‘What is a page for?’

The one that happens after you’ve filled three others but haven’t quite reached the ending yet. I suppose a page four is a good sign, at least a couple miles behind you, you’ve gained some traction, moving along. A page is for boot prints to dent and backsides to rest on and when you’re finally ready to stick around, plant some seeds in, you’ve been turning it over all these years, may as well withdrawal a little from the soil before you pay it back everything.

What is page four, except for a bridge between a mountain and a bigger mountain. A hook set in the lip of the cockeyed metal strong fish. Page four is the maturation of an opening, it’s Braxton Hicks contractions, the precursor to some heavier cursing soon to come. A page is for eyes to do what feet are for and explore a place tethered only to the limits of their own imagination. A series of pages got me through some dreary nights where I’d do sad things like light a candle and let the wax spill and cool onto the table, a dab or two on the wrist, for validation. I can see the oily residue off the wax on pages of my childhood journal, and I know exactly where I began to become a teenager. I have pages recycled from the backs of church bulletins, like monopoly money pastel blue and yellow and ruffled meaninglessly as they are. Fragmented what some would call poetry and sermon critiques, only the most scathing and adolescently conniving would be shared with my dad, the pastor. For him a page was for emptying out a Saturday night that might fulfill the expectations of hundreds for a solid Sunday morning, more dependent on timing, but still, an audience is an audience, and a stage is a stage. The model for the pulpit, and certainly the source of the choir. What is a page for, except for actors to wage wars they’ve never witnessed and fall in loves they’ve never felt.

What page four and the pages before are is the shaft of an arrow laid against the knuckle of the archer, prepared to spring forward, regardless of the destination, what happens on page four is blind force. The thwang. The slap against the archer’s wrist. May as well be page twenty four, for how time bounds once a half decent piece of writing has dug it’s hook in, bridged that difference between big and little mountains, between clean pages and ones with muddy foot prints all over them.

A page is for contamination. Perhaps the one place still safe to betray the tenants of socially imposed distance. Page four is where the wheels lift off, and the wings sit their full weight down on the airy substance of imagination. The tremor before the birth. A ring around the moon. Page four of a story is like a superstition, fed more on fear than by belief.

That’s what a page is for. For getting to page four.

Disagreeable Animals

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 runaways, and the chattel of Europe, and their African slaves. If they were not evil in their initial intentions, then they were certainly turned over to the idea by time. Look at who we are today. We are the inevitable, flighty, judgmental result of our ancestors. This was not an accident.

It was also not a southern tradition, or some small, easily discounted regionalism. America owes its existence more heavily to African Americans than any other group of people. This is the motivation for racism, untrue, identifiable, quantifiable hierarchy. Undelivered respect.
And the guilt it inspires.

Emancipation did not end slavery. Slavery, the word, does not mean the incarceration of one group of people in one country during any certain period of time. The people at the top, going all the way back, use the subjugation of others like caffeine. Slavery is in our prison system, it lives in welfare programs, and minimum wage, hourly pay, two weeks off a year careers. Slavery is the lack of having any other real, substantive option.

And if you did not participate in some form of income generating activity, where would you live, what would you eat, where would you go that you would not owe a single debt?

It is not some great conspiracy. But it is also was not in any way on accident.

It’s agriculture.

We, the people, are being farmed by the same poor standards we subject our animals to undergo. Taking the horns off goats so they don’t hurt each other. Castrating cattle. Separating mothers from babies. Not evil, just specific to a very particular context, that if taken out of that context, has a very similar shape, make-up and the same sordid potential of anything we would agree to call evil.

Up until now, no one has really been trying to shape a sustainable, viable society.
We’ve been building and expanding pastures. Fence lines. Tethers. Barns and locked pens.

Doing it outright to others is actually a highly successful method of pulling the wool over the eyes of people having it done to them. All the little pecking orders animals in cages establish over one another. Whispering conspiracy theories about those towering shapes that show up to trickle grain into a dish, or clean the water tub, and leave us some hay. Do they love us? Is that why they’re feeding us? Then why do we disappear one by one as our offerings shrivel up, why aren’t we guaranteed life outside of productivity and use? Did they shape all of this for this purpose, to keep us confused, yet working, ignorant, yet dutifully pulling the cart, for fear of a lash from behind?

