The Physics of Memory

Do you have memory or does memory have you?
How can we forget things we can’t afford to lose,
and recall things we’ve begged our brains to forgo.
How are interviews even possible? How is there a
filing cabinet in the mind where memories sit stored
and wait in silence single file. I can see the front
entrance of my high school. I can see my grandmother’s face.
I can see my grandfather’s casket
on two by fours hovered above his grave.
Not think of, or remember, or recall, I close
my eyes so they open up inside and I’m wearing
a Carolina blue robe with the summer sun in
them. How is that possible? This question isn’t
rhetorical. I’m going to attempt an answer for it before
the end of this page. How can one forget something
that comes back to them later on. It is almost like memory
is orbital. Spinning. Cyclical. Circular, but dented, not perfect,
it’s elliptical. All your thoughts are links in a chain crossed
and in angles it jangles and the sound it creates
can be captured in folds of fat and harnessed with complex
carbon lightning rods and cabled wiring twisted throughout.
What we call consciousness, the will of recall and of
shaped perception into witnesses, are hand over hand
what pulls this circular chain. Only one way.
So that is why memories are sometimes inaccessible
because you are past them in your internal
kernel of mental orbit. And your only chance to get it
back will be the next go round. All that lightning
gets to ground. Life is like some kind of
slow motion electricity. And we too bounce between clouds
until a ladder arises for us to climb down and the
earth takes our fire and our power and disseminates it across many miles.
Memory is not a thing. It is a routine. Like us. A process.
That we can fix. And can fail.

Gold Mine

Write something for release. Something to get all the feelings out. Some good angry metaphors and critical analogies. To get you thinking, to stop me. It’s ten after six and the only sensory details I have through the window are an odd rooster crowing at an imaginary sun, a goat kid calling the dark for mom, and bush crickets that go silent the moment I write their name. There’s the big empty trucks driving tired men to work, where their trucks will sit emptier still in a parking lot. They’ll work six months then lay out six, that’s when someone comes and takes the truck. They peer into blacked out windows in the houses they pass with such fierce jealousy and disdain for sleeping bodies. Still not angry enough for how stuck I feel.

Trapped. Used. Forgotten. Lonely. There have to be better words than these. Pinioned. Whorred. Dumped. And honest. Keep the melodrama to yourself, Jeremy, please. My heart is what I named my deepest, most internal, least malleable and consistent thoughts. Right now my heart cries want, want, want. To work my farm from dawn to dusk. To be my very own son-of-a-bitch boss. To finish this book burning in my head. So I can start on the one I haven’t dreamed of yet. I want to be Jeremy, capital Me, I want the last of Mr. Homesleys. There is a gold mine on this land left buried.

I have the shovel.
But not the time.

See It Sewn

A misty eyed mystified look across twenty four young faces. Masks make you realize how it all always was in the eyes. Skepticism. Judgment. A narrow fold of scrunched justices when brows get pulled down together. A good orator sits back in the seat where they stand. Let them stew in it a bit, before easing the queasy feeling of questioning what it was they just heard. A crooked smile is like a wide-brimmed hat, one should never leave the homeplace without it. 

The love a partner hands over after forty years of marriage is the same love McDonald’s believes people have for its sandwiches. There’s no formal distinction between these two uses of this one word. I love my mother. I love Saturdays. Equitability doesn’t just raise the bottom, it lowers the top. Levels the heap. Squashes the pile flat as the earth was before we rounded down its corners.

Assigning students to produce in a room designed for them to receive. Sit quietly. That thing in your pocket that is quickly becoming your voice, it’s contraband in this space. You will use it to speak through for the rest of your life. It connects you to anyone who loves you and would fight for you no matter the stakes. Make no mistakes, your phone will save your life perhaps even from those publicly sworn to serve it. But if you glance at it during class, to check the time, no time to ask, you’ll lose it. They’ll take it. And you refuse to, they’ll send both of you home till Tuesday. 

Then this kid thinks, well I can’t go to college. This school thing is not for me. I can’t go four more years, my voice held hostage while I’m demanded to speak. Kids forming their perceptions based on tired, saggy, complaintive old people going through the motions is a recipe for the slow motion disaster being served at all our tables right now. 

I get it. School is a two bird, one stone design. Built primarily with babysitting in mind. But it is also a teacher trap, a catchall for those called to the one field government never sacked the revolution on: educating future generations. It is amazing. How far we’ve come. How drop-dead smart we are. And yet we haven’t figured out how to make a door we can close behind ourselves and once we do, no one can ever come through ever again. We can’t figure it out, because the universe is created in such a way where it can not be done. If a nation is formed of revolution, then it will be plagued by revolution until its dying day. The line stops when we find there’s a real plot to dumb down our children. I will not see mine censored into societally induced stupidity. 

