On a clear cold now, with a coat of snow on the shimmering hillsides, the train in town sounds like a truck coming up the road. The moon is bright and round buried behind clouds. But a minute ago it was naked in the woods. Shivering in the snow. Like daylight on a different world, ghastly, ghostly, opaque. Like the moon glimpsed its reflection in the snowshine for the first time and realized it wasn’t beautiful the way it thought it was. But pale, a sickly light no good can come by. A gossipy glow whispering what’s going on in town. The train is. Hear.
Eyes go through windows easier than rocks do. Vision. A cold trickle of steady err. For the eyes are blind to cold. Skin sees cold a mile away. But a clear cold window hoods the body’s hood and skin is blinded by wood stoves.
There are more coyotes in a farmer’s imagination than were ever born in the world. Tonight they circle these woods injured in yipping droves. The instinct to play prey. Mm. Compliments to the chef of camouflage. God overblesses a worthy enemy.
Moonlight is like the water that escapes the body with the blood. It’s the thick semi-translucent plasma that gets called empty space even though it’s heavy and sticky and gelatinous. Moonlight is a ridiculous phrase for the very same sunlight bouncing off a nearby rock that is very likely actually a broken off part of earth. Taking two hundred words to describe how it looks bouncing off snow that is actually regular old rain it just happens to be cold. The way moonlight is in existence, but you can still look through it, ignore it, like it isn’t.
Moonlight is the color of memory.
Staring through a window at three am.
It just occurred to me.
Compliments don’t freshen your breath.
Criticisms make you cross.
And a cross nails you down and stops you alive.
Words are hard.
Wards are hard.
Warts are hard.
Hard starts with a laugh but ends with a dead-end road.
And a dead-end road slows you down and stops your drive.
Walking quiet in the woods.
Backpack stuffed with goods.
Apple. Cold hamburger. Juice. Water.
Journal. 22 on one hip.
Belt ax and multitool on the right.
Shoes fit right. Or would’ve been left behind.
Nothing louder than a dog-breath.
She wants to go.
All a walk is to my dog is a long enough reason
to turn back home. In many ways, the superior species.
All the comfort of our technology with absolutely no responsibility.
We tell ourselves heads was a better choice than tails.
The self-aggrandizing tales we tell.
Trying to walk quiet as can be through a sea of poisonous leaves.
Trying to sneak up on animals is like trying to rob a thief.
Those who live by it will always be better at such things.
Not me. I’ve no reason to be quiet in the woods.
The right last name and all this poison
means I share this place with no person.
Only early morning animals.
Safe beyond reason.
All out of season.
When what is taught as kindness is represented as basic expectation
loving your neighbors is the first, most passive and inexpensive line of defense.
Love is a security system. You don’t need to be kind to be decent.
You only need to see beyond the present.
Your neighbor can’t be homeless.
You are not savior or saint for saying it.
Wealth is not a latch on your door, it’s a lock on your neighborhood.
Wealth surrounded by poverty is a nosebleed in the ocean while snorkeling.
You won’t be able to afford to shut your door tight enough
to stop us seeing you peeking through the blinds.
We know what’s running through your mind.
When your eyes look back over your shoulder.
The have-not world is shaped by the have’s paranoia.
Selfishly. Egotistically. Totalitarianistically.
Love is one hundred percent self-centered.
Make sure your neighbors don’t all hate your living guts.
You’re not Jesus for fighting homelessness.
You’re putting up magical fences in your yard.
You’re nailing down invisible doors.
You’ve drilled clear cold iron bars over all your windows
you’ll never need or see or grip longing to be free.
This amazing thing happens when people see more legal
than illegal means to obtain life’s necessities
that the richest of the poorest of us need
this crazy thing
we’d almost all rather live legally.
Love. A river of milk. Framed by mountains of silk.
A feathery cradle for filth. Love. An army of doves
against an army of shotguns chasing mates in the sun.
Mate for life shot from the sky by a man who cheats on his wife.
Have you ever seen a sapphire dawn? Me neither. But I have yawned
at wonders that would have ruined the minds of my ancestors.
How the earth peeps through the windows of heaven.
Most of us never did anything important naked.
Except for love.
Strangers can’t sense your synthesis.
They don’t know you’ve been going through shit.
You don’t look like you’ve had a breakthrough. You look broke.
You look like you left something bleeding in the bathroom.
You look high as a kite about to be on a plane.
Strangers don’t know what they do to you.
We all betrayed our true selves in a bathroom.
We’re all strangers. In public.
We’re all each other’s mirror.