It’s just, humans can’t be fully domesticated. The wilderness is written into our curious consciousness. We’re the shepherd creature. Through evolution, we learned the latent power of the universe.

Revolution.

And until we invent a system that truly guarantees our freedom, a pasture with a gate any one of us can open, we’ll have revolution after revolution after revolution. Just as we see when we study our history.

I refuse to believe we’ve been earnestly investing and upholding societies that break down this destructively and this often on accident. We’re too smart for that. It’s not a conspiracy that government has been used more as a tool for control than an actual mechanism for organising access to the basic needs and protections for entire populations.

It’s just inconsiderate, bully farming. But humanity makes for a precarious subject.
A creature that rivals goats at breaking down and betraying barriers.

We all need resources for food, water, and shelter built into our local communities.
And if we are living in a system that can not or does not provide those resources,
we all need the equivalent amount of commercial value that would allow us to sustain basic life.

It really is that simple. Leaving us in conditions that demand payment for items we die without, breaks down our sense of community, it lends tender to the fire of prejudice and division, and keeps us hungry, and reactive, unsettled and under stress. Essentially, our society doesn’t feed or water or house the chicken, until after the egg has been laid. Which is really poor farming. Most of us who have raised chickens provide a safe, warm environment, clean water, good feed, months and months before an egg is ever laid. And even when it grows cold, and the production slows, we don’t. A good farmer still pays into the livelihood of animals that are not currently returning.

“Is it really as simple as that, Jeremy?”
Yes. It really is. Society doesn’t need to organize our social lives, or tell us how to chicken. We really just wanted government to make sure the things we need to stay alive get distributed evenly to all of us, because no matter who or what we are, we cease to be any good to anyone without them.

Reading the headlines, scrolling through timelines, if I knew nothing else of America, I’d say every American had a full stomach, a good roof over their head, clean water, the protection and rights that come from any decent shelter. Four walls and tin roof and all. A big old yard outside to roam around, and a little help fending off the dogs. Which I know isn’t true.

So I’m asking you, if it really could be that simple, will you at least consider it?
That all sorts of issues we’re facing as a nation could be solved if there were a little more feed in our dishes, and if we, all of us, had more free time in the yard? That we wouldn’t have to take the horns off the goats, if they had space to explore their instincts and roam.

We need to start at the beginning, and experience a bit of the lives of our ancestors before we step boldly into so-called new worlds. There has to be a quiet, tax free, simple, self made life in the country available to every person, in order for a puritanically economic system to still be called freedom. Or every citizen needs to be provided with the economic equivalent of what it takes to sustain basic life in the town or city.

That’s it. That word, free, we’ve been throwing around for so long, that is what it has always meant. To be taken literally, free of required expense, or payment for products that can’t be boycotted, because they are essential to life. Every living thing has a right to the break neck pursuit of staying alive. Governments should exclusively be a facilitator and ally for us in that pursuit.

Humans are a precarious, particularly devilish animal on a farm. They refuse to lay their eggs in cages. And the human grazes only where the grass is greener, won’t live right not knowing what’s on the other side, for better or worse. Whinnies like a horse, and chatters loud as chickens. They make little plans, and take the screws out of wood, and dump their dishes and peck the farmer, when kept cooped up in pens, and solely within fences.

I get it, government. It’s not some conspiracy. Certainly wasn’t on accident. But up until now the pursuit has been better fences and pens. It has. No reason to deny it. You wrote out a Bill of Rights for us, but we never returned the favor, and put down our bill of rights for you.

Food.
Water.
Shelter.

Everything else we need from you will be lessened once those things are covered.
Like roots. We only see a tower of leaves and color.
But just to stand, just to argue, just to be someone hated by everyone,
you still have to have eaten, had water, and slept somewhere out of the weather.

So what we can’t agree on everything.

Governments, farmers, by necessity, must be impartial.
They feed and care for us all, just so we can get back to the business
of being disagreeable animals.

No Soft-Handed Storytellers

As somebody with trust issues, I interview very well.
I even think it’s a little cute. How much people believe in words.
Strung neat together to form corded little stories. Anecdotes.
That will never be corroborated. This is unexplored territory.
The realm between true and false is trust.
Questions we’ll never ask. Answers we don’t want.

