“The Terminal Wreckage of Babel” by Rusty Kjarvik

On my way to see my Love! She’s giving a presentation in a high tower, what a glorious teacher she is, a teacher in secret, with hidden wisdom and enlightening prophecy pouring from her with such humble eloquence.

The road is dry in the warm, new summer air. I notice a woodwind shop on the road. A Xaphoon hangs on their display wall! “I have one at home, but that one looks so beautiful today.” I deliberate, “I’ve been enjoying this instrument so much, but I also think I’ll have to buy this one for the special occasion that is this day.”

In the shop, a saleswoman is short with me. No extra conversation ensues despite my attempts after I’ve decided on purchasing their only functioning Xaphoon. For $30 I walk away with my new instrument, smiling quaintly in sweet visions for the day, gaily in love.

I arrive to the towering silver building. With energetic lightness, I decide on the stairs. Massive windows bedeck the entirety of the walls, the low plains stretch as a mercilessly singular mural throughout the wide landscape. Finally, I find the presentation room.

There she is; a ghost of decadence, beauty, a word in her honor, is unready for its true name. In her presence, I am light with the fresh gold of summer dreams. Her hair is bunched and flowing, the gargantuan black mass swells and streams down her side as a mythical waterfall of visceral lust, untouched and unrivaled by any substance beside. As I move in closer to her, weary as not to interrupt her occasion, a mirror image of her hair appears in the sky!

A black, icy fleece of cloud boils upside down into the gleaming pasture; a wild tornado approaches! “This is a building of glass!” I scream weakly and run alone back into the stairwell to find sanctuary. The tornado crashes violently. A 9/11 of natural law brews gravely in the high destruction. The crude aftermath burns with electric ash as the ruins fume, awaiting the ever-darkening sky for yet another whiplash. Too afraid to return above, I journey onward, outside the city core. With instrument in hand, I dreamily invoke the unmoved trust of community in the survivalist reign, a mounting fear from the shape-shifting sky above.

Human vibrancy responds coolly in the aftermath of lost pain.

There are those ready to die. They leave through the front door, on crutches, helped by their offspring followers. My grandfather sits, patient as an ancient boulder beneath an old-growth tree, situated in the midst of a construction site. The virgin forest turns to city, as the violent youth pleads with flashy spirituality around the bloody host of tempting boobs and the freewheeling ghosts of enraged awe in the music of the muse. All know me now. A writer! Proud with inherent jealousy, they retch in the folly of pure floosy. Ear to ear my lips point to the insanity ensued, on the asylum Earth with starlight kin, ever distant, asking, “Who flew?”

Family festivity! What a roomful of browning noses and brooding eyescapes bleary and peering into the torn pages of emotive remorse, a frequented gasp into the play of genetic strays. Weary, from this we’re born. There is a host of catastrophic laughter, a smiling malaise, distant, nonplussed and concealed with grief all too human. Yet, I am a cheerful sprite. I skip with light movement in between ready-corpsed waylays, the stench of old age drowns the mind in nude happenstance, a picture-perfect stream of inglorious rage, quieted in the mass of group idiocy, stuffing faces with swine and blush.

The night before we were to leave for the States, I clicked purchase on my laptop while sleepwalking. The next day, I called my mother. “A forty dollar purchase!” I spent the entire morning trying to return it.

Meanwhile, my wife and I prepare to travel across the border from Canada. This hasn’t been an easy for us in the past. Unbeknownst to me, she prepares her computer. As usual, in the final minutes before we leave, my wife begins to mind our departure. As she walks into the bathroom, my mother and grandparents surprise us in our house. Simultaneously, my wife zips through the washroom doorway, shirtless. I talk my relatives down as I begin to re-assess our travel preparations.

Trouble stews in the bathroom. She is cornered by border patrol in our own privacy! They threaten to confiscate her hard drive for security purposes. She goes into shock. I can feel her anxiety and fear, nightmarish and certain as day. I can’t help but accompany her in distress. Walking through an unknown labyrinth in my bathroom, I’m unable to see any one. I’m lost.

The shower emanates with an opaque quagmire of steam. Groped thighs and high chests creak like wood in unspoken sexual majesty. Forbidden flights breach a proud, open humanity with a love forsaken beyond scrutiny, to instinctual rites of passionate floundering in the cruel pain of the body’s lowering, prehistoric travesties. Weak with sanity, I become raw with self-doubt, admiring and at once twisted inside. Where is my Love? We are far from family.

Traveling to Israel; the first night, my family and I witness a live drum and bass duo explode the stage in a spark plug of sonic smithereens. The audience is drowned out in a hemp haze of blistering monitors which fuss and blow like a spiked gourd of grog. I am reminded of Om.

This isn’t the right crowd.

The auditorium audience begins to split as a punk metal doom bit hits incendiary in the mathematical freeze of anti-traditional musical formulae. As people begin to clear out, I take up a clarinet I had recently played in the upper tiers of my consciousness on Earth. My subconscious knows the notes.

