Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Power of Moods

*Thank you, friends, for bearing with me during my short absence. I'm fine. All is OK. Ready for more of my twisted logic? My computer picks up snickers!
A woman wakes from a restful sleep. She smiles at the day ahead and rises from her bed. She finds that the cat has peed in her good shoes. The milk has gone bad and her hair won't lay right. The neighbor kid has siphoned her gas-again. The jerk in the Hummer cuts her off-again. A glance to the mirror tells her she looks like shit-again. That song she hates comes on-again. That smile to the day is long gone as she flips off the kid with too much volume and base. She will deal with many different people today who will deal with many different people today. And so it goes. This is the stuff of moods.

I saw in the light of yesterday
a world of darkened gray,
where animation fails the trick
thunder rolls to silent shtick
and lightning fades away.

I saw in the gray of yesterday
a place of hope and prayer,
where stars blaze up in perfect flame
lovers love in unblushed shame
and kindness finds the where.

I saw in the chains of darkness
a place where sorrow holds.
where visions take to terror,
screams take hold the bearer
and robbers line the roads.

I saw in the glory of midnight dreams
a place of joy and magic beans
where colours know the tenth degree
the things you want are all you see
and failure lies beyond your means.

I’ve known the roads
of darkened ways

I’ve worn the wings
of sun drenched days

a flurry of this
and a dash of that,
a smile, a frown,
a tip of the hat

a wave on charm
a fist in hate,
a deal in seal
a bad first date.

a thousand things
can turn the tide
and churn emotions
we cannot hide

and I to her
and her to you
and we to they
and on
and on
and on

they say,
a butterfly in Brazil
fells trees in the North of Spain
which shakes the earth
in San Diego
and a man in Kalamazoo
kills twenty
with his bullets.

it all goes back to the butterfly.
it’s always those damn Brazilian butterflies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Basement

I grew up in a large, creepy old house. Or maybe I just remember it that way. It had a huge upstairs with three big bedrooms, a full kitchen and bath. I liked it, this old house. Spent seventeen years there until I was unceremoniously thrown out after my junior year in high school. A well deserved tossing it was.
The creepy part, was the basement. It had housed a monster of a coal burner furnace that hissed the spookiest of sounds. They went on all night long and permeated throughout every space and crack. The basement weaved and tangled and angled around corners with it's only lighting being the occasional forty-watt bulb hanging low and naked. There were three ways in: the old broken down squeaky garage door right out of batman. If you really were going to try and put a car in there, you had to go down between two cement walls that lined the entrance and disappear, but the door was really only used to get the lawnmowers in and out. Another way in was the two small windows at the very end of the basement. A skinny psychopath could easily fit through the windows too dirty to see through. The last way in was the giant door to the coal room. The door looked like something from a castle dungeon and when we switched to Natural gas, it was boarded up. But I believed it could be negotiated and I never went near it.
The stairway down was creepy too. You entered a closet on the main floor where too many coats and boots were kept. You turned on the light switch to the lone bulb too far away and began the descent. The stairs were open to the back and under, where it was always dark and unknown. Anybody or anything could reach their hand through and grab your ankles as you walked down. I always ran hoping to stay ahead of their grab. And creak, boy did they ever.
When you got to the bottom, to the right the dungeon dropped off into creepy shadows and the lone lit bulb. Straight ahead went to the creepy windows in the canning room. To the left was the huge table piled high with whatever wasn't useful. A perfect place for hiding under while unsuspecting gatherers went to the only freezer in the house. You could have gone in any direction to turn on more lights, but it would lead you further from the stairs and then they would have to again be extinguished by the frayed little string hanging in the spider web.
So you made your dash, into the freezer, back turned to the creepy table, head buried deep to dig with no view of the canning room, and the Frankenstein door just to the side. And you bolted. Two large fast steps to the stairs and four jumps up. If lucky, you didn't trip and smack your knee on a step. I was rarely lucky, but I was never grabbed.
Here's the deal, though. I miss that journey. I miss those steps. I miss the rush. I think maybe I want somebody to reach out and grab my leg and snap me back into life. Terrify me into living. Make me jump and climb up.
I miss not knowing what's waiting to grab me.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mushroom Time

mushroom time!
that ritual of spring
and kill-less hunt

an art taught by my father,
he of sharp eyes
and large hands

he had a big stride
yet covered less ground
while I raced
all snap, crackle pop

I searched the more trees.
he filled the larger bag,
while I’d clamber and trip,
and glance to the quiet
that was him.

knowing my stubborn
he never reproved.
just shrugged,
and smiled,
and picked.

his life,
has been a mushroom hunt
all purpose and patience.
while mine,
has remained
all snap crackle pop.

