The Good Water

You can’t always root somewhere. Sometimes it’s enough just to lay down a tent. Ground too full with rocks like a drink with too many ice cubes. Trees going at it with every sort and size of straw. Bark-wrapped and pale bald. Thigh size and spiderweb fingers feeling creek bottoms like raccoons for crawfish to crawl in. Taste the good water. Not the rain. Not a filthy river. The surface lake man dug and fake. But the vast veins of crystal blue flowing beneath us all. Feeding us. Like roots. Sure you see a spring or two where the mantle broke and blue is peeking through. But the good water is deep. Thousands of feet beneath our feet. All of us. Even the trees. Through rock and clay and deep down defiance. We may never reach it. The good water may not even exist. But the foundations that get laid just trying, all around, growing tangled, bumped up knees and elbows from underneath the floor of the tent. A good night among thirsty friends. All of us. Seeking better water. And though I cannot lay down a root, for all of theirs, I can taste it. In my imagination.


This country

I love this country.
Seated against a tree in Virginian highlands.
I love this country. And, I know what all that means.
Mountain pillars float above foundation streams.
Tall rooted sunlight schemes wiggling green.
Evening breeze.

I love when high wind sweeps low and stillness quivers.

Feel this shiver as it slinks along my spine.
Ends up near my mind.
I love a cup of wine.
I love to breathe smoke.
To nurse fire.
I love the country where I am.
Gnats wings electricity near my ear.
Fire molesting moist wood.
Hesitant to burn.
Begged to be left alone.
This country is my home.
And I am anything but inclined to protect it.

On my feet.
Eating miles.
Wide hip pictures of horizons
and boot prints on the trail.

I love this country best.
I love it with footsteps.
With my time.

Houses. Jobs. Farms. Goats. Careers. Left behind.
By definition. They are not this country.
Which was here long before we were.
And will remain so long past I. Us. We.

Lovers of continents we can’t understand.

There are better ways than words to say it.

Try walking.

Fish Scales

There’s an eclipse on. And action figures wearing backpacks
and no shirt on are running up mountains just to see the sun.
Grayson Highlands. Blue daughter feeling low if they miss it.

Too late to see a star fade too early.

I have a beautiful dog, or did you know?
We’re going south. And of course. You are north.
Neither any of us belong out here.
We carted along much of our nests and homes
and raided our parent’s pantries.
Or else none of us eats out here.
Drinks blue clear.
Stinks something fierce.
Just to get along. Movement.
Travel. Simplicity. Dressed up nomadic domesticity.
Wild. Shirtless. Short hair. Heavy pack. Like military types.

Hoping to reach a clearing before the sun does.

All of us almost, with obstacles between here and there.
Perfect hole punched in passed over paper.
Watching a little white yellow dot bend,
long and oblong against worn two by six.
We did not venture out here for this. And yet we did.
We are. Right here on the cusp of the world.

Watching planets play pool with our perspective.
Calling out pockets and sinking shots.
There’s an eclipse on.
People pulled toward it like metal to a magnet.
Like water to a center. Like tidewaters toward the moon.
Gigantic orbs rolling on through.
No different than any other day.

You the sun.
Me the earth.
And the moon.

Just a little something
between me and you.

An ugly little worm of a being.

Thud against the ground too loud to be an imagined sound.
A pinky finger sized almost too almost neon green,
larvae type, maggot like, caterpillar looking thing.

Fallen from a tulip poplar tree taller than fifty feet about a foot from me.
Laid there stunned. And after a moment started wriggling.
Kind of had me giggling.
Impressed at how hard it had met the moist yet dense clay,
and still remained living. An ugly little worm of a being.

Obviously preparing to undergo some form of transfiguration.

Filling up to go into cocoon season soon and very soon.
Emerge some unrecognizable. Vastly unlike whatever it was before.
I hope for the sake of the clumsy tumbling ugly little thing,
it crawls back out carrying wings.

Back to the cocoon with you.

The world likes me better as its servant.
Rejected as teacher. Abandoned as husband.
Belittled middle child. The bothered brother.
The rebellious one is shunned. But this defeated,
obedient walk of life, should I continue taking steps in its direction,
has only just begun. And hard work means hard shoulders,
and white skin flaking off palms.
The world prefers calm. Understanding.
Yes sir and yes ma’aming.
Using shovels to do the work of tractors.
Creaking knees like dented wheels,
a hard settling jar each successive revolution.
Evolution, from exfoliating fear of the grave to my neighbor’s slave,
and the world has really come out from its shell to watch me work.
Perceive me productive struggle. To burst my ego like a bubble.
And as, not after, I take, too step too far, they say, roll in those wings,
tuck in those long legs, forget charred ash cinder firepits,
or color wagging perched on dog feces.
Back to the cocoon with you.
Unless you’d like to work a spell.
I feel I’m better kept up, out of sight.
Playing servant to my self on the inside,
plowing fields in my mind, and cutting grass,
fast straight even and fast. When it is my time,
when I own it, this leaves the world weak,
gives up no illusion of control,
none sense of power.

