The Mountain Man
He was a magic man. He lived in a little hovel on the mountain, where on hot summer nights he would blow smoke rings into the valley below. They lasted unnaturally long and glowed blue, sometimes pink. We in the village thought he was crazy. It was a well-known fact that only crazy people existed in a state of feral ecstasy: naked, wise, and alone.
As I was later to learn, magic was not an aberration, rather a manifestation of lucidity, a terrifying result of the active practice of being alive. The magic man on the mountain, with his smoke-rings and loincloth, was a god. And he was far more real than the golden abstraction we worshiped. That’s why no one ever made the climb, no one besides me that is.
To the Islands
As we rocked between the blue waves, we felt our salty skin slipping into the sunlit water, the effervescent past. The islands rose out of the hazy horizon like a storm. They punctured our consciousness. They were a harsh reminder of the present, breaking the timeless motion of the sea.
The rope burned my tired hands. I pulled the sail tight and whooped. The desperation I had felt at watching the summer wane, watching the light turn slanted and gold and holy, fell away and I was flying. The sky and sea were blue for the moment and that was enough.
The jungle was verdant, virile, viral. To escape, I would scramble up a tree, limbs everywhere, wood and flesh becoming one. And I would swallow the sunset, filling my stomach with more life, more death, than I could contain.
It was through this evening ritual that I first learned how to breathe fire. Above the jungle canopy, I learned how to hold onto the day's languid warmth and turn it into a firey burst of passion, fighting passion. The world is more alive at night. The jungle hums itself to sleep.