Concrete Poetry

We are taught, first, desire. After that. We are free.
To bend all facts into confirmation with our conclusions.
Desire plus history multiplied by tradition equals expectation.
Which is the bane of contentment.

What if we were taught, first, anything except desire.
Perception, born of reception, as simple as keeping eyes open.
Especially when everybody elses are closed.
We would see. Maybe. Desire is nonuniform. Flighty.

Expectations are founded on desire like blueprints are paper.
We end up putting poems down in concrete.
Currently reading a canon of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue.
It’s not an accident. It isn’t coincidence. It’s birthdays.
It’s Christmas. Allowance for doing the dishes.
All hopes and wishes.

Everything parents ever wanted but never received.

And so, we were taught, first, the desire to be deceived.

Left to Write

Have you ever seen the world go purple through the window? Or clouds break back against gold birthed black traced like little goat kids diving hoof first out from within their mothers? Have you ever truly questioned the definition of every word steaming up in piles from the dinner plate?

Have you ever quit, truly just given up, stopped, done, dead, and then picked up your pack and kept walking because you actually had no other option? Measured just how much effort goes into something as reductive as quitting. Or quit, and been better off for it.

There is no single answer.
There are no rhetorical questions.

We, our species, humanity, not one of us, or two, or a group of people, or a nation, or a few, invented language. It is our one real magic. And without our belief and understanding, there is no such thing as tragic.

Have you ever been on top of a mountain in a lightning storm, and not been able to wipe the smile from your face? It is exhilarating, being debilitated, and forced to accept the humble stature you maintain as your soul’s sole weapon against giants.

There really are purple mountains draped in footprints like majesty.
All the stories we read about who we have been as people, did not feel like a story while it was happening to those individuals.

The definitions of all words fall terribly short of that one. Love. How could you.
Why would you. What is truth. What is that thing on the other side of it.

These are not unanswerable questions.
But they keep getting asked by people who never sought out these lessons.
They ask them for the simple sake of making others believe they are fake.

They’re not.
Nothing is.

I have seen things you would not believe, I know, because you already don’t.
Nobody seems to believe that what I am doing here in my journal is far more than a hobby, or habit, or skill, or desire.

I’ve spent my entire life conjuring up answers to questions like what is love, is there a God, why is life the way it is, what is the purpose of all of this, and more so, saying them clearly, simply, in common vernacular with mildly artistic embroidery. So ask me. So that I can finally answer my big question. Who am I. And I will tell you.

That while you are alive, no matter how many answers you find,
there will always be at least one more left to write.

The Algebra of Human Emotion

Language is not reality. No more than one plus one equals two. I used to always argue this back when I was in school. To the truly left brained minds, it was a lot of fun. But one. Does not exist. One. Is a living, breathing, intangible reference. Always. To something else.

The point is, one what? What is a one without a what? An object. One flock of thirty geese plus one flock of fifty five geese and one confused pigeon, does not equal two flocks. One plus one is a highly inadequate equation to measure these, and most of life’s sordid, overlapping, seemingly never ending botherations.

Even for humans. One plus one is far more likely to equal a Brian than it is to add up to two. And then the question changes from what to who. Until so many stories entangle and we need to use a different sort of math to sort them out.

Storytelling. Literature. Language.
Is not reality.
So much as it is
the algebra of human emotion.

All Good Confessions

Nobody writes about dragons. Dragons are a mythological concept, probably derived from our ancestors finding dinosaur bones and inventing explanations. There is no actual quantifiable definition of a dragon. It is fiction. So no one who writes about them is writing about dragons. They’re just like the rest of us. We’re all writing about ourselves. Greed. Selfishness. The amassing of great hoards of equity, virgins and gold, that we can never access. The value of both can only be measured in the instant either one is handed over. Gone. Changed forever.

Nobody writes about witches and wizards and jumbled Latin roots and millennial blurred line friendship turned love stories. They’re writing confessionals. Just like me. Just like the greats, who filled the canon with black ink powder and wounded us for generations into the future. Injuries for which there is no suture. We pray for clean burns and exit wounds. We are writing about the nature of art, the nature of nature, putting down our part. A wand is a stick. But a pen, now that is a funnel for power. Killing spells, renewal curses, habitual rituals like brushing our teeth or setting up the coffee. There is no such thing as magic. The greatest witches and wizards of our time will tell you. There are human beings behind all of this holding strings. Hiding the miracle of reality behind a barrage of earthly, domestic expectations.

