as i later found out

Startling Victory
Soup Wins Control of Congress

Brian Woot was his name. But we called him Brawny White, always some drama. He tried to go cold turkey, on Thanksgiving.

And every Thursday afternoon, when he was going to see his therapist, he had to rent a U-haul.

No, its not what you're thinking.
The van was just for his handkerchiefs.
He had a lot of tissues.

He once told me, there's a wonderful view, from the very top of Harborview Hospital, as you watch the ground
just gradually approaching.
written on Thanksgiving evening 2oo6, as Stephen Fandrich played piano.
the mark (......) indicates where I wasn't paying attention to the music.

Arabian tiny forest
downtown unveiled
in sleepy twang
cactus rider
turn in the road
a black velvet glove

wind winds its way toward my home
my aztec hazelnut
my squirrely woman

fingers come out of my body
all around
& they move out to join with things
I bounce one of my eyes on the floor like a ping-pong ball

O little turnip I love you
& must defend you
your flowing gown
the way they who are also me push against you
your steel eyelashes
are not invincible
Arabic spear
your tuning fork

Oh tiny fish you jaded
in cloudy water
come sleep with me

This is not love
this is a gunfight

Walking along the little
pebbles of beach and
stroking the ears of every pebble
flowers have hearts

I collapse inside you

& am made whole &

invisible by you

your black arm wrapped

around my shoulders in the

bed, the petals that cover

your body, they never leave you

O tiny tinsel

smallest mistletoe

flutter down the street

with your breasts & legs

2 leaves touch in the same wind

2 leaves are 2 leaves

into the store

with its colored boxes

catching a plane

walking to a car

daybreak dissolves the manacles

watching snow melt


Well, at least I HAVE friends!

Here's a fun game. Which three of the people above are you?

But take my advice -- keep it secret!


when I think of all there might never have been
my eyes fill with years

i am your latino housemaid

i am your russian oil-worker

i am the tiny red bird that sings in your left nipple
which was always the firmer of the two

i instruct you to scratch it with your breathing fingernail
if you wish to see my blood

is your skin still as jet-black?

you know of my upcoming show at the Paramount
i'll get you a free pass
you can watch me collecting women's phone-numbers
or cloaked in grimmest solitude
luminous python unmanacled
slips impossible tight
from the O of your bed-lips

it was due to a busy schedule
that i pulled you around the house by your hair
until you ate from the dog-bowl i bought specially for you
and no doubt you were primarily watching television
when you casually removed my testicles

but i have no regrets about removing your father's penis from between your legs
and replacing it with a dozen oranges

and one perfectly neutral day
when you are bored of fixed-grinning with your vapid friends
look in your freezer
behind the ice-cubes
yes, behind the mid-priced pizza
i left you all of my ears

charles mingus

but his mind never leaves his work

charles mingus
in the gentle art of creativity

words induced by the Downtown Apostles and two pints of Guinness. As scribbled on bits of paper from Leo's notebook, at the Owl and Thistle, November 2006

a warm swimming pool
happy as a garden hose
the desert is far
behind us
& at last a street has my name
I want to be you
I am only 5 feet from you

there shouldn't be a frog
peering down my neck
my torso
such a string bean
ridiculous funny
to believe I am SOLID
the tiniest bird in the tiniest wooden box

the snow melts
look at me put the entire city in the palm of my hand, and lift it up
that man crouched in the cave
look at me with my shovel, lifting up the entire city
I want you
I want you to be somebody

you glitter,
radiant night!
& I am becoming virgin for you
green red green red green red green red green

horse snow melt
a window
the green fridge
I am you
in my underwear
our road
perhaps we should climb into a bowl of fruit right now!
and only the gentlest muscles

you are ruptured
I know you hate
everything you are
& you kiss me


where gold meets the broken earth
where soldiers limp home
where teeth litter the freeways
I have seen the candle shining
deep red -- pure red -- same as you

mother of neccessity is calling us home
military invasion

sun rising
field open
(your smile is so sweet)


Listen, Saint Peter, I don't care what the paperwork says -


So it's happened. James Whiton and The Downtown Apostles have played their last gig of 2006. This week they fly to Greenland, to spend Thanksgiving with Santa Claus and his beautifully brooding assistant, Pocahantas. Then they'll be staying over a while, to help them pack all the presents that go only to the most naughty girls and boys. But they'll be back in January.
Bring the troupes home now!


4 such talented artists. I don't know how their paths crossed, I'm just grateful to have found them in 2006. But I've been told that, on the day they formed, Johanne Sebastian Bach nodded wisely in heaven, and Piccasso dropped his paintbrush, and John Lennon peered through his specs and said "Bloody hell!"

James Whiton and The Downtown Apostles. The darkest, sexiest, maddest, baddest, saddest, melodious, non melodious, confusediest, rockiest, jazziest, bluesiest, wildest, loud, quiet, spontaneous, carefully planned, reckless, lonely, joyous, pissed, happy warm summers day you could hope to find.

The Apostles -- Seattle's answer to the bubonic plague.

