Dear Lord, Let Me Be Wrong

Mist pours in on a comparatively warm November evening, shows me my cross-eyed headlights and blinds me when I click on the brights. Walmart is full of people. At eight on Thanksgiving eve. Full of stink eye and camouflage and middle aged women in pajamas. Our little country corner of the world. Little girls apologize for their father’s scowls with upturned eyes. A grizzled looking gentlemen sights a slender twenty two caliber rifle up at the twenty foot ceiling. Capitalism is most at work when we aren’t. Swiping hours of our lives away with flimsy magnetized plastic, futuristic looking chips embedded in them. There’s a doglegged line in front of the pharmacy. Gigantic Hershey kisses and hollow shepherd crooks full with M&M’s. Grown men wearing flip flops. Little boys in cowboy boots beg beside the bike rack, tears in the corners of their eyes. 

I can’t settle my heart. It liked living outside too much. For my thirties, my eyes and my feet are best friends. They do everything together. Partners witnessing crime. Flying down Old Post I can not help for the life of me the feeling there is hatred and resentment more so than white knuckles and hidden toes powering the machines passing me. It is an old Jeep, I confess, I don’t dare push past the speed limit, so I damn near see the whites in their eyes as they ride my spare tire bumper. There are young men in the Walmart almost through the door when they spot a single lady walk in all by her lonesome and nod their heads together and turn around.

My deepest prayer to date is that I’m wrong. 

Answered by family, warmed by fire, wrapped in mist in the foggy corner of the county we call home. I want to turn around and grab those boys by the scruffs of their necks like tomcats. I want to buy that kid his bike. I want to take the gun out of those paint stained fingers and kiss that man on the cheek if I have to. Wrap him up in a hug and ask him what’s the last thing he forgave. I want to let her know she’s safe, but I don’t have to, anyone wearing pajamas in public is already far more comfortable in their own skin than I ever have been. I want to buy all the milk almost past its date. Tell the people wearing blue vests and name-tags how proud of them I am, how honored I am to be helped along by them, how I never would have found HDMI converters without them. 

As I drive, I get real afraid the mist is smoke. I imagine deer throwing long tan legs out like Rockettes onto the stage. I wince at the sight of roadkill. I throw the Jeep out of gear and coast downhill, thinking how that engine is idling same as if it was sitting still in the driveway, going fifty-five and bouncing across the flimsy bridge at the bottom. If it doesn’t bend it breaks. 

What are we all doing with our life? This is our one shot at the world. What are we all doing at Walmart at eight o clock on a Wednesday night. Looking so sour. Looking down sights. Staring down strangers. 

Strength. True strength. Is not stubbornness, or rigidity. When the man said love your neighbor same as you would love yourself, he could just as easily have said, if a bridge doesn’t bend, it will break.

The Billionaire

Have you ever had a billion anything? Let alone dollars with unquestionable, government-insured value. Once you get enough money to feed a single generation of your family, you start squirreling away nest eggs for your grand kids to make omelets with later on, and their kids, and so on. No one has a billion dollars. Not even the humans in the world who do. You see, there’s this funny thing about money. It actually all exists in a state of perpetual gambling.

It’s an investment, you see, because if there were to be some hiccup in society, I’m not sure how far paper money will take you. It requires a lot of institutions to be in place to funnel all of us to be so dependent on one form of trivial, flighty currency. Never before has it been like this. Never.

Salt used to be money. Grass. People even. Never flimsy green printed paper. There are shepherding policies all throughout our government that keep us herded onto this singular commercial token. First off, taxes. Can only be paid in dollars. Though value has infinite forms. No matter your trade, your content, your product, your crop, before you pay the debt you owe to society you will have to convert it all through greasy means into our economic system’s sole currency. And you will lose out in the translation. You always do. In fact. You’ll be taxed for the sales transactions you were forced to commit in order to exchange that little morsel of prized value you wrought from life and effort. My time is money. Why am I not invited to offer two weeks of labor to pay any tax debt I owe. Why can I not grow food, are there not welfare programs in place to provide food to people in need? I have land. You know. You’ll see where we’ve paid taxes on it as long as it’s been in my family. I could grow you some food, or build some housing you could offer, or I could show up with a shovel and give two weeks of labor.
A couple grand worth by my own math.

