15 November, 2019

Biographic Redactions, 1 through 3

1. trucker cap

Dad preferred ball caps. Some people later referred to them as “trucker caps.” The only other kind of hat I ever saw him wear was blue wool Greek fisherman’s cap; but he only wore that one when it was cold outside. Regardless of the hat, he always wore it the same: placed atop his head like a crown, the brim bent just enough so it would sit comfortably against his large forehead.  

He was the only person I saw who wore hats that way. Not even the old farmers, the few who were left and clinging onto what land they had left until the final crop was planted and their kids sold the acres for housing developments. Their hats were clamped down on their skulls, prepared for the storm. 

Dad wore his hat like he carried the storm in his billfold next to my mother’s picture.

2.  there and back again

I keep circling myself, back around to meet myself anew. Keep circling back on these poetic roots: Whitman, Kerouac, Basho, Thoreau, HST… then onto Li Po, onto Tu Fu, and on and onto the mad Zen poets like Ikkyu. I keep circling back to the original schism, the original sin that split poetry from itself like Cain split himself from Abel.  I know they are road signs. I know by the signs I am going the right way.

3. Word as cartography

Bill Dozier, grad student, anonymous preeminent post-modernist, slaughter house scholar, and maybe the 2nd most subversive person I’ve ever met once proclaimed to me that “Kerouac’s open road has been converted into a warehouse.”  25 yrs later, shambling as I am, trudging as I am, circling back as I am only to find myself on the road Kerouac mapped. Mapped, but did not create. 

Thus, I must respectfully disagree.

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25 October, 2019

Reading Notes: Red Finch and On Seppuku



I am weary of personal worrying, in love with the art of madness. - Rumi

A man moving fast cannot enjoy scenery contemplatively. - Frederick Law Olmstead


Red Finch (10/21/19)


A fall storm is kicking up. What honeysuckle leaves remain have been turned over and waiting all day for the arrival of a rain no one has confidence in. 


The birds and squirrels have returned, if only for the end of the season remains. As I sit in my chair, this red finch keeps landing on the sill of the window facing the back porch. The bird pecks on the sill and window pane, knocking. I see it peering in at me the way the dog and cat do when they’re outside and ready to come in. 


I don’t know what to tell the bird. 

---

"...in medieval times we believed that sincerity resided in our entrails, and if we needed to show our sincerity, we had to cut open our bellies and take out our visible sincerity. And it was also a symbol of the will of the soldier, the samurai." - Yukio Mishima

(Japanese fascist and writer who died from a botched attempt at seppuku (ritual death) rather than "admit the decay of the body." He also popularized American-style weight lifting in post-war Japan.)



On seppuku  (10/23/19)

Death is not the most difficult part. Neither
is the will power. Pushing through the knife –
now that exposes one’s willingness
to bare the most intimate sincerity. 

The trick is this: sing. Sing
as the blood breaks into the air,
like passing gas or the way a balloon
deflates, waiting on the final mercy – 

your head staring up from the basket. 



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07 October, 2019

From Field Notes: Lo-Fi, Part 1


The 6:15 AM bus leaving Louisville and going to Frankfort drops off at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Leonardwood Drive. We rolled in on time, a little after 7 in the morning, just as the sun was breaking the horizon.  I end up being in Frankfort, for one reason or another, two or three times a year. And when I go, I take the bus. It's a holdover commuter route between Louisville and Lexington with a stop in Frankfort. The early bus isn't heavily populated. I've ridden it at different times and it's rarely a full bus, which is just fine with me.  I just hope the line stays open.

According to Google, it was only a 3.6 mile walk from there to the Kentucky CoffeeTree Café. Not an unreasonable distance, and the morning was still cool with a light breeze. I'd gone through the trouble the night before to look it up and to even print maps out; I wanted to go more lo-fi and not depend on the step-by-step of GPS, which I credit for a share of civilization's downfall.

LO-FI. I've felt increasingly tethered by technology -- annoyed by its reach, unraveled by how central it and it's non-stop market-researching/spying is shaping the reality I share with an increasingly large amount of humanity. So I decided to take this opportunity, this trip -- a relatively low-stakes scenario as travel risks go -- to assert my quasi-independence from The Matrix. *

I started off without difficulty. Between studying it the night before and somewhat from memory. I felt pretty confident, pretty comfortable. And the directions weren't complicated:

L: Leonardwood Rd.
L: Lawrenceburg Rd
R: Louisville Rd. 

