The Ghosts That Awake At Sunset

That’s how we honor the dead, we buy their books

we make their old hit songs new hit songs again

we donate generously to research the disease that killed them

and if they were hit by a bus, we start taking taxis out of respect

survivor’s guilt

it is the cultural norm we all share

we just share it in different ways

in my culture in lieu of flowers we donate to the Cancer Society

in the Ummagumma tribe in Papua New Guinea they throw rocks at each other

while practicing self-flagellation

which is hard to pull off with only two hands

but, still the Ummagummas do this sometimes until some one else dies

then they have to go through the violent funeral rites all over again

while we just keep smoking cigarettes and hope we get hit by a bus so our dying words can


I told you so.


22 thoughts on “The Ghosts That Awake At Sunset

  1. Steven Myers

    the last song on pink floyd’s obscured by clouds record
    appropriately called “absolutely curtains”
    includes a ritual chant of the mapuga tribe. thanks to wikipedia
    and you mentioning papa new guinea as an older alternative to
    consumer death rituals and now they all come together.
    that “i told you so” as a last line epitomizes the know it all-ness
    as if things can’t happen beyond the reach of human investigation.

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Death rituals is a bit of a hobby of mine. I read this book years ago called: The American Way of Death and it mentioned this tribe in New Guinea that practiced their survivor’s guilt in such a violent way. The name of the tribe reminded me of the early Floyd album, so two became one name. Ummagumma. I remember the first time I heard it, it scared me, (the album, not the death ritual of the tribe).

      1. Steven Myers

        pink floyd musta been inspired by ummaguma for quite some time since the album with the name came out in 1969 and the song with the chant not until 73. it has that soft ironic horror aftermath feel to it, but there is nothing like a chant where people are talking or singing to the same source. the cheers at japanese baseball games-from you tube anyway-appear to be so organized and thoughtful. those of course are not about death, but i remember reading in one of those robert whiting books on japanese baseball that fans have to audition for those cheering sections.

      2. cottonbombs Post author

        The Japanese are incredible in so many ways, including their appreciation of baseball. It is true, for certain teams in certain sections, fans must audition to get in. They have a national high school tournament that gets the tv ratings of Hockey Night In Canada. This is the same tournament Daisuke Matsusaka made his name, going 17 innings in the quarter final game, a day after throwing a 148 pitch shut out, then, winning the Koshien Championship on a no-hitter. Now the guy can’t get past 6 innings. What gives?

  2. Steven Myers

    your question about dice k makes toronto’s failed bid on darvish
    maybe a blessing in diguise, to free up some money
    in what will hopefully be a trade deadline deal to get that one more piece and
    sink the yankees. i’m not sure about yu and dice k in terms of age difference
    and other factors. i did a little wikipedia and reference on darvish.
    apparently, iranians were allowed into japan without visa to do the equivalent
    of jobs done by turkish immigrants in germany after the war.
    but mr. darvish was apparently a business man which seems to contradict
    jobs no native would want to do, but either way, the emergence of yu darvish as a cultural
    hero in japan has stirred up new feelings on the questionable notion of a pure japanese race.
    that high school tournament was featured in what’s supposed to be
    an incredible documentary. it has a japanese name.
    i’ve been unable to find it on canadian amazon.
    brass bands at baseball games as part of a group sounds like alot of fun.

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Darvish comes with a 1.44 ERA, while Matsuzaka’s best ERA in Japan was 2.13. Both excellent, but, Darvish is in Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson territory before they lowered the mounds. I’m not sure what documentary you mean, but a Japanese student of mine loaned me a wonderful doc on Koshien that showed the two-a-day regime of practice leading up to the tournament, and then the ritual of defeat, where members of the losing team take dirt from the infield home as a momento. The players usually have tears in their eyes as they gather up the dirt.

      1. Steven Myers

        the japanese word in the documentary title is kokoyakyu.
        the vido your student loaned you sounds like the one i was thinking about.
        maybe i’m teased by the exotic side of it being from japan, but then again,
        a st. patty’s day parade mixed with teenage baseball and intense discipline and
        enjoyed by what sounds like an entire country, that sounds almost utopian.
        you’e handed darvish the key to cooperstown before his mlb debut. that makes 2012 even more exciting. i don’t have the numbers readily available, but isn’t arlington stadium a hitter’s paradise? enter the whirling dervish dragon.