So I thank them from the bottom of my heart for all the pleasure they have given me and many others in 2006, and I will try to catch up on my sleep for 2007.

And as the girls will tell you, Santa only comes once a year, but the Apostles keep on coming!


A Day of Signs

Today was a strange day. Unplanned, they do happen. I only spoke to one other human being all day, just one conversation, so it sticks in the mind clearly. A day spent basically in silence, without music or chit-chat, but the silence of the air seeming somehow 'full' , almost bursting.

I went to work, house-painting, in a house I have been to work at many before. I conciously decided, when I got there, to leave my camera in the car, to not let myself be diverted, but to straightforwardly focus on the day's work.

I was walking past the foot of the stairs in the house, which i've done a hundred times before, when something caught my eye with such suddenness that a shiver literally ran up my spine. I was completely shocked. After standing fixed for about a minute, I went to my car, got the camera, and returned.

What the camera records is exactly what I saw:

You can imagine how startling this was to see. Especially as the stairs had, in the past, always been completely empty. I tried to return back to work, but my camera was now with me and I wondered if there was anything else to see. I walked into the living-room and saw this hat-head. It seemed a little odd, but not very, but it seemed cheerful to me, so I photographed it.

As you can see from the photo, the guy's chin is a drawer, slightly open. I couldn't help wondering what was in the drawer, so I opened it a bit further:

The Ace of Clubs! Again, I was startled. So that's what he was keeping under his hat! I'd already thought he was a good-time, nightclub kind of guy, but this was the Ace of Clubs himself!

From there I went straight into the next room, the bathroom, and I burst out laughing. This is what I saw:

I call her Woman Who Knows What She Wants!

Then I heard footsteps coming up from the basement. I'd previously assumed I was alone in the house. Turned out he was a carpenter called Joe, a union carpenter from Tacoma, who's jobsite had been closed down due to the rainfall, so he was doing a bit of side-work. We exchanged comments on the financial insecurities of life, and I said I thought the only way to avoid them was by being a trust fund child, or perhaps by making a new invention. He said, "or Art. Some people make a living through their art." This seemed a pretty strange comment for a carpenter to make upon meeting a house-painter! So I asked him if he made art. He said not for many years, but he'd recently made a sculpture, out of wax, and shown it to some friends, who really liked it. He told me he made lots of sculptures when he was young, and people had told him he should do it for a living. Then a thing called the Vietnam War happened, and when he got back he "went to some interesting places and met some very interesting people." Then got a job cutting wood, a wife, and children. He told me he'd been with several people at their death-beds, and they had all wished for more time, that they'd never done the things in their lives that they'd always wanted to do. What kinds of things, I asked. He said, "to go and do things to help other people. to go and say sorry for things they'd done wrong. to make art. ... one said to me, I need more time Joe! But what could I say to him? It was too late."

We talked about our jobs. I told him the attention to tiny details in house-painting gave me this habit of really looking into all the crevices and corners when I look around me at life, and also that I spend hours every day looking at the places where two colors meet. He told me how in fact he'd been making things all his life, and his job is about choices in scale, and materials, and perspectives. We talked about the physical stamina to get a job finished, and to solve problems. I said I see art as a physical need, like hunger. His eyes lit up. "That's a great word for it. I'm hungry!"

Actually, he didn't talk endlessly. The whole conversation was maybe ten minutes. He would pause each time before he spoke, and looking back I can't think of any better analogy than to say it was as if he has a hand of cards, his own precise cards that belonged to him, and he was one by one placing them out on the table. Then we went back to our jobs.

After work I was driving home. It was dark, and the city skyline at night caught my eye, for a photo. I never normally take such pictures, and I failed completely to even photo the skyline! But when I looked at the picture I was once again startled by a coincidence:

You may need to peer into your computer screen at the shadows from various angles, but I see some boots on that pedestrian crossing!

Boots... what an entire world there is in that one word.

I can't help keep thinking about the wierd Wonderland cat who opened all this up for me. And I can't help thinking about Woman Who Knows and the Ace of Clubs. I think those two would get along fine. I think she's sitting in a club , and the Ace of Clubs will walk in. Some dark dive, with the light shining out of the magic bottles above the bartender's head. And they'll go off to one of their apartments. Maybe it's them that's crossing the night-street, and maybe it's her wearing those black boots beneath her long lacy dress, and there's nothing wrong with that. I wonder what music they'll put on. I see him plopping his hat down onto a glass coffeee-table. Afterwards they'll have a little bit of food. Well, life is short, and last time I looked, the world is sometimes cruel. And no-one's given me another reason why God placed these strange things between our legs!

So I think of those two, and I smile. And I think of Joe. His children still out with their friends, or burrowed deep into their rooms. His wife asleep next to him. And Joe's whole body full of angles, perspective and shaping. Imagining and solving. His body at work, not in forced labor now but in free creative labor, with the manual worker's depth, and attentiveness, and intuition. He has risked his life on these before. His proven ability to transform nature, his trust in what his hands know. All he feels and all he is. Until his body begins dissolving, and is replaced by a vast openness: the limitless joy of being truly alive.


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