Trust is the bias that binds quilts together.
Lighter than a pound of feathers.
Laid just right, set tight, it will be like two pieces of fabric
from two entirely separate things had never ever been apart.

Rewoven into one. Just a little later on. Stories are like that.

Threads in themes zig zag about seams.
Knitting all these separate scenes into strings
and then blocks
then a thousand strips of cloth.
And you’ve got a story.

Part shirt scraps. Part dish towel and bed sheets sewed on.
Until you have this Frankenstein of information
from so many separate sources somehow
all spliced beautifully, tragically, cohesively,
functionally into a single body. One form.

And you can always tell a good story.
Because people will come after it
with lit torches and pitchforks.

Or you could do a great interview.
And have someone pay you to write.
Sow stories like seeds into garden rows
and cleared out animal stalls
and the very smiles on people’s faces.
With a pencil that also erases.

Storytellers. Trust issues. Minimum wage job interviews.
Scraps to pick and choose through. Just remember.
The quilts that wrap us up in warmth and trust.
The stories we have grown to love.
Were someone else’s trash.
Before they ever came to us.

Self Belief – Soul Knowledge

Ego is tricky business. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s an accident. It isn’t. Nothing in existence is. Ego especially. Self-belief. Confidence. Soul and body dance. Energy that is timeless, moving in a biomechanical cocoon that will inevitably break open too soon. And ego. Just might be the only shape the energy that is you knows to take. Self-belief. Soul-knowledge. An overabundance of spiritual confidence. Walking on coals. Stepping into the unknown. Ego allows you to break the thick mold of ceaseless self preservation. The little liar in your heart who tells you you’ll be fine. Go ahead and take off on an adventure. No one has landed one before. But then again, there has never been anyone quite like you.

It’s like the cape on a superhero’s back. It’s like their tight little red underwear. It’s like the only shield police officers carry are badges. Symbols. Ego was the only thing the Wizard of Oz had to offer the last four pilgrims to his temple.

Whatever it takes to get you to fake just enough confidence to put a foot through the door.

And more, eyes open, head forward, take on a world of villains who by all means are probably shaping their identity purely in unveiled attempts to antagonize yours.
You can’t adopt it all the time, and you definitely dare not abandon it either. Ego.
Being functionally egotistical. It’s like a raincoat. Just enough to persuade you to step out into the rain. But if you wear that raincoat all day, you can bet on sweat. You might have been better off without a coat at all. But you’re egotistical. Your belief in yourself is astounding. The whole wide world full with starving people. Every day they get a little thinner. And you. To them.
Look just like chicken dinner.

Ego should be light as feathers. Subtle as spurs. The spark of orange fire in the eye.
Everyone wants you for the worst of reasons. But that doesn’t exempt you from being.
Ego has every reason to stay quiet, sleep in. Stay hidden. But it doesn’t. No.
Ego wakes up and crows.
People say good morning.

Ego says I know.

You’re welcome.

Years break down

Forty five minutes on a sixty five year stump. Hands hurt.
Everything passes through them. Curled fingers on folded palms
grown out of vein wrapped wrists on click elbows. A stump like that,
that old, the very base of the very tall, will not part for a five pound splitter.

Barely dented. No splinter. The full abrasive weight felt sharp hard
vibrated in your hands. The stump takes none. It all falls on you.
That is five minutes in. Only you don’t know there’s forty to go
and you hurt clean up through your shoulders already.

But there is always a better tool. A heavier hammer. An independent wedge.

And a clearer head now knows the time and height and density
and fibrous energy and twisted splinter chorded towers. A mind
that now knows every one of sixty five years breaks down into hours,
and hours to minutes, and seconds begging roots dig deeper
in the earth to find good water, stumped trunk run up higher
above the heads of others in seek of weather
with lightning dentures that roll like thunder
and bring Prometheus’ fire to the forest
and burns us to make us stronger.

Never been anywhere other than the front yard of the lady
who just lost her husband, in the house up the road. Until
carried piece by piece in the back of a jeep
by the boy from down the street. Me.
Three iron wedges in and hitting it still not splitting it,
still, from the opposite side. Feeling each hit in his fingers.
Every one of sixty five years.
Each individual second within the whole of forty five minutes.

By the time you feel the full weight of time,
you’ll know, because your hands will hurt.

