Blood Literate


nonfiction by John M. Gist


Write with blood, and you will find blood is spirit.

I hammered a raccoon to death with a two-by-four when I was twelve. Maybe eleven. I’ve never been one to couple memories with dates, “A girl kissed me for the first time in July of such and such year.” My mind doesn’t work that way. I have a terrible time remembering my own birthday. But my memories can be intense, too vivid at times, so much so that I experience waking nightmares if my thoughts are allowed to roam. For years I turned to alcohol for relief, the old self-medication Coors Light bit. It worked. I slept without dreaming and my consciousness, more often than not, was dull enough during waking hours to shield against remembrances of things past. When an unwelcome image began to emerge, say that of a raccoon, its blood leaking onto the muddy shore of a creek, it disintegrated in the impenetrable fog engulfing my brain.

Alcohol is prohibited on the Navajo Nation. One can still haul it in without too much trouble, but it is a hassle, with the nearest town, Gallup, New Mexico, some eighty miles to the southwest. The fog cleared a few months after I moved here, accompanied by my wife and dogs, to teach at Diné College. With the defenses down, the memories sprung like boogeymen from the clearing of consciousness. They waited patiently for the barricades crumble and then, like terrorists, began a hit and run guerilla campaign that left me shivering in bright summer sunlight…


I chose not to carry my rifle that day, a single shot .22 Remington handed down by my step-father. The central Wyoming wind harried me into the decision. Carrying the rifle would leave my hands exposed. Even under the cover of woolen gloves, the only pair I had at my disposal, the wind cut into the tendons and joints, chilled nerves first into smarting and, soon thereafter, the pain giving way to numbness. I would need the feeling in my hands to fish the metal jaws of the traps and their quarry, muskrats, from the creek. The No. 11⁄2 single spring traps, attached to metal chains, had been placed near muskrat burrows dug into the bank of the stream. They were baited with sweet flag and catnip oils. I had threaded a metal stake through a metal ring on the opposite end of the chain and pounded it into the creek bed with a small hammer carried at my belt. The stake looked like a giant nail. The weight of the traps, once sprung, would drag the muskrats into the water and drown them. No need for a rifle, death dealt out by the crude machine in my absence. I just needed to pull the carcasses out of the water, carry them home, skin the stiffening bodies, stretch the hides, and sell them to the raw fur trader in town. I averaged around twenty dollars a week. Good money for a kid. Living off the land. Self-employed. Self-reliance. All that good shit.

The creek—we called it Seven Mile, though I never knew the official name—snaked through a prairie strewn with greasewood and sagebrush. In the summer my friends and I played war in the bush, proud of greasewood thorns penetrating the denim of our pant legs to embed in our flesh. Big sky trailing smoky cirrus clouds more often than not, as if the land was under constant siege. The punctures festered in a day or two and, with a bit of pressure from a thumb and forefinger, the thorns erupted from tiny volcanoes of puss. In the winter, cumulus clouds patrolled the sky like defiant gray fists.

That day, too, was gray. A blanket of clouds held down a taut northerly wind. I usually checked the trap line each day after school to avoid the possibility of needless suffering, a muskrat huddling next to running waters, clinging for dear life to the muddy bank, the trap clamping broken bone, no other option but to gnaw its own leg off for a last taste of freedom. The mental image kept me awake at night. I needed sleep.

As it was a weekend, I decided to check the line after tending to the goats, chickens, sheep, cows and horses. Chill wind. An absence of odor. The dogs decided to stay at home in their hay house. The creek ran about a half a mile west of our house in a shallow valley. The last trap had been set about three miles downstream. I walked the familiar trail, cheeks stinging from the cold, peripheral vision blocked by the flaps of the hood on my blue Carhartt parka, hands tucked into the pockets of the coat. I spooked a jackrabbit that startled me. I checked four traps, unsprung, next to the pewter shimmer of rippling water. Not so much disappointed as cold, I hurried to the end of the line. The last trap had been set at the bottom of a seven foot embankment cut by water across time. Leaning into the wind, I walked to the edge and looked down into the ravine. There, next to the flowing waters, stood a raccoon looking up at me.

