From the Minds of Children

I imagine the very first writers as scavengers. Hikers. Walking village to village, collecting what noises each individual, isolated collection of humans have thrown at rocks, hills, rivers, trees, seeing what sticks, forgiving what doesn’t as nothing more than babble. The idea that one great thinker sat down to put down language is absurd. That is not the way the human mind works. It is far more likely language was discovered by children. Babies even. Probably the first of us to erupt into laughter, and then, call it a giggle just after. I’d be amazed if an adult ever invented a single good word. Grown ups just name things after what they heard, the sound they make. Bark. I give that to an old person. Scrape. Cough. But not grass, not oak, not maple or throw. Little children safely insulated inside their villages gave title its title. And the rarest of humankind, the poet, made a career out of restlessness. Searching out the particular phenotype of a phrase as it evolved up and down the Euphrates. Moving on and contaminating the next group with how their neighbors call after their dogs, how they describe the blood red hearted logs that stink like shit. Red oak and red cedar and straight as an arrow Tulip poplar.

Poplar, staring into startling coals, dodging embers as they explode. Poplar. I’m sure that was popular. Right off the bat. Bat. A simple mind came up with that. But it took a genius to collect it and put it beside strings of others and carry it just as if it were as important as hard crusted bread or zucchini seeds or dried meat. Lion. Easy. Giraffe, not so much. Cat. Lizard. Leopard. Sherpa. Sauna. Stain the plate orange lasagna.

Every word is a moving target. A symptom of evolution, a flower off a creeping vine. A changing thing. Which explains all of relativity. A cold hand in less cold water does not equal the word warm. Because cold, and water, and warm, are just words. Just noises. Sounds that bubbled up from our throats and just so happened to get stuck against some unwitting, innocent object, also evolving, moving, changing.

All the quirks in existence can be explained by the little sentence printed along the base of side view mirrors on cars. Objects will appear larger in the construct of language than they ever are in the construct of reality. Because they were made that way. Like a microscope. What does it show. Truth. Indelibly. Definitely. Yes. But no. Not at all. In no way whatsoever, also. Does that make sense? That some truth can only be made clear via distortion, manipulation. The world around us must be twisted like a sopping dishrag in order to find out what it’s made of, emptied, when articulated fully. Through a little bent glass a microcosm of bacteria, cellular structure, viral culture materializes. The invisible can be made visible if you close one eye and squint the other one just right with the right amount of light aimed up through an empty space below a downturned, concentrated, scrunched up face. Point that same bulb of clear melted sand up at the stars and you’ll reach a far different conclusion. Darkness. Blankness. The dankness of empty, far off, lonely and desperate outer space. Is that true? Of course it isn’t. To see what isn’t out there more clearly a distortion of a totally different type is required, perhaps a couple bulbous lenses and a linear tube and no light at all whatsoever, and you’ll actually begin to peer into the past. Planets zoom past. Stars already dead and gone still filtering into wide open curious minds. And is that the truth, through a telescope, the other worlds that can be seen with one eye pressed into a cylinder, stared into well placed mirrors, seeing almost every single thing to forsake one’s self. Yes. And no. It is a trick and a truth. And yet, if we discounted the view, how much of our universe would we lose. The galactic framework of our marvelous blue green white marbled planet.

Language. Literature. Words. How much they have in common with low light, bent glass and mirrors. More than we would ever be comfortable with. Which is how we got ourselves into this mess. Trusting the noises that erupt up out of us more than the cavernous realms that gobble up and regurgitate them back at us.

If the words do not exist to articulate, or describe any section of this, it’s not there, it doesn’t exist. We haven’t really figured out the methods or status of the divine, so it isn’t there, we’re all atheists. Believers are worse about it than outright disbelievers. The word belief says it all. By not being the word known. Why would we not back up and readjust the microscope. How could a self respecting scientist peer down, give the knob a little twist, and not resist the conclusion they desire. The easy one. Nothing. It seems pessimistic, but nothing is the thing people hope for more than any other gift of life.