Explorative and experimental, I dash the family reunion and mystifying context of concert for my own harmonious bout with sound, bleeding through the fire of an impassioned reed. I stimulate the Earth with sounds of disbelief freed.

In meditation with Mahakrishna, transcendence transpires. The transpersonal takes effect, dryly in the humid gathering. With rich clothes and frayed seams we sit before the elephant-headed Krishna. Ganesha-Elephant man! Seated before, equally clothed, he prefers to be addressed Mahakrishna. I vanish!

“Paul, meet Paul,” a friend from Boston sits across from a recent acquaintance. “I’m only going to St. Louis,” he confesses weakly. His scooter lies in disrepair at our feet. I’m on my way west, as far west as one can go, a bicoastal flight. The highway night is bleak, streaming lights cascade horizontally in the brittle rain. The sky is opaque with faded ebony, a mildew of steam emanates from under the gyrating wheels of our speeding metal encasement.

“Keep your hands on the wheel!” the car steals across a merging lane, whiplashed and painstaking amid the gyrating fleet of normalcy. The driver fingers marijuana puffery, blind with musical havoc. I steam and vent with toxic remorse as we pass a humongous van filled with Mexicans, seized by the police.

We are the true criminals.

My brother drives our mother’s work car. “You’re going to drive this when you’re on your way,” he says warmly. I’m dropped off at a gas station. A dark-skinned Mexican attendant intimidatingly pulls over a gas hose, pointing a muzzle onto my plate glass window. The night is endless. “Where am I off to?” I question my racing mind as my sibling waves goodbye from a friend’s vehicle, moving away.

A map, from overhead, spells a loose bombing pattern over the destroyed ash of a once proud Western city. The doomsday vibe is instilled pervasively, even from twelve thousand feet. I descend. Hooded, disguised in the female clothing of a conservative Iranian Muslim woman, I defy gravity, bounding over farmyards and plains with ghastly unconcern for my step. American, I daydream momentous bravery in the hook of Ali.

Finally, I arrive to a gathering of young people my age. Crowding around a midday fire, we clumsily fiddle with various instruments. Curiously, I see an old friend. People begin to single me out. “Play this! Play that!” They stammer, belligerent with string and reed instruments sounding off into unbroken landscapes, the sobering spring sky presses coldly on my uncovered scalp. Every instrument I touch is in disrepair. Unable to make a clear sound, I move on to hallucinogens and alcohol.

A co-musician friend meanders and strays with eager intention, playful, directly before me. I am defenseless. As he approaches, leaping over me, my body transforms into mountain stone. Hard-edged scree and hillocks crack and harden in a gross maze of cavernous earth rock. Self-created, I transform. I am the mountain. My hair blows mercilessly, mutating into the icy summit winds. I rumble and shake with tectonic might. Mountain goats find refuge in my side, opening into an open cave. My friend enters.

The road from the American Southwest opens in a lightning flash northward. A literal streak of beaming spectral intensity whitens the sand-whipped pavement unto the Canadian border beyond. This is my road, from Mother’s home of her dreams, to the creative migrant’s expatriate sway. A great triangle figures over the backdrop of North American flight. A sweet host of ethereal musing enlightens our unforeseen paths with adamantine wisdom.

All is out of sight. I am somewhere in the middle. I see the futile passage of infinitude stretching beyond the hoarse glow of my shifting future blown to the winds of the American past.

Four massive peaks lift into the untouchable sky with such lofty height. This is the Eastern gateway and riverine border into the Canadian Rockies. In between two strong, unearthly peaks, I rest having climbed afoot to the base of a glowing summit ahead in the crystal blue sky, cloudless and serene.

Atop a rock-spurned crevasse leading into a valley gorge, I find a curious green-hoop tunnel net. Its loose thread flows welcomingly calm in the whipping winds. Instead of continuing upward, I take a chance at descending through the unusual contraption. Leaping into its circular folds, cast into a semi-suspended state, gliding carefully above the chipped stone, shifting boulders and overhanging vegetation. Gently, I exit from the net tunnel, its organic spindly bottom, dusting off in wishful camaraderie with the mountain prairie, gold snow grassland.

My strongest thought compels me to descend through the hoop alone and with swift might, overconfident and unthinking. My body cascades heavily, knocking against the back of the mountain while encased in the mysterious, protective green netting. With a hard thud, I injure myself upon the ground, weak with delirium. A time after, I ascend, lone to the place where I once found the curious organic net. Instead of looking through the downward spiral, I look up towards a distant peak amid the quartet of towering ascension. At the summit, a wild enormity of avian flesh flaps it’s wings. The sight sends me into uncontrolled stupefaction, dizzy with groaning delight: a myth comes to life!

