Spectral Gap

Early morning high shadow heavy vignette. Low saturation and low light make every color the smoky version of its former self. There are no more blades of grass. Each tree is now a spectral gap. A lean tower of black. Roosters are writers too sir, they just use early morning the way we use paper. Nature is full of formulaic poets. Farms full with university graduates. Early morning heavy with high shadow framed in last night’s sticky vignette. Woke up to the heroic whoop of a police siren. Roosters huffing like monkeys in white dotted magnolias. Automatic coffee maker performing Houdini’s last act. Septembair through a south facing window. The fear is there. Waiting. Like unread morning emails. Like Eggs the dog bent like a pretzel to scratch-stomp her belly. Breath from a mouth that once promised to love me forever. 

There are memories I’ve had forever, that only ever come back to me early morning.

There are colors there that can not be found anywhere.

It isn’t thyme.

That’s the thing about journals and wine, they’re nothing but juice without time. Your grocery lists and garden designs will be worth at least a sideways smile in four or five years. But in ten to twenty, or thirty, to eyes still reading long after yours have entered the book, your handwriting, not just that one of a kind chicken scratch, but an undeniable image of your hand, alive, writhing, a little list that led you on your way out into town, strangers who stared you down, held the door for you, nodded hello. It takes fifty years to even know the value of what we’re losing when we exclusively hunt and peck every thought under threat of the launched arrow of a backspace key. You can type a cocktail, squeeze words, add liquor, pour out every sort of juice. But you have to hand-write wine, and more than that, be patient for it. One virtue that has been entirely and purposefully written out of education. Society. Culture in general. Patient people make poor consumers. Patient. Stubborn. Frugal with money, but always giving away food. Journals, and handwritten things, and stubborn, patient people who like to work with animals every day, who like four chores and sixteen memories and three bruises on every dinner plate. Who get a bit of therapeutic benefit from shedding tears over a thirty year old grocery list that somehow grew into a treasure of incalculable value with nothing else added to it but time.

Journals.
Wine.
Seeds.
Friendships.
Faith.
Family.
Life. All have same secret ingredient.

If you don’t know, don’t worry, it comes for you too.
Be patient. It isn’t thyme.

The Dishes

We are all too dependent on vision.

The house is a wreck but we’re still doing dishes. A warm dishrag smile wipes fresh tears off all our faces. When we trust our eyes too much, they show, they reveals us. Superficial. I know what you thought when you read that word. I know its most common usage. As insult. Negative. Self defense. That’s not even half of its definition though. Mostly because, there’s barely half a definition there to start with. Surface. Visible. In its truest meaning, there’s not one of us who isn’t superficial. It isn’t a choice. It’s biology. Evolution. Our anatomy. What’s crazy is, our eyes aren’t even that spectacular. But that never stopped us trusting them completely. 

Which makes us an easy trick, cheap, corporations are like abstract painters studying what certain colors opiate or infuriate or inspire us to work. What shapes set us at ease, what wall-patterns put us on the edge of our seats, grind our teeth. Look at our faces. We look like hoot owls and chimpanzees mated. We’ve made the entire surface of our skin one huge sex organ, with nothing more than time and boredom to work with. When they talk about enlightenment, about piercing some form of illusory perception and seeing true, pessimistic, hard pill to swallow, reality, this is what they mean. 

Just do the dishes. Not to get a good feeling or delight or ease or feel all put together for once. Anyone can put a suit on. You’re not the devil because you’re dirty and live out on the street. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if all the important flaws we carry around could be seen. Well, that superficial dream has led us by the hand through the absolute worst chapters of the ongoing novel that is humankind. 

If skin color was a poker-tell, if skin color was a political persuasion, if skin color was a criminal confession, hot damn, wouldn’t that be easy. Wouldn’t that just please these predator eyes we feverishly and catastrophically feed. If the deepest, truest nature of a person could, just for once, be as superficial as an earring in one ear, or tattoo above the rear, or otherwise respectable young man too lazy to cut off his long hair. What if it was as simple as a pigment in someone’s skin? What if the dishes weren’t white? Would they be harder to clean, would you get the same peace of mind from warmly and tenderly washing them. The cleanest dishes in existence, it’s just, you can’t easily see that from a distance. Inside we find a simple, universal, colorful frustration, we find the tiny innocuous seed that grows into such destructive things, the worst of which has always been the thin permeating invasive vine of systemic racism. 

