Conjoined Semiosis – A Valentine


Conjoined Semiosis – A Valentine for my wife

Amassing contexts and histories barely constitute beginnings.  Relations between entities are potentially infinite and full of traces.  Somehow, occasionally, they equal: an identity – identities – by what’s between.  Continuous dynamic variables.

By chance each of our indefinite immensities meshed boundaries.  Bodies permeable as minds, and vice-versa.  Reciprocity – reality and dream.  Kisses channeling deep into veins, correspondence shipped and received – held gently in the hands while splicing ripples through craniums.  Made of margins we, venturing portals and hallways one of another.  Each an entourage, an army, and its festival.

Bound by genuine threads.  Wrapping rocks and trading rings, patchworking children toward tapestry.  Our eyes – microscoping telescopes, telescoping memories.  We are wheres and whens, whos and whats – and how!  No wonder why receives no answers, only possible descriptions.

We search for language with our bodies.  Attempting to define the terms and parse the verbs together: love, trust, respect and honesty.  We have said “you are my person,” communication requiring the whole shebang – dismembered pasts and potential futures – all we do not know mustered toward a truth, collaborating is.

If we were to withhold what we cannot show, “whereof which we cannot speak” (as Ludwig tells) avoiding formal pseudo-propositions, we would only telegraph senses, dropping our abstracting frames and their symbol’d referents.

But we are artists – metaphors ourselves – infusing nonsense into world, creating kinds of sense, some of it illuminative.  Morphing forms and casting doubts to converge in content.

I love you.  I am so glad


Life in Relation – Our Cabinet of Wonders

“Be patient with yourself and the things you discover.  This isn’t a test.”

-Verlyn Klinkenborg-

Life in Relation : Our Cabinet of Wonders

I am telling you a simple story.  A simple story of simple things and full of details.  I will be telling it the rest of my life.



Take time.

It takes time to develop the details, these simple stories.  Bear with me.

This year I stopped smoking.  I began “vaping” e-cigarettes on Father’s Day, a reciprocal gift from my family, ostensibly FOR my family: my health – their comfort and security.

I had thought of my habit as an addiction and pleasure – it’s satisfactions including (but not limited to) the occupation of my body and sense so my mind might generate more freely – an item in the hand and oral fixative, the beautiful tedium of packing and rolling, the scents of tobaccos and sweet crackling of flame to thin paper, the distinctive clink of a Zippo.  And there was the intake – that onrush of Other-air against the back of the throat, the lung’s recognition that breath is substantial – has meaning and purpose.  A matter of routine, comfort, psychophysiology and control.  Among other things.  Fine insofar as it goes.  Pieces of detail.  Replacement sufficed.

Last week I contracted a version of the flu [please be patient – the process goes roughly as follows: details accumulate but require time to coalesce and organize toward a meaning – our lives as cabinets of curiosities].  Out of character for me – this was the real deal – an incapacitating sick.  Associated with it was the scent and flavor, the electric verve of the nicotine-drop-oils that crackle and pop when my ecig works its vaporous magic.  Compounding the problem (if illness is a “problem” per se – perhaps more appropriately “discomfort”) – my comfort no good to me.

In early October, due to an oversight in my timing (hang on – gather ingredients, let them simmer and stew, the feast is ahead), I depleted my store of these essential oils without backup, amidst a time of unusual stress.  As a stop-gap measure and to avoid hurt or offense (a grouchiness and malaise isolating those around me) I purchased a package of “all-natural” tobacco cigarettes to get me by until my liquids were refilled.  The cigarette had changed – no, it was I who now found it insufficient and distasteful – acrid and smelly – inconvenient and inferior to my system.  So I squirreled them away – in case of emergency.

Emergency! (well, hardly, but still): slowly recovering from flu, sore and exhausted, wife away on a ten-day journey to faraway climes, two naughty puppies causing trouble, and tending and taxiing four active, hungry children, one of them herself quite ill – at day two without nicotine (happy pill / support / community / God / alcohol / touch / solitude / nature / music / food – whatever one’s personal representation/manifestation of “comfort” might be)…details…

while  my daughter lay napping, the others at school, in a moment of relative quiet…I ferreted out one of those “Natural American Cigarettes,” by now all dried up and crispy, months opened and old, and slipped out to the porch…


Except not, really.

