All the creeks I’ve known are running now same as the last time I saw them. That water. I saw then. It is somewhere still too. Or more likely, moving. Eddying the belly of the ocean. The one that touches all of them.
I was never good with names.
I knew a Killet’s Creek once. And a Rocky, but it wasn’t rocky, it was full of water. They used to call the one up on our land after cottonmouth snakes or something like that, and no wonder the corn mill went under. The twenty foot high mounds of dirt are still there. Covered over in scruffy trees. Smiling gap toothed across Cottonmouth Mill creek.
If you look closely in the water and partial buried in the sand, the giant pine beams they laid for foundation to dam up the water are still there too.
What is a flood to a fish. Fast running earth softening apocalypse.
White water parted around park benches. Is there a little low cabin
of stiller cold current stable along the stirred up muck lined basin.
Does the flood happen far above the heads of fish. Wait it out
weighted out way deep down. Beneath high water. New real estate.
New adventure. Was the fish’s world expanded by a natural disaster.
Thick rich one percent water heavy with death and nutrients.
Button eyes glued on and bulged out, flake of shiny black sequin set in a droplet of water
and loose to roll around while each slippery scaly arrowheaded wing throated muscle
patiently packed with tin cans rolling across the bottom of so many drowned rivers.
Horny heads hidden in creeks. Bass buried bellies brushing the bottom
of every many layered lake. Is that it, to fish, a flood. More traffic delay than catastrophe.
Bringing off the beaten path shortcuts into possibility. Honey get off at the bridge.
What bridge? I never saw a bridge here before. How could that be.
Well it never was underwater before.
I see. Said a blind fish. Lost in filth laden busybody highly agitated medium. Fast falling.
Dirty. Rich. Maybe floods are the opposite. For fish. When the weather is rough.
People hide inside and wonder how high the creek might rise,
how much more the lake can swallow before it is finally full.
But for fish, maybe a flood, means time to go to school.
I get to work in this beautiful world today. White stuff spray painted on top of green stuff. Black asphalt with white in the cracks like ice cream breaking through chocolate. A crunch to each step. Soggy leather toes. So many outspoken crows, decorating up and down trees pin dots of dark on bare bouncing branches. I will let my eyes loose like dogs freed from leashes, to run around the yard and pick up what they find. I will feed my mind soggy milk sunrises on little blue black centered spoons. Smell cold. Taste the weather. Feel it creep into my clothes and dig claws into my skin. Keeps me moving. This insistent world we’re using for a blank palette, even though it’s covered clear over in more layers of paint than one can count, brushed over like no account. But not by me. I move menial amounts of earth, and dirt, and filth on a daily basis. Many mini mountains that could not have stayed where they are without consequences. Gathering up waste because one day we’ll like the taste. One day we’ll all be that much stronger for all the shit we’ve gone through. But today, we go to work. In a beautiful world. Clouds like frozen ocean. Grass like it has seen a ghost. Cars lined in white. Every door, every window, almost every portal closed tight. Except for eyes.
I walk into the cold light of this beautiful morning with eyes open wide.
Peach fuzz on top of water.
First morning light bombarding silhouetted leaves colored lime.
Hummingbird moves little branches flitting up and down around shrubs.
Squeaky unbeautiful bird voices. Coffee breath and easy choices.
Waking reminders. Sleep is the greater portion of every day.
Affirmation of our solid universal unquestioned belief there will be tomorrow.
A pile of boots in the porch corner. Says the same thing. With silence.
Cedars beside dogwoods growing straight in the crook off sun-starved
summers spent in the shade of giants. Unilateral lines of red ants.
Wasps hover effortlessly for a few seconds and are gone for good.
Like fuzzy water. Still thick in the shade, dissipates around eight. Also gone.
And though there are a thousand better things we should all be doing. We’re not.
Like all life decided to sacrifice morning chores and collaborate
on one big monumental morning poem. While the night air still loiters coolly.
Before the summer sun has walked by with his big gun strapped to his hip
to tell us all we need to be moving along.
A good poem.
Is not written by a poet alone.
But a world on the cusp of clocking in.
And a person on a front porch sipping piping hot coffee.
Clutching their pen.
