eastward bound

swirl hands/river heart/dig me out of the sea/see me not willing to see myself

we flew through the landscape, fields fragrant and flying by, cities popping out of the hillsides like hungry, electric beasts. dayton swirled around us in a puddle of newness, fake plaster walls and flat, pastured fields. my grandpa sat like a king in his recliner. eyes piercing blue and stories tumbling out of his mouth like a last reprieve. he seemed wild for life, ready for release, longing to stay all at the same time. medicine churning through his blood like fire. i tried to hold his eyes, to stay his hands, to rest inside his brow, release the tension in his forehead. he seemed mountainous, rubied, wise-eyed and well-lived. i was grateful for the moment.

we sailed on, prowling towards pittsburgh. dancing in the grass in the suburbs – hurling around with cousin sprites and backyard bubbling stream. the sandbox and my feet met like wonder-strangers. the city pulls steel out of its spine, hacks at the hillsides for fertile land and pulls every spare root from the crumble of mines gone by. the city curls around the water/the water spins around the iron/the metals hide themselves away – tucked into the earth – prayed into a hiding spot – sucked like miner’s teeth into the open air. they gutter, they sprawl – the hillsides house a thousand lives still marching. warm, working people filled with stories in their own tongues. full of white teeth, shined gleaming by the modern age. the city too, breathes simpler now, shined gleaming by the modern age. the teeth of the hillsides still rattle, though/ ragged breath from mines still dirge-ing in the dirt.

home now and the world twirls about me in a canopy above my head – river road snakes and i funnel down the delaware, light bright in my hair and black coffee singing out of the speakers. i feel lucky to live where i live; to be happy to be home; i have not had a home that i feel that way about…hardly ever. i always had a hard time coming home to kingston. but the trees sing around me with their lush heads and the canal barrels on with thick, clay soil and little streams of water trickle through my toes. the world keeps opening, and the winds keep changing. the chill comes to walk with me in the morning again – but i am not afraid this year. i am huddling with my boy in a nest made of open air and leafy greens and i am afloat. i am a boundless wind, and i change too. i am willing to change. and i am not afraid of fucking anything.

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branson, missouri

streaks of pale blue sunset gobble up the rest of the horizon / Table Rock Lake hurls itself around in dream or wonder. my mother played here as a girl, skipping rocks with her grandparents / now the thrill of wild cloud shapes still satisfy the eye. Silver Dollar City splays out like an accordian – banjo fingered inlets and hills dressed in 1880’s finery – swelling to the brim with nostalgia and creation -praying to the past without repent. roller coasters swim in imagined narrative – the pearl of the wild west, of the hillbilly freedom of Ozark mischief murmurs in the mountains, in kitsch shops, in theatrics. we tell ourselves the story of the past, of the wild west, of the way the wilderness harnessed something, the way cowboys grabbed the rocks by the hand and shook them in their fists until america popped out of the stork. but what a tiny sliver of time – and how much time were these lands native lands. filled with a culture beyond hillbilly, beyond rapscallion, beyond outlaw. what do these hills know, what do we let them know, what narrative do we keep clinging to – in a small pocket of history, in a dark and stormy closet of our hearts, of our collective american narrative. the dark, toothless and ignorant outlaw – we keep clinging to this. we keep finding reasons to call ourselves home in this image. and still, too, Table Rock Lake whispers its own journey, sings its own ancient melodies. and still, too, rainbow trout swim in sea grasses, the sky meets the horizon at the breaking place – glows glitter and wildfire, does not adhere to the simple corners of our imagined narratives. rough edged rocks and bark-tongued tree spines – the mountains rise up with their own story. tectonic plates and spring-sourced-water-flows, ancient ridges and eyes rising to the sky. for the violet kiss of the sun on the horizon each night. and we do not own this land. and this land has a secret story all of its own. and our pitter-patter narratives fall like silver rain, and we keep imagining. and we keep dreaming, and clinging to the past that keeps passing us by. and we keep watching the sunset, and we keep imagining it is for us, and not for the lake itself. and we keep writing stories, and imagining we are the only ones with interesting things to say.