After that, a bit more of a walk, crossing the lovely little bridge . over the Kentucky River that cuts through the middle of town, a few blocks and one easy turn to West Broadway.

As Google flies, the walk should have taken me a little over an hour. I know from experience that I can't trust Google Time; I walk a bit faster than I used to, but I don't walk anywhere near as fast as Google Man can. I had plenty of time to get there at my own pace, so I wasn't worried about that, either.

I wasn't especially worried until I'd been walking for a while and I didn't seem to be getting any closer to town. I passed one guy waiting for the circulating local bus, but it didn't register that I was walking the opposite direction that the bus was going to go.

By the time I figured it out, I was almost a mile out of town.

Oh feet how oddly you fail me
carrying me on, away
from where I'm supposed meet
my friend, from where the map says
I need to be where I'm pointing

Thanks for reading! Listen for "Lo-Fi, Part 2 in Episode 11 of A Record of a Pair of Well Worn Travel Boots on iTunes, Spotify, GooglePlay, Stitcher, and TuneIn.


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20 September, 2019

from Field Notes from 26 Aug 2019: Squeeze me home, Ohio Valley heat






Ride the Cardinal east
to the mountains, watch
the first Autumn wings
brush the trees

Losantiville – The train rolled in more or less on time. Actually, a few minutes early (!). Got out to Mom’s from The Halls of Justice* in an Uber. The Uber driver got turned around because, he said, he didn’t know the train still ran out of the Union Station. Yes,  I said. It still does. For now.




Land of the Seven Hills, a ravaged and rewritten map
overnight and early morning hills dotted with lights
illuminating dreams, erasing stars.

It’s been raining here. It’s been raining at home. I have to remember there’s no point in worrying. It rains whether I worry about it or not.

Yesterday’s rain rivulets
Hug the elephant ear leaves
Grieving the storm’s absence.

Visiting George and Laura and Mike and Liz was good. It had been more than a while since I saw Mike and Liz and it always does my heart good to see them. I think if I wasn’t worried that they would get tired of me, and if I could have Amanda with me,  I could travel and visit friends all year. What other real wealth could there be?  Maybe this is why both freedom of movement and connections with others are what fascists attack first.

I’m a man blessed with itchy feet and many friends. In every way that matters, I am the wealthiest of men, the king of infinite space.

___________________________________________________________
* The Union Station in Cincinnati was the model for the Hall of Justice for the old Super Friends cartoon from the 1980's.

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06 September, 2019

from Field Notes: millionaire whore's bath/ bad dreams

Kòng  (Nothingness)
I don't know if I've ever been so relieved to hear the sound of a toilet tank refill.

They turned off the water this past Tuesday for nonpayment. I've been without water before -- on the road and living out. I know how to ration and prioritize. I've learned to survive on very little. That doesn't scare me. And even with no water, we still had a roof over our heads. We still had a comfortable bed. We even had a supply of clean water for coffee and cooking, and two rain barrels of water we could use for gray water for non-potable purposes.  There was plenty of food and the ability to cook it. I knew we'd be ok until the snafu got fixed.

But I didn't like the idea of having to think like that... at home.

Most of the time when I'm off the road and at home I bounce between embracing everything I love about being home and feeling like a fraud. Over the years I've grown more accustomed to the domestic sphere; but I can't ever escape the sensation of being a baboon, lumbering around and trying really hard NOT to wreck the place. When they turned the water off --

I found myself wondering about the fleeting nature of high concepts like home and comfort.

It wasn't a question of panic. It was a question of being pissed off.  Pissed that I'd let it happen. Pissed that I wasn't being mindful. Pissed because, even when I was drinking, I made sure utility bills were paid... or at least, paid down. Pissed.

But sometimes being pissed doesn't help. Anger can be a powerful, but dangerous motivator. Being pissed... that's a paralytic.  And we didn't have time for that.