But I bet I could scratch a smile onto any bitter face,
for ten an hour.

No better place than a farm for a writer.

Each egg is a long story. Refilled buckets, feed and water,
maintained roof and three tin walls, excrement in the stalls,
hay floor pens, and them, that upright gathering,
clean taupe brown and red speckled.

A farmer can tell a young bird in her first few cycles just by the dented,
stunted, oblong shape of a typically light cream almost snow white colored egg.

The health of the goat can be smelled lingering around the wealth of her udders,
enough milk and milking to make the beginners hands shudder,
taste the changing days, warming her bloated belly in the burgeoning sun,
the torn green grass and severed flesh tanned hay,
the sweet, yellow kernel dotted feed they clamor,
bellow, knocking sisters over.

The farmer lives by the first and most essential rule of writing.
Your characters are alive. Your labor suffers and hungers same as you.

For all the nuances and imbalances of your work to read,
each one must breathe, bleed, breed, heed you,
dominant call and still muster up height, courage to challenge,
search out and discover that dip below the fence,
the one section where a farmer failed to measure the top wire,
so it hangs low.

Anticipate the protrusion of some familiar mediocre star
mounting the curved unsuspecting hips of a dry horizon.
Crow for it. At it. Beating wings and cotton throat sings
every outbreak of day.

Give thanks and praise
that these planetary bodies once fucked,
and made way for yet another growing season.
Another day. Another reason to crow.

Like a farmer, plant the seeds of what you want to eat.
And like a writer, watch the stories grow.

Another person’s grapes

Off to dig a hole that is deep and wide,
enough to bury three and a half foot of railroad tie,
to hang warped, ripped, busted cattle fence against,
to trellis not yet purchased baby grape vines.

Not a branch, a pole, a shovelful of it is mine.
Not even the seconds bloomed minutes written leaves hours.

At work toward a harvest you will never taste is grace.
And grace is building trellises for another person’s grapes.

Full On Thanks

What are we supposed to think.
Freedom spread like pink frosting.
Hope dropped like a cherry
on top of Sunday morning.

Life. Religion. Self-perception.
A sunday morning world.
Slicked back hair and shoes
for no other day of the week
tied like the ocean to coral feet.

Dying and we don’t know why.
Just how, and what from, and how soon.
No idea why. At least on paper.
What were we supposed to think.

Watching neighbors across the street.
Carrying grocery bags inside the house,
two days past Thanksgiving. Family living.
Spread out across the state and states and states
of living and being and identities unknown. Finally home.

To make a meal out of life.
And get sick filling up on it.
A dessert desert devoid of the various instances
that make sense of all this, instead of just shit.

Asleep on the couch in front of sharks who hunt
each others balls for a living, slews of parasitic fish
that chase confused, concussed, weeping uncontrollably
offshoots and byproducts. The easy game.

To sit in front of and blink your full tired self away.
Hope full. Food full. Full spoiled.
Not a thought in mind. Besides,
what are we supposed to think,
so full on thanks,
and food,
and drinks.

What intent?

When a man dresses a certain way,
you don’t question his intentions.
You ask him if he has a home.

Too nervous to eat. Free food. Can’t see his feet.
Blown out pants must cover shoes. Trust.
Or you can ask if he has a pair of those as well.
The words are out. Do you have a house?
“I have a tent.” But what intent.
He wants to know if we want
to join his band.

Busted pink yellow ukulele strapped across his back.
Silver Bach Stradivarius trumpet strapped tight to mine.
Putting sound in the air for church-version worship.
At my father’s house. They always ask
and sometimes I even say yes. They let a nameless
young good looking yet odorous young man sit in the back
and watch along. Monotonous non-songs in predictable inflection.
Twenty-seven people who don’t read music all that well
or sing all that well or ever even believed
there was water once at the bottom
of all these wells.

Free heat and an uncomfortable wooden seat
for just under an hour. They even let him shower.
Too anxious to eat there with all of us, so some
equally abandoned person took him out to lunch.

He did not ask my name.
Or if I had a home, or who I am.
Here is a young man who understands.
Who did not know me apart from Adam,
and asked if I wanted
to join his band.