K.S. ANTHONY: 2022

12 October 2022

Every Season an Apocalypse

Apocalypse, n. 
Etymology: < Latin apocalypsis, < Greek ἀποκάλυψις, noun of action < ἀποκαλύπτειν to uncover, disclose, < ἀπό off + καλύπτειν to cover.

– The Oxford English Dictionary

From now on I will make burning my aim,
From now on I will make burning my aim,
for I am like the candle: burning only makes me brighter.

– Rumi

Part of me wondered if we were playing with emotional wildfire & pretending it was candlelight. 

We wrote our own mythology, signed it with lightning and sweat and made it something new. 

I, your troubled writer. You, my dark muse, shedding old skin and trading it for new armor, always staying close enough so that we could discover each other again and again in every season, in every personal apocalypse. 

Did we meet in the fall? I don't recall what the leaves looked like on our first night together, only your scent, the sourdough taste of champagne – and later your perfumed skin – and the candlelight of our table doubling as wildfire. 

When leaves fall in autumn, they uncover the sky. 

Every kiss we share is a sweet apocalypse illuminating a singular revelation with emotional wildfire over and over again: together, we burn brighter and hotter than we could with anyone else, lighting the path to uncover other mysteries, other myths, and the strange power that comes from intermingling our dreams, sophisticated and feral, always hungry for another night.

Always and again. 


11 October 2022

Hundreds of Bodies in a Vast Unmarked Grave

 There are 438 pieces of writing on this site - 439, if you count this one - and nearly all of them are saved as drafts. I am hesitant to delete them, as they represent over a decade of personal history, and like most everything else that represents the decades of my personal history, I have no desire to engage with them.

For the Chinese bots and rare readers that stumble on this site or still visit 12 years after I started it, these pieces might as well be bodies in a single unmarked grave. You're standing on them with every visit, with no idea what they look like, what their names were, or what significance they played here. It's like looking at the ocean: you might have an idea of what lies beneath its surface... but you don't really know. 

For me, it's a bit different. I see the names, the original dates of publication, the odd cover photo here and there, and, despite the time that's passed since I wrote – and later unpublished – them, I still remember the contexts, if not the content. The contexts are invariably embarrassing, but perhaps 6 - 12 years isn't enough temporal distance to blunt their sting or perhaps I should send everything to my therapist so that we can initiate the processing that it would require to decide whether to delete them all or republish them as some tiring, vulgar Unvarnished Truth About Writing that, if nothing else, might titillate voyeuristic lovers of epistolary novels and run-on sentences. 

Either decision would require digging up these graves; digging up pieces of myself that I was relieved to finally discard. Although there always exists the possibility that I might find some minor treasure – a perfect sentence, a forgotten line of poetry – I would still see it as tarnished by context; it would be unsalvageable except as a sterile relic that other people might enjoy, but that I would cringe at. There is no reason for me to grab the shovel or cast the nets. 

At least not tonight. 

22 September 2022

Sonnet: What to do with the dead

We do not know what to do with the dead

So they slip through the sermons and flowers,

And the freshly-sown grief and the words left unsaid 

While filling leaden seconds and hours.

They lie not in tombs, nor in the soft Earth; 

There’s no casket that’s fit for their keeping,

Remembered and mourned, awaiting rebirth

They alone have no time now for weeping.

As life fades away, depart then we must,

Hoping leaving is just a returning;

Psalms about ashes returning to dust

Tell us nothing of grief or of yearning.

The dead have only this one gift to give:

Remember death, but don’t forget to live.

Wherever I May Find Her

I don't remember exactly when I wrote this, but thought it worth republishing. Obviously.

In French, “I miss you” is rendered as tu me manques, literally “you are missing to me,” indicating a deep and permanent sense of loss. Someone — the informal, intimate tu — that was there is no longer. It doesn’t matter where they are: what matters is where they are not. They are missing to the speaker.

The verb manquer — to miss — is derived from the Latin adjective mancus, which means maimed, crippled, imperfect: mancus, in turn, comes from a Proto-Indo-European word that means “maimed in the hand:” a serious, life-changing loss of something irreplaceable, unique, and entirely personal; a part of oneself in the truest sense of the word.

