Saturday, February 28, 2009

Farewell Kind Voice of Reason...

You will be missed, thank you for the great memories!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Late February has found me today, thoughtful
and it's brought along a surprising sun
warming the dirt, the house, and my spirits

I am linked to the earth somehow, perhaps it's
the makers clay inside which still sings out
metal flakes to His lodestone, sextant to His celestial orb

Of old, the Greeks believed a man
was made of a handful and a handful of the stuff,
two amphorae, separate fired jars each filled with clay

That before walking through the door of life,
Zeus scooped and smashed~ good, ill, indifferent
forming a man, a woman out of indiscriminate mix

The Bible teaches that we're dust and back will revert
sinew and bone, muscle and mind, back to soil
if we ask any worm to confirm they'll call true

More than this! Something links me to earth.
not the farm, nor plough but the soul
to these grains of timeworn soil, tumbled, used, recharged.

Perhaps God in his building of this sphere
asked a little of us here (not in Eremite, but in loam!)
and we replied and in answering built in our pre-exsistant zeal

"What? Preposterous! Matter wielded by spirit?
Impossible! Where would they dust their hands?" and yet,
my heart sings at the thought I helped all this take shape

The curve of the moon, the reach of the pine
that soft chuckle burbling in the brook
the leap of a salmon, the battering of the waves

God's requisition of sculptors and artisans
his enumeration, written on stone with flaming finger
The tally great, the workers willing. They labored

And the result! This handiwork! The millions years of
building, the burnishing, the sewing. All to please our God.
That Director of our greatest symphonic movement yet.

I suppose there was a job for us all, some rehearsed the
music of the world, others painted the sky with stars
coruscant in immensity of space, small to mortal eyes

others still went on, designing the color of an egret's eyes
the song of a piping frog, the swirl of the coral's fronds.
He was the inspiration for it, telling us about it before we labored

Encouraging us as we built, commending us as he lit it
joyous as he hung it in the sky. And I still feel that joy
long separated from Him, my veiled eyes and unfetterer'd heart

Reaching out past knowledge and proof and science to
that space between the molecules of carbon
where the spirit of dirt, safely lodged, snugly resides--still smiling


Monday, February 23, 2009

I am what you may call a social hermit. I know, the Jay you knew back when would probably not fit that bill, but I realize how much of one I am after joining Twitter two weeks ago and now Facebook two days ago. 

I must say I've stayed away from them for quite a while. I haven't gone to any of my high school reunions (for Orem or Juab), haven't kept tabs with anyone really. I work, I come home, I kiss my beauty of a wife, play with my amazingly smart wonderful determined kids, tinker in the garage, clean house, and go to bed. The next day I find myself washing, rinsing, and repeating. And now I am nearly 31, my folks are over 60, and my oldest nephew is out of high school. 

Time, like the cliche stone, does not gather any moss. It rolls on, juggernaut in its nature, making future present, making present, past, making past fade and yellow in everything but recollection. Recollection rosies the past. Looking back we do not generally remember the frustration, the confusion, the frightened moments. We remember the good times, the sweet times, the days where the sun shone in and we glowed like the gods. 

The days that were pain filled tend to scab over a bit. We mature, and the pain subsides. It gets dulled by newer and fresher experiences, or becomes lesser pain after feeling greater (breakups with girlfriends were nothing to the loss of my grandmother, or the fear of losing a sick child). What a phenomena. 

I went to Nephi, UT nearly two weeks ago and it was my first time back in 12 years. It was to visit and offer condolence to Rod and Robyn Higginson at the loss of their son Craig, and I went alone. Melissa stayed home to keep three rather squirmy-at-funerals children in order, and I drove down on a partly cloudy spitting rain sort of day. I got there early and drove the streets where I grew up. The old house was there on track street, it still had coal stains on the brick on the back side of the house, I could see the imaginary black stuff heaped up by the basement doors and remember shoveling it into 5 gallon buckets with my younger brother Dan. That furnace was as touchy as a blind dog, and as liable to bite a hand off what with the auger in the hopper and no safety shut off. 

I drove my old paper-route. I stopped several places along Salt Creek to look and see if any of the old fishing holes were still there. Many, if not most of the empty lots were filled with houses now, the small town open/emptiness changed forever. I looked for the old houses where the old couple, Mr & Mrs Alvin Goble lived, another home where the lady-who-I-cannot-remember-now was a shut in, and the blonde brick home where my sister Anna lived. Her house was changed the most--gables had been added, and the fence her husband Darren built with painstaking deliberation had been taken down. The Goble's house appeared to be now owned by a young couple from the swing in the fruit tree. I remember when he taught me how to shock for worms in his back yard with a homebrew shock set he'd made. It was two screw drivers and a split extension cord, and it shocked the living shit out of me one day when I ventured too close into its proximity. I felt a strange longing rise up in me, wishing I could go back and meet myself, that oblivious youth with so much energy, on the paper route. That bo who I was would talk to anyone, and the 30 minute paper route often took hours due to conversations with the old timers. I'd offer a few tips to him, mostly ask him to not hold on to the anger and fear. I'd give myself a hug, and tell myself it turned out amazingly--three kids! An amazing wife! Hindsight is so obvious to the traveler looking backwards. 

