Archive for the ‘Pastoral’ Category

A diploma and a ticket for the train
I’m buying new guitar strings with my change.
Washing conditioned nerves with bottled water
down a throat to live off of,
the hard work unseen like farmer hands
in the rearview mirror of a corn field.
Reader’s digest and a traveler’s meal
suppressing how I’ve been taught to feel
about leaving home to find myself.
The manifest destiny ride.
If it were up to me, I would try to fly.

An atlas balanced on converse all-stars
the ceaseless nausea of bucking train cars.
The Midwestern tundra has turned to rain
leaving blue skies behind me.
There are different invisible people here.
Different hands not seen. Yellow signs
for reconstruction sites abandoned
serve as arm rests for hard hat men
with steel toes planted on the edge
of someone else’s world –
The weight of which presses on their backs.

Neck tied commuters turning into pigs
clouded by thick smoke of passing big rigs.
The highway runs parallel
and almost touchable. There is grayness
to this age. Our freedom
makes it tolerable to be in this cage.
to place our hand on the window,
it can’t push through. Several hundred miles
until I get back to you.

The yawning lonely eye of the giant overpass
cuts the tranquility of the rolling grass
and our bullet travels against odds and gods
through the pupil. Don’t blink. I almost missed
what we are going through. A serpentine
woman, afraid of touch, but more afraid of dark
has grabbed my hand. Counting digits
in her head, her breathing is hectic. It’s all
I know of her until we emerge from the
ocean to the air. A deep breath to shake
the scare. A ‘sorry’ and a ‘thank you’ are
all she can say. She slips a burned CD from her
bag. Its labeled: “just press play”. I pause to
look at the shining disc in my hand, looking back
to thank her, nobody is there.

Addictive hooks and lyrics draw me to her rock
and roll romantics. It is her voice, and it calls me to walk
after her retreat. I pull the earphones from the jack
but leave the CD to turn by itself. Home
isn’t far, I can’t give in now. Turn, turn, turn
the world, churn, churn, churn the sea. I stumble for
the notepad and fumble for the words. Outside
I miss the passing birds and sunset
migrating to forget.

A man old enough to have been from the grave and back
works on an endless newspaper stack
and chews a pen used to put words in their places
in every Sunday edition between New York
and Anchorage. He’s a man who seen so much past
that he knows the future. Keen and wise
he’ll be dead before he knows. I’ll make his funeral
if he is going where I am. We make idle chit-chat
so I can get his name, occupation, and hopefully
a destination. Reese, retired professor of literature,
and he simply rides the trains back and forth.
He’ll die in the dining car after getting all he could eat.
He said if I am searching for home I’ll never find it.
What does he know? He is old and senile.

Lonely and tired from the exchange
I’ve got you and your heartstrings on my brain.
Once I had thought you were out of reach
but now I’ve crossed this vast country
in belief that you would wait.
I met you in the dunes of a foreign beach
that day. My atrophied muscles struggling
with stable land. You had seashells in your hair
and naked for all I cared as if you had sprung
from the ocean itself. You found my travels cute,
but misplaced. Your love fell on another face
like the passing sun. “Sorry for collateral damage,”
you said, “but I was so far from home
and looking for something to make me feel good.
I never meant to hurt you.”
They never do I suppose.

I joined Reese on the next train out.
He asked what all the crying was about.
I told him that my lovers was gone
and yet how beautiful I had held her.
I told him I was homeless, like him,
and that he was right about never returning home.
“That is not what I said at all,” he laughed.
“I would never lie like that. It just isn’t
about searching lad. It’s about knowing
what you have.”

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It is too dark to see.
Headlights illumine only road.
No stars. No sky above.
4 tires bear the load
of a junk car in the darkness.
It’s so dark that tree and horizon
all blend into the hole
above it all.
Yet I can still feel the water.

Somewhere to the right, to the left,
there is water.
I can barely float
I could never swim,
Yet I know it so well.
I know its there.

As a child my mom would bounce me
up and down
left and right
from knee to knee.
as I bobbed up and down
watching the horizon
jump around.

Above me
the incomprehensible
whole that I arrived from –
two deep eyes
two fragile hands
brushing thin strands
of midnight black hair
away from a face
of radiant light.

Yet somewhere inside her
I know there is water
unseen, invisible,
but there. Undoubtedly.
Amidst the light that makes
sight impossible
there is flowing water;
a flood dammed.

