Five feet toe-tapping quarter notes beneath their seats. A kid in the crowd meows like a kitten and the audience howls. Some poor kid tried to clap between medleys. A teacher with a salt and pepper goatee and a baggy school hoodie on has four different smartphones in his palm. The lights are all up front. When anyone chirps into the microphone the whole system hums. Girlfriend leans on Boyfriend’s shoulder and the teacher sees and says nothing to her. Christmas music for high school students on a Tuesday afternoon in December. The Chorus dismembers and takes up instruments in their hands. They play Rudolph the Red Nosed Flat Note and We Wish You a Merry Solo. They sound perfect for what they are, as does the audience they play for. High School kids who bought two dollar tickets to get out of fourth period had no intention of paying attention to the show. Teachers with fourth period planning impressed into chaperones. The energy is palpable as kids cram together row by row, they know, there aren’t enough teachers to see all the hands. There isn’t enough light to see which mouth threw which knife. That’s what makes it a reward. And for the kids in the choir and band, they’re playing for the toughest audience of their careers: their adolescent peers. Every song speeds up from the start, from the nerves. Each shy note or apprehensive solo is heard. The kids in the crowd are distracted and loud but on the inside they could never do what they heckle. Imaginations set only to meddle. While those kids on the stage cling to metal, and do something with their breath akin to life after death, resuscitating inanimate objects into music.
The man with his back to the crowd shows them how every single day. The band director. The chorus teacher. Two English, two math, one science, all playing usher. It is for them, and they truly, shamelessly, despise us for it. Traps aren’t meant for the masses, but only the one. One animal in a trap could chew off a paw and get out. But three hundred kids, maybe twelve adults in the room, and the lights all turned down and the blinds all closed too, there’s no chewing off a limb. Two thirty on a Tuesday, last week of school, there’s no escape. It’s us or them.
could be cleaned
in another house
squeaking beneath a different hand
window-broken wall in this house
above this hand
not under it
revealing blurred movement
through a dingy window.
across the page
broken by shadows
zagging dull trails
leaves a white trail
beside white swipes
of misplaced paint
brushes missing marks by miles
in the center of the pane
shadow most solid on the page.
The window won’t ever be cleaned
yet tells more than the impenetrable tale
of a backyard. Jotted over with notes
off the nose of a dog
a strained prose on the topic
curiosity, poetry of lazy painters
paid hourly and more
fingerprints than detectives dust
proof irrefutable and close to clear
this dingy window
I am closest to the world.
It is all perfect. This is all entirely correct. The small-
ness. The triviality. Sheer, daunting, cliffscape minute-
ness. It is of vital importance. In every pursuit except excuse.
Or alleviation. From the one inarguable commandment of life.
Let us start at the beginning. At the heart.
Each tiny minuscule cell beats. Contracts.
No heart is squeezed, or pressed, or gripped into action.
Just broken into a trillion seamless pieces
All showed up to orchestra rehearsal on time
Ready to start.
No matter the proportion.
All life is collaboration.
And the further we stare exclusively outward
The smaller, less consequential, more unimportant
Because there is no universe to know outside of us.
Everything we are meant to know can not be avoided.
You are Atlas.
The boon of self awareness.
The realization that you are currently highly covetable real estate in the universe.
You’re third violin in a symphony of millions.
There isn’t one cell in a sea of heart.
You are the heart.
A heart cell.
To declare the answers to those questions are and have always been within.
And the only way to claim ignorance against them is to ask them out loud to the world.
And never whisper them alone under your breath.
If you ever so desired to learn if there was a secret purpose to life
Why should you need to ask anyone else other than yourself?
There are mountains behind those mountains. Behind those clouds.
On the other side of that rippled river. The sun is set to be delivered.
Every day not Sunday. Ironically. Ironclad igneous and soil.
Beyond a wall of water vapor. Fish in slivers still at the warm belly bottom
not feeding. Not needing. Water kneaded. In the translucent finger grips of wind.
Mountains that we know are there. Hidden, like eyes behind long hair. Obscured.
Like the tilt of the earth. Like all flying birds.
Outer space and stars and satellites shot at like skeet by shotgun eyes.
Twelve gaze. Double barrel. Vision. If I can see it, I can behold it.
Fire on distance and watch limp geese drop like slick dishes shattered to the tiled floor.
The word know.
The word no.
That can’t be seen.
Veiled by what morning missed and hidden behind that obstacle we call distance.
We believe. There is more left to see.
That it can be overcome.
By binoculars. By walking feet. By eyes.
Easy as a bullet from a gun.
The mountains are two dimensional.
And blue. And minuscule.
Rock mounds bound behind clouds.
Sound. Muffled in a muffled room.
Ends too soon.
Almost didn’t start.
I might not be smart.
Mountains might actually be massive.
Clouds could be vapor. Lighter than air.
Ridges more red-white than blue.
Who knew. Clear as a bell windows.
Still aren’t see through.
No matter what lies on the other side.
You see a window too.
There are no such things as mountains that are blue.
It is amazing what wind brings to the world.
A long travelled breeze.
Here to see hair lifted.
Made light with spirits.
Exhaled like hot breath from some southern ocean.
Sun-governed beaches lapped by rabble rousing water.
Thrown up moisture with hands in prayer.
Here is your answer right here at some distant place on the earth.
Cold air against warm shoulders and worth, moving in the wind.
Like dying could be cast off and flung into the air
for some strange distant person to hear,
who might find amazement at it.
Who might call it worth.
No corner of life is simple. It is rare to find a wholly predictable. Seldom is simplicity seen, yet it is simple enough to stare. Edit rough edges omitted smooth. Highlighted goodness and happiness. This sort of judgment can be found. Often, unavoidable.
Importance. Prevalence. Power that must be recognized by dominance. Hope climbing high into the air with trees, titans with subtle little minds, cherished thoughts uplifted, held out and free like charity and leaves let go of at the ends of seasons. Selfless. Endearing. Seldom seen for what it really seems, but for what it seeds.
Incredibly complex and selfishly. A gift better to give than to receive. In fact, power and strength, which I likened to trees, also have roots. Ants and flies and worms, climbing mammals and slow-crawling turtles lugging homes, all benefit from a lack of simplicity. The majestic, monarchal star ablaze in the spotlight of our sky, clouds, rain, mountains rebelling gravity and impenetrable obstacles asleep under rotted logs. Where is simple? Lowly? Creepily crawling forest floors. God of bright. God of massive. Clouds sparked and exploding, exhaustive radiation outward. Pressure. Gravity deep within. Molten smarts and iron whim.
I can not find a simple element in life. And I live simply. The soil is a novel. The blue roof a confessional poem. Rhymes and metaphors and simile bubble out steady like springs, until so many collect, pooled into analogies. Drowned rivers that slice the narrow banks of religion, philosophy, art. All emptied out into the ocean of Mankind, behind our complex staring eyes, within our imaginative plastic minds.
I have found simplicity. It is buried like a seed inside the benign produce of perspective.
Look at me. Do not look to me.
Your eyes pass through me.
Not like ghosts, like knives,
parting flesh in furrows, seeding lies.
Not not truth. Just misrepresentation.
Which may yet prove worse.
I am honest to myself first.
While others seek to hurt, pin, nail,
quenching thirst in drought on blood, in floods,
poured over reflecting blades curved crooked,
serving to snag more of my skin,
tear away more at my armor, laid tight,
heavy over weak pale white. Then,
look at me. Not at Jeremiah. At me.
Which, to you, is I.
This idea my work has been seeding.
It is only for you who are reading.