Dad has a file,
bonds, policies and pensions
and still counts his nickels.
Mr. careful and precise.

my file,
is filled with dreams.
wisps of smoke and ash
from trails blaze
and nickels thrown to broken wells

but it also holds loves and laughter
and kisses snatched
in moonlite madness

I’m the drink you have
five minutes after last call.
Dad’s the nap you catch
on Saturday afternoon

Dad’s the moon,
you can set your watch by,
set your sails to.

I’m the comet
you never saw coming,
and couldn’t grab leaving.

I wish he had been a little more me,
and I a little more him.
but we’ve learned tolerance.

his bag will always be bigger,
but my hunt more the rush.
I’ll eat of his extras
while he laughs to my stories

It’s all good,
butter and salt


Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Earring

When I was young, high school young, I spent a good portion of my spare time in winter, trapping the local rivers. It was a small town in Minnesota and I was nearing the end of my Tom Sawyer days. I never was much good at it, but I enjoyed my time at the river and made a little pocket change from the few muskrats careless enough to find my labors.
I would follow the abandoned railroad tracks, now just a trail, down to the river. There was a trestle there that no longer served a purpose beyond remembrance. A small chain hung looped across the ends to discourage passage, but me being Tom Sawyer, it always worked the opposite and beyond it I went. I would stand in the middle and lean over the rusty rail and just watch the water rush below. It was cold but somehow always still, even in wind. it was peaceful, it was mine. I learned ideas here, and cultivated them in classroom daydreams.
When I followed the river south, it would lead me to another river and where these two rivers came together, there was a house, distant across the field. Though it was far in the country, it couldn’t be called a farm. There just wasn’t enough big buildings, enough equipment, and the fields grew only scrub. By my coming down the river, it placed me deep in the back yard with a view of the back door. There were chickens, a few goats, a shed and the girl.
I kept a trap there, on that bend. Though I knew there were no muskrats, I knew what time she would come through that back door. I knew her routine and when she entered the shed, and her image in the window and her glances toward me. I always pretended to be busy but I think she knew my game. More and more I became careless and bold and would just lean against the tree and watch, knowing she knew my watch.
The distance was fair and I could only guess and imagine the who that she was. She always wore a skirt, an old coat worn open, men’s boots and a green scarf. A crazy look. Even from a field away.
I thought maybe she was young, abused and belittled. Tortured maybe even. I figured she would always stare down in servitude and she probably was plain, even ugly, but I was drawn anyway. The house was red with white trim, badly in need of fresh paint and something else. I never wondered who else was in there, and only looked to the door she would come through.
One day, when the wind blew and I leaned in stare, she paused on the way to the little building. I should have looked away, looked to my trap, but I didn’t and she started toward me. I watched her wipe her hands in her skirt and walk with purpose toward me. I can’t explain why-it was so unlike me-but I began to walk toward her and we met there in the winter wind, midway in the field of scrub.
Soon, it became clear I had been wrong about so much in my young minds imagining. Her hair flew above the scarf in perfect play and her eyes were blue and full of life. They didn’t look down in servitude but locked onto my own and claimed them without quibble. Her features were both strong and beautiful. I suppose She might have been seventeen or thirty, it was impossible to say. She simply was, timeless and beautiful. I tried to study her in this moment of luck but it was difficult as she wouldn’t release my eyes from her lock. She wore a red kerchief on her hair but it couldn’t contain the wildness. The green scarf fell around her neck and spilled onto a man’s flannel shirt. The coat was just a coat that may never have closed. She wore dirty worn boots clearly designed for a man, and the dirty skirt that came nearly to her knees looked as if it had once been beautiful. Maybe peach with yellow waves playing across it.
I wanted to look at her legs and I did. I couldn’t help myself in my clumsy youth. Though she was clearly anything but large, her legs were full and strong. The sides were white from the cold but the knees themselves were brushed red. I remember I so wanted to touch them to know the smoothness and I wondered what she wore under the skirt. Maybe something clean and light and flowery, or maybe men’s long underwear cut off mid thigh. I did all of this in a single moment of acquaintance. I couldn’t have been more mesmerized in the shadow of this being more beautiful than any girl I had ever seen and more powerful than any man I had ever known. She half-smiled, put her hands in her pockets and spoke.
“Huntin fur?”
I just nodded. I wanted to speak but nothing came out.
She squinted in the morning sun as she studied me, still in smile, and asked my name while lifting her head as if to draw it out of me.
“Rick.” It was strange. Like someone other than me had answered.
Her lip curled up on one side in approval.
“What’s your middle name?”
“John,” I surrendered.
“Rick John,” she nodded. “That’s a good name.”
It was such a strange moment for a boy to find himself tangled in. She had walked into this field and claimed this boy for her morning amusement and he, who was I, went willingly. I asked her name as her study of me continued.
“I don’t have a name. I’m just the girl who does the chores.”
I laughed at the thought and pressed,lowering my eyes in challenge. “Everyone has a name.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Not me.”
I noticed she was staring at my ear. I was only wearing a baseball cap and I watched her move in close and reach. I don’t know if I was flinching or making myself accessible, but my head turned and she touched my lobe. I felt her warmth in her finger’s squeeze. She held it and studied it before letting go and stepping back.
“You’d look good in an earring. Would you like one?”
It was crazy, river rush crazy. My heart was pounding and my blood rushing. How does a boy respond to something like this? A boy out walking rivers wearing out Tom Sawyer and spying out imaginary girls.
“What? you mean now? Here?”
She turned her head a little, pointing with her look to the shed.
“Over there. It’ll be OK.”
In just a few seconds, I had to wonder and decide of this girl who was woman who was man leading me to her shed and driving my ear and placing who knows what there and me walking the river back a changed being, Tom Sawyer drowned in currents rush.
“I’d have to think about that,” I offered in youthful stammer, shuffling my feet.
Her smile faded just a bit, as if she was disappointed but not surprised.
“Don’t think on it to long, Rick John, I just might change my mind.”
I only nodded as my head swam great oceans. I so though wanted whatever this was to never end, to last, and I searched for things to say.
“Don’t you get cold dressed like that?”
Her smile grew again, knowing my thoughts and intent I suppose.
“I have things to keep me warm. And things to do. Nice meeting you, Rick John.”
With that she turned and walked toward the red house with white trim and the little shed of secrets. Just like that. One turn and it was over. I stood and watched her walk, the skirt flowing and the hair flying in wildness, knowing I had come close to something of greatness and had passed on a chance I would probably not know again. I felt something sticky in my hair, and realized it was from the maple I had known in my watching. A passing of seasons.
I never went to that shed, and she never again walked the scrub to make the offer. That was the last year I trapped. Tom Sawyer received a proper burial, and muskrats kept their fur. But everyday of my life, I wish I had gone to that shed. I wish she had driven my ear. I wish I had known her name.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Road To Somewhere

