Burning Man Stories – Stuck in Customs

Burning Man Stories


I write quite a bit, but publish very little. I have unpublished novels, poems, short stories, and countless other cave-wall scrawlings. But since Burning Man is, to me, all about an innocent expressionism, I’ll let a torrent run free through my work herein.

It’s me, it’s not me. The work embodies others with fiction and non-fiction and everything rolled into one. I feel always on the thin membrane between what is real and what isn’t. When I release fully into this time, it doesn’t even matter the “realness” of anything, only what I feel because that is real and lasting and deeply in tune with the ever-changing me. Burning Man is a place of artistic experimentation for me, and so is this.

The Experimental River


He stands alone. The winds and the playa and the people swirl around him in a vortex of light. He rests upon an old stick hewn from time and old, twisted wood. It tethers him to the dirt and it pulses with an energy between his soul and… something else. He stands alone. But not.

Burning Man Photo


Gold Coins Upon the Eyes

Charon crosses the river Styx, ferrying a lost soul into the beyond, forever. This is where the souls go that have no hope, the endless void. Travelers come and pull and twist and spin and see the strobes alight upon the skeleton bones. The neck tilts and the head bows in a deathly pose, a skinless grimace pulls back a macabre grin of hate; the hate of a man who dies alone, between worlds of understanding.

Burning Man Photo


Event Horizon

The fire spun in a time the lasted forever in an instant. The man inside obeyed and commanded it, weaving himself into a veil between what we saw and what he felt. Inside, we saw each flame and it stayed with with us. In another day, the tower behind would burn.

I watched him dance. There was a fine powder of sand above the hard-packed earth. The powder was like a dust, a cloud, a fog, a mist that his feet slipped around and through. The mist would eddy and fall and rise in time for him to slide back through, the orange light from the flames above fell into and through the mist, dancing with his gentle feet.

Burning Man Photo


In the Vein

There in the gypsy’s creation. It pulsed around us like a thick red vein; a timeless conduit that promised to hold a time machine between worlds. And, I’d have it no other way, as every time machine should come appointed with the comforts of the sultans as they slowly wind throughout the edges of the Orient. The colored lights cast new tones and shadows upon the rich, supple textures. Small windows around the edges gave outward portal-glances to worlds and times that whizzed by, each one inviting a new pause to the story. The light, I noticed, did something unexpected as it tumbled and flowed and rolled across the skin, drifting over small sinuous shapes as the crimson rays slid up and over the flowing curves of a dune in the middle of a faraway desert. The lines would only stay a moment before the wind blew them into a new form. The light tore time away from the shapes, and I could not figure out what was happening until much later in the story.

Burning Man Photo



She was tall; this is the first thing I noticed. Like the white-hot glow of Gabriel, with streaming starlight tearing at the edges of her shape, there was something else in her gossamer form. She drifted across the top of the white ground like a leaf falling in a sky without wind. And, as silently as that leaf falling, her hands and arms moved like long grass in a rising river. The fingers and the hands, I recall, rolled and beckoned lightly when a new breeze came through, and a new sound came from them were the tones of bells freshly rung.

Burning Man Photo


Waves of Sand

A storm of sands. It comes to remind you of events that happen while you are busy living, and you ride alone through too many of them. And truly, in the middle of the storm, there is nothing else but the storm. It ebbs and flows and abates and gives shape and form to others. And then it dies down and falls away, like a strange dream whose haunting fabric falls away the longer you are awake.

Burning Man Photo


One Thousand

Light came from her dress. And a little girl’s stars shone from her umbrella. And tiny tendrils of lambency flowed from a thousand other places. Whereever she went, she was their light. Are they posing for me, or is this just how they are? It’s how they are. Things with their own light are the easiest to capture.

If light and time are truly tied, and I think they are, then they are still there. They are still holding hands in the playa. She still has lights dancing about and his fingers still hold around her waist like a tightly-strung petticoat.

A ship lays half-buried in the desert beyond. It lays freshly launched upon the ocean. It lays broken and scattered under miles of earth. They always move on it, beside it, above it, their light is like a thousand stars hanging over a sleeping blanket, it falls quickly like happy-tears onto the desert oasis below.

Burning Man Photo



The metal kimodo neck bends skyward. There is only one sound. It is the sound of a hundred trunk-thick ropes holding back a moored ship. They rub and tear against one another, the braids and coils tearing free and pulled back into the spiral. The ropes scream like iron pulled apart by a furnace, and they burn like a soul reaching back for the earth. Fire from the kimodo rests within and the broiling sea churns and twists beneath the hull. The head bends back towards the earth, a new tension building in its dire armor. It tears through the sky for something new to devour. A heat shimmers from its scalloped visage, a heat that melts the heart of all that pass before.

