Is that true?
There is a me I don’t know?
One I cannot see,
not of my choosing, but me
My shadow self,
a midnight me that
neither ends where I begin,
nor begins where I end.
Is there a pronoun for that me?
A he, she, or whatever,
a servile acquiescent person?
A deep and darkly denied secret
which is me
and not me?
Does my shadow me know this me?
Am I influenced by midnight’s shadow
as if possessed by a blind spot,
a truth I can neither deny
Look both ways for the existential self.
Mind the gaps for what is unseen, but real.
In analytical psychology, the shadow self (aka ego-dystonic complex, repressed id, shadow aspect, or shadow archetype) is an unconscious aspect of the personality that does not correspond with the ego ideal (which is?), leading the ego to resist and project the shadow. In short, the shadow is the self’s emotional blind spot, a trickster.
I was at the self-checkout
scanning cans of stuff
searching for zucchini by weight
“a little help here”
for a friendly glitch.
It wants to know
How do I pay?
Card of course.
Push or tap?
The machine speaks advice:
“Please, take your bags.”
“Don’t forget your receipt.”
I wanted to tell the young, attractive,
and helpful (human) workers
about back in my day,
food on credit meant
the grocer or store kept your name
in a book, like a bookie,
then the annoying push-thingy machine and carbons
and you had to sign (press hard).
Do you want your carbons?
I would have bored them
with that not so long ago (true) bullshit.
So I took my stuff in plastic bags
and my receipt, and I smiled
and I thanked them by tagged name.
Two people I’d never set eyes on again.
Look both ways, AI (key word is artificial) is coming, scary or not.
Mind the gaps as some things (like legal pot) are still cash only,
but the drug dealers still allow limited time credit.
Some cite unfairness, injustices of inequality
when others are born into better but another into less.
Yet both pride and shame rise from elite or proletariat hearts,
be it random common birth, natural placement, or bad seed.
No artist must suffer a lowly soul, in pain from cursed reality or chemical dependence, haunted, as snotty critics bestow their judgement of ironic reverse snobbishness and scorn upon the cleanly washed.
Let demure honestly determine the good in all forms of art and beauty
as critical opine speaks well of all mankind. Let art stand as art.
May wonderous life arise from ashes just as bleak and evil fall from the heavens, the source of rain or shine is not the matter.
Look both ways. Is the artist the art?
Do we choose birth circumstances?
Mind the gaps but judge wisely and care deeply.
Lying on the Cath Lab table, oxygen
up my nose, needles in my everywhere,
nurses and technicians asking questions.
Technology all around.
It’s like a Federation starship sickbay,
or a Starbase infirmary
with many more actors vying for a role
and space at my table.
There are two main characters. The protagonists are
the Chief Medical Officer and me.
Other smart young wonders,
called residents, watch.
Also, a consulting rep from
the manufacturer of my shiny new transcatheter aortic heart valve,
to be snaked into place and magically,
guided, angiographically trough my veins and arteries,
and into my beating heart, which will soon almost stop,
scaring all except unconscious me,
to replace the defective OEM part.
They all look alike in masks and caps. I’m naked on a procedure table,
surrounded by X-ray machines, big screen monitors,
procedure carts, lights, and computer workstations.
In some in another room more medical miracle role players
wave from behind large windows.
No TV doctor medicine-show drama. Okay, maybe a little,
but two days later I am home and ready to rock.
Ya gotta love medical science.
Look both ways and ask lots of questions.
Mind the gaps for diagnoses and prognoses.
They called him Tom—not his real name.
This guy was no head-hanging Tom Dooley.
Tom liked to watch. A voyeur. A peeking peeper.
A people watcher of the lowest and riskiest form.
Yet, old Tom was submissive. Not dangerous. But who knew?
Night was his time—windows framed his fantasies.
One day Tom saw something that made him
stop peeping—almost. “Now I’ve seen everything.
My life is complete. And I need to go to confession,
but not with that priest.” Tom, confided in himself.
Then, late one warm summer night, there was a scream.
Someone else yelled.
He heard a gunshot.
Maybe Tom had seen everything. But he never made it
to confession. He died doing what he loved.
What he needed.
And he died running,
just not fast enough. Peeping Tom was no more.
“And another one gone” and
“Another one bites the dust.”
Look both ways.
Exhibitionists and watchers can work together,
each according to his, her, or their wants and needs.
As Hanukkah ends
Kwanzaa begins, and it is boxing day in Canada.
Because yesterday over two billion enlightened
of the eight billion humans alive
decide a religious thing and dispute
coffee cups and well wishes,
which must be specifically selfish.
It’s also the climaxing week of
collegiate football bowls
so schools can decide who to fire
or to obscenely overpay with locked down
contracts having nothing to do
with anything educational (or successful)
except that we are better than you—
more near neurotic selfishness. Yay,
we’re number one (so what?).
But it is serious business
for calendars. The end of another
elliptical orbital trip around the
minor star we call Sun,
and another 365 days bite the dust.
In the meantime, libraries close,
school music programs falter
or are cancelled to reduce cost,
and art blows in the wind.
Happy holidays. Congratulations,
it’s a wonderful life, Mister Potter.
Look both ways except this week.
For twenty-twenty-two, it’s over.
Mind the gaps for “what have we done?”
It was one of those warm and humid days.
When it’s like that in LA, it is
miserably smoggy, but here
it is just moody and gloomy—no rain—
in the mid-seventies, like me.
Drove and hour to Temple, Texas,
for tests (the answers to which I thought I knew)
and to see a new PA-doc
and then to get gas
and drive another hour back home.
It’s boring sitting and waiting,
but since this is a hospital, boring and routine are good.
No, “I’m sorry, Mister Bill, but … ‘oh, no’.”
I saw nicely dressed police or correctional officers escorting
a mildly overweight bald man in an orange jump suit
and fake shoes
with handcuffs in the front,
all making it hard for others to not stare and wonder.
It was not so boring thinking about that.
Got an obit email that morning.
Another high school classmate had died
(they say he passed to be euphemistic
as though he just kept driving).
Patrick Murphy (Murph)
was an artist and philosopher
of Irish descent, and a Vietnam War vet.
His obituary was more interesting than most.
Anyway, I shall not be
characteristically pointing out problems or deficiencies today
because Murph is dead, and I am not. It’s all good, thanks.
So, I’ll just sit here trying to remember him
from art class, I think,
and be happily bored on a gloomy day
in a hospital clinic waiting area
in Temple, fucking, Texas.
Looking both ways at the days of gloom and doom. Mind the gaps in loose cuffs and I wonder who wipes his butt.
Click the photo of Robin Williams and Matt Damon to watch this scene from the movie, Good Will Hunting.