tobias crabtree

defining lines; drawing and writing

Tag: cosmos

Less Static, Please…

Along with dreams about the Devil, I often dream that I am losing the use of my hands. I read somewhere that it’s bad conversation to talk about your dreams — that no one really actually wants to hear about them. I reckon it ain’t any different, then, to write about ’em. The dreams about the Devil are easy enough for me to deal with, I was raised a Baptist and the son of a Preacher. I grew up looking for Satan anywhere the silence was too close and my tricky mind too alone. Ol’ Beelzebub tipped his hand one too many times by allowing me to see his face. It’s not so much that he seems to always resemble me, he is me. Makes it easier to deal with, I’ve been handling my own shabby decisions since day 1 so it helps that there’s not a horn-headed reprobate leading me into temptation. Come to find out, it’s been me all along. Just me. Damn. I did notice that the Devil of my dreams is very witty and just a tad better looking than me. That figures. But the thing about losing the use of my hands really does seem to stay with me after I’m awake. I depend on making things and I reckon that’s a valid fear. Way worse than the Devil and his handsome face, his veiny neck, his oversized bag of tricks. But then, I wasn’t gonna write  about dreams, you don’t wanna hear it. Whatever, I didn’t tell ya all that much. It’s the condensed version that I keep handy for the therapist at the VA hospital–he doesn’t wanna hear it either but he’s great at faking like he does.

A couple days ago I met up with my buddies from Tennessee. We get together every now and again for some banter about the things we wanna do. They’re good for that, they’re dreamers too. They are brothers and quite alike. The majority of our talk is half truths and maybes all tangled up in the long-grass that lines the pathways of our hearts. I get along real nice with Brice and Egan and their lovely sensibilities. We talked about the Tennessee River and where their lives intersect with her muddy flow. About the raft we will build and ride in order to feel the older ways and understand more about being here. Life is a chance. It is a chance to make and build and think and try and braid our souls into ropes that hold us together so that we don’t wander too far into ourselves. I know how to be alone, but I practice friendship with all my might. It is my favorite part of being human — to be a friend, to know how to love.  When I walked away from the Snow brothers I felt like I do when I’ve been in the woods for a while — a little clearer, a little better.

Days of distance. Nights of storms. Hearts of blood. Songs of love. Skies of clouds. Fields of flowers. Streams of dreams. There’s a line of black under the trees that separates the sky from the mountains. That line, once discovered, becomes the difference between empty and full. It is the crack under the door into the universe beyond where the elements slip and flow in between what we know and what we will never understand. It’s so easy to be cynical. Sarcasm and irreverence seem the order of the day. I’m like an old wino discovering the value of a glass of water. So I’m telling my mean old, snarling heart to sit, to be still. Less static, please, so I can hear the trees. I am trying to be better at saying it like I see it. I want to be more like the whales, who say only what is necessary and then say it beautifully and completely. I am in these little days of my very own life and I am looking for my song to sing. Every day my heart. Every night my dreams. And these thoughts of mine are messages to the stars.

ol’ Steinbeck whispers

When I was a kid, growing up meant getting old. Now that I’m not a kid, growing up is realizing that I need to listen more, talk less and understand that I will eventually die. It’s easy to write these words, but living by them is difficult for me. I struggle. My mouth flaps, my ears close and death is a thing that happens to everyone else.

A while back I found a baby rattlesnake with a broken back. It had been cracked in a door at a campground and was wedged there waiting for life to pass. I pulled it out thinking it might not be hurt, when I set it down it could only move its front half. First I walked away. Then I thought about starving to death and I went back and killed it with a rock. It was just a little tiny thing. Real pretty.

