Monday, September 1, 2014

Sugar in the Black Soil

We're all gardeners, descended from the first Garden.
Everything has been already named.
We might change around the numbers in the equation,
but sooner or later we come to our first English Composition class.
I don't mean to strike horror into you.
You have to get in before you can get out.
You have to analyze your experience, or the Great Books,
or whatever it is while some teacher blesses you before you actually
compose of your own free will. You discover it as you go.
Look out that window as the world grows into finer focus.
You have the pictures to describe every plant and department
in the whole world. You live in a little house with a table
and a window flung open. All the authors that ever were
are streaming through your window. We remember only a little
of the bird as it flies into the Great Speckled Unknown.

The sensitive poet, at his best, can pull a tractor out of the mud.
He is not offended by the clumps of sugar in the black soil.
He goes out into the unbroken Midwest with a serving spoon.
All directions are feasible. The earth tells him yes,
and the earth tells him no. He accepts both answers.
He scoops manure onto the white grades of untested canvas.
His studio smells like the country. He goes to the feed store,
not the art store, to get his brushes. They are more like brooms
with which he gets his whole body into the action.
Pushing fifty pounds of the dark thoughts across the palette,
he breaks a sweat. He works with his hands,
connecting implement to rig. The furrows he leaves in his wake
are deep enough to disturb the casual reader, expecting a red barn.
The reader's only choice is to give a hand with the wheelbarrow.
By noon, the fat tires start to emerge from the snow.
The white page, next to the sugar bowl, is halfway done.
The sweetness reaches into the bristles of the broom.
The ground is swept with legible handwriting, awaiting the sickle.

We farm at our tables, uncovering helpings of the sky
in our notebooks. If we choose to leave the world,
we still have our writing. This is a wine that flows in even
the most remote places. Take being out in space, for example.
All the literature still makes sense on Mars even if there is no water.
If you deprive yourself of things in order to write,
you are probably a lover. You are satisfied with the Beloved
because she is the perfect editor. She is beyond words but checks
back every once in a while to make sure you are doing O.K.
That gives you a lot of free time. That is why we writers
must be disciplined.

Sometimes we have to leave the fifty thousand word set
and stretch out into the flight of migration back home
where a kitchen is set with all the books one individual will write,
and now it is time to taste a home cooked meal prepared
by the Friend. He has not forgotten about you. He has just
been seeing what you're up to, choosing the ingredients
that make you happy, and on your birthday making such
a special meal that you will be at a loss for words.
That is good. The taste of your birthday dinner
is meant to stay with you for all eternity. We have to travel
light onto Mars or wherever the next place is we end up,
and nothing sticks with you more than a taste of that fruit
we are all striving to grow.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hungry Prophets

Hungry prophets line up, looking for directions
to luminosity. When they are all in a row
the critics start raving, causing God to get with the program.
Old salt turns into honey. The beehive changes into a dance club.
The yet to be prophets fill their mouths with honey,
brimming with the sweetness, wondering
how to serve with too much of a good thing.
It comes in dribs and drabs and then it pounces on you
like a tiger, eternal in his stripes. So salt, honey, tigers -
all these things don't give God a moment's worry.
The people are asking for the good stuff, and they can't stand
a moment's procrastination on His part. He reads the Daily
Telegraph, wonders what to tell them about life on other planets,
and finally gets around to fatherly allowing Himself to be stung
by a beehive gone wild. He farms out the acceptance
of new hive members to one of the angels and gets back
to reminiscing about what he did when He was a billion years
younger than his current overtaxed self.