flippin, arkansas

we arkansas moonshined down the freeway – signs following us like ghosts, ancestor stories lurking in the hills. we pulled at memories we didn’t have, like teeth splayed out; like ozark rock shining in the glint. we arrowhead aimed for places in time lost, horse-back travelers, abandonment and gap-toothed storefronts. ghost towns ship-wrecked by time, by poverty, by an anchor pulling somewhere deeper than rock – sedimentary and solitary and sedentary.

i thought about typhoid fever taking old aunt lena, my great-grandmother flossie riding bare back in her dress down the middle of the town. i thought about the flu taking grandma without a name. i thought about old grandpa medlock buried in the cemetery; riding on one solitary horse to Flippin, Arkansas; tending the grocery store in town at the turn of the century. i thought about racism embedded in the rocks, the silt of magic baked into the earth’s crust. i thought about the rainbow trout splayed out in the White river. i dipped my hands into the river, imagined the wheel of time spinning my great-grandmother in a cotton dress, on a summer’s day, hands fresh in the water – 7 years old, dripping ghost-fire. brave, strong, full of meadowlight and beauty. i thought about my great-great-grandfather getting dragged for miles by a pack of runaway farm horses; the public hanging in the town square of a stray cowboy for raping the sheriff’s daughter. i felt the ghosts in the air, or the ancestor stories still flowing in the white river. i greeted the strange gravel of time, walked its planks, hurled its seasons onto my back. tried to imagine the bodies, the lives they lived, the stories they breathed. when i silted my hands into the enormous body of the clear river, i tried to feel her hands inside of mine. tried to feel the endless grace of a century or two wrapping around me. the playful stream of lives gone by still swimming in the waters all around us. embedded in the crust of the earth. storied earth, oh wise-old grass; blowing. always knowing things that i will never know. the way my great-grandmother’s hair looked like in the august light of autumn. twirling around ghosts even then. the vision of her dead sister walking up the lane towards her/vanishing at the eaves of the porch. the distant memories of dna laced into our bones. like the silted crevices of the earth encrusted/entrusted with our stories. like rib cages splayed wide in rock teeth/gulping/chomping/keeping our secrets safe/keeping our stories safe/silting out like erosion, the strange ghosts we don’t remember/the old bodies we cannot unearth/the unmarked graves we cannot find/the ancestor songs still swimming in the streams; rainbow trout, or golden oxygen named chemistry. or has the river kept flowing? or has the river kept flowing. and do the rocks dream only to forget?

he found his breath

rolling body, my body is a forged steelsmith from the plains of america. my heart is a wheel, i am a firetruck. you cannot always beat the monster, sometimes the monster beats you. and jamie curled himself into the fetal position in the middle of the airport and screamed over and over for me to help him breathe again. it felt like a panic attack. he was overwhelmed and overtired and hungry and jacked up and scared about traveling from here to there to there to there. and i lay on the ground with him in the chicago airport and tried to teach him how to breathe. he looked up at me, eyes all a river and tried to breathe with me. and tried and kept trying and kept looking at me for help. kept telling me verbally that he needed me to help him breathe. and he found his breath, and i held him and rocked him on the ground in the middle of the walkway until he came back up for air. until he found his breath again. and i think this is the only important thing i do with my life. and i think everything else is selfish nonsense, in the end – and this is the only important thing i can do. hold another being until they can find their breath again. teach my son about the waves and how to ride them. how to breathe through them. how its okay to feel. and hold him until he can find his breath again.


