Not My Story
Into the Wild on the shelf, almost picked up but for thoughts of my health,
mental and in an insulated way, eternal. His journal, not mine. Not my story.
I get eaten by the bear. Taken by the lonely. Hunger. In a different sort of manner.
The prayer. To know the churning gut of God. Eaten by the massive immoral immortal
mortar of the universe. God. Lost Into the Wild to the healthy lunch place’s bookshelf.
Clean glass chess pieces on clean glass battlefields, no suspect fingerprint off
some chugging crown, furrowed brow, bullets flying and forks like swords
stuck in the hands of the hungry. Eyeballing me. Who know my fate.
Who are not yet and will never be full from what they ate.
from a play about
different color collar culture:
This is a story about two worlds, and the people who show up and clock into them at the same time each day. A world of digital voices, key tapping communication, baby dolls and sweethearts and sugar stacked right up against growling forklift ladders, screaming tape rolls gripping cardboard, box cutters, scales, cracked hands and repetition. They make these places with doors that lead two ways, in to and out of, and they make these doors to close. Because they do. Even when they don’t. You go walking headlong through one and you’ll see it clear on the face of some person on the other side. Someone who did not see you coming. Her face shows it. So she plants her feet, widens her expression and simply waits for you to pass by. Like you would have walked right through her if she stayed on course. Like your life would have knocked hers down and stepped over her on the ground. She’ll say some words, something like ‘well why don’t you come on through’, or ‘fancy meeting you here’, or ‘perfect timing’. It doesn’t really matter. She says notice me, talk to me, this fleeting transition from an office into a warehouse is a most precious encounter to me. An opportunity.
This is her world. She has to say something to me before I leave at the end of the day, because I will, and she can’t. She has to own my time here, in one way or another. This sort of transient interaction in a hallway is one, and I don’t want to know another. I am not of this world. And I can not have her or anyone else in this place follow back to where I came from.
This is a story of stacked cities, of neighboring towns, houses side by side on the same block, and how, whether we want to or not, need each other. I visit here like a tourist, a student, a storyteller, not a citizen, certainly no resident. But gatekeeper. And if you have ever been a student of mythology, you rarely visit where a gatekeeper lives, and it is usually uncomfortable when you do. For the purposes of sharing this story with you, I have had to keep myself transitory. I can not just plant in the hall and watch while opportunity passes. There is no rhetorical line of questioning I feel called to ask. But just to watch, learn as much as I can about these two worlds, so that by the end, I might be able to draw us a map.
A clean break is based on the sort of decisions we make.
The promises which were destined clearly to be broken.
Such a desire dismantles all tokens of remembrance or spite,
or loves lost interwoven boundaries broken into night,
or just being polite, apparently, not a part of clean breaking apart.
To sterilize our lives of one another so thoroughly. It will be difficult
to convince anyone we ever once made the other one dirty.
Light grows a greater shadow
Spring goes when the light goes, where the sun grows shadows
around the fringes of clouds. A shy awkward child no one wants,
going wild in the wild. Some flowers have opened,
spread legs for tense thighs swimming. The parents
of tadpoles and tadpoles creaking like old men
down where the creek only sometimes flows. Poor timing.
A verifiably impoverished imagining of the winter season.
One modestly wealthy warm afternoon, maybe two,
and these rubber-throated lives start planting seeds,
laying eggs, burping pollen and wagging pink
exposed between yellow legs. Then, as expected,
the sun that had at long last sprung is done, and gone,
cremated ashes scattered in stars beyond the horizon.
The flower knows the cold.
It knows to close.
Spring goes when the light goes with the sun growing shadows,
but not for good. The same old men swimming songs
into puddles in the sometimes wet creek bed won’t
freeze in the night like they should.
They wait for no patient grave.
They bury their own selves under mud.
All our morning alarm – Nov. 9th, 2016
This morning I thought the birds singing out through my phone were real.
My mind put them right outside the window. Laid awake in typical wonder,
at the how, and why that chases. Like how are these birds
all outside their cages. Why so loud this morning.
Solid sounding and mixed, like a choir probably stacked together,
necks stretched and swollen chests, all alike like a choir.
Robes flow pleated by feathers. White collars grip throats.
It was five minutes into that image before I put it beside me.
By my early morning, useless eyes and mind. Turned off.
An alarm I set. Had all night to forget, and like a dream,
it both happened and it didn’t. There was singing yet silence.
A church choir full with songbirds with wet morning hair and coffee breath.
