The Good Stuff

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.

With the fat still on it.

Robin Neighborhood (The Knowns – Part 4 – Final)

A thousand wrongs would be thwarted if food were a right. If we had some kind of great American dinner every night, everyone invited, working with food producers and land owners and each area making their own particular regional flavors. Doesn’t matter what is served, just that it is for everyone. An invitation into the slower moving, brick and mortar economy of agriculture, which, if we paid people not to buy combines, could employ all of us endlessly, even if base pay was just a roof and food for the next foreseeable forever. Two hundred years, maybe they’ll cure cancer. In two hundred years, maybe they’ll make that better battery. I think even a goal as simple as this could occupy a nation as great and far reaching as America: buying time.

Let’s make our goal getting our country to the end of that next two hundred with a stabilized economy, with basic necessities and vital products and services like healthcare and potable water not only treated as rights, but organized with concrete, regional, local infrastructure with manageable figures, so homelessness and unemployment are jokes in two hundred years. If we plant trees we’ll never sit in the shade of. If we take this money obsession of ours and buy our kids and their kids some time, that would be something. That’s my angle. Stop letting what I don’t know get in the way of what I do. As long as I, and everyone I know, is alive, we are going to need food, water, and shelter. Those are forever-needs. It’s listed at least three times invisibly on every block of every calendar.

Agriculture is real estate. Agriculture is neighborhoods. Downtown. Agriculture lines highways and fills otherwise empty ditches. Agriculture is Revolution. The Revolution must be an economic shadow. Funded by nature, housed in sprawling farms all across the countryside. It is no longer enough to steal from the rich to supplement the poor.

We must now steal the poor from the rich,
and give them back their selves.

American Farmer (The Knowns – Part 3)

Look at our way of life the way a farmer would. Pretend America is just an American farmer. It grows Americans. Maybe we lay freedom eggs or something. You don’t start selling eggs until you build enough capital to feed and house your flock of Americans regularly. You don’t demand an egg for several days and only afterward deposit fourteen days worth of pellets.

You build your coop, put a little feeder and waterer inside, and constantly clean and expand and improve, and you sustain that, often for months, before you ever see an egg.

We are paying government not to be business.

To make long term investments in us. Like feeding us, housing and guaranteeing sustenance on some kind of measured out, calendar-marked timeline. That’s not even close to socialism. That’s the short math of survival. You’ve guaranteed no one’s freedom if you have not guaranteed the resources of life. No one exists in a vacuum. A human is a complex equation, solved daily by something we call a habitat. When that habitat isn’t guaranteed, it creates a condition in the Americans in your America coop I call ‘crippled self esteem’.

Constant, low-level, background anxiety, knowing your whole way of life could go away because your boss had a bad week, or a simple, unavoidable accident, or a decision you regret. No job. Means no food. No steady housing. No free clean running creek within a hundred miles you could drink from. No sir, we made life outside the dollar impossible. You can scream socialism if that makes you feel better. But it won’t change facts.

The Knowns (part 2)

Couldn’t we, right now, look at our populations, look at our nation, and where we border with neighbors, and without talking about religious affiliations, races, political opinions or ideas about when life begins or the role community should play in how it ends, just talk about the food, water and shelter these people will require, accommodating for population growth and migration, endlessly and replenishably for the next eternally, but for the sake of manageable figures, let’s say millennia, couldn’t we exclusively argue food sources, water distributions, shelter options, for the next thousand years? And in doing so, still enable and propagate the inventions and progressions and superficial tributaries society is currently fixated on, like designers arguing over what color to paint walls in a house whose foundation is crumbling.

The cart is so far ahead of the horse in America, we’ve forgotten this thing was originally intended to move, not left or right, mind you, but forward, and fast. A vehicle for the rights of poor people. The thunder you feel is a thousand galloping horses. Coming to take it back.

The Knowns (part 1)

All concentration of power is corrupt. Like how you can’t take a footstep without crushing something. So all footsteps are corrupt, says the ant. Intentions be damned. When deciding whether or not to trust someone, don’t take their promises for proof. Do they have the right to say sorry to you. Do you trust them to fail, knowing their failure is the progenitor of more than a thousand successes. We all make mistakes. Kings. Governments. Corporations. Gods have apologized before. The more power you give a person, an office, a title, only increases the consequences of their carelessness.

