Write your own worst critic

Select a passage and reflect upon it as a reader.

from Forever-Open:
“Churches are vessels for memories. God, not so regularly. You get to the afterlife looking for a house of worship, you’ll probably be handed a hammer and nails. We have no evidence whatsoever to believe a divine current running throughout the universe has much if any interest in our buildings.”

Wherever this magically misplaced confidence comes from I’d sure like to know. Wouldn’t we all appreciate the authority to declare when, where, why, what God is or isn’t. Where does he get off, or maybe he never got on, please step down onto the same plain of existence the rest of us all call home. Wake up buddy. God is memory. God is the church. The church is God’s will manifest on earth. What would you have us do, light candles and sit in a circle in the woods and pass around a stick and tell ghost stories. I just hear that kid, the worst kid you can imagine, who nothing is ever good enough for, and he’s invented the best possible hardest to argue excuse to get out of going to church ever. God isn’t even really in there anyway. Meh. Hammer and nails, what does he know about building things, do a lot of carpentry work hiking through the woods hugging trees, do you? Though it is beside the point, because in what world do we go to kids like this for theological pontification and advice, but isn’t their mere existence in the world evidence of God’s interest in buildings? What are humans, I mean, chopped liver, ant hills are still part of nature, why aren’t buildings? Giant, like, I don’t know, termite mounds or some shit. Know what I mean? Of course ‘the divine current’ is interested in that. Get a haircut. Get a job. Wake up take a shower and go to church. It’ll be good for you. We skip over most of the gospel stuff anyhow. Don’t get hung up like Jesus, I mean on Jesus. Let me show you these letters written by Paul.
All this church stuff will start to make a lot more sense.

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.

You’re Home

So. What can I call you now. Jeremiah? Jeremy?
I hope hey you will do. Hey. You.

Aren’t you ready to wake the fuck up just yet?

Take a breath. If you can exhale it away, don’t waste any more of our time writing it.
Settle. I know the coffee isn’t helpful. Wake up, little brother. Arise, newborn father.
Come back to earth planetary lover. And be where you are. Here. In the now.
How is it we can be so sole defined by what comes out of our mouths
and disregard what we feed into them? Do not trust that definition.
Or any that tells you the one that wins is the only side of the coin.

Yes. We all know you write, Jeremiah. We recognize your loud voice and broody
demeanor make you want to be an actor. We see you farm a little on the side.
How nice. But you eat like shit. You drink too much, and not the good stuff.
Your money goes into piss. You lack discipline of any kind, let alone your lonely mind.
And you can be quite a dick, especially to those you love. Who have known you.
Shared in what you call home. You treat them like they found your favorite hiding place.
And now you’re it. My turn to go out looking for people who do not want to be found.

What a game. This life. And Jeremiah. You are too often in your head.
Too dependent on your voice, when your choices should speak for you instead.
But that is hard, isn’t it. To outperform and outshine before there is an audience.
No one around to cheer and look out proud and clap their hands.

But absence of a sound is not the same as silence.
Being alone is not synonymous with loneliness.
And Jeremy, my friend, you are neither.
You are not. And will never be. Alone.

So. Stop hiding place to place.
Hey. You.

You’re home.

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.

The Writer #oldpoems

God this is an odd hobby. Some strange, absurd agenda I can’t sit down,
or ignore. I must lobby for it. Sold for much more than I paid.
To remain, or stay, and I lost it. So now I must profit. Big time. Big space.
No longer an option not to run a good race. Keep pace. Write every day.
Not just filled pages, but quality. Quality is where I found the kingdom. Earned it.
Drowned in the chomping waters of quantity. En masse. Quality is a carcass. Bloated.
Risen to the surface, upheld on the overlapping phallus of water. Dead, yes.
Once written it is dead. Crawling with secrets, distorted up from the bottom.
Consumed, decomposed, exposed. The morbid potential of the deep.
To those afloat bobbing, sick, clung to some boat.
God alive could not bring these words to life.
That is not why we write.
My very hobby.
Is bringing death to quality.

Screwed

I like repairing broken things. But you can only drive so many screws into a board before it’s no good. Even density, you see, grows these twisted fibers. Like hair. Matted and dreaded and locked into elongated tension upward. Hammers and nails are kind of caustic measures actually. Not all wood can take that sort of abuse just to be affixed to a particular use. Also, I’ve split oak rails that bent nails no kidding by the dozen before I ever successfully drove one home. Not all wood is the same, because not all trees are. Not all life is. We’re all patched together popsicle sticks and hot glue just praying the wind doesn’t pick up again. Tin cans and pie pans. We’re scarecrow people. Patched and chicken pecked and weather bitten. Someone donated those mittens. Another will make these sheep into mutton. A different person will sew back on buttons to fix clothes that will never again be worn by the living.

