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It’s nice that they start putting up signs along the road for the hospital a few blocks before you get there, because after a while the numbness starts to fade and you need something to guide you.
Even if it’s a familiar traverse. You basically need your hand to be held.
You need to be told,     left,       next left,       right,       keep going,       turn here.
Your head can be a’swim.

It is evident now that it matters not- how woven in you are to the fabric of people’s lives. It won’t prevent you from vaporizing to nothingness at the 1st instance of death. Death won’t hesitate to do nasty black-magic tricks with your face, making you vanish. It’s not shy. There is no couth. It’ll greedily, hungrily claim you. Your binds won’t keep you. The strings you’ve spent your days fortifying can’t hold you down or tie you to another in the physical realm.
And yet- it does matter- as it is the fabric that stitches the rest of us together. That covers us. That warms us on this breezy plain. This warm place. Placid place. Bone-chilling place. Sweltering place, where there has been time for every kind of weather and sensation until perhaps the day where an abrupt cut-off occurs and you find your way navigating in a metal box- eyes fixated, and on the look out for reflective, square, blue H’s of signage to tell you where to go. Where to find a friend in distress, removed from hanging in the balance.

If you love someone that’s been in an accident, there’s no telling what you’ll do. Will you cry and howl? Will you retract into yourself, sink your eyes back, seep into your own skin? Will you adopt a straight-backed, stomach-lining-acidifying stoicism? Will you be like me, where every ounce of brain exits it’s holding places and flees for complete cloud cover- leaving me temporarily to fumble for words, and forget all the names of people known to me for years when the nurse asks for introductions.
A thick soup of space replacing my free thoughts. A questionably protective gelatin that pads my consciousness in order to keep the inevitable away & at bay for more moments. Perhaps. Seems sensible amongst the nonsensical…

When you arrive at the hospital conglomerate- the mass complex of buildings with incongruous architectural bids in huddle- the maze of pain and occasional welcomed wellness reports- your feet may take over- you may run as if your life, their life, -life- depended on your pulse; contributing. You may want to cry out to the 3rd run-in with reception about your confusion as to where is my friend. I don’t understand anything at all right now. Where even are we? How could you do this?
Every station. Every elevator. Every corridor. A repetition of it’s rude self, each not leading to his room. Time ticking cruel modules.

Have you ever seen a loved one propped up with a plastic brace, wired, hooked to monitors and intubation? Liquid red lines leaking from his ears; blackened, swollen eyes?
None of the machines synch up with their bell-sounds, their compressing, their dripping or collecting. There is no calming rhythm in which to find a small piece of peace.
There are plastic bobs and bits everywhere, linking a network to create breath and eased airflow.
There are computers with the sole purpose to oversee heart function- where their whole life they scribble and drag green lines across bowed screens that inform people of the seemingly small spectrum between okayness and trouble.
If you experience a friend on life support you’ll quite likely feel a combative compulsion to sit beside them and grab their arm, all the while the same part of you, but on the backside of it- wanting to leave the area the second you smell the room.
Run like a wounded deer in hard light.
Head for dry, high land far from quaking earth.
Like the first time you see a naked lady dancing across the stage; that desire to lay your eyeballs across her body, and the other to fumble in your pockets and squint squint squint hard and the sense of shame- feeling discomfort blame-able by a church thought you’d never even subscribed to.
But more perverse.

I can’t be the only one who’s claws extract.
I’m dangerous there. With their naked arms. I’ve learned twice. I will dig.
I will dig and I will wait for response and want response and sink further into grief and fear at lack of response. I want to hear them or see them react and make them mad. Get mad at me goddamn it and feel me right now! Just feel.
This arm will be false-warm. It will feel slightly gummy. I will only touch the warm parts. I tried to hold his hand because my mind had blocked the memory of what happened last time, but no. The hands are already cold and gone and I do not recommend them. I recommend staying away from appendages least ye be of masochistic proclivity.
Stay.
Away.
The hands are gone and this is where the death begins; at the edges.
And the questions begin to bubble at the sorry surface.
Are you here, friend? Are you hovering above us, like they say? Are you afraid or hurting? Is there a song that’d put you at ease?

