While walking through a typical suburban neighborhood on a late winter afternoon, something in the high branches of a distant tree caught my eye. I realized it was a person. I wasn’t exactly sure what he was doing, but I decided to take a picture. This is my cellphone camera on full zoom. It’s really low quality, but you can just make out the bill of his baseball hat in the top center of the photo. If he hadn’t been wearing that hat, I probably never would have noticed him. Since that day, I catch myself scanning my surroundings whenever I’m out and about.
Illustration – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1425126
I’m buried alive,
drowning in this cold darkness –
hear my coffin bell
*Photo by Bureau of Land Management California – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57804653
the Mojave dreams
of desert lilies blooming
beneath pastel skies
push in my last stack –
it’s down to the river card,
praying for an ace
an icy stillness
gives way to roaring currents –
It was long thought by historians that Julius Caesar had epilepsy. However, modern medical experts believe it is more likely that he suffered a series of mini-strokes over the course of several years.
Accounts from Caesar’s doctors reveal that nightmarish hallucinations haunted him during these episodes.
It was recorded that Caesar suffered such an episode as he stood at the banks of the Rubicon River. He collapsed into the water and had to be pulled to safety by his bodyguards.
When his head cleared, Caesar told a confidant that he had witnessed a ghostly woman rise from the water. She warned him not to bring his army across the Rubicon.
Hallucination or not, it was good advice. At the time, Caesar was considered an enemy of Rome. Bringing his army across the Rubicon boundary could only be viewed as treason.
Of course, Caesar ultimately decided to press forward – an act that plunged Rome into civil war. General Pompey, who had been charged with protecting Rome, proved to be no match for Caesar and his battle-hardened legions.
After defeating Pompey, Caesar became an all-powerful dictator who was regarded as a deity. Even with ultimate power and mind-boggling riches, he must have known his days were numbered. The political currents in Rome were powerful enough to sweep anyone away – even a god on Earth.
In the years leading up his assassination, Caesar was mired in a deep depression and a constant state of paranoia. The troubling hallucinations persisted, and I can only wonder if Caesar ever regretted crossing the Rubicon that fateful day.
rises from the Rubicon –
even Caesar balks
When I was a kid, I saw a large number of ants moving in an endless circle. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the phenomenon. Years later, my biology teacher told me army ants are blind, so they navigate by following the scent of a pheromone trail. If they lose the scent, they begin following one another in a circle. Eventually, they will die of exhaustion.
ants march mindlessly
in never ending circles