We don’t go back to the drawing board, pack the hiking pack, travel the world, asking children how they call the air we breathe, how they articulate the depth of the sea, or the fullness of space. We call it invisible. We invent words like empty. Void. Lonely. Where children paint pirate ships and abandoned train cars and alien worlds.

I like to imagine those first poets wandering the countryside, scavenging for noises, grunts, moans, taps and clicks and pounding fists and the futile, barbaric yawp of men and women and non-binary minds alike. I like to hear them unifying a thousand different sounds all around the same little bent growing trees, itchy vines, purple flowers. The same exact thing. With an entire spectrum of half names and partial titles and God’s honest gut impulsed recitals. Wheat. Corn. Cabbage. Turtles. Titans. Continents. Mountains. Clouds. Ponds. Wells. Swells. Sand dunes and rock slides and full on white death avalanches chasing what they hope to carry and are soon to bury. The strong survive to sing about it. Track down a poet, and share with them umph for umph the story of it.

Oh, to be a writer in those days prior to words. An author of sounds and noises and explosive bodily functions and the shushing of waves and how the wind sounds like rain and the scream of a bee sting and the gentle sugary buzz off honey. To have lived and walked and traveled before there were enough maps for there to be a thing called lost. Life its self was purely a prize before the invention of the word cost. Surely made up by a grown up. The word responsibility. Probably ripped off from some child running full speed and leaping across their sleeping parents screaming the word ability. Life, dripping from the lips of babes like honey, stingers still in the tips of their fingers, and an old person coming up from behind and to chastise them by putting the word be in front of it. Shape up. Be life. Belief. In endless things we ought to know.

What I wouldn’t give to be a poet back before poets. Before farmers. Before politicians. Before lawyers, and office managers, and kings. When no one had anything. What choice was there but to grow. To scavenge. To walk the countryside and listen to water babble, worse than children about making up words and schemes. Back when sleep was the same as dreams. Birds flew in clouds and stars were dancing bears and shifting soldiers and long handled cups with cracks in the bottom leaking rain. When poets wandered like water the path of least resistance, and filled their bellies every night by telling stories and filling minds. When a single word held in it an epic tale. Chasing after dogs and cats, their epic tails. Recounting every noise of every tribe as they try to describe the exact same blade of auburn colored cattail headed grass. Talk about an epic tell. The boom off the tree that fell. The infinity of a field and how that feels when it has blistered your heel and decides to hold on to your foot print, and let everyone know the way you went.

I like to think how we didn’t start telling stories until long after the world decided to keep us in its story. Story. How many blades of grass, how many different species of trees, how many you’s and me’s, are in that word, alone. How many poets did it take to settle on that word, story. And to this very day, no matter where you are, you’ll find a different definition. We’re still fast at work on a new edition, every single writer ever, wants a crack at a new expression.

But they haven’t heard. They haven’t listened. Too obsessed with ancient religion.
To remember, the best words have always been born from the minds of children.

I’m not a plumber

If you kind of clench the back of your throat and blow air out slow, almost growling, you can imitate this sound. If you can snip your tongue to the edge of your gums and lips, you can crackle just as the fire did. Rumble, down in your stomach. Without much effort, you can imagine what we were doing here. Smiling. Pat on the backing. Happily projecting.
Like everybody does.

Projectors.

We have a language full of dirty words like a tool box. Screwdriver. Phillip’s head. Good for you Phillip. Nails. Screws. Socket. Stud-finder. Okay. Daddy doesn’t want help with his tools anymore.

Let me do this for you. I’m not a plumber, or an electrician, or a roofer, or a carpenter.

I’m a writer.

Let me set you straight. If you’re reading this, you’re currently caught up in a process we call life. No matter what you have been told, there is no assurance you will ever have another one. You’re not alive on accident, and you’re not alive without stipulation. You, or someone close to you, has been doing a lot of work to maintain you in this state. Alive. For just the one time.

You’re saying things you heard on TV. We know. We heard it too. You’re saying them to people who are speaking about things they did not see on TV, things they lived through, decisions they have made.

Brace yourself.

Television has been lying to you.

