Something Poetic

He spent the morning watching time seasoned men fell trees. He admired how accurately they aimed the tall and heavy towers, bringing them down exactly where they wanted, sparing the homes from the looming menace and allowing sunshine to once again douse hardwood floors, rugs, and happy inhabitants. The way the ground trembled upon impact was thrilling.

Now, back home, his empty stomach laments over missed breakfast and demands meat. He fixes tuna fish, regretting having earlier sentenced his last celery stick to the compost bucket. He briefly considers going to the garden to obtain fresh celery, but is much too hungry for extravagances. Instead, he walks the plate of sandwich and potato chips to the front porch, rests in the old rocking chair, and resumes reading his novel. By the time the chapter is finished, he’s collecting potato chip crumbs on wet fingers, but since the wealthy old woman has been seducing her young house-guest behind the back of her sickly husband, he can’t help but read another chapter.

With lunchtime consummated, he vaguely wonders what to do next. His options are simple and revolve around wood: he could put the excess cedar siding undercover, he could finish making curtain rods from doug fir poles, or he could split some wood for tonight’s fire. Instead he gets up and sweeps the tan and ocher oak leaves from the porch. “What’s the rush?” he asks. It feels like the seasons, and time itself, are slowing down — dropping like leaves and thermometer mercury. He loves this porch nearly much as anything.

He sits back down and stares into the distance, not thinking as much as watching. Little flies dance like dust motes in the afternoon sun, stark against the forest green backdrop. He knows the rain is coming, and this could be the last sunshine for a while, but he’s okay. He feels okay all over, even under his skin, and he wonders why he hasn’t always felt this way. Is it a secret he’s discovered? If it is, it’s not the sort he could tell you in words and sentences. Heck, whatever it is, he doesn’t even know if it’ll be here tomorrow. Doesn’t know if it will persist past the setting of the sun.

He gets up to split some firewood, one of his favorite activities these days.

Seducing the Muses

seducing_the_muses

Seducing the Muses

you ignore my demands
taking orders from no one
like a scent on the breeze
I chase you though forests
finding only undergarments
strung upon Madrone branches
or peppering empty fields

from first steps to high school hallways

army barracks to hospital rooms
I’ve escaped cubicles
for you

don’t tell me those evening highways
trashed out city streets
meant nothing
beat-bopping with poets
in the back alley shutter house
crying
god-dammit I’ve named mountains for you

makes me want to give up
stop eating
turn away horny women
makes me want to find peace

I will rise each morning
arms outstretched to the sun
wanting nothing

I will prepare a home for you
in case you come knocking

Today I saw a Fawn

It was the first I’ve seen this season. Small and fragile and emblazoned with white spots, it wore a temporary coat which even the yearlings had lost some time ago. It’s appearance spoke clearly:

Love me, mama! I’m cute!
Nourish me, protect me,
I was once you.
Do you remember?

From my window I watched the Fawn leap around the meadow in large orbits. Over and over, with boundless energy, to and fro it bounced among the tall grass. Occasionally it would stop, stand crooked on uncertain legs, look around, and begin again. Having just emerged from the darkness, its delight with the world was palpable; it’s every movement a joyful dance to the triumph of existence.

Still the Same Boy

As a kid, I loved drawing jet planes and spaceships, laser-beams and missiles; stuff that makes little boys feel powerful. Today, walking in the cold Oregon sunshine, I remembered sitting at my desk at twelve, again trying to conjure up power.

At the time, my mother and I had moved in with her boyfriend, Brent, the man who would become by brother’s father. He hated my dog, a little Dachshund named Megan, probably because she wasn’t very house-trained and I didn’t take good care of her. But I loved her dearly, so when he spoke of getting rid of her, for me, it was a declaration of war. I remember sitting in front of a blank page — angry, brooding — thinking of how to strike back using the only power I possessed: my pencil wielding hand.

So I made comics. I believe they were subtly named “The Terrible Brent”, and god were they mean. They portrayed the poor man as a malevolent, brutish oaf — constantly being outwitted by my little dog. I made fun of everything I could think of, from his big, bushy mustache to his parents. An uglier, stupider man has never been so ruthlessly portrayed by a child.

