life, poetry, prosetry

ventilator to the good darkness

And then there were those open spaces of my youth, stretched out between memory and oblivion like a birthmark. The mitochondrial spaces of summer, lush with hazy green vitality releasing isoprene that like magic mixing beauty and pain braided here and there to make the hills blue when you looked like we all did through air thick with sunshine and easy unknowns.

Spaces of forests explored and persistently wild with thick undergrowth cut through by streams and fauna and man, spaces of battlefields where we’d passively imagine finding traces of those who only a simple span of time before emerged from the stoic treelines to fight less for the glossed-over ideals in our second-rate historybooks than for old farm land by the snaking river that for millennia preceded the highway’s bifurcation, still holding claim though not through ancient custom or rite but through the anachronism of thick books with delicate pages that they eagerly yet without intention allowed to limn the past an impossibly remote, ever-present matter of romanesque words from a language other than their original and it’s all still there, still that, but I am not and never was though like those words I’ve been old and other all my life.

And the years advance simply, without us, like the soundscape of those spaces, humming a song that needn’t be as sad as it sounds, as it fades and I keep learning to speak.

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prosetry

like a shadow burned into a wall

It was a week of work, my first in over two months. Funny how you can tell what kind of day you’ll have in the first ten minutes of wakefulness. Is sensitivity something we learn? It’s hard to emulate the idiomatic and constitutional, but easy to hide behind it.

Thoughts of authenticity the other night after watching “Atlanta” connected themselves to others about lived experience, my life, and Charles Johnson, who is from the town in which I now reside and will be here again to give a talk in May. This is apparently worthy of transcription.

Self-conscious self-criticism always “kept me honest” while I sought ways to raise myself up out of the everyday, confused, predictably romanticizing “just making it” and being afraid of dependence. Writing isn’t the application of forms, it’s unfolding. I’ve made my truths, fiction et non, and still going.

Really I’m not my past, but I can get back to it like Theseus to Ariadne. Peter and the Wolf gave me a glimpse of heritage as a child and I made it my own mythology. Peter was the violin and my middle name and all was quiet, all was well.

Russian fur hats and black boots and military jackets and good-natured young boys and protective grandfathers I never knew, if I had to pluralize. Now I write prose poems because they’re somewhere between rap and short stories and because I’m from somewhere where that makes sense, working for a living and working on a novel about belonging that I might should maybe call The Clew and the Minotaur but I won’t tell you who’s who.

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prosetry

Unindifferent

“All lovers live on partial knowledge,” Cole says. I say symbiosis, our nameless and personal act, so-called for the world in you and the world in me, corresponding. Everything from simple two-arc birds, white against the starry sky above, to weird fishes down in the cold dark depths beneath, crescent moons for eyes like dreaming. I often think I am, because I don’t know what else to call it.

Is it imprudence we show with names, or do we simply spoil wonderment with everyday answers, and what would be the difference? I’ve longed to believe in one, waxing at times quotidian, and now my simple ardor is enamored with no longer longing to love because there’s you in my solutions, you more than anything, and that’s now, I call it, the always-been.

And now you’re here with me, sleeping beside. Astonished, gazing lunar, I feel as _____ must have when _____. Forgive my universalizing. I know how history pulls us apart, to speak of partiality. Such is the hook on the lure of its richness: the past becomes a domicile and then dwelling is easy.

Do you know how many times? I looked at that picture of you, smiling back at me from years ago, trying to feel precisely this without knowing, without reference, without time, without content, shy of what it added up to. How nice would that have been, I’d think, venturing to calculate my refuge in memories pulled present.

There’s such talent in your beauty, such easy virtuosity in your being. I lean and whisper two things I hadn’t read aloud the night before. “All measurements change for the person who becomes solitary;” “Life is always right.” Far from us, he is, that poet from Prague, but close, given the angle, which I suppose was his point. Symbiosis means never leaving, never having left, but always coming home and knowing. That’s mine, as are you, solitary, partial, perfect, and loved to entirety, my land, my sky, and my sea.

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