When I was a kid I thought I needed to have things. Snakes, turtles, mice, crawdads, bluegills, hawks, raccoons, sparrows, trout, foxes, rabbits and squirrels…I brought them home. My mother would look at the beast and check it’s condition and decide if it’s chances were better in the wild or in my handsy little clutches. Some I raised and set free. Some I lost in the house. Some died in ways that make me shutter to think about all these years later. I thought that by having these things I might be closer to them. It’s the opposite. Having them steals the connection. There’s a kind of deadness that happens  when wild things are taken away from the wilderness. I saw a big Dorado dragged onto a boat once and the most cosmic colors I’ve ever seen where pulsing through it’s skin, like it was translucent and the insides were glowing. As it died, the colors bled out and slipped back into the sea. The fish became flat dusky gray and I couldn’t help but think that maybe we’re gonna pay for the things we do. I ain’t against killing to eat, I just don’t think we should do it mindlessly. We are mostly mindless these days, just look next to you on the freeway. Look one car over. Look around you in the lines and crowds. All is not lost, but it’s going in that direction.

Did you know the moon pulls the sea? Have you ever walked with your feet in a tide-pool (and if you haven’t , you might need to and you might need to go slow and take a day and give it to that and only that…and you might hear old Steinbeck himself whispering soft as a summer breeze cool stuff in your ear about secret places all along the edges of that big old sea) where the miniature oceans have tiny monsters? There are caves along the ocean where the little crabs are wedged sideways with clockwork hearts and trilling gills along the walls and under the stones that are stacked by older oceans and waves pushed under Mesozoic tail fins. Did you know that some birds migrate across the oceans and follow the stars. Some fly off the push of the sea and rarely flap their wings, the sweet Mother carries her babies aloft. Some of those same birds, like the Sooty Shearwater can dive more than a hundred feet down into the sea, down among the sharks, for food. Their journeys are like some wild dream, a life of endurance. Some of their kind live for 50 years. What wonders! Little wings. Forever hearts. And the tides of the ocean that are pulled and pushed by the moon live in the forests and the deserts and mountains as well. Everything with fluid is pulled and pushed by that moon, affected by her swooning passage. You and I. We aren’t apart. Within our riverine blood vessels flows that salty red stuff, that old connection to the start and the path to the finish. And while plants push up to meet the heavy full moon, so do the roots find the sliver of silver that floats up and down with Venus. The word Cosmic comes to mind, and the Cosmos goes as far inside as it does out. I’ve come to love the not knowing of it all. Oh my, this little heart of mine, it’s only here for these few billion heart beats if I make it to be old manish — the fortune is easy and sweet and I certainly don’t need to prove it. It’s cool that I am. Cool that we are. After that, it’s all guesswork.

While the majority of our kind fumbles with cell phones that record our every moment, there are herds of whales migrating under antarctic stars and they are singing songs passed down from the beginning. They are rolling their massive tongues and they are smiling at the calves that are learning to soul speak and they are swimming and swimming to the places that have feelings and the stars know all this and so does the moon and even the tricky little penguins with their chattery snouts and golden ears and so on and so on it all goes…with or without us. I reckon any one of us can tap into it, the wise ones say it’s there, just like air, all we gotta do is breathe. So if Hafiz can shine from out of yesterday, and if Mary Oliver can glue broken hearts with ten sad lines, and if a dude named Maurice Sendak can scratch lovely stories from the prettiest of minds so that kids can smile in their pj’s when the lights turn out…well, if all that can be then I think I could maybe find a way to find my way. Here I go. Breathing happens. Heartbeats happen. I just so happen as well.

The Little Wonderers

Little Sahalie looked at me with them little bleepers and there was a universe beyond. Oh yeah, I’m always flying through distant solar systems, spinning across far off galaxies. It’s the kids, man. They own all the unmapped spaces. Her older brother was there at my other elbow, he gets it. Hell, he gets it better than me! These ages between the baby and the time when we become adults are where the connections dwell. You know what I mean? They haven’t decided to load themselves down with the stones of adulthood.

She was like, “so you can draw anything?”

yeah, i can draw most all the stuff i wanna draw.


yeah. pretty much.

