Come to me sweet darling, 

Let me show you why the earth moves. 

I will touch your golden hair, 

Draw your breath in as my own, 

Feel your sun-warmed back, 

Sliding my hands down your scarred body. 

Your fingertips like weathered bark 

Tested and true, but soft to the soul. 

I will soak in the sight of your eyes– 

Fierce and full, like the ocean

The spray cools my body. 

Unable to speak

Paralyzing words formed with care 

To caress your ears. 

Your soul is iron and silk, coffee and wine. 

For this the world moves. 

For you the universe keeps spinning.

I’ve Been Reading Too Much Kerouac

One day I’m going to be on the trail, making for the predestined point on the scale of eternity that has been marked for me, and I will see it as I approach, and in my mind I will know that this artificial fabricated velvet elvis of a destination is not my home, and I will pass it by–eyes pointed with no intention towards the endless expanse of the unknown.

Maybe this trail is the forest–a quietly tread dirt path bowing its way between great heroic maples and oaks of bygone days, hidden in an eternal twilight of sadness and nostalgia.

The trail is a paved road, well known and scarred from the hurry and impatience and overbuilt glee of its travelers.  It is perfectly charted and yet impossible to predict as it goes–now winding turn for turn next to a mountain river, now shooting out strait and far into soul-crushing endlessness, now running and flying over the wrinkles of the earth in wild abandon.

Perhaps the trail is the industrial waste surrounding Chicago and Detroit and Pittsburg and all the lonely hives of life in the world.  It is the worn out, run down, used up husk of Gary, Indiana.  It is struggling and scratching through the end off its life, heading unwillingly towards emptiness, scratching at the eyes of God in broken fits of weak resistance.

The trail is going, and I must follow it to the end of its scarred flawed beautiful existence.

Kansas

In the dark, I can hear Kansas breathe.  The large empty horizon hides her secrets in indefinitude.  Her grasses move gently in the dark breeze, whispering too soft to hear.  The wind whispers softly, saying, ‘there is nothing here.  Nothing.  Go your way.  Walk, run, fly away.  Because there is nothing.  There is only nothing and ever nothing.  Nothing forever and always.  Eternal nothing’.  And Kansas joins in, her heavy sides groaning, her wide expanse breathing, ‘All I have is nothing.  My tall, wide prairies are gone.  My rolling hills are cleaved by progress.  My body aches with your drilling and making and breaking and taking and raping.  Nothing.  For ever and always, nothing.  Always nothing and nothing.  Until the end, nothing’.

In the dark, she breathes, heavy and labored.  Her solace is in the dark, for then, in the absence of her tormentors, she can remember when she was young and free and open and raging and strong.  She remembers when she could hide the richest treasures in her bosom and send their searchers into madness on her wide expanses.  She remembers when she could thunder with the sky, matching roar for roar.  And she moans in her sadness, for she is a land conquered.

My Great Big Adventure–Day Two

Geneva is a town full of bankers and politicians.  All sorts of men in dark suits pace the streets.  It is mostly a stoic place–all the streets lined by tall imposing buildings with various colorful flags hanging from brackets, hoping they make the children less frightened by they grey windows behind them.  In the chill air, the dark suits turn their collars up and pace faster.  They greet each other with maniacal barks that more closely resemble their geared creations than organic language.

The air is so stoic that I forget small cobblestone streets and friendly art galleries are just around the corner.  The old town, set on it’s hill, holds out against the grey and black of the banks and embassies, and is gently looked over and protected by the great cathedral dominating the crest.  Tourists are quietly ushered in the back streets so that they may wander the cafes and museums away from the watchful eyes of the dark suits.  Once in this holy sanctuary, it is easy to forget what lies outside.  Small cafes become cozier, windswept narrow streets become quainter, and massive imposing religious buildings become grander.

