The Fadings

Mary Jo Egan Kilbourn

November 13, 1939 – April 5, 2017

     Our elders are the past who understood the world we were born into because they lived through it. By the time we understand the world, our elders understand it less, and usually by the time they die, it is as unrecognizable and confusing to them as the world was to us when we were born. And when they die, the past does not die with them. It fades.
     It fades in the slow, chemical decomposition of pigments in photographs. It fades in worn-out things requiring replacement. It fades in the uncountable moments we forgot of eating breakfast with them, shopping with them in grocery stores, phone messages from them we erased, papers from them we threw away and recycled, and the forgotten moments of normal conversations about making plans or just talking together about unremarkable things, because if they were remarkable we’d remember them.
     What remains is the curated distillation of them, but it isn’t really them. It’s the remaining distillations of those that came before them, which you curate further or catalog and file as museum archives, kicking the can down the generations, plus whatever you’ve saved of them because it reminded you of happiness, or comfort, or of the bond you now share with a ghost.
     You can talk to that ghost, but the ghost doesn’t really talk back. It does, but it’s what you think the ghost would say, not the ghost’s words. They’re you’re words. They’re words you tell yourself when you’re sad, or happy, or enraged, or melancholy, or joyous, or angry, or at peace, or terrified, or any of the other feelings that pass through a day like weather systems.
     Some of those words are like sunshine, warm and reassuring. Others fall like branches on your head during a windstorm, leaving you concussed because the sky is falling. Then the words fade, because they always do, and all that’s left are the emotions.
     Fear, anger, sadness, wistfulness, and million other emotions that vibrate in chords with a diminuendoing basso of grief that began as a siren’s ear-splitting wail. It fades sub-sonic and will punch you in the gut when it resonates in harmonic frequencies, boosting a resonant tone to where it bursts out of you in racking laughter or sobs, before fading into the background dirge echoing amongst the works and follies of all ghosts in chorus, indistinct.
     It’s music you chase through deserted cities, canyons, forests, beaches, mountains, fields of sunflowers, at the dentist’s, or anywhere else you find yourself suddenly alone. With the sound seeming to be always around the next corner or bend. But you never locate the source of it because the closer you come to it, the more it fades away until you stop searching for it. Then it blindsides you in the grocery, in the car, in the shower, under the covers, on the couch, while you’re out of for a run, sitting on the toilet, or preparing dinner, making you tremble as it catches you in its net and drags you under before fading and you can struggle up for air.
     Even faded, that past has weight. Each moment a grain of sand, which compresses into a slab of sandstone you carry until it, too, fades by weathering away back into sand and then dust. We carve our lives into these tablets, hoping to avoid fading, hoping some future soul will pick it up and dust it off, hoping we’ll be able to finish our lines in time.
     Over time, the shape of the land changes and what was once an ocean floor becomes a mountain and the mountain becomes the ocean floor, lifted by fire and then run down by water. And the animals and the vegetables and the minerals change and require twenty questions to identify, and one day we may join them in that game, if we’re lucky.
     But that’s okay. Uncountable stars, planets, galaxies, black holes, quasars, and other stuff we don’t know about yet have been born and then been fading away across the universe for billions of years and we don’t even know for certain if there are other creatures out there that have faded or will fade on those rocks or in those oceans. It’s just the nature of things. I have my suspicions though. Until and beyond when we know or never know, our fadings will ring the celestial spheres until none are left to hear.
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Field Guide

Specimen#: 0301

Species: Deceased native red squirrel on compacted 3/8th minus basalt gravel.

History: Subject jumped from their nest upon discovering nut futures were collapsing, leaving them with 2 squirrel metric tons of walnuts worth peanuts.

Specimen#: 3583

Species: Deceased common house mouse in spring trap atop a plastic garbage can lid.

History: The photographer was contracted to photograph the mouse in situ of mortis but contaminated the scene by moving the body. This interfered with the Mouse Kingdom’s coroner’s inquest, which turned into an issue in their courts. We wish to deeply apologize to Mr. BrownWhiskers’s numerous relations for disturbing his remains.

