Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Specimen Days


Random thoughts . . . a break from reading the philosophical dictionary of Voltaire . . . the time is ripe to start wearing, in earnest, the over-sized black beret I bought through the mail many years ago from a haberdashery in Portland. Although I’ve had it on many times, I’ve never kept it on my head for more than five minutes. I did so again this afternoon. And so it is, in effect, still new. But why start now, after all these years? For the simple reason that my hair, while still seemingly plentiful at a glance, is thinning on top, and I feel I need a little extra insulation during my walks on chilly mornings and evenings. I have hats, but it’s hard to keep them on when it’s windy. I have one big gray hat I love, with a wide brim and high dented crown, and if a gust comes up it’s liable to pick me up and land me on the other side of the street. In Spanish, we call this mucho gusto. In English, we say he’s full of it. The hat is a recreation of the one Walt Whitman wore. Yet something tells me he wore more than one hat during his lifetime. Anyway, it’s the one we generally associate with Whitman in his later years. Of course I am nothing like Walt Whitman. Or am I? A beret, on the other hand, will stay on my head in windy weather — in other words, it might be just what I need during these glorious Specimen Days, when each and every detail is so beautiful it is bound to break your heart and you love the breaking — every bird, every leaf, every last lady bug contemplating the approaching winter, the yellowing of the grapevine, the blueberry gone an indescribable red that changes with each breath, yours and hers, the shuddering of frozen, abandoned stalks, footprints just deep enough to last all winter — and yet if you were to go back and try to find them — well, that is something you simply don’t do, and there is no need — such are the Specimen Days.



Canvas 1,079



Canvas 1,079

October 31, 2017




Saturday, October 28, 2017

Night walk


In my absent presence, a cricket singing
here, here, here,
as if the way
were

clear, clear, clear.



Friday, October 27, 2017

Canvas 1,077



Canvas 1,077

October 27, 2017




Canvas 1,076



Canvas 1,076

October 27, 2017




Canvas 1,075



Canvas 1,075

October 27, 2017




Yellow Fever


There’s a solitary poplar nearby that’s become a column of fire.
And behind the house, there are

*

Fig leaves so bright, the birds don’t sleep at night.

“Yellow Fever”
Poems, Slightly Used, October 23, 2009



Thursday, October 26, 2017

Canvas 1,074



Canvas 1,074

October 26, 2017




Enough mist to say


When I walked through the house to the kitchen to make coffee this morning at four, I felt like a spirit passing through a place inhabited by other spirits occupied with their own affairs, who were perhaps listening and wondering at the sound of my invisible presence. Oh, I was awake enough. As surely as I am sitting here — which isn’t sure at all, but which is just

Enough mist to say
the page could be a street

the day the way
fingers please

a face

“Enough mist to say”
Recently Banned Literature, October 26, 2013



Sunday, October 22, 2017

In my fairy tale mind, I have a fairy tale dream


In my fairy tale mind, I have a fairy tale dream,
wherein lies a fairy tale land, in which those come to wed
take part in a simple ceremony:

in a fairy tale silent space, neath fairy tale trees,
the couple arrives from left, and right, like a fairy tale breeze,
while those come to witness wait in fairy tale angel calm;

when, behold, the couple meet, and, holding hands,
face each other, and in the presence of this silent fairy tale band,
sing a song as young as love and older than the land;

and in my fairy tale mind, my fairy tale dream has no end;
the song they sing is replenished by the rain,
and each leaf is the joyous grateful way of man!



Canvas 1,071



Canvas 1,071

October 22, 2017




Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Final Days


“The Final Days” is a very short story written August 29, 2002. It is the nineteenth story in a collection of seventy written in the space of ninety days, and collected in the second volume of my Author’s Press Series under the title No Time to Cut My Hair. Is it any wonder? Now, over fifteen years later, I still don’t have time. Each and every day is my last. It is also my first — and, of course, the only. I tell you, it’s one thing to stand in front of a waterfall looking like a hairy nut, but quite another to jump in. And the jump is really the only thing ever asked of us. The jump — to peace, to love, to — well, deep down, you already know, and certainly don’t need me to tell you.

*

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Bodies were everywhere. The forests were gone. So were the animals. The rivers ran with blood. The soil had been contaminated. Even their eternal friend and companion, the sun, struggled in vain to bore a hole through the earth’s polluted atmosphere. When a child was born, it died nameless within a few hours. Some mothers held a hand over their newborn’s mouth and nose until he or she stopped breathing. Then the search began for a resting place where the child was least likely to be disturbed.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. For the first time, they fully understood war, and the meaning of war. They understood that they were responsible for what had happened, and that if they had made the decision not to fight, war would have been impossible. For the first time, they saw the direct relationship between the way they led their lives and the events that had occupied and finally consumed the world. The simple truth drove many people mad. Suicide, though unnecessary, was a common occurrence.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. The desire to know one another had replaced all other desires. There was nothing to gain or lose, other than friendship. Feelings of love and kinship grew. People greeted one another with eagerness and affection.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. When it was discovered that a handful of the world’s leaders were still alive, and that they were in hiding in specially built chambers beneath the earth’s surface, there was a great outpouring of concern. It was too late for them to be punished. Punishment had already been accomplished at their own hands. Rather, their foolish self-exile earned them a feeling of sympathy. Eventually, they were coaxed above ground, and stood trembling in awe at all that had happened. They wandered about like ghosts, afraid of each other and afraid of themselves. None of them understood the love that was around them, for they had traveled too far away from their own humanity.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Then the light coming from their eyes went out forever. The planet sighed, then waited. It is waiting still, drifting silently through space, crushed by the knowledge of all that was lost.

“The Final Days”
August 29, 2002, No Time to Cut My Hair


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Canvas 1,057



Canvas 1,057

October 8, 2017


One of those days — you are up very early,
or very late, thinking about change,
and the time you’ve yet to spend as an autumn leaf.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Canvas 1,056



Canvas 1,056

October 7, 2017


I don’t have near the level of control with my left hand that I do with my right. But after using my left for a day, a week, or more, and I return to my right, I discover both are left. And yet if I reverse the process, I never discover that the left has become the right. So it’s either a right and a left, or two lefts, never two rights.



Canvas 1,055



Canvas 1,055

October 7, 2017




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Canvas 1,049



Canvas 1,049

October 4, 2017




Canvas 1,048



Canvas 1,048

October 4, 2017




Canvas 1,047



Canvas 1,047

October 4, 2017




Sidewalk seasonal


Months later, in the chilled morning air,
the same towhee, from the same tree,
singing and saying,

I see I see, you see I see you see . . .

and after I wash, and sit with some tea,
I write the word

dignity

and then the word says,

I think you mean simplicity . . .



Canvas 1,046



Canvas 1,046

October 4, 2017