So, we rationed our clean water for us and for the dogs and cat. We had 6 gallons of clean water, which meant if we were careful, we could make it last more than long enough to get the bill paid.
 ____

Dream from the first night:

In the dream I was sitting around a fire in the middle of a dark, expansive wilderness. I've dreamed of this wilderness before, but not of this particular fire. Sitting around the fire with me were my dad, my grandfathers, Steve (my first ex-father-in-law). The other elders are there, too, but there are a lot of them and I can't make out their faces in the darkness. I'm holding my red Bybee coffee mug. It's warm and full of coffee. Dad, my grandfathers, and Steve were holding cups, too. The smell of coffee hugs the air, which is cool. Late autumn. I can't see any trees, but I know their limbs are almost stripped bare.

Looking down, I'm dressed in long sleeves for the weather. I'm wrapped in a blanket but can feel the chill of the night air on my fingers. My hands are covered with tattoos. The firelight makes it look like they are moving: the snake writhes under my sleeve and back down, a crow flies, fish swim. I think I can feel the tattoos moving up around my shoulders, up the back of my neck, and into my ears. No one is surprised by this. I'm not surprised by this either.

All at once there is a great wind and a stagecoach drawn by six white stallions rushes by. The horses eyes are lit with a fire that breaks the darkness ahead of them. I catch a hint of trees, the outline of houses, a trail I didn't know was there. None of my companions moved away from the road as the coach passed. Neither did I.

As it passed, I caught her scent and heard her laughter. I jumped up to follow her, but the darkness closed around the coach just as easily as it opened.

A voice -- not my dad's my grandfathers', or Steve's -- said YOU HAVE TO STAY. SHE HAS GONE AHEAD, AND YOU MAY NEVER BE READY TO FOLLOW.

___

I've taken more than my share of baths out of a sink. It's all about hitting the high -- and low spots.  I have to admit, though, that even I took pause when I used bottled water for a whore's bath. I doubt that Paris Hilton felt as fancy as I felt with my daily ration of wash water.


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30 August, 2019

From Field Notes: 22 Aug 2019 (cool cats and a muckraker's city)

Leaving Chicago on the 5:45 pm Cardinal. By this time tomorrow, I'll be in Ashland (KY). Had a wonderful time at the reading. The record store, No Requests, is nice little place.  One of the owners told me they're also  a record label focusing on  local bands. They release titles on cassette... reminded me of those single or two song cassettes you'd find as a special right before an album drop or to fan up interest

My friend and poetic comrade Jeri has a lovely apartment with a polite and friendly roommate and two cats, both of which resisted my attempts to take pictures of them. They tolerated me well enough and were almost friendly by the time I left for the train station.


The cats eye me
with far less suspicion.
Their gazes say
you will miss us.

Off Lakeshore Drive heading into  the downtown business district, the Uber driver used Ida B Wells Drive. I wonder if anyone driving it knows what she endured in the name of truth just to have a stretch of street named after her.

Holy mother of muckrakers,
sweet lady of malady, madness and letters
have mercy on us!

Taking a smoke outside Union Station the Jackson Street,  I'm soaking in the city yet again, one more time. The weather is cooler, than it had been, and the sun is shining.  There's a few of us there, smoking. Even though the Canal Street doors are open to the public again, the Jackson Street door is more convienent for smokers. The others are huddling in shadows and I find myself drawn to the light around the corner. Street hustlers mix in the panhandlers. I see the hard push on a few unsuspecting travelers trying to wave off the nicotine  mists. But the ATM is right over there, I hear one say. 

What a shame:
out of shadows cast by brick, steel, and glass
violence bids hello
with a handshake and a sharp smile.
   

20 August, 2019

In Motion


Chicago --

Getting out of River City is always fraught. Or, at least, it seems that way lately. I tell myself it's important to remind myself: it's the time of year. Summer travel is a always a little .... more. More crowded. More expensive. More prone to run late. 

I decided to cheat on the old grey dog and use Megabus for my run up to Chicago. Yes, I could have taken a bus up to Indy and rode train... except that regional train travel is complicated thanks to the monumental lack of foresight that led to the decommissioning of the Indiana State Hoosier. It would have extended this leg of my trip a bit too long, and I would have had to spend at least one night in the Indiana Depot... an accommodation I've experienced many, many times too many.  In order to be an even more particular traveler, I opted for the option. -- at the cost of an additional $2 -- to reserve a specific seat. I chose one on the left side of the bus, next to the window, near the front, on the top level. 

