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.

The Meal from the Cub (2 of 2)

We all start like seeds in our mother’s soil. 

Eggs are like seeds. So are planets really, bursting with roots of starved gravity.

Electrons are like seeds, the universe itself, spreading out from a mindbogglingly finite point of spatial dimension into this immeasurable, mystifying massiveness. Biology mirrors chemistry like a face in rippled water. There is a God. It was speaking to us in our anatomy long before it ever engraved a tablet or plagued a city. Clearly there is a loosely defined polarity to the universe, a general lightness and heaviness, a fiery push and gravitational pull, a female and male with all sorts of hybridized relationships in between.

The breeding we do just to exist as individuals, this is like a love letter written to us about how power transfers and expands itself within this universe. How much more important and potent relationship is than isolation and independence and general lone wolfedness. Enough so that plants even pretend to care about gender just to attract and entice us. It’s coupling. It’s power play. It’s essentially what happens at the heart of every atomic endeavor, as clouds of swirling electrons push and pull and shape and squeeze protons and neutrons between them, little bonds forming between things being stretched apart to the point of almost bursting and then held here, sustained, unlocking the energetic outpulse that engendered the universe and ultimately led to us: physical conglomerates sustaining projections of consciousness for sustained periods. Awake is something so difficult to do, it requires us to sleep half of every day, and eventually ages our bodies to the point of irrevocable exhaustion. 

I believe electrons are seeds of consciousness. And I believe their nature is agriculture, cultivation, provocation, stimulation. They accomplish a sort of guided husbandry between fertile elements, measuring the couplings and overlappings that work against those that don’t. I believe we, our anatomy, our minds, our instincts, our entire way of life, are organized in a zombie-like obedience to the atomic relationships going on inside of us. 

We see what they want us to see, and remember only what we need. And wouldn’t you know, the light learned early on the added benefits of keeping us in the dark. 

 

#NCspring

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
and sheer
unbroken
green

North Carolina spring.

Of Fireworks and Darkness

Where comets come from. Yes. You are brighter than stars
and have a magnificent tail. But we need to know where you dwell.
You should take someone there. Until then, you’re just an omen.
Of something. Beautiful. And terrible. All by your lonesome.
You’re a volatile couple. Ashley. Americanized Cinderella.
Do I know you hate that. Do we love you for it. Honey.
I need you. More than I ever let you know.
This has all been about you.
Give some back to us.
You’re American.
You’re British.
You’re Scottish.
And gypsy.
And arrogant.
You are America.
You are the cloth high up on the mast that catches the new wind first.
Before the sails that move the ship.

You are your own direction. Respect.
Head nod. Eye contact. Embrace. Stoic faced.
As streams rain down and embers soar sparks fly
celebrate no more than more light in the sky
sulfur in the air
no care
dressed eighteen hundreds
beaming red bursts with dazzling white gold finish
disappeared

smiling in the sporadic face
of fireworks and darkness.

Southern Homes and Living

Mariachi music periodically drowned cutting tile
water dripping off a saw blade. Men moving
red orange playdough with square shovels
praying for rain so they can stop.

Two million dollar houses disowned
builders scratching claws
kneading biscuits
in soggy tree choked countryside
northeast of Charlotte.

Charity house.
Southern Home Magazine.
Rotten egg smell by the front porch from walkway lights
real popular right now with real flame lapping sparkling glass.

Moving truck creeps into clogged cul-de-sac
everyone freezes
if you have a shovel
lean on it
stare
see if this newcomer
knows how to handle
all that truck.

Little Empty Houses

Birdhouses and mailboxes and bedframes and double doors. Heavy wooden portal stoppers leaned up against racks of plywood. Medium density fiberboard with a watch-face sized hole drilled in front, a short cylindrical nose pegged under that gaping cycloptic opening. Sixteen slats glued together, screwed to two belts of black metal bent in gentle bows. Hypothetically, everything in a workshop is hypothetical. Growing dust. Doors off hinges. Overflown housing. Mailboxes with no fixed address. Potential piles up. Scullery doors in the corner. Solid oak end tables crushing castor wheels.