“So, you could draw a person on a toilet?”

Well, then I was laughing and Hunter was laughing because we got to see that little mind race around and think of the worst thing she could think of…and it was some dude (or girl) on a toilet. Now I’ll be damned if that ain’t innocent.

Outside the timbers were reaching towards the sky. Tumalo Creek was rolling towards the Dechutes. The Oregon sky was there as well, and the Oregon sky is godamn good.

When I get angry with humans, I remember the kids. They are just so true. Even the naughtiest of them are true. I imagine that the younger you are, the closer you are to when you were among the stars and so you still shine with that cosmic light. See what I mean? Babies, they are something else. I’m not really even all pro-human, I don’t think we are such a great animal. Personally I like otters better than humans. And mountain caribous. And kingfishers. But I’m a human, so I gotta put up with me. Hell, I don’t know how to figure this out, I can’t even find the restroom in the bar half the time. But when I see the little people with the long eyelashes and the ruby lips and the hearts that beat in harmony with the cosmos, well, I break down and wanna worship. Cuz if I was gonna believe in us, I would want the babies present, so I could be sure.

When Jason walked out of his house there on 1st street and his little Abe spotted me sitting in the sun and said, “tobias.” I was saved. Saved from my dark thoughts. Saved from the way I could be. Saved from the way I know I already am. You see, I get saved all the time by the little ones. Just when I’m ready to sign off and give up and say the worst things about what we are…a little one says, “tobias.” And my heart hears and my soul comes up for air and all of a sudden I’m breathing again.

Don’t think I’ve never been hateful. I got that shit down. I can name times and places. Someway or another I’ve found my way to here and I can no longer find good use for hatefulness. But I’ve been pretty good at it in the past. What? You want an example? Oh yeah, I’m not afraid to show you. Like that time at lunch when I was working for Student Movers in Denver, back in the late 80’s. When I was talking as a youngster and trying to be a badass and I said that all the gays in the world should be put on an island so they could die of AIDS together. And as I was saying that I was in the presence of a sure-fire ass-kicker named Bill Burke, who was gay and never said anything to me even though he was more of a man than I’d ever be and also requested to have me on his crew regardless of my juvenile opinions.  That was years before I knew James Canfield, the ballet artist extraordinaire, who is gay and wonderful and powerful and insightful and is a good friend. It was before I ran into Brett Philpott who is strong and badass and is gay. And before I had ever met my dear friend Katherine Fontaine who loves me dearly despite my long stays under her coffee table and my bourbon habits and my stinkiness…and yes, Katherine prefers her own gender…lovely girl.  I used to worry over the things I didn’t understand, now I worry over lack of awareness. I reckon we might not should worry so much over who people choose to love, maybe we should focus on eliminating some of the hate. We are all capable of black-heartedness as well as lovingkindness. These are choices and we should make them with open minds.

While I was talking to Spencer and Sahalie, I saw the light shining in their eyes. I saw them looking at me and asking me questions about the meanings behind imagination. For one thing, I’m not a smart guy. I barely get by in smart conversations, and this is how I felt with these two little ones. They were asking me what the difference was. Whether dreams were real. And if the light from dreams is subject to the laws of physics. When that much beauty and wonder is in front of me, I lose my bearings. I float. I become a worshiper, no longer a knower. And that’s where I belong. Maybe that’s my gig. I haven’t a problem at all with wondering and, quite frankly, the bigger the better. And what if the world turned inside of itself? And what if there was no one left to know? And what if, in the impossible future, we happen again?

Yeah man, what if? I love it that I may indeed remain, long after I’m dead, in the minds of the little wonderers.

A Case for the Pallid Swallowtail

Papilio eurymedon, the pallid swallowtail, is an easy favorite with me. Their close relative, the Tiger swallowtail, carries with it the ohs-and-ahs that come from being so bright and large and winged. Butterflies are one of this worlds favorite accents, they have so much within and without. The Pallid swallowtail looks like a Tiger swallowtail that was put in the wash before it’s colors were fully set. There’s a slight hint of soft yellow, while some are more the color of cream. I have always loved them for their discretion, their lesserness. I’m like that, I guess, loving things for being on the quiet side of glorious.