And some real, devastatingly hopeful yet abrasive belief. And yet disbelief.
Just enough. To chase them off my windowsill by pressing on a button.
Turning off an alarm I set. And how I needed that reminder,
to lie back down and forget.
It was an Ash tree actually
I remember drinking Rolling Rocks twenty feet up a tree. At my parent’s. In Virginia. I walked the dogs out into the woods and found an old titan whose bottom branches bowed down and touched ground. Could have been five hundred years old. I guessed. And I cut trees a lot, so I ought to know. I tread heel to toe, a straight line path up one of those low branches and get tucked into a sweet rounded wedge somewhere about the center, trunk-sized limbs breaking out in all directions. I let the weight drop out my knees and feet. The dogs released along a rock dotted hillside, littered with leaves both dead brown and wet green. The boy found a bob-tailed cat right off, chased it across an abandoned lot and holed it in a barn that was most likely home. So he was as good as chained up. The little girl, who I love beyond knowing, who is indeed the death of me, planted tail-fanning at the base of this tree. Staring. Waiting. She may as well have been tethered. Which suited me. Having both of them tied up with no leashes. Forgot those at home. Remembered beer though. A few room temperature Rolling Rocks, green cans, Saint Patrick’s day green. [like the only thing pinching me that day would be the cop who catches me out here drinking] Like spring green waving trees. I drink them quick, burning tobacco leaves twisted around weed. Also bright green. Because I have been trading good money for it. I sat up there like a kid, ten minutes feeling like hours. Nested in thick bark wrapped power. The only tree like this out here, on a hillside, lost parts of a neighborhood that used to be a cow pasture. They let this lot go. Someone comes out here sometimes, just to mow. Water moves in a smelly creek below, where I saw an opossum disappear into taller grass, thankful the boy missed it. I honest to God guessed it was an Ash tree. Maybe I read about them in a book, or saw its leaf in a diagram, but if I had, I’d forgotten, and I had to guess Ash. Later I asked dad, and he confirmed. Because he knows that kind of stuff. His dad walked him around and showed him. And I guess. I always do. People rarely tell me truth. I’ll take it twenty feet up a tree, drink warm rolling rocks, smoking good weed. The boy circling that cat in that barn down below, and my girl, my death, rooted to rooted ground, stared up at me.
People are afraid to give me anything. I’ll take it up a tree and commit it to memory.
And when I climb back down, I’m carrying nothing with me.
She said I could keep secrets or I could keep chickens, my choice.
I said the one that lays the eggs. Accordingly, that’s a talent they both have.
So I replied, whichever one turns out less rotten.
And its been chickens,
not secrets, ever since.
I, the Baptist – Section 8
Maybe on the way back I will walk straighter.
An arrow of a path to pierce the thorns.
Trampling bushes to aide the sojourn of strangers.
My legs bleed so that others should walk farther unscathed.
Not torn and not bleeding. Plodding headlong through thickets
beyond my imagination, overcoming distances my mind
would be lost to. But the path I have walked can be made true,
and straight. Fit to be followed by those who follow.
Now if I could only find a little dry tender,
to make the trek worth its cost.
I do not have much to spare,
not concerning worthless coins carved under imperial faces.
I am lacking in breath and water,
blood and invaluable will.
The flashing spark that applies it together with purpose.
Self-driven willfulness. And through the distance,
not far up a slight hill, I see something.
I find myself running toward it.
Fueled only by that same faint flash of hope with no kindling, no wood,
no resource of any kind. Just that desperate spark igniting the air.
Bent over, panting at its base, I am content to have found a tall healthy tree.
Fallen branches all around, thick and broken, all dry and littering a place
I would like to visit often and find well. In good health.
Always with a little more to offer.
When breath is once again mine, not a body’s mandated exhaustions,
a dense animal chomping a bit attached to reins once again clenched
in the grip of the mind, the master, I hear a sound over his condescension.
A vibration. A quick almost violent buzzing oozing
from within the living trunk of this tree.
The sweet rhythmic nectar of the honeybee.
I recognize the noise. Witnessed the neck breaking process as a young man.
Tasted the intensely sugary almost heavenly reward, but never felt the sting.
Never climbed a gray tower foot by foot fallen with honey on my hands,
to the ground, chased by hell.
An ornery brood bearing fiery penetrators. Religious.
Almost too incredibly painful to imagine.
Fire heard buzzing, tormenting,
even when it can not be seen,
ran fast enough away from.
The only thing that ever brings you back willfully
to this kind of temple is the taste of honey.