I drove home after the funeral healed of a long scabbed over wound. I felt as if I'd grown wings and was soaring, lightened from the earth. This was the place where my parents divorced. This was the small town where I went to school and scrapped and worked, finding my place. I had forgotten the joy of those friendships, and what those people had meant to me, how they had shaped me. 

During the viewing and before the funeral, I thanked Rod and Robyn for everything they had done for me. They diffused the words I said, being good natured, and said that I had done most of the work myself. And Robyn returned the help yet again, asking me a question so pointed and unexpected I answered honestly. It got me to thinking and facing my old fears, putting them to bed, to rest. What a packet of boyish fears I owned! What a strange parcel to remain hidden in my attic of the mind! It had lurked there, demonic in its imagined threats, only to be revealed as empty and unsubstantiated--it was a box filed with a bit of dust and a few dead moths. I thank you Robyn for the words you murmured to me. 

What a tack this post has taken. What a strange healing journey, what a trip to self awareness. The trip awoke me to the fact that I do want to have some communion with old friends. It made me step from the hermitage of my solitude into the social circle of online social networking. I've added folks to my friend list I have not seen for an age! Fantastic!

And I find my satisfaction and inner peace is something zen-like. It has to be healing it feels so good--a hole filled, a missing piece replaced, a gap zapped. And for that, I thank God. Those bits of the past I so feared have faded and in their place I find myself looking at the happy memories, rose colored spectacles firmly pinned to my nose.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

I wish I could buy this place and level it
disk it into a grain field, new blades of winter wheat

I'd know just how to do it too--a big CAT
one of those newer ones, with a CD player in the cab

I'd listen to Coltraine, Davis, Monk and
wouldn't cry a tear for the buildings, no not a tear

gone would be the shopping carts and broken pools
the myriad signs pleading for someone to buy

no, it'd be earth, and wheat and nothing, nothing.
'cept maybe a small place, mine and hers, buffered

by the blades and the sky and the earth around
impacted walls, radiant heat, the stars and the sky

I'd still let the jazz play on, never'd stop it actually
instead the notes'd fly and mingle, twisting like rabbits

I can nearly taste the vision with something akin to longing
that cobweb of thought breaking across my face in near darkness

The wheat, the sky, Coltraine, the CAT, the walls, the stars
and you. Oh how I'd paint you, but to stay, never to leave.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Character Study I