Seedbed for Dreams

Endless scattering of stars over beds of cloud-dotted dark.
For years the patch was tortured. Toiled over by sweating faces.
Until a black bowl remained where unending space meets mortal vision.
And each sleeping mind sows a seed.
Dots off distant light like pinpricks leaking through from heaven.
Each one covered over, crushed, softly, by a single hand.
And then, by a world full of hands, the night sky is made home
to an array of red and blue spots of planets,
white and yellow flashing stars, some fall
followed by golden tails as soon as shining,
some rise and fall steady and eternal as a sun, or its smile,
teaching us that living forever dies a little everyday,
and from a smoldering death, again, anew,
stronger than the day before.

Stars are sown, every one, by sleeping minds.
Content to trust dark soil to grow seeds with care.
Content with the work done, eyes tired.
Only those still awake so late start the harvest.

Hands like open eyes scour searching out and plucking up
clouds of mist and clarity alike, seeing in a distance worlds
spinning the same as ours, and the stars that burn them.

Sunlight now felt internally, like fear of smallness,
meaninglessness, afraid of failure, of lack of possibility.
Born in a black night. So those who ceased casting dreams
start harvesting others, forgetting the simple gifts of single stars,
and for personal comfort, shape them now into forms,
such as a bull, or a warrior, a dipper to carry black water
up to a raised heads miles below, and all to see bright
where the sun does not shine. Never to understand,
or learn, or love. But to distract until morning comes
and the colors are clearer. Stars gone except for one
no one can look at anyway as it frowns across space,
dotted by daydreams, sprouting the dark spots of birds
on a fresh light-blue bed.

Awakened people now see their dreams reshaped.
Converted to simpler, easier to harvest
than the single stars whose shining formed them.
Harvesters fill with worry over knowing and remembering each,
and now we all see constellations much more massive
than any of our individual dreams,
whose myths dwarf the dots comprising them,
so much so each shining spot seems blurred,
hazed, faded every day in light of our new breed of night.
Instead of planting them where seeds can grow,
dreams more likely drape dying trees once a year,
line highways and streets at the tops of wooden poles,
form consecutive rectangles of window patterns
lining a taller pillar of rectangle.

And under a huge dome built by human hands,
each dreamed star is a cell phone in a raised fist,
waving now as a constellation that only inspires fear
when peaked through the clouds,
because now no one looks up to see stars.
Or goes to sleep in search of dreams.

Now we look only to see.
And sleep only to sleep.

Modern Christianity – Old Journals

Can the livestock lie down with the wolf?
A lamb of short cut wool. Nude colored
and halved black hoof tapping shoals noisily in the dark.
Stalked by the wolf black as night, red in tooth
a blood matted mouth, grinning. A greeting
only to the innocent glowing white lamb,
friend to friend.

How can it be? The lamb remained a lamb bald and weak,
small and sleek. Or has the world worked hard hungry hands
over the offering? The grass fed sacrifice, reshaped dense,
sharpened bones into slicked back horns,
tiny trembling feet raised cloven hammers,
pounding ground and snorting dust and air.
Our innocent lamb now works and bleats to inspire fear. Pure no longer.
Tough and mean, still convinced beneath a thick skull it appears to be meek.

And the wolf, a beast howling hunger up at a full round moon,
a predator pitifully calling on company gurgled out a vertical throat,
outpouring pain and a gut wrench of sorrow. A friend with a voice also,
conscious of harmony, listening with sympathy, at songs sung lonelily.
Sweet, uplifting tones when times are good, and behavior tame, otherwise,
there is an ape in place of our angel, whose fists lay down lessons of pain,
obedience, trembling submission only to wait a little while,
and then call student come crawl deep beneath covers and cuddle. Embraced.
In the same soft arms that were just hard, tense, hands formed of fists,
capable now of good thorough petting.

The mythological hunter, once roaming and stalking in tight-knit droves,
has been reshaped into a pet, brown eyes for Man. Batting and staring.
Hungry to please, begging for scraps, sharing the fleas.

And the lamb is grown into a ram, lunging before a hyper dog’s raised ears,
wildly smiling while the sheep rears. Both give and take. Equally tease.
Playing games and ignoring the other’s presence with ease.

But when those ancient voices speak up now in an animal’s mindset,
it has become the wolf who lies down to the lamb on its hind legs.