I, the Baptist – Sections 1-7
I have worshiped this dying flame in this red desert so long
it can not be held as coals between wooden fingers any more.
There was a wet living heart buried in this chest somewhere, and it has died.
Dried. With the sparkling ember of God at its base smoking and spreading out
like the mystic’s circle had been dragged through the dust surrounding it.
The coal, the man preaching passion, persuasive enough to convince
green wood to willingly burn up solid weight billowed as smoke.
Charred glowing red hot and flaking gently into dust. That heart, that tree,
once pumped blood like the headwaters of all the rivers in creation.
But it dried. Died. And buried the spring.
When the tree was alive it grew tall quenching thirst on water
descended to ascend, fallen only to rise again.
And I believed I was to be the very tree destined to carry it back up to heaven.
Uphold moisture broadly in green leaves and take even the harsh light of this world
to change into the sweet spirit. The syrup. Manna that flows out into starving people.
People not planted in this way, like a tree.
Who seek shade and comfort gathered still like they had fallen in red yellow piles.
Praying for sermons of God to ignite in sudden flashes above their fires.
Read as intently as scripture. Poems written on cinders stinging fingers.
To learn to know baptism. Produce.
The fruit of this tree planted of fire, grown by the callused hand of the farmer, died.
It did not survive, standing tall with all dead weight, dead trunk, splintered bare branches
and dead rotted roots stiff fat with stagnate unmoving blood.
It has nothing left to give.
I am the tree that grew out of a spring,
and still could not live.
To talk of places the way we do the world must be splayed.
Skinned. Just a gutted surface laid flat on a red table.
To live in places how we do and see most often,
is to go at it with sharp knives carving out niches
for one’s own self. And when this rolling sundrenched
land blown by sand wind and harsh open skies is filleted,
salted, wrapped tight like a scroll fit to be carried,
conquerors will call it middle east.
But in the middle of what?
East of where?
I peer into desert with no eyes or sense.
Just a stomach. Constant time-keeper heart.
Water to temper the fire within me.
Flame to sweat beside by day and shiver over overnight.
When feet lead me into darkness I sometimes carry it,
and other times, leave it to the moon to guide my steps,
or I, myself, grow to become the light.
Sound quaint? Even reading,
snared by your mind. How neat, and perfect.
Let words like those signal warning.
Like barking dogs.
Perfection exists in this world. I have witnessed it here,
slain and devoured alongside the flawed.
Stumbling in a world that only ever shared rising burning bright
to fall and leave all us travelers to wander beneath the stars.
I thank God for dark nights.
For fear. A few hours to not know who or where or what all I am.
So long spent alone in the presence of no light
the length and proportions of arms and legs go,
gone along with any idea of the parameters of a body,
until grown hands reach out like an infant’s to touch,
reaffirm form with touch upon touch.
Life verifying life.
I thank God for feeling abandoned by the sun.
Like a bitter slave fearfully cherishing dark lonely time
spent away from a master whose temperament is roiling.
A dutiful master. Dependable, inspirational.
The oceans and mountains are like its sons and daughters,
and light, to them, a cheery carriage ride westward,
occasionally rolling through gray mounds of clouds.
The raptor at the driver’s shoulder has never seen a day obscured by weather.
The lightning they shake loose falls and crashes and clangs only for us slaves.
Mortals. Every bent back old yak, snake under grass or hung curled from a limb.
Every man and every woman are burned by this fire.
Laid on my back facing into black I cannot penetrate, I know.
The rolling path of the sun draws up water from deserts
like the one creaking with life around me.
Ascended moisture kneaded by the dough clung hands
of winds, coldly churned, so that the bird guiding
the driver does not even need to bend its wings.
If not for the close wheel of fire, even the carriage
and company inside would feel the heavenly chill,
for the hot air stays down here with me all day.
The cool only descends at night to thaw itself beside my humble
brushwood fire, and by the time I wake, my pale friend is fleeting.
The sun must need strong west moving wind same as sailors
to carve its smooth voyage bowing across the sky.
Knocking loose the lightning that first ignited the flame I think by.
Curled on my side, body huddled up as close to my mind
as possible trying to keep warm. Closer to the light.
While shivering, I thank God for the night.
The sun against my back opens tired eyes over hazy, shaded
hills in the white hands of mist loosely wringing out a scene,
gripping wakened eyes. Stared as palms are pierced
by radiant nails beneath a hammering star.
The morning’s moisture harvested too early, like a martyr.