One evening, I remember walking up to the couch that he and my mother occupied, and proudly handing him my stack of angry comics. He read them one by one, pretending to laugh, but I could see the anger boiling. He threatened to rip them up, but to his great credit, he didn’t. Afterwards, I felt better, and we never did get rid of Megan.

Today this memory made me smile. The drawing. The expressing of feelings through comics. It’s been there since the beginning!

Solo on Solstice

I remember criss-crossing the country in my green Toyota pickup, affectionately named “The Albatross” by my girlfriend. During endless days driving long highways, we’d listen to CD’s of new age speculations about the end of the Mayan calendar. With my love seated by my side, my hand resting on her thigh, 2012 felt so far away. Back then, maybe I thought the world would actually end, but I was comforted by the idea of having my companion with me to watch it all go down.

Now it’s December 20, 2012, and things have changed. Today don’t feel like the world will end, though optimistic anticipation simmers inside of me, hoping that something will miraculously and instantaneously change. The woman I loved, who comforted me and filled me with a sense of security, is now who-knows-where doing who-knows-what. Meanwhile I sit alone, watching the rain drop on a dormant forest.

Being alone on Solstice and even Christmas fills me with a strange sort of pride. It makes me feel stoic and self-sufficient; tough and purpose driven. “Who needs the commercialism of the holidays and the distraction of family! I’m doing soul refining work here!” It’s probably just a ploy to keep from looking at the sadness of the situation.

But I’ve come to look at my situation like so: This is a period of tremendous learning. Learning about myself, and learning about my art. In only one year I have grown so much. I’m a fuller person now, and a much better artist. What you pay for in loneliness, you are repaid for in skill. And the skills you gain now, that power, will be with you for the rest of your life… while loneliness likely will not.

Another ploy? Maybe. But it’s working.

Happy Solstice. I hope you are well.

What It’s All About

When I tell people I’m working on a Graphic Novel, the question inevitably arises: What is it about? At first I would try to summarize the story. “It’s about a stoic, bitter old man, who lives in the forest alone. One winter night, as he’s chopping firewood, he hears a strange sound emanating from the dark woods. He goes to investigate and finds a wolf pup, lost, weak, and collapsed in the snow. Being the thick-skinned mountain man he is, he turns away leaving the pup to die. But as he does, he has a memory of the woman he loved in his younger days, and it softens his heart. So the book is about these two separate story lines — one of the old man and the wolf, the other, his memories of this woman — interweaving back and forth.” At this point I would motion my hands like two snakes dancing. The person listening would usually nod thoughtfully, not giving much indication on whether they thought this was the basis for an interesting narrative or not. I think this description satisfactorily describes my book, but it’s also quite a mouthful, possibly more than they bargained for, and not a quick answer appropriate for such locations like, say, a grocery store line.

So I went the other way. When asked, I would simply say, “Memory…” letting the word float mysteriously, lingering on the air like a light forest fog. At this, they would give me a quizzical look, and I would have the feeling that I just failed at the authors’ duty to promote himself.

Now when asked, I just feel like grabbing their collar, tightening it around their curious heads and shouting: “It’s about my EX alright!??!? I’m wounded and feel like I’ll never find love like that again and this is a form of catharsis and what do you expect a lonely middle aged man who lives deep in the forest to think about except LOST LOVE?!!?” But this response probably wouldn’t be appropriate and might make me look more pathetic than I actually am.

Fact is, this story is largely inspired by my last relationship. Is this a bad thing? Well if it’s giving me the emotional energy to complete a 100+ page book, my first real attempt at completing something substantial, I don’t think it’s bad. My drawing talent and technique has improved greatly over the past 9 months, all due to this book, and I don’t think that’s bad either. I’ve had someone gently ask, “… but how do you expect to get over this relationship when you’re focusing so much time on it?” It’s a valid point. I guess my answer would be something like, “Hey, I’m a sensitive guy, and I’d probably be suffering anyway, so I might as well turn it into something productive.” But I do need to finish this book as quickly as possible. I don’t want to have this corpse hanging around my neck forever. I don’t actually want to turn into the embittered, hard-hearted old man of the woods.

