An Arguable Truth

Out of the Box

Use caution putting things away, because that is where they stay. For as long as you don’t mind not seeing them. All sorts of things. Spices printed with dates like two thousand and fourteen. Half written journals and perfectly full ink pens and highlighters gone dry left so long in the dark. Dust in caked layers and rust inundating needle nose pliers and hair off so many animals. Life is not a house. Life is not a closet. We built these places, and tuck ourselves in. Tidied up. Straightened out. Organized lives from so many broken pieces of mine. Like puzzles. And you take a puzzle out of the box to put it together. The picture doesn’t fit inside its own container. Though it is much more secure in there.

Steel drains and matted hair. The windows where we sat and stared. The doorways we broke through to get somewhere. Be careful. Confusing life with the packages we put it in. Use caution. Putting anything out of sight, and subsequently, mind. Because it will become something in isolation that it was not before. Love makes a great meal. But it doesn’t store. At least not well. Not in the boxes where we dwell. Where we hide. And like scared children, keep ourselves hidden. Calling it a living room when it is more of a tomb until doors are broken open and windows crack and wind blows curtains back and light sweeps carpet and life steps over thresholds carrying smell and pollen and sound like a smiling bride braced in bent arms.

Get life all cleaned up, and out, and put away, and straightened, and immaculate, and categorized and sanitized and ornately adorned and closed windows and locked doors. So that at our own discretion, we can choose it. Have it eternally, as long as we don’t mess up and use it. Risked. And there is no insurance to safeguard against this. But I can tell you, antiquity, is where things go to die. Be careful putting away anything you love. Because it will stay put up. While you, and so many years, pass by.

To Be Continued…

It’s official, I left my job at Foust after four incredible years. What an opportunity, and like most good things in life, buried at the center of a nesting doll of so many other jobs and situations. I remember working at the suit store in the morning, then landscaping all afternoon, gardening all evening, and walking my dogs just praying, begging God for a better way to make a living.

It isn’t just a phrase when people say you work for the job you want, not the one you have. Nothing was promised, but I trusted, and each job dropped me off exhausted, ready, done, right on the doorstep of a better one. I feel blessed. I feel hungry, but in the best way. I’m knocking down the door of a greater opportunity already. I’m not exactly sure what life will look like on the other side of this hike, but I have a good feeling
Foust is a part of it.

Which means for now, this really isn’t a true to form good bye.
So much as it is a to-be-continued in disguise.

White Heaven #considerallthings

If I reach the end of my life, and find my greatest sin was being white, what then?
Will I explain to God how it was part of being American?
It was an entrenched system.
It had more to do with inheritance than with decisions.
What then?

I care so little for the color of skin. But the weight of true sin,
that is a burden like no other. An anchor on a ship built to circle the world.
And if you never learn to recognize it, you never leave the harbor.
Too heavy to push off from this morbid coil, this meal we let spoil
into redemption soil, inherited toil, this life effort into death comfort, into oceans.
History so heavy it drags bottom. Measures how far we’ve not gotten.
Shows us the depth we are all so eager to stay on top of.

It makes for an awkward discussion, but the perfect poem.
Seeing society cripple itself so that it favors one leg over the other.
White people who are really beige, offwhite, often pink, rarely really white,
fostering fear and weakness and feigned innocence so that disparity
can be dropped like an anchor and stop progress pushing in the wind.
We all see round sails and current lines and a horizons frowning
they are so anxious to be pushed back further.
Yet we do not draw it up to drip above the water,
so our past has become a permanent tether.

We know history can not go away, but while we refuse to carry it,
at least we know where we stay. White in the United States.

But ships are not meant to stay anchored.
I am confident we were not either.
And I refuse to let my greatest sin be living complacently in white America.
I don’t know what afterlife waits for white Americans.
Though I am doubtful it will be a white heaven.

White America #considerallthings

America.
Which has been white historically, right?
White while it ousted brown.
White while it bought up black and broke it down.
White while it tore through textures of white.
White bleeding purple reading yellow
where it prefers seeing taupe.

White America is not a title or a phrase to some people.
It is a redundancy.

We Project Local

We will no longer sift gold from local creekbeds or uncover vast oil fields or coal mines deposited in our shrinking foothills. The successive eras of quickly discovered and translated riches are over. Not because the resources no longer exist, but the places they remain have been overlooked. Local has been overlooked. In a specific location, all dots get connected. The true cost of corn growing directly beside the produce stand, where it has to be marked up a bit to stimulate a profit. This is where milk is pasteurized and chicken coops fill the air with stink. Where the composted filth of previous seasons is laced into the soil of this year’s garden. How was the product made, where does the waste go, what direct effect does such complex manufacturing have on people’s homes, lives, property? These questions need to be brought out into local light. Because it is being dumped into our moving waters, buried in lands filled with garbage beside our neighborhoods. No matter its distant source. In my opinion, these are places where treasure can be found. But for now, we are still intent on calling it trash.

New industries are going to be close to impossible to establish in a small town. Recreational services like restaurants and grocery markets require an almost insurmountable initial investment to get off the ground and running successfully and with sustainability. The sheer, jagged amount of capital required to realize an entrepreneurial dream is crippling. There are many directions in which to grow and change in order to foster local, community-based balance. One is a path mentioned already, and is happening at home whether we recognize it or not. Connecting the dots of seemingly separate business strategies and markets into complementary shapes. Like constellations. There may be several billion miles between the stars of a growing family farm and a country-style restaurant. But with a simple line drawn, these two ventures couple nicely into a single business.