Goblins, and elves, and demons and sorcerers. We suffer under such a deficit of imagination in our time. No one alive invented these things. These ideas. Creative, moldy leftover remains of our giant, untraceable, easily arguable collective unconscious. Our universe’s big memory. Like an ocean. Comprised of all these droplets of our individual memories. If you could journey back thousands of years, the people who first wrote about them were not inventing, or being creative, or imaginative. These writers would tell you they were translators. Observers. Watchers. The fiction was so good, because no where in their minds was it fiction.

Nobody is living anymore. Nobody imagines if there were no word for tree. How many sounds would you throw to the ground to see which one sticks to rocks. We are so wrapped up inside of our own culture, it’s stagnate. The most imaginative, our very most creative, are interpreting nothing. They’re regurgitating primeval themes and re-branding the myths and fantasies of medieval minds.

One should not trust the metric of consumption as reflective of success. I’ve seen people, and animals, eat some terrible things with smiles on their faces because there was only ever a menu of terrible things. Sometimes you don’t even see how clouded the glass is, until there is clean water on the table. A powerful, moving, world changing novel, that isn’t based on a children’s fable. But reality. Capital T Truth.

I like it when heroes have to wash their hands. Or sit with a child, trying to keep it from crying. Or sewing holes in crotch of their long underwear. For me, magic cheapens, tarnishes, makes a farce of all these actions. The presence of one real, undeniable, wand waving miracle in this world darkens and dampens and disrespects every experience untouched by such formal grace. My answered prayer shines a burning spotlight onto the unanswered prayers of thousands of others who honest to goodness probably need it more than me. Magical abilities would produce more overweight wizards than it ever would heroes.

Not even if we believe, if we’re even just mildly curious if this world is the creation of some untouchable, unknowable intention, if it is all on purpose, then why are we trying to escape it so desperately?

Why can’t wizards be true, and goblins for next door neighbors. The school you go to, teaching physics, literature, expression, the mathematics of how all existence comes together and falls apart, an ancient purveyor of our most modest witchcraft. Ingenuity. Invention. Imagination.

We are translators, first and foremost.
All great writers read.
Just not always books exclusively.

Nobody is inventing worlds so that we can get out of having to live in this one.
In my experience, it has been the exact opposite. They’re not telling us how it is,
but how it feels. They’re giving their confession. I can’t speak for all writers.

But most often, I write for the simple sake of it helps me to feel less alone,
whenever I help someone else feel less alone. That is my magic. A sort of miracle.

I found it at the heart of every piece of fiction I’ve ever read. No matter how extravagant. How imaginative. How other-worldly. Like all good writing. All good confessions.

I found myself looking into a mirror.

In the middle of a five army battlefield or banquet dinner or an old growth forest walking in circles. I did not feel transported. But rooted. A mouse with a sword and a shield taking on a world of sea rats and foxes triple my size and carving out a good name for myself.

Overcoming limitations. We even fantasize about our limitations. We don’t enjoy the strength without the struggle. And magic and miracles are always demonstrated with elements of suffering, humility and base need. Same as reality. There is no escaping it.

But you can always wake up in it.
There is no franchise that holds the patent on magic.

All good fiction is a pursuit of truth.

And I’m saying, I’m telling you, if you can stop glossing over it, reality is full of magic and miracles. It is the source and inspiration for literally anything and everything you have ever read.

If you also own a shovel

If you fell out of it, it wasn’t love.

If you lost it, it wasn’t love.

If it waited for your sight, if you had to use your eyes, it wasn’t love, at least not at first.

There is no such thing as puppy love. There are no lovebirds.

Let’s say something poetically asinine, like love is a flower. I ask, what is a flower?

Do roses not have thorns? Do plants not feed on decay? Are there not many completely crucial elements required for flowers that you would not call beautiful, that you would not recognize, or think of as desirable?

Love. My mother has it. But not all mothers. Love. The same farm that produces milk also creates a lot of filth. And who wants that? Who wants to know the true, putrid cost of all the things we really like a lot? I can tell this with confidence, there aren’t many of us.

It is not love if you refuse to recognize the cost. I love my child, but he will not remain a child. He is not just his wonderfully sly side smile. There are smells that come out of him that would earn the respect of a skunk. I love him, as a child, all the while, I dream of the man he will be. A man who, by all means, may not want to be like me.

Love is different from comfort, or happiness, or joy, or appreciation. Love has a dishrag in its hand already, ready to clean up after all those things.