Big Words

Love: A line of credit you’ve given very few people access to that has no spending limit, that despite your current situation, one way or a thousand installments after, you will eventually pay the balance.

God: A monosyllabic reminder that Mankind invented language, and when language fails to name something, the fallibility is in the vocabulary, not the universe.

Death: A superpower life discovered early on that allowed us to not just learn from our failures, but eat them up for supper also.

Cruelty: Doing to others, solely without second thought as you have had done to yourself. Severe lack of story. Caught up in some moment. A tangent. The overfermentation of desire. The flex of weakness.

Trust is a sail.

Faith is a paddle.

Hate is what anger becomes when it matures. Be careful not to make an enemy of hate.
The word enemy is a doorway for the hateful. Make them fuss at you through a window,
a good word for that is called a neighbor. Hate is a season. Hate is a debit account.
Once it’s spent it’s done and gone. The overdraft fee on hate is criminal.

Hope: long list of chores and an early start.

Concrete Poetry

We are taught, first, desire. After that. We are free.
To bend all facts into confirmation with our conclusions.
Desire plus history multiplied by tradition equals expectation.
Which is the bane of contentment.

What if we were taught, first, anything except desire.
Perception, born of reception, as simple as keeping eyes open.
Especially when everybody elses are closed.
We would see. Maybe. Desire is nonuniform. Flighty.

Expectations are founded on desire like blueprints are paper.
We end up putting poems down in concrete.
Currently reading a canon of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue.
It’s not an accident. It isn’t coincidence. It’s birthdays.
It’s Christmas. Allowance for doing the dishes.
All hopes and wishes.

Everything parents ever wanted but never received.

And so, we were taught, first, the desire to be deceived.

Left to Write

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.

Have you ever been on top of a mountain in a lightning storm, and not been able to wipe the smile from your face? It is exhilarating, being debilitated, and forced to accept the humble stature you maintain as your soul’s sole weapon against giants.

There really are purple mountains draped in footprints like majesty.
All the stories we read about who we have been as people, did not feel like a story while it was happening to those individuals.

The definitions of all words fall terribly short of that one. Love. How could you.
Why would you. What is truth. What is that thing on the other side of it.

These are not unanswerable questions.
But they keep getting asked by people who never sought out these lessons.
They ask them for the simple sake of making others believe they are fake.

They’re not.
Nothing is.

I have seen things you would not believe, I know, because you already don’t.
Nobody seems to believe that what I am doing here in my journal is far more than a hobby, or habit, or skill, or desire.

I’ve spent my entire life conjuring up answers to questions like what is love, is there a God, why is life the way it is, what is the purpose of all of this, and more so, saying them clearly, simply, in common vernacular with mildly artistic embroidery. So ask me. So that I can finally answer my big question. Who am I. And I will tell you.

That while you are alive, no matter how many answers you find,
there will always be at least one more left to write.

The Algebra of Human Emotion

Language is not reality. No more than one plus one equals two. I used to always argue this back when I was in school. To the truly left brained minds, it was a lot of fun. But one. Does not exist. One. Is a living, breathing, intangible reference. Always. To something else.

The point is, one what? What is a one without a what? An object. One flock of thirty geese plus one flock of fifty five geese and one confused pigeon, does not equal two flocks. One plus one is a highly inadequate equation to measure these, and most of life’s sordid, overlapping, seemingly never ending botherations.

Even for humans. One plus one is far more likely to equal a Brian than it is to add up to two. And then the question changes from what to who. Until so many stories entangle and we need to use a different sort of math to sort them out.

Storytelling. Literature. Language.
Is not reality.
So much as it is
the algebra of human emotion.

All Good Confessions

Nobody writes about dragons. Dragons are a mythological concept, probably derived from our ancestors finding dinosaur bones and inventing explanations. There is no actual quantifiable definition of a dragon. It is fiction. So no one who writes about them is writing about dragons. They’re just like the rest of us. We’re all writing about ourselves. Greed. Selfishness. The amassing of great hoards of equity, virgins and gold, that we can never access. The value of both can only be measured in the instant either one is handed over. Gone. Changed forever.

