“A smartphone in heliosynchronous orbit was issuing human screams.”

This from Harper’s “Findings,” May 2013

I love the word heliosynchronous!
It makes me high.
I would swear that it even pitches my voice higher.
I also think it goes very well with smartphone.
Orbit.

You can’t leave out Orbit!
Another outta-space word right there!
Contains Orb and
telegraphs Orbital.
Orb is religious, sacred. Space bends back in on itself.

Earth the size of a pool ball would be smoother.

Why, it begs, is there a smartphone orbiting Earth? Makes sense that it’s on time and in tune, however, being that it’s a smartphone. But why is it screaming?

I prefer to remain in the dark as to the undoubtedly reasonable explanation and instead stay heliosynchronous to my ignorance.

And in a nod to the power of reasonable explanations, also from “Findings”…

“Scientists proposed that male lions’ skill at ambushing prey in dense vegetation was previously unknown because of scientists’ fear of being ambushed by male lions in dense vegetation.”

Right on, that.

The Blue Light Flickers

Each night I wander
through streets mostly empty
and speak to the lights
at the tops of the poles
radiant and still
measured and steadfast
the voices that passed
reach to my present

How real is that nexus
trustworthy the voices?
Am I just a mad man
who’s made the wrong choices?
Who walks in the night
A ventriloquist of wishes
conjuring dead folk?
Highly suspicious!

Terrorized.
Superstitious.
I walk on.
I watch out.

And in every house
the blue light flickers
casting erratic shadows
broadcasting
transmissions
and jittery realities
belying the stillness
the stilted stiffness
of interest coupled with indifference.

To the history of the dead folk
Hubbard’s among them
first to connect us to
the sound and the vision
Like splitting the atom
breaking the silence
smashing the walls
Severing space.

A fine hocus pocus –
And all the world turned
and focused.

But they’re lonely, the dead folk
The ones that you know
They wish you would listen
Pay a little attention
They know that you’re busy, but, really?
You speak to your gods, you stare at your screens
but find not a moment to say what you mean
to the ones who know you
the ones who know now

if you listen, they will speak
if you speak, they will listen
take time. be quiet. talk. wait.
repeat.

And the other dead folk – the pioneers!
they broadcast the future
to eyes and to ears
like sneaky disease
slips in through the breathing
bypassing the mind
dissecting the meaning.
Red, Green and Blue
is plenty for you
native man
lotus eater.

And in every house the blue light flickers.

The sky is eclipsed
by a star machine
manufacturing gods, heroes and
heroines, heroin, mescaline,
vicodin, maryjane,
alcohol, cocaine,
fame,
ecstasy, baby,
you’ll be king!
A queen.
A pawn.

An old man stifles a yawn.

Beneath my feet the sidewalk retreats
the oncoming traffic of life in the seats
and the chairs and the sofas
the idle, bystanders,
loungers and loafers
(bumps on a log
lumps in a bog)
extinguishing stories
personal glories
and staring.

A fine hocus pocus –
And the world turned
and focused.

But the others, the headmost,
ahead of the curve
who colonized the minds
of the hoi polloi,
they were as surprised as you and I.
This technochimera
spearheading and primitive
could (high)jack right into
primordial you and I
inventing the gaping maw
and glassy eye.

And each night I wander
through streets mostly empty
surrounded by dead friends
and family just waiting
for us to discern
them from the gods,
the gods from them,
one is unknowable
one is at hand.

Meanwhile…

A man suddenly stands,
stretches and leaves the room

a woman leans back
and lifts her arm

a guy rubs his eye
and contorts his face

and I see in these moments
what they’ll never see
scenes in the movie
starring the man who stands,
the leaning lady and rubbing guy.

Watching and walking
I’m on to the next.

Please don’t shut your curtains
Please don’t look my way.

Only the children and the animals can make us better people.

