I always felt fascinated by the Ohio River because it separates Kentucky, where I grew up, from Indiana, the Emerald City-State, where everything is possible, where hopes and dreams come true by the minute. I love driving through Southern Indiana with its endless golden fields, gambling machines, and 64 oz polar pops. I love the flatness and lack of variety which make the land seem to stretch out forever, hypnotically, like a golden ocean. I love their cheeseburger hotdogs and American flag bandana-shorts, which encourage you to release the vain pretenses of the city and just be yourself, a human being, who loves tasty treats and the feeling of wind in your hair.
At other times, though, I hated Indiana and the Hoosiers who lived there. Sometimes it seemed like Kentucky was the promised land, a buttery gold corn fritter, while Indiana was a slimy side of spinach, basking in Kentucky’s sunlight and giving nothing in return but ghosts, which crossed the Ohio at night in hordes, seeking a better life in Kentucky.
This is a poem and normally I don’t care that much for poems. Nonetheless, I have heard that gardens grow most vigorously when they are 3% weeds, and since I now have about one hundred songs in here, I thought I should sprinkle in a couple of poems to keep things healthy.
The reason I generally don’t care for poetry is because poems tend to be flavorless, hard to chew, and lacking in digestible matter. Like grass. Maybe the good ones are like vegetables and aromatic herbs. But rarely like candy.
Once I tried giving up candy for a few months and only eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other “natural” foods. I was inspired (or probably hypnotized) by a book called “Detox” that claimed if you ate this way your body would become so pure that your skin would be transparent. This seemed like an irresistible possibility, especially since I was due to get married soon and worried about looking my best for my big day.
The main problem with this diet was that it required me to eat literally all day long just to survive. Every moment I wasn’t eating was spent driving around buying strange foods like liquid chlorophyll which Detox required me to drink nightly mixed with olive oil and apple juice. I had to stop painting because there was no time to do anything but eat, and no money either (natural foods are expensive.) My healthy diet was consuming all my time and money, and even some of my friendships too, which had once revolved around going out for pizza and ice cream.
Maybe it would have been worth it if my skin had become transparent, but it remained as opaque as ever. In fact, no matter how many cauliflowers I ate I seemed to look exactly the same.
What is the moral of the story? That if you eat too many vegetables it may detract from fulfilling your life’s purpose. That’s why I like songs- they are like cookies, easy to digest and full of fun and accessible calories. They give you the nutrition you need without detracting from your modern, 0n-the-go lifestyle.
I believe there are spirits of justice in the universe, in fact multiple “species” of justice spirits. One group is called the Emerald Knights.
They patrol the forests where the fairies live, slowly riding their white horses around the forest’s perimeter, peering with their far-sighted eyes deep into the thickest parts of the woods where the most dastardly deeds take place. They watch and watch, and their piercing eyes record every injustice and abuse that occurs. They sit perched high up on their horse and do nothing, they let the chaos and the evil thrive, until a predator suddenly crosses a certain threshold of cruelty- a line known only to the Emerald Knights- and then WAM! like lightning they charge on their horse into the forest, and all the fairies close their eyes because they know what comes next will be horrible. It is hard to say exactly what does happen next, since no one but an Emerald Knight has lived to see it, but I think the perpetrators are more or less executed, so swiftly and violently that neither they nor their cronies have time to utter a word in their defense.
Then the Emerald Knight turns his horse around and rides slowly out of the forest, offering no explanation or words of comfort to the fairies who now peer at him from between their fingers.
… if James wasn’t encouraging me to include ALL my songs on this blog I would probably leave this one out because it makes me feel embarrassed! I’m not sure what my brain was thinking when I wrote this, or if it was thinking at all, but I do remember exactly what I was feeling… I was surrounded by a mustard colored light and that light became this song.
I have always felt a little uncomfortable around mustard yellow. Until recently I couldn’t even eat mustard out of an irrational fear that I might end up with a yellow stain on my clothes. I’ve never really taken the time to think about this color or what it means to me, although I always notice when it shows up. It seems to be favored by people who work in the theater and lovers of purple velvet. (It’s also a popular choice for colonial homes around Portsmouth.)
At any rate, this ochre light surrounding me was a blend of several forces, such as:
1. The gold of spirituality and idealism darkened by fear, leading to an apocalyptic outlook.
2. The nutritive butter yellow of Kentucky darkened with nauseating ideas from childhood about the role of females in this world. Such as them being less intelligent than men and doomed to make their way through life on “sexual wiles” alone, an idea which repulsed me- especially when I was still young enough to think boys had cooties. Of course my conscious mind had rejected these ideas, but- like mustard wiped from a white shirt- the stain remained.
I like to think that, for the most part, these mental influences have now been released from my mind, and that is why I can eat mustard without (great) fear. It tastes good.