A good orator is not in it for the applause. Jesus knows who rocks the boats, he doesn’t fear water, his time is set in stone. Before the end, you just want to know, there’s a touch of what was in you still out in the world, and if you don’t see it, a good orator will shell out the right words, and see it sewn.

The Purpose of Life

Chores to do. More to move. Horse to shoe. Oh wait.
Horsefly and shoo. Sure. I’m up. Not firing on all fronts.
It’s early. There is energy.
But here I sit. Front porch writing.
Trading grips between a pen and a ceramic lip.
Trading discomfort hip to hip on a hard wood rocker.
Seat of power seems oxymoronic.
Though I am sure that it isn’t.
If more people with power sat on it,
there would be less obstacles to the simple, family-centric
lifestyle poor folk have fought for far too many manly centuries.

It is crazy people pretend we don’t know the purpose of life.
Yet so many live identical expressions of it for the same motivations.
If life had a purpose, why would it be distant and hard to grasp?
No. It comes bubbling up out of us.
Grumbling deep inside of us when we do not feed it enough.
These chores. That bill. This meal. And its cost.
No one can give freedom. In that sense, freedom does not exist.

Freedom is the only sanctioned slavery.
It is ownership of the self.

Hide. (part 3 of 3)

But I’m here now.

We will peel apart the atom like an apple and discover a seed in its center that is carved somehow with the chicken-scratch autograph of what can only be called God. Though that moment will ruin the word, it will rescue the world, and religion will mean story again.

Every action you commit to in this place creates the brightest light. Burned, pulled into the electrons that energize and power you on. And you will remember, lest ye be remembered, by the lives of all you have eaten, the lives you ran down in the road, the lives you put your hands on without permission. There is life, and consciousness, inside the atom, and therefore memory, and the ability to make decisions.

Push. Pull. Hide. That is what an atom can do. 

Ask yourself. Is that so different from you?

Pull. (part 2 of 3)

All of our mass is here in the proton and neutron. They are together in the nucleus, but distinguished from one another, for example, one is electric, and one is, as far as can be seen, not. The proton pushes, positively charged, like a young dad with bulging arms carrying all the beach toys, neutrons follow his lead and hug his wake and bask his shadow all in tow. But he put his call over the ocean. Heard it answered. A push to pull, a negative to his positive, a farmer for the garden, the electron may very well be the only seed God planted before it slank back into the hammock that rocks above every barrier the beanstalk never broke. Yet.

Am I Jack? Climbing a hairy vine wrists wrapped in red rash, pulling, pushing, hiding when I have to, searching for a slithering piece of snake-like thread that unravels this shape and pulls it apart so completely, such a threat, the giant feels its hammock shift among the swayless trees, in the windless ether of the realm of all-observance, where life was once a dream, but now we’re hushed, because its favorite show is on the tv screen, I scream so that it finally drops both feet and shakes this blanket of blank grass and weeds we’ve been scattered across like a fist full of seeds. I will make the farmer show face and explain itself.

I don’t believe the answer can be found the way one can trace and track the color of a flower to the nutrients in the soil. Because of flaws in the equipment. Because of the limitations of perspective. Our minds weren’t molded to uncover transcendental, universal understanding and Truth. Just survival. That’s all.

To achieve enlightenment we busted apart a telescope and took out the bulbous lens and until now we’ve only been using it to burn ants. 

Push. (part 1 of 3)

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.

Fear and Pride as Strengths

Plants will hold up cups above their heads to catch bees in but bury their roots beneath the soil so that half the rain runs off before it soaks in. Trees will grow up tall and huge and heavy and spread out thick green sails from their oaken masts and dare the wind the topple them: perhaps they push the continent, perhaps it is why we still sail across the Atlantic, why California continues to be nibbled by the Pacific. If a human were a tree it would grow wide and flat close to the earth where no wind could tickle it. If a human were a plant, they’d put their bright colors beneath the ground in fear for anyone finding them. Lift their roots up to the elements so they can feed freely and never learn why their seeds bear no germ.

The Spotlight

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.

Notes of the Daydreamer

Oh me, Oh my. No exclamation will meet the mark.
Give up a pen that shouts. Sparks fly and flint flakes
and fire sighs sight and reveals strong citations.

Textual evidence of a higher power
keep my eyes on my naval
and off thy sight.

Education. Psyche. Eros. High school.
Kids. Jokes. Festered into identities. Titties.
Boys obsessed with misremembered memories.

I am going to treat you like you are intelligent
until your behavior shows otherwise.
Offer language supports. This is asinine.

Sanctimonious. Cynical and negative.
Turning my camera off to take a drink.
Passing. Barely. This class. Life.

The ones where I’m the student.
And the ones I have to teach.