Maybe there’s hope in this, I don’t know, I don’t think there is, but it feels good to them, hate, they do it like a drug-user during the years they refuse to admit it’s a problem, back when they still call it medicine, being hateful, racist, alleviates some stressful condition we are in. Hate is not fire the way they would have it seem.
Believe me when I say, hate is a balm to the hateful. 

It sets their guilt at ease. 

I’m not saying it’s better, or that you should, I’m stating for fact that if you fully think it through, you’ll eventually feel what I feel when I think about myself, and people who were in truly hateful places in their lives while I knew them. Sympathy. I just see pain. Planted in the most fertile soil that exists. The misplaced human conscience. I kind of see them perpetually trying to scrub black dishes white, eternally, in some place that is so almost heaven. Eyeballs are for earth. This is the place of their birth. Their original intention. Heaven might not appear on the surface so pleasing to them. So try, strive, to glimpse something while you’re here without using your eyes. Practice.

That elusive deep down buried in the chest heart smile happiness.
No one got that from doing the dishes.

I have nothing new to say.
Eyes were never the only way.

There’s always been more than one definition for vision.

#LookItUp

Someone Elses Atmosphere

We’ve sat on the porch and watched and listened to many summer thunderstorms roll our western horizon like a horde, like a million soldier army with only two feet, stepping heavy cannonade in between neighborhoods. Not last night. The cell was right over us. Shaking the house. Lighting up the bedroom like paparazzi peeking through our windows. Thunder seeming to ooze out from under us like worms out of the mud. Never would have believed it came from above. The house and farm was pounded by rain, and warned by lightning, we had our foundations tested for cracks of weakness. And we passed. We have too many, and they’ve all started working together to coincide like roots, and we held, broken as can be, more flexible for it. The baby that passes for a little boy didn’t lose a minute of sleep. Counted three corn stalks down. This calm, powder navy blue morning keeps last night’s weather like a secret. If you didn’t wake up from your dreams, watch daylight flash through sealed shut eyes, feel the monster knock up from under the bed hello, you would never know it had happened. That pleasant sounding, captured in a bottle, fun little Southern Summer thunder had stepped clean over our heads last night. Sparing us, but not before scaring us. We woke up this morning talking about last night like we both had the same nightmare.

And somewhere across the countryside, someone sat on their back deck grinning.
Our nightmare was their atmosphere for the evening.

A Millimeter, or Two

Expectation. That’s it. That’s the secret to happiness. Fix your expectations. For example, the question, what is the meaning of life, is full of expectations. It’s like asking, what was the meaning of your trip to Disney when you’ve been on the road two hours and haven’t even made it South of the Border, South Carolina. You say life, like it’s a status, or a destination, when life is a series of complex, critical processes that require huge amounts of space, resources, and most of all, time. You’re kind of asking, what is the meaning of running really fast. We’re asking about the means as if it were the end. If we started at the beginning, we wouldn’t ask, because it’s quite clear life has no real meaning or purpose outside of addition. To see tomorrow. More, I guess, is the answer to that question. Your heart will keep pumping, legs moving, guts churning, carrying you over a cliff or into a thicket of thorns for all you care.

If you dig deep, into the pressurized ore of real honestly, you’re not asking about meaning or life. You’re complaining. You’re making a declarative statement about meaninglessness. You’re calling it hard, admitting the deficit between what we put in versus get out. To me, asking that question, you’re confessing to being somewhat recently touched by life, frightened by it, moved all those rumbling gut level meditations about the futility of your daily grind up into your mind, and it’s put pressure on your perception to do a little moral mathematics and determine all this sacrifice was in the pursuit of good. Well, it wasn’t. Because good is a one sided, half of the story, incomplete expectation, like the side of a quarter, it may win you the toss, but it will never not be just a millimeter or two away from loss. Good has cost. What pain have you had to go through before you recognized a good that was also true. A phrase like good food. Are you willing to see outside of time, and call hunger good too.