The things we don’t question. It’s not on accident.

My dream is a different form of economic thinking for the rural areas of America, and the world as a whole. An agrarian, barter based system where we are only bound by our mutual need as a community. You have to know the creeks that part your land don’t end where your property line is. You’re not being a good person, or a good neighbor, by considering having a formal relationship with the people living and farming in the area around you. That’s called common sense. We could do half the work we are putting on our government if we intentionally built communal and agricultural infrastructure in our local areas.

National, global issues, they’re like advanced courses you only take once you’re near the end of your major. They’re not for everyone. Most people only want a basic, general understanding of what it takes to be alive, to sustain any substantial, generally happy life over time. The prime focus of any person should not extend further than fifty or so miles out from where they live. Where they’re rooted. Water systems. Growing seasons. Sustainable agriculture. Barter-based local businesses. Education. Recreation.

Then, when our lists are marked off, the chores are done, we can sit on our porches and fail to imagine a thing left to do. We light our pipes. Cross our legs.

Rock back, and ask, so what’s been going on with Kanye West?

Life is Brian

What if the revolution doesn’t have to touch the system. Finds it isn’t necessary to replace any of the words we’re currently using. What if revolution did all of its work, instead, on definitions. Let me give you an example. Our definition of the word life is insufficient. We define it like it is a state. And any of us full on the food we just ate, knows the word life doesn’t functionally describe all the work we are doing just to keep alive. Life, as far as we know it, is a process. Every human you experience is somewhere in the midst of an ongoing equation we all share in. Adding water, hopefully in the right amount, to carbon-rich nutrients, boiling in a leaky furnace we’re always working hard to regulate the temperature on. To call this massive, overlapping story some vague and singular thing, like Brian, is misleading.

I hope that example helped some. Because the point I’m making is crucial.

You haven’t done anything for Brian if you set him down on land he doesn’t own, no job, no clothes, no home, no food. You haven’t helped Brian either, if you bury him in the clogged heart of a city where anything he might eat or drink will depend on little green pieces of paper in his pocket. You see, Brian is not an isolated occurrence. Brian is actually a complex equation. Anyone who claims to create a system intended to feed and assist him would do nothing more than protect the elements of that crucial pursuit Brian is perpetually caught up in. Same as the rest of us.

Brian is all he has. Selling him the basic necessities for his own survival, is by definition, a monopoly. We don’t have to change that one. But life, on the other hand, is a definition we will need to update. Let me do that.

Life is harrowing plotline, with complex villains and heroes, the dragons that seek you and monsters for your enemies. As soon as you settle, you’ll be spurred on by hunger, and as soon as you’re sated, thirst will wrest you from your seat and set you digging wells and chasing rivers.

We’re all free. Correct? I mean, I think I read that somewhere, buried by our country’s waxing constitution. So. If we’re all free. Then I suppose society’s intention isn’t really to police human freedom. It must have been created to assist us all in the tedious writing of this complex novel we call living.

Then why does all food cost money?
Why does all water cost money?
Why is housing one of the most expensive, and essential, resources to come by?

Hmmm.

Why would society set itself up, and establish economies around selling us products
we die if we ever dared to boycott.

Some big questions there. Our definition of life should be big enough to answer at least a few of them. And we are falling short. Life is not a state of being. The same way we discuss freedom. We act like we’ll fight one war and have it for good for all our family for all eternity.

Point being, if we have the right to life, we have free and equal access to the resources essential to even beginning to sustain a state one could call alive. Nothing needs to be rewritten, or changed. No new amendments needed. It’s just that word life.