"I've written down a lot of shit in that book." He nodded, adding emphasis to his statement, hoping for me to agree with him. I sat listening to him in church, and though I winced inwardly at his choice of words, kept my face blank. He took it as agreement to continue. "I have been working on this story for five years." He emphasized the words again, this time with his eyebrows, lifting them. I was impressed at his dedication and grunted in a musing sort of sound, encouraging him to go on and biting my own tongue. Who spent five years writing stories in spiral bound notebooks?
"It's a war story. Wait" He hesitated, brow furrowing. "Well it is a love story too. A sort of war-love story. The main guy falls in love with the Four-Star Generals daughter and he is a commissioned officer. A low guy. The General is really pissed off about that. " He laughed and I wondered if he was ex-army. So I asked him. "Yes" he replied, terse and focused on his blue covered spiral bound manuscript. He jumped about in the conversation as a jay would, branch to branch, interested in a shiny bit, fascinated by the next, point to point to point.
He handed the tattered notebook to me then, his fingers on some of the very same white marks on the cover they must have graced countless times over the course of his writing. I was surprised at his willingness to yield it up, suppressing the idea of walking out to the foyer without a word just to see if he would leap up and follow, birdlike in his possession, bobbing and desperate. I stay put and opened the story somewhere in the middle.
Machine gun fire met me there, the protagonist was pinned down in a muddy foxhole and his lady love was with him. I had no idea why she was there, or even where there was, but I gave it a chance. The moment anything was rippling or throbbing I was going to close the notebook and tell him it was great, then find an excuse to leave. In the story, the lady was screaming at the poor fellow through the din. He didn't appear to be particularly henpecked at the moment, but it would be interesting if he were. A mortar shell landed 15 feet to their left. The hero and the lady dove into the muck and I left them there, skimming forward a dozen pages.
This guy was watching me read I realized, noting him out of the corner of my eye. I pretended to read more, instead studying him for a moment. He was mussy haired and ill dressed, mustard stains on his pants, and an untucked shirt. He had a broken tooth, the right incisor, broken in the sort of way one breaks a tooth in a fist fight. It made him whistle a bit as he spoke. I was amazed to note the contrast in appearance and his smooth flowing script. Could the guy have found this writing somewhere, picked it up, called it his own? It seemed likely, given the strange juxtaposition of his appearance and the perfectly formed lettering I was looking at.
I turned back to him, flipping through the rest of the pages to see if the handwriting changed ever. It ended fifty or so pages in. I asked him about it. "Oh, this isn't the only one of those I have." He pointed at the book then scratched a small spot under his eye, pinching and rolling it for a moment. A loose eyelash fell from his eye as he let go of the small spot of skin. "I have six or seven others, all told about thirty three hundred pages." I raised my eyebrows this time, and he smiled, finding the thing he had been looking for in introducing me to his writing. He'd found his validation. When I asked him, quietly of course as we were still sitting in the church, if he had ever sent the story to an agent or a publisher, he just shook his head. "Nah, I don't want to do that. I don't want them to change anything." He pushed the hair back from his face and I handed the notebook back to him, noting how my own fingers lined up on the white marks of the notebook. I wiped my sweaty hands on the thighs of my slacks, and nodded. I told him he should see about doing that. "Maybe." We were back to single responses, and I began to wonder if he used them as a bridge--a slender transition from one topic to another, baiting one along until the other side, a narrow catwalk leading over to the punta gorda.
I asked him if he had ever written anything else, something besides war, or love. He shook his head and I knew he was an ex-army guy, and that he most likely had never had the love he wrote about. The kid was far from attractive. He had his stories, and they were beautiful to him. Sort of like the effect of The Magic Cottage, yet this was one fellow acting out both parts.
I nodded again, this time to validate my own thoughts, and reached out my hand, introducing myself. He took it and shook "James. Nice to meet you". He balanced his open notebook on his thighs, the jacket covering the mustard stains. The fountain nib of his pen had leaked on his right index finger and he transferred a bit to me as he shook. He was writing again, the smooth slowing script marching on, inexorable, carrying the five year story forward to a resolution I could not see, exposed as I was to such a small moment of it, to him. I wondered at the similitude of life and literature and saw the parallels shaping James' writing.
The service ended then, and I realized I had not heard a single word of it. I had visited, read, mused, and discussed right over the top of it all, even through all the prayers. I stood again, a man coming out of a fog, and extended my hand to James again. I could almost see the tendrils of smoke on my hand as he shook it and nodded, he was lost to me now in his manuscript. I released his hand, mine letting go first in a sort of peeling-of-a-glove manner, and noted I bore another ink stain. I found my hat and coat, and stumbled out the door, strangely unable to locate my feet amidst the insight. I had analyzed this poor fellow and found myself. Blinking, I stepped through the double doors to the outside, and drew a deep breath, a man fresh come to the surface after a lung-burning oyster dive. I searched the sky for birds, and wondered what the Greeks would say about the two ravens that flew past.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our Antipodean See Saw

you talk about things, gobbledygook
concept versus reality, you are painting.
and truth remains still after all the ramblings

today the rain fell down, tumbling
and tomorrow it is slated to as well
the weather and trees will act on, perpetual

truth is, all this stuff; spinning spun,
speculation, stimulus--it's unnatural
and smacks at nature, absolutely mechanical

this deus ex machina! and yet
no God or gods have contrived
to send a charriot and supplant me and safety

i tend to the lean through the lean times
towards the opinton that inflation deflation and economy
are artifice. Where really are the means?

we have a global market of paper,
printed bills, all illegitimate children.
long gone is that father bullion backing, long spent.

blind prophets and stinky bums with signs
pantomime (for all we listen to them) hope, osmosis
asking that the artifice will end without homicide

if uncheck'd, if let run amok till finished,
self balance will be bought in expenses of pain
coin dolled out in anguish and famine, swolen bellies.

still, many spew out, prattle on
noxious notions versus solid brass tacks
but the truth remains, counterbalanced and biding

opposite! our crazy shift from
hard work, that old American optimism
lets fight delusions of entitlement, and "get it now"

Now, lest God or the gods get ideas
and balk at the way my luxury smacks
in the face of true poverty, that terrible spectre

I do hope that the fabrication of our balancing act
can shake it up enough for people to pull together
work hard, refuse the welfare check, earn sweaty bread

For that flaming chariot is not coming
not in a stimulus check, nor in a bailout
instead, this nation must arise by its own bootstraps

self motivated, self medicated
an ear given to the mumblings of a blind prophet
and the other ringing from the song of hammer and forge


Monday, February 16, 2009

Things I have been thinking

Random Thoughts:

-Instead of focusing on what you are unable to accomplish, focus on what you can do.