Annie Dillard, in her essay Living Like Weasels, recounted an incident in which she shocked a weasel and locked eyes with the wild thing for sixty-seconds in a kind of a Vulcan mind meld. The weasel’s mind was blank. Not the raccoon’s. I don’t know how long our eyes merged, but, rather than blankness, I felt something of the lucidity of nature, a keen awareness, the literacy that is necessary to embrace life. I peered through the tunnel created by the hood of the parka at the black mask running up the raccoon’s narrow snout, up and over the face like a butterfly’s unfolded wings. Four furry feet poked into mud. The eyes beads of living anthracite. The coon sat still, its ring-tail floating serpentine on the waters behind it. The wind fell away. The flux that is universe ceased to blossom. A clearing blow, like waking up from a nightmare of endless falling to realize it was only a dream. Difficult to relate. My own identity momentarily obliterated, the world and everything in it scintillated with an intelligent light. I became something other than a precarious speck of life on a tiny planet at the edge of a galaxy in an incomprehensibly large universe. I was and I was not.

I don’t know what happened to cause the raccoon to categorize me as the enemy. Scent, instinct, a combination thereof. In the next instant the beast snarled and its teeth were white and sharp. Our roles were set. There were no cell phones in those days, no way to call for instruction. If I ran home for the rifle, the poor animal might gnaw its way through its hind leg and either bleed to death alone or catch a disease and die agonizingly slow. I refused to allow the raccoon more suffering. I did what was necessary. I searched the area, found an old two-by-four next to a clump of sagebrush, climbed down the bank and beat the animal to death. The raccoon was tough and his dying was neither slow nor easy. Feces, black as used oil, smeared the banks of the stream, mingled with the beast’s brains in the mud. I carried the carcass by the tail, my mind as blank as Dillard’s weasel’s, illiterate, the wind evaporating the tears from my cheeks. I skinned it at home, not knowing what else to do. The pelt was torn here and there from the violence but it still sold. I don’t remember the price. Whatever it was, or could have been, it wasn’t enough.


I have been a devoted reader, with a few notable lapses, since childhood. After tending animals and checking traps, I spent a good portion of the winter months inside. The sole television, one of the console types that served as a display for my mother’s knickknacks—tiny porcelain statues of chipmunks and the like—as well as an entertainment center, picked up only a couple of channels. My step-father, Polish and Catholic and Old School, distrusted technology and newsmen, generally misunderstood humor, and was aghast at the lack of morality in most of the tv shows. Watching television, unless the Old Man happened to be down in Denver purchasing plants for his greenhouse and nursery operation, was more trouble than it was worth. I generally spent the evening hours in the back of the house in the laundry room that doubled as my bedroom. Curled beneath an old wool blanket with three stripes at the top—red, yellow and blue—I read books while the wind buffeted our one-bedroom house. On subarctic nights, when blizzards pounded the land, our two dogs, one black the other gold, were allowed to curl on the floor at the foot of my bed. My mother ran the clothes dryer, claiming she forgot to dry the wash during the day.

My favorites tended to be beguiling tales such as Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and almost anything to do with Arthurian legend. For me, they uncovered human spirit. Fairly early on, I decided literary writing was the highest of callings, exalted above priests and professional athletes, as writers were really the ones in charge of the battle between good and evil. The others, the “real world” professionals, the politicians and soldiers, the teachers and cowboys, were actors, mere players on the stage. The writers were, well, the writers. I would be a writer. And that was that.

After enlisting my step-cousin (I called him Stretch due to his gangling height), who lived across the dirt road, I launched the first, to my knowledge, yellow journalism operation in our neighborhood. We titled the publication Monster News. Empty prairie pushed to the horizon to the north and west of our house, but to the east was a cluster of ramshackle houses and trailers: a neighborhood of lower middle-class to poor citizens on the periphery of the oil and gas industry that fueled the economy of the state. The Horseshoe Bar sat adjacent to a cemetery about a mile east of my house. A perfect hub, I thought, from which to peddle my first venture into literature.

I wrote articles focusing on the grisly goings-on that took place in the dark: rabid raccoons the size of pit bulls, wandering spirits slathering unspeakable sins, aliens responsible for the disappearance of family pets (a common occurrence out there on the perimeter of civilization). Stretch was in charge of business operations. And he was good. The Horseshoe Bar placed an ad in the paper, as did the greenhouse and nursery and the Tokyo Massage, a decrepit brick building with bars over windows perpetually shuttered. We sold the first issue for 50 cents a copy and, after going from door to door braving sneering dogs and a couple of drunken bigots in filthy t-shirts, we pocketed somewhere near twenty bucks. The second issue came in closer to thirty. Kids on the bus talked about my stories. I earned the respect of my peers and the neighborhood adults. We were entrepreneurs, clever kids with gumption.

