This is the month of any-which-way winds
Thunder squalls here, dry flame-fed gusts there,
The final chants of summer of cicada
The frantically thrown together party
Only for rain to tease or heat to wear down.
It was a drought year- bad one- that I saw my first dustdevil- five years old.
Five- a cusp of age when magic meant something more than a cartoon sparkles
And fearlessness still drove me across fences and adults calling after mattered none.
It was the kind of heat lemonade couldnít touch- maybe a breeze from September taunted it,
And before my eyes, twenty, thirty feet, as upward as my eyes could go the dustdevil shot,
Taking with it parking lot dirt, the hiss of dry grass clippings, maybe some plastic,
And I ran into the middle of it, whoever they were running after me,
But I had to be in the center of that living swirl of tussling winds.
Dust stung my eyes but I didnít care- my young mouth
Ate dirt but I didnít care- because I got to be in that
Vortex before it dissipated into nameless wind
And saliva-wetted napkins with stern voices
ďYou should neverÖĒ ďyou should neverĒ
Trying to wipe away the time I looked up
And saw the whirling mass leading to Infinity
All the while, made of nothing, not even time.
This summer I saw some steam making pillars
Off a pool where such an unlikely collection of us
Were skinny-dipping; people as random as dustdevil jetsam.
I tried to swim to them, the pillars disappeared, I donít think anyone else saw.
This summer a few storms came through that were cyclonic and rotating, and weíre told to run in fear,
I just took photographs, trying to get back to that childís upturned eye, never making it.
In the anticlimax of a vortexís sudden conclusion of dancing, I find myself much like
The particles that fall to the ground, crazy-made and landing anywhere.
Sometimes, the placement is perfect, I am content with the outcome
Of all that spinning and air-jazz, yet also repeating to myself the
Mantra that Iím always where Iím supposed to be, finding
Opposition to the crude landing, isolation among the
Crowd of other lost and wandering bits, looking for
My place of origin, my heap of whatever-
Merely detritus among detritus,
Not my own, dustdevil come
Back and wind me Ďround.
Sand is pulverized
From much larger sources.
We are all grains, fine, fine grains.
We can be picked us and funneled at any minute.
Upon the plain of a high desert or in a suburb puckered in drought.
Iím sand, a tip of a dead dry leaf, a dandelion seed, some folded note never read
Spiraled up, whirled, let down; and so are you, so are we all, looking for either our source
Or comradery among the motley scraps- Iíll take either, or a little of both, just something that gives
Purpose to the crazy weather that gives flight if only for seconds and without control.
Or Iíll take being that kid again, running from my protectors, hurtling toward
Certain danger, which was little more than a dirty face, so I can seize a
Second of bafflement at the swarm of us, a tornado of circumstance,
Gazing through the body of a dustdevil, being the sum of the dust,
Finding nothing devilish in the dance that creates, destroys,
Compels the future stirrings of little running boys.
fire in their hands
it's all they have left
everything else is torn down
in the muggy night, Missouri goddamn.
they killed a boy
snuff out the unruly
and when they take to streets
tears and pain and anger, Missouri goddamn.
shots fired, West Florissant
gas out the underclass as they pray
radio chatter, the armor takes the city
drones, sirens, a bloody memorial, Missouri goddamn.
when is African blood less
then wholesome American white bread?
call this a melting pot, I call it a smelter,
you cannot break the back of the uprisen, Missouri goddamn.
drones, you surveil with tones like baritones
an unholy choir that sings to gunfire and broken children
no family to which I belong will abide to your pummeling of innocence
men and women and children down, urgent response needed, proceed to Missouri goddamn.
A little meditation from my walk today at Hominy Creek Greenway:
"We travel vast distances to 'visit nature.' As beings of nature we seldom visit ourselves, which requires not even a quiver of movement. Yet should we embark to visit the self- the natural self- there lies before us a map of the entire Universe, right where you are, now. What we come through we contain. Even if we are utterly immersed in the inorganic, there is no power so great as Nature which keeps us in Its order. In our tenderest of oscillations or awkwardest of bumblings, we are an orderly outgrowth of a seemingly chaotic Universal garden. And, we are young yet- still tart wild fruit on a vine just beginning to be guided upward by the sun. That's us, as a species. As for you and me... well, all there is to do from here on out is laugh about that."
This song/poem came to me this morning in and out of dreams, and I've reconstructed the words more from the feeling of it, but the rhythm of the song is as clear as can be. Perhaps, with the recent passing of two brave warriors this week, this song is an expression of release. Here goes:
If the road is a' calling your name my friend
If the road is a' calling your name
I give you all the luck I have
All I've ever earned.
