Eric Jackson writes in response to Jonathan Lyndon Chase’s artist book, wild wild Wild West & Haunting of the Seahorse (Capricious, 2020).
Time isn’t linear.
It’s an arrow for sure, but it ain’t straight.
All around the x, y, z, and t axes
worldlines bobbing and weaving,
merging when the entropy is low enough.
Space curves like smoke from mum-mum’s Winston 100s; clouding my view of “Come on Down”. Her bedroom echoing a bygone era of commercials, singing “we are Flintstones Kids,” preaching, “I’m THE injury accident lawyer” or meditations from ITT Tech. Just another in-between day of child summer vacation. I didn’t know it then, but Bob Barker was giving me an early lesson on betting. We were on Roosevelt Boulevard when she passed years later in that room. I found out death bid higher than me and the price was right. We were ten minutes from the house.
Mum-mum and me loved Billie Holiday. Her favorite song was Lover Man and she always kept saying how she hadn’t heard it in years. At the time, I was a pirate, Captain of the USS Toshiba A300 Satellite. Seventeen inches of plastic sheen black as a starry night. With her I sailed the cyber seas to commandeer among peers, a playlist worthy for burning. In her bedroom there was a speaker that looked like those old record players, with the horn? but it could play CDs. Mum-mum’s eyes bloomed like a greenhouse when I gave it to her. I gave her one of my favorites from Holiday: Summertime. Later I used some of the lyrics in my poem I read for her funeral. My last chance to sing with my great-grandmother’s last home; never sure if “she” even heard it. I got to be one of her pallbearers. I didn’t realize she was gone until I fell into my bed, the empty space heavy as a coffin.
Matter tells spacetime how to curve,
warp it enough and it can dilate time.
Dreams for black holes.
Spacetime tells matter how to move.
Fields of our histories, kaleidoscoping
from a sea of fractals
that sometimes rhyme on Roosevelt Boulevard…
Perks of being best friends is you inherit their family, especially grandmas. Mine could harness the power of the elements. A tiny woman, protected by her cloak of blankets, her small face a moon of smiles where she cast love from a voice sweet and small. Deep in the throes of whatever occupied two Philly nerds back then, something clawed at their bedroom door. Since it was their house, the burden of bravery fell on them to open the door. The creak dragged like a scratched record. And we laughed. Prone on the floor cackling like a witch, was grandma holding a broom, the arsenal of her prank.
In another time and bedroom, I was nursing my inner self back to term. It was the house in South Philly, haunted by love long dead. Cursed by an old poltergeist, anxiety terrorized me with all sorts of ideas. Multiverses of possibilities bubbling into delusional crests of quantum seafoam. In the depths of isolation, paranoia gave me eyes like a seahorse. Depression possessed my gut, congealed into a ball of grey sludge that dumped buckets of shit all day. Twenty minutes away from that house, I was on Roosevelt Boulevard. I had just seen grandma before she knocked four times. I called grief’s cousin, denial, for help; four knocks, knells I didn’t hear. Was she really gone? Like a tree falling in the forest? Unlike God, the Universe has no ego.
What is the color of absence?
Spinning in this vacuum, each of us with our memories, those baby universes expanding into an afterglow of everywhens, flip through superpositions of fragments; we little Dr. Manhattans reading pages in a double ended book. Pages, these windows into moments of us, then. Granulated nows clumped into sandcastles of infinitudes, lapping along a coast of Selves. High tide sweeps in fresh probability waves. Weathering the shore’s next version of “me” and “you”.
— Eric Jackson