That proved to be a complete waste of time. Not only was the bus an hour late, but my seat and the one next to it were taken up by a future seminary student and his prodigious amount of luggage. I wasn't the only one to fall prey the hopeful, false advertising.  Two women across the aisle and one row up from me were actually sitting in seats that had been reserved by a young woman and her friend. When the young woman attempted -- politely -- to explain they were sitting in her seats, they were incredibly rude. Sure, they were probably still sore at being bamboozled. But that's no reason to call a fellow sufferer a bitch.

Bus travel isn't my preferred mode, but it gets the job done. Mostly. At least regionally.

So I remind myself the delays are seasonal. Interstates are construction- choked arteries. There are more people on the road, and because we're heading out during rush hour, delay is almost guaranteed.   But there's been a steady increase in people moving around the country by bus. Flying can be prohibitively expensive, and trains don't go everywhere people really need them to go.

More people are in motion, for reasons and excuses to numerous to list. No, they're not traveling; at least, not traveling in the sense that I travel. And they're not vacationing in that Sunday Morning retirement IRA commercial sense, either. But people are in motion. Not in control, but still in a damned hurry. And because of this, and because public transit goers tend to see themselves as consumers rather than the consumed, the gentility and etiquette I saw a few years back is wearing off like tired, neglected paint. 

But the sunset in Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, is lovely. The colors are autumnal: purples and blues highlighted with splashes of tangerine, splashed across the sky above an endless ocean of green fields waiting for the harvest. And that, more than anything, is why I don't drive.
   

13 August, 2019

Escape


Central Air is busted. We sleep with the windows opened strategically to take advantage of the cooler night air. At 3:37 in the morning, the storm that will make today boil blows in. Cool breeze. That fresh, taciturn kiss of almost autumn rain. Far off threat of thunder and lightening.

At 3 in the morning, the dogs are restless. They always know. I ignore them until the sound of their paws, like a telegraph operator in an old western sending a message at gunpoint, makes it impossible. Pulling on my pajama pants, I motion for the dogs in the early half-light through the window. Part sunrise, part light pollution from the airport. Ubi, the skittish one, is afraid of storms but is overcome by curiosity and the need to piss. 

I stand on the back porch and wait. Soak in the cool air through every available pore. It is 4 in the morning.

Being so accustomed to control when hubris fails 
we are still monkeys finding God in a cool breeze
and in the distant thunder, a lullaby.

06 August, 2019

Hashtag Sick: A Word-Thing


I am sick of the world through a social media lens

I am sick of bad distillation,
sick of all the negative inflation,
sick of feeling like I’ve been infiltrated
                                                                with a social disease –

some social disease fermented in the belly
of a sick, poisoned pig
gestated in the minds
of fear-mongers and profiteers

tired of being told to lock my doors
tired of being told the cops are my friends
tired being told white fascist terrorists
                                                              are just “mentally ill.”

We are all mentally ill!
We are sick with fear
being fed through a social media tube
sick from being screwed with social media lube

tired of being told
by one more keyboard psychologist
with a Google Search PhD
that this fascism
is not what we see

and that all we need
is a gun-toting Jesus
to pave our safe way.

I am pissed off and sick
of a country crucified on an AK

pissed off and sick
pissed off and sick
pissed off and sick

and the only thing I know
the only real trick
is to get far away
from this social media schtick:

to put on well-worn boots
to put on my hat
to grab my rucksack
to pick up my walking stick

and see the world through a lens unmuddied
by profiteers and fear mongers --

to see with a vision unmolested
                                unassimilated and
                                divinely unsullied.

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31 July, 2019

[re: lines on the day I remembered my father's birthday]

"Your skin starts itching once you buy the gimmick"  - Iggy Pop/David Bowie


For years I drove out by the old house to see what the new occupants had done to wreck the place. The time I drove out and saw the buried wagon wheels at the end of the driveway, like some broken redneck gate straight out of HGTV and the western-chic issue of Better Homes and Gardens, I knew my father's imprint was worn off. Finally, indescribably, gone.

And even as I write this, I don't know that I ever made peace with that -- until now, as I come to terms with how I feel about being at my mom's, and how my own wounded vision has impacted not only how I feel about this place, but about my Losantiville as a whole. 

Only now do I understand that I must see this place like any other place -- and that this vision must extend to all places. Even the ones I allow myself to be attached to.


Summer ends just as it begins.
Places abide in a mourner's memory,
an early morning dew. No house
holds out against the wind. No island
holds out against the current.