Yes, God puts things off, not because He doesn't care about us,
but because He stubbornly refuses to start a boardroom.
He prefers his executive management even though he is usually
too sublime with the galaxies to send back work orders
to planet Earth. But don't get me wrong. It is these details
that give Him great delight. He is just a minimalist painter,
that's all. The canvas stores are going broke because He takes
light years to even pick up a paintbrush, and even the Milky Way
doesn't have that kind of time. So when it comes down to earthly
critics going wild about the hottest post, post-modern artist,
God invokes a bristle in his sable hair paintbrush, and even that
causes earthquakes and hurricanes, so He doesn't do it too often.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Carrier Pigeon

Let adventure telling dominate the schools.
If it is yours or something learned in the classics, let it be said.
Look into it, and you will see the treetops are printed much lower
than the standards a good story should have.
Spin the thread around the moment, and tie it off in the ocean.
Homecoming awaits those stuck in line at the surf's edge.
I am a lost soul in the world's library, a camper in the proportions
of life to art. My story is halfway realized, but then art takes over
and stretches it into dimensions unseen.
The world is a grain of sand but which grain of sand
we will never know, and in that searching which will
go on forever until Jesus or Buddha comes back,
you are graced with both fine appreciation and cosmic wonder.
When Joseph answered the question to Pharaoh's dream,
he fulfilled his own life by counseling another.

When you open a book you should look at the cover
and ask yourself did the author carefully print his or her name
on this envelope which contains no bills or any of that nonsense.
Remember you always have a soul mate maybe on your left,
maybe on your right. People say they have not found their soul mate,
but that is not true. The Friend is simply the master of another name,
a little shorter or a little more important sounding than the one
you carry around. A carrier pigeon flies without the river,
over a busy city. So what if all those people are not reading.
They may be being written about. That is the job of the writer who
lives on the outskirts of town, going in for supplies
when the ocean demands. His work may never be read,
but at least it will be thrown into the sea.
There are passions in the ocean that are so true,
they may swallow the world's books like a canyon
that has not been explored. So fear not the unknown.
A book may have gotten there ahead of you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flow Currency

A thousand grains of gold are scattered in the mind
never meeting one another as a nugget.
A thimble full of this medicine would detain
any computer set on taking over the world.
Normally, I stop at this point and take the band-aid
off the monster. He is so well behaved though that
we'll let him sit at the grown ups' table. His conversation
may make no sense now, but in a couple years
he will smile with the rest of us.
It's all good whether you're anticipating paradise
or are a few quarters short of that final curtain call.
Suddenly, it disappears as fast as the boxcar comes into view.
I slow down and took a look at the train following me.

A hundred cars would not get ahead of me until I glance
at my wheels so few. You think you're moving forward,
but you're really blocking the whole street
with your flow currency.
What you haven't said is driving the whole city sideways.
It's hard to be a moving city when the shops
are filled with broke religions.
You need water whether you're out in space
or farming oranges in the sunbelt, and now we have
too much of it. The sun has too much fire,
and my mind has too much air.
It is so empty here without the pages fluttering
into the next life that my shaky prayer book
finds its sea legs again.    

Monday, August 4, 2014

Entities Like Boats

At this point, I was going to say throw the hull and prow
back into the shipyard. Our bodies and the way they cut
through time and space are dear to us, almost as dear
as the conversation in the cabin, or perhaps more dear.
The wake we leave with our boats is experienced in words
once the captain opens his log. Our heart, or cabin,
exists in tandem with the hull, our bodies made for both
motion and rest. We reflect on the language that comes
of moving through the day as entities like boats which
are self contained but amplify each other as conversation trails near.

When we come to a rest, the wake remains for a time
as we grow back into the ocean. That could occupy us for hours
if we are in no hurry to continue the force that puts bodies in motion.
All this is much more real than an image that projects surface
with no tension, a vision that appears not wet, not interacting
the way liquids do when disturbed by bodies in motion.
So we need both the boat and the cabin, and if we are together,
a captain who understands the moment and its reflection.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gross National Product of My Bicycle

I have a bicycle that uses many spokes. A few of them are lost
every time it turns. I have solved many problems with only
a dozen spokes. The fact that as I was working on the problem,
spokes were used that are not anymore in existence is proof
that progress need not be tied to the manufacture of an increasing
amount of goods. The gross national product of my bicycle
is set except for the hubs which are many. I have many bicycles.
They are not all complete. It is not necessary that they be finished.
The only thing that counts is physics, the demonstration that
riders are meaningless. You think you are steering, but you're
really not. You think you're pedaling, but you're really not.
The evolution happened when you had gone so far that you ceased
being aware of the problem. You ceased working, in your trail
were many spokes doing nothing alone, but nonetheless measuring.

