Thursday, December 31, 2009

Peace Comes Falling Slow

The familiar strange quietude descended on Berkeley as soon as the students decamp for elsewhere.

Today the poignant skies are calling me--solid violet-gray to the north, the evocative light of broken Southern skies. Trees reveal their skeletal complexity, the beauty of organic design. I sit and savor a particular art nouveau tree, a favorite roost of the now-abundant crows. It's behind a stop-light and it goes largely unnoticed by the heedless traffic.
In Peoples Park people sleep in broad daylight, covers pulled over their eyes. Damp ground perhaps but the absence of rain keeps them from more dire straits.
I move along to Willard Park and rest on a bench where a fellow slightly older than myself plays airs from an old Joni Mitchell song quietly on his acoustic guitar. we talk and soon learn we have Massachusetts roots in common, going back to Canada as well.
The Beat generation comes up and he turns out to be a fellow child of beatitude. He mentions a film on a Beat poet he'd recently seen. How he shared the philosophy of his poem he half recalls. I paraphrase it for him: all that matters is to do the work, to lessen suffering, the rest is drunken dumb-show.
He tells me he is living in his car again. He had been taking care of a disable person in Marin but had to quit due to the person's crazy roommate.
I clue him into the network of free meals available to the needy hereabouts.
Off we go, I'm bound for a hospital visit but somehow don't find my friend Faye who has respiratory difficulties. En route I sent off a flock of cards to my late-arriving Christmas correspondents. Afterward, I join the avid consumers at the natural foods supermarket, I'm one of the more careful, frugal ones as I observe conspicuous purchases of all the delights available by those heading for New Year's celebrations. I'm headed there too in my own discrete way.
But I can't help but notice those souls whiling away the afternoon at bus stops and innocuous perches along the way. One bearded young fellow with soulful eyes lingers in my mind.
May God bless us all. May peace and the other necessities of life remain in reach for us all.

An oddly moving documentary on the band Flaming Lips, "Fearless Freaks," ends with a outtake/deleted scene of a new Year's Eve countdown. It leads to a version of "Seven nation Army" by the Lips combined with the White Stripes. Just as it finishes the bells of the campanile begin to strike new Year's midnight. They never toll ordinary midnight.
So I dress and go outside with a mug of Raven's eye organic imperial stout (an Xmas gift from Joe). I have time to prop open the outside door and step out just as last bells are tolled. They continue on in a carillon concert commencing naturally with "Auld Lang Syne."
Another nearby church begins striking midnight as the carillon chimes on and widespread firecrackers and gunshots volley into the distance for a half an hour. Signs of life erupt all over the otherwise ghostly town.
Earlier I'd eaten half of a cannabis caramel, and as twelve neared I refreshed with a few puffs and more stout. I would describe my state of being as a perfect buzz, far from over-indulgenge, as the year ran out. Overhead the about full moon is evanescent in the racing high clouds of a warmer air mass. In a clear view of San Francisco I can see the fireworks off of the Embarcadero. Red and blue predominate in the pyrotechnical blooms. helicopters can be seen flying above them, filming no doubt.
It is really a joyful moment so often scarce in these days of plentiful woe.
Just then a romp of slightly intoxicated chines student girls comes out into the backyard next door. "The full moon, the full moon..." they enthuse. We are invisible to each other behind the intervening avocado tree. They giggle awhile then go back inside.
I head back into my fleeting house myself. There follows a light midnight meal and yet another film-- undersea and outer space with Werner Herzog. The film unspools, the DVD spins, and the stars revolve into the as yet unknown.