Decapitation Parables

Tornado Survivor #1 by Larry Schwarm

Parables of the Headless Baby

How incredibly easy it is to “lose our heads,” amorphous ecstasy, “head in the clouds,” illusory daydreaming, belief. The “temptation to exist” it has been called, and has been endured by our best and our brightest, from Plato to Jesus, Descartes to Nagarjuna, Shakespeare through Kant, Derrida and Joyce, to name only a very few, known for their thinking or seeing.

Or is it our bodies we lose?

A lot is told in the answering.

I for one can identify with this beat-up baby doll head, imagining the oblivious calm that might occur in the absence of smoker lungs and knotted muscles, distracted striving loins and aging jalopy’d joints. Hunger and exhaustion, labor and waste production. That I might be left, more or less, to a self to blame for satisfactions or their lack. Serenity secreted in the mind rather than constructed contradistinctly from the limbs and necessities of action. This mouth seems happily stopped, placid skinned-over ears, a pleasantly plugged nose and the solitude of inner vision. “Nirvana” another camp might call it.

But is it? Or would it be? I mean where do “space” and “time” inhere? And how about worry, panic and fear? I gladly turn emotions over to the sensory systems, but the imagination that prods them toward anxiety – is that not in my brain? And what of the “wisdom” of Helen Keller-types – that openness and fecundity – that corpus callosum of skin?

Either instance obviously ends in despair. The body inherently “feels” and feels doomed – a lifetime of bloom to decay. The change purse or trinket-drawer of mind doesn’t last long on its own without morphing to a padded cell.

So is “decapitation” really what occurs? They say the gaffer will go on gabbing once removed, but the muscles twitch and gangle about no less, and we keep producing shit synchronic with our escaping lives.

Thus in our ecstasies and flights what is it we lose? Are we really moved “out of” “stasis,” really set a-soar? Freed of our boundaries and weight? Or are we fleeing to a smaller cave, compressing our “self” to a dark hollow like lint in a pocket?

After all, if freedom refers to space and time and opportunities of will – movement favors the body, miracles the mind.

I’m guessing de-headed bodies lie still, and unbodied faces exhibit calm because they’ve ceased to be alive. Perhaps the symbiosis is mutual torment, destructive dynamo.

In reality, they come apart quite easily.

How would one say “a head without a body is like a body without a head?” Or in other words, “we must cling to it like grim death” (Kafka)

Whatever that means, I feel caught in its clutches.

And freed to be.

N Filbert 2012


one looks…

As one improvises, on the piano”

-Wallace Stevens-

I journaled to myself how very much I enjoy the rain.

Change of key: rainy weather.

I trilled on it – from the meteorological phenomenon of the conditions of precipitation, I inevitably wake in the highest spirits, with good courage, a sense of personal human value and a fair share of blessing and luck.

Turn the page: I treat cloudy skies and falling water as if someone is being good to me.

A modulating moment, kind of pregnant pause, then a new left-hand rhythm: Why?

The previously clear melody of childhood and adolescent memories – softness and solitude, safety and comfort that raininess or “inclement” (my ass!) weather emits – enabling isolation, self-direction, personal space and a muted blurring outer world – became difficult to follow to its source.

The phrase “all’s right with the world – it’s raining!” came to mind along with a tune by Nils Frahm and the musics of Max Richter and George Winston, remote mountains and valleys and trees.

My fingers played.

My mind drummed along, the feelings were there leading the charge.

Passion piece – movement two.

Right-hand flourishing: ’cause I feel blessed, like Someone’s giving me something I want, that I like, that I wish for. Like when the sun shines down Somebody don’t like me, is a-keeping it from me, that ol’ world’s against me all those dry clear days, no matter how Springy and delicious or moderate and breezy, no, without precip It don’t like me, It don’t give a damn – but while raining I’m in love

Transition and bridge: How can weather be for or against you man? Dem skies is neutral, and repeat.

Chorus breaks in with bravura: Rain is for me, the clouds protect; the sun it rapes my ass

Staccato cries harsh in the bass, high notes tinkling down: grace grace grace

Key-change beginning in bass triads: but I thought you don’t believe no god

Clustered dissonance in treble: strange isn’t it, as if deities controlled the weather – blessing/ withholding; assuaging or punishing me

Rachmaninoff chords: meteorology and Fate

Scrap it…

New tune, tender and self-reflective: why would I place my power of mood in the maw of Kansas sky? Impetuous forces, schizophrenic fronts – determining my well-being?

Dominant fifths, arpeggiated: it’s crazy, it’s crazy, insane

affirmed acknowledged and chosen by rain

which has no will or intention

no character or personhood to blame

persecuted disciplined intruded by sun

helpless victimization without perpetrator

Sforzando: the Self!

Resolution: ah shit what am I? do I do? How come I elevate personal responsibility, candor and value to elements under no one’s control?

Strange Brew syncopations: it ain’t right, ain’t sensible, but I’ve lived this way so long

world as some gigantic force

for me or against me

and with my will

I interpret against

Hornlike dash scattered be-bop treble:

I call it I name it – AFRAID!

I feel so small in the face of things

powerless helpless confused

I get nothing but the space that It gives

and it hurts and it wounds and it alters

Arbitrary cadenza:

but it make no sense in the world

of people and places and things

I could choose I could feel I could be yes and say

but I give up the power to You

(nothing nothing nothing)


That ain’t no kinda life – depending on the weather

no wonder they call you crazymaker




you gots to get it in there and say what’s what

and sing

not only when it’s raining!

If’n you love that rain – you takes it with you

make it your own gray way

I say

because it’s raining

and everything

feels possible

fading out….

N Filbert 2012