Saturday Stream of Consciousness

It rained like you wouldn’t believe on my drive home Thursday. On Friday, I e-mailed a friend of mine:

“drove home last night in a torrent; drove in this morning to dramatic skies: great golden cloud formations creating the illusion that … just … there! … is heaven, just beyond that cumulus. unfortunately, i’ve been above clouds like those, and the void you encounter there is far more god-like and far less comforting somehow …”

That’s one of the fascinating things about this faith tradition I’m a part of: It’s Good News, to be sure, but that’s not to say that A) you don’t have to work hard, or B) you won’t fall short no matter how hard you work. The psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I’ve tried to heed that advice on occasion, and found myself straddling a fine line between absolute comfort and terrifying vulnerability.

This is what my head’s like on Saturdays. Maybe you best come back tomorrow …

Anyway, the comment in the e-mail got me thinking of a poem (of sorts) I wrote some time ago on a trip to Philadelphia. Might be worth a minute …

philadelphia, june 19

the beautiful people
sweep past
the heavy black woman
asleep on the curb;
the arab man, his broom
and old bagels;
the truck double-parked;
or pass the hour
in conversation
over tiny black tables,
small dishes
and drinks.

i watch this one pass—
white capris above
long brown calves,
and a salmon top,
moving with purpose,
phone in hand.
i sit, an accomplice,
no better for my
phone not ringing.
an old man shuffles by,
toothlessly mouthing
soft-serve, and

i remember the flight.
six miles above
this bustle
is imperceptible.
the plane tilts, and
i look past the sky
to the deep blue
ends of the earth,
into the infinite,
and see these tiny things
that consume us
carry little weight.

a tiny heart flutters
about my chest.
god must be a
big-picture man,
I think,
and the gravity is
less somehow.

J. Thorp
19 June 2001

The first few lines of the second stanza bug me today. I was sitting on a bar stool at a burger joint below street level, so I saw this woman legs-first and couldn’t catch her face. Maybe she’s better faceless, though — if the point is the countless comings and goings of ultra-engaged and -engaging people who somehow remain strangers. Best not to second-guess, I guess …

I went to Iceland this past spring for work. Iceland always has dramatic skies, beautiful and terrible. I’ll have to post a few pics from there at some point — if I can recall which computer I dumped them on. Unfortunately, they’re not on this one.

But while I’m on the subject, I should plug an Icelandic musician I’m currently digging. Most folks have heard of Björk, and some know Sigur Rós (a favorite of our glacier tour guide, who had a Sigur Rós playlist programmed for every turn in the winding road) — but the Iceland Review on my nightstand at the hotel featured an interview with Lay Low, a guitar-playing indie-blues singer who reminds me of Madeleine Peyroux, but with less Billie Holliday and little more Björk (that lovely Icelandic lilt) to her voice.

Anyway — check out the article the caught my attention here.

Then visit Lay Low’s MySpace page here to listen to a few tracks.

I’m not sure you can get her disk in the states yet, so you’ll have to hop a plane to Reykjavik. Could be worse …