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the torpor of twilight binds us

to back porches where long-dead

leaves lie exsiccated, rotting

in the evening air as you pile

them into heaps. white mushrooms

sprout beneath your feet. we’re an unearthly

audience to terrestrial affairs, and when

a cat cries in the distance, you can’t recall

why you’re here drumming the aboriginal

blues with your broomstick, your mind

being neither near nor there.

headstones

headstones

monuments of cracked limestone

and chipped marble loom over high grass

in a small plot near the intersection

of a three-lane road and old railroad tracks;

the relics stand in sunlight, artificial trees

rooted in the deep, dark forest of memory.

 

you can wander for hours on a small plot of land

unraveling bonds  solidified and soured,

then hardening again, curious preciptate

of human relationships, the tight rope of family,

both the force that chokes and the clement gust

of air imbibed upon release. see how the names

repeat themselves and the mottoes, biblical

and otherwise bear the same sentiments.

what a pleasure it is to die for god or country

but the spasms in your chest are uncertain

 

and the slow, soft thud of your boot upon sod

sounds ominous, and from the ornate rocks

you discern nothing except the gleam of sunlight,

and you deduce nothing important from the dwindling day.

 

paper fish

paper fish

when my sister was six or some age

thereabouts, she gave me a paper fish

longer than her arm, colored with an array

of shades pulled from her box of dull pastel

crayons. the fish’s head is red, but some scales

were lime or purple or yellow, a fish to rival

rainbows, a gift from a child, a child herself

a token from god who lets life continue as it is,

a spiraling swirl of water flowing endlessly

into a small hole at the beckoning of a lever.

 

the fish is already fraying although not even

a year has passed for paper is paper despite

the vibrant impermanence that dots our

thoughts. a caged bird sings inside the mind,

and for all of our straining we can barely

hear the notes, the vocal cords’ faint strumming.

three birds in a nest

Picture writing prompt.

three birds in a nest

I.

one is dappled with flecks

of straw preening his feathers

eager to make his fluffy downing

glisten in morning sunlight

he is a solitary shack in a soundless

forest and when a tree falls

with no one to witness it

the vibrations choir him to flight

 

II.

two was the first brother to hatch

his pink flesh drizzled in amniotic fluid

he watched his brothers slowly emerge

from tan eggshells speckled and spotted

in intricate codes that only nature could decipher

he would hover above them until their heads broke free

and when they did he would peck and peck

with his fat beak until the birds were initiated

into the rites of cruelty but then he aged and became wise

studied yoga and astrology the secret magnetic forces

underpinning our existence and when a violent wind

upended twigs and tufts of foliage plummeted

from above, his light body rested stationary and immovable

 

III.

three has a hobbling gait

he is buckled under with the weight of fear

cursed with a sizable slowness

one of his wings is shorter than the other

and when he looks up he sees the sky in shades

of gray and beige a place populated with gears and

gigantic wheels which crush cripples who venture out

the world is ripe with wildness and no one knows this

like he does when the auras of everything are tinged with foreboding

when he shuts his eyes and nestles deep tuning into his brain waves

the vision of his body streaking jets of scarlet arrives ringing in his ears

until the sun unfolds itself from the ground and throughout the day

as he tidies up the nest one can only wonder if he is part of this world

or some other one or what he imagines effortlessly on his mind’s moving reels

camper’s koan

Picture writing prompt.

camper’s koan

who am i?

am i the wind’s

caress upon

a tired chin,

a blood vessel’s

thumping

or something therein?

i am not i

i am no

body,

no shirt

no underwear

no jacket

no sneakers

no gloves

no hands

no hair

no fingernalis

no eyeballs

no earlobe

no pretzels

no shelter

no trees

no ground

no earth

no mind

no self

no past

no yesterday

no tomorrow

no ice cream

no pleasure

no pain

no bracelet

no compass

no home

no north

no howling

no yellow eyes gazing

no claws

no broken branches

no pawprints

no fear

no water

no blood

no body

nobody

only.

the epistemologist’s love letter

the epistemologist’s love letter

i brushed your hair

with a boar’s tusk,

silent, i watched

as the coarse waves

unwrapped themselves,

saw the follicles

through a magnifying lens

and read the words

written on the circumference

of the follicle. why

are we here in earth’s stomach

flopping upside down

like sedated seals? why do i have

a boar’s tusk, being neither

hunter nor archaeologist?

give me bones and stones

multifarious in their meanings.

uncork the wine for our victory

of will, and may our ideas

endure still when we lie

in a canyon on the seafloor.

A World Unto Itself

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One of the best and most creative gifts I have received is the plant in a jar pictured above. The moss is caked in soil, and the cork keeps it snug and shut inside. The jar is a world of its own.

