Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen


I always admire the skill of an author who takes a book out of the normal realm of storytelling and tells the story—just tells it like it is—even the bare bones are still complex with the cryptic marrow slyly beguiling; poetry. The mostly circular or wave-like ink markings that indicate the passage of time or weather add a dimension that is more thoughtful than the standard ornaments on offer in book design to indicate breaks in the narrative. I understand in my writer’s soul why Matthiessen said this novel was his favorite—this one has a more personal spirit—personal experience. It’s a very authentic experience reading this book—not everyone is ready for that—or open to it.

It is spare, elegant, lyrical, a zen-like meditation—it made me think a lot about Moby Dick, tho’ a little less complicated—and less word count. I’m in love with this book. I guess it came to me at the right time as I’m feeling that sense of nostalgia for the old ways of doing—the ways that are disappearing—the ways (and the people) that are being forced out to make room for the new, the shiny—the whatever algorithm that is anticipated—like it or not.

The ongoing dialog—composed in musical patois of the Caribbean—unquoted—ranges from quiet mutterings and musings. Shouts and proclamations. Cutting insults and gentle praise. Nature is its own character in the sea, sky—horizon. Storms—calm. The sun and the moon. Clouds and stars. Turtles, stoic—trapped. (There’s no getting away from the brutality of the trade these men are in, I felt sad for the poor creatures.) The sea birds take wing in the sky, and the sharks lurk below the surface. The reefs, the islands, the mangrove, the harbors. The turtlers, sailors, the pirates. Captains. Father, son, grandfather, grandson. Generations. Superstitions. Truths. Tales. History. Rumors. Memories. Landmarks. Legends. The memorials of time long gone, the last of a dying breed—desperation. Joyful, yet horribly sad.

I suppose we all get there some day.

Dis morning sea tryin to tell me something, Speedy. It so old, mon. Make me wonder what I doin way out here in dese reefs, all de days of my life. (sighs) Life has got away from me, some way—I just goin through de motions. P. 255




This little goat had to be one of the sweetest creatures on this planet, and it was a sad morning today when I learned that she had passed away peacefully in the wee hours. Although we were never certain about her age, we think she was 14 years old, or maybe 11…there were conflicting reports from her previous people. Pebbles was the BFF to my mini-donkey, Elizabeth, and her goat-girlfriend, Tessa they’ve known each other for a very long time.



Pebbles was Elizabeth’s goat-shaped shadow, she was always in the picture.


She was just a wee thing, and for someone so small, she had such a grand personality, she was well loved, and will be missed by all who knew her.dscf0306

The three together…I feel so sad for Elizabeth, she will truly miss her BFF. (2/11/2017)

Looking for good news – it’s hard to find.

I guess maybe

I’ve become shell-shocked by

too much information

out there to process.

I go looking for some “good news” and

find it hard to come by.

Last week,

I was briefly thrilled to read about 103 puppies

that were rescued from a truck accident,

only five were injured, but

were expected to be okay.

But—yes, there is a but, a big BUT—

the reason that there were 103 puppies

in a truck in the first place freaked me out.


That’s a lot of puppies.

Good grief.

Good news, yet not really if you

Go too deep into the ‘how come’ of it—

I have to believe things will get better someday.

It just has to.


I’ve been mulling this over for a bit—I’ve been mulling over a lot of shit lately, so hang in there, I’m working things out in my head before I start spewing words all over the place, but seriously, what the fuck is going on? Facebook has gotten wicked annoying—especially since the latest election cycle, we’re so dang polarized it ain’t funny. People unfriending each other over petty shit-fuck opinions—for which we are all entitled to have. GAH! Fine, be that way, right? Not much of a friend, I guess. I let it go. Some philosopher once said something about “Hell is other people.” (I think I said this before, same shit different poem, but this isn’t a poem, it started that way and then just wasn’t anymore.) I hate feeling that way—it shouldn’t be like that at all. It sucks. There are days I can scream my eyeballs out, but that does no good for me or anyone within range, so I don’t. When I do venture into Facebook to wish friends/family happy birthday, I try to post positive shit—happy shit.

Puppies and kittens.

Horses and donkeys.

Goats, baby goats, why are they so fucking cute? They just are absurdly adorable.


Then I post the occasional collection of photos I’ve taken of stuff. Moments from my life frozen in pictures that will be cued up later by the whatever thing that does that—6 years ago, 5 years ago today, four years ago, three years ago today, two years ago, one year ago today. Sometimes the photo is a reminder of something painful, a loss of a loved one. The result of a wreck. Fuck, even some of my own news isn’t good.

Except, I’m okay.

I’m still here.

Until I’m not.

Someday we’re all going to die. Cheery, huh? Fuck. (Sorry, I had to throw that in.)

When I see you there (the generic you, hi you!) I give you the thumbs up, hearts, and whatever emoji that applies (I’m always happy to see you.) Really I wish people would stop dying, all these icons of my childhood and young adulthood—it just fucking reminds me that I’m not getting any younger. There are times I’m feeling left behind, I can’t keep up with it. My physical therapist broke his phone last week, and was lost without it. He didn’t even know the phone numbers of people he needed to get in touch with, and couldn’t remember his IPhone password—that sucks. So he took his frustration out on my shoulder (or maybe not, it just felt that way, I have frozen shoulder of all things, jeez it hurts), but it’s getting better, I’m able to reach back and touch my fingers now, just a few days ago I couldn’t, so progress is being made. It’s terrible that I can’t remember phone numbers either. I can remember numbers that don’t matter anymore. I still remember my parent’s phone number, my in-laws phone number, my grandparent’s phone number (they’re all dead.) My first apartment’s phone number. My sister’s phone number (her landline, not her cellphone number.) My best friend Amy’s phone number when she used to live down the street when we were little kids, half the time we wouldn’t say anything, just breathing, and after awhile my mom would say, “Just tell her you’ll meet her halfway in the woods, and work out what you’re going to do from there!” (Oh, mom.)

It’s a novelty to get outside and walk just to walk and not have a gadget. Looking, seeing. The fresh air makes me sleepy; relaxed. (That’s telling me something.) Right now, I don’t know where my phone is—don’t care.

Oh, there it is, next to me. (I just gave it the stink eye.)

Yes, I do have my laptop (some of the letters are worn off, and some of the keys don’t work right without smacking them.) I do need to get to doing something else. A poe-em or something. Or something-thing. Things. Things to do.

This latest by Moby is quite special in its scary way—thought it needed a spot right here:

I need to remember to breathe.

Keep breathing.