Expectations. That’s it. They’re the secret. To stop calling heads or tails in the air. And instead, figure out who is tossing the coin. And take their job.

While We Sleep

An uneasy hen barks beside the bedroom window first thing. I forget who, but someone left the coop door wide last night. Sitting on the front porch while the coffee pot works magic in the laboratory. Cures Covid19. Cures cancer. Cures Tuberculosis of the spleen. Black earth bean. Bitter, dark chocolate, permeating, lingering. Sweating while piping warm liquid tumbles down bony rimmed, ringed and blind esophageal lining and those tightly pursed lips between pink acid coated cheeks. You don’t have a name on the inside of you. You’re not even someone to your organs. A level of cognitive distance where there is none physically will make it easier to make decisions to alter, or damage, or end the external you, for the sake of the squishy equipment kept inside.

Gentle early morning air is a goody two shoes gossip, telling on a smoker down the street, front stoop arguments, dog happiness turned vicious over distance. Quiet morning minutes are some of the quickest in existence. If our whole lives were pure mornings we’d get eighty eight years knocked out in fewer than twenty two. In the morning, I would never forget to close the coop. That’s something that only happens in last night poems. Last night there’s little orange flickering yellow hearted tongues licking up and down limbs that fell in the recent storms, tickling stone faced fleeting trees. Battleships could loom up in the shallow darkness that devours night time distance and no one would know but cicadas, all hands on deck after about seventeen years below, driving nails into wood to keep the ocean out. Last night poems almost never get written in the moment. So damn hard to see the page, I feel like a kid with a coloring book, one crayon hung out from my mouth like a cigar, purple spirals on the outline of a hollow pirate ship. 

First thing though, I’m van Gogh, giving an ear to my art, I hear every part, even the seventh chair flute at the top of the road shrilling intermittent up to a coda. I can see everything except for firelight. Trees are giant elephant’s feet. The fleet of battleships found their feet and out they slipped, to the deeper waters of the deeper woods, lobbing depth charges overboard that explode in unseen roots and turn submarines belly up like bloated fish. Last night, the yard was wrapped up in dark like a Christmas present, and this morning came in shorning and all that nighttime is balled up paper trash framing a new puppy. Today. Now. Right now, to be exact. Everyday starts this way. Five minutes of pure joy breathing stifling hot nighttime in a mug, followed by a lifetime of chasing, cleaning up after, mourning morning. And first thing becomes last night same as dreams. 

While we sleep.

Comfort Squash

The mask is off the sun and that hot damp breath summertime is full of wickedness and germs. Dainty powdery white moths sew caterpillar seeds all over tomato plants hairy as spider legs. Tiny tinny metallic beetles have snipped the tassels off corn like old men plucking hair from their ears. So they can hear. The raspy phlegm crackling off powerlines. The pop pop pop of someone’s hair triggered insecurity across the countryside. The silent stuffiness hooked like fish on a trotline of trees. Clouds look like milk poured in water. Milk looks like clouds squeezed into stainless steel. The grass is dying. Trees are thriving. 

It takes over eight minutes for the sun to close the distance between us. That breakneck pace, that lonely brimming emptiness, for eight whole minutes, like a bullet from a gun in a vacuum with nothing like air to impede it. Strikes skin and stops still hot. A planetary tanning bed basked in the affordable glow off nuclear fusion. 

Earth. Where infinity finally meets its Zucchini.

The Good Stuff

How to describe that two tone throat singing lawnmowers do in the distance. But with extra meaning like mayonnaise making bread more sliced pudding. Depth. Sodium. Electrolytes, and heart. The thick simmering fat that feeds muscle. The doorholders. The gatekeepers. Who wedge a toe against aluminum and glass and let nutrients pass into cells. Without which, we starve, no matter how much we’ve eaten. How to describe a kid cutting grass down the road like that. I’m not writing the protein of it, it’s implicit. The meat can be heard for miles, and sound is as physical as burning gas against steel pistons smudged black, the poet isn’t concerned with that. But where is the fat. The salt. The gatekeeper. A skyscraper of sensory experience. Only no front door key. No poetry.