And I rise from hot ground to burn as well,
sweating so much my sagging eyes sting.
The prayer of thanks is gone. Purged and steaming off desert sand.
Once dim candlelight blazes hotter and brighter,
still a mere shadow in the face of the sun.
Closer toil falls on burnt hands, necessary,
for they hold the memory of night too dear.
Feeling emptied of blood tucked hidden between clenched legs.
And the flickering hips of flame must be insatiably fed,
kept round and full of the dull red coals I sleep beside faithfull
as a lover, cuddling just enough space to avoid being burnt.
The flame in the pit has grown a tall orange lick swiping at the sky.
An orange tongue I depend on to taste the water I raise from rancid puddles.
On burning knees I lap the last of it to quench this morning’s thirst.
I wet the hissing coals.
The world takes steam from me and all else, like dry land
needs to be taxed for its last moist breath.
Should I pray to keep a little piece? In my cheek, to chew
like a fig or grub. A cloud of cool mist blurring the desert in my head,
in my heart, same as this cracked land. Only far more resilient than I.
A prayer from this place, this earth, for rain, would be answered by the rising sun.
Far blown clouds over forests and crowded towns would draw out luggage
at the hint of such a request. Arrive with a gift like water cold as ice.
Falling, washing cactus and stone, rarefied soil and farmer worm.
Like some ancient defects in crumbled mud temples
burning brown skin red around gray patch beards.
The very same baptism they found in bathing daily,
commuted by the sun itself, if this desert should ask.
But the land already exhaled what small breath it had.
No prayer to receive or call upon the rain,
but another offering.
A white veil gifted up from a dying place,
like a poor shepherd’s white lamb. His last lamb.
I swear he will not starve alone.
I will thirst in his pasture
until it is done.
I am frightened of how deep hunger is in me.
No longer trapped churning in my gut now making
noises in my mind, speaking voices like pain, torment.
I have eaten sand clumps shaped like bread found scattered in the rocks,
and grown drunk on the stiff yellow liquor of my own urine.
Stinking, and in my gut, eased the grinding like it was medicine,
for a moment. But in drinking the same batch the second time round
I gagged and lost what little liquid I owned to steam off the ground.
Hunger; the timbre of its voice, movement inspired by its presence.
My great loving friend whose judgment breaks off extraneous layers
and leaves me washed to a core of dull coal and ash.
Coals even strangers to the ceremony could stand on and not be burned.
Hunger has me on my knees, where it is only a wheezing spirit
desperately pushing life into this pit. No fruit. No knowledge
of good and its insistence on evil. No chickens. No bread,
or even yellow grass to burn. Just breath.
The very lumber of the tree of life cut and smoking before my eyes.
If I let just one tear drop it would douse the only remaining ember,
glowing like a little orange egg in a nest of blue white ash.
Cold alone, choked for air same as a seed planted in hard
crusted soil, needs to be plucked between searing cooking
tips of taupe fingers turned yellow. Cradled lovingly in a farmer’s
filthy palm. Sizzling against flesh, unfurling into soil. The sun,
the seed of God in its seat of glory, fed by pain, planted in a story.
Fresh kindling growing singed.
A small flame laps the last of my fuel.
There is now only an hour until it is spent.
It would depress you to know how many miles I walk for firewood.
Hiking and groaning, soaked dripping salt. Perspiring in the heat
of this broad oven. A vigilant slave to my own constant flame.
One cooked foot falls against cooked ground after the other.
Strained eyes step too, hundreds of feet to a stride,
retracted back here to peer by my side, down at sand,
climbing ridges of sand, dipping low and sliding I slip in sand,
into the crevice of a valley between two sharp peaks of sand.
I search for everything, anything that can be tucked in a bundle under an arm.
I find only grit grinding between toes, legs, between my thighs,
reddening my eyes, raining consistently down from my hair,
irritating blistered shoulders. The feeling is cursed,
hated, damaged irreparably in the same light that inspired life,
uplifts the downturned faces of flowers and crops,
trees that hold together the crumbling banks of rivers. What rivers?
Perhaps one flooding the hollow landscape of my imagination.
A spiritual desert broken by the ribbed twisted bellies of serpents
like Jordan, Tigris, Nile, framing gardens that are the rival of Eden.
And the feeling is Cain, Adam, the whole exiled lot stood at the gates
staring like lepers waiting for sympathy or stupidity or obligation to allow
us back in to the fertile soil of our very own heads. Banished.