Just over the hill and past its guardian is a small park with a lane down the middle and two rows of trees running down either side.  On one side is Geneva’s university.  In a few years, it’s students will come out wearing dark suits and pacing among tall buildings, but now their youth is inspired by the brisk air that holds the promises and grandeur of tomorrow, and they skip along, making the air around them hum with their self-satisfaction.  The children on the ice rink farther down squeal and giggle, oblivious to the passing of time and the coming of tomorrow, and equally glad because of it.  On the other side,  looking down on it all solemnly and disapprovingly are the fathers of the reformation, bearing before them their theses and commentaries set in stone, and unable to speak out against the frivolity before them.  Past the fathers and children are reformation sized chess boards.  The old men, tired of their suits and missing their laughter, gather round them, dancing their knee high pieces around the checkered ground and gleefully slapping each others backs and groaning in mock pain at lost pieces.  The park is a romantic cacophony of youth and age, reason and abandon, pride and humility, glee and solemnity.  It is a hidden picture of Geneva, just under the shadow of ambition that lies over everything.  This park is Geneva’s treasure.

My Great Big Adventure – Day One

Today is the real first day of my great big adventure.  I have been here since Friday, that’s… one, two, three, four days, this being the fifth.  It’s hard to keep track of the days and hours when everything is in twenty-four hour time and one–or more–of three languages.  I spent the weekend in Grindelwald with papa skiing.  That’s why today is the first real day of my great big adventure.  Today is my first day alone.

I’m in Lausanne.  Everyone speaks French.  Everything looks French.  I might just count this as a trip to France.

My hostel doesn’t allow me to check in before three, and I got here around ten.  Therefore, I regretfully traipse to the nearest Starbucks (for internet!) so that I can find where I am in this French-speaking town.

Counter to Swiss normalcy, all the streets run at angles to each other I’m not sure are possible–another reason I’m claiming I’m in France.  Rather than try to decipher anything on the map in my hand (one of those cruelly cartoonish maps tourist centers expect to be helpful), I content myself by wandering the streets at random.

At the top of the hill the city of Lausanne is built on, there is a sadly neglected cathedral.  It is very old, and hidden among the complexities and intricacies of the facade is the weathered wooden entrance.  Surrounding the door are hollow eyed, long since impotent, stone guardians, begging rather than commanding me to stop.  Inside that mausoleum of splendor, weary saints lean against the stations of the cross, fading stained-glass light illuminating what’s left of their worn faces.  It is beautiful in a way, but it is more of a tomb than a sanctuary.

It is past eleven, and I my very early breakfast was a lonely plate of scrambled eggs.  P’etit Bar is right around the corner.  Inside are a proprietor possessing broken english and a few wonderfully bohemian characters possessing what appears to be not much.  I order a bowl of pear soup and a cup of earl grey tea–the only thing the proprietor mentioned that I’m completely sure of.

I’m pretty sure they think I’m english, because I speak it, and I ordered my tea with milk and sugar–a stipulation she seemed quite satisfied with and prepared to accommodate.  This suits me fine, because I think Brits are much more accepted than Americans.

P’etit Bar–quite literally–has a wonderful view of the passers-by–locals and foreigners alike.  The day is good, because I have plenty of tea left, and plenty of window to view my fake France through, and the days not even half over.

My Girl, The Mountain

The sky is a purple shade of intense.  It feels like I have found a way onto Jules Verne’s rocket.  One look down the mountain we just rode up is enough to get my heart pushing blood back into my fingers–my toes continue to freeze their asses off.

From the airplane window, these mountains look like a plaything–bunching up like an accordion before stretching out again, spreading their arms out to Salt Lake, cupping it in their frozen hands.  From here, they’re just frightening enough to give me a sense of mortality, but exciting enough that I can shrug it off for twenty minutes.

Leaving that sense behind can lead to both the best runs of the day and risky encounters with the mountain and its trees.  Apparently, my arm gives in before a tree does.  Bruises merely act as medals of honor though.

With every turn–sometimes more of a leap–down the face of the mountain, I have to remind myself to breathe in the pale air surrounding me–so bright and so empty.