At first you might be tempted to think it is merely moss, and a small specimen at that; however, I would implore you to look deeper. In keeping with the metaphor: dig!

The plant can only survive, because bacteria in the soil fix the nitrogen in a process that makes the nutrients palatable to the plant. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of small organisms are working together to help sustain the bigger organism.

To carry this idea even further, the plant is composed of innumerable cells that form tissues that make the plant a complete and functional being.

The cells have organelles, small parts that help with performing a specific and necessary function. Mitochondria and chloroplasts take energy present in the environment and convert into a form that cell can use. Vacuoles store waste. The cell wall gives the cell structure, a strong and sturdy foundation. DNA and RNA are proteins that weave the fabric of the plant’s being. They tell the plant who it truly is, at its essence.

Water, minerals, sunlight. All of these components contribute to the plant. Living and nonliving factors work to show that it is not merely an object, but a being which is constantly becoming.

The world within the jar is analogous to the imagination. Many would argue that the imagination is something entirely separate from what we call reality. My jar is a part of reality because it is tangible. You can reach out and touch it. Furthermore, the plant is in the state of becoming. It exits within the limitations of time and space.

But one should remember that time and space are measurements. These ideas are tools which can number the finite, but serve as poor tools to calculate what is infinite. Time and space give us discipline. Use time wisely, because death is imminent. Respect the space of others. These are good ideas and important ones too, but how do you make sense of the intangible and the immeasurable?

Love, mercy, beauty, and creativity. In the English language, we call these words abstract nouns. They mean different things to different people. Creativity can apply to Shakespeare composing his plays, Kanye making a new rap album, and a toddler who stacks books and climbs them in order to reach candy on a high counter. Love describes both the firefighter who sacrifices his life for the good of his people, and the young dating couple consumed with one another.

From a young age, we learn to eschew abstractions. Good writers create images. They work in terms of the specific and the concrete. This dictum is mostly true. Abstract language is generally lazy language, but that doesn’t mean we have to dismiss the  abstract entirely.

Most of our existence is abstraction. When a schoolboy is bored with the lesson, he looks out the window and gazes at the landscape. He stares at a tree with its leaves falling in the vivid colors of autumn, and his mind synchronizes with the life of the tree. The boy becomes the tree and the wind simultaneously. He loses himself to become something higher than himself, something more urgent and more demanding than the science lesson. The blue sky cries out to him, beckoning him, a stranger with the face of a familiar friend.

When you’re bored with the rhythms of work, you don’t need to be mindful, so your mind travels elsewhere. To exist always and forever in the moment is to be a serf on the fief of time, and it is not suitable for any constituent of this world to be enslaved to the means of its measurement.

At such times, it devolves upon us to use our imaginative faculties, and to enter the kingdom of abstraction. Each person possesses his or her own mind, which for its span of life has a sort of eternal quality. Possibilities and empty particles bounce off each other. We can make images with the electricity in our brains. Literature, art, music, in all of their enduring beauty, are only the tangible exports of a country far greater than mere geographical knowledge can attest to. The law of this country is the abstract. The mind is a box that opens into smaller boxes ad infinitum. Very few of us will truly comprehend the gravity of this, but like the plant in the jar, each person is a world unto himself.

burning world

look around, don’t you see?

 

the world is vanishing,

a rabbit swallowed

by a top hat, a fish’s lip

 

upon a hook, trees sliding

down, entire forests in a single swoop,

we’re living under the shadow

of a carbon cloud, and as buddha said

 

the world is burning. the teeth

of the world are burning. hair follicles

burning, slender fingers fading

 

into smoke. the flesh is not a hinge

opening to deeper consciousness,

but a dark coat glimpsed on a starless

night that turns to walk away,.

harrowed upon the anthills

harrowed upon the anthills

a sandal collapses upon
the basillica’s ceiling and shards
of dirt once carefully compacted

come spiraling down, while
above us stands a trembling colossus
of flesh, awakening our slumbering

senses, our insatiable craving for the unnameable.

we frolic in the forest of his hair
we wish to build our grave there, so
we burrow in his skull’s crevices

we are the lover whose desire
burns with a fire that dissolves the bond
with which bone and flesh are welded

we march not into but through.

 

the infinitesimal legions sing

their ballads long into night

as the souls of men and dogs,

frogs and reptiles are snuffed out

like stars concealed in a murky sky.

 

look at the rib cages of wildebeests

dissolving in the dirt. when

the woodpecker sets himself

to work, does he imagine his hole

will be a void widening forever?

is it a testament to the ants’ fortitude,

or the hunter’s prayer of untempered force?

 

a baseball cap, a woman’s

bleached blonde hair stand,

toppled monuments amid

the city of clay, amid the savannah’s

scarlet dust. we are in the dusk

of nature’s faltering memory.