Who among us has not looked down that road, on postcards and atlases, and wondered what lie beyond the horizon. Beyond our vision. We are a curious people and yet one steeped in propriety and reason. We look but rarely touch, but Lord, how we love the looking and wondering!

I wonder if it goes anywhere
that highway that goes on forever.
the one lined with poles and wire
stretching into nothing

it's in a desert,
brown blow on side to side
masking the passage.
the sun always setting,
carless and empty
careless and straight

sometimes it's in Nebraska
corn and grass and boredom.
I suppose someone lives along the lush,
swallowed up and corn fed,
a cycle of forever and John Deere tractors.
and I wonder
if ever they look beyond the work
and wonder if the sky goes on somewhere beyond tradition.

sometimes it's on ice and tundra,
a million miles of filthy black gold
to fill our evil gluttony.
polar bears and martin
starving at our intrusion,
if the land can outrun the road
and the fear of what's coming.

sometimes it's in a city
but lost in the maze and tangle
of going here and over there
lights of brilliant mess
and dirty sidewalks and dirty ways

but somewhere,
there's the last light,
where the streetlight flickers
and the hillside falls to rivers edge.
where bums and whores keep their options open,
right to wherever, left to what's known.

it's in our heart.
the day before us in requite and remorse
surrender and conquer
the engine of power and passion
with the underbelly of leaky valves.
but the dream stays alive
in straight far away

but somewhere,
there's a road away.
a road beyond the sand,
beyond the farm, beyond the city,
beyond our own entrapment
we so lovingly call us

believing the lie of our own design
we wear brown lenses to hide our fear
and keep to the cul de sac
and well lit way,
cuz it's familiar

but I wonder where those roads go
and if they outrun where I've been,
and if others have gone ahead and wait.
will they leave this earth and reward the chance?
will they teach me a better way?
or are they merely a mirror to a mirror
and no road at all

I wonder where they go