Who knows if we’ll cure cancer, or learn how to postpone old age, or master nuclear energy or muster a flying car in our lifetime, we’re still struggling to build better batteries but the propaganda of our society would have us believe we’re on the precipice of answering the mystery of the universe like it was a multiple choice question. See. Progress. I don’t know. Some things aren’t happening because they just plain won’t. Cancer is harmful mutation, life is what, positive mutation? How do you cure your source?

I say we put it on hold, because we are like children in the knife drawer, we aren’t ready, as a people, for the technology we’ve begun to explore. I say we focus on the knowns. In two hundred years we’ll be as hungry for fresh air as we are now for food. Clean water will entail a chemical equation. We’ll exclusively have picnics on rainy days. The sun will eventually become the bright cloud looming over all our nightmares. There will be no new magical source of food. It will be the same as it ever was. Alongside iron, steel, plastic zip ties, sustenance will be reshaped into shackles.

Where did the sun go when it rained

It’s not too hot until strangers in parking lots feel comfortable saying it. Summer happened a long time ago when all the kids were let out of school this Spring. In just about a week, we can all shake our heads at the checkout counter while we admonish the weather, until then, hold your breath like you were underwater to keep from clearing your throat in public. Wearing a mask makes cleavage of the eyes. Can’t help but tantalize. Icebergs only peek. Powder blue cream filled and witch hazel green, little black curled up spider legs trace a soft pink veined lemon wedge squinting sourly. Is it redundant, to ornately describe the look of eyes? 

Sweat beads down the sides. Long bang cuts across one like a scythe slicing hay for strangers who respond hello. Deep brown like chocolate pudding with a semisweet pupil dotting the center. Do I want to eat these people’s eyes? A superhero. A test answer. A victim in a crime report. When you lack the guts to ask, you mask. You leave it to eyes. What do your silent, light absorbent orbs say about you? Of all the colors of the world, which do they offer back above the mask confessing your true feelings about the view you’re facing. How long has it been since you really smelled the words you were saying. We’re not as sure of what you said as you are of what you had for lunch with onions on it. Without the nose, with buried cheeks and hidden chin, our eyes take over for the entire face and apologize to the world they waste as they search only for their favorite colors. Gray lumps of unwashed wool. Teal waves off southern oceans spill tears down peachy lids of grainy sand. And black. The favorite color of anyone who can’t pick one. They’re all there huddled around a smoky fire in that deep and penetrating night. And wood fire red brown. And pauper pupils wearing corneas like golden crowns. Dull silver throwing sparks growing sharp. Furrowed down. 

So we’re all supposed to be superheroes now. Secret identities. Private public lives and public private ones we post online. Can’t shake hands, but can roll eyes. Can’t bitch about the weather, except that the sun has his mask off and he’s breathing all over all of us. We want to ask where’s the rain, but we don’t know who we’re talking to, they did get a thunderstorm two towns over. Can’t even suffer drought the same any more. Can’t stand the taste of my own words. And without the rest of the face in the way, my eyes keep giving away my secrets. All I see anymore is people’s true colors. All I hear is what eyes have to say, and buddy, it puts mouths to shame. 

Who is that behind that mask.
Where did the sun go when it rained.

Universe-Maker (part 3)

Tired of dreaming, there was only one way to wake up. One direction to move in. The wave of light already crashing, we decided to stop fighting and let it take us a different way. We died. Collapsed. Buried. Super nova implosion. And the instance we have referred to as ‘The Big Bang’ was the very first resurrection and ascension afterward. Life after death. Electrons fired from the grave like bullets from a gun and the age of material had begun. Weight. Separation. And gravity. Longing. Attraction. 

Matter is being farmed into atoms by hives of furiously swarming particles. Pushed and pulled and blended and churned. We’re not so different from carbon and hydrogen, you and I. God, however, is from another place and absence of time. What power it had to influence your life or address your prayers directly, is gone. It only exists after you have long studied and intentionalized your self and found the inert seed of God buried inside and given it up to soft soil and hard water. God didn’t give you a good world or a bad draw, just a self. And it’s mind blowing for a human to consider creating something without means of controlling it, but God did just that. God made true unadulterated freedom. Good. Evil. Right. Wrong. Timing and temperature and quantities and recipes. Evil is a handful of garlic instead of a pinch. Right is likely to be nothing, to do less, as in the greatest gesture of kindness and thanks we could offer the earth is to simply step more lightly on her. Doing less would be more righteous, but the absolute, anecdotal versions of these words would have you imagining a more oil and water situation, black and white, one or the other, all or nothing. I can not for the life of me find those clean dichotomies occurring naturally. I find spectrum. I find contingencies and potentialities based on unpredictable environmental factors such as timing and temperature and holding your mouth just the right way. 

