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.

Flower Poems

It is so hard to write about flowers nowadays. Wild weeds. Feral medicine crowding creeks or bark off cedar tree heads. There is a dead duck on the lake shore line. Could lift that as an analogy just fine. Wind bent dead branches clean over. And rotten leaves in stagnate water.

But I don’t want to write poems about them. I want to write about the sanguine tangerine colored sunset that was just eaten by the great lake Ontario. I want to put down sentences uplifting the truly inspirational people I’ve met over the past few months. I want to search my memory for words to describe the color of their eyes. But it’s getting harder.

I keep pausing movies to ask who thinks the lead will be in the headlines soon. I keep looking sideways at people in public, trying to see their eyes move when they think mine aren’t. I keep getting into arguments with incredibly decent people. Defending indecency.

I’d rather write about how green the grass stays up north even in early winter. How many times I’ve been outside shivering. Yet these naked little no more than leaves live out here all year round and do not freeze. Do not die. But thrive. Grow bumpy pale yellow stumps if you let them go tall enough.

I had New York beneath my fingernails this afternoon.
Burying orchid bulbs in black mud.
I had the sun. Held it in my mind just behind my eyes as they chewed up and swallowed slices of orange. There are little white ones with white petals fluttered like eyelashes in the lawn. There are lavender exclamation marks and yellow o’s candy striped green and a little bit of rust color on everything.

I don’t want to write about the nuclear bomb.
I don’t want to write about if it is or isn’t okay
to make adult decisions with children.

No decent man or woman wants that discussion.
You drive down the road.
No one decorates destruction in their yard.
They plant flowers.
Even the worst of us prefers flowers.
And I want years and years worth of flower poems.
And all my favorite poets.
Busy planting orchids.

Write-Handed

Write hand has lost its stamina.
Whipped-shaken fingers clacking at the end of every sentence.
And penmanship, embarrassing. Some secretive tribe-speak
encoded only in laziness. Right hand has not been writing.
It has been fighting. Curled close folded like cats on cold nights
hugging leaky windows beside the fire inside.

Forming poorly insulated fists. Lifting over and over
a backpack stuffed with old World Books.
Autographed contemporary poetry reader.
An anthology of lesbian literature.

Throwing weak punches at unflinching air.
Short-hair. Tucked shirt. Alive like all it takes to survive
happens between eight in the morning and five at night.

And it isn’t right for the wrong hand to write too long.
Hardened hands at nothing. Feed clink in crimped metal pans.
Dead goats into clay. Write the very ground into ripe gardens.

Folded and unfolded and massaging keyboards and gripping pens.
And when the write hand has been found not writing, then what then?

How often should a writer have shake out his or her hand,
just to finish a poem?

Like my father says

I can not give up making sense.
Or achieving meaning.
Writing words like creating paths.
That lead somewhere.
Not always clear.
Not hardly simple.

But driven. Direct. Aimed.
I am not carelessly launching literary missiles.
Sharp piercing life plucking arrows off into distance.
Hopeful. For a kill, a mark, never laid eyes or aimed on.
Probably never found.

I am hunting bare hands loose emptied and ready.
Scent burns nostrils flared. Prepared. Eyes trucking.
Roaming, perceptive and quick.

Like my father says, searching out anomaly.

Anomaly: a strange twitch, click, crack, a short ways off.

Headlong plunged racing sprinting
motivation leaves frightened tracks in front of me.
Easily seen. I know always what it is I am after.
And more, I know what for. Why.

A hunt should start in hunger. Need. And never before.
A sword which I have already slid in sheaths.
Rattled bundle of arrows and a bent bow.

I want to know if there is another creature in the woods like me.
Even if I have to see it bleed.

What did Trent say? #oldjournals

I used to make myself write about headlines.
As if my perspective would be sought after some future day.
That some roguing scholar might say,
what all did Trent write on the bailout,
on this election, our first not full white president,
on Libya, Syria, Benghazi, the Mayan prediction,
the Iphone evolution, the social media revolution.

Well, I used to, but then,
I was writing to be the author I desired to be,
and not the one I am.

Truly awakened #oldjournals

When you don’t go out at night to sit before a fire,
it doesn’t show up in the writing. Like the morning.
Freshly awakened. If the story carries on until evening,
will it also fizzle out with the sun, and end?

If you wake up and write, if that is your habit, then truly wake.
Head shake, rub eyes, gleam, stare hard at blank paper in early hours.
Lose focus through the window, give it to sun-kissed flowers,
brightly lit in morning air. Wake out of it. See it stark dark.
Suppressed under shadow, painted black.

Every bloom has a root, which is not so bright and beautiful.

The fire brands hands with soot,
to remind you in the morning
to write the night before.

These Details

Waxing hissing descending from high up in autumn breeze pushed trees.
Soft-hearted poplars and white oaks that shed skin like tall gray upright snakes.
Truck bed lower lip slammed echoed through otherwise quiet country distance.
Black scavenging ants that get on and into any available crevice.
Faded bricks segregated by weak taupe concrete lines,
and me, writing in red ink.
A poem about listening.
About eyes open watching.
Knocking down walls of swaying green
and throwing red pine straw mulch
and brown dust
and whipped black earth.

These details are what are, what is, what all, around me, exists.
A tangled consciousness such as this is no more or less
than the thread which has pierced and knit them all together.

So much of writing poems is so much no more than sewing.
Mending what was not the least bit broken.

For the mind is an eye unlike any other.
It can not be closed once it is open.

Where I go to write a poem

I wanted to sit and write a poem, to take an opportunity to reveal where I go.
The spots and thoughts I am inspired to throw, project my imagination,
exploring the impulse of creativity that I practiced since I was a child.

How to see a pirate ship in a playground. Fragmented backyards
framed by pine trees and shallow water, a field of battle,
straw explosions from mental mortar fire. The same full of smiles,
panting, hard at work playing child, sat down here to write a poem.

Make believe is still belief.
That is worth remembering.

Before such words

Is the poetry to be so simple?
One broken up line of broken cracked prose to impersonate poetry.
Bring up pretty bright color alongside some sad dark one. Poem.
Unexpected detail, a twist, two twists, spaced middle and end. Poem.
A difficult day to explain. A story hard as a rock to tell. Confess.
Confess it all.
Poem.

Butterfly found dead in the grass.
Hollowed out in body, left connected in the wings, painted still faded color.
Witness. Read a larger work. Not a poem. Every poem. Metapoem.
All art is killed and devoured just being recorded. Drawn.
Passing through a sore hand, the story a dead insect tells Man.
The paintings on the walls of the animals who were dinner.
The clouds. Green ground. And red. Deep red. Blood. Metapoem.
Recording of the first ever muse: guilt.
Poetry to redefine poetry.
Metapoem.

The long winded verse of words written into steps on a trail.
Meticulous. Repetitive. Climbing to a climax. To witness life,
poetically, but from sharp, vital perspective. Call it prose.
Falling as sudden as it rose into a deep trough marked resolution.
Every sight and destination along the way. Prose.
The sun setting. Cold nights full with falling stars
and the garbled singing voices of owls. Prose.
Again, as soon as the sun rose, up to clouds and rain and more walking too.
The sole pursuit under every tortured step. Prose.

Please. Do not forget the leaps once taken to cross the hurdle.
The deep creek. The fallen tree. The inherent poetry off blind leaps of faith.
And the daily. The progress. Forward movement climbing and dropping.
The endless purposeful footsteps of prose.
Journeys taken before adventure had a name.
The art we created, carried,
the stories and poems we wrote,
before such words had ever been written.