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17 July, 2019

Letters from Trumplandia: Born of the River -- Louisville, Kentucky

Yesterday, 50 homeless people were displaced in the #compassionatecity. Contemporary urban living means dueling with the cognitive dissonance created by political reality chaffing against the marketing. Bourbon and BBQ for the tourists, for whom the mayor stands, while human beings are treated like the dirty laundry no one wants to deal with.

But this is, I suppose, just one more day in Trumplandia, one more day in the Mayor Greg Fischer's shiny mirage -- the photo op he lives in as he attempts, poorly, to salvage his political legacy.

This wasn't the Louisville blog I wanted to write. I wanted to write in response to a recent call for Belt Publishing -- a publisher I respect, by the way -- for writing for about Louisville for an upcoming anthology. In their call, they refer to Lousiville as a southern city... a mistake that many people make. The local Chamber of Commerce -- otherwise know as Greater Louisville, Inc. -- bills us as a southern city. Local liberals, progressives, and some of the radical left call Louisville a "blue island in a sea of red." All the people whining about the removal of Confederate statues and brandishing the stars and bars as if Kentucky was part of the Confederacy embrace this southern niche with the same vigor that the majority of the country also embraces it.
Mayor Greg Fischer (WDRB)


The truth, with all due respect, is this: Louisville is not a southern city. But it is a river city.
Unfortunately being a river city along the Ohio River means owning the muck that comes with it. Louisville's history of exploiting and isolating populations. The West End and the black community with a botched bussing plan, redlining, and imminent domain. The city's unofficial war against The Russell Neighborhood. Shanty boats. Nativist Know-Nothings and the Bloody Monday Riots. The slave trade. Gentrification. Keep going back. There's more to find. Too much more.

We are not a southern city, with all due respect to southern cities who have the actual geopolitical and culture underpinning to make that claim. The mistake people keep making about Louisville is that they keep trying to insist it's a southern city. It's not. Louisville is born of the river, and the river pre-dates any geopolitical classification.

Unfortunately, we are responsible for the muck that comes with it: Economic piracy. Greed. Exploitation. Dehumanization. Because just like the river flows west and into the Mississipi, so does the muck. Inhumanity spreads like a disease, whether it's the city's policy of dehumanizing the homeless or Trumplandia's policy to dehumanize people at the border and put children in concentration camps.

And no, I'm not suggesting all the evil starts here. But some does wash up on shore on it's way.

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02 July, 2019

Los Angeles June 2019 - the last leg home

The bus shot down I-65 out of Indy, headed to Louisville, trying to make up for being an hour and half late out of the gate. The old grey dog was loaded for bear. Every curve and bump seemed to tear at the fabric of the thing, like it was held together by duct tape and chewing gum.  The guy next to me was a nervous little germaphobe  in a slim fit flower print shirt who moaned audibly at every rough jump and turn. The woman in front of me was a bundle of nerves who found out about a half hour from Louisville that she wasn't on the bus to Cincinnati.

I chose to give myself over to sleep instead of worry. That was the only thing I had control over. I don't know that I ever felt more free than that moment.

Every wind sheer cuts sharp.
Each bump a prayer. Rough currents
carry home this wandering fish.





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13 June, 2019

Baboon Lumbering

Compiled in the early 12th century, Konjaku monogatarishñ, or the "Tales of Times Now Past" is an anthology consisting of more than one thousand tales form India, China, and Japan. This print illustrates a scene from the story of a turtle who tried to kill a monkey because he heard that monkeys' livers are effective medicine. The turtle invited a monkey to his place telling him that there would be lots of delicious food. Anticipating the feast, the monkey climbed on the turtle's back to cross the ocean. When they were far out to sea, the turtle revealed his true intentions. The clever monkey then confided that he had accidentally left his liver hanging on a tree branch on the shore. Tricked by the monkey's claim, the turtle returned to land, where the monkey quickly scurried to safety high in the tree. Despite their adversarial roles in the story, the turtle and monkey in this print look to be friendly, thus giving the image an overall bucolic ambience.

I offer this image from a 12th Century manuscript and short explanation from the archive notes just to add a bit of context. Hopefully it will make sense by the time I'm finished with this post.

