humid days of no rain

the grass is growing tall and green
even in the heat of summer

the long days of no rain
hasn’t hampered the humidity
that still hangs low
in a hazy fog
nearly blocking out the mountains

a tall weed shoots above the grass
growing near a blooming pink lily

no rain for days and still
the blooms unfurl
in the sun and thick air

triptych (morning-noon-night)

thinking up ways
to circumvent the
inevitable downturn
of everyday chores
turning to work

____________

hands charred and calloused
turning to stone
ashen with dead skin
peeling away in bloody pieces
leaving pits of memory

____________

the end of the day
brings its own ends
to the things that will begin
anew when the sun rises on
its own fading horizon

Sorting Through My Own Confusion. . . Sort of. . .

There are times when no words are adequate to describe the different emotions, thoughts, feelings that keep running through my head. And in those times, I feel incompetent as a writer. The words won’t flow and the words are supposed to flow at all times. The lines of poetry are supposed to form themselves out of the aether and I am supposed to be the conduit that puts those words onto the page.

But what if the aether is silent?

What if the universe is not speaking, but is just sitting back, watching?

In those moments, when I can’t find the words to say, when the universe doesn’t seem to be speaking, I have to do something I hate, something that makes me feel completely incompetent and small:

I have to take a deep dive into myself and look at what is there.

The fear that comes with that deep dive is the fear that as I go deeper, when I finally reach the bottom of the well, there will be nothing there. That at the core of me, there is nothing but emptiness. But perhaps more terrifying than the prospect of emptiness is the prospect that the bottom of the well holds not emptiness, but confusion. At my greatest depths, am I a deeply conflicted and confused individual?

Nevertheless, I have to try.

This is what the bottom of the well has rendered:

Black lives matter, but the BLM movement is deeply flawed.
Blue lives matter, but the senseless brutality of the police has to stop.
All lives matter, but that is no excuse to ignore gross injustice.
Utopias cannot exist, but that is no reason not to try to improve.
As change occurs, former slaves should not become new masters.
Violence always, always only begets more violence.
Change is good, but should not be allowed to occur unchecked and unrestrained.
Things need to change, change is necessary, but not without well thought-out process and discourse.

Right now, maybe the universe has stopped speaking. Maybe we are on our own. Maybe the universe is speaking, but we have stopped listening. Maybe I have stopped listening. But this is what I have, this is where I am in my conflicted, confused thoughtspace. It may not be right, but it is my honest assessment of my own positions in a time when the world seems to be demanding everyone have a position.

The culture clashes I see raging around me I see raging in myself.

Looking at those clashes, inside me and beside me, I see the universe and I hear it speak.

the disquiet of the unknown

when i stand at the threshold
of silence and voice
the instinctive response
is to always speak
and to speak loudly

the push from all sides
to be the loudest voice
for whatever the cause
to make the best argument
to make the strongest points

to not think
but to let loose the tongue
so that the sounds that drip
from my lips
are not the words i mean
but the words that are acceptable

so i linger in silence
for a bit longer
than perhaps i should

making people uncomfortable
with my unknown position
until i can sort through

the things that make me uncomfortable
and speak from a place of discomfort
the things that arent always beautiful

the things that arent always fair
but the things that are spoken
with my own tongue

tilling the ash after the fire

when the world is on fire
fear is the word
that lingers on the lips
of every person

the fear of what is happening
the fear of what has been
the fear of what will happen

when the world is on fire
every gust of wind will
magnify the heat and spread the flames

but the ashes of old growth
make fertile ground
for new green shoots
to poke through the tangled underbrush
and finally feel the sun

when the world is on fire
fear will spread the flames
but when the fire dies

old fears die with it
turned into gray ash
to be tilled into rich black soil

the milkweed cycle

milkweed grows thick
inside the two block high walls
of the flowerbed
cornering the house
where caterpillar mouths
cut away the leaves
bleeding sticky white

soon butterflies
will land on the blocks
while on the green stalks
of milkweed
a mantis will sit waiting
eyes focused and sharp
legs bent and wings folded

“Dispatch from a Pandemic: Mount Carmel, Tennessee” by Seth Carr

A big thanks to ACM for publishing my thoughts and the thoughts of others around the country, keeping us all connected during this trying time.

Please check out all the amazing content ACM has to offer!

Another Chicago Magazine

sam.coronadots

I work in isolation.

In my job as the groundskeeper of a church in East Tennessee most of my day is spent with myself and the various tools and objects with which I interact.  When the COVID-19 crisis first began boiling to the surface, then as the shelter-in-place orders began rolling out, I wasn’t concerned.  My life and my personality are such that I naturally self-isolate.  Finding ways to entertain myself and occupy my time have always been easy.  No big deal, I thought.  Then I saw the effect the forced isolation was having on my wife.

If I am the archetypal introvert, my wife is the exact opposite.  She is a third-grade teacher and is used to spending her days surrounded by hundreds of children, coworkers, parents, and friends.  When she is not working, there was nothing she enjoyed more than a get-together with her closest friends and family. …

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the brain etching

I’ll take myself out of time
and put back the remnants of the aeons past

hoping to break through the wall into the fourth dimension

talking out of time and into
the empty face of the black void
who puts on his skin makeup to hide the spiral

swirling at the base of his skull

a mouth full of no teeth
but the endless sparkle of stars
pulls at the center of my guts
with a long nebulous tongue

grafting skin to skin and etching its words
into the center of my forehead:

wake up
wake up