#72- Marigold- A small fragment of a much longer story.

Did I dream this?

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Listen to Marigold. 07 Marigold

I awoke from a strange dream just before dawn. It was Nov 3rd 2005. I know this because I wrote the dream down in much detail using my laptop. I can see the date the file was created.

I wrote it down cause it seemed like my subconscious had been processing something. My head or rather my brain seemed like it had been churning a vast multi axis array of data all night. My head felt hot. And i was hungry and exhausted. Because of this I thought it might be important.

It wasn’t as coherent as what you will read below. It wasn’t linear either. It was a few big semi-continuous scenes. And a series of fragments. I wrote them down in the best order that I could. To try and make them make sense. The main points were these:

In the dream I knew I was dying. I had a brain tumor that was affecting an area of my brain that made it difficult for me to find the proper words when i spoke. The other key part of the dream was that I went to Ecuador to find my ex-wife (who was not my ex-wife in real life). There were a series of apocalyptic events while in ecuador ; an earthquake, a civil war and a perhaps a tsunami. I was often with a tall african man who In my notes I dubbed Queequeg (after the fictional character in moby dick). At other times I was guided by a Turkish or Arab man who wore an eye patch. A repeated scene: I was underwater trying to bring to the surface this Incan artifact. A golden statue of an animal that looked like a koala.

Because much of this seemed so specific I started googling things. Like “Ecuador” or “Arabs in South America” “Golden Koala” and “Civil War Andes”.

Although the mystery of the dream never really did present itself to me, something surprising began to happen. An alternate narrative began to form as I googled these phrases. I began to incorporate it into my notes.

Previously I had noted that draft emails composed in the gmail browser would often have provocative, funny or unusual Google adwords links on the the side of the gmail window. Remembering this I began to drop whole sentences even paragraphs into a draft email. Save it. Close it. Then i would reopen and look at the ads. At this point the narrative began to explode into this rather long… Poem? Short story? Treatment for the next Cohen Brothers movie? I don’t know what this is.

At one point I thought that I would make an album or something out of this. I wrote the first song. It’s this song. It’s called Marigold. And as much as I like this song, I don’t think an album of pop music could ever come close to the wonderful weirdness of this bit of prose that I dug out of my googled subconscious.


neon clouds swirled above the alcohol like a flame

yet i followed her

for the health of my disease hung in the balance

i had no choice

i flew southward into a chaotic metropolis.

i rode in taxis and stuttering tramcars

I rode in jitneys up steep hillsides

dirt trails through villages

the chaos dwindled

the dramamine and cane liquour shared with strangers

i drew closer

and knew i was dying.

at the last town a friendly hotel

in the ruins of a conquistador redoubt

i shared a room with a cyclops

i slept with a knife and an antique pistol

we never spoke except in the rowdiness of the bar

i shouted in english he in turkish

yet i came to understand he was a bandit

who likewise lost an eye to a greek sailor

languid, drifting, i was without purpose

days months or years passed

i have no recollection

i had lost my purpose

i knew i was dying but even that i postponed.

alas an unknown offense was committed

a huddled circle, murmurs from the shabby tea room

a quick glance over the shoulder from the bandit

it was settled

i was to be exiled.

the desk clerk obliged me with a guide

his name was queequeg

jolly and earthy

but always darkened when my flask appeared

and these days at the shadowless noon

he took me to high valleys

to my singlemindedness

and at last it appeared

we stood on a ridge and queequeg pointed down

into an improbable green valley

like ahab i limped towards her white tent

the grass beating arythmic drum brushes on denim

queequeg stayed on the ridge counting his pesos

then he watched us and waited

she greeted me happily

the tent was zippered

at dusk when we emerged

queequeg was gone

we built a fire and sat close together

I would awake in the tent to bright sun.

to my stillness

the sea of grass eddying quietly

the andean cold only a hint in the wind

and always she was away

with the aboriginals

in their high villages

returning only at night

awakened by her warmth and moist breath

i woke before her one morning

the malaise had returned

I knew it would stay this time

i drank from my flask

the earth rumbled below me

a curious thing

Appearing its way along

like an aardvark in the grass

a vectored wave and then another

what was that? she asked from the tent
that same day we packed and moved higherinto the mountains.

oblivious to those thousands buried alive under mudbrick

for the radio had been abandoned when the batteries quit

within weeks we ceased speaking full sentences in english

or any language.

then we lost even the single words

things were no longer named

nothing was discreet there were just areas

broad tones

yet we lived

grunting and pointing

like the german tourists in themarketplace in quito

the world without names was curious

a pull tab glinting in the sun,was also the sun,

and the sun was also a smell from my childhood

that ended with watering eyes a deep and powerful sadness

all things ended there

the singularity.
I should be happy i thought.

eating guinea pigs as snack food

in the high villages

dribblling quechua.

still the lurking mass metastasized and blocked the sun.