That just occurred to me, suddenly, but what does it mean? I think that what it means is to be good is simple and all of our evolution and intellect and religion and forward progress really has nothing to do with being good. Good is there in its most basic form. You can see it in children and you can see it in the animal kingdom. That’s enough. The rest is all of us just trying too hard to claim it.

a stump a storm a stone

A Stump

There’s nothing more sad than a stump.
A hole in the sky where once was majesty.
A disk. A flat, ruined, pointless disk.

A Storm

April is the cruelest month
when days in the fifties
are marched back to February
by eagerly unwanted snow.

A Stone

They combed the beach for agates
gathered whatever they found
they named them all agates
then left them on the ground.

Just because!

We do lots of things and believe lots of thing without really thinking about them and sometimes someone else shines a little light on the strangeness of it all. To wit: I came into the bathroom and my eight-year-old daughter was holding one of the large bath towels. The area between her two hands – an eight inch circle – was soaking wet. She was obviously washing her face with it.

“What are you doing?”

“What?”

“The towel – it’s soaked!”

“So.”

“That’s a towel!”

“So.”

“You should be using a wash rag!”

“Why? It’s the exact same material.”

“Wash rags are for washing!” I was getting a little snarky. “Towels are for drying!”

“Wet things.”

“What?”

“Drying wet things so they get wet – like this.” She held up the towel.

“Not like that they don’t!”

“If it’s wet enough they do.”

“Yeah, but now…”

“It has to dry.” She finished my sentence. “Like it always does when it gets wet. And then it gets dry and everything is fine.”

“But that’s too wet!” I said and just then realized how ludicrous this all was. Two pieces of the same material – one two feet by four feet, the other six inches by six inches. I’ve always known that the smaller piece could get really wet and the bigger one could not! Period. End of story.

But why? Just because!

this is just fun and timely

The first line of “On Poetry” by David Orr, entitled Daily Devotions, from this last Sunday..

“It is impossible to picture certain poets buying Cheetos at a Sunoco.  Granted, this is true of a particular sort of person in any occupation – it’s hard, for example, to imagine Mitt Romney with iridescent orange dust all over his hands, unless he had accidentally purchased Halloween.”

Geographical Chauvinism

Duluth looks down on Two Harbors. Rochester looks down on Duluth. St. Paul looks down on Rochester. Minneapolis looks down on St. Paul. Chicago looks down on Minneapolis. Los Angeles looks down on Chicago. New York looks down on Los Angeles. London looks down on New York. Paris looks down on London. And Two Harbors knows Paris is just a bunch of queers.

 

His wife was small, diminutive

His wife was small, diminutive,
kept order in the place they lived
made lists of things and scolded him
when he bought something on a whim.

The girl was round, voluptuous,
she ordered fries and chicken strips
chewed bubble gum she shared with him
before they worked out in the gym.

His wife would wait at home and cook
and clean and read another book
and glare at him when he came in
fresh showered with a sheepish grin.

The girl would go out to the bars
and drink and dance under the stars
and send him pictures and silly notes
he read in the closet behind the coats

that smelled of must and of his wife
to whom he’d promised all his life
that day when she seemed worth it all –
open, caring, beautiful.

But now she’s scrunched and crumpled up,
filled with contempt, her loving cup,
tired and weary, wrinkly and prudish,
so, really, was he being all that brutish

by wrapping his arms ’round something so soft,
so round and moist that lifts him aloft,
that giggles and smiles and laughs at his jokes
and teases and tickles and fondles and pokes?

Must he avoid this happiness
to uphold a law that was really a guess?
Should he stay with scrunchy or go with the lass?
The answer, he knew, was of course, yes.

The Fall

Seasonal Affective Disorder, sad, smile
A rather clinical name for frozen blood, acid stomach, twitchy body and rickety mind.
Autumn Blues
Crank it up!
Another few bars
to get me through
another sleepless night
to hang/over again
another day
and another night
to sleep
less
flip switch growl cry
what? who?
anxiety
everything dies
leaves fall
light goes south
madness. rains.
frozen north
freezing
slowly
F. Scott said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
He’s right,
but death hurts
first.