String of Lights
|In My Back Yard||
The view out the back door
|A (Low) Tech Perspective|
String of Lights
each with an essential right
of the spark
from its start
all the important parts
of the plot
until the last
of the lamps
for the one
and the many
and the neighbors
who try in vain to seem alone
and to remain
My grandpa had a dusty
plate of seashells, dry,
and in plastic trays, a score
of tree parts, petrified;
each a hardened image
of an old, indurable thing.
(His trees had rock rings--
each marked a hundred years
of settling, from under-sea
memorials to the life of things
once living. Do they honor age
and greatness? Or mock
with minerals the fragility
of trees in their relative youth,
and old invertebrates
for their few years on earth?)
My mother also hunts for shells
and tiny priceless things
on walks outside, to fill
the permanent solo show
on the shelves around her home.
Grandpa taught us where
to start, but momma taught me art,
to revel in the fingering of stone
until it shone from human touch
Some will even grind
these rocks up into jewels,
to reveal the deeper secrets
and unhide the truer themes
of what the earth wrings
by pressure from simple dust
and ancient buried dreams.
I also collect things, and find
that I inherited the eye,
though I don't often get the time
to walk the wilds, to discover old
bones and gems by ancient trails,
Today, I’m a panner
for urban gold—my claim spans
the blocks, and mines the old
and ever-rising asphalt-mantled
roads; I sift the grit and duff
that cruft and clog the binding
slough, that fill the cracks that jog
across the busted walks that sit
beside the avenues.
in cities … I don't mind the trees,
nor always wish for grassy fields.
No. I take this place for what it is:
a forest of human things that rise
and stand; some parts designed
to last, to resist the wear of wind
and water, and some to be replaced
as fast as the shifting of the weather.
Along this breaking beach I walk,
between the rising dreams of men,
who’s trophies scratch at heaven,
and the crashing waves of time,
that grind to sand the things
our hands have brought to life.
Here, what was so wonderful
and clear succumbs to the craft
of years, rarely to become
embalmed, and allowed to stay,
enshrined or ennobled
by what’s been taken away.
It’s trash —okay! If you insist
on seeing it that way.
It's bottle caps and broken glass,
car parts, and other shards
of ancient, manufactured things—
once skipped along suburban
streams, now fractured and settling
into dusty pools and poisonous
eddies that collect where raging
urban rivers intersect.
Here, even ugly things are
made to gleam: iron and her
alloys are redeemed—abraded,
ground and buffed by water
and time, to pock and rough
the surface, hastening
the inevitable blush of rust,
and other signs of softening
that time conveys to human stuff ...
here, also, trucks by rubber pestle
cast-offs into jewels against
the mortar of our gritty, ribboned,
Here, nature keeps
her eye on man, to shame the vanity
of our shiny plans. Though trees and clams
seem happy to be reduced to stone,
we resist, pretend that we don’t know
that humankind is aging also: getting
harder in the heart, and each year
softer in the gut.
mama gathers up our proud inanimates
in bits and pieces to her mantle,
to polish, corrode, and make
more precious our ignoble junk,
and claim for glory countless things
that we, neglectful, send
to the icy bottom of her ancient sea,
where in her cleansing stream,
she rehearses an old and dusty dream.
Our love for machines
And our better nature, now
a haiku is a small pebble to hold
between warm fingers that wear it down, in time,
for smaller takes longer to behold.
Leisure Wear (or, Wendell Berry Breaks In All My Pants)
It's someone else's job to break
in all my pants --
some farmer or fashion model,
who's hard at work someplace,
living the active life I guess
I don't have time for, anymore--I get
soft slacks, sensitively sewn, to cover
the shame of my naked, useless legs,
and fulfill the promise of a technological age,
while projecting an air
of good times and hard wear.
I dreamed it could be Wendell Berry,
whom I'm certain never buys
stone-washed, must despise
the option of pre-softened jeans,
and works the rows in brand new
clothes, chafing to preserve
something of the old ways,
for the children, of the earth
and honest work, in these last days.
Out here, under old-denim skies,
in the worn-khaki fields of mankind's
primal dream, here, hand-shined
iron still sharpens iron,
and cotton ... only turns its will
to time, for Adam to remind:
when dearth has no part of fear
then leisure is no kind of wear.
How Doesn't That Tree Fall
How doesn't that tree fall?
Look, it split in two,
right and left,
the trunk along the heart,
with the grain -
Like it was destiny
or doom to part,
like a bull
at the offering;
as if you tore
every other leaf
from a history, to make
two versions, each
with half the truth;
black on one side,
red on the other,
still standing, proving
It was the lightning
that did it.
It came out of nowhere:
a perfectly predictable shock,
to illuminate the whole
in unity before the
second rending crack.
See, how they stand
One should be bent
to see the other give way
in obedience to flame.
But, red now reaches
round its barking bandage,
and black is bound
to bear new color
in bright relief,
like a smile
in a season of grief.
healing: and a history
that won't be ended
and can't be told
(A poem written after seeing a cell antenna being fitted inside of a church steeple).
It is a rare tower—vanishing as it rises
through that crucial moment—and carries
so many conversations in the hearing of God;
Lifted up by stone and girder
that guildsmen build on mysteries invisible,
in the full strength of the maker, whose
name is nevertheless taken up
and dropped, to the ringing
sound of mason's tools.
The steeple bears up hope and disappointment,
bears sorrows, denials, and deals with death,
adult obsessions about success
and adolescent fears of sex ...
agnostic as it is regarding the nature of the text.
A killer calls once from the station;
the suicide tries again to get through;
new converts fill the air with repetition, and mothers
call sons (out) in hyperbolic intercession.
Holy listening and base devices, long distance
relationships that survive long distance vices;
Angry bitter breakups, that might
have been prevented
by 3 or 4 more G-spots.
Sacred speech and shameless curses rise
through the tower in bold ascent,
architectural signals of humanity's
technospiritual fight to be free,
Or for a spot just above the trees.
(low) tech writer, the book
(low) tech writer in book form, after a year of work. All the material has been edited and updated, and I've added some content that is exclusive to the book (including the long-lost chapter on knots). The book can be purchased on lulu for $15.
It will probably be available as an e-book before long, but this one really wants to be on paper. Enjoy!
Copyright, Davo, 2005 through today