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So I can measure, weigh, and analyze. I can appropriate a myriad of colorful half truths. Still I cannot perceive true timbre. I can experience it. I can rejoice in it. I can take a bath in it if I like, but I canít capture or transcribe it. Timbre is not an object; it is a reaching for. It is naked want in all its hungry silliness. It is the thrust, pull, and gravity. The harmony of physics; the discord of entropy. Timber is the welling of emotion. It grows, flows, spills over and endlessly out, covering everything, re-covering itself, irresistibly drawing everything inside.
Timbre is the perfect equilibrium of life integrating every cell of every beam. It is the touching of those beams, of those cells, touching, touching, ever so, never quite touching. Timbre is a hyperbola that approaches but never reaches. It is the maintenance of approach. Timbre forges nations, and fires bullets at presidents. Spewing like milk deep into restless nights, timbre falls over the edges of the earth. It holds light in lasers, motorcycles in curves, birds in air, and your heart in someone elseís hands. Timbre believes in gods, builds bombs, and scrawls crazy and obscene mandalas on walls.
My typewriter is going crazy. My head hurts. What is happening? I see something. TimbreóI see Timbre. It hurts. The only god I can call on is pain. I scream to pain. Pain is my body, my bed. I kneel to pain. I rip my typewriter from the desk, but it keeps hammering out Timbre. Smashing it to the floor, I stomp on it, hurting my foot. Timbre is in control. Growing, rising, steamy Timbre cracks through my skull, spilling moist putty across the desk. I am in frenzy. I dance in air. I am hate, war, and poetry.
New Yearís Day, thirty years ago in Virginia I was crawling up an already melting mountain with Steve, Wendy and Cheryl. Two years later Steve and Wendy would be passing swiftly through divorce city while Cheryl, some entity growing in her belly, and I camped out in apartment land waiting to see what the summer would bring. Then, back then, Steve and Wendy had bought an ancient farm that was sliding back into the land, bought it, moved in, and used all their energy to keep it from falling back into the land while what was between them crumbled away.
Climbing the Virginia hills, I came across falling log house fixed on the mountainside, the grape arbors and barns filled with trash and porcupine droppings. The sun caught the place in a light that gave an air of worship. I fell into a state of peace and harmony with that piece of ground. I felt at home there and wanted this place with no roads or wires. I wanted to take the land and logs and form order here where I could sit on a porch I built with my own hands and could see for miles over the horizon.
I could be done,
finished for the day.
But I start again
because I know
that it could happen any time,
at any moment.
The next word could be
the very point in time
Where I begin my best poem ever.
I'm sure that I
haven't yet written it.
No thousand simians here.
I am a single monkey on a
Pounding out random strokes
The budget had to be cut
The sun beats down on my neck
the jungle canopy.
A tick crawls in quiet attack.
I breathe in
The quiet delight of my room.
Years ago a human being lived here in his own dream, pushing, heaving a truckload of logs and nails up the hill, sweating and dirty beneath his shirt, the heat and moisture wearing him down, the tree branches splattering across his eyes, blinding him with bark and filth. Biting bugs buzzed around his ears as if they were moldering pieces of shit and his feet slipped in the sand and mud. Up the mountain he heaved, Sisyphus and Atlas moving the rock and holding the world, and when he gets there with each load, he turns around for the next.
He gets there by climbing, but at the top he has to turn around with maybe five minutes to sit and gaze in some kind of aesthetic comprehension, some unspeakable wonder at what he sees from there. Only maybe he is too tired to contemplate, to worn to wonder, the thin air scorching his lungs and rarifying the blood in his eyes, moving things darkly against the sky like patches of dark and light in the woods below, all fading and coalescing. And he has to turn his back on this vision before his head has cleared enough to see.
It is not enough to worship; man must possess. He must assemble the boards and blocks and build a home in this place he has seen from below in his mind, this place which created a fullness in him and gave him purpose, this vision which may have crystallized as he was driving down on the road four winding miles below, which caused him to turn off, even kill the engine, and seriously contemplate becoming a part of. The pistons stop flying and a silence settles. He now lends his flesh and reality to the vision and changes its history.
But he also lends his mortality to the vision so that it will decay like him, so that thirty years later someone might stumble across this myth, might look about with sudden comprehension and desire to add his life to the other, to compound and perpetuate the work. But who am I so say I now own this land, that this tree should grow that that one now, to say that this piece of a temple should stand here and another there? But who am I to take a temple complete and tear it down to make one for myself?
