Sunday, January 30, 2005

Ambling black shapes out of the night

Some nights you lie there in the dark waiting for sleep to overtake you and it's busy overtaking someone else, somewhere else. Sometimes you read 'til your lids drop onto a chestfallen page, other times you allow a glass of warm milk, or some other nocturnal, to ease you into the soft wallow of sleep.

I prefer to write my way out of consciousness. There is an inherent danger in this, of course, in that whatever is written will have the same effect on whoever reads it. I'll take that chance. If nothing else, the poem below is too short to cause even a temporal loss of wakefulness.

I had been reading an essay about the Alaskan frontier called The Farthest Away River by Phil Caputo from his latest book, as mentioned and hotlinked previously here at Drachenthrax. His deft descriptions of being in a place so utterly devoid of the background din of industrial technology have taken me to that place that still exists within the hardwired wilderness of my own soul. Caputo refers to this place as the premiere seat of understanding.

Campfires beneath polished tundran stars, roasted caribou from a hunt commenced and completed by your own hands, the primeval twigsnap of living purely within nature's unforgivingly indifferent and favorless laws. I have stood in places like this, remote wildlands scattered between the scars of mesa-top canyons and the feral recesses that reside deep within me where all thought is reduced to instinct and the unerring will to survive. And I have encountered these places in other human beings as well, some of whom regarded me as fair prey.

I, too, have regarded myself as fair prey and, fortunately, outran the cunning trajectory of my own premature trigger. But these are stories for another time, another opportunity to reveal yet more to myself in this sharing of it with you.

As sleep would not come, so came this poem like an ambling black shape out of the quiet night, to where I lay safe in a warm room, in Pacific Northwest winter, where blood and ink run together unchallenged, blissfully unaware of the steady crosshairs of a poet who took the following shot:

Bearkill In Kongacut

Pawthud pawthud
eaglescreech skygrunt

grousescatter barrelbreath

nosesnort fisheddy

antlerclack pawthud

rockslip wolfcry

twoclaw towerstand

streamshatter scentsniff

alderstill gazelock

glasscross breathseize


The most useless thing
in this wilderness,
a dictionary.

The most profane,
this impotent

Joseph Gallo
January 2, 2005


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