Showing posts with label America. Show all posts
Showing posts with label America. Show all posts

08 April, 2019

From Field Notes, 1 April 2019: Out of The Abiding Place

Somewhere east of Libby, Montana. Woke up to first light in my mountains. Rocks stretch out and up, lifting the sky like I cup Amanda's breasts sometimes when we sleep. -- like holding a jacket open for the sun to wear, with a pattern of clouds and rain drops crystalized in suspended animation.

Thinking about Portland and about the way ahead. All of it. There are two states in which I feel most myself -- like I am living the life I was born to live -- when I am in motion, writing; and when I am still, in Amanda's arms. Every other state of being is the space between that I traverse. Geography is a myth we've believed into reality. States of Being are the only states that matter. And if I had to nail down what to call this, I'd call it a perma-state of transition. Moving between motion and rest. Between travel and her arms. Roads and rail road tracks are the paths we make, all treading in the same direction. 

Montana is an ocean of green -- endless waves of evergreens and white oak, slowly waking grass. The mist and snow offer it a supernatural aura. The place has always been magic to me. Like Menifee. Like the river. All sacred. All dirty. All beauty. All savage.

Lift up old mountain.
The sun needs a coat.
The clouds portend
of beautiful things.

Roll on train, through
this sacred place.
I will wander amongst the mist
some other day.



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03 April, 2019

Field Notes, from March 29 2019: Oh, The Humanities


Air palpable with earnest outcries
read to the appropriate audience
words spent on prayers to gods
too busy to grant wishes

(From my last day at AWP:)

The folks I saw yesterday (Friday) were not out today. I want to believe that the old guy flying a sign on the corner of Halliday and MLK -- who, up close, doesn't look much older than me -- got what he needed and was able to sleep in doors last night. I want to believe that Tanya J. McDonald -- who told me her name 5 times and who was clearly released from a hospital with no sense of where she might end up -- was able to find peace and safety and some comfort in mourning her mother's death.

I saw them. I looked them in the eye and took their hands and helped in some small, temporary way. I want to believe it made a difference.

But I don't feel that optimistic today.

There's something about all the appropriate mourning and moaning here that's just so far-sighted in all the wrong ways. People see injustice at a distance and want to engage it. But when it's up close, they overlook. Or worse, they look through it like it's air.

Of course there's talk about Trump and  the peril to democracy -- mostly by white academics. When I hear work by writers of color, or by immigrant writers, or by people recounting stories of assault and the abuse of power, there is no presumption that democracy is in peril.

There is no presumption that democracy exists at all.


Beauty is abandoned
in the course of natural process --
the fragrance lingers,
a memory seized
right in the moment breath freezes.








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19 January, 2012

The Third Thing

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards." -Lewis Carroll


Today's my last full day in Mount Carroll for a while. I packed what few clothes I'm bringing with me, a long with a couple of books. It would be nice to have a slightly larger bag, but my other option is a large Army duffle that I don't want to have to haul around or deal with. At some point, maybe a slightly larger bag. For now, it helps me decide, quite easily, what I'm taking and what I'm leaving here. I want to be able to keep things simple, keep it as light as possible, for when I'm walking; I'd also like to avoid having to ever check the bag when I'm riding a bus or train.

Other than the possibility of eating a bowl of the Soup Du Jour at Brick Street Coffee, I'm also pondering the number three.

In various mythologies, spiritual practices, and religious beliefs, the number three is sometimes imbued with mystical qualities. For that matter, mathematician Pythagoras considered it the perfect number, representing balance, harmony, and wisdom (because it encompasses the first two numbers perfectly.) The Holy Trinity in Christianity; clusters of three in Celtic religious art; the Triple Goddess; the Three Jewels of Buddhism; the Hindu Trimurti.

I'm leaving a bunch out. One particular treatment of the number three -- the one that weighs on my mind -- was mentioned briefly in a book called The Happiest Man in the World by Alec Wilkinson. It's a brief mostly biographical sketch of the life and times of Poppa Neutrino, who among other things, tried to build boats from garbage and sail them.

