Light And Time

I wear exhaustion like yesterday’s shirt; passing minutes smart like a cut beneath the fingernail, while a ribbon of concrete unfurls along the ground in the Winter noonlight I am driving, my knuckles drag along the ground at 80 miles an hour…

I have visited this certain California time so many times that it might as well be a place—Sundays, Saturdays, even sometimes Wednesdays, not every day; it sneaks up on time, jumps into rotation and then bleaches the day in its light…

As I reach a summit—heading West, deep from East—and as the freeway tumbles out before me the valley yawns oceanward, and I feel the bladed glint of sun on ocean shimmer and light itself stings beneath my eyelids just like my fingernail…

Weight

And being is heavy, thick like a plank or log underwater; sunken ships on the ocean deep.

And we are all every one of us always again underwater hidden and perfect in the perfect stillness, and the separateness between us feels more substantial than just air.

The chill in the bones during true solitude confirms the current of everything that passes in front of us; deep water flows, now and now and now again.

And why should they haunt us, those apparitions lost to time and chance;
the characters float away from our personal margins, unreal—except as an echo of motion within the water,
and in the end, we do not end with our own end, nor with an end comprehensible in time.

Because, to the degree that we are each blessed, if still mortal, we can only know the end to our story, while
the full tapestry remains submerged to time, mysterious to all but those too dead to know, and mystery—like the weight of the ocean—is heavy, thick…

Momentum

It’s easy to lose the momentum of the day if you stop to think about it; the space between going to the bank and waiting for your dealer, for example, can leave a yawning open time without some music to listen to, some TV to watch.

It’s easier to lose the momentum of your person if you stop to think too much; everyone knows that you look at other people more often than a mirror, and a mirror can make you doubt so much about yourself without some hair to comb, some shirt to straighten.

It’s easier still, to lose the momentum of purpose, if you stop to think at all about why you’re doing things, in the grand scheme of things, because everyone who graduated junior college knows about existentialism, about Jesus forsaken on the cross, about market research sneaking into your most intimate beliefs.

It requires the deepest concentration, you see, to get the speed and direction, the bolt into the grey-white skies, the rush of wind as you finally take flight and as you climb atop your climbing.

And when you finally summit the sky, when you equalize yourself between the ground and the evening stars, somewhere in the back of your throat or in the tingle of your body like just before a fever, you feel free…

A Space Cadet’s Coloring Book

I sat among the stars at night, as a child; I soaked up from the air that impression of a manifest destiny: our every day reshaped, reborn a million times over among a billion potential suns swimming in the blackness.

Fevered, I searched my imagination for access—a way—and found, of course, television: each Saturday morning I enlisted, munching fruit loop rations. Through those animated frames shimmered a clue, a thought, a vision of a deeper world realized.

And sometimes all alone I admit to myself that I sometimes still behold the night sky and—like a child—allow wonder and terror to fill me with the possibilities of all creation:

These poems I write like thick wax lines drawn in a space cadet’s coloring book.

Second World

After the roadside flow dwindles to a trickle of midnight travelers, after all the gates close up leaving only late night gas stations, after the evening wind darkens and cools the night’s tentative beads of sweat, the wordless stories ripen in alleyways, bedrooms, and living rooms a double meaning that underlines all our daylight actions.

Begins the discourse between night and street, between solitude and clarity. Thought travels at a different speed at night, behaves like an animal more familiar, but untamed. Desire condenses to the spaces in between the quiet hum of thoughts repeating through the vast silence.

Yes, there is no real truth here, except
—perhaps—in the glow of the traffic lights, or the murmur of a television as you finally manage sleep.

Everything I Should Have Said To Him

“I love you”—of course I said that to him, many times; we were married, after all. But when he felt so trapped—in his mid-40s, in his systems engineering job, in the mortgage, and as the adopted son of an infertile husband-and-wife pair of doctors—when he felt so wounded-animal trapped that excising his love of eighteen years somehow finally seemed like how the could at least breathe again, I forgot to remind him of how he fell in love with how I’m both more cynical and more sincere than him (and it isn’t even a contradiction for me). I should have told him plain that I would always still be in love with him, told him back then just before he made me move out; I should have made clear that however he had changed how he felt about how he felt, I would be pained and in love still, now and ever since that first day February, 2001—that Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and trolley-ride downtown first date. I should have reminded him that no matter what, I’d be in love with him my whole life, regardless.

Writing Everyday

OK OK—

You know, the sap

in trees is content

to wait the Winter, but

“Practice every day,” you say;

OK OK—

(But yesterday I slept all day

so it doesn’t count).

So is poetry like going to the gym:

a chore-like ping of time passing?

I’d like to think it’s more a video game—

you need not play every day,

but when you do, get obsessed:

forget to take your mental shower;

stuff your soul on Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew

until you pursue your corporeal

non-thought to the end of its maze…

…and writing the poem’s end is the boss level—

don’t forget to save your ammo…

The Moment And The Speed

So I fell asleep with Sgt. Pepper playing

and it drifted through every song until

it reached its heart-attack crescendo:

that ending that strains, mounts, swells

against itself; it lurches,

slouches upward, rises and rises

upon its rising until it finally—

resolves.

That note, and its moment,

remind me of your name

unspoken, on the edge of my lips,

here in this haze of half-waking.

And the beginning of your name begins

the path of pure yellow light

skipping across autumn-brown bushes,

the rising green-smelling Spring grass,

or the thorny range of Winter branches…

Fields of time, slow like a rolling wave

across the brown-blue spread of ocean,

and I am the waves that crest in the air,

there’s no moon, and I am pulled

by you and you alone, with your force;

and then you pulse like a radio transmission

that sputters out into space…

My body, my breath feels warmer than before

as I have taken in your air-less heat

like a creek rock in the Summer sun.

And you are a glowing lens to the

force of desire, that crescendo:

your lips on my neck travel

faster than my thoughts,

faster than my apprehension—

superluminal.