence, they ought to know this:

“I, Randolph Metzger, am by all accounts a great man. My children shall know I am honorable heritage, for I am captain of my life. I am honest to my own Self, for one must always be honest if they are to live outside the law. I am a lover of widows and wenches, of money and of fools – murdered. I am a lifelong thief of the rich and poor alike, for all men and ladies are equal before my eyes. For all of them, as good as rats! Thus it is with great happiness that I be condemned – for it means I shall rest, at last, free and dreamless, of the stupid, mindless torrents of this plagued world!”

The crowd grew ever angrier. They threw stones, soiled fruit, whatever they could get their hands on. None of these flew high enough to strike their desired target – the man in the noose whom laughs.

“May the Lord have mercy on your soul!”

A guard pulled the creaking lever. The trapdoor swung open with a clatter, and Randolph dropped through.

SNAP!

The body came to a sudden mid-air hang as the neck broke. Somehow, the black bag around his head had dropped, leaving the face exposed. He appeared handsome, peaceful.

Randolph Metzger swung to and fro, a lifeless pendulum in a cold wind that no longer brought cold, nor shivers, nor wind.

 

 

© April 2019. Tylor J. Mintz. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Life in the Shallows & Cosmic Humility

 Life in the Shallows

All of life is a play in the shadows of shallow things. Reality is grander than the limitations of human imagination, which is rather unimaginative. We are shackled by three spacial dimensions and one of time, and our eyes are stuck peeking through the keyhole which composes our tiny visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum. We are chained to cultural paradigms, blinded by the importance of our egos, and the illusion of our existence. We have a difficult time thinking and perceiving reality as it is because we are looking at the world through such a narrow lens.

Considering the Tao, the ultimate way of the world, in accordance to examining the quantum particles which make up atoms which make up matter, “pop in and out of existence”, is all the more reassuring of these current facts of human limitations.

Of course, with the passage of time, these things may change. One never knows. All is impermanent, all transforms. Ignorance today, knowledge tomorrow. And vice versa.

 

Selfishness (Lessons in Cosmic Humility)

          Selfishness can only come about when one takes him or herself too seriously. A selfish person, perhaps, is one whom clings to the importance or relevance of his identity out of fear of being forgotten, neglected, or decimated. Thus, out of a private existential terror, he puts himself first. He is the man who budges in line at the supermarket, passes you on the highway even though you’re already doing five miles over the speed limit, always sideswiping the other human beings in his life in order to obtain his own desires — his desires, his attachments, are ranked as the most important, most significant. In the eyes of this man, every other man and woman is illusory, negligible. What an eye-opening wonder if he were to realize that he is also illusory and in the grand scheme of the cosmos, quite negligible.

Lessons in cosmic humility.

The Buds of Opportunity

Throughout one’s life, there are a great number of opportunities that will be encountered. There are opportunities to grow and expand, opportunities to learn something new, opportunities to begin a friendly or romantic relationship, opportunities abound! Possibility is Opportunity’s twin sister, I might add.

I have come to recognize that opportunities are like closed flower buds. One merely needs to provide adequate rain and sunshine for the buds to open up and bloom.

I will give a personal example of what I mean. Currently, I am working an 8 to 5 day job pushing shopping carts into corrals on a supermarket parking lot. This unglamorous job does not pay very well, but it does pay (most of) my bills. Where another person might sulk and consider working a low-wage job to be a futile and meaningless experience, I find exactly the opposite. When I am pushing those carts into the corrals, I am putting my healthy legs and body to good use — I am putting my body into a most excellent physical shape. The more I become aware of this, the more grateful I am to have a body.

I also do most of my writing on this lot, in between pushing carts. Whenever no one is looking, I hide in a corner, take out my notepad, and jot down my ideas. Then I hide it back in my pocket and continue pushing the carts until another idea comes. When I arrive home and sit down to write — I’m not really writing. I’m just transferring my notes into coherent sentences. The real writing takes place at my menial day job.

One also needs to empty one’s mind before true creative thought can come to fruition. Menial tasks — such as washing the dishes, chopping wood, or pushing carts into their respective corrals, are perfect tasks for the task of emptying the mind. This way, the subconscious (or as the Buddhist’s call it, the store consciousness) can work on all those great writing ideas while you’re not looking. This is the way ol’ Hemingway’s creative process worked too.

