Peace Reigns

Peace please give us a piece cut out from the heart of war.
Fair. Dark. Slice a center line and give pale peace to the world.
Amputated. The shadow possessing truth. Gradual.
Procession of armies toward a center that starts in the clouds,
while gray and full of storms, majesty thick enough to choke the world.
Grace grace expanding plumes of vapor. Peace and war.
Downed. Low. Hidden in shadow. Patriotism is like a torch,
it shines impressively more alluring seductive in the dark.

Deeply planted amidst fear, confusion, ignorance.
Eyes turn to the patriot, but with ease, when it is light,
eyes yield to peace. Pieced storm clouds looming,
lingered overhead, overheard mongering, malice beneath.
Voices talk of preparation for battle. Killing embraced. Strangled.
Too well by the shadow cast off of peace.
That good, light, utopian years increase a people’s fears. And stupidity.
That a piece of peace can be begged for, fought over, many wars,
in peace name.

This prayer, for peace and not much else, brings pain.
Like a storm carries lighting and wide-mouth thunder.
Strong roof rustling wind and of course, that shadow. Darkness.
Spread over the land like a stain.
Then, and only then, peace rains.

Wisdom teething

Feeling of small.
Of ignored.
Of no help.

To no one at all.

Of hiding from none seeking.
Of not talking to God.

But singing.

Of pressure mounting against bleeding molars.
Of snipping red skin off the white sides of a torn tongue.
Of being young but not young, not grown.

But growing.

Of being too close to some impossible place.

To reach to quit. To need to quit.

Of wanting to.
Of knowing quitting is better than all options staring in your face.
Of only ever feeling home alone.

But even then, there,
feeling out of place.

little black rubber faucet washers

And how exactly did taking the skin off your knuckles help?
Yeah. You remembered. At Lowes.
And bought the right sized little black rubber faucet washers.
But now you can not find them.

How is knocking dents in the wall helpful?
I’d like to know. Curious. Concerned. Impressed,
even, at how much childishness you kept
up with over the years, and yet
can not find a simple thing
you need to stop
a dripping
shower.

How did you refind the frame of mind
that beats a world into curled submission
over the infinitely personal matter
of your own frustration?

How is a man who for no decent reason
throws punches at a wall,
any use, to any of us, at all?

Spaces in between

I like changing seasons. Any transition. Humid and stifling hot to cold dry wet. Finally, too cold to enjoy it, just the way I like it. It’s feeling trapped in long drawn out seasons that taxes too far.
The spring following winter thaws a heart same as land, and the cooler breeze and falling leaves of autumn is a fan against a sweating cheek. See how quickly it changes. The same heat we evaded, hated over summer, burning in a brushfire. In the midst of transition, I find it hard to not imagine, think deeply on, how transitory and easily adaptable my sense of value is. Not one day after the colder air arrives at the end of summer, and my mind is on fire.
All my energy for farming, gardening, turns rapidly to sawing, splitting, sawing and more splitting, until several piles form, covered, weeks of warmth, and a constant hobby of feeding flame and tending to coals in order to occupy myself. The inescapable heat, left behind by weeks, leaves a stinking sweat soaked memory still rank, dripping in my mind. Turned cold by the seasonal shift so easily the heat is sought after soon again, but this time, at last, under my control.
Summer heat can’t be escaped. Even if the air conditioner runs twenty four hour days, all the air in the house chilled, cold as a refrigerator, the season burns power bills. Shining far too brightly, singeing finances red instead of skin, harshly just the same. But just now, the world provides the chill so desperately exhausting the dying metal box in the window.
Heat reintroduced at leisure. A little dry tender in a fire for comfort. A cat laid in a windowsill, basked in the warmth of it. Finally at the end of a long season on the run chasing shade. Inspired by the cold to once again seek out the sun.

Fall Poems #oldjournals

Now the ground crackles underfoot.
Leaves tumble across the road like bold squirrels.
Trees strip naked seductively slow as bright colored clothes
fall to the floor.

The afternoon sun has appreciated.
And the nights have inspired fires.
The cold makes coals the word hot does not describe.
Dead trees and live trees start to look alike.
Snow becomes a word to wince at or stare dreamy eyed over.

