It’s true, if you look far enough ahead, you will find certain things end or change. But the arbitrary nature of what you may consider to be a good or bad event is being ignored. Since an arbitrary standard can only exist as long as a person holds it, it is both nothing and everything in the breath of history. A mosquito that is crushed after a satisfying bite has lived a fulfilling life. Humans are genetically unique, so artificial standards of perfection or “good” are also illusory. If we are trying to be completely honest, it’s important to acknowledge that anything we believe involves a large amount of faith that our understanding of our lives and world are correct. But most things we learn are outside of our direct experience. So there is little we actually can base directly on our direct understanding beyond personal experience. That is not the only relevant factor in living in this world, but we deny our personal experience at our folly. In other words, worrying about events we cannot effect is sort of like assuming the stars effect our fate. That should include things that happen in the distant future. We can change our own course, but the amount of possiblities, “good” or “bad” along with “arbitrary” is completely beyond human understanding or control. Too many factors to consider. Since to some extent our personal experience is limited, we must start from where we are, not where we would wish to be. That’s reality. Being disappointed that reality does not match our personal fantasy of how humans and the world should be is a self-inflicted wound. It is also what most of us do. Humans generally improve to some extent over time, and so has humanity. No one said it will last forever.
Of late, I have become acutely aware of what I have produced over the past few months. I’ve worked on my life steadily, laying a path that will make my options and skills grow and develop. I haven’t knocked out a lot of product, and that concerns me a bit. I’ve got a short list of projects that is growing into a long list. Not exactly the growth and development I had in mind, but vital. Periods of being alone is good for producing new work, although I can’t pretend the recent unwelcome duress was particularly fruitful. I did get some valuable work done, but I’ve started more projects than I’ve finished. I’ve also regained some balance and structure in the midst of the tumult. I don’t regret the way I’ve spent my time. Once again, I went through a period when my plans and dreams were yanked from me, and I had to reboot. While that went on, I was reminded what was most important to me, and how much can’t be taken away. Like Popeye, I am what I am, no matter the situation or what others may think. My skills and abilities are earned, and I am capable of even more that I have done in the past. My wife and kids are the ones I love, and they love me. When I have presented others with my person and my skills, I am validated. When I examine the breadth and depth of my efforts, I am proud and confident. When I consider the future, I hope I will be able to continue caring for my wife and kids, teaching, and creating the work that is mine alone, good or bad. I am ready to move forward.
So what were my plans? What is on that list?
First, I would like to become more skilled at my job, teaching English. I want to master grammar and learn how to teach it with full understanding. I want to make my students better writers and readers
Second, I want to finish writing my poetry collection. That means I need more poems. That generally does mean more alone time, since I write the best and the most when I am alone. It also means a short essay about the work, photos, and editing it all together.
More poetry published online.
Videos to finish: Alice Train Scene, Down the Hill, Pueblo Short Doc.
Videos to start: More Electric Gauchos videos, PICO movement score
When standing outside the windows
Being that dark coated stranger in the shadows, expect
The rain, expect
The enchanting mélange of alcohol, flop-sweat, perfume and dumpster, expect
A Balinese puppet show of
Manners and melodrama, expect
Corners and edges, bookmarks of familiarity, expect
Shards of scintillating conversation, expect
Lies and insincere promises, or not, expect
Political dilettantes sparring, missing, expect
Those shadows unaware you want them to turn toward you, they won’t, expect
Some will, but none you know, expect
You are outside for reasons:
- You know the main ones
- A few more that don’t matter
- Others you will never know
The sadness is temporary and the loneliness is permanent, expect
The rains are temporary and the tattoos are permanent.
It’s time to come in uninvited and drink something you didn’t expect (and are not so sure about),
Ignore that you are dressed wrong and you don’t know so many people
Ignore the ones who stare like you have stolen their children,
ignore the laughing giant, the posing doll,
the lost drunk, the angry cynic,
the cheerful mute, the sad flirt.
You wrote their scripts and discarded the wasted time
The rhetorical small talk, unintelligible.
Snails leave trails
Shiny slimy paths lain across rocks
Spending their damp like they were swimming in it.
I am looking for my path, but it’s more like a chemtrail on a windy day
Fading into the clouds, larger than my steps, evaporating into loss.
Tomorrow’s agenda is like an arthritic hand reaching into a goldfish bowl
Of fortunes without cookies:
Pulling out the lucky winner, written in Chinese.
Each day collapses into hundreds of new faces and voices, but
I am always the stranger,
Always moving forward into the unfamiliar and pretending
It is familiar.