Monster News petered out after the fifth or sixth issue, I don’t remember which. I don’t know why. Maybe the psychic wound inflicted by the death of the raccoon scarred over through the exorcising of my inner demons onto the page. Maybe Stretch tired of doing all the grunt work, getting ads and making copies in town. Maybe the novelty of the paper wore off and we had trouble in the sales department. I don’t know. But I do remember feeling at ease while writing the stories. No longer was I visited by flashbacks of the raccoon, its front fang broken off in the mud, its right eye bulging to the point of bursting, the smack of the two-by-four on skull waking me up in the depths of the night. Reading and writing calmed my inner-turmoil, worked as a catholicon, a snake oil cure. It kept the monsters from seeping into my dreams.


Spring came and then summer, warm breeze meandering through greasewood and sage, big blue sky transmogrifying suddenly into thunderstorms complete with clouds that looked like behemoth contusions, the green underbellies loaded with hail. I gave up reading in favor of the outdoor life. We played Frisbee on the groomed lawn of the graveyard next to the Horseshoe Bar. The dead, in our minds, would welcome the frolic of the young over their bones. I never trapped muskrats, or any other mammal save rats and mice, again. Instead, I built fish traps in the creek, clever contraptions constructed from old railroad ties stacked into a series of aqueducts. The water funneled chubs into grooves and left them wriggling as the water spilled through the empty space at the bottom of a “V” of two ties, returning to its source, leaving the fish high and dry. The dogs that followed me on my daily excursions ate the catch I plucked from the trap. Averaging two to four inches in length, the fish provided the dogs with a protein supplement to the dry food they got at home. I tossed each corpse into the air, singular scales reflecting sun in a brief symphony of light, and the dogs caught them and chomped and swallowed. At night, exhausted, back in the laundry room, I pressed greasewood thorns out of my thighs.


One summer (the death of the raccoon maybe a year, maybe two, earlier, one season blurred into the next as the prairie matured me, no need to keep track of time, not yet), I stood next to the Platte River surrounded by rattlesnakes. A rite of passage. The Old Man, after the family feasted on a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken at a picnic table overlooking the wigwagging waters of the river, led me through a dense growth of greasewood leading to the banks of the water. There was cheatgrass and pigweed as well, lots of it, thick and green. Killdeer sang. Bees buzzed over lavender blossoms of a penstemon stand taking root in a patch of recently disturbed soil.

“Somebody gettin’ fill dirt,” said the Old Man. He wore jeans and a denim long-sleeved button-up shirt, work boots that laced up well over his ankles, his uniform, no matter how hot it got. No worries of skin cancer there, except for the top of his head as he rarely wore a hat. “Whatever you do, don’t bolt. You’ll want to, but don’t.” He carried a snake stick. Four feet long, straight, a fork on the tapered end. I don’t know if he bought it or made it himself. He was a cheap bastard, though, and probably couldn’t bring himself to pay for a stick. I think it was oak.

The first time I met the Old Man, before my mother married him, he wore an oilskin duster and an official Australian Outback hat. He had done postdoctoral work Down Under, searching for new plants in the untamed landscape of Dreamtime. The image of him standing burnished in a Wyoming sunset leaked into my mind like acid, an etching memory: an old time gunslinger mean as a crazed badger, blue eyes merciless as the Wyoming sky. He commanded respect. I gave it to him. No choice.

“There,” hissed the old man in a loud whisper. “We’re in them. Stop and look.”

Sure enough, I spotted three rattlers in the bush, two of them coiled, one stretched out over four feet, at least as long as the Old Man’s stick. The urge to make a run for it gripped me like a demon’s hug.

“We gotta get closer to the water,” said the Old Man. He started forward. “Move slow and look where you’re steppin’.”

I wished I had lace-up work boots instead of tennis shoes.