The real reward is halfway down–below the crusty, windswept crest, but before the tired, used up base.  Right in the middle, tucked in between the trees, hides the light, feathery snow that lets me float–lets me glide–like a mysterious ship in the clouds.  In between those trees, I forget about how cold my face is, about how tired my legs are, about how steep the hill or close the trees–I am romancing the mountain, and all thoughts about its imperfections are secondary.  The mountain embraces me in her arms and lets me caress her face.  We speak softly to one another without using any words.  The day together is one of bliss.  I stay with her until the last corner of the sun has hidden itself behind her face, and when I leave, my night is filled with thoughts of her.  I wake early the next morning so that I can rush to her again and repeat yesterday, but we are not alone.  Around her are many suitors, vying for her attention.  I can’t help but compare myself to the others surrounding my mountain–performing feats I can’t follow.  Like before, I forget to breathe, and I get overwhelmed.  When I remember to breathe, I forget those around me–the mountain and I are together again, and it doesn’t matter who else is around, because she has chosen me.  I love her like crazy.

But it can’t go on forever.  The day ends.  The seasons change, and we with them.  I must go home, and my life will return to normal.  She will entertain others.  But we will meet up again next year, knowing how it will end yet willing to submit to the cycle again.  We will fill ourselves with the same heightened feelings of bliss and heartbreak.  We will spend days of perfection and anger together.  We can’t help ourselves.  This is the way it has to be.

Life is hunky dorey

It’s a regular circus ride

It’d take more than forty elephants

To ruin this life of mine

Gee whiz it’s a real fiddle faddle

And life couldn’t get more best.

It’s like dancing on a bright green carpet

In a red leather polka dot dress.

And the swellness could not get more sweller

For the wrongness has all been spent

On a bottle of malt liquor and a new tootsie pop

And it left but a couple of cents.

So I dance for my life hunky dorey

Like a kid with an orange and blue kite

And I can’t imagine it better

So I close my eyes, for I’m right.

My nerves are shot

I can’t think to feel

I’m bustin’ my heart

On gears and wheels.

Spoonfeed me heartache

Breastfeed me joy–hate.

Talk to me slow

My brain’s down the hill.

My hearts next to go

Like Jack and Jill.

Emotions dependent

On thoughts that control

The unbreathing newborn–

unliving, unknown.

unjoyful, unangry,

unloving, uncrazy.

Help me doctor,

I’m seeing–all’s hazy.

I’m writing a poem

I’m writing a song

I’m writing a poem

I’m writing a song

God, what am I writing!

My word’s aren’t clear

My soul’s not clear

My God’s not near

F*#@, why can’t I hear.

A bullet, a thought,

A twitch, a shot.

This didn’t just happen.

I’m not bad–I’m not!

The sky is lit up

Like an angel’s grenade

The needle is in

Get past the pain.

It’s good–it’s great.

No thinking, no hate.

The end is now,

I hope I’m not late.

A man’s in my way,

No, it’s a child.

It’s thoughts deceiving

It’s intentions vile.

In it’s hands a gun

And a painkiller pill.

Seeing me numb–

Each wanting their fill–

They take me,

Break me,

Forsake me,

Remake me.

What happened, I thought

All I needed was chalk

And a man in a suit

To show me how to walk,

But this child I know well

Has me under my spell

My brain and heart ride

On The Racers to hell.

 

Time, Love.

My answer to the question, “what is your favorite music?”, is complicated.  I could start by saying I don’t listen to most hip-hop, rap, and country, but that I listen to everything else.  But that is not really a satisfactory answer, because I do listen to some hip-hop and rap (very conservatively), and I like country the way it was meant to be: the alternating wail of Hank Williams and growl of Johnny Cash.  I could divide my answer into old and new music, but then there’s the problem of what counts as old.  Is it the Beatles, or Bessie Smith, or maybe Bethoven?  Then again, some new music is much more mature than it’s actual age.  The Tallest Man on Earth sounds more like Woody Guthrie, and Alabama Shakes more like Buddy Holly.  Age doesn’t help me.

I can’t rate my music, because the words of John Keating still ring in my ears.  Music is poetry as much as lyrics are poems are poems are songs.

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”

Emily Dickinson

How else can I know music than by what I am listening to right now?  That is how I know.