If there is a river here it is wise enough to slither unseen by me,
and by the sun. Looming beneath ground, or hung from a branch
above my head. If I saw it I would reach for the serpent’s shape
like it were a laden vine. Allow its venomous waters to baptize
my veins with fire. Smile like I plucked a fruit with no promise
of death buried deep within. A pit to crack gnashing teeth.
To expedite the greasy slide into impenetrable blackness.
I heard the defects read scripture telling of a tree planted by water.
Even gnarled and stubbed, still able to grow in this burnt wilderness,
never failing to bear fruit. No matter drought or vindictive light.
I pray with every aching step to be witnessed by that object.
To seek comfort in its shade and unending host,
to burn its bough and trunk in my campfire.
To take all it ever had and was and not even leave a stump.
Cut to the root.
I am Cain. Hearing my thoughts like they were not my own.
Another voice, distinctly flawed and small like mine, denies.
I do not want to harm that tree. Just harm myself in its presence.
Cut and slash and burn the stubborn ringed fibers of dense ego.
Find myself stuck, as if rooted, immovable.
Not planted by the waters,
but by fire.
The path I have been walking during all of this is stubbornly crooked.
Many well thought out as well as improvised veers have occurred.
Thick green barbed vines in tangled brambles slice and take
from tired legs and hands like Roman crops. And worse,
these plants do not burn in a fire. Like a razor sharp crown to adorn
the heads of those responsible for bearing the burden of being chosen,
these briars are suffered with no benefit to the self,
or the fire within. They are far too green.
Only pop and turn black, but never burn.
Not for the monarch anyway,
bleeding from wrists and from temples.
My path has woven, broken and fallen apart altogether some places.
And here I am cutting left and back to steer past every thicket.
Stop and look for dried scraps or wind blown branches to stack in bundles.
Find nothing. Keep putting foot after foot forward on a path I could never teach,
or mark well enough to be followed. And in this wilderness,
some poor soul is sure to try.
Seeing nothing of familiarity and then suddenly the tracks of human feet,
so far removed from uprising cities and flat beaten highways.
This trail will be followed as closely and intently as a map.
No matter how much further into unknown territory it leads,
or the fast approaching cliff I was always loping toward,
destined to become the inevitable pitfall of another.
Surely this path could be retraced.
Others will be led toward the solitary tree on fire at the headwaters of the kingdom.
When my dead fuming tower has leveled the spring will be relieved of its burden.
Released from this fiery person. The great light flickering in the wilderness.
Come be blackened a little by the cookfire of God, choking poor John,
preaching loss, pain and a little more loss. No redemption, just cooked
burnt submission, and the breath of your spirit either rising as smoke
above the flame or fallen into the residual substance of the heavy,
laden by earthly love and desire over material treasure.
Collapse as ash and remain in the pit. Cool, sit, waiting to begin all over
again from the beginning. Nothing left in life for this tree but transfiguration.
A place uncoveted by any, throned in the heart of fire.
Witness how brave John was when he walked here.
Each delicate step he took to avoid the briars.
Meandering toward his end in search of firewood,
nice, dried and dead,
and finding it only in his head.
Green grass between bare trees ask us
to drop our packs and lunch a minute.
How far are you going until you pick a spot for home.
Will you build a fire. Are you growing tired.
How does it feel to be alone.
There are many things grass does not know.
How to mile.
How to stumble.
How to groan.
Gray cut rock steps asked us to sit down.
Thousands of feet with talking toes asked us to also.
We have, in the course of a sunny little windblown Saturday,
had literal mountain ridges ask us to sit with them.
And we said no.
But this field of wiggling green buried beneath leaf bare spring trees,
does at the very least know one thing.
And that is yes.
To lunch. A soft space to drop a pack.
Rest your ass. And hide from the sun.
Revisiting Victory #1
You’re not needed, little one.
Buzzing in my ear from too much sugar over the years.
Pickpocketing pink petals and violet ones alike.
And white heads with yellow daylight eyes on straight green stems
moving in whatever wind. But we tolerate one another, for the moment.
That is how it goes, when you’re in a place you do not own.
Like that bald spot on top of Hump Mountain.
Like Doll Flats, burned a year or so ago.
A trail of rotten earth beaten beneath so many ignorant feet.
You’re not needed little one.
You can not come along.
I say this to all of the world not already stuffed inside my backpack.
I can not carry you.
Revisiting Victory #2
Little dipping trails that lead nowhere.
Just several feet carved by footsteps
in thick green mountain grass.
A side step off the path.
