I’ve written more numbers on lumber this past week
than words into any story or poem.
I am a confused sort of man.
Walked up on where two paths diverge into the woods
and chose neither one. I’m losing skin from shins
and will be itching for weeks from high stepping
all the wild unwalked life-choked spaces in between.
Footsteps scar the earth. The earth grows thorns
and marks chalk on me. An alphabet of illegible lettering.
One over sixteen with two petite dashes tilted like military berets.
The word heavy.
The word slider.
Rip it longways to five and a quarter and give it another run on the router.
Wipe glossy white wax on each end after you cut them. Born brown faces
squint into the sun off the pool they’re building. Burnt brown faces
have measuring tape like loaded handguns on their hips
clutching little notebooks and a teeth marked pens.
They’re poets too. In their way.
Calling grown men who don’t speak English too stupid to their face
and keep sawing blue stone tiles with circular saws and no masks on.
White dust and the smell of burnt glue fill the air.
Clouds. Clock out. And head on to the home place long before any of us.
Short. Long sleeved men. And knit polo tucked into crisp clean khaki foremen.
Trying to read my scratched black handwriting in this hard dark stubborn Ipe wood.
A man from Brazil told me it was from Brazil. “It is amazing to have such long boards,”
he said, “the Ipe tree, you see, it grows very crooked.” As he read a scrap of it
with more intention than anyone has ever looked at one of my poems.
The things I have done have climbed inside my hands.
Used engine oil. Black grease spiraled out an iron jack.
Dad swears it once held up the entire house.
A touch of rash off a three leaved brat like a bracelet
decorating my wrist. Inch long scar from a bowsaw
when I was too young to have had one. White lightning
sunk into my right pointer knuckle from a kitchen knife
I’d forgotten I’d put in the sink. Green veins
peek through stretched thin red window panes
from so much sun the past few days.
The dent. Where the pen sinks in. Black fingernails
half step between pink ivory keys on a self playing piano.
Where there once were blisters.
As if I wasn’t going to remember.
It’s official, I left my job at Foust after four incredible years. What an opportunity, and like most good things in life, buried at the center of a nesting doll of so many other jobs and situations. I remember working at the suit store in the morning, then landscaping all afternoon, gardening all evening, and walking my dogs just praying, begging God for a better way to make a living.
It isn’t just a phrase when people say you work for the job you want, not the one you have. Nothing was promised, but I trusted, and each job dropped me off exhausted, ready, done, right on the doorstep of a better one. I feel blessed. I feel hungry, but in the best way. I’m knocking down the door of a greater opportunity already. I’m not exactly sure what life will look like on the other side of this hike, but I have a good feeling
Foust is a part of it.
Which means for now, this really isn’t a true to form good bye.
So much as it is a to-be-continued in disguise.
These longer days during summer somehow feel shorter,
yet weigh the same. Heavy bags beneath eyes.
Those lines formed on the sides of smiles or from frowning,
now drawn permanently arching parenthesis
like a frame around a painted mouth. Red,
or soft pink and sleek wormlike rippled skin of lips. Chapped,
licked seductively to find the salt of beaded sweat. Clamped,
beneath teeth in the grinding tense frictional symptom of concentration.
The weight of all these days to date, here, today,
born in the indented pool of an unseen lower back,
bone locked like knuckles wrapped in cartilage against knotted bone.
The bolt built of twisting nuts touches the big eared clown face
of that giant rattling calcium hip structure
to record the strenuous passing of time
more honestly than any calendar.
Some friends say more with silence than ever using words.
More than can be told has been heard while mouths remain closed.
Phone laying dark and quiet. But the secret is newly out.
I can hear you when you’re silent.
Those two true blue eyes have learned to shout.
And right, I was right all along. You and I get along,
but we have a working friendship.
A functional kinship. You and I are at our best
when we do not rest but work, and work regular.
Committed less to one another,
than one another’s interests.
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.
who grew legs just to follow me
and show me all I do in a day.
Coffee in my hand. The only hand.
Pouring water and plugging in a percolator.
To the mirror that has reflected on a flat surface
the work I have done just to spoil it.
Stain a sticky tongue of coffee
on the floor while I pour
the mirror more.
And when I work I know.
I see flakes of dirt scratch the mirror’s face.
No hand of its own for grip, the rectangle is content
to frame my effort in, sweat and pain,
and the slow spreading smile
that chases small victories away.
Tilled flat. At myself I stare at a mirror
who grew legs just to follow me here.
To show me
my work is
Teach this lesson: how the most productive among us do not always feel their success. They are not always driven, driving forward, gaining pace in pursuit of their dream’s greatest. There is not a lot of motivation in hypotheticals. If there was, more people would make sacrifices to achieve the things they want. No, the hardest working, most inspirational people, milking minutes and hours from the day most of us don’t even know exist, are not running toward goals, so much as being chased by failure. Self-aware. Knowing all these words and thoughts and chicken scratch will be counted on for a life to match. Afraid for being all talk. Frightened of not being as enlightened as my writing. I heard my life described as if I were working the equivalent of three full time jobs. Keeping up with the money one, the sunny one and the overrunning one. But that isn’t how it feels. I am eternally unsettled. Dissatisfied. Full of angst trying to find ways to give thanks to a God who thinks and seeded a thinking universe like a songwriter puts down a verse, trusting it will inspire a chorus. And here we are. Each one of us. A left brain right brain rhyming couplet created under the cramped hand of an angsty, unsettled, dissatisfied chemical equation. A creator. And it may not have written all this to shape the perfect universe. More likely loneliness. More like an artist. Looking like it’s chasing three full time gigs just to keep up with itself. But the truth is, I’ve given up on ever finding contentment. And it honest to goodness just helps to stay busy.