prosetry

And We Return To The Earlier Discord

When was the last time I just watched rain fall without feeling the need to be understood on others’ terms? In youth I learned to notice and, like you, I learned silence from the talkative, flipping back and forth between metaphors and delusion leaving snowdrifts of sawdust in my head because nothing is traceless. Nothing is traceless—I say it twice for double meaning, leaving less to the imagination, sickened as I am by our constant struggles over goodness, as ridiculous as the time I traipsed through NYC in flip-flops feeling perfectly alien and all in.

Not wishing ill but feeling it, Styron feared feeding the evil person within and therefore starved himself by swallowing his perceived failures and eschewing the sustenance of his success at touching people, for better or worse. There’s such a thing as writing to prove your sanity, I confess. I was the one who killed them, he and she, the two of us, perhaps, but it was only a dream and in the dream I stood hesitating in a small room of a three-steps-down-from-the-street garden flat with my finger on the trigger of a gun that belonged to someone, a gun which had just a moment before put a bullet in her. I pointed the gun at him as if to say here please take this before there is no going back to prove anything, counterfactualizing the past before it happened and that loathsome duality was rendered single, killing me.

We left the bodies in the bathtub and I left by the back door, plunging into the dark, blue-green water of the small harbor there, alone. Submerged, I opened my eyes to navigate the subaqueous opacity, white boat hulls floating above, a forest of black dock pilings all around, and green seaweed rising from below slowing the going as I swam through the underwater labyrinth of my final moments of freedom without coming up for air or needing to. Now, I wondered with resigned disillusion, how to negotiate the terms of my latest armistice: wonderment, fear, and awe, all in the same held breath—that’s the future, gray, my second favorite color, though more so from familiarity than appeal. Gray is cover and blend, possibility and lack, the native hue of indecision and liberation. Give me blue or absence, all in or all out, I thought, kicking my foot flippers to keep from sinking deeper into darkness and pulling myself forward with cupped hands, anything but this in between, clutching both and going nowhere, on the run from the ghosts of us.

This, here beneath, is both my refuge and my pulpit, where I float and drift through embryonic muteness, where my voice bubbles and rises to the surface, giving me away, a blessing and a curse. Soon, my body will follow, ill-made as it is for such environs, and I will rise while there’s still time, still time, time still to believe in the strange virtues of freedom and evasion within the context of an undetermined certainty that our days are toe-tagged and body-bagged and on those tags are the names of our teachers and the volume of our ingratitude, right down to the last gasp of asking why we can’t stay.

It’s windy tonight, and fateful. The trees sound glad. If they were more consistent, they’d sound like the sea, I think, and I feel it: be happy, choose to be, choose rare, true, and free.

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poetry, prosetry

fading out under the ashes of the night

For the child, time stretches out immeasurably in all directions, and it’s as if nothing more is needed than unencompassed possibility. A little blonde girl walking down the sidewalk with her father makes eye contact with me as I sit myself down in the couch by the window in the deepening sunset evening to read. She gives me the warmest little girl smile and a friendly wave as if fanning simple kindness my way through thick summer air and I hear her say “the neighbor” to her dad over the cicadas’ divertimento, without hearing what came from him. Did she come from him? I wonder about her future, and, in doing so, think back to what was once mine and I remember the way it looked from the interior, seemingly infinitesimal like looking up at stars projected on the dome of a planetarium. For some of us, the ceiling is just another direction. For others, it’s a destination.

My friend has been dead for six years though I only found out today and I’m not at all sure what kind of friend that makes me but I am certain we once shared dreams like young friends do of being more than where we came from. Some nights are defined by lack. Some nights are just thoughts. Some nights are like tonight.