Morality has nothing to do with God. 

Morality has more to do with gardening. Who wants to eat a rotten tomato?

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

A creekbed drops ten feet and I can see bright green tops of adolescent trees, shaking. I just fenced a solid quarter acre of late April and let eighteen goats on it. Soaking wet morning after full rain, they’re up first thing realizing the boundaries have changed. They seem so predatory, considering they’re plant-eaters. I suppose if something can’t scream we don’t attribute it to the same value system. These bony, thick bodied and thin legged vultures rip and bark-strip their immobilized, submissive prey. Fleshy unfurled ferns and green razor wire and so much poison ivy my eyes itched. 

My heart now light and airy as jack-in-the-pulpit down low in a morning breeze. 

I feel vindication for the work I’ve done over the last two days. 

I’m looking twice everywhere I scratch and watching new life devoured incrementally by many goats. And if I stretch my awareness a touch, I think how I’m going to drink that treeline in my coffee tomorrow morning. I feel like if the world were a perfect circle, it would have ended where it began. It didn’t. And though the earth is round, I feel nature is spiral like a sprig of DNA. It does come back around but not to the same place,
or ever the same way. 

A herd of goats annihilates a creekbed
and old notions of predator and prey.

Matter Farmers (part 3 of 3)

We do not have emotions, or any other experiences, accidentally. We’re the same stuff as stars, as oceans, as mountains, yeah we’re goofy and transient, but hell, we’re still here, and as far as I’m concerned, we’re pretty special. We’re storytellers. Our brains are like beehives for information we gather over our years. Electrons are using us to reach out to someone, to something. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but basically something cracked open and atoms started spilling out and over so much time they kept making choices until they became us. We study our anatomy, but we didn’t train it, or teach it. Electrons did that. Traded land and picked complementary crops and bartered harvests and shared labor. Farming. Growing it out to all the sweet stuff and pouty flowers and broad green spades in order to eventually cut it all down and save the only part the Great Farmer cares about. The soul.

The bitter part no one wants to eat. 

Eternal life looks more like an envelope of seeds.

‘What is a page for?’

The one that happens after you’ve filled three others but haven’t quite reached the ending yet. I suppose a page four is a good sign, at least a couple miles behind you, you’ve gained some traction, moving along. A page is for boot prints to dent and backsides to rest on and when you’re finally ready to stick around, plant some seeds in, you’ve been turning it over all these years, may as well withdrawal a little from the soil before you pay it back everything.

What is page four, except for a bridge between a mountain and a bigger mountain. A hook set in the lip of the cockeyed metal strong fish. Page four is the maturation of an opening, it’s Braxton Hicks contractions, the precursor to some heavier cursing soon to come. A page is for eyes to do what feet are for and explore a place tethered only to the limits of their own imagination. A series of pages got me through some dreary nights where I’d do sad things like light a candle and let the wax spill and cool onto the table, a dab or two on the wrist, for validation. I can see the oily residue off the wax on pages of my childhood journal, and I know exactly where I began to become a teenager. I have pages recycled from the backs of church bulletins, like monopoly money pastel blue and yellow and ruffled meaninglessly as they are. Fragmented what some would call poetry and sermon critiques, only the most scathing and adolescently conniving would be shared with my dad, the pastor. For him a page was for emptying out a Saturday night that might fulfill the expectations of hundreds for a solid Sunday morning, more dependent on timing, but still, an audience is an audience, and a stage is a stage. The model for the pulpit, and certainly the source of the choir. What is a page for, except for actors to wage wars they’ve never witnessed and fall in loves they’ve never felt.

What page four and the pages before are is the shaft of an arrow laid against the knuckle of the archer, prepared to spring forward, regardless of the destination, what happens on page four is blind force. The thwang. The slap against the archer’s wrist. May as well be page twenty four, for how time bounds once a half decent piece of writing has dug it’s hook in, bridged that difference between big and little mountains, between clean pages and ones with muddy foot prints all over them.

A page is for contamination. Perhaps the one place still safe to betray the tenants of socially imposed distance. Page four is where the wheels lift off, and the wings sit their full weight down on the airy substance of imagination. The tremor before the birth. A ring around the moon. Page four of a story is like a superstition, fed more on fear than by belief.

That’s what a page is for. For getting to page four.