The road will take some fortune my friend
Now it's yours to burn.
When the sea is a' singing your song my dear
When the sea is a' singing your song
I give to you the boat I row
Small and worthy is she.
Tempest waves toss great ships my dear
It's the pilot not the sea.
As the wind is a' lifting your wings my love
As the wind is a' lifting your wings
I give a message for you to keep
A secret 'tween you and I
Soar above this tired ol' world my love
Remember us to the sky.
And the stars are a' chanting you home my one
And the stars are a' chanting you home
I give to you what you gave to me
A day so free and bright
You're forever a constellation my one
We're never alone in the night
We're never alone in the night
We're never alone in the night
Always one in the light.
Nothing is right in the world, nothing wrong in it either-
thereís your hunger, thereís that fire, thereís his brutality,
the savage dance of give and take goes on all night, some will kiss
some leave scorned but do not blame the moon for all the happens under
this is music, and your bowed head in the crooked shadows is the down tempo-
you do not always exhale, you are not always awake, your pain is the balances, baby.
Ain't no such thing as luck, ain't never been, life is that thing.
Black cat cross you, bend down to those golden eyes so vast, so Bast,
each blink a blessing with her soft homeless tussle of after-hours hair, her song
for that moment brings you into being, shadow to shadow, and you both lived, and
loved for that touch no matter your fates- should you be revered a venerated elder or die,
nameless blood on streets, do not blame the stars for constellations fixing your bisecting path.
You worn to the bone and everybody can see it, you plow endless-
yet in derangement on you go, in fields of the impossible you seed fever dreams
your harvest is strange but good, so you donít stop and no we donít want you to, yet-
fallow goes the acres of broken farmers, choiceless but to dream and the demand is high.
So do not blame the sun for your crop and thus your work, for you threw the first seed and ate
the first fruit, cry to the sky for purpose and it will answer ďto grow;Ē let rain mingle with your dire tears.
Come here, under my arms.
Fall into your long-lost soul
like a song finds a receiver
on an old crackling radio.
Look up, and out, and well
past the sky- do not blame
the moon, the stars, the
sun for your creaking bones.
Just as wood in the hull
of a boat you made to sail
baby, do not blame them-
be lit, and navigate by them.
The gifts any midnight can bring, should you dare to wait for it in the still minutes prior
are so small, smaller than words, eyes only see stars as pinpricks, fireflies as living meteors,
and the hours on the clock are only ink traversed by overtime hands, wrought in metal, far off.
These are peculiar gifts- alone with the tangle of your thoughts, in the gutter of lust, at the height of luck.
No night bears same witness to the day we wore before, though the paths worn across the floors of dreams may
weave akin to other stories, nothing bisects likewise ever- these are hooks whereupon significant hats are ever hung.
The darkness and lightness are themselves choices elected in mood, in song, in recollection or forget;
reflections are unforgiving, no day-glow softens the canyons of your yearnings won and lost.
Stark the contrasts we face- thatís why we gather, to laugh away the ridgelines of the soul.
And there are crucibles, train-tracks, ill-defined shadows that yearn so to shake us past the hours, into elsewhere.
The un-uttered thought, the skeletonís knuckles tracing the closet door, all too seek the dark to emerge
as a night-blooming flower hides perfect imperfection under starlight and dew, an entirety seeks out.
Midnight is a time to reckon with your name, your song, your signature across the brief arc
of a sphere that bears us through the implausible cosmic- when the clock strikes,
you are both little and huge, a mite and a monster, and in-between that name.
Think of all the crooners intoning this time, not imagining you, but there you are-
hearing it, contained within a love story, or woe, but nonetheless unforgotten.
Midnight has come- what maps you through these thin hours? If anything, yourself.
Time is a warped, wicked, and wanton wastrel. I feel that I was only just in Palmer Lake, Colorado celebrating the life of my cousin Joslin Nagle, then only moments before that I was in Belize in 2013, and Asia 2012. Spring seems to have a strange momentum to it as far as getting out- of your physical locale anyway. Getting out of one's head, preconceived notions, well-worn maps need not be seasonally conditioned, however- these are journeys that are ticketed by the moment... all for which I'm grateful, even upon the most perilous of terrains. These travels remind me I have the unique and cosmically rare experience of existing, and that I have a duty to persist for all those dear to me that have not danced the calendar as far as I have. In persisting, do so with their highest dreams in my rucksack. It really is the least any of us can do to pay tribute to those we love, and to time- tricking us into not noticing it's made off with our watch.