Most mainstream, corporate chains actively obscure the connection between their products and the locations these products are made. Local communities can not only embrace this, but benefit greatly from being a stone’s throw from the fields and pastures that fed and coddled their merchandise. The scraps and leftovers could healthfully feed farm animals or even be composted and become meals for the coming years. If the restaurant struggles through a few rough seasons, food could still be directly sold at markets by the farm, as well as picking up catering events and holding festivals seasonally. It would allow a small level restaurant to spread out its image across several nearby locations, and control the pricing of food on the menu more intentionally, since they actively participate in its development.

Through intimate, hands-on recycling and gentle reuse programs, local businesses can compete at quality and pricing with any mainstream chain, creating within a range of diverse products. But, for the most part, initially, local communities need to take back our food. The agricultural economy of an area like ours is truly the beat of our heart. And the best way to cut costs while simultaneously increasing quality is to realize what others in your industry consider waste, treats as a burden, pays to have hauled away or destroyed. Decrepit technologies, food scraps, unused lots of grass, ancient looking buildings with busted out windows. This is what we have in abundance, and there are a lot of people who will only ever know it as trash. Project Local is first to examine value in a different way, to find or make it in a place where others have stopped working. Even stopped looking.

True local does not begin down the road or where you like to say you are from. It is home. Where and how we choose to live each and every day. Here we discover the foundation of any economy is community. The most abundantly valuable resource at our disposal currently is one another. And there is no such thing as waste. At least not in a well-connected place.

Land Poor #oldjournals

You work dirt soft
and form rocks
out of the palms
of your hands.

The skin flakes off and leaves you.

To bruise blue and callous fingers.
Wrinkle knuckles.
Vein-traced paths twist above bony
wrists bent and flexing always. Stalling.
Avoidance in abundance.
Blisters too.
Fast friends to you.

And you are their inspiration.
They depend on you for friction.
For handwritten diction
dated phrases of speech
strangers looking stranger
than if southern meant
alien off another world.

Cut grass. Wave passed.
Smile miles down the road.
Flush commodes into septic tanks
emptied in cracked quartz rock clay.
Hot sun. Burnt red necks brown.

The skin flakes off and leaves you.

To bruise blue.
Same tan trembling finger. Only you linger.
Only what was planted at the core.
Only what was unafraid to be called poor.
And you are.
You stay.

Sore.

One of Multitudes

Fifth of July, and I just barely watched fireworks
for all the blue eyes collared into working.
Begging free beer close to shift end.
Bragging clean bathrooms.

Asking the boy who brought me his plans for his evening.
And it is. His. He has that placid right. Not to answer.
Reserve. Just became manager.
Over these early twenty girls.
And they like the game.
They like his name.

Drunk and sliced thumbs prying off pop tops while driving.
Drunk. And taking tin metal shots of tequila.
Blaming weed for the spins.
Selected one from multitudes of sins.
Of choice. One of multitudes.

Not making the best of this or any other situation.
Not living to make the best. Just better.

Decisions so convoluted and tipsy
that’s hardly the word for them.

Actually #oldjournals

Being told by new friends I should write my ideas down.
I chuckle. No feather ruffled. Just a bit bemused

by how convinced
people are
that all of which
they are ignorant
does not
actually exist.

Never asked to see it.
Didn’t inquire about it.
It isn’t real.

And it makes me feel like a liar.
Like here I am sitting on a double-egg secret
refusing to be caught sharing it. When I’m not.

I cherish the idea of an audience.
The few I’ve had so far ran so far
that remembering their faces,
recalling their brake lights fading,
seems more gesture than decision.

But they taught me an invaluable lesson.
One new friends are not likely to ever offer.

People crave ignorance like a drug.
Giving them truth is not giving them a thing at all.
In any regard.
But taking away their favorite toy.
The great timeless game all humanity can not help but play.
And it is called by the name plausible deniability.

Out of sight. Out of mind. Head in the sand.
Willful ignorance. Fake innocence.

Like using a blindfold to turn off the lights instead of the switch.

I have no fear of more powerful persuasion than going to God
in my final instance
and actually claiming ignorance.

Broke and leaning

Short grass. Embedded yellow. Three leaves outspread.
And torn wax paper. And broke-leaning picnic table.
And gravel dented by tire tread. Leaves alive and dead.
Brown roots. Paled maize flowers misplaced by poplars.

And freedom
and an unmade path to walk
and roadways to drive along.

To follow, so far, so long, not even seen like litter.
Buildings so full of people, from so many castes,
not viewed like trash. Light blue sharing violet
in pale cloud-filtered light, at the tip of a blade of grass.
Not a needle in a stack of hay, not one of the same
stacked one on top of another, but piles of pure plethora.

Plethora festering on plethora on plethora.
A cracked black plastic spoon.
A styrofoam corner. And me.
Shoe-wrapped feet, and seated body,
and black bag, and marble journal,
and phone whistling Modest Mouse.

Short grass, embedded with yellow,
and three leaves outspread.
All torn like wax paper.
All broke and leaning.
And I am writing.
What you are reading.

Well fed martyrs #oldjournals

Turn. Change. Transfigure. The trinity of our people.
Our people, used loosely, for we have never come together as one.
Failed, where ants and honeybees succeed,
at creating and sustaining efficient colonies.

Community. Congregation. Culture. Concentrated into cults.
Letting children light their candles.
Thinking drinking symbolic blood makes a better person.
Group-think denial-grace came at no cost,
when it earned its chief revelator a cross.

Transformed torture devices into symbolic vestiges of sacrifices
we, as a people, are not yet prepared to make. Flimsy. False. Fake.
Even if we were to nail up a martyr or two, our crosses would probably break.

We’re different. We’ve changed. We’re transfigured.
Also, as a whole, people have gotten bigger.
We might need to upgrade to an anchored metal frame
to sustain the weight of such well fed martyrs.