Then you’re just there, and you want to go. And you want to stay. And what’s a girl to do. And the shock won’t release you and it will take so long to thaw and you will feel like you’re in on a terrible joke with a small slice of others- against the rest of the people like the Jackelope in South Dakota. Like some silly pact gone unspoken with friends to make the rest of the world feel like shit; wishing they’d gone to see him that one last time they’d meant to; gone sailing with him more; not been a flake those times- because he was always there. One of the few.

It’s the most impossible thing to believe. Absence. Permanent absence. The hum on the line. Forever static. No more-ness.
And you think: life without you? Well I just wasn’t ready. And we had plans. And you had plans. And that is lovely but meaningless without someone to make them become.
And this gurney wasn’t made with you in mind. Your strong body is the wrong body and how unfair is this.

The slightest infraction- I tell you/ believe me- my friend is gone and do not fuck with me now because fury will reign down upon you because my feelings are so full of barbs that your spilled, spoiled blood has been matched by my own punctured heart and my anger at your loss will not bring you back but I burn. I burn so hard now that I am a flame. And I must be an inch down the line in stages of grief because I’ve set my numbness on misdirected fire with nothing to ignite but fog. And yet still, I find this all utterly unbelievable.
Please shake me to wake me.

Inevitably you will be woken up, but it will be from inconsiderate neighbors who are wearing the all in all twin blinders of alcohol and summer weekend feelings, who aren’t really doing anything terrible. You will yell at them and you will tell a complete stranger to shut the fuck up and go fuck themselves. So bad you will yell so bad and loud and mad at them that you need to stand before a fan to calm down and cool out. You will pace for a while there after and want to punch the walls. You will by hyper aware of their normal movements below you in their own apartment once they’ve hurried back inside. You will find an unattractive, indulgent satisfaction with making them scared a little, or at least you will perceive their fear and feel a small triumph. You’ll wonder about that. You will be the biggest buzzkill. It will only  suck for everybody. I will not bring your loved one back. But…. given this behavior being very alien to you- you can at the very least have a private chuckle that he’d have been  been kinda proud….

 

Blotting Block

Picture me- an explorer voyaging the chopping, sailor, mermaid, school-of-fish, sunken-ship, Jacques Cousteau-eat-your-heart-out spaces in between places where feet have their solid, favored terrain so far from their bodies, traded,
searching new full flavor seasoning, adrift- in the name of it,
seeking to sprinkle more than pepper or turmeric or saffron upon my pallet anew; kindling tastebuds unknown
by my own hand
from my own glory, salt of sea and evolving flavor,
ever-lasting-gobstopper, unraveling in first, second, third, fourth course
all French and sophisticated, all cobweb and torment, all fresh tortilla, all squirrel feed, all bursting contentment, all raspberry-velvet-ganache, all sweaty panties, all hyphen, too many commas, all “surprise- look who’s here for dinner”, all stumbly wino, all exquisite, all vile, all gutter grease-straw-sipping, all gravely voice, all angel’s bells, all hammer of justice, all swift motion with arm-fulls overloaded of fragrant, pillowy, white blossoms that ring of early Spring nights festooned in bare-bulb-strung-lights, trailing behind me and scented of subtle jasmine in the warm, lit, dark,
whilst stirring and stirring to amend
my own soil where-which I will plant these gleaned exotic seeds of 15 year blooms, annuals, noninvasives, and perennials, brilliant orange pink yams from Southern bioregions, original dates of the Fertile Crescent, rubble with some green sprouts interspersed from Palestine and hope hope hope to raise a tree to a forest, strawberry juicy Hawaiian papaya, tall sugar cane groves to run amongst, 3 sister’s silky corn, plump beans, striped squash,
and bleed
into surrounding soil and imagine
and contribute,
and discover
what delicate monster bounding bony, spined hills, straddling trickle creeks of sodden  zygote or embryo fresh possibility of holding black floral, private scarlet intoxicating emergence promise that maybe/ might/ would occur as a result of this witch’s brew. Chocolate reminiscence in the floral world. Over loaded arm fulls of the blossoms. Amalgamating. Tumbling behind my flight.
When you must write to stoke.
When you must type on and on to provoke.
Stream of consciousness.
String of theory
tied
from tree to tree.
Limbs full swing and purpose. Petals on fleek.
All in mercurial motion that you can’t place a bet on.
I’ll go high and low for it. The buzz I’m constantly chasing.
Help me find my way to God’s contract; never need to write one more ode to writer’s block.

