drive into the city listening to Dylan's Freewheelin' for the first time in too long still the same gold as ever after the reading I slow cruise up the block past the Denver Rescue Mission and the Catholic Charities and a Jesus Saves neon sign blares its wares I always have a good chuckle at this one but Corrina Corrina saves me instead just in the nick of time
what if life mattering is only a 50/50 chance
or less meaning half the time this is important and half the time
it isn't or
it only halfway matters all the time or
tonight I saw two cars driving with only one headlight
one after the other
50/50 light & dark
traveling without fear is how I imagined it
some sort of freedom
back into the cold night air and stars and stars and stars
nearly every night, the same image: my little black and white dog curled into a letter c in between my legs on top of the gold blanket. ears perked up. breath steady and deep. an occasional whimper, a heavier sigh. as long as I am still he is still. the real sleep of the night is predictable in a different way. these days it's all turmoil. tangled blankets, ringing ears, wild mind. wild. up and down. all of it. how to anchor myself down? smooth the sails? when?
today = a study in rejection
my body rejects medicine health healing
I reject the news for weeks now
another rejection of my poems in my inbox
my own face unrecognizable in the mirror
featureless and searching
reject happiness reject fame reject stamina
the mountains the sun reject me now too
an image persists some adaptable picture
the shape of my own body huddled underneath a pile of blankets. the perfect sphere of a seedless tangerine, network of white veins. discarded cups and mugs of lukewarm water at my feet. sick day. endless day.
not an image, just a sound: the neighbors howl and stomp and slosh their cups and cackle; the dog barks and barks and barks; I'm sandwiched in between.
why do dogs ache for the scent of something dead on their fur?
how shall you name these dried out plants? dusty beetle, elongated tail, crumpled mum, ember, barren arm, flat turf?
how is this to-do list from a year ago different from today's?
why do you concern yourself with it over and over and over?
how big the breath? how awake are you now on this walk, or ever?
morning. a ribbon of pink sky. fleeting fleeting. a row of birds on the street lamp. a ribbon of highway. cawing like jokes. like did you hear the one about? that one.
Today something beautiful today. Something joyful today. today joy. today beauty. I spend a lot of time around booze even though I don't drink anymore. Is that the beauty/joy? Or is that pride. Or is it laziness. Or is it this life. Joy/beauty of process. I say process so much lately and I wonder if I gave this word an image what would it be. Today. Peaks of citrus fruit in plastic quart containers. Glistening a bit yes the fresh ones glisten. I use a long serrated knife to halve these green and yellow bodies then quarter them then a little nudge with the knife across their bellies so they can kiss the lip of a glass and stay. I stay in this process. It's the shine of the fruit that's beautiful though. And joyful. My hand pushing the knife and keeping the ends of the fruit in little piles to discard after. Making something neat and clean and glistening and joyful and beautiful today.
Behind two fogged mirrors these apocryphal images: teeth falling out of their sockets, joints frozen or sticky as molasses, silvery hairs sprouting like hay. Old people stuff. In between mirrors a yellow yellowing Post-it note carried from one house to another: I am enough. Fat black marker, all caps. I am enough.
Moved so fast today I see a blur of faces in my mind's eye and nothing to remember. I am all feeling and no picture. A staircase I climbed up and down so many rounds. Slow and plodding. Abstract carpeting underneath my clogs. The creak of a 100 year old building gentle and certain. Aging. Above the mezzanine on this round: lights bright as though they were turned up for closing time, but it's not closing time. The sheen of a leaf in the bouquet seems plastic, too bright. All of it, blinding.