A full-scale invasion! Be-feathered helmets and Spaniard tempests swing wildly in the bloody aftermath breeze. The mountain jungle air is chokingly humid. The brayed skin and shattered metal splits and shaves with hairless, painted flesh meeting the clunky spillage of wounded Europe, thirsting to murder unearthed prophecy. Silent, I escape. There is no victor, only the great veil of death and havoc, a clean-swept tide foreboding a colony and its inimitable dry heave of personality into the vile mix of disease and one-sided freedoms.

A vented rise of wood and shale offers solace. I meditate with spirited concentration, removed entirely from the bells swinging into their clapper of my inevitably gruesome end. I’ve escaped this history into another world entirely.

My first visit to East Asia! I ride wealthily and untethered down futuristic main streets in South Korea, eyeing Monasteries doubling as military halls. Tokyo films play in the pavement signage. I hear Cantonese and Vietnamese swimming in my head. No, this is Korea! We dance carelessly over the sweet dell of masterful urbanism. There are people to meet, and eagerly we find our way, personified by withdrawn shelter in the sun world east. By midday, I am alone, a vagrant wanderer looking for likelihood in the exotic sky.

A time after, I walk carefully through a glowing green brush in the rural vein of the Northeast country. Carrying our instruments, my Love and I meander toward the new home of my father, way out in the bush of Maine. On their property, I play with a friendly cat, shaking a healthy, felled branch over its crooked head, radiant with happy fervor. We are received. I eat a stomach-full of red steak. I haven’t eaten meat in seven years! The flesh is warm and satisfying. I ask, “Is the steak from Argentina?” The label says, “Made in America” just like any other consumer product. Sitting out by an outdoor hearth in the midday sun, my Love and I begin to play music for the flies. The wind is bright with security and home.

Neighbors are belligerent at my father’s house. They drink in squalor and rev engines in domestic rage, puffing their chests with the heave of self-created poverty, a traumatic school of bundled nerves, fraying and pressed against the hot ice of American dreams. On the road between my father’s and their house, I stare, empathizing with their tragic isolation. As I spin my head around to my father’s lawn, the grass is inundated with naked souls, barefooted and striving with dead honor to lust and feed off each other’s energy. Multi-colored bodies writhe and shake as a spawn of ghosts shrieking wildly in the post-greed high of the stubborn suburb.

Recoiling mad into my private bathroom, I freak wryly, drowning my habit in a sore crack addiction. Black pills behind the mirror scream deftly into my ear at all hours. Howls brew, slaking my darkest corner with a dreamless food. Dispassionate and apologetic, I am exposed by my mother, who slowly weans me off the fatal addiction. Re-entering the street, I pass between the spiritual purgatory of population and the isolated wallowing of violent speed. I imagine I’m on a bridge in San Francisco, street performing with a lively troupe and befriending a nut seller on our way to public grace.

More southerly, the Peruvian fleet screams in my head with a need to lie beneath a doctor’s analyses, feet pointed horizontally, outstretched and fixed on the meridian point of loosened stress. Though, I am always late. Waking up, exhausted and bedraggled, I find a representative from Amazon Watch at a doctor’s office, telling me I’ll be seen on the morrow. He’s an astute Englishman, proud and busy. I head back to Mom’s. A car pulls up in our driveway as we serve dinner.

A human rights organization representative accompanies my old friend from Sudan! My heart flies to cerulean heights under the darkening late feast of sky. His African build glows through a rejuvenated skin. His head, bald as usual, is unblemished and perfectly globular, fitting for such an astounding brilliant balanced mind. He greets us and I immediately have my mother fix him a decent plate of meat. After dinner, he and his organizational representatives stay for conversation. My parents have retired upstairs.

“You have been a father and a friend,” my eyes tear with conviction at understanding our separate paths, crossed by pure benediction in our shape-shifting inglorious world. “Thank you for visiting me in person.” I am ever relieved to see him healthy, glowing and taking on his dream of working for his people, forced migrants of Egypt, in the comfort of a socially and technologically developed country as we enjoy in the West. His road is unlighted. With pronounced intent, their vehicle sets off into the unforgiving American night.

In the ground level stone-concrete apartment, a storm-brought flash flood rolls in with increasingly formidable waves, crashing into my Love and I. She hands me our son, as a final wave breaks over our heads, I’m unable to carry the infant above the water and lose its precious body in the storm-tossed water. After the flood subsides, under bristling gray skies, we search for our toddler in the wreck of our home. Found electrocuted in a ceiling appliance, my wife is beside herself.

Rummaging through childhood lairs and dusty basement keeps, our ancestral feet lay in storage. Our rummaging, nonplussed, is savored with every object greeted. Music emanates as a voice from our sated finds. Plastic frames and silly hopes speak with sheer brevity and noisemaking jolly. A working elder passes through unseen, behind our backs, provoking us to the drear of day in this predawn nostalgic sanctity.

We leave our place unable to visit our neighbors from the shame, heartache and miserable wreck. We find our way into a department store, seeing newly homeless, bruised and battered, bloodied and torn bodies and minds. A friend with a newborn boy consoles my wife for her loss.

Profile: Rusty Kjarvik

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