Working hard or hardly working

There is a difference between exercise and labor.

Both can help your health, could cause injury, or swell ego. Except, physically demanding chores are a little different. When accomplished correctly, they leave behind a pile of split firewood, or dripping clean dishes, or a new row rolled over in the garden.

In a gym, this experience is for sale. The impact grows firm in sore muscles, or rinsed with expensive sweat down the drain in the shower after. For your money, you get strong and healthy, but only around repetitive motions specific to mindless machines, a heavy iron bar and round silver dumb-bell ears.

Even simple tasks like cutting grass, however, on your feet pushing a smoke puffing mower, or filling holes in the road, or turning compost over, or digging gardens by hand, exercises your thinking-organ as well.

Eyes, ears, mind must go to task with body, so as to not waste effort. Cause injury to yourself or others. Damage the yard. Break a tool. A tsk tsk task. It is as mentally engaging to get good, essential chores accomplished as it is physical.

Compared to mind numbing counting and losing track of turns around the track, rote transitions through this machine or that, stretching out on the mat, cardio, bodybuilding, athletic training for bookkeepers, an army of well-tended iron on wire cords.
Such monotone, even-tempered, routinized methods of getting into or maintaining desired shapes. It all becomes another way to measure ourselves against others.

Splitting firewood, cutting and hauling yard trash, moving earth, putting down power tools and doing the work by hand, won’t win you any speed or strength or body building competition. But it will make you stronger. And the gym has been in business longer.

The Window

could be cleaned
should
would
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.

The light
it splashes
across the page
broken by shadows
intersecting lines
zagging dull trails
where moisture
streaked
dripped
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
that here
this dingy window
I am closest to the world.

Oh you life

Oh you life, pompous and loud, loopy yet proud. Lightning crashing parties in heaven.
At the entrance telling lies that barrel down deep like thunder, a second too late, truth debates shaking ground from sound, flustered, rippled air. The clouds hoisted rain withheld,
dangled, above head, just out of reach, beyond, water in aerated ascended ponds
casting shade and crooked lines so thin you can see through them, translucent,
as rain rapidly sinking, the ferocious storms of real, devoted thinking, consideration. Uncompromising. Life, oh, how there are those who paint you anywhere
other than in raging weather, wind leaves trees giant rustled chickens
flashing pale upturned feathers, branches falling crashed lightning but closer, nearer,
thunder felt under feet, in ankles, before there is time to even hear.
There are those who do not know the meaning of awe.
Most feel only frightened, tired, ducking heads, cowering out of the rain,
cursing an unknown creator seed-planting our pain. Oh my life.

When I was a child, how I loved the sunny dispositions of my parents.
And vilified heir strifes. The complex truth of their lives.
The disparate realities of parents.

Oh life, like parents, your love, your presence, is one of many forms.
But it wasn’t until I was grown and worn, that I found comfort in storms.

Little Boy’s Beauty and the Beast

Why would you want a fancy prince when you already have a fearsome beast? You have the girl and the castle and servants all immortal, all entrapped within their service. What makes it a fable is the imaginary assumption anyone would try to fix the curse. Beauty and the Beast is a patriarchal vision. The whole thing starts with a kidnapping of an accidental trespasser who is then locked in a personal dungeon. Then, leveraging the old man for his young intelligent daughter. What is a redemption arc when it becomes twisted? Perhaps more of a redemption roller coaster with no resolution at the bottom, just little boys begging for another ride who will soon be carried to the car in tears for answering their parents’ fears.

Without a harrowing repentance, there can be no redemption. The greatest fiction is that a man turned beast at this point in his authentically cursed existence, is capable of innocent, consensual, passive and pacifistic love. To what gain? His cruelty to women is what birthed in him unimaginable magical power and prowess. He lives in a little boy’s paradise. In a world where our choices surrounding love will one day turn us all into monsters. Some unfortunate little girl dreams she’ll scheme to change the theme and turn the beast.

Like a Jekkyll and Hyde in reverse. Super human ability born of a curse. The tragic hero with the power to make the changes the world needs, but a slave to the sacrifices that power demands.

