the buds look like folded hands
praying | self-baptizing | cells blistered
in a waxing rigor | then open all up
like puckered mouths struck by laughter
I got 99 drafts
in my drafts folder, son
I got 99 problems, but
writing ain’t one
Blank page, writers block
sorry you are stuck
Bang you out a brand new draft
who gives a flying fuck
in my drafts folder, son
not a single thing is done
I got 99 revisions
on a simple fucking rhyme
I got 99 changes, and
it still ain’t worth a dime
This crap right here was completed in 15 revisions, yo. After 25, the WordPress editor throws up its hands and gives up on you. Dude, keep your day job, it seems to be saying.
Is the air, in and out
of my lungs, part and parcel
to a season’s drift into season?
Where would we be, out of the air?
Having days without weather
foundering, lost like a groundless
facile science, ungodly as a vacuum.
The weather is having us, we’re
in its pocket, under its watch
drumming in its rain, breathing in its
cloudless pomp, adrift in its seasons.
At all times, where we are
it seems to know.
The poem half belongs to the reader.
The poetry, the novel. Writers shepherd things into place, they are just words after all. The reader does half the lifting. But once they start gorging on films of literary origin, the teeth of the imagination begin to rot.
Consume the processed product of someone else’s imagination? Take the sirloin in pill form why don’t we. No gristle to pick from your teeth. Literature ignites the imagination, that’s what reading does. Watching a flickering screen, it is numbed. The imagination is anesthetized. But by all means, let Neflix make a Game of Thrones out of Garcia-Marquez, what could go wrong? Youth are remaking the world as we speak, it is not ours any more, us old farts. I worry about all the wrong things.
I have attitudes that mean nothing to anyone but me. They are like my children. I give them names and watch them grow up. Weep when they do poorly in school, or start stealing cars. It is a derangement I hold dear. One Hundred Years of Solitude will no doubt become the Breaking Bad of magical realism. It does not touch me. I have already built my own copy of that world.
Ever so slowly, I rise, and applaud.
together over time
years, piled upon years
into a kind of composite
where every lurch and pause is
fitted for reflection and echo, and
anchored in appetite, anticipating
the next meal, or fondly
recollecting the last
single minded, this go-round
so thorough it tends to obscure
the births and deaths that
will by definition have
had to occur in there
Still Life With Meals first appeared in the themed anthology Routine, published by Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, 2018.
I’m happy that they’ve accepted a flash fiction piece from me for their next themed annual, entitled The Year, expected out early 2020. Thanks to editor Kerri Farrell Foley. Submissions are still open, hint, hint.
When I said I was feeling chipper
I didn’t mean cheery, like a dandy squirrel
with a cache of ripe pecans, no.
I meant like that groaning, shrieking
grinder box that sucks in green oak limbs
the size of Sam Houston’s neck and erupts
in a volcanic, yawning siren like
a Mississippi bigot shouting “frown!”
at a blind beggar, who can’t see his face.
And splinters it, bark and heart, leaf
and bud, into shattered, whip-torn
little pieces piled neat, like bones.
And the air, in the silence bound to follow
every violence, patiently cataloging and
filing all the sawdust that’s gotten up
in its face, is what I meant.
So, you’re probably wondering, “who pissed in this guy’s cheerios?” so let me explain. I wrote this, more or less, in the middle of the night a few days ago, after arriving home the previous evening to find the sprawling live oak in the alley behind the garage had suffered a kind of vivisection at the hands of the power utility. They had removed a third of its grand canopy, right down the middle, leaving it splayed in its remaining two thirds, parted now to make way for the high voltage wires. It now looks like a midshipman flagging a desperate semaphore. Mayday!
For the last two years, Cooper’s Hawks have nested in that oak, and now I can finally see the nest on the edge of the newly opened cavity. I’d seen one just that morning fly down the alley and pause in that tree, making that ca-ca-cawing call that I associate with courtship rituals for that bird. Well, I doubt they will keep a nest so exposed to the sky. The good news is that the migrant songbirds that come through here in good numbers will be easier to spot and photograph.
Anyway, that’s why I’m feeling chipper.
You can see the hawk’s nest in the upper right corner. There’s another large oak down the alley that they frequent, so perhaps they will nest there.
Here’s a yellowthroat I caught in the aforementioned oak a few years back. The tree has been a real bird magnet and I sure hope it remains that way.
One hole makes the belt too loose
the next one makes it tight.
I’ll have to gain a little weight
to rectify this plight.
Waiting for the four hundredth degree
and pressing the seam on the biscuit tube
A hungry daybreak stalks creatures
at the edge of the sky, it tans peach
and lime at the crack of cabinet doors
the darkness of night’s cupboard
Some ticks and creaks from the oven
heating and the silence of no rooster at all
spilling into the now-comes light
Waiting is the promise of a surety
a door-knock could steal its bell, but
the biscuits, as soon as anything
are due, they’ll be warm, and well met
Considered to be vast
in its extent, the universe
which encompasses all
that could be imagined is enlarged
by the tightness, the constraint of a
mind deluded by grasping.
The smallness of the self
is what begs large the reaches
of the heavens. To interrupt
even briefly, this ghastly inflation
of the considered real, exposes much
—settles nearly everything.
The cultivation and continuance of
such interruption leads to realization
—the condition beyond conditioning.
Following is the foreword from the book Fathoming the Mind: Inquiry and Insight in Dudjom Lingpa’s Vajra Essence, translated by B. Alan Wallace, with commentary, much of which touches on the seemingly intractable divide between the rationality of materialist science and the direct cognition methods of tantra.
It’s an excellent book for those studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism, and for people like me who tend toward morbid fascination with this controversy, which has been churning ever since they divided learning into the two branches called science and religion.