Nobody writes about witches and wizards and jumbled Latin roots and millennial blurred line friendship turned love stories. They’re writing confessionals. Just like me. Just like the greats, who filled the canon with black ink powder and wounded us for generations into the future. Injuries for which there is no suture. We pray for clean burns and exit wounds. We are writing about the nature of art, the nature of nature, putting down our part. A wand is a stick. But a pen, now that is a funnel for power. Killing spells, renewal curses, habitual rituals like brushing our teeth or setting up the coffee. There is no such thing as magic. The greatest witches and wizards of our time will tell you. There are human beings behind all of this holding strings. Hiding the miracle of reality behind a barrage of earthly, domestic expectations.

Goblins, and elves, and demons and sorcerers. We suffer under such a deficit of imagination in our time. No one alive invented these things. These ideas. Creative, moldy leftover remains of our giant, untraceable, easily arguable collective unconscious. Our universe’s big memory. Like an ocean. Comprised of all these droplets of our individual memories. If you could journey back thousands of years, the people who first wrote about them were not inventing, or being creative, or imaginative. These writers would tell you they were translators. Observers. Watchers. The fiction was so good, because no where in their minds was it fiction.

Nobody is living anymore. Nobody imagines if there were no word for tree. How many sounds would you throw to the ground to see which one sticks to rocks. We are so wrapped up inside of our own culture, it’s stagnate. The most imaginative, our very most creative, are interpreting nothing. They’re regurgitating primeval themes and re-branding the myths and fantasies of medieval minds.

One should not trust the metric of consumption as reflective of success. I’ve seen people, and animals, eat some terrible things with smiles on their faces because there was only ever a menu of terrible things. Sometimes you don’t even see how clouded the glass is, until there is clean water on the table. A powerful, moving, world changing novel, that isn’t based on a children’s fable. But reality. Capital T Truth.

I like it when heroes have to wash their hands. Or sit with a child, trying to keep it from crying. Or sewing holes in crotch of their long underwear. For me, magic cheapens, tarnishes, makes a farce of all these actions. The presence of one real, undeniable, wand waving miracle in this world darkens and dampens and disrespects every experience untouched by such formal grace. My answered prayer shines a burning spotlight onto the unanswered prayers of thousands of others who honest to goodness probably need it more than me. Magical abilities would produce more overweight wizards than it ever would heroes.

Not even if we believe, if we’re even just mildly curious if this world is the creation of some untouchable, unknowable intention, if it is all on purpose, then why are we trying to escape it so desperately?

Why can’t wizards be true, and goblins for next door neighbors. The school you go to, teaching physics, literature, expression, the mathematics of how all existence comes together and falls apart, an ancient purveyor of our most modest witchcraft. Ingenuity. Invention. Imagination.

We are translators, first and foremost.
All great writers read.
Just not always books exclusively.

Nobody is inventing worlds so that we can get out of having to live in this one.
In my experience, it has been the exact opposite. They’re not telling us how it is,
but how it feels. They’re giving their confession. I can’t speak for all writers.

But most often, I write for the simple sake of it helps me to feel less alone,
whenever I help someone else feel less alone. That is my magic. A sort of miracle.

I found it at the heart of every piece of fiction I’ve ever read. No matter how extravagant. How imaginative. How other-worldly. Like all good writing. All good confessions.

I found myself looking into a mirror.

In the middle of a five army battlefield or banquet dinner or an old growth forest walking in circles. I did not feel transported. But rooted. A mouse with a sword and a shield taking on a world of sea rats and foxes triple my size and carving out a good name for myself.

Overcoming limitations. We even fantasize about our limitations. We don’t enjoy the strength without the struggle. And magic and miracles are always demonstrated with elements of suffering, humility and base need. Same as reality. There is no escaping it.

But you can always wake up in it.
There is no franchise that holds the patent on magic.

All good fiction is a pursuit of truth.

And I’m saying, I’m telling you, if you can stop glossing over it, reality is full of magic and miracles. It is the source and inspiration for literally anything and everything you have ever read.

If you also own a shovel

If you fell out of it, it wasn’t love.