Beauty and the Beast could be a cautionary tale for father in laws, maybe, a fantasy for beast-taming bookworms, perhaps. But for little boys it is all about the beast. The ability to fight off wolves in the night. How those sharper claws don’t ever fully retract.

How having the power to protect also endangers the ones we love.

The Purpose of Life

Chores to do. More to move. Horse to shoe. Oh wait.
Horsefly and shoo. Sure. I’m up. Not firing on all fronts.
It’s early. There is energy.
But here I sit. Front porch writing.
Trading grips between a pen and a ceramic lip.
Trading discomfort hip to hip on a hard wood rocker.
Seat of power seems oxymoronic.
Though I am sure that it isn’t.
If more people with power sat on it,
there would be less obstacles to the simple, family-centric
lifestyle poor folk have fought for far too many manly centuries.

It is crazy people pretend we don’t know the purpose of life.
Yet so many live identical expressions of it for the same motivations.
If life had a purpose, why would it be distant and hard to grasp?
No. It comes bubbling up out of us.
Grumbling deep inside of us when we do not feed it enough.
These chores. That bill. This meal. And its cost.
No one can give freedom. In that sense, freedom does not exist.

Freedom is the only sanctioned slavery.
It is ownership of the self.

The Monopolization of Need

It takes the greatest power to give up power. It is the rarest trait witnessed in Mankind. There are those in the world in the grip of lesser power who scoff at the idea that anyone would give it up, they laugh and they deny the existence of those who would refuse to drink from their rim-stained cup. They hate their lives, which they’ve turned into never ending seeks and never ending hides, and their new friends are always their best friends until they find new friends and it never ends that they always end. Haven’t called their mothers in months. But will sit on a barstool and sob to strangers such strange confessions that no one knows what they are listening to, crimes or allegations. 

It is a well-funded, well-dressed, and quite sober seeming lie, nonetheless, money alone has never made anybody happy. Look at the lives of celebrities. Look at the lies of politicians. They hate their lives. Their words will deny, but look in their eyes, it is the terror of someone who has claimed their neighbor and called them their slave. There are conversations that happen in safe rooms where rich people say things that would bring a protest down on their ten acre lawn. We’ll forego the American letter-writing version, and go straight to la révolution française. They will never make it right because that requires confession and repentance. They will desire to quietly have things change and never admit their level of complicity in deciding large factions of us will live in perpetual poverty so that the few of them won’t have to look at their choices on their morning commute.

Fear has no muscle except grip. That’s why it’s easy to let it steer the ship. But it won’t let go when time comes. When that wind and ocean turns and that rudder doesn’t, there is no ship under fear’s control that can stand an instant against it.

They will not give it up. They have the government. But the people have the power. And no one wants to share what is only ours. When slaveowners had their say in the shape of our economy, they left their mark, to say the least. They ultra-defined the top and middle classes, but left the bottom dark and murky. There is no profit, not anything like we see today, without some form of slavery, without someone’s labor going unpaid. By people who can not feed their families or their selves without the work. Who have no free, accessible environment to survive in, only an economy, a few dollars buys something like dinner, two hundred pays the water’s bill. May not get to the rent this month.

I’m not being deep, or philosophical, or idealistic when I state, slavery. Our modern economy is a form of human trafficking. Because of the lack of any option to survive otherwise. If you want to live a full happy human life, outside of your government’s economy, where does that happen? On the land you’re taxed just for having? In a State or National Park where the wildlife has more rights than humans.

Freedom means living freely with no cost other than the effort required to access the resources required to sustain productive, fulfilling life. Food, water, shelter, hopefully from sources that naturally, or with a little assistance, replenish. If that option does not exist, then this is not freedom.

I can’t say it any more plainly. By definition, if the resources required for life (we die without them) cost money and are not available from any other naturally reoccurring source, then we are not free.

This is not a monopoly of a product. The crime I described here is the monopolization of the need.