clouds lately as stubborn as my sadness this unrelenting __________
I want to see stars tonight and I can't tell you why I'm sad but
there are none instead in this field where the dogs roam blind
i crunch across snow remnants which provides the only light no
you are off in the distance with your cell phone beam watching for shit
these patches of snow shift and stick like foam the foam of the ocean
suddenly everywhere you still distant I spin and spin on this freezing foam
dizziness a little like drunkenness and I'm in the waves I'm the foam here see
Today I try, again, to teach my students how to show instead of tell. How to make a mood with words. It's hard for everybody, I say. But this is what we're here to try to do. I have no idea what we are really here to do, but I say this to them. I go looking for images because I don't know how else to remind myself about writing and being awake and mattering. Crumpled cars litter the highway this morning. Drivers stumble around outside of their cars and they aren't supposed to be there. I think about how the snow isn't supposed to slow things down here but it does. Watch how slow we move past the wreckage pretending not to look. Everyone looks. I could show you my mood but I don't know how to name it. I want to pretend it doesn't exist. The dogs and I walk the path between the soccer field and the cemetery. A fine layer of snow covers both expanses and there's the sun dropping behind the mountains after only half a day of coming out. Geese hover over the field. A lone bird veers off or is it a drone? A woman stuffs little pieces of tissue into her nostrils and they turn red immediately. She sits on the Calvary Baptist Church's stone sign and I ask if she's alright but we don't really slow down either. A man loads discarded metal and machinery onto his teal Chevy pickup. The nosebleed woman was white and the truck man was brown. Why do white writers avoid such naming? It's hard for everybody, I decide. Which is not good enough but also true.
Icicles hang like fangs. Teeth. Slippery daggers. Arrows. Temporary weaponry. Transparent truths. Beside them limbs sag from snow's load. All of this quiet. All of this gone tomorrow?
On the sixth day, there are six black birds in a jagged line across the sky so full of clouds the mountains disappear and blue seems impossible.
It is true that I go looking for notable things. Perhaps more this month than usual. Oh don't we overuse that phrase these days, "now more than ever"? We need this now more than ever, we should do that now more than ever. But me, I do it too, now more than ever. It's true that looking is a little bit of a balm. It's true that getting outside (and outside and outside) is a little bit of a balm. Not looking is also a a balm. But the news finds us now more than ever. I can't say why things that happened today happened. Here is something: Kenneth Rexroth's poem laid out on two pages. The black print fine, the white space expansive. Fat borders of white space. One title in bold black. I read the poem aloud to myself and stare at the white space. The gloss of the page. His repeated phrases. I wonder if it was for Veterans, this poem. Or maybe just his friend. There is a dedication, a man's name. I can't remember which. But I wonder if it wasn't for all of us, now more than ever.
Today the wind. Last day of daylight saving time, whatever the hell that means. I read and get more confused about it. The wind wagging strings of unlit light bulbs in the sun, against the awnings. The bar door open like a barn, dead leaves skittering across the wooden floor, leaves gathering in corners near trash cans and underneath tables. The wind whips a customer's hair about her face; she presses it back to sip her drink. To shift toward her drinking partner. I move all day without stopping because then what? I've had ringing in my head and ears for weeks, but today, now, what I hear is wind.
Light at night. Late at night. Streamers of red and white on the drive home. Who can see all this light without the word power. From my lips, power. Inhale light, exhale power. No. Inhale power, exhale light. White light from all these cars, hungry for power, for gas, for distance, for home. At stoplights I rub my eyes and blink back little blindspots from all this light. Red green power. Tree trunks wrapped in white sheaths of light. Spheres of all sizes hang from trees, spheres full of light. trees like power sources all night. What celebration is this? Last light I see tonight: Whitest moonlight in a black sky.
We move through clouds. I ask over and over are those clouds or is it smoke? Sometimes out loud. Mostly silent. Factory in between farms billowing smoke. We say we hope it's steam. Only heat and air and water. Nothing bad. I expect the worst too often. We drive up and through more slabs of heavy white air. Toward white peaks of mountain. I say I need to see something huge today, something glorious, so we drive west. On the road to the park where the mountains glimmer and stand ready to take anything, who cares how bad, the clouds burn off. We leave them behind. A herd of elk cross the very road we drive and I gasp at them, I say stop the car, here is the thing I've been waiting for. As if they are for me. This velvet and antler and limb. This gaze through us, into another place. I picture my hand on a body. As if I could get that close.