33 Variations on a Waltz, leaving the self for the second-self


I took this photo on 5th avenue this past Saturday. I have gotten into a new habit of photographing things that can’t move. Reflections of sky or these plastic things.  Their faces seem more real than someone sitting across from me on the subway sometimes.  It’s as though you can bring your own story into them, wrapped like wooden boxes or bunched up bouquets, listen to them tell your own story back to you.

These two hands almost touch, as though sneaking an intimate moment.  The scene makes the vibrations of phantom hands tingle inside my own side-hand, the side that I haven’t looked at yet today.  I spent 8 hours wandering around the business world, trying to contain my own self in the minutes of commerce and philanthropy. So, when I look at this, I feel a tug somewhere as though I, too, am waiting for their hands to touch. And in waiting my goal is to become more patient. Perhaps hardened with a sort of wait-for-things-ache.  The way an idea of the sunset over red rock hardens the inside of my skull while the hours tick away and I work for someone else.
“Why do I waste time on things I will only leave behind?”

Two 33’s today. And that’s two 6’s or 66 or 3333. I imagine there are two half knots in each. Walking, I saw another set of 3’s at 33rd street and it was then I realized just how seperated I am from the image of what I wanted to be a year ago. Knots know the way things should have been in your heart, but constantly remind you how it is in the moment. And 33 leans toward that centerfold like a cannon on opening night. The loudest shock is your first realization that things are their own paths and not your making, no matter how strong you think your grasp is on the minutes, on when you wake and when you fall asleep.

The 33 on the way to the second office made me realize, there is no telling when I will live in the desert again, when I will see the stars like a thousand numerical bodies in the bedrock of sky. But isn’t once enough? We keep moving forward because perhaps there will be a second time the ineffible will make known what isn’t ours to know.

You sent me a picture of a collection of bird houses. You are walking along the brick of some shore, thinking we’ll never have two seconds, let along a day, to open worlds of words, playthings and jingling thought-dolls, pressed into the other’s hand.

I wonder myself.

So last night, after another You confessed I hurt them, I tried to fall asleep imagining the universe was already my own again, and cosmically, I was made of dust, again.

Let me explain. Inside my room there are memories of other rooms, just as each house pulls back curtains on childhood homes.  Isn’t every thought another memory in bandaged and bundled other-memory-residue? And so I try and explain through the dream of me being the cosmos by the fact that I can take a photo of one girl, and feel the length of roads she may have seen just by her face. And when I look there pulls her kite-thoughts down into my own brain-sky.  A million of her kite-thoughts at once flying into my own brain-space. The field where the common mixes with the individual. And I say to the knots, look here. Look, have we something in common, or only dust?


Perhaps the wait for the plastic hands of two mannequins to touch is the same as waiting for the words from her mouth. From Your mouth when I’m lying in bed and waiting to feel the cosmos pass through me. See the stars, the bit of them, on her ears? And back I’m back at something static.

Roll in the knots, like kindly things until they inform you their home is lifting. Until their bodies lose track of your location and thoughts refuse to let known their coordinates. When was the last moment the world seemed possible? Untold, stories lift and take their careers with them.

As I type or sit or as the minutes pass, who I would rather be stands staring out the window, arms crossed, remember the faces of You. And it begins to rain. On the backs of things, other things. The memory of something rides in with the rain.

Office has four walls. A desk. My computer. Rain has the smell of gods and childhood memories. So in the smell and sounds and I leave the desk to stare into, and then become, who I would rather be, the one simultaneously standing there already while earlier, I worked. You said, don’t think about time as in a box, but created by you. And so, to escape the desk and the second office, the rain, which carries the ineffable on its back says, SING! So I quietly sing in my mind about the time a pine tree called me beautiful. The time I threw seven stones down the well and the horses lost themselves in the rain, singing. A time when, as a child, the world seemed possible.

And somewhere in New York, a sky reminded me of Utah. And crumbled, the tracks I took to get to Harlem, crumbled. It all flew out quickly in a second when I rest my eyes on this:


Utah breaks in and sage unfolds her olfactory tails into the air. Where I’m standing is not where I am, perhaps how You feel when I call you name and transcribe the lostness of being-in-the-world. But all is lost in the dread-of-being. Lost in the dread-of-being-able to escape now by taking time by the boots and chucking her out the door, by looking in someones image and finding the self. By realizing the self is something other-than.

This is the self as I saw her last night:


As the knots reflect the past knots into the image of knots which gather to make each moment-of-being-in-the-self.

So the rain comes through and on its back a memory of another self that time has carved through and dispersed into memory. And so disperesed the past-knots that I find in the photo of another’s eyes, or the patience with which I feel leaning into me in the plastic-wait in the store window. How to attain this stillness in the office-of-every-day.

Sometimes, I cannot stand to wait and so I try and dig for other knots in conversation. 33. On the way to the second office, another pair of 33. What was I feeling at that moment? Despair. Dust-bowls of despair, but in that knowing-there’s-a-sunset-soon, way. And knots refuse to be translated. 33.

Last night, on page 3, I read:

“Dictionaries tell us that “to explain” is “to make things clear, understandable.” The word derives from Latin roots meaning “to flatten, to make plain.” (Gwynn Nettler)

To flatten, make plain–making reality plainer–our realities as characters, stripped of their wooden hats and extremities.The field-flowers un-earthed in order to preene a lawn inside, for society.

How can the rain understand anything other than what it brings to me?  A little version of memory, to distract from the office desk and the despair from the afternoon, driving into a stillness for a second, but forgetting what the knots have always told me. Be what the moment needs of you. Explore the waiting. What are You saying to me, now?



Filed under metaphysical, musings, philosophy inspired, poetic-prose

3 responses to “33 Variations on a Waltz, leaving the self for the second-self

  1. J M T

    a sort of wait-for-things-ache

    But isn’t once enough?

    jingling thought-dolls, pressed into the other’s hand.

    every thought another memory in bandaged and bundled other-memory-residue?

    waiting to feel the cosmos pass through me

    the last moment the world seemed possible

  2. Adam

    “When was the last moment the world seemed possible?” —> The last moment the world seemed possible was when I read this. I mean that. This is absolutely wonderful.

  3. Matt Wittman

    Beautiful that you photographed the hands

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