I breathe in.
In this space are placed two tones.
These are followed by the dance.
My mind is wheeling,
fluttering in lazy rolls on dry
dragonfly wings out over the back deck,
glancing off the rusty iron bell there,
slashing through the mulberry tree,
cutting leaf shards into the air,
knocking berries into the tiny pond so far below.
I am climbing, climbing,
the breeze drying my eyes,
her fingers slipping through my hair,
cooling my face.
Empty air slips past my belly,
and the night skies
slip through my arms.
Shadows are sliding
over the moon.
The Whole Numbers are
a stand-up crowd.
Always dressed appropriately
in fashionable clothes, they
drive new SUVís,
have the neatest lawns in the suburb,
and the well-maintained homes.
They attend regular worship services
and have time to help
the less fortunate:
the fractions, decimals,
and the irrational numbers.
Their children are also inevitably
successfully attending the
and sliding easily into
comfortable positions in
whole numbered lives.
We donít resent them.
Truly, they move apart from us
in some rational universe
where the laws we
simply apply differently.
They are just natural-born whole.
I am walking my Border Collie puppy, Legend. We walk out of the woods into a clearing and into a storm. An alpha wind bears the trees down to the ground. A loud smack in front of us causes us both to jump back. A forty pound catfish has just landed on the dirt at our feet. It is still moving, tail waving farewell. I can see myself in its eyes; I see the sky, the floating trees. Deeper still, I see a river bank, shielded green, and I am sliding into a muddy darkness. I am sliding into happiness.
I seem to sleep a lot any more. I fall asleep everywhere, in the car at the dinner table, watching TV, or waiting in the doctorís office. I can fall asleep on the phone. I can be writing and I will wake up an hour later, my fingers still on the home row keys in mid sentence and with no idea of what I was about to say. I will wake up walking, with no memory of where I came from, or how I got there. There may be a leash in my hand attached to a dog. Or not.
The smiling dancing man
is a band all by himself,
slapping and thumping
his body, finding different tones
while his own grunts
and falsetto bleats race up and down
It is all very smooth
Like warm sun through the windshield
on a snowy day.
Flipping past no passing signs
down into the village
beyond a river
white walls stained with
dust and oil film.
The tracks run behind
and the smiling dancing man
spins on a rail on his heel
crowing like a rooster cracking the dawn,
swaying to his own music.
I have binocular vision. How wonderful! What I see out of my left eye is not the same as what I see out of my right eye. Why should I be conscious of this? Isn't it something that should be taken care of without my notice or interference? Indeed, the moment I become aware of binocular vision, what I see is different. What I experience is different. I shut my eyes so as to shut off the noise in my brain. Perhaps if I cannot see it it will not be so bad. Perhaps the fish smell will go away.
I feel a little embarrassed here. Is it because I am writing in public? Is there somewhere else I can go to write? Do I need some privacy to write? It is an interesting question. Actually I don't think I need that much privacy to write, so long as there is not someone physically looking over my shoulder. Or if they are not reading as they look. Perhaps they are not reading out loud and then commenting. The concurrent commentary would really be a buzz kill, particularly if the commentary were by someone who took what I was writing personally.
This written stuff is not so very durable. It used to be. Parchment lasts a long time. Ink jet printing is water soluble. Stuff stored in the cloud lasts until you stop paying for it. Then it disappears. Your crap disappears pretty much shortly after you do unless you are a widely published author. Even that is pressed in by changes in technology that are not backwards compatible. Any electronic document is pretty much unreadable after twenty years if it lasts that long because of ongoing changes in file types. And print media is becoming a thing of the past.
It is a problem when you have to start censoring what you write. In some ways it probably improves what I write. In other ways it is a soul killing thing. You have to suffer the imaginations of everyone you know. And then you have to be aware of those you do not know. Eventually anything you write will offend someone somewhere. You cannot exist without killing other forms of life. Still you do not run around murdering people. You learn to draw sensible lines. You likewise draw sensible lines between what you write and what you do not write.
There is an overarching sense of "perhaps this will be ok." This is despite the parts that are not ok. There are many of these. We rattle against one another. We do not have very many expectations in common. Of course what did you expect? I expected perfection. I always expect perfection and I go away when I do not get it. The ongoing sense of generalize anxiety, however, is going to take some work. I realize that most of it is my own doing, either directly or indirectly because I am unable to challenge some of the environmental assumptions.
