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SWEEPING/SLEEPING AGAIN

Lost, this.

Lost, thus.

Sleep wages

a feeble war

to defy her armor.

Her edges pull down

a tent of stupor.

The brain—an organ

of electro-chemical

relationships,

toxic or devoid.

Transactions

missing

syn-

apses,

useless

syntax.

The final lime

green flickers

of fireflies,

a sad excuse

to peel the eyes.

I am sweeping, this.

Sweeping, thus.

The broken china

and depression

glass lemon lime

pink amber

shards to scoop into

tomorrow’s dustbin

or the garden bed’s

cheerful mosaic (music).

Wearing the sweater-shawl

my father darned

or his flannel jacket

of blues and grays

the colors of his stormy eyes—

the jacket from too many

days in the hospital,

too few of hospice.

I am sweeping, thus.

To stay busy, distracted

from too many storms

on the encroaching

horizon

beckoning

their chaos.

I have seen you, too,

at the dangerous peripheries—

an outlaw of the future

tempting the impossible.

Don’t look so afraid.

I am reaping, this.

Weeding the meaningless

and riffraff

after the ship

crash

into the pillar-

stones.

Tomorrow I shall plant new

ideas and things

I’ll dream tonight

when sleep comes

with her white-down

wings

comforting the lost,

the petrified.

Tomorrow I shall awake

like you

and forget

all I need.

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER /6

Fireworks resumed deep in the stomach, avalanching a euphoria that bled enormous lilies.

The attendant soundtrack was quite abstract [ocean at high tide set to rain]: recompense for too many days of suffering.

If you can only blame yourself, don’t blame anyone.

It’s often necessary to bully oneself out of a corner in private margins of melancholy, remembering that nothing lasts, including stone walls and the vines that find them.

The towering crimson bee balm [and wild globe thistle] had multiplied the garden path and invited teal-bellied hummingbirds while the confused treefrog stayed suctioned to the inner garage wall.

The neighbor’s daughter was stalking blue dragonflies and singing of lily ponds.

Love is a camel ferrying exhausted birds across the desert, hoarding rain, drinking all the stars.

It was difficult to stay in one’s lane with so many distracted drivers and hopeless tailgaters. You missed the turnoff and the appointment at the place that promised to fix you [that wasn’t covered on your insurance plan anyway].

The rope somehow became unknotted from your last anchor.

Everything is philosophy, isn’t it?

No longer oppressive, the sun fell behind the fruitless apple tree [still without a mate] and decorated the horizon screen with cloud paintings.

Beautiful things [dusk-fall, fields of yellow star flowers, elegant blue herons] stopped us in our tracks because we needed them—even bitterroot blooms.

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER /4

The slanted rain took away perpendicular lines. Waterproof lipstick, a first-world commodity.

The man collecting cans did not know how to count them. The store owner did not cheat him, and the man was able to buy two single servings of wine. When he drank them later in the parking lot, did he forget about home?

Already one thought of winter and missed the sound of rain falling and background bird trills. Missed walking barefoot in wet grass soothing feet tired from standing too many hours with too  many diplomas. Dreams of the ocean would make everything palatable, at least. Until anxiety wound the sleeping subject into a top that couldn’t stop spinning.

The men come and go speaking of golf, a beloved giant poodle on chemo, a mother who doesn’t remember her name. The oblivious children frolic with lollipops. A woman drinks cheap vodka with her cats while knitting socks.

Canvases purchased should be larger than the subject, a colossal door opening. Green for summer grass, blues for the sea or sky, yellow primrose and forsythia stars. Purple for irises already lost, orange for burnishing sunfall.

The cicadas will be earlier tonight and remind that the days relinquish toward autumn. How things will be defined by what they are not. July is not January. Money is not water. Not everything can be counted. Not everything can be lost.

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER /15

The day off demanded the jettisoning of shoes and the polite face for customers. The Farmington river ran through the rocks; technology was eschewed.

 

Skipping stones again to travel with the currents—somewhere moving underwater toward the fishermen waiting for their catch.

 

The boy plays with his floating water shoes, pleading to “Look! Look again!”—not ready for school in a handful of days. He, too, not wanting to wear shoes—only to join his father on the kayak.

 

Videos captured too much rainfall and summer storms and too few sea vicissitudes—undulations of waves that don’t find shore dwellers; not knowing pain.

 

The Book, finished for now, looms outside the horizon and the House with its attendant chaos and messy inhabitants.

 

Fall, a trustworthy character, fidgeted off stage, waiting for the hummingbird to leave forever; for the tree frog to find its way from the garage.

 

Stuck on the stair of present and future, the dreamer fears vertigo and stares at the moon ascending the river; grateful the body reclines. Feet massaged with sea minerals and rose hips. The back horizontal and glad.

