There’s a sound that a pick-axe makes when it’s plunged into the earth and dragged back out again; it’s the sound of metal opening the history of our lives, slamming into our powdery souls with a thick ferocity of hefted weight and muscle and sinew and limb…a stretching of cloth and skin in the arc toward the heavens of the steel head and hardwood handle singing through the air…and the slight visceral grunt as it lands with that freighted slice and drive through soil and rock, echoes cleaving the dust and clay that is ourselves and then…
there’s a sound that a saw makes when its teeth rip through the fibers of wood and brush; it’s the sound of a serrated blade slicing into our fingers or hands, driving through the cells of meat and unto bone…fine or rusted edges of metal rending our woody flesh, tearing it neatly into pieces that we hone and fit and hammer back together into other forms that cover and shelter us against the elements and gods; we take it with our hands and break it into pieces that will warm us or feed us, sometimes with the muted, wet splaying of green wood that wouldn’t break cleanly…like joints pulled backwards against nature and form…or with the sharp echoes of cracking branches and bones that flee into time and then…
there’s a sound that a scythe makes when it passes through grass and the wheat of the field; it’s the sound of an icy razor lifted and throwing light back at the sun, of muscles on shoulders and hips swaying in a life-rhythm and a whisper through the air and a shhhhhh through the grass as cell membranes burst against the blade and green it in its passing, dust and skin and grass and stem, seed-heads swaying in the breeze of man and his motion, aloft in the sky and a shhhhhh to the ground, the echoes of sunshine and air falling on the riching earth and then…
there’s a sound that flesh makes when it tears in that moment of thrust and climb, of muscle pounding into a hallowed cave; it’s the sound of hinge-less doors opening beneath a fusing flood of life and stranded helices, recombinant forms and particles charging, of a new pulse rising in a hidden place, one cell beating and beating…becoming…that time draws forth as it rips again, that sacred fleshy vault, echoes of life and death in a moment’s strain…and then…
there’s a sound that a house makes when it no longer harbors life within; it’s the sound of a derelict wind stealing through empty window panes and hollow echoes fading into the oblivion of lost time and then, memories disappearing like vapors drawn, weak flashes in smiles and tears, images forming and fading as sunlight passes through dust motes hanging…and when the moon finds night-time corners…sliding feet on worn boards, oil from hands on banisters evaporating molecules at a time, riding the ether of ever and gone, echoes of laughter and pain, no longer anchored with heartbeats away…echoes no longer anchored with heartbeats away…and then….
***Photo used with permission by Gary D. Bolstad at Krikitarts. The photograph was taken along the side of the road somewhere in Minnesota when Gary was returning home after a vacation in the woods. I encourage you to visit Gary’s site to share in his beautiful photography that demonstrates his love and fascination with our natural world.
He snapped alive with a sulfurous urging in his hallowed place, reflecting then on those around him. He pondered, considered, and postulated about what they and he might be. “What am I that, or who, is able to exist only softly, attached for life to my waxen, wick-ed anchor, knowing only what…I don’t know. Of what am I comprised? What constituent parts have been arrested to make my whole? What molecules render me soft enough to flee like a thought in a slight breeze? What have I to do, but to live and reflect? Who is to know? Who.
In a dark room, were I to be placed upon a post to shine from its center, would I be as bright as if I were placed next to a mirror at the side of the room, with only half of my light being real and shining as from my soul? Is that solitary, yellow dart of my being enough to light in half, though reflected, as though from that post in the middle of the otherwise dark room? What design orders this? Why do I live only anchored here and not aloft in the sky? Why do those around draw away from me as if in fear of harm?
I am a solitary, gilded whisper of light, shining upon those from whom I am ordered, without will, or otherwise. My stepward cousins and unrelative conflagrations burn with an unintelligible force, magnified and multiplied beyond reason, my small frame. What soft caress would touch my delicate skin? What gentle lace would adorn me? In the place of never-thought would it live beyond my kiss. It is unknown. For it is, and not being. If a scientist were to analyze my being, would he find only the mist of paraffin, or the shadowing remnants of tallow, rendered from the fatted calf? What am I? And why does my touch bite? I cannot win friends; I cannot feel the embrace of another. If I am drawn nigh unto my own kind I am lost and shall never be regained unto myself. Am lost.”
