Rave On: postcards from Slow Trains


Rave on words on printed page... rave on fill the senses...

-Van Morrison
Rave On, John Donne

from The Inarticulate Speech of the Heart CD
Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Loveland, Colorado

Loveland is open. Keystone is open. These are the words we wait for every fall, as the ski resorts vie for the earliest opening day. Loveland is open and I'm here, one hour from Denver, cool and windy even while Denver is 70 degrees and sunny, with the petunias still in bloom.

First ski run of the season -- there's nothing quite like it. The snow is mostly manmade on a small natural base, but it works. No crowds, cheap lift tickets, all of four runs open. Vail and Aspen will open for tourists and money just before Thanksgiving, but us diehard locals get an extra month in early season. Several disabled skiiers are here for the opening -- Colorado is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled, at Winter Park Resort. When someone I know is troubled, or feels like their own struggle is too hard, I recommend they come sit on the lodge patio with me at Winter Park for an afternoon and watch some of the disabled skier competitions and know what inspiration is.

You would think that everyone in Denver would ski or snowboard, but they don't. It's too hard. It's too expensive. It's too far to go… I might hear. But it's a primal experience, of which we don't get enough in this century, and you only have to hold a faux-warrior mind for a short while to conquer the physical challenges of the slope. My teenagers are wild snowboarders, flying through the air, landing tricks -- rodeos! Backflips! 360's! 720's! -- but not today. Today it is enough for all of us to see the first runs open, to slide gracefully down the hill in t-shirts and sunburn, and to look forward to another winter of adventure in the only white powder we should all get to know.

(See Better Angels in the September 11 section)

Monday, October 22, 2001

La Jolla

I am waking up every morning with the song "God Bless America" in my head. Although I am not too fond of forced patriotism, this one I like, particularly during the seventh inning stretch of baseball playoffs. When I was younger and followed the Grateful Dead, we called it the "Dead in your head," whatever song was replaying in your subconscious, because we lived inside the music. Who would ever have dreamed that some day I'd replace Sugar Magnolia with home sweet home?

Tuesday, October 16, 2001
From the seaport town of Scituate, Massachusetts

The Boat in the Sky Sailed Past

Restless, I got up from bed, & walked downstairs in what seemed a watery light. Troubled as much as restless, I'd wrestled with the problem for hours to no avail. Perhaps a scholarly diversion could keep my mind off a family dilemma, so I took along the book I'd been reading in order to help imagine an appropriate memorial to those lost in September -- Erwin Panofsky's, Tomb Sculpture: Its Changing Aspects from Ancient Egypt to Bernini. I read for a while, exhausted, fretted some more over the personal crisis, then gave up. Defeated, I gave up trying to solve the problem, which only then allowed sleep like death to take over. Finally, woke on the couch, my heart calm. Went upstairs to join my wife in bed, when through the skylight I saw the boat of Dionysos floating slowly across the sky in the watery light. Slept, again, & dreamt: I was driving my daughter's car, the law following me. Ahead of the law in my daughter's white car. I knew I'd drunk a cup of red wine from the bottle of Copolla Rosso still in the back seat. Drove on, cop car in the rear-view mirror. Entered a wooded area, & found a clearing. Shook the law off. When I woke the image of the moon as boat in the sky, which Panofsky says evolved its iconography, between 275-350 AD, from "transportation to salvation," had sailed past the window frame into vast, untroubled waters.

(See poems in Slow Trains Issue 2 and the September 11 section)

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Santa Cruz

Sometimes I go about pitying myself
and all the time
I am being carried on great winds across the sky

          (tr. Robert Bly)

Monday, October 08, 2001

There are 948 million aspen trees in Colorado, each one spinning
toward gold tonight. Sacred space, state of grace, hold me
safe on the border of free falling darkness. Seasons
change; friends remain. Numbers are important
things in this world; aspen leaves; days;
tears; trees; one more year.

Read fiction in Slow Trains Issue 2

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

La Jolla

I fly the Earth flag outside my home, and a number of people have questioned me on this. "You should fly the American flag above it," they often say, and I wonder, why? What could possibly matter more than our allegiance to this planet? The Earth flag is flown at the United Nations, the north and south poles, even at the (Russian) Mir Space Station -- surely it is good enough for ordinary citizens. I live by the Pacific Ocean, and I am reminded every morning when I swim of the forces of nature, the inexplicable power of this earth, and of the beauty and wonder we are each caretakers for during our brief lifetimes. I fly the Earth flag outside my home, and I have a vision of every person around the globe doing exactly the same thing.

Monday, October 01, 2001


The week spent wanting to write about the papermaking process, my love for paper, recalling the dream last month in which a papermaking vat with moveable screens operates through the clumpy mixture. During the dream I have the feeling it's the greatest machine ever made. Reflecting on it, it seems related, a distant cousin, or offspring of Duchamp's La Bruit Secret, that found ball of twine caught up between steel-bolt pillars & brass plates, indestructible in the eye of the beholder.

What I'd forgotten was the accompanying dream: my daughter holding a beautiful piece of paper, veins of rag content visible in the sheet. She's smiling at her own accomplishment, constructing it as an assemblage tied to a wooden dowel (weeks later she brought home various lengths of rushes). It's the flag of a country of one.

(Read poetry in Slow Trains Issue 2)


Read the earlier postcards in the archives.




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