December thirteenth. North Carolina. I hear a tree frog click. Fire crack.
The same dog over and over. A layered silhouette of trees against tees
misled me into thinking I can glimpse the shape of the gully in front of me.
Hard wooded. Known to house turkeys. One fat cornfed squirrel.
I blame the calendar for most problems.
They make it too easy to wait.
The calendar always made me late.
Mark one a holy day.
People sacrifice hundreds of others preparing for it.
Marking them off as they get in their way.
With seasons, on the other hand, we are ahead of the game.
Like tonight. It isn’t even winter yet. And already, it’s spring.
If the universe is like me, no wonder. No wonder whatsoever
this place is such a mess. Try to tell heart cells
what the lungs are blown up to. Ask the liver
how it feels about its job in waste management.
Tell on your skeleton to all the soft senseless pink frosting.
Take the cake. Dump it in the milky substance of your consciousness.
Make it soggy. Like the rest of your body.
Destined to be parted by a blunt spoon and swallowed unchewed
by the great toothless mouth of our universe. Slurping like breakfast cereal.
The big bang hit like a mid-morning sixth cup of coffee beer shit.
Self-expression. Wipe it away. Flush it down.
Forget it drowned in the bowl no one eats from.
That’s redundant. In more ways than twelve
twenty fours which are actually fourteen forty.
Speaking truthfully now.
Innumerable. Sore wrist.
Right hand dominant.
Upper extremities bilaterally distributed.
Time teller. At the bank.
Next in line?
More time, please.
Eyes locked tight like that safe seals moments.
Beholding all of someone else’s equity. Pity.
Numbers don’t trail like I do. Hiking boots.
Mountains behind me like mountains in front.
Stomach wrung like a dishcloth.
By imbalanced arms.
Whiskered face of a mirror clock
show me how much time I’ve lost.
Tell me to go to work.
That I’m officially redundant.
That minutes and money
Crackling polka dotted puddles beneath droopy pale underbellied leaves.
A true mess of mixed greens. Next time we’ll label the rows. Oh well.
Sharp and lacy and either rape seed, turnip, mustard or kale.
Cat ate some the other day. Elbow tap. Look at that. A fresh kale.
It is raining again. The dogs are up. Birds are silent.
Earthworms being suffocated up out of the mud.
Flat mirrors unwink unending misshapen silver dollars.
Money doesn’t grow from trees. The older I get, the more it grows on me.
Spring leak licks down upturned leaves like the cat uses its tongue to clean
every fuzzy inch of gargantuan body. Roots exposed. Line draped in clothes.
We never got to them in time. Always fresh out.
Gray cap set snug arresting a rat’s nest of tangled green.
Time is measured by line of sight.
Rainy days are the brightest nights.
Chainsaw carved horizons. Trucks glug
uphill with teenagers inside them.
Broke two different lawnmowers one afternoon.
Bought a twelve pack of beer. Cheers to the lawn.
Today. For now. It won.
The robins moved on.
Black faced bloodred cardinals in seas
of newborn limegreen poplar leaves.
Hearing woodpeckers never seen
hollow knocking water filled trees.
Detached campers eaten by dandelions
North Carolina spring.
Morning birds. Belting toads. Cats I’ve never laid eyes on before.
Coming out of the woodwork. Back barn repair and expansion
and tailend of firewood season starts every garden. In my head.
Out the window the other day saw a young chicken eating another one.
Hawk picked the bones clean clean down to her shoulders.
I buried the rest of her.
Every east coast lick lapped by thick silver mist.
Rain light as snow might be easier to manage if it had froze.
Whipped jets from eighteen wheels in tread-shredding hurry.
People who play games with their brake lights and cruise control
don’t believe in negative prayers offered around them about them.
No car quick enough can outrun karma. Slick black skeletal mountains
vomit white cascades of frozen-fallen ice. Rock shoulders
lean out over the shoulder and make us shudder passing beneath.
Stress shedding mutt curled up in the backseat. Patience testing
two year old strapped into a carseat just barely pretend-asleep.
A couple curves with fog so thick with steady drizzle we fly headlong
fast enough that any unexpected thing in our path would end us.
Even though it doesn’t, perhaps it also does. Lost.
But for a British voice telling us where to turn. Blind.
But for all our wide open unblinking eyes. Dead.
But for the dutiful heart and grocery bag lungs
that keep us this side of alive. I drive. They ride
and we get there, but not on time. We uncover
the mantra of our middle lives.
Better late than never.
Love is a dented orb.
Incontinent continents speak consonants
into a molten canon of iron core. Of course.
Trees in corps and rocky coarse
the skin off purply soft things.
Flowers grown in the soil of hell. On earth.
Do not bloom in heaven. So close the sun.
The son. That sum of all now ready to go.
That punching bag. That beaten heart.
That lost art.
Love. Is a muscle torn to shreds.
Love. Is the strength of torn up things.
I’ve chased down a thousand things I called time to get where I am right now.
The front room of my grandma’s house wearing a winter parka over my pajamas.
I’ve chased a little boy I call baby because I am afraid for what I love to grow beyond me.
I wake up at four in the morning with no alarm set like an old man, like a grandfather
feeling chill crept in from corners and up from the window sills because the fire is low.
Coals grown cold compared to what they were when I first laid down and closed my eyes
like a young man, tired, forget that, exhausted, like a young father, indebted to the castle
he funded by the credit of his youth.
In a few years knees won’t work and back will refuse.
There had better be a roof over gray hair and a stout hearth propping up bloodless heels.
I’ve chased a thousand things I called after by tomorrow and promise and please.
I used my ideals like a carrot on a string to avoid being caught up to by so many things:
today, acceptance, settling.
There is a woman across the hall doing her damnedest to put up with me.
Whatever I have ever picked up, I have also let down.
Apology has become like a second language to me.
I have learned the differences between sorrow and sorry
are more difficult than ow or why. One is seated, settled, done, erasing.
And the other is chasing, searching, anything to keep from facing.
I have learned, the hard way, the least productive use of the word yes
Pull up sliding and gingerly crunch into the same tire tracks.
Snow, five inches of new, ten inches of old.
I’m blinded by the absence of headlights.
I’m walking now on memory alone.
Slick and hardened ice where the big trucks drove.
To a giant red paneled barn door officially frozen closed.
With a shovel from the shop, the door is unlocked.
Welcomed by blacker than night.
The blackness inside a barn before dawn.
Noses shovel pine chips in the wings. Muzzled throats
rattle and a great fuzz feathered floppy bird croaks
like an old man lifting up off a couch.
At the end of three hundred blind feet I grip
the splintered lip of yet another door. Slide it
heavily from existence. Eager eastern newborn
light bursts past and two hundred pupils shrink back.
Morning has come.