It hit us all in the middle
of the second week
of an undistinguished month —
it was spring, mud season,
not yet dry enough
to make us feel comfortable
that winter was over;
everything was average,
and that was odd enough.
We had thought
it would be a mad season
and that there would be chimeras
alighting on all our roofs
after the insane weather
and raging plagues
we’d been through.
It was nearly unbelievable
that we could trust reality
to do what it always did:
keep boringly on track with
equinox and seasonality.
We kept waiting for
golems to come knocking
and when they didn’t
we started daring to hope mythology
would stay put in our memories.
Even though we saw people
still dying, even though
there were still insurgents
surging and guns were everywhere,
somehow the fact that we’d seen
mud before just like this —
thick and laced with ice,
concealing old snow under a jacket
of filth — somehow the fact
that it was mud season and it looked
the same as always made us feel
plagues and idiots were finite
and would pass as surely as
this muck would likely dry out
and go green.
Tag Archives: meditations
It hit us all in the middle
You need to understand
that I was what they wanted all along:
the Mistake beyond any blood quantum,
denatured Native boy turned White man
but not quite, somehow Nothing At All
because to admit my own split
is all in my head is to admit
my inherent lack of substance.
I detest myself as the proof
of their success — more than all
the forced sterilizations, more than
all the direct massacres and stolen bones,
more than even the mascots
and the plastic feathers on the sports fans —
I am what they wanted
all along: something less than real
and more than myth. It’s a Friday night
and I’m a touch more than fucked up about it —
a weekend ahead of being
a ghost of my expected iteration —
and then the week, and then another weekend,
and somewhere in that sequence I will eventually pass,
and the Nation is smoldering as it would
with or without me although some would say
it’s because of me and how I was made
that’s part of the reason the country ended up here.
I’m the token slipped into the Great Genocide Game
to get the balls rolling.
God, if you exist, this isn’t your whole fault.
It’s also mine. I failed to die soon enough
to make them regret me. They call me a dirty word
that isn’t even obscene enough to mask my own name,
which is beyond dirty,
a blasphemy of how
I was supposed to be
With dagger or dirk.
Parang or machete.
Left behind bayonet
or stake fashioned from
old bloody wood.
In their night rises
our broad, bright day.
walking among us.
Debate’s of no use.
Once you smell blood
in your neighborhood
you cannot lose the scent.
In their night rises
our broad, bright day.
No, not with guns;
if we are to remain able
to be human again
we cannot allow ourselves
to do what’s needed
from a distance. We’ll need
to feel the shock of blade on bone
in order to remember
how much better it was to be
who we were before.
The odor strangles sometimes,
merely distracts at others, always sets
my teeth to grinding.
I walk into a discussion where it flavors the air,
try to join in and I’m soon choking so much
the others can’t understand me.
I turn to art for solace and it rises from between
pages, stings my eyes till paintings blur;
even music reeks. That job interview
stank with it; this online forum — how is this
even possible — I cannot see its words
through the miasma.
The halls of Congress,
the trading floor of Wall Street, every tower
where a titan of industry schemes: all
are thick with it; they might be tombs —
one whiff of the air in there recalls
dead generations piled upon dead generations.
Now and then I even pick it up on
a breeze through a forest, a breeze
that must have passed over a pipeline.
Sometimes I can tell it is coming
directly from me — mouth,
clothes, being. Half of me wants
to flee myself; the other half
holds my breath,
pinches off my nose,
makes me duck,
get close to the ground,
look into myself for better air.
An old friend, an unhealed wound,
rose from the road in my headlights.
I cried out and leaned on the horn,
stopped in time, got out and rushed to see
if they were in truth my companion
and I had hurt them more this time
than I had before our parting.
They were not there.
It was just some trick
of light in fog, but it seemed real enough
that I shook all the rest of the way home
and sat in the driveway a long time
before going in. Once inside I went
from room to room looking for others
but the house was, as it always is, empty.
Lying in bed, nerves smoldering, not dreaming:
longing for the road again, hoping a host
would be waiting for me in the mist,
hovering just above my road, just barely ahead;
the threat of possible collisions
just within the threshold of what I could bear
if I could just stop in time
before plowing through them again in spirit
as I had when they were still in flesh.
I go to the river
as others have gone before me
and though it is cold
I enter the water
at the spot on the bank
where anglers have entered
for more years than are known
seeking food and sport
and perhaps a connection
to a wheel turning through time
so I can bring what is there
to the spot on the bank
where more people than are known
have entered for more years
than are known
seeking connection to more
than is known
and once I have pulled myself out
and am high and dry and warm
I turn back to the land
carrying with me more than I can know
yet somehow I do know
I am more full
than before I plunged in
and caught hold
of the wheel
that I’ve been walking
through a tunnel for
a long time;
one hand on
each damp wall,
pinprick light behind me,
pinhole of hope ahead;
before and behind
have winked out
and here I am —
cold wet hands,
tearing my fingers open
on stones I cannot see.
I stop for a moment,
listening to dripping water,
listening for something scrambling
through the dark
toward me — and while there’s
nothing at all besides me
in here, I’m certain,
I need to feel fear anyway.
I’ve been told the dark is
terrifying my whole life,
after all. I’ve been told that tunnels
hold danger at their core,
but all I feel here is space.