 

i am trying to be patient with myself, with my own journey towards finding patience with myself. i am trying to be kind to myself, to my body. i am trying to stay present and i am remembering, finally, what it is to take it all in. to breathe in the moment through your cells. to feel the moment on your whole body. to feel the rush and power of the ocean pummeling you. to feel a vista sweeping around you. to bow your head to the sunset. to take the five minutes to walk through the tree-lined path. to bramble through the roots. i am happy to be back home, to reconnect with my own rituals, my own processes that ground me and keep me sane. i am grateful for the summer night, for the buzz of the insect choir in the darkness. for the warm fluid air that fills and peels.

minneapolis, minnesota

and sparkle-dragon golden teeth will fall out of your hair. folded origami feathers will float off of your shoes. wedding bells like shark jaws will dream into the air. hungry industrial rubble and the shine of glowing light will fling your heart through space. and you will be grace, and you will be grace.

beauty girl, happy wedding day.

and city unfolding under my feet like ashen white pine-breath and honey-lipped oxygen air. clean city, old city, fresh city, new city, aware city. bold, art-filled, humming with its own tune. minneapolis has nothing to prove and yet bubbles with a culture 5 miles wide and 10,000 lakes deep. under-rated city of air and water and flickering lights and dazzling peace. brave city/keeps ticking on, keeps making beautiful things in the middle of the country/does not care if the rest of the world looks or not/ gathers up a fist-full of native dirt, washes it clean in the mississippi river, grits new streets through its mouth, pummels up fresh opportunity – lets the middle-class silt like nuggets of gold on top of the strain. lets the shadow soil filter, filter. lets minnesota become a new name, a state drenched in something free and present and still alive. minneapolis is alive, it fills to its own brim with its own sense of identity – which is not pursed like lips, definitive and narrow, it is its own creature howling, moving, tunneling. it is a brave pair of cities alive with themselves, their own unfinished project.

/and aren’t we always our own unfinished project?

story/magic/world

am i not, to some degree, a summation of stories? a summation of the stories i tell myself? a summation of the stories you tell about me? the stories we create about ourselves and the way we retell them?


whisky water tinkle machine –
copious amounts of clarity and
dream-works weaving


i think about guilt, how to sit with it/where it should sit in me/if i should carry it and how/what it serves, who it belongs to


i think about gratitude. about the thrill of adventure, about the experience of new road under my feet – heralding me forward, wrapping me around a roller coaster, ejecting me across an architecture of metal at impossibly inhuman speeds. i think about wonder, about imagination. i kept thanking the world for making the imaginations around me in Orlando, the world-building, the dreamings. i thought about someone’s idea for a children’s book coming to physical life around them. a manifestation of imaginings in a young single-mom’s head. that thought felt so touching to me I thought I might cry. i thought about what this story she made had meant to so many people – the escapism and willingness to dream – what that had given so many people. the outlet to something magical and real all at the same time. such a cliche joy that place gave me. in the most wonderful way. i am okay with the unpretentious cliche sentimentality of it. i was okay with the fervor – with the unmistakable stench of merchandising and profiteering and cashing in. i allowed myself to not get angered about that. because there was also an unmistakable, overwhelming passion baked into the artistry, detail and rigor of the place. of genuine love and care. people that really cared about a story about magic really cared enough to imprint their own artistry on the creation of something to fulfill everyone else’s shared, collective imaginings about a story. and that felt meaningful. and there were traces of meaningful and traces of real artistry caked into the fake, warnerbrother walls. and so i was okay with the hocus pocus of it. i was okay with the falseness of it. because the meta-meta strangeness of creating such a place felt like such a beautiful human endeavor, on the core of it. and you could feel the honest love for story that was there. i have no patience for high-wire american capitalism sucking the soul out of something filled with soul. but this felt slightly opposite. it felt real – it felt doused in soul – it felt it had a heart still beating. and i was thankful to be a part of the whole creation. to give it my eyes. to have my own imaginings become part of the collective. baked on to all those walls. all the faithful, magic-believing eyes that come to fill it up – maybe that’s what i was feeling. all the collective love, all the collective imagination being projected onto the tapestries and painted lanterns. all the eyes that laid their own meaning on the fake siding and the poured-concrete. all the desperation that wanted it so badly to be real. all the wanting. all the traces of that wanting still stuck on the place. all of the ability of the mind to just push a little bit further forward, and fill in the dots. all the tricks and trades of our powerful minds. all the tricks of our senses. but no, it is not a trick – it is the power. the power of our senses. it is not a trick they are pulling on us, universal and warner brothers. it is the power of our own mental force that we are engaging. to engage in collective imagination together. to engage in collective play and belief in story. in magic. in life just that much more meaningful. it is the honoring of aesthetic and the power of sensory experience. it is a trick. and it is a willingness to let go of the nonsense of the falsities of the adult world. to find that other world. to create it together. to build towards newness. towards strangeness. towards exhilerating discovery of what is possible. it’s building a strange replica of an imaginary world that was dreamed up in a dreamer’s head. it’s a strange thing that humans did. it’s a homage to the power of aesthetic and the power of story and the power of creation. and it meant something to me because i am not afraid to say that things mean something to me. because i want things to mean something to me. and a thousand little and big eyes that all felt meaning inside of themselves pressed their eyeballs and hands onto fake stucco walls and made it meaningful. and the meaning lingers on the wall. builds like layers of paint. smothers plastics in real, human soul. and over time, begins to live. a collective organism of people’s love breathing and festering on something that capitalism tried to feed off. but we are feeding off of imagination, not merchandise. we are sucking on the marrow of something real, and the sideshow of price tags is just catching the lucky drippings off of something meaningful. something that the cynical, deflated people of this country and this post-post-modern world still find refuge in. story, magic, creation, imagination. something strange and free. fantastical and alive. because we want it to be. and that is our power. that we have not yet learned how to grasp. we have not yet acknowledged just how powerful and magical we all are. the power of our mental capacities.