If we did not so acutely feel the presence of absence — the vacuity, the emptiness — that accompanies loss, would we know that something — or someone — was missing? Unlike a phantom limb that still seems to have a shape and a place in space, to have a loved one missing to us is to experience a hollowness that is at once numbing and bafflingly agonizing. As it ossifies and becomes embedded in our lives, we might observe that it is equal parts grief, love, and nostalgia: a profound homesickness for the part of us that was once safely housed with and in our love for that person and their love for us, now somehow just out of reach.

There is another aspect, of course, to missing someone: the temporary absence of someone that does not rend so close to the bone, but instead is a bittersweet yearning. Temporary or not, when a lover is missing to us, it very often feels as though we have become unbalanced with some vital part of us going absent. The heart limps. Our beds outgrow us. Our arms feel empty. They feel remote, yet there is still some trace of them — the sound of their voice, the fading taste of their lips, their scent impressed into the pillowcases — that can make it seem as though they have only quietly slipped into another room; that they are just steps away from being found; from refilling our hearts, our beds, our arms.

Sometimes they are and we will kiss them again.

When they are not, however, the emptiness that follows becomes the ebb and flow of grief eroding the shores of our hearts until they are barren or until we learn to walk its waters without slipping or giving in to the temptation to drown.

I use the word “sense” as I would if I were referring to sight, touch, smell, taste, or hearing because loss becomes a sense just as tangible, as any of those that we use to guide our lives, and guide our lives it does, profoundly, and in ways that we may fail to discern.

The only thing we cannot lose in life is loss. It may dissolve and integrate into our lives, but it isn’t gone until we are, until we lose everything, even ourselves.

I have become familiar with another kind of longing that complicates and compounds these other vacuities of absence: I miss someone that has, of late, appeared only in dreams, but always more than a dream.

Elle me manque.

As I search for her face — spectral, haunting, unclear — in the city’s anonymous crowds, feeling her close, sensing her nearness to me, I wonder.

I wonder if her heart limps.

I wonder if her bed has outgrown her.

And I wonder if she will fold me into her arms and kiss me for the first time again when I return to her, a lover, long-missed, wherever I may find her.

20 August 2022

Down the Barrel

I was exhilarated the first time I had a gun – a black revolver, probably a .38, held by a white guy in a black watch cap that he had turned into a ski mask by cutting eye holes into it – pointed at me in anger. I was 21, working close at a pizza place where I spent four years. He wanted the money in the register, which I delivered to him by opening the cash drawer, then the money in the safe, to which I didn't have access. I don't recall thinking that he'd shoot me, but I remember thinking that he could easily pull the trigger and put a hole in me. Most of my focus was on the gun in his hand: it seemed at once incomprehensible and all-too-real that he could simply extinguish me. 

He didn't get the safe money. He ran out the back door and, for reasons still unclear to me, the owner and I gave chase until we ran out of breath. As we did, he turned and pointed the gun at us and we both took cover behind cars, though he didn't squeeze off a single round: he was just trying to get away with a couple of hundred bucks. It was intense and I loved it. 

I started carrying my pistol to work after that: a 9mm that I carried next to my appendix in an IWB Bianchi holster with no retention. I remember the initial discomfort of carrying that pistol and the mixed sense of security that it offered. I say "mixed" because in addition to its physical weight, I also carried the weight of wondering if I'd ever have to use it, if my limited time on the range had afforded me the skills necessary to win a gunfight, and if shooting someone in self-defense would be worth the incumbent legal shitstorm that I knew would follow. I never felt terribly exhilarated when I carried, either then or later: I was always aware of that weight.