The man singing my soul right now is Josh Ritter.  I never thought I would hear a lyricist so beautiful.  He speaks with the power of Bob Dylan, the lonesomeness of Robert Frost, and the beauty of Emily Dickinson.  His mind goes places I could never imagine, and rather than envy him for it, I live through it.  I did the same thing when I discovered Bob Dylan.  And when I discovered Paul Simon.  I still do.  I identify with these men, for they say everything I cannot yet wish to.  Words, to these men, are more beautiful than anything in life–words are life.  Perhaps this is why I cannot write with the same beauty–I see life beyond words–I get past them–I don’t cherish them like these men do.

“‘Til at last all around us was fastness
one vast glassy desert of arsenic white
And the waves that once lifted us
sifted instead into drifts against Annabelle’s sides”

Josh Ritter

Those are the words of a man in love.  I don’t believe he is satisfied with words, because otherwise he wouldn’t exploit them as he does–but he is in love.

Another man who speaks to me–not for the soul of his lyrics, but the soul of his song–is Kristian Matsson.  He does feel his writing.

Well we air clear blue aching skies in the morning after
And memories of gold on the run, flying around
Was there a drunken cloud over someone just empty
A vision of a mount you say, so where did it go

It was light and I held it like a child to be saved
From the fires and from the falling down satellites
But still wondering

Damn you always treat me like a stranger, mountain
Though you’ve seen the shadow between the city and what is mine
And fallen kids all rising men among their logs, but leavers
Suddenly darker in their eyes and their broken smiles
It’s only what these kids will haul around

Well there’s a lot of sullen land for hungry feed of answers
And medicine for balancing things, like seeing your ghosts
So thank god we’re bright, said the lanterns brother
Cause I don’t know a thing about boats or the land I see

It was day and I stood there once again climbing quick
When I knew you were the one throwing dying stars on our gathering
But he said

Damn you always treat me like a mountain, stranger
Though I have never seen your shadows or fading lights
I’m just a rock that you’ll be picking up through all your ages
Always believing there’s a canyon for every blind
It’s only what these kids will haul around

But it’s in the wail of his voice and the slide of his guitar that his soul comes pouring through.  He doesn’t care whether the range of his voice can contain the concept, because he has to sing it no matter what.  It’s the same rage of soul that moves the rise and fall of the poets recitation.  The voice of the ordinary cannot contain that of the soul.

Men like Jim Morrison are consumed by it.  Men like Bob Dylan are subdued by it.  Men like me are bemused by it.

Silly Boy, Chairs Are For Sitting

I wonder if the guy from Mad Money ever sleeps–it doesn’t seem like it.  Maybe he lives entirely on caffeine pills and cracker jacks.  When he goes home, he probably sits in a closet thinking of how else he can make finance a high-energy pursuit.  I don’t know if he enjoys himself, or just can’t help it.

Has anyone ever told him to calm down, drink some decaffeinated tea instead, and read a book, or better yet, close his eyes?  Does he realize he’s hurting himself?  Does he know that one day his energy will run out, his body will be broken, and he won’t be able to move like he used to?  Does he ever get depressed when he thinks about his frailty?  Does it ever overcome him?  Will I understand this before I become an angry, tired old man who used to host Mad Money?  When will I stop trying to make the chair do what it wasn’t meant to do?

Spring

Spring is here,
Spring has come–
Open the windows,
Let in the sun.
Awake! Arise!
Go find your brother.
Tell him it’s time–
Time for another
Day filled with joy,
A day filled with laughter,
For Winter to leave,
For Spring that comes after.
Go! Tell him now.
Tell him we’re playing.
Tell him we’re singing,
Dancing, face-making.
Make him come down.
Let’s have some fun.
Spring is here,
Spring has come!

