What if you’re not sitting still? You’re not, even when you are. What if the energy in you, in me, typing here, is indistinguishable from all other energy? It would be safe to say that I, the real I, deep inside, have caught up to the speed of light. And consciousness could just be what happens when you brush against that barrier. And life, as we know it, might be more momentum than existence. Governed by laws of attraction more so than physics. What we call imagination in fact may be deep-seeded, primeval memory, and love, an echo rolling along our intangible souls, the leftover scraps from once being indistinguishable.
When you go West across North Carolina, you don’t leave the ocean behind
it climbs into the sky and weather misbehaves like a roily child.
On the outer bangs of wisdom there lives a hermit who uncovered the secret to enlightenment.
The lights turn off for a reason.
We’d rather call them seasons.
Than admit we belong to a slapped sideways birth.
The ombre of approaching storms. The tangerine sheen after a rough one.
Languid, pale yellow, bruised banana, soaked bandana summer days
no one remembers anyways. Something about the weather today
wipes away the warning off yesterday’s. Don’t claim to understand it.
North Carolina has tried and some here you’ll find look just under deep fried
but for the time clouds keep cropping up and our limping, lopsided farmer
with a sloshing watering can. Our ocean in the sky has high and low tides
and waves crash and wash out a summer garden easy as beach sand.
Five hours from the coast.
Same salt stinging in our eyes.
Plants will hold up cups above their heads to catch bees in but bury their roots beneath the soil so that half the rain runs off before it soaks in. Trees will grow up tall and huge and heavy and spread out thick green sails from their oaken masts and dare the wind the topple them: perhaps they push the continent, perhaps it is why we still sail across the Atlantic, why California continues to be nibbled by the Pacific. If a human were a tree it would grow wide and flat close to the earth where no wind could tickle it. If a human were a plant, they’d put their bright colors beneath the ground in fear for anyone finding them. Lift their roots up to the elements so they can feed freely and never learn why their seeds bear no germ.
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.
You want to know my secret. You could ask my sister. I remember one night, she had graciously invited me to venture out into the world with her friends. In the car on the way out of town, we were passing a cemetery, and I looked over and said that graveyard is full of people […]Broken Pieces — Writer Actor Farmer
Farm stuff. Alarm hush. Like getting dumped. You wake up when it goes off.
Takes the truck. Take your stuff. All that’s left is chores. Yours. You are a prison guard.
You run a farm. Animals in cages that would kill them if you didn’t come around to all the
empty buckets to refill them. Take the egg. Leave the grain. Milk the goat. Her pleasure’s your pain. Hands hurt. Back’s worse. Hip we still we ignore. Not to mention the tooth. And the glue-stapled boots. Bubble poots. Coffee with two scoops. Pantries to loot. So dark out the owls still hoot. The roosters start at four twenty five reminding the neighbors they’re still alive. Goats go up pasture as soon as they see their feet more so than eyes will lead them to feed and when they grow tired they’ll lie down in breakfast basking in ten thirty sunshine and moaning cud across their tongues. The autumn leaves will make love to the soil and infect it with worms. The grass is already whispering where they once screamed green. The chorus has changed masks, the trees are dressed in tragedy.
And the sky has layers like spoiled milk.
All that farm stuff. Telling yourself, if you run it well enough, the prisoners will forget what you are. And you too, hopefully. How hopelessly alone you are. When the alarm clock you’re married to gets up the nerve to go off.
Some work I miss. Some I don’t. I miss dragging up, sawing through and splitting stumps to pieces with my friend Ken all day, though I don’t miss twenty feet up a ladder leaned on a wobbly oak limb with a gurgling chainsaw. The work melted time. It hurled the sun up and over head. I remember, I can always tell three o clock sun. I could see it on his face we’d be finished soon.
I miss all the dogs. The big finicky Shepherds and dough eyed boxers and hear them screaming down the hall huskies. Giving one a bath was my first real test at the vet. She did great. They were surprised. I wasn’t. Which is probably why, our blue eyes were locked and I ran water over her for more than five minutes before a bit began to stick to that thick, greyscale coat. The old…
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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.
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Every now and then I’ll get sort of mesmerized reading old posts like this one, when I let myself be longwinded and preachy. But it needs to be said. Of all the things to suffer through a lecture on, removing imperatives from all social constructs being the daily labor of freedom, well, it can’t be said enough.
It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy, to mean it isn’t an accident. This country is not broken. We are. Because that’s what the men who wrote our constitution were dealing with. A divided population desperately being translated into a divided constituency. England left slavery alone in America, because that is all America was to the British Empire. Slave labor. Pillaged resources. Raw goods, for industrial ends. The idea that under Britain, we would never own our farms, but if we were culpable only to Americans, we would. Talk about a powerful campaign promise. That’s all freedom really was to our founders. It is not a conspiracy, but was not an accident, that they did not address the liberty of all the people living within their country. How a leader can preserve the self esteem of thousands on the oppression of hundreds. Someone to look down on. The rejects, and…
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Judy’s father passed when the boys were still pretty young, Jeremiah was in fifth, no, fourth grade, I believe. His eyes misted over, stared off in the direction the deer had disappeared into. It wasn’t the funeral. Open casket. The family gathering. Fried chicken and mystery casserole and three different things called salad that aren’t. But a few weeks prior, when Papaw was in a nursing home having his heart monitored, we were out at this local pizza buffet that let kids eat free if they showed a report card with all A’s and B’s. I remember this night as he’s telling it. He had some great scheme of activities to do with his grandpa once he was better. Walking the land. Picking corn by hand. Shooting guns off at pie pans. His mother and I were as burnt out and worn down as this pizza place by now. Faking hope is not energy efficient. So we told him. Right or wrong. Mistake, probably, or not. This poor kid. That his grandpa wasn’t going to make it. That this was his end. Everything we were all working so hard at, was not to keep him alive, but to make him comfortable. And he broke. He broke then. He broke this morning. Neither Olivia or I said a word to him. We did not know how important it was that we did, and perhaps he was right, we should have at least tried. But, as he claimed, in ever mounting, heated tones, we were afraid of him. Anyone else would get a kind word, even just an exercise in manners. Jeremiah claimed to be the only man in the world who could open up his heart to people and be met with nothing but sheer silence. The fact that he even stayed around us, he yelled, was a testament to the strength and bottomless charity of his character. Maybe he should just go on and do us all a favor and leave for good, forever. And this is where I royally messed up. Big time.
I said go ahead.