The pretender, asking for respect and pretending we
Are all the same, we can all understand what this is like,
Crossing the land like S cars go
No snail could imagine
How quickly we run away from every minute every place every person every past
Dragging our things with us.
The yesterday I see looks like millions of trails,
Crossing, tangling, crashing, ending.
My sundry odds and ends that made sense once,
Had value and attachment, were vibrant and important
Faded newspaper yellow and began the tattering disintegration in boxes that dismiss them with a word.
As soon as I stop, I gather all that I was running from around myself
Form it into a shape the strangers can pretend to understand
With easy to find handles and a zipper in the back, covering
All of my strangeness
The best part is when someone locks my eyes and really sees
The raw material and ignores
Not everyone can do ballet.
Stepping in mid-stream, the current of the cloudy waters caress
bare toes on rounded rock.
He sets the stones in place and waits.
Bulls assault the creek
splashing and cracking the rocks like eggs
and blaming it on the man,
You can’t diminish love. There is more or less, deeper or lighter, but it all fluctuates, is immeasurable, changes nature, loses context, is sublimated, eclipsed, deepened, cheapened, forgotten, tainted, romanticized, normalized, made weird, and made legend. I love the first potato chip, I love my Dad. Too subjective to be measured, too ubiquitous to be judged, too mercurial to be taken for granted.
Like water running away
From your mountains, from your lush little groves
I’m hanging out in my t shirt, shaking my spray can
Your hidden brother.
If you want to hurt your hand, try punching my arm
Try punching my chest, try punching my face
You want to hurt your hand.
‘Cause while you were talking to our sister up in Denver
I’ve been down here working
No one bothers me down here.
We are all family down here, and we work.
We lay rails, we roast chilies, we make brick.
We wash our faces in the Arkansas and get strong.
We paint our dreams and nightmares and get strong.
We fight and drink and eat and love and get strong.
We write the stories and play the music and mold the bronze and brush the canvas and get strong.
We almost forgot you were up there, brother.
See, you can’t look down on your brother Pueblo because
We don’t see you.
Those mountains are the back fence.
That’s the place we threw our rocks and trees
They were getting in the way
Of our work
That levee is our canvas
That’s where we put the dreams that were too big for anyplace else.
Who else could dream like Pueblo?
We clear the deck and lay out the material
We look around for the plans
We start building.
Those stacks are still here, so let’s smoke.
‘Cause where there’s smoke, there’s fire and we are burning
So where’s the ash? Look for our dusty winds
Where’s the spark? Look in the eyes of a Bojohn,
Where’s the blue flame? Look in the halls of Central High
Where’s the red flame? Look in the rooms of Centennial High
Where is the tongue of yellow flame, or the blackened charcoal? East and South high schools are there.
We are forging something new, brother.
If you think your streets get hot, don’t walk on ours.
We are forging something strong, brother.
If you think we are waiting for you
You are wrong, brother.
We know you won’t wait for us
So we go ahead.
Maybe you can catch up later.
We are forging something real, brother
Because our Mineral Palace is gone
But the gems are buried underneath the ground
Because we didn’t leave Union, but the union
Because when everything gets taken away and life gives you a hard kick,
All you have is you.
So you limp your way up the mesa
Park your butt on the hill and look at what our Pueblo was
All day, looking out on that vista, day to night.
A song of blue and rosy clouds painting the sky
At sunset; making everyone believe
Then when the dimness seeps into
The edges and corners, then when the darkness begins to flood the distant places
Until we are submerged in night and the lights of the people are
The same as the stars in the blackness that in our night
The horizon is erased by smudging the lines with our thumbs.
And we sing and cry and laugh and climb into our beds,
We dance to the guitars and shake our bells and feathers
We feel and are hurt again.
In the morning, we are still sore.
Our ribs were cracked and our breathing ragged
Our tongues felt around for missing teeth.
What we lost we must have swallowed.
(Those precious stones are buried.)
Nobody came running to pick us up, and you seemed pretty busy, so
We had to make our way.
We had to hunker down and gather up
We had to get our steel and find some flint
To get the friction started
Within our own hands.
Keeping some water nearby because things can catch on pretty quick
At times you don’t expect.
You don’t walk down our streets without
A look in the eye; and if you are lucky, a strong handshake
Trust is easier than you think, brother,
If you come down the hill
Majesty will fall,
but they more quickly than us all?
Is it time for the sublime to crumble, or will we fumble the reins?
History marks the stains of past rules.
Well, our heads cannot swell from the sudden weight of the yoke
for a duplicate of the past is but a joke
of great stature and will be ignored.
For, as history students all, we should not be bored with that which we create…
Perhaps we should wait…