As If It Is – (four tanka)

AS

beautiful sunshine
pain lodges in a shoulder
weary and aware
wonder at the cause of kinks
life of a mischief-maker

IF

being this and that
vast gathering of causes
wind tickling leaves
gusty augury of rain
weather precedes the weather

IT

pebble in a shoe
statue chipped and crumbling
earth touching mudra
we all circumambulate
offer mantra and blisters

IS

fever dreams at night
in the daytime distracted
single-use body
prayers muttered, beads fingered
moon eclipsed by this fat head

Pauses the Fly

A restaurant patio under a shady oak, the sun beaming, a fence laboring under a mass of Star Jasmine in fragrant bloom. I’m lunching with a buddy. Our waiter, a bit too eager to please. A salad, now dispatched. What’s left of a glass of wine. What now. A soft lump appears on the tip of my tongue, in with a sip of pinot. I deliver the lump to my finger discreetly, a wine-soaked wiggly black blob on my finger.

I almost swallowed a fly
and that housefly and I
I guess we’ll die.

Was it the same fly? The one so infatuated with a strip of my grilled chicken? I wondered for a moment if I could pick him out of a line-up. I wonder what it might mean, this intimate contact between tongue and such a thing. The black blob struggles within its liquidy dwelling. My fingerprint is under there somewhere.

It vibrates and shakes the liquid away and scampers around on my fingertips and knuckles. I look at my friend, and he looks at me. This is the way it had to be.

Pauses the fly for a moment
on my nail, then away. A little like us
happy, good with food and wine.

Every thoughtless moment a harrowing postponement of death. We split the check. Our nervous rookie waiter is oblivious to the depths, and obsequious to the end.

Flier, Flier, Pants on Fire

The air doesn’t need to have cracks in it. You can fall right through the thing itself. It plays with pressure and motion, mussing your hair or pulling your boat against currents on a shifty sea. Cup it in your hand, out of the car window. Blow it. It makes shapes you can hear. It’s there when you laugh, the material of your voice. You suck it in when you’re shocked. Release it slowly and the world becomes relaxed. Breathe it, if you want to stick around to see how this all ends.

The airfoil hypnotizes the sky and we ground-dwellers, with a cocky new take on gravity, call it flight. Aloft, we hold ourselves in a makeshift certainty where heavier-than-air flight is possible, our nerves as jumpy about being seated in the sky as they are when a nagging fear gets us to doubting. The cabin is pressurized, the air outside losing interest in the meaning of weight. Travelers impatient, we race ahead through time, out of this purgatory, rehearsing in our imaginations the getting on with it. But objects are always stationary to the geometry of their own locus. The X and the Y form a point on a plane where the pilot admits, through a crackling intercom, that we’re all hurtling to our destinies.

And she even knows the temperature on the ground for when we get there, but for now, the clouds make faces at us through the windows, and the turbulence flexes our wingtips. Intrepid goers and comers with our itineraries and phones, minds in airplane mode, we submit to continuity and see landing as a kind of taking off into an alternate, less valiant sort of sky. Back on earth we breathe each other’s air with a sense of autonomy, a sense of privacy that is groundless. Meeting and parting, crossing time zones, our connecting flight is the unshuttered air above, the midwife of all our doings. Terminals, they are called, and we keep passing through them.

Airport now in the rear view mirror, flying down the highway, who can ever see how this all ends? It’s all just beginning, is it not?

Dream Shanty

We had shrimp for dinner, and later that night they came back to me, and they made up my dreams for me. The shrimp, that is, their bodies buried in the shallow grave of an appetite sated. Born shrimp, born to be eaten, a waking life of monotony, but their dreams are quite elaborate. You eat something, maybe something eats you, but dreamlife swings wide and hard, twirling like a centrifuge. The deep stuff pulled out of its shell.

The years were piled behind me like great mounds of bald tires in a vast rural tract bounded by chain link fencing, ablaze with morning glories. Something about the bent, linked wires attracts the vines. It was the shrimp dreaming, and myself, eating their dreams. The vines look a tangle, a thicket made of dreams, like intestines, dilated to accommodate the diaspora of displaced thoughts. They form vast tent cities, shanties of curiosity in the bardo of the seeking night. Dreams weighted down by heavy meals. Stomachs themselves, dreaming.

Bee-like, the shrimp dream of flowers. A trumpet shaped flower may one day dream me up. They have yet to name that color, that something-blue, rattling the ocular nerve. It is uncertainty. You call an endless thing infinite because you run out of time. You have to call it something. You are given your name. My bent, linked mind attracts these vines. In dreamland the dreams dream you.

In the morning we rise and dream up another day. The shrimpers return to the docks engulfed by clouds of frantic gulls. The birds take repast in open water. On the boat, cormorants, pelicans line up aft, on the railings, like a depression era breadline. They wait, dreaming of shrimp, then dive after the spoils as the fishermen sort the catch. They are in for some crazy dreams. I was caught out in a daydream and, snapping out of it, I got a whiff of salt. The gulf is dreaming and I am in that dream. At dock, the boats sway and the sun makes its way. The net booms point skyward, but no one seems to see this as a sign.

Do you ever crave mountains? And when you think of mountains do you think of hulking peaks of buttery mashed potatoes with scoop-dented crests, filled with steamy hot gravy? I face the water. Behind me the land stretches out flat, like water. I’m thinking of vegetables now. Or maybe I’ll fast. Try dreaming my own stuff, for a change.

Is it Drafty in Here?

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

Ninety-nine starts
in my drafts folder, son

Ninety-nine beginnings
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.

Seasoning

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.