One of Poppa Neutrino's boats


Poppa Neutrino

He was a well read, mostly self-educated man. At one point, he tried to start his own religion, The First Church of Fulfillment, and even had a store front church. One of the tenets of this religion comes back to ... you guessed it ... the number three. Essentially, Poppa Neutrino claimed that every person needs three things to be happy, but that it's a different three things for each person. He asserted that most people only really know two of the things they want, being stuck in a never ending dichotomy and lacking balance.

I'm no disciple, but it does seem to me that there's something to the simplicity of the idea. We're a culture that pads itself from unpleasantness with possessions. We love our stuff. And even when we say we don't care about our stuff, we don't do much about changing the fact that we still AMASS ridiculous quantities of stuff.

Anyone who knows me well knows I don't care much about stuff. I like my books, some clothes, a place to write. I have certain... we'll call them eccentricities ... when it comes to writing. But I don't feel like I'm tied down to my stuff, either.

And while I haven't quite figured out my three things... I think I have a handle on two of them... I am using the number three to dictate what I'm bringing with me to start.  Three pouches of extra pipe tobacco; three t-shirts (plus the one on my back); three warm sweaters (plus the one on my back); three pairs of socks and underwear (plus what I'll be wearing); an extra pair of jeans, an extra long sleeve shirt, and toiletries. Also at least three hats... two warm and one to keep the sun out of my eyes. I'm also taking my netbook and audio recorder, my copy of Ernesto Cardenal's Cosmic Canticles, Ed MacClanahan's I Just Hitched in From the Cost,  my copy of George Eklund's new chapbook, Wanting to Be An Element. I also have a pocket version of Whitman's "Song of Myself." And of course, some pens, my journal, and a fresh one to fall back on.

Not bad for a small bag, eh?

Well, a slightly bigger one would be nice. But I don't want one that's too nice, either. And I don't want to spend my limited travel funds on something as trivial as luggage.

But more than helping decide what to being with me, thinking about the number three helps to remind me that all journeys -- the ones worth beginning, at any rate -- are as much about the spiritual journey as they are the geographic one, or even the poetic one.

And that really, they're all more or less the same. And that to ignore any of them -- the spiritual, the poetic, or the geographic -- means a loss of balance, an absence of harmony, and an absence of wisdom.


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02 January, 2012

Scratching the Itchy Foot

The first part of the trip will be to go visit my daughter, Stella. It's been a couple of years since I've seen her and I want to make sure she's not taller than me. Stella is 17, focused on getting out of high school alive as well as intellectually and psychologically intact. She's also starting to look at colleges and is looking for a job.


That used to be an easier thing: finding a job. When I was a kid, all you had to do was go fill out a McDonald's application and you could have a job. There was poverty, there was unemployment -- but a kid who wanted to earn money and begin that lifelong love and hate relationship with the IRS had a reasonable shot at finding some sort of demeaning, dignity impugning, soul killing job that paid very little and left none of  the feelings of satisfaction often talked about in pre-employment literature.


Right now in America, there's 4 people for every available job. And that doesn't include the 15% unemployment rate for veterans returning from the wars they fought to keep Halliburton in business. Unemployment benefits are stretched, and there are those -- we call those sons of bitches REPUBLICANS -- who would cut off unemployment insurance and let people starve. We also have some folks -- we call those assholes DEMOCRATS -- that are going along because their mommies keep their balls in a silk bag in the back of an armoire. Right now we're living in a country where we have The Haves and The Have-Nots. Right now we're living in a country run by politicians who are signing away our freedoms. Right now, the banks and corporations have taken over.


Right now, it's only getting started.


And right now, there are stories to be told. Someday, we'll have historians explaining to our grandchildren what all this recession bullshit was really about and what the long term impact of shrinking civil rights and banks on the national tit was. Or maybe we won't. Maybe we'll have talking heads and history memes on social networks, lost in the shuffle between the Two Girls, One Cup video and the latest free social networking game that eats up computer speed and distracts people from seeing the world for what it is.


Re:visionary is my way of trying to tell the real story in real time. There are stories to be told, songs to be sung, poetry to be written. Re:visionary means,  for one, revision. Life, like a poem draft, often  requires revision.


For another, it means Re(garding) Vision. How I envision my self, the country, other people, the world. 


And I'm hoping you like what you read.