During my morning meditations a while back, it struck me that I am a baboon riding a turtle. I'm still unwrapping what all this metaphor means, but if I'm being honest this particular revelation didn't come as a great surprise. A few years back I started a long series of poems, many of them unread except by me and most of them probably not all that good, in which I wrote myself as a baboon. The phrase BABOON LUMBERING, or at the very least the image of it, was a central theme of those poems. It best described how I felt in the world.

Although my formal education is relatively extensive, my self education really began while I was still traversing  high school. I'm sure I went to classes my senior year, but I don't remember much of that year ... the year my dad died. What I do remember is spending a  lot of time in the very small high school library, obsessed with these dusty old books on the reference wall that no one ever paid any attention to. There was a huge series... maybe two or three encyclopedia sets long... of THE GREAT BOOKS. The first volume covered the major writings of Aristotle. Of course I didn't start there. I started with Descartes and The Scientific Method. I don't know why I started there, except that in the early time of mourning Dad's death, I found the religion I'd grown up with to be little or no salve. So maybe, I figured, maybe science will offer something else.

It didn't. Not really. But it did start to give me framework with which to view the world. There are two major element to the Scientific Method that matter here and now: evidence and observation. Although I'd done ok in school (I was a lazy student) I don't know that I ever learned anything about oberserving. And it was through the process of reading Descartes, Bacon, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, and as many other of The Great Books as I could read, that I began to understand the difference between just SEEING and actually OBSERVING.

That lesson has been instrumental, and has shaped me into the writer, the thinker, and the spritutal and metaphysical person I am. That lesson continues to shape my journey because at the core of it is the belief that I am not just here to SEE. I am here to OBSERVE and to write it all down as honestly as I can.

Monkeys and baboons in various mythologies are storytellers, messengers, and tricksters. And while my choice of BABOON LUMBERING had more to do with my general discomfort in the world at that time, I am starting to see that my brain keeps kicking this image back at me for a reason.


And so, here I am. Still lumbering, but more at ease. Experience and observation. Detachment (a kind of empiricism) also comes into play. But I'll save that for another time.


Thanks for reading! 



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03 June, 2019

A Tip for Traveling Well (Back in the Tall Grass)


Top of Iroquois Park, Louisville, KY: an Olmsted Designed Park
The top level of Iroquois Park in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. It's only open to motor traffic one day a week, and most of the time it looks like the city has all but forgotten about it: tall grass, hidden brambles, vines, and flowers. The path through the tall grass eventually disappears and even though the earnest saunterer isn't that far from the road or from civilization, the wildness of the place takes hold and for a moment, it's possible to forget the nearness of  what has come to pass as civilization.


One of the blessings of my life is that such a place, and others like it, are so close to where I live. I've taken this for granted in the past because, well, my head wasn't quite turned right. I'd allowed myself -- with all the best intentions in the world -- to get distracted by work, by the demands of building a business that I built for what may have not been the best reasons, and by the trappings of a civilization and system that I'd spent years avoiding and actively fighting against.

But as I find myself back in the tall grass, having wandered off the marked path in favor one that I
have no choice to have faith in rather than the sure thing I can see, dictate, and, to a limited degree, control, I feel more free than I have in a long, long time. I was so busy trying to make up some kind of professional life after the one I loved (education) seemed to have left me behind... or, to be more accurate, filtered me out... that I missed the opportunity to really step off the path. Yes, I tried a few creative things until I put together some sort of business plan. But the business took all the energy and left me little room to breathe. And you may point out, Isn't that just the way it is?

No. It's the way I decided it was. That doesn't mean it was true. And no one had any control over it but me. I'd trapped myself in a maze of my own creation, with a monster of my own creation to whom I ceded all control of my life.

When I was finally able to see... or I was blessed with the chance to be able to see... what I was doing to myself, I knew that I had to get back to something basic:

PACK LIGHT.

On any journey, the things you carry are the things that can both help sustain you and make your life miserable. In some cases, the thing you're lugging around will kill you if you let it. So let go of what you don't need. Hang onto what sustains you.

The real bitch of it is that only you can figure out what those things are. But once you do, the tall grass is calling.





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24 May, 2019

Things My Dog Teaches Me, the New Podcast (SUBSCRIBE!) and IGTV (FOLLOW!)


Gypsi… Dog and sometimes Yogi
While I am taking on some freelance work hither and thither, the bulk of my creative energy is being used on … well... being creative. It occurred to me that all the stuff I poured into working towards other people's visions could have been poured into my work, my vision.