A Painter’s Story–A Day Off

“4:50 is far too early an hour and fifty minutes to be up”, I tell myself. “Let’s make it 4:55″. How short five minutes can seem when all I want it to be is an hour.
Thirty minutes later I’m driving down Aulick road, cursing 5:25 in the morning, and Glendale Ohio, and people who can pay to have their house painted and who live in Glendale Ohio, and the person in front of me who forgets I am in a hurry, and the coffee place that doesn’t open until 6:00, and the other coffee place that is temporarily closed for renovations, and people in Glendale Ohio.
As I drive past the Norwood lateral–a road I always thought would fun to drive on–I remind myself that at 2:30 I will be gone, and for five days, and it’s really not as bad as it seems–at least it’s cool outside. But now I’m thinking about how I’d rather be a kid again, with hazy ideas about where the Norwood lateral is and why there’s always traffic there.
Five days in Michigan. Breathe.
It’s all this that clogs my writing–all this that I can’t get past.
A good friend told me to write anyway–write even though it’s hard. So, after throwing the notebook away and turning off the light, I remember those words, and I have to finish at least this page.
Michigan is just what I need. Maine would be perfect. Crisp air blowing the sea into my hair and nostrils and eyes. Cliffs and pine trees and old New England homes. Michigan will do though–I don’t have a grandmother in Maine. Bikes on mackinaw island and long gravel roads and coffee in the morning while looking over the straights–those things are good too.
I think there’s more air in Michigan, and that’s good. I’ve been breathing too much paint.

A Painter’s Story — A Beginning

I suppose it would be safe to say I’ve had a pretty cushy life up to now–and arguable that I still do. I will be the first to admit that it doesn’t get much better than 17 years of waking up at 9, doing school in whatever and wherever I want, and then having nearly zero encumbrances to take the place of my free time.
Then I got a job–one at the time I thought quite difficult. I endured the stress of this job and my difficult school life for nearly a year, and the toll upon my life was heavy–it was all I could do to get 5 hrs of free time a day.
After enduring this scarring experience, I was given the opportunity of having a real, full time job. To a newly graduated highschooler with gads of free time and nothing to do with it, not to mention the imposing cost of higher education looming in my vision, this sounded like the best possible option I had–it probably was, and still is. But I am not of that opinion when I wake up at the overly righteous hour of 5:00. At that point shooting myself, or quitting, seems like the best option. Neither of those would be the best option. I have told myself that every morning for the last two months.
During this eternal period of two months, I have rarely read and never written. I think it would be fair to say in retrospect I hate the last two months of my life. To cure this unendurable hatred, I have decided to deal with life and make time to write, and what better to write about what you are surrounded with. Consequently, I will be writing about interior acrylic latex satin paint, top gun 200 calk, and broken paintbrushes. On second thought, that sounds like horror to write and a nightmare to read. I’ve looked around and I can’t seem to see any interesting thing in my life to write about, so I will have to write about my exhausting and sometimes comical encounters with interior acrylic latex satin paint, top gun 200 calk, and broken paintbrushes.
Be aware: the following stories will be filled with many tales of my losing/breaking others tools, failing to correctly doing, and passing gas at awkward times.
Let’s take that last example as my first story–a sort of awkward icebreaker. I was having a–let’s call it a reaction–to my turkey sandwich, and when times get tough, the tough find a way to alleviate the pressure. I hope I don’t need to explain anymore. Anyway, I alleviate, and within thirty seconds the homeowner decides there’s something in that room he needs. I think it’s obvious that there was an awkward silence for the thirty seconds he was in that room, and there was little I could do but cringe until he left. That has not been a solitary experience.
For the next installment of A Painter’s Story, tune in whenever I happen to have enough energy to put to paper my awkward moments.

Tired Eyes

I wake from my slumber to see where I am–

I can see from the look in your eyes somethings wrong–

There’s rain on my eyes and the back of my hands,

And now I can see that it will not be long.

 

This rain does not cleanse–this rain only hides–

Hides from the poet and hides from my ears.

This rain is a liar–cannot be defined–

It is not the rain that I’ve known o’er the years.

 

Rain clings to my window, retarding the glass

I’ve looked through with strained eyes o’er many wet days,

But I might as well look through a wet canvas mask–

I can see our times shortened to the length of my gaze.

 

True Rain, take me to your far away land–

This impostor is taking far more than my sight.

As I walk outside hold me by the tip of my hand,

For this isn’t a rainstorm, it’s the end of my life.

Fragility

Why do you not adore me?
Am I not your all in all?
Is idolatry such a challenge?
No? Why not run when I call.
Love me.
Need me.
Envy me.
It is as it should be,
For my power could never wane,
My strength should never falter,
And I should always get up when I fall.

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