To use for a bathroom, perhaps.
But then some other person did it.
Seeing the way. And another.
Until the ground was scarred.
For a short while deeply marked.
By that latent inkling inside every one of us.
To express ourselves with no one watching.
To relieve one’s self, on top of mountains.
Birthday Poems – 24
Twenty four. Twenty four hours in a day.
Enough minutes in each hour to make men old.
Women living with cold hands, embracing sixty.
Sixty. One more day. Twenty four.
What a young headstrong age.
The hours required for a world to turn a page.
Twenty four. Made out of sixties, and sixties,
crumbled, weathered men and white haired ladies.
Twenty four of them stacked like bricks,
the clocks longer bar ticks seconds,
and counts minutes and forgets.
Right on the hour, every hour.
Twenty four rotations on the face of our little world.
To reach the end
the last bit of the final page
writing a story that is not over
a bit of prose that goes and goes
and to say it is finished
that this is the end
is to say summer is over
the season itself written to the crest of its potential
when only breath has grown cold
brought much needed rain to fall and soak
the same summer
grown into autumn
drops leaves of ancient light to cover the yard
with all this summertime tumbling in the breeze.
That the day has reached its end
when in truth for millions
it only begins.
With faith and cold shivering through night
the same story picks up and warms the morning.
It never left
broken through night sky in cracks like stars
the farmer moon
same light as the sun
endless in a sky that can not end
filling up a book that can never be filled in.
The smudges on the light switches are theirs,
some scratches on a cabinet door,
handles dulled hugged by their palms,
twisted and tugged, clouded drains unplugged
under faucets rusted, the plastic pipes below the house,
visited only after one busted, a shed refit,
segregated from the center,
housing a feisty brood of mismatched birds on one side
and butting goats on the other. It is now their time.
Cut from the root and reshaped,
treated by pressure and nailed,
their effort is metal driven deep,
cracking stripped cedar logs,
stood up as their posts, their pillars,
and a tin roof turned red,
a lid for their tractor,
and some other odd things that they had,
all gone like them, taken, removed,
to make clean space for chickens and goats dragging hooves.
When first building fires in a crib of carved cast iron,
the ash left in the pit was from their fire,
wood cut, piled, burned hot enough to make them perspire,
and the red brick mantle frame was theirs, of their design,
beside a hallway leading to bedrooms, a few,
their doors dotting both sides to chase behind them,
and rest in their separate spaces, and sitting here,
writing these words, I imagine their sleeping faces,
where they both surely lie, long dead,
no longer sleeping in separate beds,
and still side by side.
This word sick has gripped me for a couple days, shared discomfort felt in several ways,
pains, aches, coughing and purging, mainly a stranger’s present departure I’m urging.
A cloud of microbial bacterial life, hovering, expanding, blown by the spastic wind
of wheezing, convulsing breath, into some sick person’s hand, or clothes,
contaminating the air wherever the cloud goes, and ultimately, home to me.
There is no sickness, no meaning in the pale chilled word ill.
It is now, just when agitation, internal, ripping irritation,
death and loss are present and clear,
for the life we hold dear, but for the virus,
life is just getting started.
Random Rap Lyrics
They tried to warn you, warn me, warmly, my men come swarming,
and every single one of them is a general, literal,
an army of one that won the battle of our lifetime
before it begun. You can’t play it alone,
the checkerboard of thrones.
You can’t give advice
to a head on a spike.
This is it for people.
The end has finally arrived.
But it is come time to perish.
Cherished moments more precious in limitation.
Sudden violence made change.
Marked by hesitation.
This is it.
Growth or death.
I don’t care.
Neither are rare.
SONG VERSION – Persimmon tree like me
What are those, apples? Oh, persimmons. Bouncing in a tree outside,
little lime shaped faded lemon colored eyes,
winking leaves in cold ocean breeze. Not apples.
But being this time of year and all, and me ignorant of persimmons.
Lot of things I had never seen before I saw for the first time in Brooklyn.
I did not expect one to be a Persimmon tree. Country boy like me.
Planes pass down through clouds like firemen into a burning house.
All hard white and hard matted till city streets streak, re-eat up again in mist.
Fenced off yards around graves break so trailing eyes fail to see it end.
If it even does. Fenced in like dogs. Like gardens.
One more place we care who and when and why we give access.
A gate kept place cut grass and glistening granite,
flowers sutured in water wrapped up in ribbon,
wrapped up by hands, laid down guilt on top of inevitability.
It is gone as well. How fast we fell.