A ladder is propped up high toward a garret window,
and lost in thought, you find yourself painting a picture with steps
and a nude or some sort of creation. You could not have made
that climb with a bicycle. However, there is a fruit tree at the top
of a mountain. You pedal your bicycle, let the switchbacks
and cliff walls fall into your evolution, all the while carrying a ladder
with your outstretched hands. You reach the tree, climb down
from your bicycle, that is if you're still riding, and set the ladder
underneath the lowest branches. The fruit tastes like
mountain candy. Suddenly, you realize the ladder is gone,
a few spokes are falling out of the leaves, but more spokes
are radiating from the center of your being.  That is spirit arms.
Although, we cannot trace these new spokes to the hub
which is most certainly in your heart, we may say it exists
and does not need to be seen.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Thin Area

When we describe a larger worldview with an even smaller law,
we are raising the stakes. When we get into matters of the universe,
we assume a secret love, not yet unlocked on earth, will keep things
orderly in places we've never been in person to inspect their
ruthlessness or complacency. If society is satisfied with how it is,
it fits into either acknowledgement of its torn fabric or the will
to bring it to shreds, hoping a tipping point will be reached.
This is good practice for a pair of shorts, wearing them until
they start to fray. Satisfaction with garments in the here and now
puts less stress on the sweatshops and might even increase
the quality we expect of our first love. An old pair of clothes may
become more dear to us, seeing how layer gives way to layer,
and we move more gently so as not to stress any thin area.
This is a fact. Parts of the world are thin. We are called to send
them direct aid or at least spend great amounts of time thinking
about their plight and who are the players. Then we can say
isn't it a shame that so and so has to be in power now.
I have thought it through, and it is his fault. If it was up to me,
I'd do things differently. However, the accused may see things
completely differently, pointing his finger at you for even trying
to understand his internal situation. Yes, places of the world
are thin. When we get to the threads holding together a pocket
or a belt loop, who can say which tug will cause the whole thing
to unravel? So we say it's bubbling up or they've always been
this way since nobody can agree on unilateral tightness
or letting things alone. The world is not a pressure cooker though.
There is great distance between each one of us.
Even brothers at each other's throat, if they stopped
calculating weaknesses, would find unexpected strength.
Our problem is that we're always looking for the next fashion,
not concerned with getting the best wear out of what we
currently have, not being aware of history and the unrest
that brought us to the point of actually buying our own clothes.
If we were concerned with the laws of behavior that went into
either making or trading for one pair of shorts, that would be
a law on a limited scale. It may have no bearing on sector
number three and a half and how to get to four in the agency.
We will have slowed down though.

Eventually our hyper-awareness of what is going on bureaucracies
away will erode, mirroring the fraying of our own garment.
If each leader came to a show and tell with an object that he/she
had worn until the thin spots could be seen, would these be rifles
or hand grenades? The person with a well-worn rifle might never
have shot anyone. The person with a well-worn hand grenade
might never have thrown it in a city of two million. Yes, he came
to work every day, put in his time, but we never knew he carried
in his vest pocket the tools to destroy his enemies. These are the thin
spots we might acquire. Spots that only come of birth because
of quality and gentle movement. Yes, anyone can go to a football
game and get a savage rip in their garment, hence giving it
the appearance of wear. It takes a careful love to secure the strong
spots so the weak ones may feel the air of day. That is an air
that is not busy tugging on this thread or that, trying to see how
the whole thing can be understood. It is an air that knows nothing
short of complete uniformity will ever be a fair breeze for our
brothers and sisters. Other than that, the thin spots will appear
and will last if they begun with quality like the gentle movement
of a grenade carrying person in a bustling city that bustles
with the distance that is unimaginable to us, unless we have
that responsibility.