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We never intend our voice to be a mirror
after a year. Writing is a release –
that means don’t come back.
To cry the tear of a reader
to pose a question – to describe a lack.
The cocoon sealed green opens
and the history of those people
is a stream reflecting light.
Water isn’t without connotation
words are not without denotation –
and thus an elderly man can come across
the stream he crossed in youth
sockless and happy –
and feel nothing but sorrow at
the sameness of it all.
In time he will build a bridge
to never look upon the waters again.
The bridge will bear his name
the name on the lips of those who pass
with their children in hand.
Small girls laugh at the wind carrying seeds
as mothers sneeze loudly.
The young boys pull with all their might
against the weight of their fathers
toward the edge of the path.
For one second they want to see the river
as it passes through the trees,
under the bridge,
and on into the horizon.

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The black asphalt leaks steam
as the sun rises. A short run
prolongs my morning caffeine
Long enough for me to travel a mile
of rough natural terrain.
A man, far larger than me, in a gray hoodie
is suddenly labeled a thief, or rapist, or murder…
He smiles and runs by. Perhaps he thought
I was young or pretty. Within time I will learn not to worry.

The air is a transparent mystery that fuels my breathe.
The sun rises over Mr. Patterson and his grocery store
he waves without any doubt that he is a perfect gentlemen
an old man of a different tradition.
He thinks the Sun is a miracle though in reality
it is a giant hostile ball of fire which hasn’t moved
in a million years. Yet it rises every day. Now that’s a miracle –
something appearing even though it never does.

Mr. Patterson often confuses beautiful things as miraculous.
As if nothing natural can be beautiful. He says the same about me
and has persisted in that illusion since I was a young girl.
Which despite its good intentions always made me feel
as though I was a disappointment. Needless to say this is why I run,
even though I should be home drinking coffee.

St. Mary’s church signals halfway – her shadow is a sundial –
I am running late. Though the graveyard is in shadows, as it should be,
the sidewalk is bathed in light. I turn right before Ash street
and head back. Patterson’s is open for business even though nobody
comes until after 8. My joints ache. I persistently tell myself
that the pain resides in my mind and push on.

The trees on either side of School street bend over the road
sheltering it from the sun. Light barely breaks through
allowing a runner some mercy. But I havn’t come for that
I have come to atone. So I turn up Old Hickory road
whose houses have displaced the hanging trees
and whose stone walls make the road almost cave-like
and foreign. Both roads intersect the road where I live
but Old Hickory Hill only breaks the flat earth
at this one point.

The ascent is the toughest part of the trip
and always appears as a giant gray wave
approaching from the horizon.
It is of the heritage of mythology
its titanic ancestor imprisoned Sisyphus
increasing the weight he must bear until, at its zenith,
it became impossible to move forward. Only back.
But I am not a Sisyphus, the burden is not on my back
I am a descendant of a different class
the fire wielders, born in caves, and emerged to conquer the earth.

The hill comes and goes. Its passing signifies a quiet victory.
No more a miracle than the sun. Just feet and steaming black tar.

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She rises before the sun
before I have gone to bed.

My headlights catch her looking upset
something like undead,
As if momentum at some point
will take her body further than her feet
and with the failure of every joint
would accept defeat
at the base of the man-made wall of stones
from whose cracks grows plants still living.

As the car passes I can hear her bones;
the torture that her body has been giving
causes them to cry over the engine.

She disappears like all things into the rear view mirror
A list of objects that appear closer than they really are.
Far enough away to be imagined.
But still too close to be forgotten.

Perhaps she was a dream, or a ghost, or an illusion
It has been too long without sleep to tell the difference.
I am still sixty years from home.
The car rocks in unpaved silence.
I started my trip over 20 years ago
Perhaps only to experience this moment
the sun rises over the forest.
It will go like all things and I will wonder
if it was anything more than  a ghost, or an illusion, or a dream.

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Mirror in the sky,
forever barren,
passing us by
Foot prints like
sandscrit on your side.
Your face shows the sun,
forever outshown,
light from a gun
your image on a lake
doesn’t take our attention.
Reflection on the fly
we see our face
a million miles wide
you look the same
as the flame in a woman’s eye.

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I have an old sandbox
in my yard
Sometimes I sit, and wonder
how much my hand
can hold, it’s hard to imagine.

It is the ashes of a long dead man
The once living measures of an hourglass
The world from the distance of a poet’s eye
A painting brushed on my backyard.
It is countless and endless and flowing
though it is finite and measurable.

I sit and remember how I used to play
how I used to do something
In this sandbox
other than sit and marvel at how
there is someone somewhere who knows
how much sand is in my hand
and from whence it came.

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