This is a Favorite Repost from September, 2009.
the orchard is empty and the fruit is all down and the trucks have driven away and left only their tire tracks in the grass and the delicate lingering fumes of their exhaust as a fine mist in the treetops, a filigree of vapor and chemical rind that leaves slowly and at the whim of the breeze. we put the ladders away, back in the barn where they will collect the seasons’ dust and cobwebs as they long for the touch of our hands and the trod of boots on their rungs in the night of the year
a quiet has returned to the place where the buzzing of bees and bird-song are the loudest sounds we hear and a fox peers tentatively from under the fence in the far west end and a man I know steps lightly on the morning stairs, down and down from the ancient painted house and into the yard as the newling morning sun peeks over the distant mountains and the crisp in yesterday’s air left in the evening breeze behind warm currents that lofted lazily into the yard and scooted the leaves yon and away. the quiet will be here for a long while and the trees will settle for their slumber and life abides and kindles a slow flame like a warm and hiding light…and the orchard is empty and the fruit is all down as we pray to our gods for a gentle winter and wet
…and robbed her treasures…hidden things that meant nothing until they were found…and now they’re gone, and gone away…the precious mystery revealed and now nothing remains…save the ever weeping scar….
We hear you walking the night-time stairs, that slight rustle of cloth on air, your fingertips on banister rails, opening doors and going where others would not, where things go missing after the setting sun…chemicals coursing through your veins, numbing your heart to what shouldn’t be…ink in your skin, rose in your hair, and a sheen on your lips that guard the abyss where you hide your cloven tongue…who are you behind those sparking eyes and pretty smile…do we know the real You?
Found on the side of a State Street tattoo establishment south of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
They rage sometimes in distant echoes, those ghosts of living in by-gone years…
…they sing and howl, sometimes, at atrocities lean and harsh that were wrought upon the land, scars that remain in hardened shadow form, of skeletons in brick and steel….
…and when the sun is down, they wonder in silent tones, sometimes, as evening light creeps low, as tiny eyes blink awake in their hollowed places, not hallowed…
…carts ring and clang on rails laid, earth’s treasures brought from below, man’s hand and mind are joined, sometimes, from pick to truck to refiner’s fire, to jewelers’ purses to ladies’ hands to settled estates, and then…
…and come around again to distant echoes and ghosts of living in by-gone years….
Originally posted October 23, 2009
There are hideaways in this desert world. They must be searched out or stumbled upon by chance, but they are there. Sequestered locales against time and her demands are tucked away amidst the crush of life, safe havens to cushion our occasional fall. Quietude and rest after a storm, the breeze laced with a fine scent of creosote. The air, now pure from her cleansing, is free from the residue of our modern advances. Gone are the particles and emissions of our progress.
The primary element of our being and the nest of our origin, offering and return, withdrawal and offer again. Standing on this littoral plain, I feel the tugging on my soul; my being is drawn nearer to the mother of life. Filling my ears are the whispers and stirrings of her core. In her arms there is peace.
All that flies against me in every day is gone, with only her stirring presence around me. Crashing waves and the gentle tide, purging the shore and offering her rest. Salty mists are her kisses, the waves are her liquid embrace, all consuming, touching everywhere, a healing salve to my weary soul.
How beats my heart, until this night is over?
My child struggles in the portal of his dawn while nature and time fight against him.
I have yet to meet him and my heart aches at what must not be.
As time and pressure bring forth diamonds and gems,
I wait for them to bring my son.
As angels roar and demons quake,
I stand on the edge of time and yell through the heavens and beyond the fiery dust of our beginnings and demand what is mine and hers to be ours and then.
Three times gone and here at last,
a life coveted and desired and hoped for in dreams and waking and plans and.
Our hearts beat in our bedroom chamber when love joined flesh and might.
And now mine beats in my chest and head and hands…
as his echoes between these walls…strong and solid and fading and gone…
Fast hands and quick and yawning door, her pulse rips live in mine,
From flesh comes flesh and beating blood, I yell and scream;
In tears and raging life comes dawn in pulse and pounding show.
In crushing force and ragged breath
Tiny ribs and lungs and arms and hands
Grasping wildly at light and cold and what.
And now beats my heart, and hers, in his.
When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?
And how could we not see its fleeing?
There were baby hugs
And finger paints
Sand in her tennies
And potted beans on the windowsill
Pound-puppies and princess’s ponies
And bubble gum and pig-tails
Now she wants to drive
And her iPod is in her backpack
With her cell phone at her ear
Long curly hair ironed flat in the mirror
And she’s ready for the prom
When did the clock find the wind…to sprint like this?