      2. cottonbombs Post author

        Kokoyaku means ‘highschool baseball’. Koshien is the top tournament of koko (highschool) yaku (baseball). There, now you know at least two words in Japanese. Learn a bit of Farsi and you’re all set to meet Darvish. And, that’s the rumor on the hill, that The Stadium at Arlington is where home runs go to be born.

  3. granbee

    This is certainly a more cheerful way to deal with the ever-present fear of death we all share in the human condition! What if I painted the profile of some dead great writers on a few rocks and heaved them over the border at you? How would that “strike” you. Maybe you could use on of the rocks to strike that match to light that next cigarette, huh?

  4. Steven Myers

    “where home runs go to be born” presents darvish a chance to to be the greatest japanese pitcher ever to pitch in the mlb. i wonder if he speaks farsi? that would be something if we were standing in a crowd to get his autograph and started yelling pleasantries in farsi.
    he would hear it so clearly and then of course after he signed the poems we wrote about him,
    the crowd would pay good money for our poems.

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      Damn right. Let’s cash in on our baseball and poetry. Maybe we could learn a poem from one of Persia’s great poets and recite it to him, then we’d be in business.

      1. Steven Myers

        i like that idea of learning a persian poet.
        the more we have in our holster of peace offering to mr. Darvish, the better chance we have of getting him to defect to the blue jays. i’m gonna study up his contract and look for a loop hole so he won’t hesitate on signing off. and then we’ll have to face mr. ryan and big texas. this could jumpstart a major conflict between texas and ontario with minnesota and wisconsin joining ontario in a new country, but i’ll start with basic japanese like “hello mr. darvish. it’s great to have you here in toronto.”

      2. cottonbombs Post author

        You are getting more and more ambitious. First it was to see Darvish, now it is to get him to defect to the Jays. Ambition is great. It is what America is founded on. It is what turns a base hit into a double.

  5. Steven Myers

    gotta have that friction. i think the jays lack the hate required to make a rivalry
    and spur on better play. ricky romero has it. he turns it on himself. he has massive over achiever
    eyes while the experts who rode him off shake their heads in disbeleief.
    ricky keeps getting better and better and more dominant and more firey and now it’s time to hate the yankees with one good beaning and brawl to set the tone in the prison yard…”don’t mess with the jays no more.” like the rays did a few years ago in boston…major brawl and like the orioles tried to do last year by calling the yankees names. nice try, but no pitching to back it up. i think the jays need one goon type of player to rally the dugout like nyjer morgan did for brewers last year or maybe he already exists in brett lawrie with bautista keeping everything cool in his dominican diplomacy. he’s one of the rare dominicans who comes from money and speaks a private school english.

    1. cottonbombs Post author

      I like fire and the threat of violence in the game. I pitched 8 years and I threw at exactly 1 guy. So, though, I know throwing at a batter is mostly a bad idea, I do know that there is a time to bean a guy. I remember Jesse Litsh going after Alex Rodriguez a few years ago, and thinking: finally. Some one is sending the message: don’t fuck with the Jays. I think you might be right with Brett Lawrie. He seems like the spark plug the Jays need to get to the next level. Put all these pieces in place: Lawrie, Romero, and Bautista, and Toronto might have a ball club ready to fight against anyone.

      1. Steven Myers

        the real scary ones are mitch williams with their sudden and complete abandon
        of anything resembling control but they also have an alibi if they plunk someone in the head, but pitchers who have control like a maddux or marcum,
        they’d be foolish to not brush back batters on a regular basis.
        it’s a territorial thing. if a batter starts crowding the plate,
        he’s calling your momma names.

      2. cottonbombs Post author

        I read you about pitcher’s serenading batters to the tune of chin music. As pitcher, I had to compensate for my lack of intimidating speed with my full on intimidating control. Though I only intentionally threw at a batter once (he deserved it) I was constantly aiming for the buttons of their uniforms.

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