-Conscience is a matter of upbringing and mindset. What is moral to one, may not necessarily be moral to another.

-A clean house never hurt anyone, nor did a little hard work.

Things I really like as of late:

-The feel of freshly washed sheets
-The rumble of my Harley on a warmer winter day
-The laughter of my children
-Listening to my oldest son talk about school
-Talking to my parents (all 6--mom, dad, step mom, step dad, mom in law, dad in law)
-Hanging out with my brothers Dave, Chip, & Dan
-My team at work (the second shift is great! Different challenges, but they rise up)
-The thought of spring, veil like and near!
-All things Cabelas
-Shooting sports--fun to do, to practice, to read about, to shop for
-The way a heated leather seat feels on a cold day
-Watching my youngest son explore gravity with all his toys on the stairs (can you say toy pile?)
-Having piggyback rides with my daughter
-A clean garage
-A freshly washed and detailed car
-The stillness of trees
-Survivorman on The Discovery Channel
-Man vs Food on The Travel Channel
-The single season of Firefly (and wondering why those egg heads at Fox cancelled the show...)
-A freshly shaven face and scalp :)
-The comic strip Bizzaro
-The old comic strips Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Gasp! Another lull! So I hurry and compose something again:

the trees sleep on despite the rain
this week
still--it should have been snow

Their hoisted arms glisten wet
wish--cover them in green!

I stump along, cold in the damp
clear--clouds part to the stars

My arms, two wet teak bundles
bound--in their house of cloth

All life, so void in this cold
expectant--for forty days to pass

It does not despair for unfelt days
season--each day fitted to the other

My legs tear free, adieu to the loam
physic'd--bound up by the heartwood


Friday, February 06, 2009

I've got an unusual lull during work right now, so I figured I would write something, anything. So here goes:

(Two Fetter'd Twins)

Supposively there and yet
I don't believe it. No, no.
you yell it out with your muteness

Include! The harlot and the charlatan
all of them, Gods children
but an issue of blood, or an issue of pride

I pantomime in my glass box
fingers, hands pressed against silica
covalent bonds, judge not lest ye be measured!

My third eye stares and tears over, fix'd
vision swimming from the strain
ghostlike nictating membranes failed long ago

Perhaps He meant something?
Attitudes and rocks, domestic allusions
subdue! judge not lest ye be considered.

The devil twists sticks, mixing 'em
purposes unknown, 'cept for misery
trading bonds for stock all on SALE!

And I wait, wondering, with the mute
her lips frowning, my eye watering
both of us staring upon the surface of Siloam


Monday, February 02, 2009

Phobia and the Liking

I would like to think that in the last 5 years I have become a technologically savvy sort of consumer, but realized the truth of the matter this morning. How slowly I change!

This morning, I went to see if I could find an update on the blog of an old friend. Turns out he has migrated over to a new program called Twitter. I hadn't checked his old blog for several weeks and was surprised to find it was last updated January 20th with his invite over to the new real deal. Paul is someone who generally has the pulse of all things wired, so I immediately went over and signed up.

If you are unfamiliar with it, Twitter is a real time sort of thing, something of a 3G and connected nature. You can type in a quick blurb about how you are scrambling for the plane home from in Dublin and hate that you are stuck in your Ugg boots/green shirt emblazoned "Slante!" complete with Guinness stains for the whole flight.

You get my drift. And when I mean real time, I mean real time. The application can text your buddies cell phones with your comments, both banal and beautiful, and in nanoseconds everyone who you want to give a damn about you knows.

Actually, I am a bit envious. What a great idea.

I suppose I am glad that most folks are pretty slow to change, as my parents would probably get right on it, and although I would most likely not be subjected to a post about a BM (oy!), I fear I would be too connected.

Yes, yes. If this were the 11th century, I could possibly be a monk in hermitage somewhere. I tend to like my privacy. And Twitter, by it's nature, hopes to allow you to know moment-of-happenstance what is going on.

Now, lest someone misinterpret me, this is no RFID chip. Big Brother is not going to come crashing in and haul you off because you are getting the illegal groove on. It isn't some 1984 application, far from. It is purely user driven, and can even filter out anyone you don't desire following your every move (every breath you take, every bond you break, every dandruff flake...thank you Mr. Sumner). There are certainly plenty of stalkers/pedophiles/ex-cons who I wouldn't want knowing I was taking yoga lessons on top of my hand sewn mat of hundred-dollar bills with no taser/pepper spray/gun around and all three doors unlocked. It is a manually updated app, and is designed to bring folks together. Think Blog 2009, condensed down to a few words or sentences.

I'm going to try it. I am not promising anything earth shattering, but if you are curious, my Twitter name is jarubla. Log on, sign in, and flip me an email. jarubla at hotmail dot com.