Free Peanut Butter

Cold May.

Bold mouse. Carefully cleaning every lick of peanut butter bait off a hair trigger trap. All night. No snap. Ashley says at this point I’m just feeding them. We’re all trapped by the same house. If we don’t hold the keys, we can’t call it heaven.

Can’t keep up with grass. Mixed greens waving frilly fists at white supremacy.
Can’t keep up with news. Or weather. Or the neighbors.

These have been the brightest days with a cloud looming over them I have ever known.

This is the fastest my garden has ever grown. Boss said we’re done licking peanut butter off the trap today boys when it snapped. And now we’re stuck. Home. Forever.
And they don’t know how to tell us yet.

If hindsight is twenty-twenty, why do we use any other kind? Whatever sight isn’t hindsight is bullshit, and we’re such convoluted, temperamental emotional cocktails we can’t trust what’s plain and played out in front of our faces. Whatever you are is not actually your brain and your brain unarguably twists details and contorts facts to appease you, like a grandma who gets you a happy meal every day, your brain looks at you wearing a little smirk and presses a finger to her ruby red lips and shushes you and you both know exactly what your brain means. We’re eating things we shouldn’t and not telling mom about it.

Buddha chartered a hindsight cruise line and Jesus ruined an otherwise nice dinner
once with hindsight.

I always get the word prescient wrong.

I don’t know why my gut wants to define it as something immediately pressing, important, mostly because of proximity. That’s not what it means. Through research, I’ve learned that prescient means eating a salad every now and again, doing physical activity on a daily basis even though no one is making you, and it can be loosely defined by the act of becoming or getting to know some food producers near you because grocery stores are still stores and their business model might not include feeding you and your family no matter what happens regarding your income and vocational viability or industry fluctuations or now, very prescient, when society has been enforcibly shut down and your ability to generate income is severely constricted or morally irreconcilable.

I think hindsight employed as regular sight is prescience.

I think in the middle of the night one night I’ll hear that wooden slap. I used pliers and bent the trigger on the trap so that I could barely set it it was so sensitive, and mixed cotton fuzz from a Q-tip in with the peanut butter. Once I snag a couple the rest learn, not much else could bring them back in the house. Cold may. But hindsight isn’t just for humans. Mice have their own definition for prescient.

For them, it’s no such thing as free peanut butter.

The trucks that come for us

Sports Utility Vehicles on flatbeds.
Abandoned basketball courts. Backboards
look down like judges robed in dead kudzoo.
The art of checking in to a hotel room.
Tricking the lady up front into putting incidentals
on the company card. The faded gray places
where there once was stark white lines
marking parking spaces. So many engines
designed around combustion sitting in rows.
Waiting to explode. To so much
‘I never could have imagined.’

How tragic.

That red Jeep Cherokee with the crumpled nose.
Just below a second story hotel room window.
Footsteps at six am, at seven cardoors slam.
And sleep. In a place I should not feel safe.

Where the keys are plastic
and so many strangers
also have them.

Yet. Here I am.
Drove down state and ended up a night at Comfort Inn Apalachin.
Just outside Endicott. The highway noise never stops.
New York mountains frame towns and keep them from being cities.
Waking up in April and the world outside is snow white.
I remember. The trucks that come for us.
When cars no longer drive.

No More than a Dream

What if it was more than an accent.
What if southern meant different color.
Dark brown bourbon skin.
Patch of red on the back of the head somewhere low about the neck.

Living up north like a sore thumb blends into a hand.
People can’t stand anything that reminds them of an experience they lack.
Prideful ignorance. Whole islands of sand to bury your head.

We call it rural America.

Main Street U.S.A.
See some places are places you go.
But a small town town is somewhere you stayed.

If my skin were different, not just my legato accent.
Not just my laid back, get to it tomorrow disposition.
But a different pigmentation in my skin.
Not even a totally different color.
Even just a slightly darker tinge.

What if?

