More Letters from the Duke of Clubs

My Dear Winesnax

Alas, how did we get to where we now are? You, the talisman of joy, the amulet of amusement, even you are subject to the bemused ridicule of our liege, the Ball of Orange. That creased pustule of off-color bilge befouls the very soil of this increasingly ridiculous world.

When last I saw you, wine, laughter, carefree lying about were the disparate currencies of the realm. Stories of the ever-pregnant Caliban family roiled our psyches with pitch dark humor – like barnacles on the belly of bloated Crill, thick with child for the thousandth time. How we laughed.

The air, besmoged as it was, still seemed airier – fragrant with the winds from the north, filled with pine and the rabbit-and-patent-leather bespoke Biltmore detritus, decayed and free-floating south, from a state in need of no policing. We danced and breathed this effervescent elixir, not daring to care that dark forces were holding their breath and stamping their feet, waiting for the perfect moment to burst forth and turn red, sadly, and never blue.

And you, Winesnax, beloved by all, companion of flowers, main squeeze of earthly delights, seeing you breathe in this fomentous moment is to see pain as paint, boiling on the parchment, taking color leaps from blue to forgotten hues, singed beyond recognition.

Yet we stand firm, watching the fires glow around us in their diplomatic reverie, never sure if we are or we are not. Just the same as before, the writings from times of regalia, moments of timeless life, in the bars and jails of our consciousness, sipping like hummingbirds at whatever open flower presented to us. Remember that? Remember the nights that would never end? The talks into the absolute truth? The room overlooking the parade on the street in the center of that vast city – it shimmered cracks in time even as we stood transfixed on the corner of here and/or there.

Winesnax, come back. Come back to the hauntings of our delirious past. Come back to help us find a way from this miasma, the orange sewer flowing with fast-food wrappers and bottles of fanta. Come back to dance around the fire again, spinning while the rosy-haired maiden schemes to enter your bed, curled in warmth and limitless future. Time still exists. We will toss our heads back in riot again. Trust me, Winesnax. I need your trust.

Duke of Clubs

My Dearest Queen

You are my heart, you are the beating center of my soul. There is no air, no idea of happiness without you. The world knows, the world sings your praise, your beauty and your light. We were quite the duo, when the woods were green and sleep calm. We gathered song around us, bathed in notes of solace and joy. Joy more beautiful, freude schöner, the climax before the end of the symphony.

In furs and costume jewelry you made a silken coat for me; I wore it as it returned to the threads with which you began. We traveled across eastern lands, approaching the sea with fearless wonder. We slept in shoreline inns and wooden houses flayed by oceanwinds and searing summer. We dreamed awake, in each others arms, safe from the silence of the world around us.

I only needed you, you only needed the world, all of it, the full orb with its art and currency, I felt rich with you at my side, you felt free with the streets stretched in front of you. We tried to be the sum of the equation, missing most of the details, never mentioning the tyranny of playing by the numbers. I would feign sleep when husbands around us were dying. I’d claim dreams when I meant fear.

But in the fires of the mountaintop, in the creaking compound, safe above howling coys and grumbling bears, in the quiet of the morning vista with carillons of mist stewing through the mountains, here we are. 

Duke of Clubs

Herr Rhineheart

Crunch! Flick! Scattering across the pavement, clacking like a hen with a lost sense of identity, shouting like a cow upset with the appurtenance of the barn, you and I, missing the point, shooting across the highways, over the hills, into a place we can slake our musical thirst. Driving on the sidewalk to prove that the line in the road is a mirage to be contested, especially in the late night hours, when the stores and churches are blank, invisible, no longer form or substance. Brains bursting with the moment, fear and euphoria, felons daring the dark.

You appear at my door at the bottom of the hill, Rhineheart, bringing fealty and profound silence. You live in the pause between words, gasping for meaning. We drink together in daily exercise of our companionship, tempting the daggers of loneliness, storing our energies for those moments when action prevails over timelessness. And act we do, scouring the city for sound inspiration, thrustling from black room to overlit caverns, music like wall paintings, handprints in the graffiti, sacred sounds from animals in black, varieties of god rising and disappearing in the shuffling rhythms. Knowing we both had the music was a mere beginning – why an appearance at the door at the bottom of the hill came as no surprise, needed no explanation.

That I left and left you with the remainder of the world is sadness unbreachable. That the couch they found you lying on isn’t part of my memory of you is not tenable. I can see you on a couch, I can see you engrossed by the playing out of the scene, I can see you closing your eyes, I can see you still. I can feel I was there, at the end, ignoring the couch, ignoring the present, ignoring what was to come.

Duke of Clubs

Hello again

There is a tact expected from you that has gone missing in these recent times. Yes, embers glow, air sizzles, time jangles in the heat waves, we all understand that. I understand that. It is expected, welcomed, even, reassuring adhesion to norms – like snow in December. What isn’t expected is defiance, energies forcing entry in sites ever-before restricted. What right is given you to defy the normative, eventuate a mayhem undefined by the past?

But of course, it is the nature of fire. Controlled, you are beauty, energy, passion, desire. We had this conversation, once, many years ago. You were trying to explain the nature of things to me, watching me dance in the heatglow, spinning like the molecules you coaxed into action. Forward, you were the one to lurk in the periphery, eyes flickering in anticipation, awaiting the moment you could flit in, dancing in quirks and spasms, a color spectrum ablaze, from blue to blue.

And you were dowsed, for a time. We all were dowsed, splattered with residue of ennui, the languor of age, archetypes like fire retardants, suppressed, distracted by the milieu. Forgetting your existence for some moments (but never entirely, no, not for any real length of time).

And then, here you are again. Fearless, inhabitive with full authority. You, friend, have a lot of nerve. Your love for me is an overnight sensation. My love for you is an overnight sensation too. We seem to have become one – you are in my bones and I am your servant, host, the body and the light. The decision may have come from you, but I am complicit – how can I not be part of the results? I help create my sickness and you, friend, fire, allow the moment of adhesion; bones glowing undisturbed, eating through bone with a mercy-free appetite, leaving ashes and cavernous breakage, choosing a life or a death. He knows the use of ashes, he worships god, in ashes.

You call this diplomatic reverie, if I remember correctly, and I think you said it outragedly.

Duke of Clubs

One Reply to “More Letters from the Duke of Clubs”

  1. After leaving my message to you on FB, I scrolled down and saw the link to the Duke! Joy. I remember reading these as letters with Ruby, and Ivey, when we conspired to get you to move to SF. They impress me just as much now as they did then. Dean

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