Working in the parking lot, I get to observe people all day. People are interesting. They’re mostly unconscious, mostly lost in a haze of confusion and consumerism, but they’re interesting. Their incompetence can provide me the fuel I need to write.

Have I mentioned that I am turning this parking lot into my Zen monastery? It is true. There is no better time to practice meditation than while doing daily work. No need to sit in the lotus position. One merely needs to breathe to meditate. You can meditate and practice being mindful while walking, talking, and pushing carts.

Lastly, at the supermarket I am working for, there is a nice Spanish door greeter. I am beginning to take Spanish lessons from her every day I work on the lot — which is Monday through Friday. She works Tuesday through Friday, so that’s four days of Spanish lessons a week!

Here is what I learned from Juanita today:

Question: Ola! Como estas? — Hello! How are you?

Answer: Commo Mongo! — Like a Mango!

Mangos, Janita informs me, are tasty and delicious.

There you have it. While working this menial day job, I am writing books, getting my physical exercise, practicing meditation, and learning another language. I see the buds of opportunity everywhere. And the more I look, the more I see them. The more you look, the more you will see them too.

All that is needed is an openness of the heart and mind for these little buds, wherever they happen to turn up, to bloom into their rightful flowers.

The Actor Within

The Actor Within Us All 

I tend to agree with that great, Shakespearean concept — All the world’s a stage. In addition, I will say that a man is merely a role to be played and that there is a reason why a person is often referred to as a character. It is a godless, tragic and comedic script that our species is working with. Here is a conversation regarding this subject which I had with a fellow human being the other day:

“So! Whaddya do for a living?!” the idiot said, as if recited from memory.

“Well,” I said, “besides breathing in oxygen and exhaling Co2, I act.”

“Wow! An actor! That’s pretty cool. Been in anything I might have seen?” he inquired.

“I’m in this strange movie called, Life, which you might not have heard of.”

“Huh!” he says and scratches his matted hair with a furrowed brow. “Yup, can’t say I have. Who else is all in it?”

“Everyone,” I reply.

Everyone.

 

Musings: The Existential Artist

The Existential Artist

Each human being, whether they are entirely aware of the fact or not, is an existential artist. Life is but a blank canvas – completely void of meaning and purpose. Until we conscious creatures come along. The perception and consciousness we bring to our environment and society constitute the colors and forms we apply to our canvas of life. As Jean-Paul Sartre would say, “First there is being. Then there is essence.” The artist is our being, our interpretive, creative application is our essence.

The primary purpose and meaning of life is to simply live, to envision the world, to paint our canvas. This is the duty of we conscious creatures, we existential artists. It is all we have, truly. The problem is, most artists (everyday people) are not so unique in their visions and are content with an ignorant, unconscious plagiarism. The Subjective Cultural Values Script is blandly xeroxed a billion-fold onto this eon of present eternity. Human beings capable of critical thinking and independent worldviews — this is to say, minds of vast color and form, are indeed too infrequently found!

***

Art & Presence

The creating of an artwork is a means of experiencing the present moment. Art requires of the artist that he sync his body with his mind. The body is always present and the mind is nearly always busy with the past, the future, or notions beyond this current immediacy of existing. To be precise and focused with a paint brush, typewriter, or molding clay is to unify our intellect and our physicality into the presence of ‘now’.

I can feel this present moment as I jab madly at the keys. Jimi Hendrix screaming out the angst and sorrows and joys of this world through his crazed guitar playing on my stereo. The dog is circling my feet. The light is reflecting off the left side corner of my glasses and brings to mind glimmering stars. My breath and heart beat are in mindful unison. All these words, words, intoxicating words! To be an artist. To be a writer. To be. Beautiful!

***

Are You OK?

A good friend of mine read my latest book and with an expression of sympathetic concern on his face said, “Your book was pretty dark, pretty bleak…I’m just going to ask this once. Are you OK? I’m your friend. You know you can tell me if something is wrong.”

“Sometimes I ask myself the same question,” I respond with a slight chuckle. “I’m doing wonderfully, really! Perhaps if I were truly down and eager to slit the wrists, I would write happier things.”

I said that last bit quite offhandedly, but it now occurs to me that we write in dreams of what we don’t understand or don’t have. Or, to be more precise, we write about what we are on the verge of understanding, or about to have. With each sentence I am grasping for the unknown. I am happy and content and writing about the darkness. I am dark and estranged and writing about the light. It is said that the writer writes to discover himself.

