The Physics of Memory

Do you have memory or does memory have you?
How can we forget things we can’t afford to lose,
and recall things we’ve begged our brains to forgo.
How are interviews even possible? How is there a
filing cabinet in the mind where memories sit stored
and wait in silence single file. I can see the front
entrance of my high school. I can see my grandmother’s face.
I can see my grandfather’s casket
on two by fours hovered above his grave.
Not think of, or remember, or recall, I close
my eyes so they open up inside and I’m wearing
a Carolina blue robe with the summer sun in
them. How is that possible? This question isn’t
rhetorical. I’m going to attempt an answer for it before
the end of this page. How can one forget something
that comes back to them later on. It is almost like memory
is orbital. Spinning. Cyclical. Circular, but dented, not perfect,
it’s elliptical. All your thoughts are links in a chain crossed
and in angles it jangles and the sound it creates
can be captured in folds of fat and harnessed with complex
carbon lightning rods and cabled wiring twisted throughout.
What we call consciousness, the will of recall and of
shaped perception into witnesses, are hand over hand
what pulls this circular chain. Only one way.
So that is why memories are sometimes inaccessible
because you are past them in your internal
kernel of mental orbit. And your only chance to get it
back will be the next go round. All that lightning
gets to ground. Life is like some kind of
slow motion electricity. And we too bounce between clouds
until a ladder arises for us to climb down and the
earth takes our fire and our power and disseminates it across many miles.
Memory is not a thing. It is a routine. Like us. A process.
That we can fix. And can fail.

The Purpose of Life

Chores to do. More to move. Horse to shoe. Oh wait.
Horsefly and shoo. Sure. I’m up. Not firing on all fronts.
It’s early. There is energy.
But here I sit. Front porch writing.
Trading grips between a pen and a ceramic lip.
Trading discomfort hip to hip on a hard wood rocker.
Seat of power seems oxymoronic.
Though I am sure that it isn’t.
If more people with power sat on it,
there would be less obstacles to the simple, family-centric
lifestyle poor folk have fought for far too many manly centuries.

It is crazy people pretend we don’t know the purpose of life.
Yet so many live identical expressions of it for the same motivations.
If life had a purpose, why would it be distant and hard to grasp?
No. It comes bubbling up out of us.
Grumbling deep inside of us when we do not feed it enough.
These chores. That bill. This meal. And its cost.
No one can give freedom. In that sense, freedom does not exist.

Freedom is the only sanctioned slavery.
It is ownership of the self.

The Spotlight

The spotlight is not on. The switch has been flipped and it turned on.
But it clicked off before it was hot, and now it is not. Someone please
turn the spotlight back on. The tricks and switch-flips that turn things on.
Theater. A play. The one kind adults can do respectfully.
Sit in a seat and stare at a stage and give eyes a feast
of only the things that eyes like to eat. The tongue is the eyes,
the teeth are the ears, slurp down every sight,
chew up every word you hear.

There’s a dance in how an actor walks
and a song in how they talk
and if an actor knows their place
they’ll look the audience in the face
they’ll pull them up on stage
they’ll give them up their rage
and clone their tears in you.

That’s the only way you’ll smile later.
For the joy that is tied to sacrifice, some happiness conceives in pain.
The baby born is gut-busting laughter, oh wait, it’s twins, we’re in stitches.

The switches flip on and this time they stay. Two actors eyes locked backstage
tighter than a lock. More like a chestnut. No key quite like a hard object.
They crush it. And uphold buried treasure in the palms of their hands
before frozen styrofoam mannequin face-spaces on the fronts of hollow heads.
Fill them up with likenesses of whatever frightens them
and reminding them of events hard to live through
but delightful to behold through the refracted lens
of other people’s problems.
It helps to spotlight the drama.
We cork and ferment our trauma.
That is why it is opening night.

And after all these years, I find the theater
a place I can play with my pain
and raise a toast to all my fears.

Notes of the Daydreamer

Oh me, Oh my. No exclamation will meet the mark.
Give up a pen that shouts. Sparks fly and flint flakes
and fire sighs sight and reveals strong citations.