Dogwoods turn red, maples grow yellow,
oaks of all sorts float down and blanket brown
while the grass plays dead.

The silent green leaves that once crowned
the wispy thin heights of trees have been rejected and fallen.
Let go for the wind to blow, to germinate the earth like pollen.

And now the ground crackles underfoot from it.

Gods became Gods

Forgiveness and memory do not have to live at odds.
We do not need to compare ourselves to gods.
Besides, in the end, they all get laid on tables for dinner.
And a god is a meal that makes you thinner.
Costs more than its worth, and made worse,
a god is likely to put you through it too.
Not a fire or a furnace.
But against black cast iron on the stove.
Coiled red metal tracks traverse an oven.

Divinity has an appetite which never slows.

Gods became Gods
by not forgetting
what is owed them.

Fully Whole

I must fix my heart.
Center it
right where it is
inside me.

As you must do for yours.
Once you find it.
How I did.

Looking in all the wrong places.
In people’s faces.
Crossed mountain ranges.
In labor.
And loss.
And certainly in rediscovery.

Fix your heart.
Fix my heart.

Once you locate our broken part.
The pipe that is leaking.
Leaving good clean heart-water on the ground.
Oiled heart-pistons hesitant to pound. To push.

When it is fixed you will know.
Water will flow.
Fuel will explode.

You must find your heart and fix it.
Or you will never be fully whole.

First Class

Oh wow. Look down. There are all the mountains.
All of them in the world laying beneath our feet like carpet.
Covered in trees. Like lips around rivers.
Cradled what passes for cities in the south.
Truth turned word of mouth. And west.
Into the shallower water of another time zone.
Gained an hour in flight.

Bypassing million year old rock mounds and dirt.
Laughing at you appalachia.
Looking so small from where I am.
Between metal wings stared through egg shaped windows down at you.

Knowing where I will soon be.
Imagining what all you have left to teach me.
Stretching out dull peaks just to reach me.

Wanting so badly for me to land.
To land like them.

All rebellious and bumped up steel and overlapping.
Sat down there like auditorium rows just clapping.
The guy a row back mouth opened napping.
Coke in a real glass, first class, free pass,
to mile above miles miles above

and look down on so many southern towns.
Baseball diamonds in silver chain link settings.
Swimming pools like blue beans guarding
the backdoors of two story houses.
Neither one that good.
Just what passes for a good story in the south.
As fiction as the world outside these windows.
Trusted like word of mouth.

Eyes stepping across all of the mountains in the world.

If they could only break through the clouds.

A thing to end all things.

Wake to thoughts of Armageddon; a dissatisfying end to all things.
The thoughts that follow eerie revelation.
The broke-nature an event of this sort brings.
Carried to our doors. Sat heavy in sore hands.
The last of wanting nothing but more, finally.
Alive with the world. Not living off the land.

Leapt to make up a big frightening word for an ending.
Sunk chins rested depressed against fists, dented into chairs,
sad angry about a bitter name for a new beginning.

Creation, myth, confusion. Not a clear dramatic term, like Armageddon.
The end of things, rings and binding shackles, food and the plate
and the servant of a spoon, gone, with shoes, clothes altogether,
with pillows stuffed by bird’s feathers, life, in some weak sense,
a thing, an object, beaten broken, thoroughly germinated,
and dead, disappeared, alongside fears, hopes, joys,
alongside tiered mountainous buildings and cloud crowns
forming powerful arches and then torn apart.

Armageddon.

A thing to end all things, or perhaps, things in general.
Not a conclusive end to all, but just one damned divisive wall,
tall built between people and places and the things we brought along.
Certainly these objects are not you. Or me, which would mean,
as sure as hell, parts of ourselves are tossed out in the trash.
Organs and resources external, external only to imagination.
An ego let go returns like a loyal dog, dead squirrel in its jaws,
a bribe, alive, to live like you own your world, preyed to hunt for,
played with the lifeless limp bodies of things you twirled, hurled,
threw away uneaten whole, apart from the shallow signatures of teeth.