 

Thoughts, vertical, are thankful for extraordinary space. The Book, the pendulum swing of clock, the loss of night in the labyrinth.

 

 

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER /10

The rain came to be a refrain that August that would recede like all days into the rearview mirror, an exercise in memory and distance.

 

One wondered how the tomatoes would ever ripen and how the portulaca would ever dry out, soggy like the rest of the garden and the human inhabitants.

 

The old man confessed he was ninety-five when he thought he was taking too much time to tender the sale. His wizened hands, a beautiful testament, nimble and lined.

 

The old woman held her daughter’s hand on the way in and back from the movies. A decade younger than the old man; the daughter prayed the mother would last that long, independent, holding onto the cart while the world whirled by faster.

 

Technology had become a bitch at times. Sucking precious time for quirks and quarks and human idiosyncrasies that multiplied while one tried to sleep.

 

They were in deep in their relationship when the ex called to take it all back if she could, but the young man said no, I am moving in a bright direction.

 

The lesson was coming to fruition with so-and-so. The expensive education finally realized lucrative after a lapse of years.

 

How they go quicker, cartwheeling through it all, the rain and such grievances for a summer freefall.

 

There would be adult freeze pops, frozen margaritas and the like to unwind the work treadmill, join a groove, a de-tempo vibe.

 

The hive mind wanted more honey, less rain, less whine.

 

Facebook had become the helicopter parent. Twitter a cousin to community. Snapchat, Instagram, and voiceclips—necessary formations.

 

The House, an utter disaster mess. The other House of language thriving at best.

 

Gather around, it was time to frolic barefoot in puddles and watery reflections, to jettison sorrows and soothe the postmodern egos.

 

 

 

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER /8

Sleep took the dreamer after the thunder and lightning to the sea and then a war that descended at the shoreline.

Airplanes decorated the sky without noise or music. Then, the refrain of rain and waking.

On one’s feet all day, the soles hurt and cry out to be unleashed upon sea water.

The heat of August dissipates in the rain.

Things seem the same but different, always different. The collaboration bespeaks a moving forward, a trajectory of tree frogs.

The end-product results in small deaths.

Out of breath, the lungs beg for more oxygen, more garden.

The garden begs for more rain, less lightning.

The dog hides from the severe thunderstorms, unable to go outside and relieve himself.

There are crosses we bear throughout the day and in the crossover of day to night.

So tired all the time, the body cries out for stupor, for dreaming. For believing in gentle kindnesses, the play of animals frolicking in the grass or sea.

We could be a we if we weren’t so tired and jaded. We could laugh all night and decorate the morning.

Love is a camel hoarding rain.

Pain is an excuse for a drama of wanting, of waiting for the particulars of August to collect in manageable order.

There was fodder for the windmill, wind for the empty seesaw.

The film told us things we didn’t want to know. We grew with the garden.

We laughed in the rain. Our pain bound us to our bodies.

Our memories of other summers flooded in.

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The Favor [from The Glass House of Forgetting]

Samual waited two weeks before he approached Ethan and sought him at night—thinking the proprietor would be tired and more likely to comply. The man’s Arabic wasn’t as good as the wife’s, which would also work to his advantage. He had rehearsed his words and possible responses from the husband.

“Good evening,” Samual called as he heard Ethan approach the front porch from his nightly walk on the shore.

Ethan was awkward, caught off guard, though Samual had tried not to startle him. “Good evening, Samual.”

“Thank you again for letting me stay here.”

“You’re welcome. We hope you feel comfortable.”

“Yes, your inn is very peaceful.” The silence was filled with the surf crashing on the shore. “But I’m wondering if you can do me a favor that has to do with forgetting?

The man seemed skeptical, as Samual anticipated.

“Sure— What do you need?” the man asked him, in earnest, he thought.

“My request has to do with forgetting—you and your wife’s well-known expertise.”

Samual hesitated. He felt like he was placing an important bet. “I need you to help me to die. To forget these days of too-old age, these days without my wife.”

The man seemed uncomfortable as Samual knew he would be and unsure how to respond, so he continued, “I’m just so tired and I can’t see anymore. Out of pity, doctors who came to the island offered to remove the clouds in my eyes, but I don’t trust them. And I don’t need to see anymore. Everyone is gone.”

“That’s why you agreed to come here, isn’t it?” the man asked in a voice tinged with hurt, Samual thought.

“Yes, it’s why.”

“I think you misunderstand. My wife and I don’t—” but the man didn’t finish his sentence.

“But there are stories of the woman without memory and your daughter.”

Samual could feel Ethan cringe.

“You misunderstand. We helped the woman with no memory not to suffer any more from her illness. And our daughter—we had nothing to do with her death. You misunderstand,” he reiterated. “We help people to forget.”

