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  • Writer's pictureRyan Nowlin

Notes from an Open Channel, sections 3 and 4


In the white sterility of the frozen food empire

I lost my mind. What remained was sold to

a grocery outfit. White bear of the poles, white

shark of the tropics—-instances of freezing.

The dank foreboding of our wine cellar, now much

bigger, a metaphysical winter of snow and salt.

The idea that money should settle upon me

like a gentle snowfall. But little snows falls in

March. A place holder word adds nothing to

the familiarized working mind. One’s absence

from the social scene is live-able up to a point.

The Zinc Bar made each arm of Buddhism a tough

sell with poet identities in decline these days;

Sipping perceptions from the wine basket of inquiry—-

Or what you’d call uneventful French writing.

Recently, I bought an expensive dog,

a French Griffon and an “armoire comme toutes

les armoires”, stuffed with Parking tickets.

Three or four things had fallen into my lap

concurrently, a vacation home and some

mysterious ailment causing me to roll over

onto the stone floor by the hotel pool shaded

by a few sickly palms—-Recesses where tireless

minds display their most secretive and affordable

memories. What if the graph of set expectations

was itself unmoored and you no longer knew

Where you were standing?

I remain goal oriented across a span of time

as one does for a dead-line with purposes

unknown. Something you said in passing

about how we can no longer tell the seasons

by the fruit we find at the market. I guess

there was something practical to learn

in the nursery. I was riveted to a view of the

ocean and the beach ball. The wind didn’t

stop. Without identity it is lost, paper is scarce.

If we use less we’ll have little to say.

My affairs turn out badly, the sky papered

over with flimsy nuances. They cross the limit—-

You’d think, by now I’d be used to the rain

stealing the light and the girls in galoshes

waiting for the drug stores to open.


Is ordinary fruit no longer acceptable? Must it be

pomegranate or mahogany antique? Are puzzlers found

only on $ 100 bills? Are the plazas to be unshaven,

trickling down to the poor like a useless tear?

When sitting next to beautiful people the most endearing

object was always you. Anyway, you’ll never get

to know them not even their Christian names, with

the terrible onslaught of breakfasts, brunches and

phone calls, all that schlepping and shelving because

you don’t want anything extraneous in your way.

Some liked the gorging, yet nothing happens and they

fly away beyond a white wall. Can you keep up?

It’ll take weeks to fill you in on the savory details.

Me, I’m doing ok up here in my crumbling crows nest.

Land ho ( I guess) a newly minted land called Israel,

not part of any one person. Its boulevards go quickly

by, flanked by houses not built to be lived in,

flagstones set for you to walk on or between. A joyful

evening on a sad occasion is better than the reverse,

I suppose. Nights after my father’s death I carried

my briefcase up and down the stairs to a carrel in the

library. Dorm life was sublime, with its moon-

shaped elevator dials. Footnotes come to mind and a

subsequent march in a continuous succession of

goose steps. Then after a month long hiatus I resumed

donating blood to the Red Cross. Research made everything

take longer, even writing. A parade of authors.

As the visible world disappears the word, spit or spirit

enters my mind like a distant steam boat. The fan’s

steady whirr of where...where? Lulls, scolds. Come back

into the beyond. The darkness of a plum high

in the plum tree.

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