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Out The Window #14
The sun is bright this morning, laying dark gray diagonal stripes across the frozen deck. Itís below zero Fahrenheit, and everything is huddled against the cold, cracking in complaint under my frozen weight when I walk out there. A quiet morning, I have slept in late, finally catching up some on my sleep.
I hung the suet feeder out on the rail at last. A Christmas present from my daughter to replace the bird feeder that became such a disaster after the squirrels discovered it, covering the neighborís porch twenty pounds of seed and squirrel shit.
Out The Window #15
Motionless sun and white breathe against the window and I find my motions in here this morning are minimal too. It is as if the blood doesnít want to move; as if my eyes donít want to open; and the world moves in slow motion, if at all. But it does move, those slow strokes of time sizzling as they set feet into the snow, one after the other.
The suet sways slowly in the wind, and the trees are dancing, as determined clumps of oak leaves hang on past the fall like ragged brown bells.
Out The Window #16
The sun glint this morning turned little swirling specks of snow to silver dust, dancing just off the edge of the balcony rail. A mirror ball with tiny reflective surfaces held by no visible wire and turned by no visible motor.
I havenít been writing long this morning, and my eyes are already giving out. I donít know whether it is the lack of sleep, the weather, the allergies, or the usual. They tell me Iíll be blind in 20 years. They told me that when I was 17 too, and so far theyíve been wrong.
Out The Window #17
The birds havenít found the suet feeder yet. Iíve mixed feelings about that. I worry about the squirrel wars that may ensue. As long as no one finds it, I donít have to worry about those things, and I am still using the gift my daughter gave me for Christmas. Win win,
Of course there are those tiny winged bodies out there with their hearts that beat so fast who need this fuel to get through the below-zero weather we have been having. Maybe not this particular fuel, but they do need some kind of fuel.
Out The Window #18
The blinds are closed this morning, concave side in. Sometimes the convex side faces me, and I donít know which is the proper way to orient these blinds. Perhaps, the curve in the slats is there to increase structural strength, and there was no thought to orientation, concave or convex. They certainly are very large blinds, and the extra strength is appropriate. At the house, I had similar blinds, but they had a chain at the bottom, and a fabric coating to give them more insulation. I might have figured the apartment version would be cheaper.
Out The Window #19
With the blinds open early before the sun comes up, my reflection floats on air, three floors up and past the balcony rail. I can see the circular rug on the floor laid out across the balcony. Most of it is beyond the balcony, seen clearly through the upright rails. I can clearly see my arm move beneath my reading lamp as I bring the coffee to my lips. And, I see the flutter of the red candle out on the deck. The candle always burns out there. Some ask why. Some I actually tell why.
Out The Window #20
At this time of the morning, the sun paints the window dirty, and as often as I have cleaned these windows, there is some haze, prints, and pits that are always left behind. So I clean at it when I do. Itís a bright morning. The snow has begun to noticeably evaporate, which means we have had neither new snow nor warm enough temperatures to melt it for several days. My friend Fred used to be fascinated by this process of culmination. Trained as a physician, Fred never lost his sense of wonder for the world.
Out The Window #21
The Christmas lights left on the deck from this past December glitter in the sun. They look like they have been turned on. Itís a change from when they glowed at night and not in the day. I had left them burning 24x7 during December, but they had been unplugged. I hadnít unplugged them, so it was a mystery. Had Junior come by and used the cord to grill a steak on the snowy deck? Had the cord decided its job was done and just crept back into the furnace room on its own for warmth?
a faded yellow highway sign
In the middle of the woods.
Wearing muddy make-up
a torn bumper sticker, bullet holes, and rust.
She stands high on a cold and windy hill
On a desolate, muddy
As I climb the hill, our vision touches
Then I break away
She is crying, and I look away.
What is that?
Staked on a limp and broken stem,
She is naked,
I turn away.
Wanting to touch her,
But She had taken out her eyes,
Hands to her face,
Ashamed to see.
No Parking is lonely.
