Orange Sherbet

Flying in cars across bridges.
Lake water parted by Moses mind so as to envision massive fuming
earth moving machinery at the bottom, sixty three feet down. Damming.
Damning. When things get in the way. Or seeing a clean sawn off stump
too near a mountain top. Ears of gods grown strong straining
in on only the most whispered prayers hears chainsaws tear
through at least several decades, smell of high pitched oil laced exhaust,
sawdust now dust like snow on some long gone logger’s powerline boots.
The Sunday chicken cackles up bubbles boiling in a bed of sugar white rice.
Shovel parts a piece of that deep red clay and it clings, it sticks hard to metal,
stains anything it touches red, pine trees long past dead, pressed like flowers
between the crusty pages of so much devastation, weight, and of course, time.

Like the skeleton hides inside the body
and a foundation lies buried beneath a house
memory is inlaid within imagination.

One and the same, these two things are.
What is seen now and what all came before.
This world. Mountain springs and fields of flowering green
and a sunset that melts into the horizon like a scoop of orange sherbet
against hot sidewalk. With what at its core?

With what at its core.

My Window

Lake all pukey green.

Once white teeth stained yellow by its acidic churning.

Sour-looking. Running the wrong way. This lake.

Is a mask set on top of a river. By the TVA.

This lake cost a lot of people their homes.

Dented ridges climb the other side then taper down into Damascus.

America is a crapshoot for naming things.

White can be seen through trees against mountain scalp like dandruff.

Undisturbed beneath thinning hair. Itchy-looking.

Dry cold makes a wet nose and specks of dust out of falling snow.

Virginia. Old girl. I have decided not to say it.

Wind. Sucking at the windowsill. Battling doors.

Carrying the recyclables all across the yard.

Bombastic voices on the television warn us ‘stay indoors’.

Polar Vortex. Man wears a rolex. Catches light

point out Saltville. Bristol. Then Wytheville.

Only flurries, near Hillsville. Blue eyes pierce.

Stared into camera two.

May as well give his ‘back to you’.

She. Muted. Tells about lost and found children.

Geese bowl over one another down by green water.

White birds stalk yellow waves. Winter wind.

Pushes the river the wrong way. Backward.

Black birds beat wings against the weather.

Took them ten minutes to clear my window.

New shirt. New shoes. New continents.

Who will care if the answer wasn’t in you when you started.
Who minds that you made it up.
Improvised as footsteps on stones across a running creek.
Write the wobble. Write cold water halfway up your calf.
Pouring in the open mouths of shoes around your ankles.

Write until you grow numb and blue. Keep walking.
New people. New conversations. New problems.
New shirt. New shoes. New continents.

No trail where you walk.
Make a mess of it anyway.
Write it urgently.
All the time in the worlds you write is yours.
Yours alone.

Four eggs

Hollowness. Behind the eyes, in a stiff flat steel line down through the sternum. Guilt. Regret. Begets tension. And stress. Like Heath Ledger clenching his jaw. The deep buried pop when stumps split. Judge me for this. Blame I. Tie me to all of my bad decisions. The world wonders which one of all of us sinks first. I’m waiting to see who learns to breathe underwater. I have. I learned to breathe without lungs, even. So underwater is no problem. Far off outer space isn’t either. Death is a sort of spacesuit you take off in order to stand naked before God. And God, is a sort of word we use to describe what language and science have yet to adequately name.
In order to give it the blame.

Fire. Twenty feet higher. Than the house six chickens burned alive in.
Four eggs in the garage.

Hollowness. Sadness.
Did you know the human being is the only creature that can survive gutted.

Finished

I had done more in the two and half months prior, walking, living, writing, talking, seeking, growing, changing, than I had ever done before. But finished? Nowhere near even close to there. More than miles yet to do. I have lives yet to live, universes yet to contemplate, distances to be lost to and revelations like mountains stacked like blank pages in an empty journal. Not to flip through, but to write on, and permanently stain, and make it so that no one will call it empty again.

No matter what it contains.

Easy as a bullet

There are mountains behind those mountains. Behind those clouds.
On the other side of that rippled river. The sun is set to be delivered.
Every day not Sunday. Ironically. Ironclad igneous and soil.
Beyond a wall of water vapor. Fish in slivers still at the warm belly bottom
not feeding. Not needing. Water kneaded. In the translucent finger grips of wind.
Mountains that we know are there. Hidden, like eyes behind long hair. Obscured.
Like the tilt of the earth. Like all flying birds.
Outer space and stars and satellites shot at like skeet by shotgun eyes.
Twelve gaze. Double barrel. Vision. If I can see it, I can behold it.
Fire on distance and watch limp geese drop like slick dishes shattered to the tiled floor.

The word know.
The word no.
And mountains.
That can’t be seen.
Veiled by what morning missed and hidden behind that obstacle we call distance.
We believe. There is more left to see.
That it can be overcome.
By binoculars. By walking feet. By eyes.

Easy as a bullet from a gun.

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.

Gone

And suddenly

the whole world

rested on the nape of my neck.

Hung down below my throat.

On top of my belly like a tie.

Shirt tucked into pants and belt pulled

just tight enough to cut off a bit of circulation.

Hair pulled back. Laces knotted. Hot coffee.

In the hallway almost stained khaki pants

creamy black. A woman leg out in the bed.

Dog saw me stir. Feel her hot breath.

Baby up on all fours in the crib.

Say goodbye.

Squeeze her hand.

I’m gone.

And I am gone.

Minutes and Money

Time clock.
How is that for redundant.
In more ways than twelve.
Which is actually twenty four.
Which is truly, speaking truthfully now,
innumerable.

Sore wrist. Right hand dominant.
Upper extremities bilaterally powerful.
That time teller. Like in line at the bank.
Looking directly into my face.
‘I can help whoever is next.’
Eyes locked tight like that safe.
Beholding all of someone else’s equity. Pity.
The numbers don’t trail like I do. Hiking boots.

Mountains behind me like the mountains in front of me.
Many.

Turns my stomach wrung like a dishrag in the hands of time.
The imbalanced arms on the whiskered face of a clock.
Tell me how much time I’ve got.
Assure me I’ve used up all my credit.
And now it is time to go to work.
Trading minutes for money.

How is that for redundant?

The Freest Labor

Start building your farm in your brain. Don’t wait for land or lumber. When each nail is set, it damages the wood. Change is not the nature of nails. They’re not meant to walk back. So hold off on the expensive heavy stuff until you’ve done the brain work. Bricks lighter than light and concrete clouds that flash up and move on like summer storms. Learn. Slide up eyelids like barn doors wipe across wide short open mouths, spitting out horses and cows, and goats in molecular droves. Listen. To the names of creeks.
Legends recorded in no legends.
Word of mouth myths. Tell one story to every twenty. Farmers will give away their life’s works secrets for ten minutes of real committed roadside conversation. Don’t waste it.
Don’t wait to taste it. Don’t make them regret it.

Start your garden in your brain. Till it.
Invite the stories and criticisms of other farms in to disc it.
Commit to learn. And to listen.

Dream. Not the kind that find you asleep.
But ones that wake before the sun is up.
Dreams that wait at the bottom of a coffee cup.
Build it. Write it. In the cheapest journal ever sold.
Brain paper. Mind stuff. The freest labor. Human thought.

I like to say, if you lack perspective, you require imagination.
One or the other.

That’s one of the primary problems with human imagination.
It makes it hard finding a good excuse to wait to start anything.