Letter from California 1 – Into the Golden Land
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In the Air

There is no more fantastic than this

This pent up portent this
Conveyor of life and 
This endless roiling this
Shredded heaven which
Layered between ground and infinity
Separates us
From dust
 
Searching for Mother

A sliver of land on the edge of Mordor, this golden-kissed paradise of innocents, the last vestige of civilisation in the land, this remainder of the real ideals of a land engulfed in the roiling fury of fascism and dictatorship. And between these two peoples, a massive rift, geological as well as ideological. California the Golden clings to the landmass of North America by happenstance, by luck, the intense friction between plate and plate holding this strip of sybaritic sweetfulness still, for now. To the east, bristling with bweaponed dull-eyed beasts, followers of the Swamp King, armies of rabid slavering fiends gather and shout their war cries. To the South, drug barons kill without mercy, all who give allegiance to any but themselves. Blood runs in the streets and the very earth rocks and shakes in its attempts to shake these pesky humans off its bruised and battered surface.

To the West, only Ocean. Here there is an appearance of peace, where marine creatures navigate warily between swirling mists of plastic and faeces.
And to the North, badlands stretch for miles through territories where souls are bought and sold on the toss of a dice. But should a traveller, suitably armoured and brave, keep on the northern journey eventually a land of refuge lies cold but warm-hearted, like a beautiful crown perched on the head of a monster. Somewhere on the border I have a brother. I can flee to him if there is danger.
My journey to the Golden Land has to be with stealth, here in the stench of this cigar- shaped airship in which I hide amongst other sardinned humans, not very different to the slave ships which made this same journey two hundred years ago. The difference is, we’re paying for this. We are unlikely to be sold when we arrive, and we may even be welcomed.
For me, I have embarked on this adventure with a sense of fatalistic sorrow, the mission, to find my mother. Oh I know where her body is, my sister keeps it safe. But the mind has disappeared, leaving only traces, clues, clouds. And even though I know this search may be futile and my mission may fail, it could be worth going to the Golden Land just to find out. For the last time. If I have, or ever had, a mother.
******
 
Positively the worst airline food ever ever ever. Spiral pasta with a pinch of “pesto”. A tiny plastic bowl with a small splurge of red cabbage. A chocolate tub – I don’t eat chocolate. About the size  of a Yakult.  Everything in a flurry of plastics, bowls, cutlery, tumblers even the dwarf-sized “bottle” of Tempranillo is plastic. All soon no doubt to join the plastics and sewage swarming off the Californian coast like schools of detritus animated by currents almost slowed to a stop by the weight of it all. A Sargasso of sludge, which one day may just become heavy enough to activate that San Andreas fault.
Suddenly over America
 
There is no more fantastic than this
Suspended in air growling progress over half the Earth
And beneath us this brown crinkled like the skin
Of a centenarian aborigine through
Binoculars this fault-formed fastness
where earth coughed and sputtered and threw up crags valleys lines of folds
With sudden lakes and also  
Scratched lines where rivers
Have forgotten to roam
A thousand years ago
And the blue of the river like fathomless shadow
Is the heart of this nation so 
Arid and empty?
Then no wonder they cry so often
Look at ME! This is ME!
 
Between us small cotton clouds throw stains of darkness down
Like fake lakes
Ah! A town
A clingy little spattering of us
Laid out like a defiant
Attempt to cry, see! It’s me! Here!
In seconds lost beneath the wing.
Little lives, of thee I sing.
Suddenly and uncontrovertibly
Green River
Blacks Fork
And ahead, King’s Peak.
America’s nothingness…
And ahead, Yellowstone River
Where bears live. 
And the blue of the river like fathomless shadow
Utah now, here the Mormons 
Lie, lie, lie. Here safe from sanity
In this moonland of ups and downs
These victims of their founder
Founder.
Mind you, if they wanted a God
They may as well have made him here
Where the land and logic part company
Wow! Red-accented mountains!
Lined up and curved as if remembering
A sea that once
Carved into crags 
These rock teeth
Now
This
Lovecraft landscape of a fractured mind
Unimaginable horrors lurking in the crags
Breeding in the caves
Hunting from the cliffs
Predators of dreams
And then suddenly
Sand.
With habitation!
Why?
Las Vegas, says the Captain, is on the right hand side.
Where on Sunday night 59 people died
Murder by madness
and stupidity. 
And we, along with 250 others
Were all injured
I feel it from here
And only half an hour from Golden California
 Mountain islands in the sand
 
Still these mountains
Still this still
Desert
We will cross, soon, that rift where two
Plates grind each other, slip
Now and then as the continent tries
To shrug California
Into the Pacific Ocean
Perhaps here
Descending now, this fabulous eyrie
This privilege denied millions who died years ago
And millions alive too
Who never flew
 
California, El Zahav!
Suddenly green
Imported water makes green land
Gold

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