Five Fingered Hand

Renaissance Man.
Je ne sais pas qui je suis. J’aimerais essayer
a thousand things to see if one will stick.
Did men lack basic self esteem during the renaissance?
Were they unwarrantedly narcissistic and bold?
Did they also only tell forward thinking lies.
I only lie the word yes so I can make it a lie a little less.
By having done it.

Renaissance man.

Another way to say yes sir or yes ma’am.
Someone who forewent dabbling.
Who plies the word yes for a living.
Even though the correct word is no.

Jack of all trades.
A layman unencumbered.
Means my days are numbered.
One through seven stuck on repeat.
I’m up on my feet. About the same time as the sun.
Every morning. Clouds be damned. Rain be warned.

There’s still one five fingered hand
a well rounded worker
a renaissance man
left to the specialized world.

From Piedmont North Carolina to Upstate New York: Jeremiah Walks

I like to say I earned my masters in a garden, but truthfully, I just fell into the family pastime. After college, majoring in English, earning a Bachelor of Arts and Certificate in Creative Writing, I moved to the family farm. And like most of these properties nowadays, there was no family to be found. Every modern appliance and tool had been adopted by relatives, still working their own plots of land nearby. The only implements left behind were the callus-inducing kind. I was stubborn. I refused to accept that gasoline, oil, complex electronics and hard plastics were requirements for food production, or cutting the towering piles of firewood required to not freeze over winter.

Ten years have gone by. And I give credit for the man I am to those splintered handles and dented iron and forgotten forests. Credit for who I am. But not for what I need to become. Ten years I have labored over the domesticated poetry of home, and now, all the teachers I need are on the far side of mountains. I am leaving Cherryville, my inheritance, the one hundred and thirty acre campus that supported me in all my graduate work. And I am walking to New York.

A couple weeks into August, I will be working my last day at the company that found me running a thirsty hobby farm and humble, odd job and landscaping enterprise. Foust gave me a chance when the most recent experience on my resume included phrases like yard-work and tree-cutting. Now it lists technology and office management, social media oversight and customer service. I will never undervalue the opportunities that have been given to me, and though I will not stop trying, I will never fully earn them. The presence of grace is inseparable from every shred of progress I have made over the past decade. Just being alive, as simple as it sounds, took a profound amount of faith and patience that honestly was not in me when I started.

Now the time has come to leave home. To chase down the horizons I’ve had my eyes on for so long. There are just about twelve hundred miles between me and where I will land in upstate New York, more mountains than I care to count, unknowables stacked like bricks, mortared together by so many overlapping footsteps. I am not on my way to become. I am not just getting started. I am a world-changing artist. It is why I was born, and it is what I have worked for since before I even knew such pursuits had a name. Time has come for me to use my feet where I always let my mouth do my talking for me. I am not strong enough for the path laid out in front of me. But I fervently believe the many hills between here and there will see to changing that. I intend to be forever changed.

Starting August 21st, I will be dropped off in Southwest Virginia somewhere along the Appalachian Trail. My day job for the following four months will be putting one foot in front of the other. Thanks to the inspirational woman that has come into my life, and the network of supportive, amazing people surrounding us, I will be landing in a small cabin beside Lake Ontario, where Ashley will be waiting for me. Along the way, I will write two books: one of poetry documenting my walk up north, and the other, a work of fiction about a strained relationship between father and son, who catch up to one another philosophically, theologically, and in actuality throughout a hiking adventure of their own. I will have a few months to settle, work, complete my manuscripts and hopefully take on a few other performance based projects in the area. Then, we will move into the city.

Urban life is the missing half of all my writing. It hit me like a wave just how many journals I have stacked up, and how none of them include living this sort of metropolitan, social, fast-paced experience. I feel like I have left a huge swath of characters and stories completely out of my books, out of my mind, and my prayers. My goal throughout this experience is to change that. I need a book of city poems. And I want that city to be New York. Once I have filled them up, my journal and my head, I am going to come back. I am going to build so much more than a hobby farm and a teetering stack of handwritten books filled with dirty pages. The strength required for this is not yet in me. I feel called into mountains the way students are called into classrooms. Who I will be, and what I am capable of, is unknown, but I have discovered the path that leads there. For just a short while, I am being called off the farm, and into the great concrete cathedrals of modern people.

I will have more information about this walk shortly. Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask a question or express a concern. I’ve been preparing for this for almost a year, and I still have a lot to do to get ready. I have information on my blog about the trip, ways to help, things I’m doing to get ready. Right now, I have about four months to go before I start walking. I have Liberty Mountain all summer long, and I have so much work to do to prepare my life and farm. That being said, I am beyond excited for a change. For a renewed sense of growth, and adventure. I’m not going anywhere I can’t be followed. Through my website, social media, through email, a text, or even the old classic, a phone call.

Please feel free to keep up.
If you can.

Click here to help support my upcoming walk from
NC to NY!

These Details

Waxing hissing descending from high up in autumn breeze pushed trees.
Soft-hearted poplars and white oaks that shed skin like tall gray upright snakes.
Truck bed lower lip slammed echoed through otherwise quiet country distance.
Black scavenging ants that get on and into any available crevice.
Faded bricks segregated by weak taupe concrete lines,
and me, writing in red ink.
A poem about listening.
About eyes open watching.
Knocking down walls of swaying green
and throwing red pine straw mulch
and brown dust
and whipped black earth.

These details are what are, what is, what all, around me, exists.
A tangled consciousness such as this is no more or less
than the thread which has pierced and knit them all together.

So much of writing poems is so much no more than sewing.
Mending what was not the least bit broken.

For the mind is an eye unlike any other.
It can not be closed once it is open.

Chicken scratch and a life to match.

Teach this lesson: how the most productive among us do not always feel their success. They are not always driven, driving forward, gaining pace in pursuit of their dream’s greatest. There is not a lot of motivation in hypotheticals. If there was, more people would make sacrifices to achieve the things they want. No, the hardest working, most inspirational people, milking minutes and hours from the day most of us don’t even know exist, are not running toward goals, so much as being chased by failure. Self-aware. Knowing all these words and thoughts and chicken scratch will be counted on for a life to match. Afraid for being all talk. Frightened of not being as enlightened as my writing. I heard my life described as if I were working the equivalent of three full time jobs. Keeping up with the money one, the sunny one and the overrunning one. But that isn’t how it feels. I am eternally unsettled. Dissatisfied. Full of angst trying to find ways to give thanks to a God who thinks and seeded a thinking universe like a songwriter puts down a verse, trusting it will inspire a chorus. And here we are. Each one of us. A left brain right brain rhyming couplet created under the cramped hand of an angsty, unsettled, dissatisfied chemical equation. A creator. And it may not have written all this to shape the perfect universe. More likely loneliness. More like an artist. Looking like it’s chasing three full time gigs just to keep up with itself. But the truth is, I’ve given up on ever finding contentment. And it honest to goodness just helps to stay busy.