— From EF —   

Last week we went to see the restored print of Pather Panchali at the theatre in San Rafael. This is the fourth or fifth time for us, and it still makes us catch our breath in wonder. I remember different times seeing it, one of the most vivid memories being taking small Eli and smaller Johanna to see it in Paris. Of course, the subtitles were in French, so whispering was in order, but the experience was strong.

Sunday we saw the second in that trilogy, Aparajito. The last time we saw it was in August 1996, very shortly before Conrad’s mom died. We’d just come home from visiting her, the latest in an increasingly bleak set of hospitalizations all branded as “You’ll be just fine,” but it was our feeling that she knew in her bones that her dancing days were over.   Her will took command quickly, and we got caught short. Conrad was going to fly back to be with her, but not until Monday. She left us on Sunday.

Thinking we had time, and wanting to reinforce our connection, we made special plans for Sunday. We would do a spirit journey Sunday evening together, and that afternoon we would go to see Aparajito again. We’d seen it before, but I don’t think we had a clear idea what it would mean on this day.

It totally dismantled us both. Seeing it again, it was cruelly clear how the action mirrored Conrad’s experience: the brilliant student taking what assistance he could get from his single mom’s rural income to go off and leave her world. We were shaken, filled with love, and returned home to embark on our spirit journey. An hour later, we got the call from Iowa: she was not expected to live through the night.

There wasn’t any way to get a flight in time. We had to rely on the journey that had already begun. We called to talk to her partner, Hank, and urged him to stay by her side and assume she could hear everything he said, to hold her hand and say how much she was loved.

We knew exactly when she crossed. The experience was vivid to both of us, and when we spoke to Hank later, he confirmed the time. We couldn’t be at her bedside, but we were with her.

Sunday’s Aparajito was also tied to a journey. I had just undergone a solo excursion into gnarly soul territory in the company of other explorers. My psyche was ready and willing, open to the Heart Sutra — gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, hail to the goer. This time I am bonded to Apu, to the inborn impulse into the future. I am under construction.

— From the Fool — 

So this was just a dream, and only a total fool thinks people want to hear his dream, but I am.

It was right after one of the movie shootings. It used to be if you didn’t like the movie you’d just walk out, but now people feel more pro-active. In my dream, though, the shooter was one of the Presidential candidates.

The emails showed that his campaign manager suggested it. He’d been lagging in the polls. The email bullet points, pardon the terminology, were these:

* Voters want a man of action. They want a President who’d “do things,” whatever.

* You can still make headlines for at least a week if you kill more than half a dozen.

* It’s best if the movie’s a hit.

* It wants to look like there’s planning involved so it isn’t an impulse thing, but not premeditated. It’s a fine line.

* Every mass murder boosts gun sales like crazy, so there’s gonna be big bucks from the NRA.

* All publicity is good publicity. Being in the headlines proves you’re in the ball game.

* Above all we want a President we know can pull the trigger. You’ll be the only one who’s actually done it.

In my dream he killed only three, so it wasn’t quite up to scratch, and it got bumped off the front page after two days by the lady who boiled her baby.

At the end of the spree he blew out his brains. That got him elected. For all the voters who hated the Feds he seemed the logical choice.

— From CB —

(This I wrote one morning sitting at the outdoor coffee stand on the town square in Sebastopol. It doesn’t really represent the political perspective I carry into the voting booth, only my innate selfcenteredness.)

 Just Desserts

Brown little birdie
flickering down from a tree I don’t know the name of
to the rim of the sidewalk table, lights
inches from my coffee cup and my muffin.

My muffins I bake weekly, warm one each day
to eat at the stand on McKinley Street
where coffee is only a buck twenty-five
if you bring your own cup.

I make them perfect: flaxseed, applesauce
walnuts, cranberries, chocolate
crumbly, luscious, moist to the gnash
and the sparrow knows it.

It hops closer, full of chirp and hope
and I shoo it away. It flits to the back of a chair
as I take a larger bite than normal
and a crueler sip of coffee.

I have earned this muffin. It has not.
It might have developed marketable skills
it might have hoarded its crumbs and worms
it might have invested, expanded, merged
it might have cornered the market on slugs
or with instinctual foresight it might have been
fathered by vultures.

As if simply being hatched gives it license to live.
As if its wee brown ass is needed on history’s
parking lots and runways and killing fields.
As if there aren’t cute brown birds enough already.
As if I haven’t earned this goddamned muffin.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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