Some nights are tough for me. I wake up and the years look like they cheated and piggy-backed onto me. That’s this morning. Jesus! I know it’s a common theme for aging dudes to write about aging, but I’ll be damned if it don’t look like I slept in a time machine last night and accidentally bumped the forward button. But it’s cool. I’m down. Let’s go.

I was awake at 4:44 a.m. and I thought how that was a nice, round number. Those were my first thoughts, then I thought about my dreams, then I thought about how quiet the world was at 4:44 a.m. on a Wednesday in the industrial area of Bend, Oregon. I rousted my ass up of the pad here at the forge. I slept in one of my favorite indoor venues last night; Orion Forge is Hunter Dahlberg’s creation. His own little baby Frankenstien. My spot here has always been upstairs at the foot of a big home-made bookshelf full of the books that help fill in the secrets behind what makes a person become a Hunter Dahlberg hammer-swinger. Once I decided to give in to the morning, I groped around in the dark for my headlamp. The forge at night is much like a cave and it smells of metal and sweat and coffee-blacker’n-sin. I’m a habitual creature and often move through other peoples’ spaces wearing a headlamp rather that fumble around with unfamiliar light switches that may or may not turn on the needed illumination. Out of my life comes these strangenesses that are just enough to keep me weird and may indeed lead directly to a padded room and a real long sleeve shirt with buckles on the ends of the sleeves that match up with the ones sewn into the back. Should that happen, the plan is to continue to travel on the inside of my head.

This morning I can just barely hear a radio that has been left on. The long heavy bass notes are just enough for me to hear through the pipes and the metal. I have made my way to the door and the sky is showing signs of another day in the making. Bend reminds me a tiny bit of Wyoming, there’s something about the sage and the smell of the hills at dawn. I am hesitant to turn on NPR and listen to news, I’m feeling ok with things this morning and I don’t wanna muck things up by hearing what anyone has done to someone. I know it’s going on, I just ain’t ready to hear it. A kind of chosen stasis until something from without breaks in and I must deal with life as it is. I think I’d prefer to ponder in the half-dark until the outside catches me sneaking around in my bubble of solitude.

I have a buddy that doesn’t really think the moon and the stars affect us humans. He kinda has that “prove it” attitude to which I don’t respond that well. Like when I tell a child to be careful not to fall in the pool, if they don’t believe me, I will not try and prove that they should be careful. I’m fine if they fall in, I’ll get them out, and they might have learned something, and maybe not. Life is a great teacher, but only if you are open to learning. My question is, how can you not know we are affected by this cosmos?! Are you blind? Humans (me included) are ridiculously arrogant and that is usually coupled with a kind of blind ignorance that comes from thinking we are smarter than everything else. Do you see the circle of stupidness? I guess it all depends on what drives you. If you only ever deal with other humans and you spend enough time counting dollars, you might not ever see the moon again, not because she’s gone, but because you never look up.

Here we are, creatures made up of mostly oxygen and then some carbon, we are filled with something called a soul that came out of the cosmos to which it will return, we are moving about between the sky and the dirt and we are thinking because we have this gray mass we call a brain. We are kin to everything. We are under a yellow sun that is the source of our lives. There is everything we can imagine and all the things we can’t imagine, happening here and between the stars that go out into a distance that we simply cannot comprehend. And here in our world, there are bright, yellow Tiger swallowtails, and quietly floating on some secret draft between the wild lilacs is the lesser known, softer-colored, Pallid. And she too is perfect, waiting for the moon and the sun to tell her what time it is…waiting to be affected.

