Blind Sight

“It is life’s work to recognize the mystery of the obvious”
– Jim Harrison

 

Your laugh a blurry yawn –
I’m so nearsighted you are always

your beautiful best each morning
as you push me out of bed

Yet my eyes have the gift of
near sight –

Husbandry the myopia
of close study and closer calls

That look, too close
for comfort

Such when I roll back towards you
within a whisper of your lips

A semiquaver of your eyes’
plainsong light

I see how love and the world
collapse

 

 
Day 28, 28 Days of Unreason

Haibun – 白夜 (“Midnight Sun”)

“At four in the morning my body bumped against the ceiling”
– Jim Harrison

 

Svenn taught me how to get coffee ready for when we were pulling on our boots to go milk the cows. First, start water boiling in the kettle, then tear open a bag of grounds and dump them in the rolling water. Wait a bit and pour, grounds and all, into a cup. “Kokekaffe” or cooked coffee is what he called it, as best as I could make out. We’d drink it hot and black along with a thick slice of bread spread with butter and salmon roe.

On the islands of Lofoton Norway, like anywhere above the Arctic circle, light is a season, not a daily thump and bump of day into night into day again. The summer sun rolls around the horizon like an infinitely slow roulette marble. Or the electron of a halo, shutter stopped.

At first, I thought I was forever done with night, that darkness was something I could shed and never regret. But after a bit, the constant light started making the cows and the dogs and even the humans a bit crazy. I had to tie a rag around my eyes to try and sleep, since light leaked in through the window blinds despite my best efforts. Eventually, even just knowing it was light outside was enough to keep me awake, sanity slowly leaching out the corners of my eyes. In the end, the only handhold to full blackout was to drink more and more of the Everclear we made in a still behind the barn. Svenn taught me how to do that too.

Who knew how much we crave darkness? How necessary for our shadows to lengthen, dissolve, and fill the sky.

Calls for light season
Hints of crazy spices gin –
Distilled summer sun

 

 

Day 27, 28 Days of Unreason
dVerse Poets Pub, Haibun Monday

Superbug

“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,
mean as a beetle on the track of dung.”

– Jim Harrison

 

Did I bug you enough today –
leave you a trail of crumbs
from the toast I burnt with my joy

Like a pest I brought you sugar crystals
in my mouth and kissed you
while trying to say “mandibles”

Mine is the love of chiggers and mites –
you can swat at me but I’m under your skin
and you know it

 

Day 20, 28 Days of Unreason

Sleeping Giant

“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write. I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. ‘Can I have a piece of pie’ he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”
– Jim Harrison

 

Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of primordial creation, swaggered drunk through the door at 6AM this morning as I was getting ready for work.

He does this every time he comes to visit – drinks pulque all night with his cousins in Queens, then comes to sleep it off on my couch.

When he wakes up he will eat an entire box of Pop-Tarts and drink all the orange juice. He’s just like that. Fun god to know, but lousy houseguest.

With all those snakes and war hammers and other cool god gear I can’t really say no, although my wife thinks I could just not answer the door and let him sleep in the subway.

I’m sure other people have Greek goddesses for a muse, or a river spirit, or a cat. But he and I have been friends since college – ran around late at night ranting Blake at passersby and not getting anywhere with girls, even English majors. We were for sure over the top, but those rumors of live sacrifice were completely untrue.

I remember the day I met him, we were both sitting at a bus stop. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lonelier looking kid. He looked small and lost, shrunk inside his headdress. Sure, he’d eventually grow into his godhood, but that day he was just another teenager away from home for the first time, trying to figure it all out.

I’ve never been sure who needed whom more that day, him or me.

Watching him sleep, not sure what’s still true now.

 

 

Day 19, 28 Days of Unreason

Haibun – M__

“We’ll know as children again all that we are destined to know, that the water is cold and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far.”
– Jim Harrison

 

I came near to drowning when I was nine or ten years old, with my neighbor M__’s arms around my neck. The water swirling downward in the pool of his life was as dark and cold as anyone would ever need for that.

One morning he decided we should play a new game that I had to keep a secret. Made me swear. But not the usual we’ve now come to expect.  He had to repeat the name of it a couple of times because it wasn’t easy to pronounce at first. But finally he was ready to explain the rules of Ku Klux Klan.

He wanted us to wrap ourselves in sheets and go from room to room having secret meetings with pretend walkie-talkies. He muttered a lot of stuff behind his hand I won’t repeat, but I didn’t understand it at the time either. It was a dumb game and after a little while I didn’t want to do it anymore. It was boring watching him try to tie a noose. I wanted to go outside and play army like usual. I lived in the never ending black-and-white WWII movie on TV, and preferred it that way.

One day when we were out ranging, we ended up in a field of tall, dry grass. M__ pulled out a box of matches and began lighting them and throwing them in the hay-like stalks. At first I tried to stop him but then turned to stamp out the flames. He kept too far ahead of me, lighting more. Pretty soon there was a real brush fire going, with dark smoke billowing up and sirens going off. The field was next to a Jewish Synagogue, and the fire was moving towards it.

For the next few days every time I heard a siren in the distance I was sure it was the police coming for me. Finally, in a scared-kid version of  Crime and Punishment, I cracked and blurted it all out to my mother and father. Luckily the fire fighters had made it to the synagogue in time so there wasn’t any damage, but that was it for M__. I never saw him again after that, and his family moved shortly thereafter.

At home, my parents changed the channel from WWII to Civil Rights and then Vietnam.

 

Innocence be damned
Childhood eyes a lynching –
Drowned in sheets of fire

 

 

Day 18, 28 Days of Unreason