and that is our power. that we have not yet learned how to grasp. we have not yet acknowledged just how powerful and magical we all are. the power of our mental force. of our creative consciousness. of our collective consciousness. of our belief, of our creative forces, of our imaginings, of our meaning making machines. imbuing things with meaning, and then they are meaningful. we are endlessly magical, if we learn to see ourselves through the right kind of eyes. get out of your head, get out of your silly head. look at yourself through the bottom of a glass bottom boat – through the lens of a thousand twirling macroscopes – we are a strange and magical creature. we have mind on our side and consciousness to discover. and all you want to do is worry about your taxes. and bitch about the tiny things. and never look at the strange, big picture. and weep at the beauty. and rapture yourself into wonder at the majesty of consciousness. what a strange world, what a strange world. what a magical world. fucking honor it. do it mother fucking justice – this thing, this thing of being a human being in this strange sensory body – what a mother fucking magic. what a mother fucking magic.

own it.

Key West – Day 1

coffee bones that rattle my teeth and windward sea leaves that sink in the sighs. this is the grace of another day sunk in the arms of the horizon. this is the wilderness of a chunk of land darting into the ocean. keys – laying about in pitter patter horizons and snaggle-toothed wretchery. treachery and piracy and plundering the depths and lengths of the sea that still surrenders to the swell of the sun. light and light and light and the courage of your eyes to pierce through it – dart fanged and wingless. creature keepers and creature comforts and comfortable bits of sand splayed out in nameless hieroglyphics – the markers of children’s haphazard fingers and haywire footsteps. and sand, this song.

and sand, this song. this battering ram of time that riddled the shores with rock ash and cremated granite. the solid form of face-full stones shattered and scattered across the shore. piece by piece, we form something new. piece by piece, we lay on top of one another and press. Piece by piece, enough air gets through to keep gravity afloat. and our hands sift through the ashes. and our hands mold castles with clay. and our hands make sense of the sand by saying it means nothing at all. our eyes make sense of the sand by saying this is a place to lay. not a place to pray – to silent rubble gone satin-skinned and collective.

this is the sound the sand makes. this is the heart the sun takes. this is the way the waves wash. this is the way we transform.

the song of the sand sings with a singular voice. from a collecting collective of an infective directive: toss the rocks to the shore/
break the stone to a trillion pieces/
rattle, shatter, rumble and roll/
break it apart, break it apart –
make a trillion things born new and satin-skinned.