If our minds and hearts are open in this life, death will not be a dread, it will be a step into the cosmos.

monks in the leaves


I had a dream last night that I walked into a group of monks saying prayers to fallen leaves. The leaves covered the ground all around them and as far as I could see out into the forest. As it often is in dreams, I somehow knew what they were doing without asking them. I mentioned to one of them that there were too many leaves, that they would never finish praying. One smiling monk looked at me and said very simply, “true.”

Several nights ago, I had another dream. I was with my friend, Sarah, and we came across a snake. At first it was a Gopher snake and then it changed and grew rattles. It became a Rattler in front of our eyes, neither of us seemed concerned. Outside of dreamlife, I’m not afraid of snakes. I don’t worry of being bitten despite sleeping on the ground in the areas where snakes move and groove. It ain’t because I’m brave, it’s just that I’ve always liked snakes and I’ve noticed that they just don’t want much to do with us humans. They are focused on smaller things, things they might hunt and eat. In the dream, the Rattler was crawling across the plastic lid from a discarded trashcan, as we watched, a meadowlark landed on the edge of the lid. I told Sarah that the snake didn’t eat birds, and then it did. It struck and swallowed the bird entirely.

I don’t have any insight on dreams. They are as real as everything else, I reckon. They affect me about like the other stuff. And also, I’m tired of my opinion. Lately, it seems stale and old. I’m tired of my own voice when I’m trying to say what it is that I believe in. My beliefs change daily, even if ever so slightly, and so to say them is a bit of a waste of time. I’m tired of trying to drag bigger thoughts up out of the murk only to lose them at the surface; left with only the silver flash and a story that I may or may not be able to convey. I just might not find the words. Lately, I don’t have them. Them monks might have been onto something, sitting there praying to the millions of falling leaves; at least they know what they are doing.

Despite my misgivings and my forgettings and my empty jar of marbles, I do feel compelled to write about a thing or two. If, for some reason you’re still with me, I’ll do my best to keep it short, for all our sakes. These are words about a trip, a drive, but more than that, it’s about stones and mesas and things too old to understand.

When I started my Toyota Dolphin at 4:15 or so, there wasn’t even the slightest hint of dawn to the east. Stars? Yes, by the billions. And that little moon, She was there, dying again in front of my very eyes. Agendas are something I shy away from, for better or worse. I really love to not have one. So was the case as I pointed my nose, and the nose of the dolphin, to the east and the desert that the east held and the thoughts that the desert held. I believe the desert holds old thoughts, not just mine. I think that maybe the old stones and trees have been recording the happenings since before the first minute hand began to click and clock. The Earth remembers on Her own, with or without our recognition. Our own sense of importance has reached a fever pitch. (If smart phones were mirrors, and they are essentially a way to look at ourselves, imagine how many times we are looking at ourselves every day in every conceivable way. ) Narcissus is alive and well, walking miles and miles in our shoes. And with these thoughts, I would beg you to remember the world that made us. Remember what gave us our first imaginings. Our eyes have been fixed on the wonder of a turning world since we were skin-clad tribes and before. This is why I feel inclined to write, regardless of my reckless choice of words and caveman punctuation. Allow me this space to tug your sleeve in the direction of a wonderful, forgotten hollow. Some hidden meadow. A river that still flows with mystery in it’s belly to an ocean that is doing Her best to forgive us our sins.

When the Sun came up, it was across the flanks of Iron mountain. I’ve heard that Creosotes may be the largest ancient organisms, that they are all linked in the roots. Even if that’s not true, I want to believe it. I’ve heard that Aspen trees are linked in the roots as well. And then, while we’re thinkin’ about roots and links and connection, there’s the world of Mycelium. If ever there was a way to be lost in a forest, it’s on your belly where the Mycelium are interlacing and allowing the harmonious breakdown of all that is dead so that everything can live. Mushrooms stand on the fringes of infinity, for sure. And so I saw the Sun shine through miles of Creosote branches, His orange light diffused. My heart beats a little different in the morning, dawn treats me sweetly. Signs warned of a soft shoulder; no pulling off the side of the road ’cause you’ll get stuck. People have died in the desert on the side of a road because, well, it’s the desert and they didn’t have water. The desert and the ocean have much in common, it’s easy to die in either one.