It wishes for
No parking wishes for a parking lot,
For a racous fraternity party,
For a motorcycle rally,
Or at least
A resting bicycle
As the wind blows
Trying to bend the
Or at least to
Into an ďSĒ
But all it gets
At any time.
IF it could just erase
No feels like a boil on its face
And no matter how it contorts
No Parking canít scratch it
Canít move it
It is the everlasting
I am a hundred words, and I donít know quite what to make of myself. I have so little time, so little space to become something more. I want. I want to dare to be great, but even now I see my life almost one-third over. One must be careful.
How can this be fair? To be given a life that ends callously at such an arbitrary point seemsÖ
Or is that my point? To go so far? To ignore the end and dare to shout that this is what I am? Is that enough? To be a hundred words?
A hundred words? What if I donít want to be a hundred words? Who says I have to be a hundred words? Itís not fair. I did not ask to be a hundred words. I didnít ask to be at all, but had I been consulted, I might have chosen to be a thousand, or ten thousand!
A hundred? Come on. Why not seventy-five? Why not two? Or maybe I want to be a cat or a piece of dirt. Maybe I donít want to be a word at all, or five, or two, or for godís sake, a hundred.
I can hear the blade of a snowplow scraping the street somewhere across the town, maybe the neighborhood. Itís a high-pitched sound, not muffled by hundreds of pounds of snow. Heís scraping more road than snow this morning. Clean up.
I could have had a job plowing snow this winter. I took this job instead. The writing job. I dumped my 6-figure job, my quarter-million-dollar home, my marriage, and took a job as a writer; working, living, and writing by myself. The reasons for doing this weigh far more than I ever have. I should have done it decades ago.
He was a plastic Mountain-Dew bottle,
Proud in his pristine label,
Filled with fizz and a future.
Now, he is uncertainty,
Eyes rolling backward, straining
To see around the tire.
The day was so beautiful.
The joyous camaraderie with the three
Young happy people,
LipsÖthe thwack and burps,
Laughter and sun.
Then the label ripping.
The bounce on the pavement.
Twisting the lid
And shoving him,
Wedging him beneath
The back tire of a 2005 Impala Ultra.
Cruel this time.
Has dropped her head
Her long smooth neck bent
Across the hard vase rim.
She can feel the pressure
against her throat.
at each breath.
She is looking down now
Away from the others,
Down into a nearby plant,
A leafy young schefflera.
Her sisters, adorned
Still shouting vanity at an off-white ceiling
The houseplant watches her
Considering the distance
And slowly Dips,
A single leaf curls beneath, lifting
Against this incredible weight
Whispering gentle words of encouragement
But he cannot move her
Ease her breathing
He can only touch and caress.
Writing poems of personification is a weird experience. I write a simple story. What gets read is a thing that I could not have done intentionally. I am amazed at what I have written, at what I have revealed about myself, about my life, about the life around me. How did I do that? I look at my fingers. Fingers, what were you up to? I didn't write this. Some hidden part of my brain worked its figurative imaginative little ass off sneaking messages in on the sly. And then it ran off, leaving me to try to explain how.
One hundred words, you be a greedy thing. You want to grind something new out of me daily. You donít care about what I did yesterday. Iím only as good as what I do today. And while itís easy to toss you a bone, lately Iíve been reluctant to toss out bones without meat on them.
Iím not sure whom I feel the urge to feed here. I doubt many people are hot in the in the morning to grab my latest 100 words with their coffee. I seem to be feeding me, and lately I seem to be hungry.
The sun is bright this morning, and I face the east. The day is easily brighter than I, more awake than I, and has me wondering at the wisdom of trying to write out of this slow-moving foggy mind.
I live in the dark muddy bottoms, brain barely moving in cold water. Sparks fizzle off into the water occasionally, circuits shorting from the damp, and thoughts move more independently than they should, crossing synapses that are not logical, taking long deep dives down into the silt below, where they sit happily, pretending they are actually on a beach sunning themselves.
We took a walk yesterday. We were sleepy from winter and overdue to get outside for some exercise, and the sun was coaxing. We didnít know about the piles of slush that would be seeping into the ankles of our shoes. We walked in the streets when the sidewalks were still too snowed, too iced, too treacherous, because we hadnít really dressed for this kind of walk. Perhaps the sun had lulled us into thinking we would find something different. There was no footnote telling us that without boots, we would be taking the long way around to get home.
