Tuesday, February 24, 2004

I am in love with my city. On the right days I walk her streets with the half
closed lids and crooked smile of a junky. Tourists taking photos. Their flashes
blow kisses at the gothic steeples and sooty monuments. I always stop to give
directions. I want people to go back to their respective corners of the earth
and know just a fraction of how wonderful this it is to live in this city. I
want a thousand neighbours and family friends to be bored beyond sanity with
photos and stories of my town. No city can be that nice, can it? I'm the wrong
guy to ask. I'm still infatuated with this city. Love sick with every part of
her. Its narrow alleys that dance up and down steep hills and around the corners
of ancient stone walls. The lonely castle that must sit and watch it all from
afar. The pubs with their beer and smoke breath belching onto the street. The
Sunday silence as we all collectively sleep off the night before's excesses. The
hills in which it nestles. Some nights I fill up my flask and climb the large
hill to the east. I sit upon her craggy slope and watch my city. I'll sit there
for hours and watch the traffic pump through her like lit blood cells through
vessels. The symphony of street noises. Drunks yelling. Traffic. Machinery. From
the height of the hills it sounds just like the ocean. No sound distinct from
another. Just an oceanic static. Waves of sound lap against the hill. I've
fallen asleep a few times. My legs still dangling over the edge and my clothes
damp with freezing dew. I'll walk home with the same groggy glee of spending the
night with a pretty stranger.

The city is at her finest when the thick sea fog wraps itself around the
city. Like a spider web shawl, the churches pull the atmosphere tight around
themselves. The street lights are reduced to a round grey globes of light. The
pavement becomes liquid black. The air is cold and tastes salty and a chill
bites and reddens the hands. Those are the nights I find a barstool near the
window, and write words like these.

Monday, February 02, 2004

The rapture has already happened. While you and I slept, God opened the sky, put two fingers to his lips and gave a sharp whistle to call his flock home. There was one problem. Not one person was called up. That's not true. There was one guy named Tanek on a farm near Olsztyn, Poland. The only soul pure enough to immediately take his seat in the empty bleachers of heaven. His brother, Jakub, will come by to make his monthly visit. He'll set the groceries and the bottle of Vodka on the kitchen table. He'll call his brother's name. He'll search the house. He'll find his bed clothes tucked in beneath the covers. Phone calls will be made. The heads of officials will be scratched and the search will fail. Eventually, Jakub will mourn above an empty grave whose stone carries Tanek's name and dates. This will be the only hint of the rapture that occurred. Now, we are living on borrowed time. God has only to grab his celestial broom and sweep the rest of us under the rug. We are lucky he is a lazy deity. Lazy? Of course. He was a busy bee in the beginning. He knocked out the universe in a week. He took a day's rest and then he was right back on the clock. Four thousand years, God was banishing, smiting, and plaguing left and right. Two thousand years ago, he decided to delegate some work to his son and we all know how wrong that went. Lately, the most he can muster is teasing South American Catholics by making statues bleed or actually curing the child of a believer of faith-healing. Parlour tricks by omnipotent being standards. If our Lord was more proactive, we would have already been knee deep in molten sulphur. My guess is the big guy knows we are our own punishment. Eventually, our luck will run out and all this fooling around with Mutual Assured Destruction will finish the job he can be bothered to do himself. We'll go just like two teenage boys who let a knife fight go too far and fall into oblivion with nothing but a look of disbelief.