Perhaps I am the danger?
The stones whisper that to me.
I don’t know if they can be trusted.
I don’t know if I can trust myself,
alone with myself in the dark.
First principle must be
that words matter more to you than
anything: ideas are in words
and all you need to release them
is a key that opens a chest full of
right words in which to trap physicality:
truth comes out of that
even if you must lie or fantasize a little
to strengthen a listener’s sensation:
based on what words you pluck
from your breath you recreate
this world as it truly is:
a paradox of course but
that is how it works
and always has:
ideas coated in words.
Truth coated in words.
Reality coated in words: it’s
mythic work — not lies,
enhanced sensing of how words
carry all, weight beyond meaning:
truth balanced on syllables
balanced on sensation and
under all, ideas. Bedrock.
That which began to drive me to this point
was my dad’s battered Mercedes 219 from 1959,
black with a worn red leather interior.
No show car, no rich man’s prize —
brought it back from his last German post
driven it to its death as a family car
that at the end couldn’t carry a family
That which then continued to drive me to this point
was a succession of my own rat-faced used cars —
’67 junkyard rebirth Belair
in brush-painted brick red, two Saabs,
an International pickup, two Toyotas,
three Subarus, five Hondas; somewhere
in the mix was a fifty dollar Volkswagen
which lasted as long as a fifty dollar Volkswagen
would be expected to last.
Whatever has driven me to this point
was never a beloved steed, never
a cherished ride; instead a series
of disheveled limited options exercised
only when absolutely necessary, only when
I had to get somewhere else than where I was
when the previous option had fatally failed.
Whatever drove me to this point
always came with just the basics and problems
that came from basic breakage; wear and tear,
bad choices badly executed, poor daily care;
now and then the good old wrong place,
wrong time. I sit now and dream of
how it might have been different if I’d only,
if I had only, if I had only…and that is
what drives me now: a theory of my past
assembled from regrets and misread directions,
rides that did what was needed in the moment,
and nothing more until it all fell apart.
Meanwhile in the meanwhile,
in the mean time, this meanest of
intervals goes humming by
and there on the far edge of it
is a human, someone clinging
who once might have been centered,
might have been the ruler, the slick
dancing ruler, the measure
of the center, how they led
the edge forward before this,
before the year broke loose,
the whole decade in fact
slipping its moorings and now
that human clings for life
as the decade spins off its spine
and all are flung out into space
except for them, and after the mean time
they sit with their head in their hands
wondering if they really needed
to cling so hard to this plane
that now is so utterly changed
it is hard to imagine them ever being
Attention to detail suggests that
in order to complete the full circle
someone who looms large to all
will likely have to die before anyone
will admit this is over; a person
beloved or hated by large factions
will have to die to fuel a round
of theories and essays, violent reaction,
polarized grief and mourning; a person
chained while in this sphere to opinions
they will drag with them
into the next world, deafening us
and leaving scrape-marks behind.
Attention to detail suggests that
in order to come to what some will call closure
and others will call the start of a new cycle,
someone will have to die in some extreme way
that offers a chance for mythic explorations
and rejuvenated symbolism about royalty
and a snake swallowing itself
as it disappears in fire, only to become
a legendary bird upon its rebirth. A stone-tipped arrow
shall be found on the cooling stones after
and all will begin to argue about which direction
it is pointing, what it means, who should take it up,
set it on a bow, and let it fly.
This, my body:
nondescript and hard-regretted tattoos,
pedestrian piercings, a belly hung
over the belt line, badly crusted feet,
wounds long healed in the skin if not
in the tissues below. I claim the title of
man covered in evidence of mistakes
that led to this being, this now.
Some would say do not fall into the trap of comparison
but here I am staring into my own eyes, seeing
coal mountain strip mine, railroad cut
in New England granite, shoreline wasted
under washed up oil and the garbage of decades.
I claim the title of warning shot, alarm
long ringing and long ignored.
Old friends stand aside,
watch me self-inspect; they do not interfere.
Who knows me, knows I will go hard upon
this dark body, down this long tunnel called old man,
will mine it until I can draw out gold from poison.
I claim the title: I am temple of hard road.
Thus, my body,
my only shelter
against storm I brought
to bear upon me; storm
of unmet challenge, of
lessons remade and repeated;
storm bent on cancelling me,
storm I birthed to make me free.
You can be truly free somewhere,
possibly. That is The Claim:
that there is a place where horizon
is an arm’s length away
no matter which direction you face.
There, your skin shall change to a stunning
reversible bronze. Your dog gets bigger and fluffier,
your yard greener and wider. Successive partners
will dance with you under electric town square stars
where no one shall ever gun you down. There is certainly
a prophecy that mentions you and yours, offering you
perpetual honor and generous means;
and while once there you shall gently age,
you shall never pass from that land
of easy grasp and casual arm’s reach.
when I am asked about
my favorite places among all that I’ve visited
new mexico (all of it)
venice italy (all of it)
all the ghost castles I’ve ever seen anywhere
new york city’s left front pocket and
the far corner of all those rooms
with a couch upon which I’ve been stuck
for days on end half stoned and half
ready to drown myself in the memories
of all other places I’ve visited
and cannot believe I’ll ever see again
without having to pass the veil