I stopped when the road in front of me pinched down to nothing, as did the road behind me. Straight and flat and foreverish. I climbed out of my rig and walked up the road, the only sound was a kind of a hint of wind, as if it was out there sneaking around in the hidden washes. i looked back at the dolphin, it was perched in the center of the road, and I felt like i was committing a crime. I guess that is a crime, leaving a vehicle on the centerline of a highway. What a wildcat I am. Above me, the sky was laced with the controversial trails of jets, far too many to be a normal thing. Chemtrails or not, I hate that they’re there, blocking me from an empty sky. As far as I’m concerned, even dumping that much fuel into the sky shouldn’t be ok. I walked back to my rig and started it’s fuel driven engine with guilt. Me and the jets, dumping our poisons into this amazing place. I know I’d feel better if i was cranking on a bicycle, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be to my brother’s house for Christmas.

The sign above the highway as I entered Arizona read, “Drive hammered, get nailed.” I have always thought it was crazy that bars can even exist. Since folks drink at a bar, and they usually drive there, ummm. Humans are weird, man. The Mojave and the Joshua trees gave way to the Sonoran desert and the Saguaros. I drove through the day, my thoughts rattling like cans behind my rig, you know, just-married style. Somewhere, I stopped and made coffee and a quesadilla. As evening fell, I crossed into New Mexico. Traffic fell away and the sky showed as a beautiful open hole into the universe. Sleep was all over me, had to stop. A pull-out and a back lot, ice on the ground, the rumble of diesel engines doing their all night burn. I went to sleep wondering, “what ever was wrong with trains anyway?”

4 a.m.  Coffee blacker’n Satan’s heart. On the highway it was me and the stars and an occasional big rig. Miles and miles of shining highway lines. As the sun started to shine from under the sheets of the night, i could see the clouds in front of me.

As I write, presently, it is tempting to use words that might be misconstrued. The word, “alien,” for example, is maybe not the best word for the job. Alien, as a word, is loaded with connotation. It’s not just that I believe in something way bigger, it’s that I must. Moving through these deserts and feeling the wild world compounds with each step i take away from my vehicle, from my devices, makes me know that there is much more than what I see. Everything taken from actual living is far more valuable than learning it some other way. So the feeling of mystery becomes real and then I begin to see signs that aren’t going to be found in books or computers, they will only be found in the quiet spaces between my heart and the stars. Way out there, I am not surprised by visions. And all those things, like the things beyond usual, become more and more likely. The New Mexican desert, with it’s mesas and haunted cloud formations, is a portal through which we may travel. The words of the Ancients are carved into stones and all the Others from beyond the stars are standing just out of the corner of our eyes. Go. Be alone and be quiet so that you can hear. Nothing needs to be posted so that you can feel validated, leave that till later. Turn things off. Walk some miles under trackless skies. Drink some of your water and watch the wind sneak through the canyons. Be an alien to what is regular and chase the things that are older and more important. Leave time behind so that you won’t be distracted. Un-name your days. Pull the hours apart and leave them scattered on the ground.

I landed in Colorado. My dolphin spent a night in the town of Elizabeth, where I visited with Stan and Goldie. We sat in the kitchen and looked at the prairies that come from so far away. The little songbirds, the ones that brave the cold, sit outside in the bare-branched trees. They sit on the carcasses of thistles and sunflowers. They come find the seeds spread by Stan and Goldie. Story time with Stan, Lt. Col. Austin. We trade tales that cross one another with familiar names. We served at different times but our community was small and names carry weight. So we laughed and lied and told the truth in no particular order. History is a tangled thread. Stan carries his massive biceps under cantaloupe shoulders. His thick neck is the result of thousands of hours bowing against the tides. He’s a sight. We compare gray beards and laugh at the ticking clock. It’s nice that I can visit some of my heroes. Crazy Horse is gone, but Stan lives on.

