Unidentified

Xerxes Lagoon exists to paint music
in clouds of ambient noise.
The disembodied heads of composers
stare from his rhythmic auroras.
Picasso called him the Sultan of Synethesia.
Dali called him the oddest roller
in the pinball parlour of life.
Those who question the authenticity of his eccentricity,
their sluggish, shrunken brains are lacking electricity.

Enroute to an artists retreat,
Xerxes was oblivious to the jarring motion
of the all terrain vehicle.
He didn’t notice the driver swerve
to avoid a coyote.
We could’ve been on a dancefloor,
in a rodeo arena,
or a cooking pot, for all Xerxes knew.
He was shocked to discover
the rainforest had given way to desert.

Above the cacti canopy,
on a barren hilltop,
the smoke shrouded, blood red sun
glinted off a mysterious object.
It was abstract enough to baffle us all,
yet recognizable enough
to inspire countless hypotheses.
Interstellar spacecraft,
experimental military aircraft,
meteorological research station,
avant garde limousine, in levitation mode.
psychedelic sculptor’s residence,
and interdimensional pixies conference centre,
were among the multitude of theories.

I reached the object from a rocky outcrop.
A sequence of dull thuds,
upon its shimmering surface,
was followed by percussive orchestral brilliance.
It’s vibratory contortions
converted random strikes into eerie melodies.
I couldn’t shake the feeling
it was trying to communicate.
Somewhere in Xerxes comprehending gaze,
lay the keys to the ghost in the machine.

While we watched a hawk descend on a wounded rodent,
the mysterious object vanished.
In its place
was an exquisitely detailed mandala.
Under a microscope,
random imperfections hinted at hand painting.
It was wet when we found it.
Rhiannon concluded it was a gift
from extra terrestrial hippies,
that their sky borne palace
existed to give birth to mind mending art.

Xerxes uttered his first words in weeks.
“Sometimes my ideas solidify.”
He refused to elaborate.
Xerxes next words were “biscuit of light.”
The context was as forthcoming
as a stone age nuclear winter.
Had he descended into word salad
or was he alluding to the nourishing light of reason?

For the duration of the retreat,
Xerxes was quieter than his brushes.
He painted for days, collapsed into sleep
and resume painting before he awoke.
Sometimes he remembered to eat.

Xerxes winter exhibition “Astral Travel,”
blurred the distinction between painting and sculpting.
He’d created aerial views of tree obscured landscapes
we’d passed while his head was buried in a cushion.
The oldest painting on display
predated our desert journey.
It depicted the unidentified object,
on the barren hilltop,
above the cacti canopy,
from a demystifying angle.

4 thoughts on “Unidentified

  1. There are nice turns of phrase in this. “paint music”, “biscuit of light”, “word salad”. I missed the twist, but that’s probably a generational thing. There are enough ideas in this to write a sci-fi fantasy.

    1. “Word salad” is a term used by mental health professionals to describe incoherent speech.

      The final twist is that if you twist the mysterious object to the correct angle it’s not so mysterious after all. The fact that the painting of the mysterious object is older than the group sighting of it is surprising too. It might cause you to wonder if Xerxes paintings really do materialize into three dimensional objects, as though he’s literally sculpted them with his thoughts or subconscious mind. “sometimes my ideas solidify” he claimed shortly after the group sighting. A lot is still unexplained of course. The reader doesn’t know if seeing the mysterious object at a different angle reveals its purpose or if it just tells the observer something about its origins.

      An earlier twist is finding out that Xerxes is often much more observant than he appears to be, that he is actually astral travelling while he seems to be just sleeping and that’s how he gained his unique perspective of the landscapes he painted/sculpted for his “Astral Travel” exhibition.

      There would of course be be plenty of sceptics who would assume that Xerxes is a charlatan, that painting and sculpting with one’s mind and nothing else is absolutely impossible for everyone, regardless of the circumstances. The same sceptics would probably assume that Xerxes couldn’t really be an astral traveller, that he must have physically observed all the landscapes he painted at some stage and seen them from the air with the aid of a highly maneouvreable drone (so trees obscuring the landscape from the air wouldn’t be an issue). Is there any evidence to support that though? We don’t know. Personally, I think the astral travelling is the more likely of the two unlikely abilities.

      Another theory about how Xerxes apparently painted the mysterious object before he saw it is that it is a spaceship and extra terrestrials planted an image of it in his mind before he was ever physically close to it. There are probably some unlikely explanations that I haven’t thought of yet.

      I suppose the twists aren’t like classic twists in the tale that you see in prose because there isn’t much information leading you to a different conclusion initially, just snippets.

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