Linear

The mist stifles all sound, confines sight

Numbs time, suspends the linear

Encloses you in tentative comfort

While scaring you with limitations

 

You find yourself worried about the quiet

Near the shallow ripples of the lake

Where the hills slant their hardest towards the shore

And the moss smells of old summer

 

But time isn’t looking for you

Even though you’re looking for it.

 

 

Still Life (A Myth)

I will pick a blue flower.

#

The old one sits in a vase.  Navy blue, blackened, dry crumbs, as if pressed inside an old book. A little life clings to its edges, a lingering glow. Mother nibbles at these fresh parts, the fresh blue, mixes it with her saliva, spits it out through stained teeth. It lands upon the goddess. She has done this, countless times. We will eat again.

 I look at the goddess, the image of her. Her likeness, plaster and paint, a shadow of once she once was, if she ever was. I imagine the tips of her fingers not being broken as they are now, the days when she could feel things. Her face must have smiled then. Now, only her eyes touch you, follow you. She beckons you with frozen arms, covered in lifetimes of blue that run deep in dried drips, darker in spots, lighter at times.

There is more than blue.

Dry red patches run underneath the swashes of blue.  I’ve been told they’re before mother’s time. They appear at the hem of her dress, upon her breast, and below one of her eyes. Were there ones who offered red upon the statue? There must have been.

I ask mother. She’s kind when she answers questions, even questions that have no answers.  “Red runs, hides, carves up images, buries the leftovers. Never bury a goddess. It’s bad luck.” I believe mother. But I don’t understand. All I know is that I must pick a blue one.

The dance starts. This occurs after mother makes her offering, for the harvest. I know the steps, taught to me when I first learned to walk. The song is our melody. The dance emulates the village, its round shape, its huts, sticks, mud. That’s when he nudges me. I think he likes me. I’m not sure I like him.

He holds up a knife.  He tells me to take it with me when I go to pick the blue flower.  I tingle inside. It could mean anything. I don’t know why I take the knife from him.

#

The outer gates of the village are opened.  Outside the walls is a land of fibers, a yarn-like forest of white string, two feet in and I become invisible. There are trails, their endings unknown, fables surround them, cities of wonder at their ends. I ask the trails questions. Is it funny to talk to trails? They answer or I do.

They tell me about colors. It is that they wilt, turn to yarn, power hides in their shadows. Listening to this voice, I feel as if I’m buried in the forest. I can feel everything grow around me, how everything stretches to the sun, all life, love curls around my feet.  Images, images, images. All is images…

Except for the knife. It’s no image.

The knife is heavy. I press it to my chest to feel how it vibrates. A steel coldness. It’s sharp. I feel a prick of pain. I drop the knife. Then, I pick a flower.

#

When mother sees me, she holds my heart, not my real heart, its image. A new blue flower sits in the vase. Mother’s lips are stained indigo. We will eat again.

The dance starts. I see him move in steps he’s known since a child. He cuts the weeds around my feet with the knife. I look down at my feet and they’re covered in blue.

My fingers are dry, cracked. I hold my arms out—wide—to the sun.

 

 

 

Social Distancing

The warmth of the car

Its heater

The soothing voice of its radio

The insulation it promises

 

The thoughts we have

When losing the trail

In the middle of a snowstorm

 

(Image entitled Bones. Click on image to enlarge. More images can be found here.)

 

 

 

 

Destinations

Work

From rain and melted snow

To find a way to the creek.

To a stream, in a hurried dash to the ocean

 

And here I stand, with bits of waterfalls

trapped, inside buckets.

My shoes.

 

Soggy, wicking socks

Make close friends with droplets.

Now trapped inside my shoes

It becomes labor-intensive to attempt an escape

 

Instead, the would-be waterfall participant

Accepts a ride back home

In time for dinner, A movie and a glass of wine

Then it’s off to the washing machine, and the dryer.

 

 

 

There are many different ways to get to the ocean.

 

(Image entitled Terrestrial. More images can be found here.)

Cruel River

This river runs cruel…

This river runs cold.

I know she’s lost in this wilderness, where the lakes are silent, dampened by snow.

Here, she walks on the edge of everything.

 

This river will meet the sea, that’s where all lies cease, for the moon has a crease.

And on the riverbank, all the leaves have fallen low.

No telling what they’ve seen.

 

I feel her body, right below the river’s current.

I think I can catch her, bring her back up, if only to the darkest of sunshine.

All light’s in a freeze.

 

My fingers slide on her skin. She slips through my grasp.

I look downstream to see if I can catch a glimpse of her.

But all is numbed by a ceaseless rain.

She’s not coming back no more.

She won’t come back no more.

 

 

(click on image to enlarge)

 

 

Traveling Near the Dark

There’s a quietness about the river

broken by a random leap, splash of steelheads.

a prairie hawk loses a feather.

The natives drink a loud liquor

on their fishing platforms, dip nets

looking for fish who choose

to become parts of ceremonies.

 

The valley refracts strong light

that moves with the quiet.

Hills are made of dead gold,

skeleton orchards, lost spirit guides.

Bear scat litters small pastures

where the river overruns its banks,

forming shallow pools.

I’m cautious like a fool and listen.

 

The sun sets earlier here.

I knew that going in

I’m searching for rain or shadows

They only last for a short period.

My phone drops, small echo

Black screen on slick green moss

I yell for some reason

Maybe to prove I can make a sound

 

The sun throbs red…west…hovers

next to the peak of Mt. Hood.

Highway 14 yanks at me with its noise

where occasional deer lie still

on the shoulder of its pavement,

small trickle of blood in their teeth.

Dusk is as good as night here.

 

I run.

Wet Hands

If your hands come away wet

Then you know you drink

With passion

 

Click on image to enlarge. Lost Lake, Oregon.

 

 

 

 

 

Living With The Volcano

A wide emptiness sits over Spirt Lake from Harry’s Ridge to Harmony Lake Viewpoint. An emptiness of vast distance with stars or sun, clouds and wind…a series of personalities, always in the process of change, threatens to knock all thought out of you.

You search for the mountain. Some days it’s larger than any life you’ve ever known, yet appears accessible, as if you could simply stroll up its skin to the summit, say hello to the sublime. Other times it hides behind mist, playing hide and seek through clouds rolling over that same emptiness.

As you watch the emptiness, you notice a small herd of mule deer. They feed between the mountain’s ponds, little scoops in the earth, formed by the eruption, filled by endless springs, alive. The deer watch you with slow caution until you break into all thought and speak to them. With that sound, they move away from you, bringing that sky, the emptiness, back down to the ground. All thoughts are returned to you and the sky resumes its simple task of appearing, with regularity, over your head.

And it’s only when you get back home when you realize the reason you search for the emptiness. For you never knew you’d see the deer and you were aware that the mountain may be hard to see on some days. That same sky is inside you, full of stars or sun, clouds and wind…a series of personalities, always in the process of change. And it takes your own voice, one that you can clearly hear, to break into all thought, making that sky settle back down to earth.

 

 

Scapegoat’s Paradox

Holding it in, close, became a strength

An essence, a nugget, bloom’s heart

Shaped by chinks, cracks, and splits

Of a shell you wished was a softer hue.

 

Relinquished, expelled, produced a body

The lucid form of your careful ambiguity

From a cold clay, carved and baked

An Image of remedy, poison, and sacrifice.

 

 

 

Mild Streak

Rain stopped

Forced spring out for a day.

 

Winter is an ideal

With a harsh streak of delirium.

 

 

 

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