The second time was similarly exhilarating, though I had left my pistol at home that night. This time it was a young African-American male wearing a rubber gorilla mask about three months later. He was agitated, waving around a medium-sized black automatic pistol and the girl I was working with was scared to death: she pissed herself. Despite his agitation, I remember thinking the entire thing was absurd and I, perhaps out of a mixture of disbelief or some weird fear response, had to force myself to not burst into laughter as he got the money and left. I was close enough to the cutting knife that I might have been able to grab it and take him apart with it, but his agitation did not allow for such a window of opportunity. I didn't give chase. I was more concerned about the safety of my co-workers so once he left, I hit the emergency alarm, locked and bolted the back door, and waited for the cops. Afterwards, I went out for drinks with one of my co-workers and met the woman I would later marry: the latter being an absolutely disastrous decision. 

A few months later, I walked into a running gunfight in the middle of downtown Oakland. I had just emerged from the BART station after work (again, I wasn't carrying) and heard the pop-pop-pop of gunfire and return gunfire. I watched as people ran and I couldn't be sure where the shots were coming from, so I took cover behind a car's front end, trying not to catch a stray bullet. The volley of shots was brief – a few seconds of bad luck for me – and when it ended, I walked to my bus stop and went home. I wasn't exhilarated, exactly, but it felt really good to not get shot. 

When I started working armed security a couple of years later, I never had to draw my pistol, but by then I was confident that I possessed the modicum of marksmanship abilities required to win a gunfight, a confidence bolstered by the body armor that I wore every day. I'm glad I no longer do that kind of work.

While I don't think about those experiences very often, I think about being shot every day, despite living in a city with the most restrictive gun laws in the world and not being able to so much as own a gun without jumping through innumerable legal hoops. I am always aware of my environment: where I might find cover, whether or not I possess the calmness to treat a gunshot wound, whether I still possess any of the perishable skills that I spent so much time working on when I carried, not that it really matters. Any sense of exhilaration has given way to a perpetual anxiety, not just about getting shot, but about conflict in general. 

I have friends who've been in gunfights, but I have never asked them how they felt during and after. What I have noticed about them is that all of them are far more grateful to be alive than I am. I'm here because two guys decided to not shoot me and because I didn't catch a stray bullet... and that's all. I suppose some people might chalk it up to divine intervention, but I've never had much of a feeling of any benevolent force looking out for me. 

If I had been shot and killed, the world would have gone on without me, just as it'll go on without me whenever I do finally die. Sometimes that thought brings me more comfort than it should: a sense of relief that in the vacuum of not-being, I will no longer have to bear the calculus of death and dying. The flip side to that is that death also holds no exhilaration, no sweetness, no anything save the darkness of a void that I find as incomprehensible and all-too-real as the barrels of life's pistols pointed at me. 

19 August 2022

Traffic, Lights

I checked the traffic on this page for the first time in nearly a year yesterday. I cannot imagine that any of the data is correct; that anyone still comes here to read anything, let alone that some stranger staying the night at a hotel in Nyack, New York read nearly every word that I've written here at 2:30 in the morning on the 4th of July. I'm less flattered than I am embarrassed. 

I suspect the traffic is made up of bots or miscellaneous clients who note the difference in domain suffix between my email address and my portfolio: a difference to which I have long been indifferent, wildly disinterested in changing. I suppose there is some small chance that actual people still read this and an even smaller chance that some people are reading this for the first time. 

This doesn't exist on any Google maps – I made sure of it – and I don't give this address to anyone. 

So, if you're here, it's because you chose to come here: not because you took an impulsive detour from the flow of your usual web traffic onto a dirt road that you had never noticed with no street lamps, no mailboxes, just a single, dim light in the front room of an otherwise dark house. 

You lost? Looking for someone? Leave your name and I'll let him know you came asking if I see him around. Sure, you can go to the end of this road if you want, but you're just going to have to come back the way you came: there's no way back out to the highways and lit streets but the way you came in. This road wasn't made for traffic and it certainly was not made to be a shortcut or a detour. 

Like I said, no one comes here anymore unless they choose to and I cannot speak for anyone's choices, especially those made insomniacs haunted by God-knows-what in a hotel next to a graveyard in Nyack. 

Anyway, traveler. I'll leave you to it. Stay as long as you like or leave as quickly as you came. 

This is where I've parked my dreams. I'll come back for them eventually. 

That light will stay on: tend them if you like.