A young man in a backwards flat billed ball cap and shorts rested in a zero degree turning thrown leaned a little forward with his hands up like he was holding the rope, standing on water skis. The sound of it is textured bouncing between a direct arrow shot and a tree muddled echo. Never seen him before. Normally an old man in a clean red hat does that job with the absolute best riding mower money could buy in the eighties. Someone’s getting older. And everybody needs money, but not everybody has a zero point mower. The clouds are a heavy cotton backwards hat pulled low with the sun embroidered on the forehead like the logo of a sports team. The low, steady sound of the machine mirrors the buzz of bodily function and blood movement going on inside all the time. Until he clacks against quartz rock like a helicopter flying into a giant plate glass window. The day is dented. Chipped. Returns the engine, and blood starts flowing again.

How do you describe common experiences in ways that allude to their interconnection with the whole of the universe, along with some music, some fat, and salt, the good stuff, that carries the okay stuff into the cellular stuff, unblocked rotating doors and up on the forty seventh floor of the otherwise bolted closed skyscraper inside every single cellular structure. Over the blackened hearth of the microscopic fireplace that singes and smolders and captures the heat off burning calories and disseminates it throughout the house. And you don’t. You don’t describe what you hear and see with any lilt or goal or intent. You recognize. You translate. You interpret. Because the connections are already there, as real as the sources of sounds that are never seen. Air is a physical thing. Sounds are tangible as layered ripples in otherwise flat water. You’re not a poet for recognizing it. You’re honest. You’re like me. You want the rarer world.

With the fat still on it.

Yet.

My neck hurts. My friends. Nothing I did. Exact opposite, actually. Slept wrong. Which is a pretty mind blowing concept. That you can lie for hours in a posture that’s causing you pain, but in a sleep state, you’re paralyzed. The princess didn’t feel the pea for her sensitivity, but because some thought kept her awake. I think about sleep often, when I have to give something good up in order to have something good longer. It makes me feel sort of like a battery. And I’m always digging into the constant, mini-cycles to uncover clues about the flighty, macro ones. My neck hurts, like I’m wearing a heavy chain around it, with a clock that reads one forty you’re going to die one day. That dying will pay for something forward. A healthy bit of dying carried you to who you are today. We invented words relative to experience. Death. Dying.
They’re big and awful. All that. Back up. It’s breathing.

Respiration. Good air we’ve come to expect, and death. Letting go. My neck hurts. I’m no longer young with bread crumbs to follow. I am tired. In the resolute way. Tired like an automobile. I’m tired, and it’s about time. My mind has been running nonstop. Anticipation. One step forward two train stops and three blocks back. Own worst enemy much? Welcome to modern life. Why don’t they come out right and tell you if they’re a villain or not. Why do so many villains trudge off swearing they were heroes. Redundant. You’re just breathing. Not any one particular thing. Whatever it is filling in the environment around you, you’re breathing, you’ve got no off button or setting and no capability of waiting. We’re not a perfect piece of equipment.

Evolution has all of us chasing this one word.

I’m Sorry #oldjournals

Dear God, where did all the questions go.
Was eight hundred miles, two months outside, enough.
Couldn’t be. I still feel small. Proud. I argue. Too loud.
Some part of me must still be in darkness.
I thought enlightenment was different than this.

I need the confidence of my own conclusions.
I need to stop saying I’m sorry so much.
When I’m not.

I have been on the mountaintop.
And you suffer there. I tore my hair.
Broke shoe laces and cracked my own walking stick
against my own temple intentionally. God is not human.
Human value systems do not apply to God.

This is joy wrought from suffering. The pie in the sky.
Nothing to it. I took a bite out of life. Could barely chew it.

I climbed a mountain and broke a crown.
I glimpsed enlightenment.
And turned around.