All the thoughts in my head are formatted with question marks chasing after them. I would know nothing if not for confusion.. Questions made me who I am. Like who am I? What is I. Eyes can’t see. Ice on the grass. For the first time since seven months ago. Seems so long. So any questions answered since. Makes my head spin. Questions turn the earth. For many reasons. For at least four seasons.
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.
Push. Pull. Hide. I’ve been thinking about atoms again. I’m thinking that they are alive. They do things. They push. They pull. They hide. Just those three things. Almost the same as me. We fight. Take flight. Or die. These three fundamental directions are the primary articles of atomic particles. The invisible specks that make us tick. There is consciousness in the very brick. So that the thoughts of this old house are like a roaring waterfall of individual droplets, decisions being made by the foundations. The color of every flower was drunk up from single cell mouths lapping the boots of Hades clean. Our eyes are the only thing that makes this confusing. The brain has already drawn the most impossible thing humans invented.
The straight line.
There can be three temperatures in one bottle of water. Endless range within the spectrum of existence. But at the base. When broken down to the source, it’s three. Always a trinity. Never a traditional binary couple. The threeway seems to be the preferred union of physics. And all subsequent interaction, some kind of sex. Conversation. Groping stars with eyes as light climbs deep inside your mind. When you see something, the light off it, it touches onto part of you and your eye converts it into an image the way mitochondria cook bread into sugar, and it feeds pretty pictures like chocolate covered strawberries to your brain. The light of every candle you ever lit, every shooting star, lives inside your head. You’re pregnant with it.
Push. Pull. Hide. Proton. Electron. Neutron. I’ve tried to wrap my mind around it but it is quite like trying to define a term by other terms when all you’ve ever known is one term. It’s like constipation. I imagine it is like birth. Like feeling held hostage by what is inside you, and you know you will surely die if you fail to bring it forth. Why are the hardest pieces to break into pieces so obsessive over one another, why do they relationship so consistently in threes, so violently, hold themselves together by tearing apart their neighbors, or keeping their little triangular shapes but slamming jamming against identicals and forming larger globules and the eventual elemental structures which could in some ways be described as the ancient jagged originators of life. Why?
Not how. We can observe that. By pushing, pulling, and hiding.
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.
Trees like still-frames of fireworks. Palm leaves off golden white. Pink pom-poms on ends of sulfurous smelling stems. Lone doves on frowning powerlines. Trucks with cracked windshields in teacher’s parking lots. Surgical masks rotting in the gutter. Rocks and robins and cracked orange clay in places grass won’t grow.
We were six weeks in outside for a mask-break and I could not recognize them. They all had different faces than I ever could have imagined. It’s the damnedest thing. I’d known them for weeks. Yet I had never seen their smile.
We loitered on green grass until the birds grew bored of us. I didn’t like it. I wanted to tell them they had their faces wrong. Before I could, thank God, they’d stuffed them back under masks sighing to their self. Smelling their own breath. Confidential grin.
Spied on by the birds and the trees who have waited a long time patiently eagerly for all of us to take a mask-break and step out to breathe.
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.
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.