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A cottonwood leaf
Turned this morning.
Perhaps moving too quickly,
Perhaps startled by the jogger
Unseen until he began the turn,
Perhaps not paying attention or just
He turned wide,
Leaving a jagged and worried line across his middle.
Bisected, a leaf now half green,
Half blood red,
From a solid back bone stream of consciousness
And tipped over into the forty-two-year fall.
His starting point was high enough that even
Wet with dew
Well, he had time to think coming down.
Used to the height, yes
Just not to the fall.
I can feel the heat coming off the street. He is a wave of anti-breath. Rising up with rawbone jaws, teeth and large liquid eyes, he has no body, only sketch lines thrown up from the sidewalk and anchored there in brittle concrete pores. What exists of the heat, his grimace and his ferocity is only the freckled and hairy face that meets me. There is nothing behind the sharp teeth to swallow me up once he burns, bites and chews. There is no way to meet this bully. I canít kick him where it hurts. He hasnít got any.
I need to buy some new pants. The old ones have gone beyond the point of stylishly frayed and into dumpster decrepitude. I realize that is a perception, that one manís decrepitude is another manís fashion. But I have lost weight as well. And, to be honest, my life has changed somewhat. I havenít really bought any clothes for six years now, and I do give people the shirt off my back, often. I could get by another year though. Itís not spending the money that I hesitate at so much; itís the shopping. Iím not ready to face that.
Iíve been thinking about my guitar again. I donít know where I would find the time. It hangs on the wall. ďWhy donít you ever talk to me anymore?Ē I know the problem. There arenít enough hours in the day to do all the writing stuff I want to do, let alone play the guitar, and if I wanted to play well, Iíd need several hours a day. I could fiddle with it a half hour a day, but Iíd never get very good at it that way. Thatís a Buddha standing in the road if there ever was one.
At 8 AM a knocking at the door jerked me from sleep. Crawling out of bed, I circling the room three times before remembering my robe was in the bathroom. It seemed to take a half hour to make the door, while the knocking continued persistently. Through the Peep I saw a tiny head on a manís body. When I opened the door, he ran down the stairs. Taped to the door was an eviction notice and summons. It took me a little while to realize the man has left it on the wrong door. It was for my neighbor.
Watching Edward Scissorhands
Carve with such hard-eyed certainty,
The swift scraping
Elbows angled levers bite,
I am struck with such a longing
I am thinking too
Of the red rotting stubs,
The splinters rosy decay;
We are meat for this.
Was an actor.
Then watch the actor carve
With his own flicks,
Gouges, and stumbles
And marvel again at mygirl?
You scrape or cut the ice one way
And it is oblique.
It is all in the angle,
And force of the knife.
I told her that when I was a little boy, we had a hungry dinosaur that came to come to roar at our house every morning. Then it would breathe fire on the door which peeled the paint away. My sister and I had a plan though. I would open the door, and she would throw a bucket of gum drops in the monsterís mouth. Then I would slam the door again. His mouth would get so gummed up with the gum drops he would stumble away drooling and tripping in the slime. It happened just that way every morning.
There is a haze
Clamped about the legs of the sun
Closing the tripod.
It is as difficult to explain the
Twenty-four-inch gap in the blinds
On a 12-foot door wall,
I did turn the thermostat up.
I did go to bed in the afternoon.
And while I didnít believe what she said,
Was busy with intellectual analysis,
Iím sure thatís what sucked me out of the sky.
The brain is a thing of pattern.
A person breaks your nose daily for years.
One morning, they don't,
But when you see them
You start bleeding anyway.
I called Matthew this morning. Susan answered. She said she was doing fine, and that they had stopped the clinical trials. Matthew had a good day yesterday, and they walked around the block. Matthew came on the phone. ďWhat do you weigh now?Ē I asked. ďNo fooling around, just go straight for it,Ē said Susan. ď158,Ē said Matthew. Susan went to the pharmacy while Matthew and I talked. He had shifted focus since I last talked to him to the ďceremony,Ē describing the church to me. Then we talked about grieving. I should have guessed they would do it right.
The sun is brilliant today. It is shining off the back of the deck chair, highlighting the spider webbing and the wings of the dragonfly sleeping on the rail. I can see the birds in the canopy and it seems like it is finally time to invoke the magic, time to open the jar. They say it has all been used up; that we have forgotten how it works; that it never existed. But that is the nature of this stuff. It lurks and then there is suddenly a new spring in the woods where before there was dry ground.
