Texas, spring

At dawn you are loving.
Your breath, honeysuckle and baked clay, warm as skin, winding through the window to play with my hair.
Slipping up my bare leg in soft rivulets to blanket my sleep with the smell of earth and the inevitability of green.
At midday you are ferocious.
Sunrise caresses turn into light like shattered glass on velvet. Liquid fire kiss sends skin desperate for darkness down into the trees and creek beds. Sharing cool stones uneasily with breeding Copperheads. Trying to bury myself in the mud and the moss to escape you.
At dusk you are a relief.
Soft gray hands alive with the songs of grateful insects salve the burns, untie nectar and pollen from your bag of tricks. The air is once again silky with botanical sex as you tell bedtime stories to the ones you’ve tried to break.
Making amends, you ease the night in with the shush of raindrops washing down the dust off the pecan trees, as if to say, “There, there”.

Nerd-cation

Who goes to an Earth Day event on their vacation? My boo and I do. Because we’re epic nerds.
Before we got nerdy, we did the vacationy things, have no fear. There was junkin’ and yarn-ing (that roving? hand processed and dyed by the shop owner from her very own sheep), ate of the beefy goodness (burgers made from local, grass fed, humanely raised cattle slaughtered by the country’s only slaughterhouse run on Buddhist principles, I shit you not) and drank of the local brew at a pub called the Grumpy Troll in the Troll Capital of the Midwest, Mt. Horeb. We also drank wine and played Combat Chess (it’s like regular chess, but you throw all your pieces at your opponent’s king with no regard for their safety or a strategy of any kind, in effort to end the game as quickly as possible) at Baraboo’s fabulous wine bar, Con Amici, the owners of which will proudly tell you how they compost all their food waste and recycle every possible thing.
So there was already kind of a theme brewing.

Then the lovely proprietress of Raven House, (one of my all time favorite places to find old keys, doorknobs, silverware and the odd baby head) hands me a flier as we’re getting ready to leave her shop and informs me that it’s for an art exhibit involving art made entirely from recycled materials. I love art, and I love junk, so, perfect.
We went assuming that was it. But it was actually an entire Earth Day shindig put on in the college gym with everything from the Madison Herpetological Society to local archeologists, eagle, crane, prairie and wetland conservationists, soap makers, bee keepers, sorghum farmers, artists and? the Coast Guard.

I’m an information junkie. I love learning about absolutely everything. On my bookshelf you will find subjects ranging from the history of the spice trade to forensic psychology and criminology textbooks, the world history of prostitution to quantum theory.
So I will actually sit and talk with the Coast Guard guy about ships knots, and the sorghum farmer about harvesting and processing the cane, and the archeologist about the earthworks in the area and the new technology used to find them under a tree canopy and a foot of leaf litter, and be utterly fascinated the entire time. No, I did not thrive in college. Too intellectually stifling. So yeah, gabbing for half an hour with eagle conservationists about roosting habits was a totally worthwhile way to spend my vacation.
And if you think all that has nothing to do with art, you may have never asked a sampling of artists where they get their inspiration. Up in Sauk County, a lot of them get it from the gorgeous countryside they live in and the sincere desire to preserve it.
Which was what this art was all about.

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These are only a few of them. There were a good dozen plus. Everything from kinetic sculpture to quilting. Every piece was made from junk. Even the ribbons on each of the pieces was made from recycled material by a local fiber artist.

There are many reasons I love Baraboo, but one of the big ones is their focus on the land and keeping it healthy. One of the founding fathers of the modern conservation movement, Aldo Leopold, hails from up there, and his family maintains an educational facility in the area.
I’m a conservation nut from way back. This gal composts, recycles, buys local, organic and humanely raised, rages against the Monsanto machine, and tries repeatedly (and unsuccessfully thus far, but hope springs eternal) to convince her parents to convert that ridiculous waste of space that is the American lawn into a mini farm.
That attitude has made it into my work in the form of lots of salvaged parts. My junk chimes are all…junk. Stuff that would end up in a landfill or rotting away in a garage. I dig that ethic. I dig that there’s an entire passel of artists that are all about that ethic, too.
Yeah. Good vacation.

