you remember records

home.  denver.  3.23.16.

the snow swirls, the tea steeps, and i’m wrapped in the cozy sounds of sinatra’s velvety croons emanating from my grandparents’ vinyl.  i close my eyes and conjure up the joy of their 5 o’clock ritual.  of husbands and wives and sisters and brothers gathered together and celebrating life.  scotch splashing, ice cubes tinkling, as they glide merrily across their newly installed and oh-so-trendy linoleum floor with their highball glasses filled all-too-generously.

papa in his monogrammed golf shirt.  gama, in her smart red nails and superbly chic polyester suit and pearls, carefully selects another cigarette from her case, and with a flick of her floral brass cloisonné bic, she inhales relief.  tricks are won, tales are told, ivories are tickled, and everyone’s glasses and hearts and bellies remain generously full.  they.  are.  living.

and with a drop of the needle, i’m living right here, right there with ‘em.

the undisciplined tongue

joe & fran, aka papa & gama.  mississippi.  1940’s.


the hunger

home.  mississippi delta.

fierce is the longing for my home place,
an intangible ache marrow-deep.
shaped by her fields and her bayous,
her mysteries and misfits and beasts.

borne of her soil,
married to her seasons,
my rhythms shift and change
in her absence.

her likeness haunts me,
ablaze in the kaleidoscope of colors at sundown
or the song of the red-winged blackbird.

a hollow yearning swells,
and i cry out into the void.
to see the last glorious improbable light
of a delta day
bathe the alluvial plain
with shades of me.

the undisciplined tongue

light in the heart

denver botanic gardens.  11th & york st.

do i alone dream
of being luminous?
vibrant and tender and open
to the richest depths.

with no purpose save for radiating beauty
and a quiet, effortless grace
that offers a brief respite
from the crowded mess.

unearthing things and unfolding them softly into the world.
the undiscovered regions
and the hopes and fears that petrify.

no choice
but to bravely bring into being
these delightful little abstractions
with their pleas and imperfections.

the undisciplined tongue

revolt. do something. anything. real.

bus stop.  denver.  12 & york.

we’ve been bamboozled.

we’re being controlled
by a bunch of greedy suits
and the electronic idols
they dangle in front of us.

it’s preposterous.

we spend twelve hours a day with media.  twelve.  that’s half of our daily allotment of life.  not to mention that we’re subjected to over 5,000 ads and brand names during that time.  preposterous.

are we but dimwitted mules trudging toward the carrot?  habitually consuming virtual sustenance?  looking for love and happiness and validation where it can never be found?  living carefully curated online personas that are sleek and smooth—not messy and innocuous like our real ones.

it’s quite peculiar.  this information age.  feeding us mostly useless and false intelligence with plenty of illusions.  of control.  of intimacy.  of knowledge.

it’s misleading, and we know it.  the willed spontaneity, the feigned self-deprecating talk, the incessant need to justify oneself and one’s actions to the [virtual] world.  (note: the very definition of virtual is “almost or nearly,” with its antonyms being actual, authentic, real.)

but it makes no difference whether or not our lives are as perfect beyond the screen as they are on it.  what matters is how it makes us feel.

how it’s grasping our throats and tightening ever so gently.  sneakily.  so we won’t realize we’re asphyxiated until it’s too late.

don’t get me wrong.  i have a lot of love for many aspects of [social] media.  but, as a whole, it leaves me feeling somehow deflated.  so many lovely and varied possible existences presenting themselves on a neverending reel.  subtly planting the seed that i don’t have enough.  am not enough.

and we’re trapped.  in our minds and our devices.  and we covet and resent and devalue.

we’re being conditioned.

to consume.  to create patterns of habits and artificial reactions that allow us to be controlled.  by the suits who build the things from which we need to escape.

but we’re in luck, because i know the antidote for the social-media-addicted-sick-man.  it’s a little avocation called being alive.  reading a real book with real pages.  going to a real coffee shop made of real bricks and drinking real coffee with real friends.  loafing through some real woods full of real trees producing real living, breathing oxygen.

revolt.  do something.  anything.  real.

the undisciplined tongue