From Elizabeth to Golden is only about an hour. My brother waits in the drive. Josh is always lean and mean. We have a beer in the garage while someone swipes my wallet from my rig out front. I let my guard down, I lose a little cash. The wallet gets tossed in the bushes a half block away, the person who owns the house recognizes it as something handmade. A call is made to my brother, Josh, “is tobias here? there’s a wallet in my drive that looks like he made it.” So I get the wallet back minus the cash and cards. Luck isn’t good or bad, it’s just the name we give to what we like and don’t like. You wanna know what I like? I like the thought of monks, under the trees, praying for the fallen leaves.

a list…and some other stuff

i dreamt that my sister came to me in the night. there was that old look that i know so well because i’ve seen it on my own face, it’s like certain things expressed in the genes but that you can’t quite put your finger on. some stuff we can hide, some stuff we can’t. anyway, my sis’ wasn’t trying to hide a thing. there was broken-heartedness spilling out all around her. i invited her in the camper and pulled open a drawer that was full of tiny records, about the size of a silver dollar. i picked one out that was labeled “for the broken-hearted” and put it on the player. we sat and listened to perfect words that i cannot recollect and looked out at a moon-filled world. she sat and drank tea. i drank coffee. we both looked out the big picture window in the back and the view was from the top of some high-rise in downtown manhattan, and i felt the dream seamlessly blend the real and the other. malia, me and my camper, looking out over the lights of millions of other hearts, some happy, some broken, some deciding whether to stay or to go, some loving, some losing, some never thinking past the money. i don’t know what really happened after that, but i remember that things were kinda starting to be ok.

life really is just a continuous series of feelings. it’ll run off and be pretty damn selfish if you don’t pay it proper attention. that’s where the soul comes into play. way out there on the end of it’s tether, close to the stars and the circling birds, the soul is outside of races and species and dictionaries and languages. it can’t be accurately weighed and measured and timed, even though we try. it ain’t science. it fills us up.

and life is the result, with it’s sweet, little goods and nasty,stumbling bads.

walking along minding your own business and running headlong into a painful yesterday. creosote in the sandy washes. the tiniest vireo. the smell of rain against the monzonite. the quick tracks of the coyote and the pearly light that hides the bobcat, the huntress, at dawn. the barn owl that peeks at me from deep in that one cave (yes, you know who you are, tyto alba, in your lair above the rest of us). my elbow, clicking and hurting. the sky that holds the moon, much as that cave holds the owl. and that moon in her death throws, here at the end of her cycle, running before the sun with the last of her light…the last of her light. and my coffee that’s strong and cooling. and dad with his thoughts as he lies there next to my mama. and mama with her thoughts lying by my dad. and the rocks on the slopes that hold the recordings from the beginnings. and the puma in the wash with her twins. and the nolina that stands 20 feet tall where the lightning struck the pinon and the pinon crushed the oak. and that heartbeat that sometimes flutters and reminds me that, no matter how healthful i am, no matter how much turmeric i ingest, no matter my meditations on the spirit, i will someday drop deader than a pair of worn out socks. the words that i arrange to say what i mean in varied degrees of success. the cities that hold humans close. the cicada waiting in hiding for that 7th year. the wonderful song that is in the heart of the one who has not yet lost the love of her life but will and who has not yet begun to sing…but will. the colony of pill-bugs beneath the old plastic bag at the end of the road. the abandoned roadrunner nest above the door to the chicken coop. the old man that puts more sugar in his cup than coffee, and who does’t have teeth, and who seems like he’ll live forever anyway. the shack where david lives. the way ruby sings when you play an A-flat. the saddest book i’ve ever read, that i can’t talk about.  my younger brother josh, who i wanna grow up and be like. the distance that i worship because it holds everything including what is near, because what is near is far when you move away. the ocean and her need for us to be more careful and love her more and also to love her heart, which is every beast in her belly. the thoughts of kenneally as he walks toward mindfulness with the wildest of smiles. old photos when my belly was round and my mama had my brother cory in her belly, so her belly was rounder. memories of swimming with guns and radios and men who could use them. twisting lenga trees on the bench where the wind will blow the skin from your bones. barefootedness. openheartedness. the lone and honest sun, who, if you let him, will bleach out your faults, like old bones, until they are lighter and easier to carry. the winding down and the end, which is as perfect as birth but not nearly as popular. this breathing which is now, and doesn’t need to be labeled or claimed…it is simple and should be left that way.

