All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Deus Ex Machina

After recently posting  a piece about The Graceful Ghost, I committed myself to hunting up old stuff about Valentine's Day for Thursday. I thought about it and expected a paucity of material but this was not the case. Quite the opposite. Too many items seemed suddenly to have a great deal to do with it, and reviewing them raised another puzzle that I had not intended to address, but will.

There's the mystery of the 12th to deal with. I know Valentine's Day is 14th February but it always seems counter intuitive. I feel it should be the 12th. Probably because it has to do with love, and love is a mystery that forms its own clues. Clues come from within. Here, I have worked it out graphically:
You take 12 forward and backward and get a heart with parallel lines down it. The lines symbolize trajectories, lives doing reality along each other --friends, life partners, kids, parents, grandmas and various persons one loves. One of my San Francisco boys is arriving by train today, which reminded me of a walk he, Norma and I took in his city three years ago.

If I remember accurately, we'd just had lunch on Powell near Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd. when we passed the Washington Square statue and thought of Brautigan. Musee Mecanique is on Pier 45 and, if you head among the warehouses toward Hyde, you have to think of Kerouac. Benevolent ghosts. Inescapable poetry. So I wrote this:


Under oak veneer and
Bevelled glass,
She is sad sometimes.
Complex, an orchestrion
Rattled, buzzing inside:
Something in dark where
Whippens work; something
Stirring in dark over
Pinblock and bridge,
Ridges and racks of
Brass and maple --spruce
Shim slipped from
A soundboard crack,
Lost levers veiled in
Danger and promise.
What dark entails:
Searching after a
Spring fails. I press.
A little felted hammer
Strikes no reply.
Sometimes she is sad
And can't remember why.

At the time, my friend (and Valentine but no cards because we're guys), Willie, remarked, "I like the ghosts that arise for me, too, when I walk through the streets of the City by the Bay. 'Musee Mecanique' gives me those goosebumps!" 

This suggests that love itself is a sort of benevolent possession, stirring equally the actions of human beings and prognostic clockwork grandmothers. And, when I am asked when Valentine's Day is, I suspect the ghost impels me to reply February 12th.  It causes people to give me the same look I get when I wake up shouting because my head is stuck between the mattress and the wall. 

Enough for now. There will be no shortage of stuff to trot out on the 14th but I wanted to give the 12th its due.


  1. A deliciously haunting ode to a clockwork grandmother.

    Ironically, I've always associated colors with numbers. Four is blue. Two is red. Whenever I think of Valentine's Day, I associate it with the 12th instead of the 14th.

    Weird. Very weird......

  2. I happened upon that Museum on Pier 45 last fall while visiting SF, and it is a rather haunting and mesmerizing place.

    Valentine's Day, whether 12th or 14th, has never resonated all that much with me, though there are other dates that do echo with me.

    Nicely constructed poem, and an interesting piece.

  3. TODAY may be Valentine's Day...

    By the way (completely off-topic) the title of this post "Deus Ex Machina" is also the title of an episode of LOST. One of my favorite shows of all-time.

  4. Like most holidays, Valentines Day is for leave the ghosts out of it.

  5. I LIKE your analysis of the back-to-back twelves. Or are they front-to-front? THAT would, after all, be more romantic, and less kinky.

    Another fun post, but I'm afraid I will always think of the 12th as Lincoln's birthday. A fine president, to be sure, but he doesn't inspire romantic thoughts nearly as well as that priest whose head got whacked off. You could say he lost his head for love. Dude.

  6. We just got a cat, Geo., and she walks on little ghost feet around the house just like me.

    We only brought her home last night and I already love her. It must be the 12th.

  7. Geo.- May I refer this blogpost on my Fecebook page? I adore that poem, and you made my heart pull a little toward the Brooklyn Bridge...

  8. Jon--12 is definitely red. All the more reason to misdate V.D.

    Arleen-- Chocolate transcends all question.

    Mercurious-- Thanks! I suspect 12 and 14 are echoes of each other.

    Keith-- The Machine Ghost has many manifestations and loves mischief.

    Delores-- Kids. We are all kids around chocolate, where ghosts are out of luck.

    Susan--Glad you liked it. Lincoln was president, Claudius was emperor, but, hooray, I am Dude.

    Suze-- Cats attract affection because they are full of static electricity. Perhaps if I grew fur...

    Austan-- Of course, thanks! You honor me.

  9. Enjoyed your musings, George! Hope you had a lovely (no pun intended, it just slipped out)chocolatey Valentine's, that's if you like chocolate!!

    Jon, I see numbers in colour as well and a few letters thusly too. It's called synaesthesia!


I value your comments. Say hello. Reach out a bit. I do.