We’re sticking out sideways on a salty rock with dry patches shifting like rashes from so much tectonic scratching. Everyday we move menial amounts of dirt, and waste, and value, and paperwork, and then we go home tired, pretending there’s no tomorrow until tomorrow is honking beside the bed at six in the morning. It’s not nothing. And yet, it’s also not the something we imagined it would be.
It’s just apes with big brains and too much time on their hands, with a highly developed imitative faculty, building termite mounds and anthills, while failing to cite their sources.
We’ve invented nothing. We’ve failed at conquering our own backyards, let alone any frontiers. We are infants, evolutionarily speaking. We’re bees. Who forgot all the scavenging we’ve been doing for fifteen thousand years. We believe we’re actually shitting out honey.
We remember why
we’re the only apes
that live in hives.
The smell of cold. Dry. Sharp. A little sour white wine.
Whereas, usually, white wine is sweet. This winter is bitter.
Ice like bulletproof glass like stemware cupping all this snow
like a lightning slick bowl. Buried beneath flimsy bubbly
porous wine kept at the top of the refrigerator
too close to the freezer.
Chunky and slushy and heavy on the bottom with dirty foam on top.
Smell it. When you open the door. First thing.
The fuzzy insides of your nostrils stiffen.
Lungs have frosty fingers playing them like accordions.
Cheeks are numb and lips become brittle.
A season all on its own.
Icey disposition head buried in snow.
It is bitter weather.
It climbs into the fruit.
And it changes the flavor of the wine.
At another time, it could have been sweet.
But not this season. Too dry.
Just a thick sniff of it,
will freeze a tear to your eye.
Little fish bump and kiss loose skin around the edge of abused feet.
They feed, and tickle toes lips sweetly parted where a blister used to be.
Frightening. But gently.
Only little ones come that close.
Big fish became big fish by being fish who know
bodies seldom stop at the toes.
Movement is movement in sunlit clear fluid
and distance is a bent and twisted point of view.
I raise my hands sharp and flattened. Like a band director.
Little notes with speckled fins and silver bellies
leap at the chance to play a melody.
Whole schools of music maneuver at the flash of my hand.
Under the twitch of a pen.
Breaking water with only eyes.
Playing with fish
with my feet dry.
Click. Chuff. Scrape. Tap. The left. Right. Left. Tick tick tapping canines while deep grinding molars together. Tsh, through lips, slips, ugh drum.
Ugh drum. And a hum.
A hike is coming on strong right along.
Write alone. Up in the monster’s cove
when he should behave
and sleep like how tired he is.
Huh huh. And an ugh.
Snore like lions roar. Trick trick trick.
Dud thud drops a mouse on the shelf.
Being disgusting is its own form of stealth.
And no one can see where they don’t look.
Where a world of rodents gets left off the hook.
No one here fishes the shelters.
They’re there though.
Boo. Says the wind. Booo.
Says the bolted in ceiling.
Roof anchored down wears wind like a crown.
While foreign shores try to snatch it away.
This noise-chorus-full dark place we stay.
On top of a mountain.
Mount. Don’t know the name.
Overlooking Burke’s Garden.
Where God got booked in.
Gave over its thumbprint.
Just the same.
Mount. Sour Apples.
Or Sour Apple Pond.
I miss the sun. I miss light in my skin. I miss being out in it. Sometimes I take walks with my father’s bow. But I must have poor aim. Because I always seem to miss the things I’ve seen. The places I’ve been. The stress that saw my character compressed into this exact form. Callused fingers. Stuffy nose. Holes missing from all my favorite clothes. And now that I am more settled than I have ever been before. It is almost time to go. Back out into that summer light. The inescapable weight and heat of a whole season and a half spent leaned toward our closest star. Which is still pretty damn far. Enough that in a few months we’ll be missing it and more. Like I’m avoiding it now. Less than four feet to my right through a window. Less than eight feet and out through a door. I could hit it with an arrow with my eyes closed, but set one foot there, and they won’t pay me for it. Just take it and thank me as if I had handed it over of my own accord. Of course, I didn’t.
In short, I won’t miss the sun anymore. Or light in my skin. Or being out in it.
I have a better shot now than I ever had before. I’ve been target practicing,
launching my eyes through windows at work. And I’m getting good.
Soon, there will be a few arrows sticking out from the sun.
Crackling green wood
clinging shriveled brown leaves
popping and burnt wildly.
A flame just to sit beside me,
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,
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,
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