Space. Who builds space. Not the carpenter. Not the writer. The politician. The doctor. Not the builder. Emptiness. Pure, layered, reinforced racking potential. Who prints blank books. Fills pens instead of emptying them. Who makes the makings. Doesn’t care whether or not birds ever come. Who builds little boxes that resemble houses. Who makes doors who isn’t trapped by door frames. Leaned in aisleways, stacked in back of showrooms with cardboard sandwiched between. Custom doors stacked, piled, pre-divorced from their future portals.

There are so many ways to pray, but none come close to creating space. Full pens. Empty books. Empty frames. Doors with no deadbolts drilled in them. Miniature houses, no birds. The rigid rectangles that clutch the soft shapes we sleep on. We don’t know.

We don’t know where birds will nest.
We don’t know what we’re building.
We don’t need to. It’s better that way.

Let the birds decide.
Until then, build little empty boxes.

Between Seasons

Gentle wind rocks the front porch swing. Metal clinks.
Ghosts chained to the roof grow restless in powder-coated bonds.
Water in three forms squat between here and the moon.
Stars laugh at how close we are to too far away.

Sounds like summer. Not yet spring. Disappointed toads.
Crawled out of the muck too soon. Can relate.
Darker than a dry dark. A sopping wet and soggy dark.
Deeply stained. Saturated. Saturday. Night.

The Same Thing

I write a word. You think two or three that define it for you. I’ve written another word by that time. You’ve got at least six in mind to make those two mean anything. It’s a really simply chemical equation: language. Just tedious. Time consuming, yet always under the scrutinizing expectation of punctuality. Let’s work through this. What language is. What it does. 

Have you ever crossed your ears, and let someone’s words blur, and listened to the sound of language. Not translating in a hurry. Not hearing. Like baby’s babbling, or dog’s yapping, or cliche cicadas winging sonnets in doomed early spring. We’ve all worked and been worked so hard to never do the thing I’m asking if you’ve done. We want to understand. We’re bark-moaning when we speak. Manipulating our vocal cords and using our tongues like corks to close what one day we plan to open. That’s the first point I need to make. Language is only as flimsy as the vessel it travels in, and at the end of the day, these are sounds. Even what I’m currently typing down, of course I am saying it to myself, trying to imagine how you will hear it. Every message is coded, by nature. It’s just when we really get to know the code, we stop hearing it the way it sounds when we didn’t comprehend. Which can be of equal importance. Neverending excuses exist for sound distortions. So first off, language is dependent on performance, even more so than syntax or the speaker’s intentions. You can, and will, and have, communicated ideas to others you yourself have never known. Mishearing. Misspeaking. Misunderstanding. You could go on forever with these misshaped words. Mistake. Mistook. 

Now here’s the rub. 

If you cash out early on the free chips you were given and you never buy in, not to the awards, the costumes, the trophies and decorations society is chomping at the bit to place against you, essentially, if you don’t mind from time to time sounding stupid, you can manipulate language, words, sounds turned stringed cheese cylinders of high sodium meaning, basically, if you give up on being right, you can be a poet. And a poet, to the academic, is a willing participant in a doomed to be endless experiment. An idiot, to not mince words. 

But more than what you say, people will hear you pause, your questions will reverberate their memories like you held a microphone up to your mouth for those. They’ll feel validated, graduated, because you asked. You showed interest. Your mistakes, your misgivings, will grace their chemical laden insides like compliments, they’ll be delighted you’re not one of those pretentious, know it all, get it rights. I’m describing language as a form of heavy, dentable but unbreakable armor. Clunky. Burdensome. But next to flesh, there’s no comparison. 

Language. Language is the arrow we launched at the target.
But the target. The target was communication.

And I’ll leave you with a question, a key to help unlock the universe of what people really mean. How often are language and communication the same thing?