As I trim the wax,
It curls warm
Away from the bolt of candle
And new colors are exposed.
The scent is crushed forward,
And memories explode
Throwing molten wax
Across my face and shirt.
I have learned to trim
In quiet ceremony,
One of the ceremonies
Of an old soul.
Do I wear a smock?
Goggles to protect my eyes?
Do I trim with a robot arm
Through a TV camera?
There is a way
To root yourself so firmly in the present
That by the time events touch you
They are already passed into
My daughter says I have become
An uncharacteristically quiet man.
A good friend says ghost,
You are becoming a ghost.
She is obviously wishing something
Different for me.
This may be an improvement over
My last two years,
Or it may be something else.
I donít know.
I say that a lot,
I donít know.
But it isnít what I feel.
I feel like I know too much,
Like I was there when something happened
That cannot be told without
And anything I sayÖ
Yes, I feel like vapor
Poured across the earth
Seeping out into the unseen.
The Tooth fairy visit this morning wasnít nearly as bad as it has been in the past. I seemed to be stoked for it somehow. Even the two-hundred dollars for the cleaning and x-rays wasnít much of a shock. They want me to start wearing my bite splint again. Iíd forgotten why I had stopped wearing it. There was something that wasnít bothering me any more that had been. The Tooth Fairy assured me I still needed it to keep me from grinding my teeth down to little nubbins as I slept in the night. I used to like it.
The leaves are gathered in annual conference on the table on my Patio. They are dressed in pleasant casual office attire, fall colors for this meeting. Today is kick-off, and while many of them slept in, a large number showed up for the morning speaker and the free breakfast. They are disoriented. It is their first day in a strange city and many of them have not found the coffee urns yet. The free breakfast turned out to be continental, so they are disappointed, having to make do with donuts and caffeine. The juice carafes didnít last long at all.
My mother has a broken collar bone. She said the sidewalk just came up and hit her. I argued with sister about whether they should have tried to determine why she fell down in the first place. She is not a normal 84-year-old woman. She does not have a history of falling down on the sidewalk. They are ignoring that, and the fact that she had a momentary lapse of consciousness the next day as well, electing to treat the obvious: the collar bone. We agreed to disagree. She is there, and I am being unreasonable insisting on an MRI.
Across the cathedral like worms
Plowing up through deep mud night.
The footsteps called them here.
There is this echo
That can exist only while I live
And only while I am alone.
Eat my echo,
The reverberant fathers
Of church and stone,
Balanced on rocky backs.
These voices crawl
While I sleep
While the stem
While you crumple
And drop into a place
Where there is no light.
We are all in balance and chorus,
Mothers naked in the night,
Lovers walking down empty aisles,
Silent in empty eyes.
I did laundry today, and I shopped for a new laptop. Iím wondering if I need a new one. The old one still worksómostly. A few of the keys have to be hit extra hard or even twice to work. One has to be struck especially lightly. The screen has a short in it that I have learned to manage. I donít use the card reader that doesnít work. So, you see, Iím getting along just fine with the old one. Although I have to admit it comes up short when compared to the brand new screaming red Dell.
I take the garbage out. A tiny gnat escapes as I pull the kitchen bag. Carrying it into the bathroom I empty the basket there into the larger one and tie it off. Then I carry it downstairs. Into the dumpster. On my way back a multi-colored oil-burning pickup pulls up to the apartment. Michigan License. I walk by, but the driver calls out to me. It is the man downstairs. He is upset or excited about coming back from work to get his daughter who is not here. As I climb the stairs, I hear his cell phone ringing.
Lester has new pants now. The woman took him to buy them. He looks down his body. The colors are nice, earth tones he is thinking. The pants donít have holes and are not frayed around the bottom. They are not bunched around his waist. She asked whether he wanted to buy two or three pair. Two pair, he said. That evening he drilled new holes in his belt so it would fit to the pants. Then he sat and watched the sun go down over the trees. He watched the darkness seep into his room, swallowing his new pants.
Lester is curious about the place he has found himself. The room is cluttered. Long heavy planks and a few shorter boards lean against the wall in one corner behind a bookcase, nearly touching the ceiling. He wonders what they are for, what compulsion put them there, kept them there. He can see cardboard boxes stacked behind them. In turn, they are sitting on a large locked metal cabinet of some kind. What is it for? In another room he hears a young child playing, beating on a box. He wonders. All his children are grown and living somewhere else.
