Monday, April 03, 2006


I spent the most interesting part of my sixtieth birthday in search of signs of intelligent life in the universe in a small house deep in an old first-growth forest cool on the side of a mountain, listening to the crackle of words burning. The room where we sat was too warm, lit by candles, filled with old, stuffed sofas and chairs, and heavy rugs.

Someone in another room quietly played a fiddle; someone else played an acoustic bass. Slow playing, intermittent, fitting the conversations.

We - Brautigan, Spalding Gray, Simic, Tomlin and Wagner, a few people I actually know, my six muses, of course - were all pleasantly drunk as we looked at one another and looked into the darkness of the open windows, feeling the forest undulate and grow. Coyotes howled like hungry, forgotten gods. I heard drifts of conversation:

". . . a poetry reading, a small gathering of friends . . ."

"Koreans traditionally celebrate their sixtieth birthday with a big party called a hwan'gap janchi, which I think means ‘wow, no one expected me to live this long.'"

". . . velvet is the cliche, warm . . ."

". . . come to Austin. . ."

". . . when they say they didn't mean to hurt you, and you know they meant it . . ."

". . . best comedy is based on pain . . ."

". . . moved through one another like an eastbound pilgrim and a westbound storm . . ."

". . . better for having you in it. . ."

". . . since you are so blessed to still have your mom . . . remember that your birthday is also a really special day for her . . ."

". . . herd of wild horses walked right by my campsite in Big Bend once . . ."

". . . a culture drowns in its trivia . . ."

". . . ability to find romance in truck stops, beauty in the ordinary grays, and simple delight in watching the breath . . ."

". . . blessed by knowing you . . ."

"you mean you don’t see that nude woman dancing on the gravestones . . ."

". . . embrace 60, my friend . . ."

". . . I dunno, man; 60 doesn't seem that old anymore . . ."

Someone joked that I should spent my sixtieth birthday with three 20-year-olds or two 30-year-olds. Okay, maybe two 30-year-olds, but with each of them not both of them together, and it would be for the warmth and to learn each of them better.

A muse and I made love at dawn. Far away, we heard seawater lick the shore, and we began to melt into reality.