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poetry, prosetry

just deserts

If deserving matters then it must be a matter of not anti- but non-matter like aridity and openness and that’s all, starting there in minimal sparse-seeming but full life teeming and lit up neon sun subtle as whispered nothings meaning everything glowing warm in deep dark spaces after sunset words, following and preceding, follow and precede and sometimes most times in between persisting, arid and open, persisting to subsist and subsisting to persist sometimes barely more than barely, sometimes feeling only clinging for dear full life, at times clinging to and at others tumble-blown across parched surfaces but nevertheless delved deep with élan, don’t forget, delved deep and diving into mirage pools like we’re alive and barely there, really, ever, only sometimes passing through on no name horses, slow and sun-drenched and soul-scorching and feeling fooled for having hung hopes on lucky herradura, hopes that rain will come and come down and pour and run into all the cracks and ravines on time lapse like science and there’s nothing to do but slow down and soak up, soak in to exquisite, raw in between, never all but most, at least some, almost free from before and after, and at least we have that, at least, that to almost look forward to, at least at last, looking through heat wave distortions at far-off mountain horizons like backdrops dropped in to place us, to locate, offering a silent reference reminder that time thieves each seemingly motionless, progressless step toward away and stakes are high and rising, they say, with each moment traversing the sublime, teeming wasteland, they say, as if there’s a course or a goal in mind and the steps count but no matter, no matter that each moment of precede and follow might be the last in between, the last steps out away down and around where the jackalopes roam and electric desert butterflies flutter

out where eyes shutter snap capture dichotomies seen felt known in roam and flutter, sun to one side, clouds to the other and no idea what’s next for nom de plume I visible in cracked mirror and strung together, figurative-like like these figures of cacti and coyotes as silhouetted and representational as I am.

The desert we deserve—sounds clean-slated and Cartesian, something as if something for the first time something and you do, are, easing in and that’s why we’ve been found in the midst of the rainy downpour deserving desert season,

that’s why thunder and lightning strikes,

that’s why flash floods and grey-black skies

hopeful and daunting, promising something, promising relief and replenish, promising something big because you didn’t try to earn it and it just is just like you, rolling through, alluring lonesome you of the always undone and unfolding in between but not lonely, never truly but just meandering along beautiful and on occasion dashing for the cover of daydreams or standing in a swoon for exposed sky-watchings while I try to speak through storms we fully secretly believe we’ve caused, remembering storms I’ve been and bringing, been and bringing but no longer being, no longer being brought but just bringing and bringing everything

and I know I deserve—

but what?

The chance, right?

The chance, yes, because chance is all there is, mostly, the chance of the good bad everything in between with all its electric energetics behind it, coursing and moving and holding on for rainy seasons like these and I defy those who tell me it can’t be lived this way like deep desert crossings under storms rolling with pen name You joining me in visions of oases and real mirage mood pools for full life feeling, arid and open but soaking and soaking, soaking up here today and there tomorrow and all time felt in flutterbies and shutter-flies captured caught and for the time being I feel I’m no longer catching the heat of the devil’s kiss like I earned it.

And the grey-black and flashes and rumbles closer getting closer and the heavens part and down it all comes, with you.

 


This was written at the end of July 2016, published on Art & Insolence.

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life, poetry, prosetry

all i’ve ever known is true

Suppose life is just one big missed connection and post an awkward public notice to the young man inside.

I saw you walking down the uneven sidewalk on Tuesday night with your head hung low and hands in your pockets, exhibiting all the telltale signs of dejection and I wanted to offer something vaguely inspiring like sometimes there’s nothing to say so do what you can and trust your voice. Past action is the best indicator of future behavior, or so I recall when it’s convenient. Mentality is what mentality does and doesn’t that sound armchair rationalist. I know you didn’t ask—you didn’t even see me—but mine’s forever somewhere between gathering and telling and there’s a self-addressed open envelope on the drafting table with an undated note inside that says something Wittgensteinian that you might’ve once written like look, without explanation, without trying to remember the words, and try trusting that you’ll find the feeling and they’ll come together to form meaning that is free of fear or self-approbation. And maybe one day you’ll be lucky and cursed enough to lay like James Wright in a hammock at William Duffy’s farm in Pine Island, Minnesota when he realized he’d wasted his life and you’ll know you’ve wasted yours if this message ceases to reach you.

Post it, and see who responds.

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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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poetry

twelve lines plus one

If I sit down now I’ll never get up again and then we’ll never know.

If we never know we’ll never go.

I know.

(This isn’t what I came for, this isn’t what I need.)

Well now we’re settled in.

Yes we’re settled in again.

Again.

That old woman across the way mops her bedroom floor in her nightgown each morning.

You say settled in, I say emptied out. And the clock overtakes us all.

Maybe she’s cleaning up whatever comes out of the woodwork.

Your grip is slipping again isn’t it.

We’ll never go.

I know.


Originally published a long time ago on Art & Insolence where I usually hang out. Bringing it back because it’s been on my mind lately.

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