You imagine time rolls in the shiny black nostrils of an early morning doe. The scent in the air is not fresh, not breaking news. Days and weeks swirl headlong in the breeze. The smell of a dog comes out of the leaves. He hasn’t been here in a week. Still shoots her recent breath down and short white tail up and takes a shot in the dark. Not under-afraid, but over-prepared and highly aware of all things where. She is. The squish of winter mud between black blades. Background passing cars. A slew of houses. The sanctuary of a cemetery. Safest place for a wild thing. Where the humans hide and the grass is greener this close to the other side. She knows. She smiles. Nibbles green heads off Sable Mayberry’s earth bed. White pearls draped over exposed collar bones. The doe leaves off black pearls of her own. Still hunting. Over the bones of Dean Perry and Gavin Broome. Both avid deer hunters in their time. Their eternal dirt duvets just soaked in deer urine. You imagine she smells the black powder on their bare knuckles. The flesh of her ancestors where it betrayed them in their rotting frames. The scent of the dogs that crowded their beds and licked their heads. Long dead. Resurrected in the nose of a doe.
The slimy afterlife of scent. The nose knows. The deer doesn’t.
The amazing superpower of the past: to whisper what’s coming.
A book slams shut. The door is too abrupt. A window closes loudly. In the hallway, someone drops their stuff. They don’t teach it in gym, but there’s a way to jump within your skin. To be shaken and never shake. To crack up but never break. The human body has always been fear’s favorite hiding place.
Two tall black boys race one another down the hall. Gender segregated groups take it easy outside the restroom. A teacher with his clean arms crossed tries not to do the same in his eyes. Three girls swoosh arm in arm heckling a single girl with her head down in front of them. It’s not cool for a teacher to say hey to you if you don’t say it to them first. All the cool teachers know this. But the nervous ones shout a student’s name like it’s the phrase on Wheel of Fortune. Then tell you take your hood down. Hide your phone now. Better not frown. Or that same teacher is going to make a show of asking how do you do.
The feeling of pulling up to work and seeing a cop car with its blue lights wheeling. An innocent traffic stop starts the mind off reeling. The look in the eyes of adolescents as you tell them to huddle on the floor in a corner while you turn the lights off and block the doorway windows. Don’t worry, just a drill. Said the carpenter to the board. Said the miner to the earth. Said the dentist to a rotten tooth.
The bottom, the basement, the hidden dank disgusting earthworks foundation of the human gut can only be struck by the sonar sound of workers screwing flag pole mounts into concrete in a classroom down the hall.
There is no eye in the room off of me. I hold them all. They help me see.
Like I said before, we are a farming people, so we keep a farming Jesus. Accordingly, he shows up different for everyone. I don’t get out much, but I have heard telling of a man called Christ dressed in an Armani suit wearing sheened leather shoes. Animal leather. Alligator. Three piece pastels and torn jeans and wife beater. Overalls. Big and small. I mean fat, I’ve seen a picture of some Christ characters up in Canada, a big big brown faced man with a patch beard and short cropped black curls. The man told us he was clay. He said he was nothing but a branch. The way. A path. He turned into an old man before an empire’s eyes, and died better than anyone ever had. Telling stories. Supposedly, he kept chickens as a kid. Preferred their company over sheep. There is a myth we rarely mention, of him calling Judas down to his side, and whispering something dramatic and revelatory in his ear, as was his way. A kiss on the cheek. Soft, raspy, tumbling speech, bubbling along the crevices of his lips like a creek. No one knows what words, of course, but this whisper was in the record. He demanded they write down everything. And they did. Preacher pulls out the new testament from time to time, but it is rare. In there you find books from all sorts of interesting people. Judas has one. Mary wrote two. Peter, the rock, never got one down, but Joseph, Jesus’s father, wrote a stout tome of lyrical poems.
“Tomatoes. Are you listening? Red womb of orange seed. Loose tower of viney green. Trellised tall. For they would surely fall. From the weight of their own progeny.”
The minister was on about tomatoes again.
You’d build a fence that could hold water before it would keep in a scared goat. An animal with the unique ability to divorce itself from its vision, cast out its eyes like weighted lines, lost to woods deep as water, tangled on the bottom. A scary look, when you come invisible in the eyes of an animal staring right into you. If they had the force, those eyes would push you, and if he gets a chance, the body would too. Poor fellow. Ran headlong away from the only creatures in the world who care about him. Thinking that he needed to. Broke through wire two. Five thirty on a November night means there’s men up in the trees wearing orange hats and a gun laid across their knees. Like an arrow, like this flimsy pasture was his bow, tightly drawn and full let go. We will never see that goat again. Like a grain of sand. Flaked off and fallen. This pasture was his stone.