I start by throwing a Johnny Griffin CD on my player. Someone has left the volume up too loud, way too loud and discovering it too late I have Jimmy blowing in my face at such a pace that I pour coffee down the front of one of my favorite t-shirts. Johnny is blowing so hard, I can barely type in time. This would be a good choice for someone with at deadline. You could compare Johnny on this CD to Dizzy. Johnny plays ďThe Way you Look TonightĒ and makes it sound more like ďThe Way You Cook Tonight.Ē
My sonís girlfriend calls. I ask her to call him on his cell, and she agrees.
I type a sentence, and the phone rings again. It is the girlfriend again, unable to raise Michael on his cell. Putting down the laptop, I go down to the Shag Pad to tell Junior he has a call on the landline. Panicked, he says he doesnít have a phone.
Thatís the trouble with cordless phones. They migrate and inevitably you have no phone. Iíve been considering tying some of them down with 3-foot cords so I can find one when I need it.
I remember when my daughter Amanda had her wisdom teeth out. They were in a little brown paper envelope on the coffee table in the family room. We showed some mixed emotion when they asked whether we wanted them, so they sent them home with us to be safe. Amanda had said no, but I reminded her of those little plastic treasure chests her mother always kept baby teeth in. Amanda said that was gross. I was thinking that by then her mother had a half-dozen of those boxes, but was unable to figure out whose teeth belonged to whom.
I am a poet. Anyone can be a poet. You donít have to write poetry. You donít even have to read poetry. I do, but I do everything the hard way. Itís how I was raised.
You donít have to do it the hard way. Just sit, stand, or, best of all, kneel, and announce, ďI am a poet.Ē Spreading your arms is good form. No one else needs to be present. Your muse is all you need. This confers upon you all the honors and privileges of the poet. It helps, of course, if you have a black beret.
I donít have one myself, but my son has a beret. He is also a poet. He begrudgingly admits my poetry is ďnice.Ē He then explains that the beret is a kit when you buy it and that making the beret is an art form itself, a highly stylized one. You must shrink it, shaping it to your head. How many poets can say that about their work? It took him three days to make his beret. How many poets canÖwell, how many? He had much more training than the average poet, you see. He was in the National Guard.
I am listening to the water trickling in the bath across the hall. Every faucet in the house is turned on and a water hose is draining down the driveway. I have chlorinated the well, defeating the bacteria that make the water smell odd, driving it away for another year. Itís one of the things I do here in my capacity as writer in residence. As I hear my daughterís car start I wonder if she is going to drive over the hose, smashing the copper fitting on the end. It doesnít matter, because I am good at replacing them.
In the past, when I wrote unthinkable things, I disguised them. I would leave the unthinkable, hiding it behind layers of metaphor so deep that only I could unlock it. Itís a hard way to live. Itís an impossible way to write. Marriage is hard on a writer that way. In the past I had thought that I needed another partner to make it possible. Then I thought that if I really wrote what was trying to come out of my fingers, it would destroy any relationship. Now, I try to write what I have to. The metaphors were easier.
I have surrounded myself with an eerie silence all day. Something was tired, and I have put myself to sleep to rest it. It is as if the world has seized, and everything in it has stopped moving. I know it hasnít, however, because I can feel evening approaching. I can feel the sun going down. I canít see it because of the heavy overcast cloud cover, but I can feel it. It is going to be night soon. I want it to be night. Something in me is waiting for night, is waiting pushing the day back for it.
I remember the woods. My father raised me in the woods, teaching me to touch trees, to listen to their songs. Even now, they wait for me outside the door wall, and I can read their expressions. I can close my eyes and enter their dreams.
It is the fall when the trees are going to sleep, entering their long dream state, when you walk ankle deep through dry leaves looking for nuts, berries, and mushrooms, when you pause, closing your eyes, letting the wind slip through you, and listen for the sleepy trees to tell you where to look.
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