Down near the bank, unscathed, I watched as the Old Man fished a six foot rattlesnake from the branches of a large greasewood with his stick. The snake buzzed. Horseflies darted around my ears. A slight scent of sagebrush floated on the air. I rubbed KFC chicken grease between my thumbs and forefingers. The Old Man flung the snake into the air and it arced over the moving waters, but, unlike the fish from my clever trap, the scales failed to sparkle. The rattler hit the river and slithered on top of the current like a miracle. It swam right back towards us.

“Your turn,” said the Old Man. He turned to me and held out the stick.

“What about the one you just tossed?” I asked.

“What about it?”

“He came right back at us.”

“Toss him again if you see him. Get him before he gets you.”

I did as I was told. The six foot squirming muscle, wet and grumpy, was nowhere to be found. I poked the stick into brush waiting for a buzz. The Old Man had been bitten twice by rattlesnakes in the past. Once in the pinky while pinching an arrowhead wedged in a crack between two hunks of granite. The next time in the same hand while doing something equally ill- advised. His forearm swelled and turned black and blue on both occasions. He said he had never been so sick, that there had been a metallic taste in his mouth. Maybe he figured he had built up a tolerance for snake venom. I didn’t ask.

I don’t remember flinging the snake or walking back to the picnic area. But the Old Man was happy and said that I tossed a beauty, well over five feet. He gave me a shot of whiskey as a reward. We sat on top of a dilapidated wooden picnic table under a big cottonwood exploding with leaves. My mother sat on the bench of the table and pouted, her brown eyes aglint with anger at the whole affair: whiskey and snakes.


That same summer (or maybe it was a year later), I took up reading once more. Or at least looking at pictures. My neighborhood friends, including Stretch, didn’t read anything at all, not even comic books, or if they did they wouldn’t admit it. Attending Poison Spider School, which imprisoned students from the first to eighth grades, further dampened my enthusiasm. Situated in the middle of the prairie and surrounded by ranches, the student body consisted of primarily rural kids. Students from our neighborhood, which had a bit of an identity problem, on the very edge of civilization but still associated with it on the one hand, on the verge of a vast expanse of prairie but not surrounded by it on the other, were dubbed oddballs. The school sat about a dozen miles to the west of my house, and the windswept city, Casper, near a dozen miles to the east. Though I had my own horse and was a good rider, ran a trap line once upon a time, hunted mallard ducks, deer, and rabbits in the fall, and tended sheep, cows, goats, ducks, chickens, horses, dogs and cats, the rural kids could still smell civilization on my jeans, the linger of oil field pollution. The town kids smelled the manure on my tennis shoes or work boots, depending on the season. I did the best I could to fit in at school and one track was to shun reading, as everybody seemed to have that in common. It worked for the most part and soon enough I believed the lie and thought reading was for nerds who lived in cities and had forgotten the lessons of the great outdoors. I gave up on being a writer. What was the point?

It all changed when Stretch found the magazine next to the culvert that led under the four lane highway, US 26/20, about a mile south of my house. The creek, the same one that I trapped the raccoon on, ran through a six-foot tall culvert under the highway. The asphalt led east into Casper and west into nowhere, where, eventually, after almost a hundred miles of nothing, it passed through the town of Shoshoni near the Indian reservation. Shoshoni was famous for malts at the Yellowstone Drug Store. I thought the malts tasted pretty good, not because they were better than any other old malt but because they were one of the few remnants of high civilization to be found in the surrounding wasteland.

Stretch and I were on our usual summer rounds, walking nowhere for no reason, when he came across the magazine. I don’t remember if it was a Playboy, but it contained nudie pictures of young women posing for the camera. Not really pornography by today’s standards. Softcore. I found a bottle of whiskey discarded next to the magazine, and it held a couple of shots of booze. We sipped the whiskey and looked at the airbrushed photographs. We didn’t talk, embarrassed by one another’s presence. Stretch flipped through the pages slowly (he was a couple years older and by virtue of age allowed to be the keeper of the grail). I had never seen a woman unclothed. But it wasn’t the body parts that would haunt me, the chirpy breasts and long legs and bare butts. It was the eyes, sultry and mischievous, filled with a joyful wickedness, that turned me into an insecure fool in the presence of the girls at school. I did not yet realize that desire and blood are different animals, separate species, which compete for the same prey.

