Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Final Days


“The Final Days” is a very short story written August 29, 2002. It is the nineteenth story in a collection of seventy written in the space of ninety days, and collected in the second volume of my Author’s Press Series under the title No Time to Cut My Hair. Is it any wonder? Now, over fifteen years later, I still don’t have time. Each and every day is my last. It is also my first — and, of course, the only. I tell you, it’s one thing to stand in front of a waterfall looking like a hairy nut, but quite another to jump in. And the jump is really the only thing ever asked of us. The jump — to peace, to love, to — well, deep down, you already know, and certainly don’t need me to tell you.

*

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Bodies were everywhere. The forests were gone. So were the animals. The rivers ran with blood. The soil had been contaminated. Even their eternal friend and companion, the sun, struggled in vain to bore a hole through the earth’s polluted atmosphere. When a child was born, it died nameless within a few hours. Some mothers held a hand over their newborn’s mouth and nose until he or she stopped breathing. Then the search began for a resting place where the child was least likely to be disturbed.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. For the first time, they fully understood war, and the meaning of war. They understood that they were responsible for what had happened, and that if they had made the decision not to fight, war would have been impossible. For the first time, they saw the direct relationship between the way they led their lives and the events that had occupied and finally consumed the world. The simple truth drove many people mad. Suicide, though unnecessary, was a common occurrence.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. The desire to know one another had replaced all other desires. There was nothing to gain or lose, other than friendship. Feelings of love and kinship grew. People greeted one another with eagerness and affection.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. When it was discovered that a handful of the world’s leaders were still alive, and that they were in hiding in specially built chambers beneath the earth’s surface, there was a great outpouring of concern. It was too late for them to be punished. Punishment had already been accomplished at their own hands. Rather, their foolish self-exile earned them a feeling of sympathy. Eventually, they were coaxed above ground, and stood trembling in awe at all that had happened. They wandered about like ghosts, afraid of each other and afraid of themselves. None of them understood the love that was around them, for they had traveled too far away from their own humanity.

In the final days, the few humans still alive spoke to each other with kindness. Then the light coming from their eyes went out forever. The planet sighed, then waited. It is waiting still, drifting silently through space, crushed by the knowledge of all that was lost.

“The Final Days”
August 29, 2002, No Time to Cut My Hair


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Canvas 1,057



Canvas 1,057

October 8, 2017


One of those days — you are up very early,
or very late, thinking about change,
and the time you’ve yet to spend as an autumn leaf.



Saturday, October 7, 2017

Canvas 1,056



Canvas 1,056

October 7, 2017


I don’t have near the level of control with my left hand that I do with my right. But after using my left for a day, a week, or more, and I return to my right, I discover both are left. And yet if I reverse the process, I never discover that the left has become the right. So it’s either a right and a left, or two lefts, never two rights.



Canvas 1,055



Canvas 1,055

October 7, 2017




Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Canvas 1,049



Canvas 1,049

October 4, 2017




Canvas 1,048



Canvas 1,048

October 4, 2017




Canvas 1,047



Canvas 1,047

October 4, 2017




Sidewalk seasonal


Months later, in the chilled morning air,
the same towhee, from the same tree,
singing and saying,

I see I see, you see I see you see . . .

and after I wash, and sit with some tea,
I write the word

dignity

and then the word says,

I think you mean simplicity . . .



Canvas 1,046



Canvas 1,046

October 4, 2017




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Canvas 1,030



Canvas 1,030

September 21, 2017


I used to want a big old house
in the country with beckoning stairs
and rooms for every mood,
but the children grew
and now I just
want you.

Yes, love, time
has flown.
And it’s cold
again this year.
I can feel it in my bones.
I can feel it here, and here, and here.

“Two Graves”
Songs and Letters, December 4, 2006



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Precious brevity


My thanks to friend and founding editor Robin White for including Canvases 927 and 928 in her beautiful Fall 2017 issue of Akitsu Quarterly. I’m deeply moved to see them in print, and am relieved on their behalf that they escaped my ever-lengthening parade of lonely-blissful misfits. But there is much more to Robin’s publication than these two drawings. There is such a lovely spirit in this collection of haiku from around the world — an insightful hush and calm, if you will, that restores one’s balance. Precious brevity, where all else seems a landslide of words.



Canvas 927


Canvas 928








Tuesday, September 19, 2017

No more


I don’t believe in war. I am grown up. I am sixty-one years old. I love all the school children. I love all the young people in love. I love the leaves as they fall. The buds as they come on. I feel sad when I accidentally cause the death of a bug. I’m a tree myself. A rock. The moss. I love the streets. I love the countryside. I love the little broken-down farm houses and cemeteries. People, walking. Holding hands. Laughing. Crying. Millions and millions and millions and millions and millions and if you want me to agree with this or that justification — well, just forget it, that’s all. Keep your flags. Your pride. Your borders. Your frightened bully guns. I know what they represent, I knew when I was fourteen, I know now, and I’ve seen and had and lost enough to know that love is the real courage, the real bravery, and I’m not afraid to say it, I’m not afraid to appear weak, I am not ashamed to admit that I can’t live without the help of others, or to say that I love all the people of the world, all of our languages, all of our kinds, all of our colors, and that I am sorry for any animosity I may have created during my life, known to me or unknown, any contribution I have made to unhappiness and misunderstanding, or to publicly recognize that it was due to my ignorance and arrogance even though I always meant well. But I was scared. And therein lies a revealing truth: the stronger you wish to appear, the more scared you are. Of yourself. Of life. Of love. You don’t want simplicity. You shun the obvious answer. You demand complication. You are afraid to stand up in front of the world and take my hand, the hand of someone you have never met, and say, “We will live this way no more.” All these powerful people, afraid to lose their money, afraid to appear weak, all they have to do is stand up and hold hands and say, “No more.” Then they will know what strength is. Then we can feed the hungry and care for the ill and the old. And they know this deep down. That is why their faces are disfigured and cold. You’ve seen it. You know. Have pity for them. Show them how.


Hunger


By my faulty, limited reckoning, this poem is about fifteen years old. It is also as old as the hills. Too old. New? No. Yes. Painfully so. There is something about fall. The first rain. Bus loads of school children. Waving tired moms. What does any of it have to do with cabbages? I don’t know. Nothing? Everything? And in the end, it really isn’t that much of a poem. Or a poem at all. Except, what isn’t?

*

Hunger

Long ago,
on a street corner
in the city where I was born,
there was a dump truck
full of large green cabbages
parked in the mud.
The driver of the truck
raised the bed,
forming a mountain of cabbage
on the ground.
Suddenly, from nowhere,
several dozen women appeared,
as if they had been waiting
beneath the pavement itself.
In exchange for their tears
and in some cases
a few small coins,
the truck driver,
an unshaven man in his sixties,
handed cabbages to the women.
A short while later
the cabbages,
the women,
and the truck driver
were gone.
But hunger remained.
For a long time,
hunger remained.