Where There’s Clove-Smoke There’s Firing Synapses

September 4, 2008 at 11:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Outside the silver-black night sky is pierced only by a few struggling points of light, ancient beams from the primordial past bearing random, inscrutable messages to the infinite puny planets of the cosmos. What news, stars? You were expecting dinosaurs? They’re fucking dead.

The match-head flares and dies out, mimicking in miniature time and miniature space the life-cycle of one of those distant, indifferent suns. I light another and hold it to the end of my Djarum Black. Acrid: that’s what the smell of a burnt match-head is. All the experts agree on this. Dry, pungent, with a crisp sting of reacted chemicals. But that scent is soon overwhelmed by the clove, sweet, spicy, and earthy underneath. The smoke has almost a syrup quality. Syrup that carves your lungs like a Christmas goose into bleeding, cancerous filets. It cloys and coarsens at the same time, like eating a charred sugar cane.

The wooden plank fence around the patio stands black up to the height of my eyes, perforated only by the slits between the slats and the few small holes left behind by long-rotted knots. Light from two free-standing lamps outside it filters in at the tops of a few of the planks, highlighting thin, irregular crenellations where water and sun have filed away the weaker veins of wood. These lamps, two yellowed, opaque globes, light the thorned, byzantine mesquite branches above them like the faces of kids telling cheap scare-stories. And those useless stars peak through the cross-hatched twigs and miniscule leaves here and there.


A man can smoke cloves without sacrificing manliness. I submit that. Big shots chew on cigars, brainy types puff their pipes, and third-world guerilla generals prefer cigarillos. Hippies smoke pot, but not for the smoking part. Pretty much everyone else who shares a dim view of lying around watching assholes in court all day every day from years seventy-five to ninety smokes cigarettes. No one smokes cloves. Maybe some girly men and the damaged women who hang out with them. Smoking cloves throws you in with that lot, but fuck it. A man, even a hard man, has to have his simple pleasures.


I sip my homemade limoncello between drags. It echoes the clove, sweetly herby yet harsh underneath, almost too closely. But then such is life on this never-still planet. High and low, agony and ecstasy, one after another until they blend into one simultaneous sensation, at least in the compressed form of memory. Maybe not for all the bastards toiling through the endless days out there. I guess the churchgoers and the officeworkers might find the hours all too equivocal, an interminable series of clay-colored moments that never get shaped into anything. It’s an appealing life. But not that appealing. I pour another dram.


The clove is out. The stars are not, as far as we know or ever will. Somewhere seventy million years from now, the eye of someone in the daughter-species of our daughter-species of our daughter-species catches the gleam being emitted right this very instant by one of these stars whose screaming ghost has just met me. She is thinking the same things I am.


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