We’d find a new girlie magazine in the same spot every other week. Swank, Penthouse, it was like opening a box of chocolates. Apparently some pervert, afraid that his wife or girlfriend might discover his vice, parked his car on the road above the culvert and drank whiskey and looked at the magazines and who knows what else. We know but don’t tell, ashamed by our own vulnerability, like rabbits in the brush, always on the alert for the inevitable, the pounce of the bobcat or the talons of the hawk. And, like the rabbit, when the predator snatches us, as it unavoidably will, we tend to succumb without a fight, surrender ourselves to the rhythm of desire.

In Living Like Weasels, Annie Dillard relates an anecdote about a man shooting an eagle and finding the skull of a weasel attached to the bird’s breast. My first reaction to the scene has always been: why in the hell is some guy out shooting eagles? It is never explained. Soon enough, though, I am drawn into the story: the eagle swoops, the weasel turns at the last moment, quick like a ribbon in the wind, and does the only thing it knows: attempts to survive. It is no rabbit. It does not surrender. It bites.

I surrendered. More than once I stole back to the culvert and looked at the women in the magazines. Alone. The sound of the water echoed inside the culvert, amplified the beating of my heart. We hid the magazines in a plastic bag tucked in a stand of crackling cattails near the creek. Ashamed but not knowing why, I carried the magazines into the culvert and stood with my tennis shoes in the water. I flipped through the pages. The sound of tires rolling over the bridge above went unnoticed as I stared at each of the photographs. The earth disintegrated, the rushing of the stream, the sun and sky. Only the girls were left, smiling and vulnerable, their eyes shining. They wanted me to want them. I surrendered.

Even then I knew it to be a lie but allowed desire to lead me to the slaughter of innocence: I knew who I was and what I wanted. My identity constricted as my desire grew. I was as small as an imaginary point in space, significant only by way of my utter insignificance. I was defined. The girls, too, airbrushed into impossible beauty, desired desire and fell victim to self-construed identity theft. They wanted to be wanted and in the mutuality of our longing cashed in on the superficiality of lust. We were partners in crime.


Years later, after wasting time chasing girls, because it was, it seemed, my one true calling, genetic necessity, I realized that the magazines contained no blood, only desire. I dropped out of high school. Spent some time wandering around the country, from the deserts of Arizona to the high country of Montana, up to no good, searching inebriate for something, someone, to show me the way. Considering myself a poet at the time, I penned outrageous verse filled with the sophomoric ragings of a malcontent. The problem: I had nobody to talk about such things, either back in school or as far away as I could get from it, philosophy and poetry, novels and art, the relationship between blood and desire. I frequented bars and befriended dealers of iniquities. Ran with oilfield workers and miners. None of them read much, maybe the obituaries or the police blotter or comic strips. They watched television. I often awoke fuzzy and bored, the dust of tequila in my mouth and my pores leaking poison: the stench of the self- condemned.

It occurred to me, in a epiphany provoked by a whiskey binge, alone in the desert witnessing a revelatory sunrise, Saguaro cacti standing silent guard over my sleeping bag unfurled in the dust, that I was not looking for anything at all, really, nothing that existed outside of my own mind. I had, however inadvertently, become part of the herd, beginning, I guess, with the magazines inside the culvert. The people that produced those rags—along with the constant sexual innuendos on television, in song lyrics, on the radio and, later still, over the Internet where pornography is just a click away from the privacy of your own private hedonistic hell— employing the psychology of the damned, had transformed the individual into mob by peddling desire void of spirit, false needs vended by those who did everything for the reader until the reader could no longer do anything for themselves: shallowness as virtue. The masses are so alienated from the world in which they live that their only reprieve from desperation is to be found in the drone of the marketplace. None of it is real. Ghosts.

I rolled up the sleeping bag. Three bark scorpions cuddled for warmth on the underside of the nylon. They sought reprieve from the cold desert night and, unknowingly, I had given it to them. Suddenly I remembered the rattlesnakes tossed into the Platte River, the heightened senses, the buzz of horseflies and the color of pentsemons blossoms bobbing in the summer breeze. I remembered the raccoon and the beating, the signs of the struggle—blood and broken bone, steaming feces and brains—imprinted on the muddy shores of the creek, the death grin of white and pointed teeth. A busted fang. The stoppage of time. But the world turns and the evidence was long gone, the banks washed clean by spring rains and winds, new tracks pressed into the soft earth, those of the muskrats and raccoons. In the midst of the desert, I remembered the moving water. The creek. The river. In the culvert. Thirsty beyond reckoning, hungover with insatiable desire, I packed my meager belongings and headed north.