I sometimes wish I had answers, but I do have answers. I have too many answers and they are contradictory. Perhaps I wish I had fewer questions. But I feel it is the nature of this life to have questions, to be confronted with multiple contradictory answers. Possibly it is even its purpose. It amuses me to realize that over the history of man, as knowledge has advanced, so have the questions, such that we are confronted with both some new questions and some very old questions. Clearly, if we think we are making progress, we are not paying attention.
In the morning, while cold air presses its forehead against the window, web work moves in the sunlight, wind fingers inspecting the work from the night shift. Single strands hum in the wind, tuning each to a different pitch. As they tighten, colors almost metallic break out of them, changing from red to blue and back to silver. Separate notes from separate strands. Long bowed deep notes. And as these filaments move in the morning wind, they describe curves, each similar and each slightly different, and the music of these curves and colors blends with the vibrations of each string.
The mold spot on the southeast side of my deck rail has his eye on a career in real estate. He knows the market is depressed right now, but he can only see that as a good thing. He has a little sign on his desk that he caresses mentally: Chaos = Opportunity. He has heard the stories, and it seems there are only two ways to go in real estate; you either give up or you become a millionaire. This mold spot ainít a quitter. He is tenacious. There is a problem, he knows. It is about his location.
Robertson walks with his hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched against the cold. He has given up dodging the puddles of cold water. The jeans he got at the garage sale seemed like a good deal, but like many things that seem good at first, they have a problem. One leg is much too long and the other is much too short. The too-long leg droops down over his shoe and he walks on it. The too-short leg leaves his lower leg bare and splattered with cold muddy water flipping off the end of the long leg as he walks.
Alvin sits on his porch on the west side of the street, clutching his coffee with both hands. His red-splattered brown eyes look out across the empty street and the For Sale signs listing into the mud. Up and down, not a movement, not a sound; just Alvin sitting on his cold metal rocker with his silent eyes. Some part of the Alvin brain ponders the Fords on the street sitting in their puddles of cold rubber and grease. He lowers his eye to catch a movement along the porch floor. The wind is skating a small oak leaf there
There is snow beginning to mix with the leaves drifting through the porch on the corner of Madison and Ashley. Peter sticks out his legs to stop the porch swing and reaches down, picking something off the porch floor. It is a ball bearing that has found a place, a chip in the floor, a place just the right size to rest. Peter draws back in the swing, the chains rattling, and turns the bearing in his hands. He wonders if it has come off his motorcycle. The snow thickens, clotting in his hair. He doesnít notice the cold yet.
I probably have waited longer for the keyboard to dry out before putting the laptop back together. All those little rubber cones in there had to collect some extra water while I was washing the darn thing out. For a moment, I did get it working mechanically before I popped off the ďIĒ key, which was one of the worst problems in the beginning. I obviously use that letter too much. My thinking is that if I let the laptop dry a little longer, it may start working again. But I have also been thinking about buying a new one.
Coming alive to the incredible whine of the leaf blowers, incredibly early. The Sun pops over the mountain and I put my hat on so as not to be blinded. Iíve gotten a USB keyboard for my laptop until I decide what to do. It is turning out to be a more difficult decision than it should be. But maybe it is good to have something to occupy my mind while Lisa and Zoe pack their things to move out. They are moving in with Erica and her son Jack, which is something I had wished would happen for them.
Onion is having trouble with his feet. They are bruised on the bottom, and one of them is starting to sprout little roots again. He canít find any shoes that fit. His body is shaped funny, so his pants fall down. He tried suspenders only to realize that they require arms and shoulders. He hasnít any eyes. He knows that he is taking a dark view of many things. He knows he needs to count his blessings and focus on the good things in life. But how can he look on the bright side when he doesnít have any eyes?
For the NaNo meeting we were supposed to meet a woman at the coffee shop. She would be wearing a ďfunnyĒ hat. But when I walked in there were two women wearing hats that were more or less funny. I considered this and stalled, buying a small cup of decaf. I noticed other people around the coffee shop also eying the two women. Looking at them, I realized that one of the hats could be considered stylish in a way, while the other one had been doctored. I walked up to the doctored hat. ďAre you wearing a funny hat?Ē
This number has been disconnected. Thatís what the recording said. She says that to everyone who calls. He has been cut off, isolated. He is disoriented. You can tell from his slumped shoulders that something is wrong. He is a six. The disconnect was unanticipated. He didnít have time to tell his friends. He canít get out, canít get around the recording. He moves to the right, and she moves to block him. She eyes him around her headset as he tries to get past. He doesnít like her. He is thinking about telling her she has a huge ass.
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