Language is not reality. No more than one plus one equals two. I used to always argue this back when I was in school. To the truly left brained minds, it was a lot of fun. But one. Does not exist. One. Is a living, breathing, intangible reference. Always. To something else.
The point is, one what? What is a one without a what? An object. One flock of thirty geese plus one flock of fifty five geese and one confused pigeon, does not equal two flocks. One plus one is a highly inadequate equation to measure these, and most of life’s sordid, overlapping, seemingly never ending botherations.
Even for humans. One plus one is far more likely to equal a Brian than it is to add up to two. And then the question changes from what to who. Until so many stories entangle and we need to use a different sort of math to sort them out.
Storytelling. Literature. Language.
Is not reality.
So much as it is
the algebra of human emotion.
They leave metal edges on the insides of lawn mower engines sharp.
Pull cord broke. Spool fell out tucked under Honda’s little black-painted hood,
and a whole coil of flat tense sharp and hard came undone.
It was rewrapping this infuriatingly functional component,
rewinding that winding coil up tight and small,
when an as sharp as a kitchen blade metal dove deep into the white cartilage
of my middle finger knuckle. Held that arm up above my head, to God,
to balance, to the stonewall all the tools were not neatly strewn out on.
Waiting like a child for discomfort to pass, for some parent
to sweep down like a miracle and make a distraction.
Four hours in on an eight hour work day,
and that hand must keep going, gripping,
pulling handled cords and squeezing plastic gas mixture powered triggers,
arriving home to a large-udder goat, counting on the milking
she’s been getting each afternoon, and soon, rather than later,
one handed the impatient beast, took twice as long, more time gone,
and a yard still full of soft stalk moss-dotted grass needed to be worked on,
and, about fifteen dibby birds too young to know to put their value up at night.
Never seen a raccoon’s leftovers of her majesty plucked alive, eaten raw,
from the crown to scaly yellow legs and red, white down scattered all over.
A little Rhode Island Red beat her wings just the right way.
Scratched her twiggy claws and must have flipped that whole slice
of wrinkled skin on my knuckle back, because every other bird
I touched that night has blood on its feathers.
In a few weeks though, each one will receive her opportunity
to repay the favor. To show their truest color.
And we will have stained one another
with a crimson that lasts forever.
The spring sun comes with vengeance, doesn’t it?
Full of memory, and contemptuous resentment.
As if to communicate the fiery sentiment,
how dare you turn the side of that oily adolescent face to me?
Where did you all find the strength to roll over the other mountainous cheek?
Like leaves only came to conceal shame and cower in shade.
Like flowers are gestures, jokes and tricks, vying to be the one
to show the sun a bauble, trinket, or color it did not know of before.
As if the whole sparking intention of nature was to express,
well, now there is more.
Yes, we turned away from you God, you flaming liquid blob,
you roiling chariot of fake yellow gold, but yet, turned back,
away from winter’s star spoiled black and cold mist mornings.
A choir of erratic voices, a billion years of genetically recorded choices,
all loud and delighted to be your wriggling little satellite,
make you proud being burned by light who escaped, temporarily,
into chilling darkness and felt a pale, frail,
sort of lonely happiness in your absence.
But when that full sun returns to shine against the living,
slapped unprepared while the trees are still bare,
it feels more like vengeance, than Spring, doesn’t it?
Anger is like a blind tour guide walking you through the town you were born in.
No eye for sights you see. Teaching you only what you never noticed before.
All the steps in between.
Anger’s eyes are in its fingertips.
Anger’s blind curled firsts can’t resist feeling up stranger’s faces.
Showing you places it has never seen.
Taking you down roads to where you’ve always been.
Tapping sidewalks like a telegraph with a long scrape
and a short knock and another long scrape.
That is how anger asks for help.
With a stick and a fist.
Whispering how if you say the word what it will spell hell
in brale across the side of your face. Behind sunglasses.
Shade shaded eyes from stranger’s pries and useless light.
Blind. But still out looking for a fight.
A tour guide for your own home who keeps falling down
and demanding why didn’t you say there was a curb.
Rising to darkness in a world where suns never climb.
Eyes only cry. And the world is just that place below the sky.
And anyone who gets in anger’s way will learn to step aside.
Because any one of them can see, anger is blinding.
Using someone else’s affliction to play out a lame analogy.
And if a blind person gets angry at me for writing this, fine.
It will be worth it to see, so perfectly, the blind lead the blind.
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.