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Looking

The thing about poetry is that it can live anywhere.

Like reindeer moss deprived of rain or light still flourishing after years of neglect.

It can hide in plain sight.

It can be on the tip of your toe as you kick a stone off the sidewalk.

It can be tucked up some country road with countless potholes leading up to a seemingly  forgotten, stumpy clear-cut that  just about wrenches your gut, as it should; and ends you up snapping photos of yourself there, envisioning saplings strengthening.

It could be in the way that you catch your own eyes reflecting off your own red blouse, this poetry- and how it echoes your anger, your passions, or your effortlessly coursing, very alive and platelet rich blood.

It can surprise you, while you peek back upon someone else’s story in your mind, & find the tale ready to be regurgitated in reflective fashion, touched with artistic licensure.

It can be in the seagull that approaches you & makes you feel shame for having the sense of being slighted with its head cocked all judgy like. *What dude?*

There’s this rampant ambivalence that’s sure to be the leading cause of fruitless pages & stilled pens.

You must show up for yourself.

Give yourself time in this land.

You are the gardener. And it is not an easy harvest.

Some poem trails lay fallow or demand of you to over step those washed-out, cliche illuminations like a biblical plague of frogs raining sideways, causing hairline fractures in the south-facing, sun-emitting windows of your concept collecting place.

We must use refrain from once more addressing the grandiose of the moon or sky or rose blooms or lovers eyes that tug for  yet another cameo as it’s so damn easy to include, but would demand space like kudzu or catnip, choking out the roots of other gentle flower thoughts yet to be planted. New growth.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

So throw your ass in your car. Drive out to the coast in the rain. Sit in your mobile monsoon box, eat your leftovers on a perch overlooking the great sea, & write something new. Listen to the whispers beyond the waves.

Our words await us. And the time is wow.

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Flotsam

We spent days in mist. Ocean dust.
My hair looked like a $90 job. A 10 rating.
I was training myself to walk backwards, parallel to the shore without looking behind or falling in. All core, hope, imagination, determination.
Seagulls crested in unison; scattering sporadically like the response to a secret boom or big bear sneeze; returning to formation like an answer to lots of questions unasked.
You’d rolled up your pants and still got soaked, just like every time we’d come before
Submitting our tarnished souls
To our repetitive salt water baptism.

In the small beach-town little matted dogs’d do erratic dances behind worn, corroded fences of tetanus-threatening rust. Do not touch. Beware of dog.
They’d bark their heads off ruthless, and untrustworthy.
4 legged Napoleons. Land piranhas.
My mutt wasn’t having it.

Beneath the bridge connecting coastal access to sleepy commerce center, congregated the bums, whoopin’ and slipping around, catching alarmed crawdads, drinking Old Grand Dad, having a helluvatime.

It’s important to share booze with strangers. The spirits encircle. Your lips are the same lips. Kiss purified by alcohol, don’t fret and the more road-wary the better. They give you pause and ease your mind with uncharted thoughts, though I’d nonetheless really liked to have spared the crawdad.