And I don’t feel like I am. I have my moments of darkness, yes. I feel pangs in my heart when I see happy couples touching and enjoying each other. When bushwhacking though ancient forests, traversing wild rivers, walking down sandy beaches, or fixing dinner, I long to have a partner to share it with. But these experiences are still beautiful to me, not diminished in any way, just different. Life is beautiful and precious always, and I’m grateful I feel this. I’m grateful for the place I live, my friends, the bountiful food I eat, my ability to pursue art and words — my calling — freely. I live a rich life and the dull nagging loneliness is part of the richness of experience. In a way it is the fuel that fires my creativity.

Lingering over this book doesn’t make me unhappy, but it does, somehow, inhibit me from being fully present with another woman. Perhaps right now it’s impossible for another woman to compete with my Ex, my first love. Is this because I don’t let them, or because what her and I had was special, exceedingly rare, hard to replace? I’m trying to answer this. It’s probably a little of each.

My Dad is visiting and yesterday we were on the coast, sitting in a little driftwood hut near the beach. I was reading poems aloud: Goethe, Frost, Rainer Maria Rilke. A beautiful young woman came into view through the doorway, walking solitary down the beach. “There goes a poem,” says my dad. With those words I felt a sense of expansiveness, of openness. Yes, what is her story? What are her pains and her joys? Could we laugh together? There are millions of poems in this world, and though most of them may not be to my taste, should I exclude strange and unfamiliar ones out of deference and attachment to my favorite poem? Who knows? Who knows…? I figure it out as I goes.

In summary, it’s hard to summarize a book in a couple sentences. My story is about everything written here and more. Thanks for allowing the time to explain.

Blame Venus.

UGGGGGGHHHH!

I feel like there’s something there, but I don’t know what it is. This strange energy. It resembles frustration, yearning, a touch of self pity. Humph. I don’t know what it wants.

It wants something though, always wants something. What more can it want? I’m living healthy in a good place. I’m following my calling, hot on its tracks. If I had a hundred thousand dollars, cash, stuffed under my mattress and in hidden in tube socks, I wouldn’t be living any differently. So what do you want???

Some form of self expression? Don’t give me that artist crap.

Then what is this formless burning desire? It has no object, it only wants. It wants to shatter into a billion pieces and dust the landscape. It wants to impregnate the unwilling and clone itself endlessly. It wants to stare at the sun and renounce its name. It wants loving fingers run through its hair; it wants you to leave in the morning. It wants more metaphors, and of a better quality.

Life. Fucking life. Fucking goddamn motherfuckin’ wonderful life.

Unexpected Journey

This poem won first place in a local poetry contest. I’ve got to admit: it’s kinda nice being a big fish in a small pond. You can hear the performance here.

Unexpected Journey

Remember when we were the ancients?
Combing the gnarled landscape nude?

Texas.
November.
Late autumn rains has washed rocks clean,
swollen rivers to overflowing.
Clothed on the sidelines we watched it gush,
pound,
push,
it’s way past river banks
into lands not allowed.

We too yearned for freedom,
so in our youth we stripped.
Leaving the safety of our shells
we washed
ourselves
away.
Unafraid
of angry torrents
and watersnakes.

With hospitality afforded to long awaited guests,
the river swept us,
gently,
under her dark forested canopy,
pre-historic playground,
jungle-gym.

We emerged from dark water Neanderthal,
yet somehow more beautiful, more pure,
feet heavy with mud,
fragments of leaves and twigs
caught between your crevices.
Me: stick-like Praying Mantis
You: fleshy Goddess
for these brief, wonderful moments
having lost your self-consciousness.
Perfection there is all around us
and you, at its center
flawless.

What would I have done
had I known
the exquisite rarity of such things?
Would I have changed my behavior?
Screamed at the top of my lungs
for time to stop
kill me now
end this dream?

and you…
had you known
death was coming for your mother
and we would part ways soon thereafter,
PAIN! Pain! Pain.
Would you have clenched these memories tighter?
… or washed it all away?