this is what i think is, this and all the other stuff i missed. a collection of sorts.


between the cosmos and the open road

there’s this old saying that i like, “even a blind pig finds an acorn in the mudhole sometimes.” consider me a blind pig. i don’t think i’m smart–well, sometimes i do but i’m usually wrong. but if i was to say something that is my “acorn” it would be this: move towards an open mind. all of us. everyone. the world suffers while we walk around, too proud to listen to the voice inside our heart. you might think this is a bit dramatic but i believe this message is important.

consider this: there has never been a mind born that wasn’t fallible. we all make mistakes. our most brilliant products: Einstein, Beethoven, Wilbur, Melville, Stein, Tesla, Di Vinci…they all made mistakes. and so these ideas that are called “Truth” might very well be wrong. we, and i’m talking about the most common of us, we can question anything we want. it is what makes us so very different and very wonderful. we need to wonder.

i ask people all the time about the “what if’s”. i have a habit of creating imaginary scenarios and putting my friends in them as the main characters. but really, what if there is way more than what we know? i mean, isn’t it more than probable that we only know a fraction? have you ever looked out into the stars and allowed your mind to wander. the spaces between those glittering lights are longer than a million lifetimes. we, are a blip; born, raised, loosed, broken, fixed, mixed, pulled, taught, torn, lifted, lost, loved and buried. some stars, whose light has not yet reached the earth, have long since died. and so their light, what might be called their “life”, is traveling towards our seeking eye and yet they no longer exist. are we all like this? will our message travel after we have turned back to dust? oh my! what little creatures we are.

there is more beyond. we think we know it all. we write in our little books. we use words like, “indisputable”. we compute and write in computer languages. we create complex scenarios and put them before those who are judges. we consider our decisions to be the “best” for the world we live in and still the world suffers. rivers are black from our refuse. polar bears swim farther and farther to find their place. trees are chopped and ripped and painted and burned. seeds are altered. our science has run out in front of us and yet we cannot hear the voices from beyond our monumental egos. i am one of us; i am guilty of all the things i’m pointing out. i am a slave to money and the system as well. but this moving, breathing world does not run on money. take away the dollars and the sun would rise, cherries would bloom and babies would be born. there is something bigger here. i am convinced we are running wildly in a direction but we haven’t a clue why we are running. and we are lonely. even when we are together, we find loneliness. i think, in part, this is because we, as a civilization, have forgotten where we came from. we are children of this blue world, but we act as if we created it. the earth won’t leave us, just like a good mother, she will wait. if we just listen to her cooings, we will begin to grow up. we are not lost, we just can’t see our mother. “there is no person without a world.” — anne carson


we have to begin to choose to think.

in this life, there could be an awakening. the stars are singing. it’s up to us to hear them. there is no limit to realization…i mean, we can continue to explore in any state. i’ve read about people who were trapped in their bodies in a coma and still wrote their life stories, or symphonies, or songs. cages and bars and boxes cannot enclose the foreverness of the mind. their is a universe inside.

out beyond what we believe lies what really is. the only limit is our inability to understand this fact. i too struggle with it, but i’ll be damned if i don’t die trying to jump the fences.