You could write. You can always write, that is when you can write. That is what you think. You think many things that are not true. Otherwise, there are limits to what you can do. You can work on the novel or on 100 words. I think I am about a week behind on 100 words. You can work on the house. I really think that is about it. Oh yeah you can read. That is an idea too. It will all help to get you through the day. You can feel anxious about those things you are not doing.
Well I am out walking In the dew and rain and there are newspapers to the left main event; newspapers to the right. Containers for coupons for things I donít want. Theyíre wrapped in tight little colorful plastic bags so I can pick them up and put them in the recycle bin without really touching or being touched and somebody's off sailing the sun today in odd zig zag notions that tickle the inside of my brain. I don't know what it means but there is a little note with the newspaper, a note I do not read. Opportunity lost.
Well I am out walking
In the dew and rain and
there are newspapers to the
left main event;
newspapers to the right.
coupons for things I donít want.
Theyíre wrapped in
tight little colorful plastic bags
so I can pick them up and put
them in the recycle bin without really touching or being touched
and somebody's off
sailing the sun today in
odd zig zag notions that tickle
the inside of my brain.
I don't know what it means but there
is a little note
with the newspaper,
a note I do not read.
I read in Melville a story of men who carried the bleached bones of a whale inland, covered it with flowers, and there knelt beneath its physical mastery worshipping in a temple made from a once living thing. What is this feeling, this awe we feel for a mammal so large that only the oceans can hold him, this mythical monster thrashing in a bathtub, now slain like herd cattle, this thing so large and wondrous that a man viewing it for the first time can only kneel in worship? This monster is large enough to fit manís finest dreams.
There is a thing with man that will not let him alone, a thing that wants only to realize some dream of mythical proportions. Man is too puny for this dream. Life is too small. So man builds temples to contain his dream. He builds homes on the sides of mountains, creates great works of art, and amuses himself with god-like toys and murders monsters. The Great White Hunter bags another tiger and the Pharaoh builds his pyramids while everyone else sweats and suffers. But the Pharaoh is no longer human. He has become a god and shall have his temple.
I saw green while getting my teeth cleaned today. My eyes were closed. As the tooth fairy scraped at my teeth I could see bright flashes of green behind my eyes marking the position of each tooth. I told the tooth fairy but she did not seem to be interested. Every time I visit she gives me some new tooth lore. This time I was told not to use my electric toothbrush to clean my tongue. I would not be surprised if on some visit she told me that they had found my teeth would last longer without periodic cleaning.
There are living, singing gods. They breathe, sing, and have life as long as we believe in them. It is our belief, our repetition of their stories that keeps them alive. When the faith dies, when the memory dies, so do the gods. We have a new pan theology of Whitmanís, Melvilleís, and Tolstoyís dwelling in living temples on grassy hilltops like the old gods. The new gods party and they create. It seems they also murder and destroy. At least they threaten to. It is simply this: The gods we believe in will remain; the rest will be forgotten.
My father was a temple builder in his own way. He built his own home and worshipped there the kind of life which pleased him most. He built the house with concrete blocks and tested each lot with a five-pound sledge. Heíd first buy a block from a lot and then, standing over it, would bring the hammer down in a tall swinging arc. Those blocks which crumbled under the sledge were no good. On the right ones the sledge would bounce and the block would ring high and clear so that you could hear it long and far away.
I can only think that we must already have jumped light years and lifetimes away and already can envision the roof of a new temple, Soundings, cal already see a time when these singing men will have again become singing gods and these soundings will have grown into a full living temple with each block singing and ringing high and clear so that you can hear it long and far away. And yes, these are only men building, and yes these blocks are made from sand and cement, but gods and temples are really matters of faith and clear vision.
Now, I donít know from down on the beach where I sit with my pretty new writing tablet. The stones smocked with sand, overgrown with sun, overrun by waves dashing in against the bank. These stones rock, tumble, slowly dry and die against the grinding sand, or so I am told. I canít tell for sure. I watched one for awhile but it didnít seem to get any smaller. Maybe these stones are growing, moving and breathing in twilights of rhythms that are too ageless for us to understand. But again when I looked for this stone it was gone.
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