It was the raccoon that pointed me in the right direction. And the snake. And the scorpions. I still didn’t realize it, not then, but felt it, intuition germinating. It was if I had suffered head trauma and had to learn anew the literacy that is living. I attended college. English. Graduate school. Creative Writing. Convinced the key was to be found in words, I surrounded myself with books in what I deemed the most pragmatic of quests: the search for human spirit. I found clues, most of them cryptic, but never the prize.


Dillard brings Living Like Weasels to a close with:

The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. A weasel doesn’t “attack” anything; a weasel lives as he’s meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.

It’s not that easy. Freedom and necessity are, it seems, contradictory. You cannot choose necessity; it simply is. But what is human necessity? Unlike the weasel—or the rabbit, the raccoon, the rattlesnake, the scorpion—for better or for worse, humans must take a stand on being. We choose to be carpenters, the beaver does not. We do not choose necessity, but we have no choice but to choose. We choose to be writers, lawyers, farmers, healers. The alternative, which, sadly, is too often the case, is to be defined by society or parents or lovers; this is yielding. In order to unfold our human potential it is necessary that we choose for ourselves, to bite those that would seek to define us against our will, to stalk ourselves until we locate our pulse and then pounce and plug in and live. This is not yielding. This is hunting. Hunters kill.

Who are you? Answering the identity question is not yielding but struggling, for who stalks self only to yield to an answer imposed by another? It is the same with writing: it is a selfish calling. To write with blood is to plumb the depths for one’s own spirit, to go beneath, a downgoing. In the end, it will require the death of the self. The writer must battle against conformity, do nothing for the reader if it requires sacrificing the integrity of the quest. Often, however, in the need to be accepted or even admired, writers appeal to desire alone: love, power, loss (for loss is the desire to be found once more). Desire without spirit, is, to borrow from Hannah Arendt, the banality of evil. From the coupling of blood and desire emerges a love of life.


On the Navajo Nation stars dust the night sky like irradiated confetti strewn by the hand of a god. Dogs roam freely over the high desert and through the forest, as do horses, cows, sheep, and goats. Where I live, near the Chuska Mountains, breeze wanders through the boughs of pinion pine and juniper, kicks up pink dust on the flats of Chinle. I chose not to install satellite television. The fog of civilization has cleared. The things I carry, the memories that remain unblemished by time, are of the raccoon and the snakes, of the scorpions and rabbits. Last week I watched a raven glide inches away from the iron-red sandstone cliffs of the Canyon de Chelly, way up high, playing with its shadow skating over the stone. The raven, in many North American tribes, is considered both a trickster and transformer. When one is tricked, then, they have an opportunity to be transformed. I now consider myself lucky to have been duped. And so I write.

I am raven and raccoon, rattlesnake and scorpion, sun and tree: they are me. They taught me more than any book or professor about the literacy required of life. The rest—the writing workshops which, however subtly, are imbued with the mildew of conformity, and the other attempts to fit in to the literary world, conferences and public readings—fade away like phantoms exposed to a rubicund dawn. Craft void of depth is vapid, and depth without craft is deformed. Depth, unlike craft, cannot be taught; it can only be cultivated, alone. I am necessarily both a human construct—that of language—and something else, something too free to be confined in words, a sliver of form piercing through emptiness to become the fabric of Being. I am a contradiction in terms, a violation of Aristotelian logic. I am a koan.

I am the raven’s shadow gliding over the canyon walls. In order to break through the paradox, I walk every chance I get, sometimes with my wife and dogs, at other times alone. A few days ago I saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road as I walked into a sunset the color of blood orange flesh. I have not seen a live raccoon out here, not yet, but I am watching. I owe the raccoons too much. In the evenings I read. This, walking and reading, will lead, I hope, to writing in blood. If I happen to fail, like King Arthur’s knights in their quest for the Grail, so be it, the demands of fealty. I neither attempt to subdue desire (a practice that leads to fetishism of a Freudian bent) or embrace it, but instead attempt to dive underneath to locate its source: the mysteries of life and death. Human necessity. I now write essays. I don’t know why. It just feels right.

Like plugging into a pulse.



John M. Gist