Specimen#: F937

Species: Live human piloting a status automobile, rear shot. (Human out of view.)

History: Parent’s and grandparent’s liquor cabinets in high school, beer bongs in college, and vodka today.

Specimen#: 0007

Species: Unlucky rabbit remains – anterior L leg, furred to just above ankle, otherwise stripped to bone and tendon, nestled amongst seasonally dying grasses and understory debris.

History: Trixter-rah used to dance through his forest home, bounding from fern to cedar as Lord Frith slipped through brace, leaf, and needle to chase and catch him. Mr. Frith had had enough of his tomfoolery and decided that once caught, he would be replaced by Prince Rainbow[1].

The only remains of Trixter-rah recovered (or saved) for burial were photographed (above) by the coroner and released to the public to bolster the official storyline of death by coyote. The lack of teeth marks on the bone was swiftly spotted, and the resulting unrest soon spiraled out of control when Mr. Rainbow deployed coyotes to guard the palace and disperse crowds.

The resulting revolution and Mr. Rainbow’s brutal response to it cemented his legacy as a dim, tyrannical despot responsible for losing two kingdoms. True to form, he was heard to be shouting, ‘I should have called for wolves!’ as the palace burned about him to the ground.

[1 – Mr. Rainbow was an interesting choice when put into the historical context. His incitement of the populace to rally for the disastrous Darzin War years before led to the slaughter of thousands of innocent Darzinian peasants and their eventual revolt. The beheading of the King of Darzin led by Windspeed set the foundation for the presidential republic it is today.

Contrary to many contemporary historians, we believe Mr. Frith’s decision to grant Mr. Rainbow another chance in another land after one thousand generations of rabbits had gone to Inlé was not an elevation of his fortunes.

Instead, our hypothesis is it instead reflected the weakness of character left in Mr. Frith’s court to draw upon. Mr. Rainbow’s re-elevation was the final blow to an already fallen Kingdom rotted to the core; there simply wasn’t anyone else with sufficient leadership or managerial experience to deploy to the region.]

© 2017 – Heather Kilbourn

Seattle Spring 2017

Seattle Spring 2017; Copyright 2017 Heather Kilbourn

Seattle Spring 2017
Copyright 2017 Heather Kilbourn

Gambler

The last chance to stop paying attention
Is now
Before the final bet is laid
On one last foolish gamble
To run the table

With nothing to lose
And all to win
The loser’s laughter
Is still a payout

©Heather Kilbourn

Why Donald Trump will win the 2016 U.S. presidential election

Donald Trump is a shopkeeper, our country is a child of a nation of shopkeepers, and if there was a time in which we needed a shopkeeper to run this country, now is it.

As everyone knows, the only qualification you need to run for the office of the President of The United States of America is a desire to be President of The United States of America. There is no trade to master, certificate to test for, or college degree to study for. You just want to have to do it.

However, there are many qualities that are very handy to have if you are running for President of The United States of America. It is handy if you have had some exposure to things like large organizations, working on committees, planning, and explaining yourself when things don’t go as planned. But the most handy skill to have if you are a politician is the ability to explain why you need more money, how you’re going to spend it, and where the hell it all went, and Donald has that in spades.

That skill is going to become more and more critical going forward. Why? Because the 2015 estimate of the total costs of the $100 billion war we were promised in 2003 are currently hovering around $3.375 trillion dollars in 2014. That hasn’t really gotten too much press, because it’s a major downer.

For that kind of money, people could have accidents on Mars instead of having to watch a movie about people having accidents on Mars and still have almost $2.9 trillion left over to spend on things like education, environmental cleanup, jump-starting a non-carbon fuel market, basic science funding, a degrading infrastructure, and maybe a few pork-barrel projects.

