27 May 2019

A Brief Meditation On Account of the Dead That Sacrificed

Put down the drink
Set aside the coupons
Challenge yourself
To grasp tight
Sadness and memory
Of all the souls
Wrapped tight
In that freedom rag
You worship
And exalt
Without care
At the ruination
Of another’s arc
Cost paid by them
But extracted
By the powerful
And the delusional
Who cannot stop
Fabricating reasons
To carve more names
In the stone wall
Of our violent privilege

20 May 2019

A Feast for St. Crispin, Part 2

He rose to his feet. Crackling in his joints echoed the crackling flames. To his ears the sound was another stitch in the universal fabric into which his existence was woven. The body, like fire, consumes to live. The price of existence includes the toll it takes on both. The flames offered themselves up as temporary axis mundi for this feast day in the woods. Ephemeral, fluttering, but temporal and true.

Metaphysical indulges aside, there was work to do. He stepped out in a languid amble spiraling anchored by the volute spring of the fire. Leaf litter crumbled underfoot, little brown mosaics shattered by the high notes of his tread. Fire warmth in the limbs fades into the coolth of October air seeping through shirt, jacket, and jeans. He amused himself with the folly of the forest as a Roman bathhouse. Leaving the fire behind on a foliate passage from caldarium to frigidarium, minus the shock of a dousing with water.

Having recently dropped the stones, his hands were empty. They tingled. The time had come to fill them with new fuel.

To be continued

13 May 2019

A Feast for St. Crispin

The smoke rose to meet Heaven on October 25th, in the fifty-fifth year of his tenure on Earth. A warm beast of a campfire lay just beyond his feet. Sparks threatened his socks, but the therapy of the flames was too good to resist. Hard days of hiking had etched tattoos on his lower legs, in the form of bruises and blisters. Cramps, too. He considered that as he absent-mindedly massaged his left ankle and arch. New, not quite broken-in boots sat on the ground by his side. To the front firelight dappled a pair of old shoes that very nearly were in the embers. The proximity of fire to footwear did not bother him. Indeed, the closeness made him happy, seeing as it was integral to the point of sitting fireside on this Saint Crispin’s Day.

October seeped into his bones. Afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees striped the forest with honeyed gold and slices of dusk. Leaf litter tanged the air, undergirded with the memory of petrichor. He reveled in the boon of communion with earth, air, fire, and water. Modern science may have moved on to greater accuracy in classifying the world and loosening the grip of things elemental but they still held sway on his imagination. Balance was restored through the arboreal embrace of the forest. The proof was here and now.

More walking awaited. There was still wood to gather, provisions to secure. He reached for the boots, slipping them on. While lacing up, motion by the fire caught his eye. Faint threads of smoke were spiraling up from the toes of the shoes. “Whoah!” he barked, startling himself with the volume shattering the quiet of the woods. He snatched the shoes away. It was too soon to end the celebration. That would have to wait, when the sun was down and the belly was full. He finished lacing the boots, and stood. The fire needed the depth of the night to reach its full flower. Time to gather the fuel.

To Be Continued

06 May 2019

Essence, Volume Zero

Memory and longing grabbed me by the nose on an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday afternoon, putting a tiny stutter in my step. The tourists may have thought I was tipsy, but I knew better. The sway of abrupt dislocation was triggered by an amalgam of scents wafting from a doorway. The drawing of a breath snatched me out of myself and into a memory palace far from my feet on the ground. A quick turn of the head to verify the source, a shake thereof for clearance, and then continuing on my way down to the harbor. This was break time. I would have no truck with ghosts, within or without me.

In the town where I work there is a spice shop around the corner from my office. It is on literal Main Street. I pass by it nearly every day during the work week. Good weather in the warmer months leads to a door often propped open. It is their custom to place a folding sign on the brick pavers in front, adorned with photos of the wares offered within. Aromas heady and alluring spill out into the sidewalk air. Most days I stroll past without much of a thought for it. But this Tuesday was different. The aromas hit hard and fast.

A different time. A different place. A different me. That person is not here now except in his own amber memories. I am reluctant to think of him now. How often does an island think of departed tsunamis, or a mountain dream of past earthquakes? I have no claim to the solidity of of such geographic stalwarts. but in our shared concerns it feels that we are brothers. Remembrance of the past does not equate to a desire for reliving it.

Mountains and beaches speak of singularities. In the collective memory of humankind, such features are “essential” in an ancient sense. They possess spiritual gravity. In our lives we know this because their proximity pulls at our hearts and minds. The great naturalist John Muir understood this, famously saying “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Substitute “ocean is” for “mountains are”, in particular, and it becomes supremely illuminatory.

The light was strong, the call was loud that ordinary Tuesday. I stood surrounded by both, with a nose full of memories. My heart beat slow. My pace matched it. I wandered off in search of an essence just beyond the edges of recall, wondering if it was written in Volume Zero.