Autumn, Massachusetts

Light falls as fire, fierce under the canopy.
The wood older than the gods of the new land, or their usurpers.
Old as the sea that fell back to let the black skin of the earth taste sun and burst into incandescent fecundity.
Moss against oak and stone and forest rot, bright and sudden as Amazonian plumage, in the caught breath of the dying season.
The Greenmen of other lands, stowaways in the beating heart of myth, raise their antlered heads to listen for the echoes of a Wild Hunt no longer theirs, remembered with the taste of blood and salt and the smell of winter.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans

You breathe it.
The drums.
The smell of rum and cigars, laughter and screaming.
The rattlechatter of carelessly thrown beads against your window.
All the spook and juju of that terrible contradiction emerging from the bayou like a fallen queen.
Today I’ll be in that moment.
Gasping through that moment with ten thousand other supplicants. Hearts all seeking the same absolution.
The floats snake down the arteries of the city, glittering with false starlight.
The wet kiss of the river delta winds about my shoulders like a python.
My sister’s hand clenched hot in my own, our faces upturned and shining. Rapturous full moons.
When the drums start rolling, and the brass screams out the name of the day that holiness and debauchery unite, we pour libations to a deity we don’t understand, but sacrifice to instinctively.
With blood and liquor. Light and sound. Death and such stunning grace.
Kali ma. Mother Mary.
I know what it means.
Today, I definitely know what it means.

Carnival, somewhere outside Miami

Tattooed man.
You set the vibrating, terrified girl on your mountainous knee.
Running your dark chocolate voice down the whorls of her tiny ears, you murmured the songs the stars sang when your children were born and brushed her fear away like burrs from a horse’s mane. One by one.
Story by story.
The ship you saw the shores of Madagascar from. The mother you never knew, shaped like a rose over your heart. Your best friend anchored to your bicep forever, though he left his flesh in Vietnam, his memory lives in yours. Needle and ink and love and pain making a story of your skin. A book for you to read to a lost girl, waiting to be found.
Fading into the white noise of the midway when she is, smiling a secret smile at her as you go. Knowing the seeds of the stories have found new ground to flourish in.

That poetry thing

Well, since I’m broken, I have way more time on my hands. Even with the occasional day job taking up my days this week. There are still long, lonely nights I must while away, thinking of the ass I’m not kicking.
Fortunately, there is wine. However, I still need something to do.
So I’ll get back on the word horse.
I’m putting the poetry stuff on WordPress. The posts will all have titles of places (I’d call this one “Arizona” if I’d done it this time. Dig?), so anyone not interested in poetry can know to skip those. See how I try to make things easy for you? You’re welcome.

I wake.
The day’s relentless burn has yielded sudden as falling.
Night exhales, all frost and endless starlight.
Night burns cold as day burns.
Contrasts cracking stone and bone like crumbling old paper.
I can hear them singing. Long ululations running up the mountains arpeggios and back again.
Singing to each other. Singing to their prey. Singing to the empty soughing of the wind through the palo verde.
All the nights since the beginning held in a high wail of praise echoing across the stillness.
Brazen eyes, fearless, staring at me from across the road as I huddle in the icy 2 am, watching to see what she does. She waits. Waits for me to leave her home. I am an invader. She can wait forever. She always has.

Sports hurt

Had an adventure at Illinois Bone and Joint today. I hurt my this part…

hip-pain-hip-flexor

Sadly, not just that part. That part is called a hip flexor strain, and it’s a pretty common sports injury. Particularly if you do a lot of kicking. I participate in a pair of fairly brutal combat sports. Thai and Chinese kickboxing. And the name pretty much says it all, and explains how I jacked up my flexy bits.
Unfortunately, the joint is also very angry with me. Without an MRI (affordable care my ass, I still got no insurance, therefore unless I’m on fire or there’s suspected cancer, no MRIs for me) there’s no way to be sure, but there’s some potential damage there too.

Captain Bedside Manner (Which I’m going to call the ortho I saw because he has none. Less than none. Negative bedside manner.) gave me a week’s worth of prescription grade NSAIDs and said I’d only need an MRI if it doesn’t get better in about a week.
My chiro (who has a great, if completely inappropriate, bedside manner) thinks Captain Bedside Manner is a bit off base and it’s a more serious issue in the joint that’s going to require two weeks of rest and then up to six weeks of PT before I’m back to my full load of ass kickery.
Which SUCKS. I train five days a week. What the hell am I going to do with myself??

When you’re well acquainted with your body, and I am thanks to rigorous training and a lifelong issue with hypochondria, you kind of get a feel for what’s going on, and things ring true or they don’t. I think I definitely strained my hip flexor. I think my chiro’s estimate may be a bit on the long side, and while the joint definitely needs attention, the main issue here is surface and it won’t take me no six weeks to get back on the horse.
The moral of this story is, sports hurt. If you participate in them, you will injure yourself. Even if you’re pretty good about not doing anything stupid. Does that mean you shouldn’t do them? Hell no.
Martial arts changed my life. You’ll pry my boxing gloves out of my cold, dead hands. But be prepared for periods of frustrating inactivity where moving hurts and makes you cranky.

In the meantime, BOREDOM will ensue. What should I do to fill the time? Skydiving? Learning a foreign language? Take up baking? Needlepoint? Hallucinogens?
Suggestions are welcome.