Not a sudden revelation – but an accumulation of details taking particular shape.

Not an enlightenment – but light swollen and fractured to specific degrees.

Not momentous insight – but a lens crafted and ground, melted and curved to a singular clarity.

Bic schicks.  A flame.  A crackle.  I inhale.  Nothing special to the taste, nothing tremendous for throat or lung.  Just a smoky draft of air – as from the belchings of a campfire in the mountains, or a compound conflagration of a family reunion bonfire in the late of night (but it isn’t!) when the kids are down and the adults unwind (but I’m not)…

A detail I’d overlooked about smoking (amassed over more than two decades – stay with me now) was precisely that.  Looking things over.  Smoking drove me outside and it stopped me.  For the length of a cancer stick’s burn in this anti-smoking campaign of a culture, I would be isolated from friends and family, house or home, commerce or eatery, and would be situated somewhere where all there was to do was look over and listen.  My hands and mouth, neck and torso occupied – eyes and ears thus freed, for a few minutes, to simply wander and attend.  Caught by details.

Like these:

a Jetstream, held in a pale sky, contrasted by solid starkly swaying Winter branches, juxtaposed with the sturdy steel of a streetlight.  And the dirtying yellow of late Autumn’s surprise bloomings held in some final tangled stubborn greens among deceasing leaves and grasses.  Cracking boards, peeling paints and muted hues of dust in sunlight’s shadows – a vibrant puppy, warm and dark – our lives – amassing details – collating and collecting.

[Cigarettes are unnecessary for this] (a mere detail).

When my wife/partner/spouse/friend/coworking companion and lover is away, a part of me gets excited – when the children are busy with school or their moms – it portends to offer me a kind of working solitude – a something I’m forever whining about – idealizing, anticipating, “requiring,” in its absence.  A chance to be temporally isolated with my brain, my body, and language – to think (ostensibly) without limit, read or write to my little heart’s content, to create or conspire with no active consciousnesses to account for but mine – no schedules to sync, no dinners to heed, the only limitations my own (and those sweet blasted puppies – a significant detail!), but still: abnormally free to dig and delve, explore and enjoinder, experiment and invoke reveries without feeling selfish…

but, the details, amassed in this way, exposed something quite different…

Jetstream, streetlamp, sky and tree.  Angle of roof, discolored paint, fragmenting light – the nature of materials.

I’m at a loss for what to search or explore, discover, uncover…from what vantage point or perspective?  Me? – in relation to – Me?  Set out from an entire illusive fabrication?  An emptiness without basis?

A point as a map is a nowhere unless there’s something surrounding.  Unless there’s another point…somewhere.  Me pushing through (the details profess) is a movement nowhere, without reference to something or someone outside, different, Other.

My wife is my primary referent (and “wife” is too small, as grand as it is).  My person, my artist, my human.  The being attached to me – not really mine at all, but for her purposings toward me.  Our children, our puppies, our things.  Habitat.  “Econiche.” World.  What I “relate” to equals me, enables me, crafts me into someONE, someWHERE, doing someTHINGS…which otherwise would NOT be…

Co-dependence?  Inter-dependence?  I like IN.  IN-dependence – in depending, attaching, choosing and evaluating ourselves in our Others – we ARE.

Jetstream, streetlamp, color and line

background, foreground, texture, time

space and matter, energy, form


The details accrue and accrue, and with time…combine, reformulate, convene – which can feel new and curious and true, but simply go on gathering more, detailing to no end, as they relate, interact, recombine – can feel revelatory, enlightening, even profound – perhaps they all are – but they all are and ongoing…

amass and revise, amass and renew, accumulation and attention, awareness and incremental adjustments of relation…

Without Life in Relation (both the active reality, and the her that makes, with me, an us), I have little where or whom to set out from or toward

I is a nowhere point – without you.

A simple story I’ll be telling forever.