Fear and Pride as Strengths

Plants will hold up cups above their heads to catch bees in but bury their roots beneath the soil so that half the rain runs off before it soaks in. Trees will grow up tall and huge and heavy and spread out thick green sails from their oaken masts and dare the wind the topple them: perhaps they push the continent, perhaps it is why we still sail across the Atlantic, why California continues to be nibbled by the Pacific. If a human were a tree it would grow wide and flat close to the earth where no wind could tickle it. If a human were a plant, they’d put their bright colors beneath the ground in fear for anyone finding them. Lift their roots up to the elements so they can feed freely and never learn why their seeds bear no germ.

The Spotlight

The spotlight is not on. The switch has been flipped and it turned on.
But it clicked off before it was hot, and now it is not. Someone please
turn the spotlight back on. The tricks and switch-flips that turn things on.
Theater. A play. The one kind adults can do respectfully.
Sit in a seat and stare at a stage and give eyes a feast
of only the things that eyes like to eat. The tongue is the eyes,
the teeth are the ears, slurp down every sight,
chew up every word you hear.

There’s a dance in how an actor walks
and a song in how they talk
and if an actor knows their place
they’ll look the audience in the face
they’ll pull them up on stage
they’ll give them up their rage
and clone their tears in you.

That’s the only way you’ll smile later.
For the joy that is tied to sacrifice, some happiness conceives in pain.
The baby born is gut-busting laughter, oh wait, it’s twins, we’re in stitches.

The switches flip on and this time they stay. Two actors eyes locked backstage
tighter than a lock. More like a chestnut. No key quite like a hard object.
They crush it. And uphold buried treasure in the palms of their hands
before frozen styrofoam mannequin face-spaces on the fronts of hollow heads.
Fill them up with likenesses of whatever frightens them
and reminding them of events hard to live through
but delightful to behold through the refracted lens
of other people’s problems.
It helps to spotlight the drama.
We cork and ferment our trauma.
That is why it is opening night.

And after all these years, I find the theater
a place I can play with my pain
and raise a toast to all my fears.

Notes of the Daydreamer

Oh me, Oh my. No exclamation will meet the mark.
Give up a pen that shouts. Sparks fly and flint flakes
and fire sighs sight and reveals strong citations.

Textual evidence of a higher power
keep my eyes on my naval
and off thy sight.

Education. Psyche. Eros. High school.
Kids. Jokes. Festered into identities. Titties.
Boys obsessed with misremembered memories.

I am going to treat you like you are intelligent
until your behavior shows otherwise.
Offer language supports. This is asinine.

Sanctimonious. Cynical and negative.
Turning my camera off to take a drink.
Passing. Barely. This class. Life.

The ones where I’m the student.
And the ones I have to teach.

Honey Please

Whether means a choice between alternatives. Weather does too. Wether does not, because a wether is a ram with his alternatives removed. You’ve got heather light as feathers forever. And then never. Never lands right where it is spoken, and creates a sort of token so that others can revisit and trade their famous catchphrase, ‘I told you so’. Say never never, or never say never, I can never remember, directions to Denver. I’ve never been. On an endeavor west of east. Homebody with the last name Homesley. I figure. It was meant to be. I was mean to bees. They gave it right back, and I took it wrong and ran headlong leaving off the clothes I had on in a funny looking trail behind me. Ground bees. Into a fine powder. Honey please, come back after an hour. Omniscience hopped an Omnibus and read an omnibus of her favorite books, and wrote a line in the margin of one, it read, do I know how it feels to forget? Can’t know everything, can we? Lost is forgot becomes forgotten. Cost is your loss becomes a profit. You’re not a prophet for reading road signs. Those guys are sweating in assembly lines stamping out printed signs, and they read the writing on the wall of the breakroom with precise, six forty-five aim. Quitting time. Oops, hit the wrong letter. Quilting time. Everybody go to your haystack, find your needle, and thread it. If I was a betting man, I’d say a bedding man could bring his work home with him every night and no one would mind. But when the betting man tries the same, let’s just say, the horse isn’t the one who loses the race.