Right on top of wherever we needed to be.
Exactly where we could not see. Not until we touched it.
Like eternity. Grounding planes like we would batteries.
SONG VERSION – A new your city
In New York, rocks sit in the sky too hard for you or I to lift off the ground.
There are dogs in the park, better fed, better groomed, than some people are.
Rats shoulder side pigeons who forgot to fly, overweight swallows in the city.
People might sing out in broad light like day,
bend legs behind heads and swing like pendulums in the subway.
In New York, they pass hats brimming cash underground.
Called out like an umpire if you take a picture and don’t lay it down.
Making earth harder so we can take steps on it. Less forgiveness for fallen.
Flat under horse hooves and gripped by hard rubber.
City alive, and like all living, slowly dying,
taking in people like medicine just to survive.
All the signs read ‘Anew your city, New York City’.
I am nothing if not yours.
On the road to Damascus – Journal Writing
Wind bends limbs and makes lake lights twinkle like starshine.
Or wrapped around someone’s mind, following their eyes,
foot by footing up the path in our direction. Wind sends din
down like leaves and black walnuts plunking the earth nearby.
Turning heads behind. Raspy voice silencing mine.
He is sipping red wine. Working up courage to introduce his other vice.
Father next door. Leaned against a fifteen year tree. We talked about it.
I have these thoughts, like how atoms are eternal,
my head has them breeding dreams in there.
Buried under hair. Hair being all atoms too.
Maybe a star’s heart. Or a tick. Or a wild pig. Or iron clouds.
Born out from unfurling supernovae. No other’s. But mine.
I have persuaded so many elements into my being.
My propaganda is astounding beyond necessity.
I oversell myself. Over reach, when I preach,
to what I eat, what all they are about to be.
Me. Rings committed to saturn. Gravity off the sun.
Holding earth. Clutching me. I have these thoughts,
like when the wind is constant. And smells of rain.
Dad chuckles to himself. In the tent. In bed before me.
In firelight. Alone. Deep in the woods. At night.
All romantic details. Dying cicadas in the treeline.
Not a hoot owl, maybe warbler, singing discombobulated,
discordant tunes as it glides between tree trunks.
Clicking timber flaking into neon orange red beds of coals.
Head up. It’s cold. As Ashley crushes leaves, foot stepping
someplace behind me warm wrapped in imagination.
Eight hundred. Miles. Away. She is.
Taking steps against cold earth caked in autumn leaves.
Ten feet below her feet cleaner water than you have ever had is flowing.
Seventeen trillion lightyears above her a sad-eyed gas giant just imploded.
And did she know it? This close to being as far as possible from me.
That she is birthing stars in my night sky.
And I want to build fires behind her house. See her face again,
inches from mine. Smell the air she just breathed.
Pretend she’ll never leave.
Telling me I no longer need to believe
all these things I already know.
When they open the door someone’s private obsession comes pouring out.
Weaving loose jazzy melodies that all started in someone else’s mind.
Inspired by other lives, all mixed together like smoke above a fire,
burning so many unrelated leaves. We see them all the same.
I’m sure trees see it differently.
A man with a lemon face and beard like rind wrapped around his chin
under sour silence while his callused fingers pluck strings that sing
better than he can. Listen as he moves his hips.
Watch while his hands speak music. Leave him to it.
Take your novelty named locally brewed beer outside.
Hear him in short bursts as people who work here push through doors.
Pleasant voices walk in threes down the street. Waxing car engines speak up
and are shouted down when stop lights go red and stop them.
Acutely aware of the people to my left.
Putting down words that will never step off this page.
From up where we are
Oh, there’s snow down there. It fell from up here.
Churned by clouds where we churn in the clouds.
Fallen from the same air we glide on,
speeding loud and slow back quiet.
People chatter like birds where we are.
An old salt pepper buzzard squawked nonsense
at a girl who couldn’t get her carry-on
stowed away quick enough for him.
Carcasses to get to at the back of the plane, I’m sure.
White fields between brown woods that look sparse from up here,
where we are, high. Flying our top-speed, jet-propelled form of falling.
In love with the beverage cart. The soft voiced attendant
with girl’s eyes for boys, falling hard landing lingering too long.
And we’re leaned sideways, warming up, air turned down
fluttering hair on top of our heads.
And from up where we are, highways call us down out of the sky
like dogs shouted in from the yard. White all over the ground,
and roofs, and made beds on top of frozen rivers.
