Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What it is to live so small

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We come into town slightly ravenous
for something not just from the deli,
not for what we have brought with us,
but something else entirely. A tomato
and pricey yellow mustard no one
in towns south or north or east of
here would ever ask this much for.

Pinned to a small shelf of shoreland,
the tiny town holds a history considerably
larger than its name, all of it tucked neatly
away within the walls of its even tinier
visitor’s center hugging the two-lane
road that runs one-way in and out of
sawmilled lumber and settler stories.

The woman is nice, takes my gentle
ribbing well and in the spirit with
which good meats are prepared for
patient grilling. She’s from southerly
lands, too, and we ask what it is to
live so small among redwoods, ocean
cliffs, and inquisitive passing spirits.

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Her answers fit both her size and ours,
make sense for what passes for time
here as we ogle rusted bandsaws and
anchor tackle, framed maps contoured
with lines that connect to where we are,
muse over a sad piano whose mute keys
have sung and known far better days.

Outside, the former postmaster offers
us a postcard with the 95432 zip code
printed prominently over a photo she took
of the building with a few redwoods spiked
in the near distance running up along an
empty ridge where so many were taken,
so many great giants mercilessly felled.

We stake out lunch at a picnic table overlooking
a wild Pacific. We have been here before as it
feels like home, though we cannot remember.
Too far down our ghosted tails to trace why
they want to celebrate this return, but enough
vertebral echo to fill in the missing reasons
why we never want to leave on feet again.

Joseph Gallo
August 26, 2013

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Scent of summerless smoke

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Summon water in summer and you will not thirst;
summon water in winter and you will not drown. ~Aucassin Verdè

Storm In My Walls

There’s a storm in my walls, coyote scurrying off
in the dry meadow with a rattlesnake in its mouth,
plane passing beneath the skeletal form of Cygnus,
scent of summerless smoke in my mouth. This is how
I hold your absence. There’s a storm in my walls.

Glass panes make sunbabies, owl croons burnt
dusk from the burled den of a faint oaken moon,
symphonic music pulses through late autumn clouds,
taste of mountain lakewater in my chest. This is how
I come before you. Glass panes make sunbabies.

I cannot say what these things mean. Open doors
riddle red fleshholds of my dawn-trodden body,
shapes I cannot describe carve names in deep tissue,
feel of blue camphor ghosts in my eyes. This is how
I remain in your locket. I cannot say what this means.

Joseph Gallo
October 27, 2013

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Less than we began

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Walking The Labyrinth

Because someone set these stones where they are,
patterned them into a spiral befuddle, the paths
appearing as if by some improbable construct of
unnatural possibility, each granite scale hewn and
brooved from some place above us that emerged
from some place below to be arranged thusly as
we place now one foot before the other to undertake
the small and brief business of this gathering day.

We pass between them like snows that have come and
gone over centuries, our minds padding into our soles,
one step and another, emptying all we might have
considered as we do so, making room for what comes,
what inevitably appears in spite of us, making within
such winding circles something like a journey: deer
prints; scattered pine seeds; fathers gone past; songs
of wandered children to come; the brevity of planets.

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Come then verging tears at the rivergates of sorrow, of
abject joy, of no reason whatsoever for they come flooding
always together in the same channel whispering rock and
redwood, salting yellow autumn through orange monarchial
air as blue jays rift the boughs and we circle tighter and tighter,
each footfall another decade of descending until we are not
here or there but someplace between ourselves where we don’t
quite fit in ways we hoped, surrendering circle after circle.

Into unholy middles of our uncentered selves we arrive
somehow less than we began, bits left behind, unfaltered
pieces flung ahead, as if such seasons were promised us
beyond this pathless reckoning. Once arrived, we venture
out swiftly to be reborn into the slowing pace of what we
come to find in this place—twig, heart, acorn, hand—the sum
of who we are when we abandon who we are, leave it scattered
in the turns, don the smalling of who we might then become.

Joseph Gallo
October 16, 2013

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