If you lost it, it wasn’t love.

If it waited for your sight, if you had to use your eyes, it wasn’t love, at least not at first.

There is no such thing as puppy love. There are no lovebirds.

Let’s say something poetically asinine, like love is a flower. I ask, what is a flower?

Do roses not have thorns? Do plants not feed on decay? Are there not many completely crucial elements required for flowers that you would not call beautiful, that you would not recognize, or think of as desirable?

Love. My mother has it. But not all mothers. Love. The same farm that produces milk also creates a lot of filth. And who wants that? Who wants to know the true, putrid cost of all the things we really like a lot? I can tell this with confidence, there aren’t many of us.

It is not love if you refuse to recognize the cost. I love my child, but he will not remain a child. He is not just his wonderfully sly side smile. There are smells that come out of him that would earn the respect of a skunk. I love him, as a child, all the while, I dream of the man he will be. A man who, by all means, may not want to be like me.

Love is different from comfort, or happiness, or joy, or appreciation. Love has a dishrag in its hand already, ready to clean up after all those things.

Do you understand what I’m trying to say? Is it clear just how rare true love really is?

It is hard work.

How many people have you met who say they love hard work?

That is how many people you have met who have loved.

Staples

Thanks to Staples my manuscript is published (lol). It’s kind of amazing, books by athletes, politicians, celebrities, are published all the time. But a lifelong writer, keeping journals since I was ten (yes I have them all, maybe a two foot stack altogether) who can talk about politics, God, art, acting, farming, life and death and everything in-between without even being heckled or argued with (seriously check my posts, no one says a word, that’s rare) is rejected constantly, and treated like desiring publication is just not accessible for me, told I’m not doing enough, to wait a little longer, until I’m a little older.

I don’t know what you think about the world we live in. But when we’re tracking down teenagers who can throw a ball or take a hit, or sing every note except for one steadily and with good tone, that’s the society we get. Our writers and poets are like raccoons we say are encroaching on our city spaces, though to them, they’ve always been here. And we’re the new ones. And we leave amazing things outside in the trash.

Well, I’m a real writer, I’ve only been left scraps to feed my work, and still, I’m changing the world, one farm, one show, one job, one conversation at a time.

Eh, I’m not mad about it. I’ve been doing this so long, I can’t stop. I may be the last real writer left. Get mad at me college professors and professional chefs, but I don’t believe you’d write if no one paid you to do it. Just my belief. But I would suffer, I would steal writing time at the end of eleven hour work days laboring, I would die to put my voice on paper. On stages. On television sets and in movie theaters.

I would go to Staples and have polite, fake conversation with the guy who works there because he saw the title and thought it was interesting, and called me and Ashley hippies. I’ll even forgive that. Because it meant someone read even just a handful of words I put down. They brought them back up and breathed life into them.

I want publication in that sense. And I’ve realized, I actually don’t need an industry that doesn’t really seem to enjoy literature the same way I do anyway. Doesn’t really seem to enjoy it at all. But hey, that’s the world you get when your stars play glorified fetch or only know how to barely smile into a camera.

I’ll just be over here. Ordering copies of my books from Staples, filling up journals with shit just to see what it will compost into.

I’m your writer. Maybe the last one ever.

Don’t let me pass by unrecognized just because I never made the football team.

Five Fingered Hand

Renaissance Man.
Je ne sais pas qui je suis. J’aimerais essayer
a thousand things to see if one will stick.
Did men lack basic self esteem during the renaissance?
Were they unwarrantedly narcissistic and bold?
Did they also only tell forward thinking lies.
I only lie the word yes so I can make it a lie a little less.
By having done it.

Renaissance man.

Another way to say yes sir or yes ma’am.
Someone who forewent dabbling.
Who plies the word yes for a living.
Even though the correct word is no.

Jack of all trades.
A layman unencumbered.
Means my days are numbered.
One through seven stuck on repeat.
I’m up on my feet. About the same time as the sun.
Every morning. Clouds be damned. Rain be warned.

There’s still one five fingered hand
a well rounded worker
a renaissance man
left to the specialized world.