A furtive pocket-full of notes I fumbled to extract a poet’s name  to match our moment to their word-song. Income the spirit of Mary Oliver as the breeze picked up, whispering wild and precious, wild and precious, wild and precious life, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life… knocking cattail’s hollow sound and grass-scratch blades joining in.

Everything is coated in a filmy dew of sea and the world there feels small and briny; the longshore men sure look longingly back from a decent woman and forth to the empty possible space aboard their barnacle-scraped boats. What man you walkin’ with? Don’t see none.
One can fantasize right quick about sending off to another land with warmer breezes and new poets to ponder. Making love in the hull with inescapable sand inbetween the buns, hun. Clams for currency. Hundreds of nautical miles.

But the breeze- a melody of crashing waves and the maritime’s half-full loneliness all surf-stretched, and you’re simply incapable of good decision making in wet dungarees, so on we shuffled through the sand and kept watch of the birds.

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Haiku Break Pt. 5

When I start to think
In haiku form and fashion~
Man, is stopping hard.

I want to keep on
Packaging my words to fit
Five seven five forms

But then the sillies
Start kicking in and I can’t
Not be a pervet

So I must give up
The illusion of respect
And drag you down with me
…………

Next time’s sexy time
Shout “Holy! It’s colossal!”
Make the man feel good.

As the dusk decends
I walk streets hoping to see
Sex through lit windows

It’s crazy how much
My fantasies constantly
Beg my attention

Sex is like pizza?
Even if it’s bad it’s good?
Not down with frozen.

He grabbed my tit like
Trying to pop the brain out
A baby bunny ):

Capable I am
As well at reigning it in
And writing soft-core
…………..

Is there a better
Smell than dried eucalyptus?
Daphne in the spring?

When the petals fall
On my head and in my hair
That’s where I want them.

The common cricket
Rivals refrigerator’s
High, resonant sound.

When I hear sitars
I am just like Pavlov’s dogs.
Hungry! For curry.

Sometimes I wonder.
And it gets the best of me.
Presence. It’s a gift.

True art never sleeps
Continuum unperturbed.
There is no shelf life.

One day I’ll travel
The world in the name of sweet
Poetry. Just wait.

Getting off the plane
Walking down the hall to you
Standing with flowers

I can hear the guy
On the wall’s other side of
My condo farting.

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To walk the same ground. Different shoes. Different paces. Different people throughout time to walk beside. But, same ground- for too long? Those years’ll oftentimes revolt- real threats to start rubbing together. Melting, one into the next- funneling memories heads into memories asses, making an undecipherable, lumpy chain. Or maybe the times’ll chafe. Summer thighs. Hot without room to give. Furthering from comfort. Friction. Pillaging an Eagle Scout’s deep pocket to find flint and steel.
A spark.
Approaching the apex, to ignite embers to a great flame. After all that time- dreaming of the big burn. The big burn, after all that time- made manifest.

To use these flames to propel forward motion. Call to action. Impetus to blast off.
Mobilizing 4 tires to black-top. Passing  marbled fields, flecked with still cattle. Passing beneath dragged out cotton-candy clouds becoming moon-washed-white before soft, passive eyes. Intercepting lines of human lives of some with thumbs stuck out in the air, shadows growing tall against the dawn, and an eased pull of the wheel and a slowed roll to the right shoulder for a gambled rider. Obliterating stranger danger. Or being plum in the muck of it. Forms and figures.
In forms of different lovers in different beds in different counties, across state-lines, in different ways they call me baby, and hold my face, in different love lusts. Different starchy, faded flower print sheets to tangle in. Different bed springs poking my neck.
In forms of country-side, moment-determined-marvels rewarded only to few witnesses. In forms of passing pickups- brimming with hay bundles, stinkin’ onions, dirty coal, unknowns unnamed, shit-splattered damned livestock, pink weeping lumber, fresh watermelons threatening to tumble out and create ruckus. Imagine losing your life to a melon flying out at your windshield. (Six million ways to die.) Someone somewhere must’ve been this victim. Did you hear about old Josephine..