NOLA

New Orleans draped me in its courage and I rose to meet it with my feet splayed hunger and wide-eyed rumble steps. I stepped, angling and circumscribed – turning sheets into towering stone- brick-layered love boxes, hurricane-proof iron work, tumble-rocked ornamentalism. New Orleans spilled onto the pavement and I paved my tongue with the taste of creole kiss-creation. I curled into the mud of the Mississippi and hurtled my tiny shatter-box of a soul through the river-bones of my body. My body, sheltering and homely, hunger-hollowed and wild, found its ancient eyes. Found its youthful resonance. Found my adventure calves, my dreamboat-caught breaths, my sun-scraped eyelashes. Coffee stained throat and cajun dust, I kept wandering through a city that hums in saxophone trills, that remembers the drips and drops of haunted shadows. A city that sings in the swamps and swelters in the shade. A city that knows itself. A city that shares itself. A city steeped in itself. Deeply aware, self-referential and perfectly frozen in the perpetuation of time. Rich in love, doused in art,

Rich in love, doused in creation, dipped in warm praline-perfection. This city is a beating heart still alive. This city is a streetcar named desire. Full-bodied and blood-red. Color-grazed and pastel-parlor-prescience. This city is something still staring. Something still singing.

And delicate hand holds – firmly placed kisses, arched back wind-frames. Angled love with this love of mine I still want to hear. Want to listen to. Prayerful hearts aching across the horizon. Sinking into the river. Dancing across the ferry. Arms open wide and draped in freedom. Bottomless kisses. Wilderness promises. Rumbled rants raging at the resistance of reason. All I am, all I am, all I am loves you. Loves this moment lingered with heavy sighs and precious air.

I remember now that my life is a praise song to the sacred. When I saw the Mississippi river I knew it was she that spluttered up this city. Full of secrets and scattered sun dust. I remembered what it felt like to have the spirit kiss your neck gently on a Sunday morning… tilt your head back and let our star shine on the curvature of your face. I remembered these and I remembered light.

Love to New Orleans, love to you, love to hope still blaring from a saxophone.

radiance, only radiance. words and love or something borrowed. something bulging at the seams. something that seems to be something worth its weight in wind. something worth winding up.

i flew south past Philadelphia…let all the drifting baubles of the city turn to speckled doorknobs from the oval-escent window. i watched the dappled of sunset spills across the top of the clouds. the sea of white lily pads waiting to transform. to carry. to bundle together and release rain. waiting for light to be cast on their backs. the light, i presume, from what i could see, must have shone through the back to the front of the clouds – so that my tiny lovers on the ground could see what i saw too – but backwards and sideways and instantaneously.

up here i’m flying higher than fear. fear has no place in this landscape.

“You never know when you will encounter magic. Some solitary moment in a park can suddenly burst open with a spray of pre-school children in high-vis vests, hand in hand; maybe the teacher will ask you for directions, and the children will look at you, curious and open, and you’ll see that they are perfect. In the half-morning half-gray glint, the cobwebs on bushes are gleaming with such radiant insistence, you can feel the playful unknown beckoning. Behind impassive stares in booths, behind the indifferent gum chew, behind the car horns, there is connection.” – Russell Brand, Revolution

morning light now, i am all curled in the fires of travel. i am all wandering through the winter of this bright warmth. this elegant radiance. this fiery purpose train. all the ways the wind still tries to woo me. and here i am, new orleans tumbled with bright city pride. Louisiana swelling with warm southern grace. here i am, little southern wanderer. wandering towards something worth discovering. and everything is, you know. everything is always worth discovering, if you open your eyes wide enough.