Burning Man Photo



She was broken by time and the winds beat her into the dirt below. She sank into it without control. A gentle grace hungered in the vibrations that pulsed out from her previous life. Some people saw this and they came to bask, to climb, to commune, to sit, to laugh, to cry, to hold hands, to find a hand to hold, to stroll, to watch the moon, to add to the vibrations, to clambor, to hold, to rest, to meditate, to feel something new as she sank ever deeper into the earth, leaving rhythms of new life behind.

Burning Man Photo


I knew it could not be real. Nights on earth were not like this. It only is real within the framework of a game or a book or a movie or that temporary escapism that pulls us out from a rather banal life. But it is real. You can see the lasers as they dance across your retina and you can feel the cool wind from the night desert slide up your leg and you can hear the metallic cries of a new sound and you can taste a fine alkaline coolness in the back of your throat. And you can drift among the lights and the souls and dance between and through spirits that haunt the night with you. And it is all real and none of it matters and everything matters. And it is all matter.

Burning Man Photo



She stood in the light while in shadow. The path led endlessly into the fog and she saw it for what it was. The path was just one, and she had already chosen. In the distance, it fell away into a blue haze. Every few steps would reveal something impossible and unforeseen. What would appear next was beyond reason and what would appear underfoot would be enough to make any mortal’s heart shudder. She had a hundred paths within her, even though she only stood on one.

Burning Man Photo


World Without

There was only one light, from her torch that she held while she rode by on a bike at full speed. I remember that the flame made a sound. It was the close sound of a small sail catching wind. It would muffle itself, then catch wind again. The gentle rumble of the flame reached a crescendo as she passed. I thought it lit her face so nicely, and her mask was so mysterious. I have no idea who she was, and she probably didn’t want anyone to know who she was. That was very nice in a world without secrets, I thought.

Burning Man Photo



The sun-dried bones of a skeleton clambored across the white sand. The huge ribs would rattle and shake, each one on their own, like the strings plucked by a god playing a new tune. From a distance, it glided like an octopus through a sea of blue.

Burning Man Photo



She walked around all four cardinal points of the compass around the temple, kneeling at each point, neck upturned to the sun. She worships under a baked skin she wears to hide and be seen. We are all invisible to her.

Burning Man Photo


Fire Octopus

The creatures and inventions that fill our world could have been one thing or another, but things turned out the way they turned out. But here, things turn out every way. If a parallel universe is one in which slightly different decisions were made, then this is a place where many parallels co-exist in harmony. Would a mobile steampunk octopus create more awe than a Spanish basilica? Would a half-sunken ship gather more prayers than the walls of Jericho? Is there more than one world here with us, dancing through the veil where we see the shadows when we daydream? It’s right here all the time, if you are ready for it.

Burning Man Photo



The sunrise drifted across the desert like a thought that would not go away. Through the long night there was a gentle aching for the sun, for the morning warm breeze, for the transcendant heat. It transported all of us into another day while we spun around and around underneath.

Burning Man Photo



I got caught up in a bunny march. There were over a thousand people in bunny costumes, hopping through the desert sand on the way to the temple. It’s the sort of surreal experience that reminds you both of how strange the world is — and how much you love bunnies.

Burning Man Photo



She emerged from the morning sand and stood before the eastern sun. Her dress was silk and flapped in the sandy morning gusts. It made a sound of a distant flag, popping in the wind

Burning Man Photo


Mobile Home

The chandelier would swing back and forth from the high-peaked ceiling as the tractor slowly pulled the mobile home across the sand. Everything made perfect sense as long as you didn’t think about it too hard.

Burning Man Photo



She celebrated the morning sun with a gypsy dance. Every minute she seemed to get more and more energy, like a flower that would bend to the new sun.

Burning Man Photo


Anibis Rises

There was a special place in heaven where his screams went in the night. They echoed there and fell into a misery alone and harnessed. The jackals laughed from below, staring blinded into the sun.

Burning Man Photo


Daemon Woman

She must have come from the underworld, peeling her body from a boiling milky bath right into the playa. And in the journey she joined with her familiar, her daemon who walks beside her through the forest of the world.

Burning Man Photo



The boards made little creaking sounds, small tears in time. The sound vibrated through the organs above and the octopi below. The sand swelled and fell with the motion of it all.

Burning Man Photo



The mighty dragon flew strong against the sandstorm. It blew and ripped, and the sand scoured and blasted through the structure with it a long hollow whistle. There was no sound but that deep sigh of the wind trying to pull apart the mighty beast. The sound was of a long and empty death

Burning Man Photo