Highways: full of location-specific vices. Distinctly pertinent to mile pile upon mile of mostly smoothed concrete, stretching out like uncoiling arms in the longest known gravely hug, releasing. Warmth evaporating, forming snake like, peripheral heat dances, fuzzing sights of road sides with the forward world zooming bye. Tumble weed. Abandoned cars, restless, unseen, tadpole filled ponds, far off trailers, ghost stories, squats of tin, the feel of someone’s stare, dust dust dust. Nothing to see, everything to see. Don’t bother time with your has-been-metaphors, we’re here now. Just stay awake with frequent stops to fill up with the kind of coffee that sits snugly between quotation marks, stuffed in scolded-vanilla field flavors- strangled and spanked in hydrogenated ingredients. Settling right into the paunch. Yes, vices. Or glory holes in $4 truck stop showers, good glory leave it be, but entertain curiosity if you must. Life is art.

To travel is the judicious way to live for the writer. For the story teller. For the profane or profound seeker. To be sleepy while at it: the bi-product; the battle; the menace.
To give way and sleep roadside, pitching tents in quarries, behind lean-to’s, forgotten, untended structures, or weedy, wildflower meadows. Or geothermal magic pools.
To wake to the smell of uva ursi, wet earth, and piñon wood-fed-fire’s sourceless smoke. To light the Coleman burner and have tea time surrounded by cricket song and new rays of sun in splendor. To hitch a hammock between the Ponderosas and rub cheek to bark, waking up the nose to the knowledge of consistent presence of that phenomenal albite  subtle scent of root beer. My goodness. Or the desert plants that smell of rain a long while of time away from watering. The peace of morning; the cool bite of it. No other life can know the cumulative sense of freedom. Can’t I show you what my heart has known? I’ve hitchhiked across the divide before.

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Confused Kitchen

 

Pea soup on the stove
stinking up the place.

If someone were to pop in right now
I’d say “I’m making pea-soup” to explain the smell
Save from embarrassment.

I’d invite them to stay and eat
I always make too much soup.
Who makes just enough?
Is there such a thing?

If they came over they’d notice the piles of papers.
I’d apologize.
I’d say “I’m normally cleaner”. And mean it. Because that’s how I see myself.

How do people maintain their paper piles?
Does anyone? Are there small files that the rest of people hide in another room?

The papers sit next to the boxes to be considered for recycling.
They get walked out incrementally. There’s no rush aside from the guilt
So much tree-waste.
I bought reusable cloths dipped in beeswax to use in lieu of foil.
My tupperware collection is nothing to sneeze at.
This throw-away culture is shame.

If a tree came over right now
I’d extend my sincerest condolences and I’d blush and admonish my own self
I’d say “I try”, though I’ve heard there is no trying.

There’s doing
and there’s not doing.

Once I had a teacher who pulled a tissue from the box.
He told us to try to pick it up, as he let it fall from his hand.
We scrambled for it.
I don’t remember who picked it up, but it was safe and upon the return to his hand
he said “See? There is no trying. You do or you don’t do”.

The tissue was used only for a lesson.
If that tissue walked through my door right now
I would refrain from rubbing my nose on him.
I’d fear him absorbing too much pea soup, so I don’t think I’d extend the offer.
Plus I need to slumber peacefully
without perplexing dreams about animate tissues eating my home cooking.
Though I’d say something like “I’m sorry for your purposeless life and that you must go
hungry
dry
and used in nothing but a questionable metaphoric lesson”.

If someone came over at the same time as the tissue and tree came
I’d have a lot of explaining to do.
And I’d have to do it, according to law, as there is no try.

Maybe I could blame it on the pea soup.
Distract them with health food.
Apologize to it later.

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