Textual evidence of a higher power
keep my eyes on my naval
and off thy sight.

Education. Psyche. Eros. High school.
Kids. Jokes. Festered into identities. Titties.
Boys obsessed with misremembered memories.

I am going to treat you like you are intelligent
until your behavior shows otherwise.
Offer language supports. This is asinine.

Sanctimonious. Cynical and negative.
Turning my camera off to take a drink.
Passing. Barely. This class. Life.

The ones where I’m the student.
And the ones I have to teach.

Red Oak Tree

Cut a foot into a century tree and find a maggot who beat me there.
Like a shook soda, black ants pour a fountain out of another cut.
Cut the whole tree down and a twig of a limb throws off my chain.
It’s not a dogwood, but the bark has a bite. We’re both bleeding from the wrists.
I knew the risks. The tree, I’m not so sure. A white oak cherry poplar surprise.
Sourwood, sweetgum, sassafras, sick of more. Maple a muscle. Cedar I’m sore.

I burned gas, and dripped oil, and filed down metal teeth to see where that insect was.
I murdered many burglars when I tore down the house we were robbing.
And I saved a tree by killing it. Given it an eternal death in preservation
its hundred year form could not afford. I went to school with a beetle
in its larval stage and we each learned how to lap our tongues clean
through the limber heart of timber.

The infant who wrote a dissertation in his crib. I cut mine to inch and quarter floorboards.
For a house that will outlive me. But me and my classmates, we’ll forever be the only ones
who knew the sound it made when a hundred years of red oak tree smacked the ground
and made it shake.

Someone else’s grapes

Off to dig a hole deep and wide
enough to bury three and a half foot of railroad tie
and hang warped, ripped, busted cattle-fence against
to trellis unpurchased infant grape vines

not a branch, a pole, a shovelful is mine
not even seconds bloomed minutes wilted leaves hours

at work toward a harvest I will never taste is like grace
building trellises for someone else’s grapes.

Singletary Lake

Sand flats and scrub oaks and Spanish moss you pinch because
it is so real it looks fake. As the pictures you take.
The sunset through trees. Not out over open breeze.
Loblolly candelabras coned allover tips ablaze in the AM sun.
The trees stand on singed feet and wherever you are going
there are signs of omens
where fire has been
where water is.

White Hot Home

Hot pink. Cold blue. Lukewarm brown. Tepid canary.
Vacation-ocean turquoise. Pine taupe. Cedar flesh.
Red oak rose. The green that shows in paint but never nature.
I don’t know the nomenclature. But I know what you mean
when you say poop brown. City-gray. Brick orange.
Charcoal roads that lead the way to white hot home.

Honey Please

Whether means a choice between alternatives. Weather does too. Wether does not, because a wether is a ram with his alternatives removed. You’ve got heather light as feathers forever. And then never. Never lands right where it is spoken, and creates a sort of token so that others can revisit and trade their famous catchphrase, ‘I told you so’. Say never never, or never say never, I can never remember, directions to Denver. I’ve never been. On an endeavor west of east. Homebody with the last name Homesley. I figure. It was meant to be. I was mean to bees. They gave it right back, and I took it wrong and ran headlong leaving off the clothes I had on in a funny looking trail behind me. Ground bees. Into a fine powder. Honey please, come back after an hour. Omniscience hopped an Omnibus and read an omnibus of her favorite books, and wrote a line in the margin of one, it read, do I know how it feels to forget? Can’t know everything, can we? Lost is forgot becomes forgotten. Cost is your loss becomes a profit. You’re not a prophet for reading road signs. Those guys are sweating in assembly lines stamping out printed signs, and they read the writing on the wall of the breakroom with precise, six forty-five aim. Quitting time. Oops, hit the wrong letter. Quilting time. Everybody go to your haystack, find your needle, and thread it. If I was a betting man, I’d say a bedding man could bring his work home with him every night and no one would mind. But when the betting man tries the same, let’s just say, the horse isn’t the one who loses the race.