I like repairing broken things. I’d say that just about puts me in heaven. Such is the way of the wilted world we live in. With the right perspective, and I mean true right, not feels right, not might be. But a truly righteous perspective, we are in heaven. Because the very nature of such a thing would mean some concept of balance. A counter. An experience we all encounter. Hell. Right here asking heaven for its hand in marriage. We don’t know what we want. There’s no heaven or hell outside of one’s dependence on the other. And I want nothing to do with either.

I like repairing broken things. So I’m screwed.

Fixed.
Exactly where I belong.

Only where I am needed.

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 New One


Change is hard. To me, it seems rooted in unhappiness. The discontent desire to reshape their continents. And happy people draw maps. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that. Philosophically speaking, it’s a hammer. Or a wrench. If you look at the equipment to get an idea of the ideas they have built, it will always seem too simple. But it’s two different natures. Separate goals and agendas, distinct skeletal structures between the ideals that shape our tools and the things they can build. A hammer moves two ways. Hard and inconsiderate buried into wood, or sharp flat bunny ears that pull shy iron up out of its rabbit hole. If you’re a mover and a shaker, a builder, a creator, a social changer, an adventurer, an artist. You’re probably not the happiest. Dissatisfied. Discontent. You can argue me against it, but I’ll probably disregard all your words and take your passionate need to prove me wrong as its own kind of evidence. Sorry. I stopped stopping at people’s words a long time ago. Around the same time I admitted to myself just how much I will lie to control the idea people have of me. I did this amazing thing. I assumed everyone else was just as smart as me. And doing it as well. So I listen to chest swells, and deep breaths, and that thing where people look down and chuckle a couple times before they talk. Think of all the times you did that yourself. What true answers were you bypassing in those seconds before you landed on the placid, clean, decent one.

So whether you want to admit it or not, you’re not building a new house because you were happy with the one you had. You’re not plowing new fields if your grass was already green enough. Tree roots and boulders buried like land mines. Change is hard work. So are new worlds. America is defined by attracting all of the earth’s least satisfied residents. Argue with me if you want, but people who are truly content, do not get on that boat. They never left Europe. You did not travel then, and you really shouldn’t now, with any reassurance of how soon you’ll be back again. Along with luggage, you are taking your life up into your own hands. Seeking out new lands. Because the one you’re leaving behind did not fill you up. It wasn’t enough. Some of us are hammers. And some of us are nails buried so deep we’ll never be pried up. And a good enlightenededish person will have learned over time to be a bit of both. To seek balance. And let change do what it has always done. This planet is changing all on its own. The revolution, is how to live here and still leave it alone.  

It’s an oversimplification, I know. But if hammers and nails were as complicated as houses, I’m not sure we’d ever get one off the ground. If you’re an artist. A revolutionary, which is simple nowadays. The revolutionary is a good mom, and a patient man, an understanding boss, a forgiving friend. If you’re trying. If you have a dream. Or wishes. If other people are small talking and I catch you staring off into the distance. I know you’re like me. You’re a little bit unhappy. Just enough. To know this way of life isn’t enough.

The same hands that put down the new novels and poetry and short-storied scriptures of tomorrow will have cut the boards and set the nails of the new shelves in the libraries that will be needed to hold all of them. A hammer. The pen. The beauty of this rusty little literary invention. Language is like an old house our ancestors built for us. A decrepit mansion we all inherited equally just by being born human. Maybe a room or two have been kept clean and livable by the devoted satin robe wearing monks of academia, but none of us could keep termites out of the joist in the basement. Mold buried deep with moisture in real hard oak. Floor sagging in places and roof given out altogether in others. No one lives here full time anymore. And how we approach this condemned inheritance sort of sets us into two distinct categories of personality.

And I know I don’t need to write it again. But it is the discontent who want to tear it down and start over. Happy people are scrubbing floors and dusting mantles. But the ones who have glimpsed the future walk the halls with hammers. Prying up nails and taking out hardwood and stained glass and musty furniture while we still can.
We may yet need them.
For the new one.  

Destination is not direction.

We changed the world today. We ate, didn’t we. Which means we reshaped landscapes with our stomachs, maybe even continents apart. We ran steel combs through hillsides and when it rains enough we caused mudslides and put money in someone’s back pocket today. Took a penny or two out of quite a few others. Couldn’t have taken them though, if they weren’t there to be taken. Mountains laid in ruins and massive bovines feet folded in acres of black mud. We changed it. Just drinking water from the ground. And eating food from the ground. And building shelter in the ground, stacked up as high as we can off the ground. It is really a beautiful thing. You can see us from space. At night, the city lights, look like bright yellow rashes. We have them on front of our cars. Above roads at the tops of poles. Strapped around our foreheads. An extra little light of mine in the glove compartment, just in case. We changed the world in a big way, just by being afraid of the dark.