What a question that is. How many people in this country
have not traveled enough to at some point in time been the minority.
For any reason at all. Big or small. Voice or opinion or skin color or sexual preference.
Or me. A southerner. Up north. Learning what all those boys
killing each other during the civil war
learned once they got up close. We’re not so different
as our representatives would like us to be.

The greatest unspoken fear of every political career
is that all us people ever get on the same team.

Which happens the moment our eyes really open.

Otherwise, America will live and die
no more than a dream.

 

Eyes like snowshoes

White fields framed by nighttime trees. And city orange.
Awash in fluorescent yellow. Eyes can leap where feet will never go.
And leave oval footsteps in undriven snow. Covering many miles though.
Eyes begin to tread slow. Chug like four engines no lack of motive through frozen scenes.
Ice lined creeks and snow buried streams.
A pond any old sinner could walk on.
Stalked by great fractured double u’s formed of flocks of geese.
The hungry sound made by their thousands of beaks and wings.
Throats like hard rubber.

Navy blue cap pulled down over ears pierced by studded stars.
And that great gauged bone colored earlobe of a moon.
At the outset of winter. Seems the sun gets snuffed too soon.
Makes street lights sparkle embers on the ends of extinguished wicks.
A trickle of waxy smoke in our breath.
Town lights go on as far as eyes can see.
And stars. And snow fields. Stuck ponds.
And dark clouds that honk loud as cars.
They go on much farther.
Miles past eyes can see.

But that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Broke and leaning

Short grass. Embedded yellow. Three leaves outspread.
And torn wax paper. And broke-leaning picnic table.
And gravel dented by tire tread. Leaves alive and dead.
Brown roots. Paled maize flowers misplaced by poplars.

And freedom
and an unmade path to walk
and roadways to drive along.

To follow, so far, so long, not even seen like litter.
Buildings so full of people, from so many castes,
not viewed like trash. Light blue sharing violet
in pale cloud-filtered light, at the tip of a blade of grass.
Not a needle in a stack of hay, not one of the same
stacked one on top of another, but piles of pure plethora.

Plethora festering on plethora on plethora.
A cracked black plastic spoon.
A styrofoam corner. And me.
Shoe-wrapped feet, and seated body,
and black bag, and marble journal,
and phone whistling Modest Mouse.

Short grass, embedded with yellow,
and three leaves outspread.
All torn like wax paper.
All broke and leaning.
And I am writing.
What you are reading.

Then fire again. #oldjournals

Crackling green wood
clinging shriveled brown leaves
popping and burnt wildly.
A flame just to sit beside me,
mostly idly.

Frogs with the curious voices of men speak masked in treeline.
Just a few, but they’re creeping in.

A rattling at the door from the inside, a feline,
truly getting comfortable in her windowsill,
finally still.

Listen to the soldier. The guard. The dog barking across the yard.
Imaginary shifting feet and postures.
Hostile, even toward darkness,
And ignorance especially.

Then there is howling casting base crescendos through the further distance.
Car horns sound in an instant and echo off brick walls.
In her driveway, a neighbor taking a call.

A hyper owl, and close, fluctuating cricket sounds.

Then fire again.
Illuminating a flickering page,
consuming an old pine log,
now quiet.

All the noisy young green wood is burnt up. Gone.
This is the stage when flame takes a heavy piece of wood,
and makes it light
again.

Better than a calendar #oldjournals

These longer days during summer somehow feel shorter,
yet weigh the same. Heavy bags beneath eyes.
Those lines formed on the sides of smiles or from frowning,
now drawn permanently arching parenthesis
like a frame around a painted mouth. Red,
or soft pink and sleek wormlike rippled skin of lips. Chapped,
licked seductively to find the salt of beaded sweat. Clamped,
beneath teeth in the grinding tense frictional symptom of concentration.
The weight of all these days to date, here, today,
born in the indented pool of an unseen lower back,
bone locked like knuckles wrapped in cartilage against knotted bone.
The bolt built of twisting nuts touches the big eared clown face
of that giant rattling calcium hip structure
to record the strenuous passing of time
more honestly than any calendar.