We’re too close to see it clearly.
With a little adjustment to perspective, we could all come to know life
by it’s true definition. The full meaning of the word life.
And wouldn’t you know.

It’s Brian.

Timing is Everything

If I could write one sentence to act like a key and unlock all others I would.
But words don’t work that way anymore. They’re like us. They caught our curse.
And have started breeding new forms all on their own. But I can glimpse its outline.
The spiny silhouette it leaves on the blank backdrop of ignorance. My own not knowing. Is known. I know it. Every challenge. Every mountain. Admitting my own inability
is the first step. Where did they teach you strength came from?
The only place I’ve ever found it is when I was too tired to look.

My sentence.
The key that disbolts the cell that holds me. All of us. Set free.

Delineation between equal parts is asinine. It is a waste of time. One side could tower miles above the other, but if one little shredded up piece of another being is needed to procreate another mile high colossal tower, they are the same size.

A poet has no problem knowing this.
A poet holds a whole oak tree in the palm of their hand.
Only others call it an acorn and move on unmoved.

That is something the poet can not do.

A certain sort of soil. Words. Ideas. Congealed into ideals and composted mantras
throwing up little green fuzzy leaved tomato sprouts this spring.

If you value grapes too high you’ll never let them spoil. And you’ll never taste wine.
If you value grain too much, you’ll never thrash it and mash it into flour.
And you won’t know bread.

Follow your principles out on your own before you inflict their conclusions onto others.
Shake the damn tree. Do not wait for storms or swarms of pests to test them.
Imagine. Consider all things.

Patience is like this amazing mayonnaise that can be put on just about anything and make it a little bit better. Or worse. There’s more time in this stuff we call life than I trust any one of us to admit. But yet, there is. By all means we may have a God who had a hand in every corner of existence except for the clock. Our sense of time seems off.
We could have a God who looks at life and death
and doesn’t see such a gulf.

Keep no living heroes.

That is my advice in response to the sudden wave of awareness about the disparagement between sexes. You will find no easy data here. No clear answer. Just when you come up close to thinking it is all of them, you will be surprised. That is the way it is with humans. These are human issues. Within the procreation and sustained development of Man,
the existence of both women and men is required.

Are we surprised at the symptoms of patriarchy?

We took it on without any scientific exploration. We just keep pushing forward forms invented solely by men. More specifically, predominantly white men. We’ve updated our colored pencil collection. But it’s still their black and white drawings we’re filling in. And it’s producing boys who treat the world like toys. To so much surprise. If these are the celebrity stories spilling out, just now, after years, imagine the backcountry congregations and small hometowns and gated neighborhoods full of nobodies exposing themselves without permission, taking liberties with children, even members of their own families. I have heard the stories. Just about every single one of the females in my life has multiple stories that ball my fist, and make me wonder how anyone let these men say and do these things and live.
That’s the typical want to be a good guy response. More violence.
On top of our problem. With violence.

I’m angry. But not surprised. I’ve been a man my entire life. I played soccer in high school, I was in a fraternity in college. Anyone who defends or seeks to lessen an impact of, or response to, any of these forms of sexual violence, is apologizing for their self, their friends, their younger years, their peers, a son who got caught, the many more who were not, ever. Out there in the world leg crossed on the couch. Kids springing throughout the house. A spouse. And when he says a drawn out well, or begins a sentence with but, he is forgiving his own actions. He is doing what he has always done. Since that night. That afternoon. That morning when no one was around, and an implication did the work of social demonstration and time. And the thought that flashed through his mind. If not now, when? Maybe never get this chance again. He didn’t even wake back up into himself until after the flowery flutter of his orgasm had passed. He goes back to the path he was on. Doing what men do best. Committed to lives of distraction. Things work out. The universe doesn’t crash down karmic revenge on his head. In fact, now that he’s committed this act, he is open to an entire social circle of other men who have done the same thing. Who apologize for one another as often as they can, in the company they keep, with the policies they change, their plans.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m very fortunate to suffer from a massive overabundance of trust issues. A highly anxietized form of bold curiosity. Too much imagination for my own good, essentially. And when these boys told me their stories of playing with all these toys, sometimes until they broke, I listened. And I kept thinking how a well placed pocket knife would have taken them out of the gene pool for good. I am angry. So I think stupid things like how women should work blades and small weapons into their boots and stockings. When I know they should never have to. But these boys will never change. You can not wait on them to become men. It will not happen. They would have to go back to that night, or whenever, whatever it was, and make it right. And they won’t do that.