Do you understand what I’m trying to say? Is it clear just how rare true love really is?

It is hard work.

How many people have you met who say they love hard work?

That is how many people you have met who have loved.

Staples

Thanks to Staples my manuscript is published (lol). It’s kind of amazing, books by athletes, politicians, celebrities, are published all the time. But a lifelong writer, keeping journals since I was ten (yes I have them all, maybe a two foot stack altogether) who can talk about politics, God, art, acting, farming, life and death and everything in-between without even being heckled or argued with (seriously check my posts, no one says a word, that’s rare) is rejected constantly, and treated like desiring publication is just not accessible for me, told I’m not doing enough, to wait a little longer, until I’m a little older.

I don’t know what you think about the world we live in. But when we’re tracking down teenagers who can throw a ball or take a hit, or sing every note except for one steadily and with good tone, that’s the society we get. Our writers and poets are like raccoons we say are encroaching on our city spaces, though to them, they’ve always been here. And we’re the new ones. And we leave amazing things outside in the trash.

Well, I’m a real writer, I’ve only been left scraps to feed my work, and still, I’m changing the world, one farm, one show, one job, one conversation at a time.

Eh, I’m not mad about it. I’ve been doing this so long, I can’t stop. I may be the last real writer left. Get mad at me college professors and professional chefs, but I don’t believe you’d write if no one paid you to do it. Just my belief. But I would suffer, I would steal writing time at the end of eleven hour work days laboring, I would die to put my voice on paper. On stages. On television sets and in movie theaters.

I would go to Staples and have polite, fake conversation with the guy who works there because he saw the title and thought it was interesting, and called me and Ashley hippies. I’ll even forgive that. Because it meant someone read even just a handful of words I put down. They brought them back up and breathed life into them.

I want publication in that sense. And I’ve realized, I actually don’t need an industry that doesn’t really seem to enjoy literature the same way I do anyway. Doesn’t really seem to enjoy it at all. But hey, that’s the world you get when your stars play glorified fetch or only know how to barely smile into a camera.

I’ll just be over here. Ordering copies of my books from Staples, filling up journals with shit just to see what it will compost into.

I’m your writer. Maybe the last one ever.

Don’t let me pass by unrecognized just because I never made the football team.

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.

Hobbled

Sticks and stones can break your bones. And words.
Well. That’s why we invented them in the first place.
Language was a splint we strapped tight against our shin,
because sometimes you have to be hobbled before you can be fixed.
And words. Well. They started outpouring once we induced vomiting with them.
Talking tears in the eyes dry heaves and moaning.
Language. Communication. Grammar. Literature. Exposition. Creation.
We made up our own emotional placebo.
Words. Like medicine. Evolved by means of so much misunderstanding,
misguided, miscommunication. Medieval poets placing leeches
on feverous people and selling them absolution for their souls.

The language was basic. Primeval. To us, most times, looks evil.
Everything absent context typically does.
We just don’t see life clearly until we’re clinging to it dearly.
And words let us do that. On our own time and not the world’s.
We think. Plan ahead. Wrack our minds. Break our legs.
So that when they come for us. Sticks and stones in hand.
We’ll say your words can no longer hurt me.
Anymore than I already have.

This Poem

Great big fat literature.
Grat.
Busted.
Misshapen.
No clue how that happened.
Did he really sit down to write this poem.
Heavy.
Folded.
Doubled.
Emboldened.
Ugly.
Gross.
Morose.
Struggling.

These words hold mirrors up to my face.
Crawl into bed with me.
Share my space.
Kiss my face.
Right on top of bruises.

Language uses.
Allegiances scattered.
Words don’t always choose us.
Sometimes the one who loses
wins the better pen.

Becomes a greater author.
Keeping all the grease that comes from cooking up

this big fat nasty literature.

The Garbanzo Bean and the Chickpea

It’s debilitating. Isn’t it. Narcissism.
Exhaustive. Anxiety-ridden. Too.
Often I have overheard fragments of directed conversation.
They say he. But I hear me. Cut to two hours later.
I’m white knuckling a pen just laden, damn near buried
under the weight of a thousand hypotheticals
invented out of thin air. Been on a diet.
Some time now. Full on eating clouds.
Choked down then shit out like white flakes. Just for me.
This joke this guy just told.

What’s the difference between a garbanzo bean and a chickpea.
He was so convinced without the lead up, the couple beside us,
could not be offended, that he just said.

I would never let a garbanzo bean do that on my head.