It also occurred to me that this is a more natural process... feeding my energy back into my talents, and my gifts is a self-sustaining cycle. Feeding all of that into other people's projects... even projects I like … may feed my stomach, but it draws too close to the bottom of the spiritual well.

And so, here I am. If you missed last week's post about my mostly daily poetry posts on Instagram, check that out here... and jump over to IG and check out my posts. I'm also playing around with IGTV over there. Stop in and give some love, some comments, and pass along.

I've also started a new podcast project: A Record of a Well Worn Pair of Boots: The Podcast, hosted on Podbean. If you look up in the tabs, you can see a new page here with an embedded player. Please give it a listen, subscribe, and share. It's a short format, no frills kind of podcast.... perfect for a bus or train ride, something to listen to in the car, or just to help you get through the office grind.

I know at this point you're feeling punked. What about the fucking dog? you're saying. Well, here she  is:

the thing is that while I get a lot of benefit from my meditation and workout routine, the fact is I learn the most from the world around me... in this case, my dog, Gypsi. She was a rescue when we got her and is 5 years old. Part Catahoula, part Blue Heeler, with a dab of Lab thrown in, she's a wonderful bunch of sometimes over active fun. Unless Amanda' home, Gypsi is always with me when I work out or meditate. And unless she's grouchy (usually about an hour before bedtime), she's always ready to play. And here's what she taught me today while kicking my ass with her downward facing dog:

  • Live in hope (because you just never know) and gratitude (because sometimes you do!);
  • Always be happy to see the people you love and who love you;
  • Try and have at least one really good, squeaky toy.

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14 May, 2019

Why #InstagramPoetry - Why Not??





Poet culture is a funny thing. Depending on who you talk to any one, or number, or none of the following is true:

  • You need an MFA to be taken seriously.
  • MFAs are ruining poetry.
  • Good poets read a lot.
  • Reading too much can influence your work too much.
  • Spoken word is poetry.
  • Spoken word is not poetry.
  • Slam poetry is too much like rap music.
  • Rap can't be poetry.
  • Rap done right is poetry.
  • Poems have to rhyme.
  • Poems should never rhyme.
  • Traditional form is dead.
  • Traditional forms are what make poetry different from other kinds of writing.
  • Poetry must be political.
  • Poetry should avoid politics.
  • Confessional poetry is the only poetry.
  • Confessional poetry sucks.
  • No one wants to hear your angst.
  • Angst is part of the collective human condition.



And then there's the whole mess over Instagram poetry. There are those that see it as helping redefining the genre for a social media age. And of course, there are its detractors and wannabe artistic gatekeepers. And then, the publishing angle, which paints a far more positive picture than gatekeepers and traditionalists want to acknowledge: that poets publishing on Instagram are helping the sale of poetry books.

Rupi Kaur's incredible success is only part of the story. There's all the drama over Atticus and the flame war started by Collin Yost. There's arguments over what IS and what IS NOT poetry. There are lists of Instagram poets to read and, of course, discussions over the trend.



When I signed up for an Instagram account a few years back, it on a lark. I hadn't heard of Kaur, or Atticus, or Yost. I was still a heavy Facebook user and Instagram seemed like Twitter... only for pictures.  I started posting short poems there mostly because the limitations of the platforms gave me some boundaries to work in. I've been focusing on stripping the non-essential out of my work. Sometimes the pictures had absolutely nothing to do with the poem. Sometimes they did. Most of the pictures weren't that good, but it didn't matter.

And, really, nothing has happened. I've attracted some folks who like what I do, but I have no where near the reach that Kaur has. And that's ok. My phone-photo skills have improved. And my poems have improved, too... including the ones that don't get posted, the ones that get submitted to publications and contests. True, not every poem I post is a great poem. But I've learned over the decades of writing that it's impossible to gauge the work that way. I let them loose and they fly or they don't. But they are loose, just the same.

The current through the critiques of Instagram poetry is the same sort of critiques people have leveled at everyone from Bukowski to Emily Dickinson. Supposed experts and aesthetes ("influencers" for you social media savvy folks) seek to define what poetry is and what it's not. They can have at it.  I'll keep doing my thing.

And if you like what I'm doing, hop over to Instagram (@dirtysacred) and give me some love.





Thanks for reading! If you like what I'm doing, please consider leaving a tip. It helps keep the lights on. Thanks again!