20 May 2017
The man begins to panic as he feels along the overgrown wall, rustles into darkness and back into broken light. Twice he falls, first in a patch of spilled soil, then into a pile of decaying and nail-filled wood, soiling and tearing his fine suit. The atrium seems barely to be an interior, barely to have a floor or walls, and only the barred glass of the ceiling lets him know he is enclosed. He again hardens himself against his fears. He finds a door as intransigent as the others and attacks it with violent brute force, tearing at the undergrowth and hitting the door with whatever is at hand. His hands and arms are bruised and cut, sweat befouls his combed hair, but he finally vanquished the door which opens with a creak and a bit of rusty dust, then swings as smooth and free as a flimsy whorehouse partition. Now he is in the real anteroom, thick carpeted and cove ceilinged, with a window in one wall that has a pretty girl behind it, then a man on a stool and behind him, another door. She is a coat check girl and he a bouncer. He has nothing to give her and the bouncer gives him no trouble, only an fake intimidating sneer. The door shuts behind him and he is in a grand and crowded ballroom. Everyone is chattering and drinking and smoking and dancing rapidly. All urgent and quick, and every eye is restless and searching. The man is suddenly self-conscious of his tousled hair, scratched hands and torn suit. The image he has of himself -- a tempered and sophisticated man of the world -- trembles, but he grasps it hard and heads to the bar, muscles himself through the crowd and orders the same whiskey that he has in his flask. He ignores the bartender and turns to the crowd. Some girls try to catch his eye. Some don't. Some men catch his eye in challenge. Most don't. He feels the familiar warm burn of power and influence.
04 May 2017
Not really, but sliding along, away and towards. You are a being, wrapping yourself in the costumes and customs of manhood, and of yourself, your name.
(A human being is either: hummus - of the earth, or hu-man - of man/as opposed to gods [opposed!] Yet, either way, a being, a noun derived from a verb - 'be' [present tense!])
It is cold out in the present, striving in earth, in opposition to the gods, and easy to get hurt. And so we wrap ourselves in garments of warmth and protection.
My son, here is a hatchet, a tool as everything is -- your name, your family, your actions. A tool for driving and splitting matter. It is a sharp tool and a blunt tool. It is sharp and it is falling apart and will easily hurt you, like any tool. keep it sharp and free of rust and sheathed when you are not using it.
My son, here is a coat, stained and stitched, and more than warmth it is a shell. There is majik in a father's coat, each arm a daemon. There are pockets full of incantations. There it is cured in sweat and beeswax. The sergeants stripes are chevrons of calm and capable.
Approach life with tools at ready and coat worn with a journeyman's cool confidence. It is a cold and lonely world and you carry me on into it, lightly I hope, like a worn stone rune, or a slightly out of date, wrongly folded map.
24 April 2017
Look to yourself.
Look toward the peregrinations of your high subtle mind. The high bird's-eye thoughts casting constant shadow upon your ruddy wayward days.
Do you have heavy mud on your boots?
Do you carry old and hungry seeds,
Do you till endless ground,
Do you pitch unsellable goods,
Do you wander hostile sign-less streets?
Is there relief, you wonder, that is not rotten with defeat?
Is there rest that is not mud pitched foundering?
Will wrong-heated anger relent but to numbness?
Look to yourself and see.
A flutter and an uncanny lean catch updraft,
and there is rest held in high and opened wing!
There is cool far-traveled air, itinerant, coursing cooling that stinging vein rage.
And there are seeing, far sighted
-- past hill and stream and creek and difficulty --
sharp focused, sun-crowned eyes.
Look to your high thoughts when you are in furrow.
Tend to willow-wisps of intuition when you are heavy.
Look to the broad and high when you are embattled.
Within is a broad winged stranger
Within are well groomed feathers fletched.
Within are sharp orb eyes tied straight to every nerve.
Within are bones cleaning beak and talon, pulling from thin air.
Within is stranger that is you,
a strange wayfarer aged and wise that knows and tells with its shadow:
There are mountains past those crude hills
And beyond are moon birthing seas
There are summers and winters and sun-eating ice-fields
and land beyond that goes and goes and then returns
16 April 2017
13 April 2017
The child stood under a shaggy palm in his crabgrass frontyard. It was that thief in the night, called desert spring. The child, a boy about four years old, golden-haired, striped-shirted, was pondering the strange whims of nature. The same rare breeze that tousled his hair like a father, also tousled the palm and shook from its bunch of dead fronds the easter-egg blue eggs of two-penny sparrows. Some were, amazingly, unbroken. Some leaked broken yolk. A couple revealed still-born chicks. And look -- a horrible miracle -- a still living chick struggling in small circles and stretching its neck. A girl came out of her house across the street and called to him. She was about five or six and had long straight hair. Maybe she was beautiful; he couldn't know. There was a fake wishing well in her front yard. It seemed mystical. They chattered like birds for a bit. The boy was new to the neighborhood and this was an exciting welcoming. But next door, in a hardpacked yard with white-painted trees and cockeyed pickup trucks, another boy emerged. He didn't like the girl and she didn't like him. He shouted across insults and she shouted retorts. C'mon, said the boy, and he picked up some dirtclods and pitched them across the street. He was aiming for the girl but they fell short. C'mon! And the first boy looked to him, hard and sure, sunbrowned and beautiful, then to the girl, so far away across the street. He picked up a dirtclod and threw it, then another. She did not cry, but retreated into her house. The child felt a new feeling and determined that he could not show his new friend the eggs and baby sparrows.
03 April 2017
Songs of my country:
There is the unmissable martial song of sturm und drang. It stretches back through time, inherited, like a column -- infantry batteries, cavalry, supply train. Loud and grand and simple. The words, matching beats, do not change: Patriot! Gallantry! Mother-Father-Homeland! Bravery!
Try and be the brave one who stands stoic, sober, calm and quiet within this eager violent cavalcade.
But behind that -- listen slight -- is a chorus wise with injury and pain. The women's song, masked and robed praising Fates of irony and folly, tragedy and dark humor strained. Singing songs of every privation, rape and pillage, and wounded soldier's fist-transferred pain. The chorus is a windy chant of natural force as ever present as the air, but rises sometime banshee-like to gale, to tempest, to typhoon -- madness of despair
But of despair there is a song we must listen low to hear. True, it is easy to ignore, but once heard it is there and there and there. It is the dirge of black mothers left with only broken sons. The rhythm is the slow trampling of hoses clubs and dogs and guns. The rhythm is the blood tamped dirt, the swaying of young tree-hung bodies in the breeze.
There is the song of un-earned power, that fears the limits of its guns, that fears and sings more loudly still...but then there is the song of slow power justly earned and won. The songs that percolate in well graced anger, in wombs and blood rich soil. Where fear is wrung out and all but gone.