Musings on Life, Death & Loogies (This is Me, Making a Mockery of Literature).

Gregarious greetings to the enthused and unenthused alike,

This is me, making a mockery of literature.

You’re welcome!

 

Being & Nothingness (Death’s Gravity)

If all of life is but a dream, then birth is us waking up and death is us going back to sleep — the dreamless void, the nothing, that which we were (or more accurately, were not) before we were born. The nothingness is all consuming. It is the black hole wherein all humankind is inevitably sucked into. I like to illustrate the phenomena as, Death’s Gravity.

***

United by an Equal Fate

A chiseled name on a gravestone softens and dissolves slowly and gracefully under pressure of time and entropy. What a magnificent symbol of humankind being consumed by the sure Void! Along with ourselves, the memories of us held by the people whom knew us, and eventually even our own names and dates of birth and death — all shall fade like a dream. No thing is permanent, to include ourselves and our species. Think of all the fleeting billions before you whom have performed in this noble enterprise and tradition (Life & Death). Think of all whom you know presently, as well as every person you see on the street. We are united by an equal fate!

Row, row, row your boat.

***

Immortality

If one acts for the future, one should always act for the betterment of others, since they themselves will not be there. Set your hopes not on personal immortality. The stars are closer to it, as they have shined for billions of years over the heads of our ancestors and before the formation of our planet, but even they explode and die. What is truly immortal is the energy which composes us all — yet it is unconscious, indifferent, omnipresent. For this is the only universal immortality that we may confide in. So confide!

***

The Christian Beggar

The Christian who commits good deeds only for fear that if he doesn’t he will be punished in the afterlife is a lowly form of creature indeed. I often observe the same behavior in Lilly, my family’s beloved pet dog. Lilly is a very well-behaved pup and quite obedient, but only so long as a treat is promised her in the near future. You see the allusion I’ve drawn here…

A fearful Christian is certainly no better than my begging dog. Their virtue is unvirtuous and their obedience smells of their own hellfire.

***

Appreciation for Spits & Shits

There is some value in a quality morning loogie or two. I hawk one out into the air with great relish. I look at my festering string of yellowish green phlegm there on the ground and say to myself, “Therein lies the useless sins of yesterday. Today we begin anew, nostrils open and able to breathe in the good morning air freely and without obstruction.”

Along the same lines of course is a quality dumping, often assisted by a few cups of black coffee. Upon completing excretion, I tend to look down and admire my work before flushing. I mean, just look at that thing! The sheer size and girth of that turd is incredible! If only it had teeth it could devour a newborn infant! I say, take pride in your work and appreciate your accomplishments — even so for the regular spits & shits of your dynamic being. Forgive my crudity, but let us not turn aside truth — even if it’s ugly!

***

To the Shifty Eyed

It is unbecoming of a man to be shifty eyed. Meet another’s gaze with kindness and confidence! I say this mostly to myself, as I have had trouble retaining direct eye contact in the past with friend, foe and passing stranger alike. Eyes are the windows to the soul, it is said. The question I pose to myself is this — just what is it I am trying to hide from my fellow man on the occasion that I do anxiously shift my gaze from theirs? The eyes have a tendency to tell all.

The Spirit of a Chameleon (A Musing on Change)

As it happens, we human beings often define ourselves through some perceived pivotal or vital experience from out of the foggy trenches of our past. We can become frozen, stuck in time as it were, and as a result become very discontented and unaccepting of the present. The old definition of ourselves (which tend to form the whole of our identity & purpose) are askew from the present conditions. We are like a crooked painting on a wall that is crumbling with the passage of time and procession of entropy.

Our honorable goal is to define ourselves regardless of our past and in such a way as to rise above the conditions of any circumstance which existence throws upon us. We must be at home with change and transition, and fear not the natural, corresponding changes and transitions of our personality, behavior and ultimate self-definition.

Let’s think of it this way: Our souls find their spirit with the chameleons. We are adaptable and flexible with our ever-changing environments — so long as we incorporate the color and hue of the present moment, the eternal now that is the entirety of our life. In order to accomplish this, we must first be willing to throw off the psychologic shackles of our past definition.

True, all human identity has its rightful heritage, but to allow that heritage (or, experience) to grow so obtuse as to prevent maturation of the Self, would be very foolish indeed!