Of course, we also all know we didn’t spend that money on those things because we spent it on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is why there was so much pearl-clutching in some Republican quarters when Donald Trump condemned the Iraq war and said President Bush should have been impeached for it, because Republican bulls always defer to Republican hawks. It’s how business gets done. Tons of cash flows from the government to businesses that are plugged into the military-industrial complex.

Trump, if you study his financial career, has done pretty damn well in real estate and television. Sure he’s had bankruptcies. I’d suffer some bankruptcies too if I could end up the 324th richest person in the world. He can afford to thumb his nose at all those Republican bulls that finance the ‘traditional’ slate of candidates this year.

Traditional candidates take on debt to finance their campaigns compared to non-traditional ones who self-finance their campaign like Trump, Ross Perot, and Steve Forbes. This gives Trump much more maneuverability when campaigning than his opponents.

A consummate promoter and salesman, Trump’s core platform pitch is about creating and raising wages for jobs, and taking care of wounded soldiers. U.S.-China trade reform, Veteran’s Administration reform, tax reform, and immigration reform are all tied back into more money going to more jobs, and you certainly can’t support soldiers unless you support guns and the VA, which also explains his support of Second Amendment rights. His campaign has zeroed in on two defining issues of our era and he’s selling like crazy.

Everyone knows that Donald Trump is full of bullshit. He makes outrageous claims and promises, is self-contradictory over time, and has a known history of saying provocative things to gain free press coverage. He’s a salesman. And like most good salesman, he will promise anything to close the deal and then figure out how to deliver afterwards.

Most importantly, for all of his checkered financial history, he has gotten shit done by hook or crook and become the 324th-richest person in the world. It doesn’t matter if what falls out of his mouth during the campaign is true or fascist because Hillary Clinton can’t compete where he is playing and winning.

Hillary and Bill Clinton only have a net worth between $11 and $53 million according to her public presidential election filing. Clinton’s last run for president left her deeply in debt so it’s reasonable to assume she’s taking on lots of debt to finance this campaign as well.

In a Trump/Clinton matchup, which is looking increasingly likely, Trump would eviscerate her on the economic front. His wealth and the fact that he earned it outside of the military-industrial complex will make it deadly simple for him to point out how beholden she is to those same special interests that are Holding America Back by shipping jobs overseas and letting illegal immigrants take what jobs are left, leaving our troops without the care they need, and supporting the current tax structure.

Couple that with his, ‘I’m in charge, I’m the CEO,’ attitude, and you can easily imagine political interns sifting through hours of C-SPAN video looking for key Clinton quotes to drive a narrative about how she’s a consensus-builder who works best by committee and making her look as effective as Michael Dukakis did wearing a helmet and riding around in a tank, except Hilary doesn’t have a choice about her ride.

Short of Trump doing something actually stupid like shooting someone on purpose or the Republican Party defrocking him and putting Ted Cruz in his stead as the party nominee, he’s got this one in the bag because his message of jobs and soldiers turns the Republican base out to vote for him in a way his Republican competition can’t match because their voter-suppression techniques are tuned for Democrats, not another Republican candidate.

Place your bets accordingly.

© 2016 Heather Kilbourn

Carrion-bird

The Dark Tower harbors an orange carrion-bird
In a gilded cage readying for flight
Before a mirror it preens in sunshine
Talons staccato clack and echo
In revenge ritual dance
Across the polished marble

In brooding isolation it awaits
Night’s safest hour to swoop
And tells itself it’s the prettiest bird
The strongest bird
The cleverest bird
Puffing up its plumage

But beyond the windows
Eagles wheel in ready eager patience
To harass the red-topped cocks it emboldens
Who harm the greater flock
Until they tire of the gauntlet and fly far, far away
Or lay with broken wings crimson

©Heather Kilbourn

Democracy

The flags are folded for a future day
The rally cries are silent in the books
Yet shouts now fill the streets
At Democracy’s rough grabbing
By those who see her travail

Boastful winners mock and laugh
Blinded by a future writ from the past
Where they may yet come to wonder
Who will cry for them
If we’re gone?

©Heather Kilbourn