Looking down from where we are,
ready to descend out of blue like too much snow,
and lay on the ground like clouds.
All roses have thorns
It was in her eye and she tried to hide it. A glint.
It was there, clear and bright as the towers of white she stood on.
Thin and easily broken protruding loose shorts. She knew.
The girl who sold her to us. Roses has thorns.
And there she was, knees dirty and knuckled in thick round,
black knots dot legs like twigs, thin, broken grip like a pencil
reveals powdered lead bone below thick tense shoulders,
fat round lump of belly, like a ripened tick we hand picked
and paid to have bred, a parasite to bleed feeding
every red drop we’ve got into feed, the sweet cylindrical
pellets she likes supplemented by sunflower seeds, corn,
sugar to her taste, crunching and sweetly.
It was in her eye before it was spoken through her throat.
Feed they personally made that could not be purchased at any price we paid.
Here is a small bag you can have but you are on your own after that.
It will be all right. Hunger will learn her to stomach the cheap stuff.
Scooped from bland, blue and white paper bags, Roses recognizes
the crinkle but not the taste, yardbirds slink in to clear the waste.
She does not eat it yet, but still learns, to keep her portion, she bears her thorns.
She said as we loaded her up the steep step into the back of our ride,
she should be fine, it would all be all right, Roses holds her own
but does not start the fight. Maybe as a farmer, more so because I write,
the words are glass that I can look right through, and it was in her eyes,
opened wide over a rich smile, like all mothers, Roses could play a bitch,
and the line about holding her own was a mile long stretch.
Clearly seen she did not have horns, sawed off
and scalded when she was freshly born, which made
us feel better about bringing her home. Now the dog’s tongue is bleeding,
the gate is broken, she cracked my knee and pulls loose nails out of boards.
We should have known. It was in her eyes all along. All roses have thorns.
I can’t get past the Christ in Christmas, like a hurdle,
an obstacle I must get over if I am going to tear his gift apart.
Pour the holiday liquor quicker down my throat.
But why must it be in the name of that man?
Christ the mountain, peak raised and distant, and Christmas,
a day drug down throughout the valley,
far below where Christ would have us walking, climbing,
working like he did to know that God, like a father, like a mountain,
can be conquered, crumbled, piled gift wrapped smashed bow-bearing
beneath a fresh cut evergreen tree.
Like getting home with nothing to do but sit celebrating opening presents
from the friends and family present, any name could be interjected into the title,
it could take place any or every day, the decorations don’t have to be taken down,
like candles, glass baubles, tiny reindeer armies, snowmen and Santa,
put far away deeply buried in messes in clusters of boxes marked Christmas,
so covered over in other junk the name can no longer be read. And what for,
what purpose? Did we need an excuse to give, love, finally.
Be, for once, and allow ourselves to be selfishly cared for by people.
Let me give you a reason to act this way, an excuse to use and not be forgotten.
It is today. This day. The only day. No person ever visited yesterday.
Not tomorrow. If they did, it would be today by the time they arrived.
Today is the only holy day. Wake up for it. Cut a tree just to stand up wrapped in lights. Purchase cards and gifts, or better yet, make something.
Make it be your only work for the day. A holiday. One lined up after the next.
All we have to do is believe. In a man who believed. Enough to leave him be.
Wings are stiff like rigamortis.
Sounds like voices cloud the air,
if you want to call it air. Whatev-air.
Something something practice.
An announcement including the word passengers.
Thinks he sees an English professor he once had.
Moves his hand holding ink wrapped in thick enough plastic trying to recall a name.
It was a good one. Resolved to maybe it will come back to me.
Do mice wander these halls.
Do grown men half naked eat sandwiches on the toilet here.
Blowing air through their noses.
That same whatev-air. I guess.
Mayonnaise in their mouths.
Phones laid on bare knees.
Just had a conversation about Joyce
with a couple because I have his Ulysses
laid out pretentiously on the table.
Maybe I am missing my flight while this happens.
But man, we all three of us get dreamy-eyed small talking walking his footsteps.
Writing with his hand. I may be the only one of the three of us
who knows Joyce. The unraveling man.
Do I want publication?
Has any writer, respectable enough
to be one without the attention,
desired this initiation?
Commercial pageanted widespread publishing.
Or was it readers?
Sharers of vast trains of strange thoughts.
Words shattered like eggshells
outpouring thick sticking meaning,
definition, and a writer might
simply desire the conversation.
I want to know these things matter,
or at least believe.
I will, without being told,
sit and write forever.
But will anyone read?