I was determined not to write this song because it seemed quite weird to me and my ambition at the time was to be the most normal person in the universe. Nonetheless, it would not stop singing in my head, over and over, until finally I relented and wrote it down.
If I had to speculate on its meaning, I would guess it is a mating song for some member of the vegetable kingdom. Their ways are not our ways. I think many of the songs (and other ideas) that end up in our heads are placed there by plants.
This song was inspired by the fairies of fire, and the book “Enchantment of the Faerie Realm” by Ted Andrews, a book I wish I still owned. Although many of my beliefs (like the belief that wearing designer clothes will make you rich) have changed over the years, my faith in fairies has never wavered. What else could explain the growth of plants and those tiny smiley faces you see in the sunbeams?
At the time I wrote this song, I always wore boots. Generally white boots, since brown boots represented drudgery and losing track of your life’s purpose, and black boots represented tyrany and abuse. They couldn’t have heels in case I needed to run for my life. They needed thin souls, so the pounding of my feet against hard surfaces would stimulated my electrical systems. And the toes had to be pointy- to represent fire.
Pants needed to be flexible and yielding enough to kick a predator in the chest and then escape over a tall fence. But sweat pants were out of the question, since they dampened my electrical circuits. Shorts were impossible, since they triggered water-attacks (the feeling that I was dying of thirst.) Skirts were less than ideal, since they make you reluctant to hang upside down or climb a pole, but it was generally skirts that I ended up with anyway. At least they let your legs be free (I hated it when pants touched my legs), and generally you only need to climb trees at nighttime anyway, when the bad guys are all out.
I needed shirts that would cover my shoulders and the back of my neck, which I could not bear to have exposed. But no turtlenecks- they brought to mind strangulation. And no sweaters, since I feared they would absorb the electricity from my body. Multiple layers of fabric covering my heart were a must and I preferred it to be something hard and form-fitting, like a suit of armor, which frequently led to me wearing extra layers of underwear on top of my shirts.
I always wore a hat, even indoors and even at night. I didn’t feel safe without one, and it needed to have the widest brim possible, which generally meant I ended up wearing fussy outdoor-wedding hats covered in lace and silk flowers, a look I didn’t much care for. And last but not least, I needed a gigantic cross pendant, to keep anyone from trying to steal my soul. Later, I switched from a cross to a letter A.
I used to believe in “Silver-haired soldiers,” which is more or less the notion that older men are wiser and more benevolent than younger ones. Unfortunately, while they may be wiser, I have learned the hard way that they are by no means more benevolent. Personalities can soften and harden, hearts can open and close, but wolves never seem to turn into sheep, no matter how much time you give them.
But I do think older predators tend to take on more lofty and benevolent personas than younger ones. They are more subtle and shrewd, and very rarely seen outside of their sheep’s clothing.
As for whether or not people get wiser over time, it is hard to say. Time brings perspective and experience, but also pain and unresolved emotions which can thicken into phlegm and finally dry into a hard crust inside our hearts and brains.
But still, I do think we have faculties that continue opening up to us throughout our life, including psychic and supernatural ones, even though many of these may be outside the vision of our culture.
“Let no one beneath the age of 84 years call himself a man.” -Confucius
I feel like I need to come up with a wholesome explanation for the sentiments expressed in this song, and luckily I have one. It is a song about fire. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be very very interested in fire and the spirits of fire, despite not being a very fiery person by nature. My obsession with fire may have had a bit of Helsinki Syndrome to it, since it only began after being dominated by some extremely fiery people that I was unable to escape. Over time the obsession grew into addiction (to fire), and a compulsion to remove everything watery from my nature. The mania really only ended when the fire had nothing left to burn, when I no longer had any friends, possessions or even brain cells to call my own.
The nature of fire is to touch and consume, to tear down boundaries and remove clothes. That is what fire does, I don’t know why, and those are the sorts of images fire gives to people close to it.
I like this song because it is a question song, and I really like questions. I like people who ask questions, and I love asking them myself. I’ve been trying to cut back though, because it can get to the point where I only ask questions and never make any statements at all. James (who may be biased because he hates questions and comes from a culture where they are neither asked nor answered) has also warned me that constantly asking questions could make me seem unintelligent.
But for some reason, appearing unintelligent has never bothered me. At times, it has been a source of joy, like in school, where through a campaign of routinely saying the dumbest things I could think of, I was able to change my horrible nickname “Brain,” to the more palatable “Brainless.” Being Brainless was fun. Brain had to stick to the program, saying things others could understand and appreciate, but Brainless wasn’t confined to those narrow gray crevices. She was free to explore, to soar to the clouds, to give the right answer OR the wrong one, if the spirit moved her.
Still, freedom can lead to exhilaration, and sometimes spin into intoxication and mania. One thing I have learned to appreciate about intelligence, even feigned intelligence, is its sobering and grounding aspects.