N Filbert 2012

Giving Melancholia a Go

Oregon rain

“I would stop celebrating loss, if I could figure out what replaces it”

Lynne Tillman

            In the way I describe the barn, can you feel it?  The barn is rugged and old but stays dry.  Light would find its way in if sun ever broke through.  But the world here is moist and grey.  A totaling overcast with a ground and a sky making one thickened thing.  The green of the trees turned so dark that the world peers back black and white.  That austere, filled with that many increments.

A perhaps melancholy is more like a humidy cold.  You can perceive it in your clothes.  They cling, they hang, they weigh.  And saturate skin, that feels parched with age, like wax in its melting, still and gone down.  You slow there.  Drudge, trudge, move (if you move) like a worm at its creep – that claustrophobic a wriggling.

Almost struggle, but lacking the fight.

A zeroing out – the observance of something undoing, with the added false pretense of fate.

Resemblance: tectonic.  Some slow, massive shifts, imperceptible morphing, glacial advances – a grind without wounding, pulverized and smothered with a winter wool blanket, a lowering lid made of iron.  And you sit there: gaze through the cracks at the drips from the eaves, life runneling away and absorbed.  Inconsequent with only replenishing leakage.  A purgatory.

As the greying deepens to charcoal.  Vision unhinges, becomes soft streaky fades, you were never looking at or out, your eyes simply open.  Somewhat.  Toward nowhere.

In full dissolution.  Not staring, not gazing, not perceiving – what to call it?  The mechanics are working, if asked.  There is a park, there are trees, there are children, playing in rain like a sprinkler.  The bars of equipment are red, green and blue, but really they’re grey, just not actually.

A world made of asphalt.  The windows, your flesh, the skein on your eyes.  Grey-gravelly sky without markings, just mottled.  Movement has slowed to match outlines of concrete, the grasses are cracks, and the trees, the trees and the trucks, buildings and cars – simply humps, objects unleveling the vastness of road.  The endless.  The nowhere.  A world made of asphalt – surely some ass’s fault.

And that’s where you are, granite soldier.  Sculpted in the belly of earth, steady to the line, so much of you crumbled to time, and yet faithful.  You take up the spaces you’re supposed to, supposing…what?  That there must be a reason you sat down.  Feel this way.  With capability only to stare.  Without seeing.

You wonder if something has come or has gone, like a season – expected but oft overlooked as it passes – until another takes place.  Like that.  Like waiting, without anticipation, there being there for which to wait.  Is that really waiting?

Endurance as endlessly patient.  But patience expects changes as well.  No change occurs here.  Here just continues, inconsecutively and vague.

The owl at its nightly watch.  The worm at work in its tunnels.  The mayfly at its twenty-third hour.  The one that never ends.  It goes on.

“In my room on 32nd Street…

…words dissolve as they’re spoken…”

with all that drizzle

and no intent.

If it were loss, you’d have lost something or had something to gain, but that is not so.  It continues.  Everything here, nothing to replace = now.  You bow your head slightly, just off to the left.  Your hand curls about the armrest.  At one point you swallowed a drink.  Your legs have crossed and uncrossed.  And that is all.  You wait without waiting.  The barn is so old but stays dry.  You probably just sit in your room, the barn imagined like memories.  Still you seem dry to the touch, though you feel drowned in a heavying damp.  You sit, you go on.  You look, it’s unclear.  It is dim.  It goes on.

N Filbert 2012

What once was here

What once was here.

Talk about “prompting” photos!  If there aren’t thousands of stories in photos like these…the eye, the mood and the technique combine to provide worlds to discover and invent.  Thankful for this work.

New Arrivals…New Invaluables

“meant to detect just how slushed our insides were from too much speech, how blighted we’d become from the language toxin…

The know-it-alls are always the last to know.  Everyone’s a diagnostician, and everyone’s wrong…”

-Ben Marcus-

“As is usual with me I would not go on with the rest of the story and come back to the difficult sentence later.  With others it may be different – but when I am that far in a work the story must exist in each word or I cannot go on…”

-Louis Zukofsky-

-Lukas Felzmann-

I know….there’s a LOT of envy fuming out of you readers eyes!

(use your local library!)