“Please let me have some of the potion I’ve heard about.”

“There is no potion,” Ethan claimed.

“Please talk to your wife and ask her opinion,” he pleaded before turning away.

Despite what others said, Samual did believe the couple was kind. He had rallied all his strength and courage to ask Ethan for the favor. He had nothing to lose. It was rumored that he was 103. Dido, the Queen of Carthage, lived to be 127. But he was ready to sleep and maybe see his wife again. He wanted the aches in his bones and the clouds in his eyes to be gone forever.

 

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ITERATIONS OF SUMMER

1.

The dog drove the jeep into the cement base of the Handicapped sign. The traffic continued to flow on the highway. The angels are tired from saving so many. The ghosts cringe in an abstract way. No one finds a four-leaf clover really.

 

2.

The elderly woman can barely count her change. The young caretaker with the nose ring has all the patience of a seed. Some will water the vegetation. Some will wait for the thunderstorms. A tornado could take out the whole town while the people therein are sleeping.

 

3.

The pronouns fell out again. It was all more objective this way. Well, not really. So-and-so says such-and-such. Just another variable out of context, misjudged by some, reported on TV. No trial for impeachment yet. The neighbor, through the window, is brushing his teeth. Voyeurism, an outlet. Watching, a game.

 

4.

There were many games played by many. Hoola hoops and Styrofoam rockets at the party with plastic martini glasses and silver paper goods. The children ran through sprinklers while the adults complained about work. So-and-so did such-and-such and didn’t take a lunch break. What an ass kisser. What a mile ‘til Friday. Time-starved.

 

5.

Nightmares jarred the sleeper repeatedly. There were broken windows and doors—cracked computer and TV screens. The dreamer ran her hand through the glass and watched the disappearing pixilation. She would take the shards to the beach before the end of the summer—to recycle and plant sea glass seeds. Yes, one must be very patient. One must sleep with the lottery tickets under the pillow.

 

6.

The poetry reading was not a bore at all. The poet barely cleared his throat. The audience, captivated, forgot about work and household chores. What a luxury to be entertained without alcohol or drugs. The words made the people very hungry. Some would go out after for pizza and beer. Others would fly into their cars and go home to their significant others, children, or TV. Perhaps a book now. Perhaps a world between pages in which to become.

 

7.

The sign on the door said the baby is sleeping. The writing on the wall said that war would still be going on. There were too many teams and no competent leadership. What could one do, really? Make a phone call; send an email? Text the netherworld. Tell them to come fetch some of the crew.

 

8.

Time should be carefully allotted before it accrues. There is time for structure and time for the play of children and animals. Rub the puppy’s belly. Pull out the string for the bored cat. And then the lounging in the summer grass; walking across it to sooth one’s overworked bare feet.

 

9.

Summer was passing too quickly. Some of the garden, a small percentage really, had been taken out by the Fourth of July and thereabouts heat. Save the vacation for winter and somewhere tropical. Put the loose change in a jar. The waves soothe already in the future.

 

10.

There were metaphysical moments a few in the crowd wanted to talk about, but the words ran right off the page. Like a watercolor on an incline leaving spider maps. The mask should ward off the evil spirits and invite the kindest ghosts to leave their metaphorical forests. We can no longer see the trees; stuck in being [pronouns].

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Further Studies in Existentialism /6

  1. The island within: the ship of the singular brought me here, or I was here all along but couldn’t articulate. There were others I had to send away. They didn’t recognize me.

 

  1. The caregiver doesn’t recognize the beloved. He plays her favorite music, so she has something to hold on to as a steadying branch amidst the fuzzy confusion—and so she will take the collection of pills without biting his hand.

 

  1. With the right haircut, I may be someone different for a while. Is it a coincidence that the hair grays more on the right; the right side of the brain overplayed?

 

  1. How many days can one wear a bathrobe before it is clinical? The philosopher wonders, unable to do laundry. The Sisyphus uphill—at an obtuse angle more difficult to navigate in daylight.

 

  1. There is no noun form to express being overwhelmed. The overwhelm-ation subtracted her somehow.

 

  1. Next month, I will believe in something. I am almost certain.

 

  1. I disappeared again. Damn it. I’ll have to put posters up on the telephone poles and social media. Free lunch if you find me. Bring your spiritual medicine kit; sign the nondisclosure agreement. We can have sushi or tacos—your call.

 

  1. Some people are linear, some circles, some Mobius strips.

 

  1. Are these notes/studies in line with Stevens’ “supreme fiction” or are they just to get by?

 

  1. Drinking coffee, the philosopher knows he is alive and not getting thrown around in dreamscapes, lost in sound paintings.

 

  1. The dog can hear me chewing from the other side of the House. After our long winter hibernation, we are hungry all the time.
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