Another symptom of having only half a species invent, establish and organize society
without equally consulting the other half. They forget they are only half.
Half the species. Half the experience. Half of their crime.

I say keep no living heroes for that exact reason. Heroes are only half. The other part of a story like that, is struggle, loss, war, monsters and devastation and suffering are what call heroes out of hiding. Patriarchy is hero government. Their power is defined by destruction, not by a pursuit of peace. Of ease. Of simplicity. No heroes required. The self fulfilling prophesy of one half believing it’s the savior of the other half. When there are no more clear villains, that is what the living hero will become. He won’t be able to give up his cape.

He’ll be obsessive about instances of imitated control.
He will consider his strength indicative of dominance.
He will let the people he loves come to harm so that he can don his cape and save them.
He will construct a government for all people thinking most about what his sons will do for a living.
He will apologize for criminal actions because he is internally crippled by the guilt of what he got away with.
God will look like him.
Messiahs and saviors and saints will be erected in his image.
Cities will function as monuments to fallacy.

He will do most of this subconsciously. And bringing it to awareness will assuredly bring out the villain in him. And he will fight a war against the world, before he breaks down and confronts his own memory. I have no patience or forgiveness for heroes like him.

I learned to keep no living hero. All mine died a long time ago. Their stories are known.
Told by the only honest author in existence. Time. Try not to take it personally.
We’re just a far more trustworthy species once we’re done navigating life.

Hard Medicine

You do not apply a tourniquet to kill the limb. But to stop it from bleeding. We have lots of hard medicine like this. Never ending analogies for when we restrict a thing temporarily in order to help, or heal, or understand it. So I am confused how so many of us are convinced we have to be for or against. Everything. All the time.

You can support gun ownership, the second amendment, you can support high volume magazines and rapid fire semi-automatics, and still admit there is a problem. When someone suggests increased legislation, you are allowed to nod along and understand. Because it is understandable. You can absolutely love something, someone, and still hand them bitter medicine every now and again, because you know it’s good for them. No one likes the taste of these words. This conversation.
And the silver lining is, we aren’t supposed to.

You love the limb. I know how much you treasure this hand.
But when it’s bleeding, don’t blame the doctor who brings out a tourniquet.

Once the bleeding has stopped, and we go a year or two, maybe a few, without that arm being involved in a violent mass murder, you will find an incredibly accessible, appropriately positioned platform to defend your right bear it.

But for now, you have to understand this is medicine.
I know you hate the idea of it, of maybe losing your hand.
But it is time to stop shaking your head.

I’ll go so far as to say, if you would argue against anyone who suggests restricting access to the destructive instruments involved in every single one of these incidents, I don’t know where you and I go from here. You can support gun ownership, the second amendment, anything you like, really.

But suggesting restrictions for murder tools is a natural, normal, expected
and anticipated response to this sort of violence. Arguing against that response,
because an industry has made you believe you have to be either for or against
some set of tools you really like, is emblematic of a deeper character flaw.

I get defending your right to own a weapon.
I do not get defending it in the face of loss.

The arms you do have the right to bear are clearly bleeding.

I don’t hate your guns.

But I’ll be damned if I watch this country
bleed to death because of them.