When we were young, we noticed that it took forever for special days to get here; whether they were birthdays, Christmases, the last days of school, etc…they took an eternity, as marked by our child’s minds that registered time’s passing by those ultra-special days coming and going. Now that the years have gathered, so many more things mark time…payday Fridays, her birthday, your birthday, her mom’s birthday, vacation, the first day of school, early-release every third Thursday, progress reports, report cards, the annual re-bid at work, a trainee for five weeks, the boss is gone for two, the weekend stand-by form on every Thursday, monitor each employee every month, we just checked your messages, it’s Thanksgiving and now it’s New Years and another move or not, and Christmas or winter break is passed and past, and one more semester until it’s done, and this process takes four weeks and that one takes seven, and the puppy needs his next set of shots and three more months until that movie comes out, another week to read the book, pay this bill on the 15th and that one on the first, and pay it again on the 15th, and the other one again on the first, and next month there are three paychecks for you and for me, so we look forward to yours and to mine and we pay extra on this one and it’s time to trim the bushes again, and the bug-guy is here again, and it’s time to change your oil and rotate the tires again, and it’s her birthday again then mine and her mom’s and my mom’s and school’s out again for the year and then she’s 21 weeks along and they can do the ultra-sound and see if it’s a boy or a girl, and which type of paint and trim do we get and we’ll know pretty soon…it does seem to rush by, unbidden, just passing with speed beyond belief, sometimes like tempests and torn in the way, and images of youth and what used to be has gone in the swirling of leaves and thought and remembrance, our encumbered spirits and minds loose (not lose) those things of yesterday and try to gather them back again before they are ungraspable in their passing, gone in that spirit of has-been and collected somewhere up in the ether where lost thoughts and radio waves linger unhitched for evermore. We used to think that our grandparents and parents were old or getting that way and now we find ourselves noticing the little lines by our eyes…and the ones that run down into our cheeks or spread like the sun’s rays from the corners of our mouths…we find that the singular gray hairs have multiplied into a profusion that creeps into our vision until it’s time to dye them again…or not…and the moustache had a couple and the chin several more and it’s no longer possible to trim that one or pluck it away as before…they aren’t going away…our memories hold when our bodies won’t…and our children are getting older…the lines on the door frame that used to be fun to mark once or twice a year are slowly catching-up with our chin and eye-level reaches…and we wonder where it’s gone…we wonder how it not only learned to sprint and spring away but to indeed flee and leave us watching…making yet more notes of its passing…she was only 11 months-old when we saw her the first time and she just turned 13 years-old…another was captured in a picture at almost three years-old with her arm in a cast and now she’s 26 years-old…and the first-born is crowing at 28 years…and those in between with babies and lives and house-payments and then…and my friend, Byron, whose gentle soul found the words that title this writing, noticed in awe the beauty and unbelievable 16 years of his daughter as he took her to school one day last week…it struck him how she’s not that little girl anymore who used to crawl into his lap with a favorite book or doll and sit there playing with his chin…time has fled with that little one and brought a beautiful young lady to take her place…unbeknownst to anyone watching…suddenly she is here…and we wonder again…where did the clock find the wind to sprint like this?
Thank you, Byron.
i danced across the angry sand
your lips pressed into the
i hurled my self against the
blasting fire spikes that raked
suspecting skin of my
What is the self that is not explored, a half-lived life, unknown, abhorred.
The chastening call of reflection -
I am unknown. There is
You know what I mean -
You’ve been there too.
Behold the guise behind which lies
The hidden part that seeks its not self.
You are unknown. Behind my face -
There is me. I am mixed.
It’s a loathsome hideaway.
Repentance made – there is no God to forgive.
The soul is the self all connected -
To one not me inside of another.
You flee. I am found.
Dark wing flies to the hidden shore
Of remembrance held, gone not away.
Be not still in your finding.
Long nights of trees and lost beginning.
Where did he hide the newling that was
Not yet? Don’t ask for it’s not had.
Where is the newling not yet?
Ask around the place she could have
Been made. How Past.
What strange thing. The fog uncovered in its
Thinning. The shadow shape unmisted, ungone.
You are weird. You are that I find. To see
Two ways. Unbecoming, am.
they dripped from my panama sky as their planes droned onward…cotton canopies…nylon nets…strangling…satiny shadows sprouted
from the clouds…they hummed.
tilled earth…humid…rich…cushioned fall…in leathered boots…crunch…broken grass…leaves rent…slap…click…drone…mind…groan…manure
the lost wind swept clear the drop-zone…it has angles…and knives…rent…glide
prayed before he jumped…snatched back upward…god said to stay in the air…don’t fall
i said it…i was that god
get out of my sky!
get back in the plane where you belong, you red, white, and blue bastard
round whirling in his canvas cloud
bullet’s song went pop….shards of memories…corn harvest…soda…lips parted…motor droned…pink tongue…glisten…downy fuzz at the small of her back…red blotchy earth…it rained
he passed flowers…lady bugs dried from the sun…yellow-green smell of broken stems…unyielding rock…sinew stretched…slipped…snapped…surprised…screamed…bone
burned tortillas…charred flour…shard of flower…on the roof…it was hot inside…the motors droned…not the sky…smoke and burned hair…cotton…plastic
the oil spilled…it was warm between my legs
occipital bone…flesh…lead…hair…corn harvest…lullaby…blue-green coca cola bottle…puppy’s breath…flannel pajamas…dura-matter inside the bullet’s song
i didn’t like the raisins in the pudding…they were all swollen and tasted like a rotten something…or rum
corks floating…the labels are stamped through the burgundy…mine got caught in a whirlpool by the cracked mossy rock…his swam past…riding through the sunblast…gone down the…and fade…