I lived in the shadows

when the militia men and teen soldiers visited

i may have been happy

which was also the sound of the grass left behind,

and also the burning taste of the L’aguardiente they traded with me.

our incan hosts feared them

weltering like smallpox blisters

nevertheless stoic they donned their bowler hats

an english court

formally and coldly played their strange waltzes

meters cut neatly in half, by duples, martial drums

marching waltzes

other times the shining path in black masks,

their ages impossible

their violence implicit.

i shared our dwindling grape with them

she was aroused by their danger and violence

we always retired early to our hut

They drank and took delight listening to our couplings.

after the earthquake i remember the C5-As

Enormous but from our vantage above they were playful toys

circling otters on the sea of thick air

fortified with smoke rising from the ruined city.

smoke rose always in this land

everywhere, which was also her hair

which was also a certain smell from childhood

which was different than thatother smell

but ended with watering eyes and the deep sadness

the singularity

I captain ahab now drunk on fermented quinoa

In desperation took a vow

to begin speaking again

it was awkward

i would shout”likewise a tit is better than nothing”.

The villagers didn’tunderstand but laughed with me

as days passed I found other crooked phrases

i shouted them in the village

or whispered them to her at night

“never ignored.. . but never more has been barked”

she stroked my hair and rubbed my stiff leg

which about the time of talking had developed a tremour

I knew i was dying

and that was all

there she stayed

in villages of altitude sickness

for a nobler cause than I

like a deep sea diver who surfaces to fast

i had left the continuous wordless realm,

and entered into the discreet world of language too fast

noxious gases had formed and chemically bonded with the words

new molecules of speech were born

twisted strands and double helixes

benzene rings

an alchemy of sorts

i could only share my secrets with other alchemists

the rhyme for orange

the strange beauty of the word “vacuum”

one night she sent me away with the militia men.

she sobbed and spoke in perfect non crooked english.

i was dissappointed she did not share my gift

i cried and was angry

in the valley of the whispering grass a trap was sprung

shining path rose black against the moonless sky

i laid down in the grass and listened to echoes of bullets

the echos stopped

the shining path walked around and slit the throats of the wounded and dying

when they came to me i waited for the knife

instead water from a cup.

a bit of bread

“vacuum” said one of the hooded

at dawn i woke in the eddying grass

surrounded by the still surprised militiamen

though of course they were still dead

perverse relief i had not dreamed this

improbably queequeg was on the ridge where i left him

many many months ago

queequeg spoke of the earthquake

the city was dangerous and ruined

full of armed gangs and american marines

there was a civil war

although he offered to take me to the conquistador hotel bar

to see the cyclops

i shook my head to decline

along the coast to queequegs home

an old colonial port city

curious blacks and melungeons

with japanese surnames

an endless circle of bars

queequeg lived amongst the colourfully painted tin

in the tidal flats along the beach

each morning he took a crowded bus to the north

shrimp farms amidst the dead mangroves

disapproving witness to a bloom of nitrates fingering to the sea

while i was drunken abuelita on the bus

proffered seats and gently led off

the bus cobbled away into the old quarter slums

streaming beyond

i limped to each bar in succession

these a legacy of a bauxite boom

in the previous century

grave nations preparing for carnage and war had found this gentle place

flattered her

brought her to flowering

and then abandoned her.

an apartment building on the bluff above

built to resemble a ship

porthole windows,

looked to sea


only now as an old maid was one of her suitors to return.

embarrassed by it’s continued youth and virility

she pretended to have forgotten him

she looked away to the sea.

at night marines filled the bars

i had ceased speaking

they called me the mute, gently mocked me and bought me drinks.

they helped me into the converted hearse

a cab driven by one of queequegs uncles or cousins
the seasons were a gentle wobbling

barely perceptable but at the equinox a rotation occurred

the first marines bawdy

these were mean conscripts

the first night they beat me unconcious

i awoke after some days in a military hospital

my countrymen were like aliens

they smelled of milk and disinfectant

they told me i was dying

i tried to sign a document

i was given cash by a civillian with a terrible mustache and reflective glasses

i was assigned a congenial MP and a wheelchair

he talked of affairs i knew nothing about nor cared

an oil pipeline had been sabotaged the day before

the crisis in my former country

he took me to queequegs colourful tin

but i refused

at last he understood and carefully wheeled me into the don quixcote

with its yellowing bullfight posters and blaring television

that night i dove into that lake of drear

swimming along the bottom i found a golden dead koala

i knew this was my alchemist prize

all the crooked phrases had unraveled the singularity

i clutched it to me before the blackness hit

i was kicked by a barmaid

she was shouting in spanish

my tattered denims were warm with urine

the tile of the floor was cool on my cheek

this soothed me

a crowd gathered around me as if i was dying

i clutched the koala to my chest

no one would take it.

©2005 David Lowery

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1 comment

  • shipwreck


    This is one of David Lowery's Greatest songs. It made me feel as if I was apart of some great adventure as I listen to the lyrics. It almost like a great epic playing in my mind. The way the instruments are in such tune to the events of the song. This is what brings me back to Cracker's every album, and now David Lowery's solo album. Thanks for the wonderful insight on the meaning for the song. "THE MIND IS AN INCREDIBLE THING"

    This is one of David Lowery's Greatest songs. It made me feel as if I was apart of some great adventure as I listen to the lyrics. It almost like a great epic playing in my mind. The way the instruments are in such tune to the events of the song. This is what brings me back to Cracker's every album, and now David Lowery's solo album. Thanks for the wonderful insight on the meaning for the song. "THE MIND IS AN INCREDIBLE THING"

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