No use, no purpose. To king mentality it is right to never be wrong.
Devour weak to feed strength, guilt, regret, these real emotions,
leftovers from a more sentimental time.
This is the era of the sentiphysical.
You and all others must keep your heads on. Awake.

Armageddon. The end of living for your own sake.
A world no longer your reward.
All things destroyed. And gone.
Nothing left in the world, yours.

New Rooster #projectlocal

About five years ago, my father purchased fifteen fresh hatched chickens for me to raise. The end goal being a freezer full of meat that knew life before it met the knife. He was to take ten of them, and I took five. But somewhere along the line, I changed my mind and decided to keep at least one rooster for the farm. Out of fifteen baby birds that showed up at five thirty in the morning at the local post office, stuffed in a box, this single Rhode Island Red was the only one who made it past a year.

There are many common misconceptions about chickens. And roosters in particular. One is that it is impossible for two roosters to cohabitate, in the same coop, tending the same brood. It isn’t all the way true. In my experience, roosters who have known separate farms, separate flocks, at least a year or two apart, will most likely fight it out a few times, and if one does not give up, which one usually does, they will continue to be a problem. But definitely not a fight to the death all at once. I’ve seen years pass by between warring chickens. As long as one backs down at some point, they’ll go on neighboring. Also, if one bird is raised around a grown rooster, or two dibby roosters grow up together, they won’t even fight. As long as a hierarchy remains solidified, a rooster really doesn’t want to peck anything to death. This was the case with the Rhode Island Red. I had another rooster on the farm, but he was no threat, so they all got along.

Then five years passed by. My older rooster, affectionately called Big Daddy, got to the point his legs couldn’t pick him up anymore. So the young one inherited the whole flock of over twenty, all to himself, for about two years. Never intended to make it past six months. You go into farming thinking it is all about this ebbing balance between life and death. Then you find out they’re both in a three-way with time. And time has a way of making life and death trade masks. It made one out of fourteen, five years out of half of one, and what would have been a single meal into half a decade of crowing, strutting, staring down tree-lines and running off hawks. But time, like all other things, has limits. It can’t make an exhausted heart keep beating, or tired legs go a mile. And just a few weeks ago, home late from rehearsal, we found the Rhode Island rooster had died.

Now, on my street, some of our neighbors are gamehens and roosters. Partially kept. Partially wild. Roosting in this short thick Magnolia tree. They hatch eggs with no human interference. There are a ton of them. Mostly little screechy males who strut slow in the road and head tilt at car bumpers and crow. Randomly, about a week after my rooster passed away at his first hint of old age, I had one of those roadside neighbor to neighbor conversations in passing as I was getting home from work. And wouldn’t you know, she offered me to keep one of these for the most part wild roosters already roaming my yard for weeks. Of course I laughed at the idea of being able to catch one, let alone having one actually get along with my hens, stay in my coop, commit full time to my farm.

I thought it was laughable. I’m not exaggerating when I say there are seven or more of these little guys roaming up our street at any given time. But, to my disbelief, one especially small game rooster, the color of a slice of sunset, just started hanging around my birds. All the time. Stopped crossing the street every night to roost in his squat magnolia tree. Caught him sleeping on a perch in my coop, where he has now been staying every night. Completely committed to the flock. Now this is not a rooster I bought. Not a rooster I went looking for, or asked about. Not one I even want, really. But it helps to have him. He watches the birds, watches the sky, finds worms in the yard and cluck-struts to call them all over. They get along, and most importantly, he knows people are people and birds are birds. Because when that line gets blurred, it makes for a fighty rooster. He is small, much smaller than the others, smaller, even, than most hens. Which I think they prefer.

This story stands out to me in particular because of the effortlessness of this modest exchange of power. How a natural opening formed on my farm, and natural excess from down the road emigrated up and filled it. How no money changed hands. Just the mere utterance of an idea by a roadside one afternoon. But the universe was listening. And without much intention, one of its humble feathered counterparts perked up and answered the call. A new rooster, to replace the one who almost never was. A new voice, to sing to the sunrise. A seed of orange fire lit up in his eyes.

But why, why this one and not another, why this one but not all the others?
Every rooster learns to crow, even after the sun has risen.
But I think, somewhere along the line, this new rooster of mine,
he learned to listen.