i was three days sober in a Minnesota campground and an unseen nocturnally barking dog drove me into a field and left me there alone

a woman in Alaska,
her face framed
by short cut thick
black hair, sits framed
in the window of a truck.
i have seen her
several times;
on the dock,
on a boat,
in a truck.
my eyes, framed
between whispered rows
of lashes, see her
in her framing
of thick short cut
black hair.

a blonde woman
fills her 2-door
Honda hatchback
with gas, at
a highway gas station
in Minnesota.
she has long honey
blonde hair
held loosely by
a single band,
gathering it into
a bloom
atop her sweatshirt
collar. her sweatshirt,
maroon and faded.
her car, also faded
in the northern Plains
morning sun.
and i, in an old
Volvo and caked
in accumulated dreams.
filling the small tank
of the Volvo with
that which it needs
to keep going.

two women
who appear to be
romantically linked
with each other,
buy diversionary snacks
from a vending machine,
at a rest stop in Ohio.
one of the two,
her hair is chestnut
and oak and it is
short and it is wavy.
in my mind, i
wave back. she
wears a thick sweater
of what appears to be
wool, and laceless ankle
boots of what appears to be
leather. the other
woman is tall and
slender, her wrists showing
inches below the cuff
of her unbuttoned
long sleeve
plaid shirt.
it appears to be
flannel and
well-worn. faded
and comfortable in its
closeness. i walk
to the bathroom in the
rest stop, empty
my small tank, and
walk back to my vehicle,
intent on a return
to my going.

Buddhists and secular
meditators and many
others, advise me to
“live in the present”,
focus on what is right
here, in me and of me
and all around me.
that to live in the stories
in our head is a sure way to
continue inhabiting our worlds
of suffering. and yes, i believe
in the prudence of this advice.
and yes, i have also lived
many lifetimes with these women
in Alaska and
Minnesota and
Ohio. never have i
spoken to them, and
never have i
stopped reciting:

are you out there?
i am in here.
i am in here.
i am in here.

Published by Zak

an intertidal island in an ocean of impermanence.

6 thoughts on “i was three days sober in a Minnesota campground and an unseen nocturnally barking dog drove me into a field and left me there alone

    1. thanks very much for taking the time for conveyance; the ocean at my side never stops fluttering; entire philosophical traditions span millennia in their attempts to still our ceaselessly chattering mind; yet so often our lithe tongue only twitches, and never brings itself into the full unfurling of utterance.

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      1. Would you deal with it wisely, had you, had you the chance to unfurl fully, as a fern in late summer? I find that, albeit true they are attempts of quiescence, they are also exercises of occultation; little syllogistic spells under which we cower from our enormity. A Portuguese poet has a beautiful poem about this, aber leider, I cannot translate it, since he is still living.

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      2. enormity or infinitesimality, likely both, in oscillating occurrence. either and both, we cower. i sued to fear death for the finality of it. now i have come to fear it for its lack of cessation. i am a common mongrel and only speak one language; i will look for this Portuguese poet you mention, see if there are any existing translations.

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      3. I am a common mongrel and speak three. I understand that implacable non-arrival, that indivisible, miserable lack, which we subordinate and are subordinates to, perhaps in some eldritch Chomskyan manner in which we are restricted and relativised, nouns without immanence, without gall. There are no translations of L. Quintais, or, there are a couple in German, I believe, but those won’t help.
        Since this is a comment, I’m hopeful the author never stumbles upon it, lest I butcher his verse. Gladly, what poet of any worth rejects a butchering?

        11.09.01
        “A day will come
        in which we too
        from the glass tower
        shall plunge into the void.
        In a distraught fall
        we are already in.
        Between the leap
        and the utmost word,
        we shall remember
        of a cloud or a madrigal.
        What good is it
        that embedded gleam
        during the fall?

        We muddle the waters.
        Nothing more.”

        It’s quite simple, and sounds indubitably better in its original tone. I’ve read this when I was 23, a couple of years ago. Then, I couldn’t really conceive of my pursuits as a deepening of all the textures I dreaded; the thickness of things. Their thickness is lethal, especially for the frail-spirited like me. Now, I do understand the muddling, or I understand as much of it as I’m able. And, more tragically, more teethed a discovery, I understand frailty more; thus I too share somewhat in that death that outstretches and yawns beyond the points where its lines meet, as a pale florescent ring. To me too, it figures itself unending, but my cowering has the same taste of violence every other cowering has, hence must a fine boundary be walked between the willingness to lack in fear, or the will to lack completely.
        Thank you for letting me do this, Zak. I don’t always get the chance.

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      4. this is fantastic. thank you deeply and sincerely for your translation, yes, and your willingness to engage, João-Maria. “we muddle the waters, nothing more.” fantastic. muddle or muddy, a twitch of the athletic tongue, a slight slide of film over the eyes. and isn’t it that any real poet is both a butcher and so much flayed meat? might my bone gleam, pearlescent, or will it one day expose me to be nothing more than muted stain? muddled or muddied. we hide behind words in the same way we hope them to be freeing like kites; our minds are tethered to these bodies, butchered are we by the Passions of our need. our minds sigh and float along above and slightly behind us, waiting. and this is what i earlier alluded to–does death snip the tether and set our mind to kite? or does death further braid our tethers, and bind us ever more to our leashing? i am terrified, always terrified. as such, i seek escape. alas, we spend our lives returning to that which we once fled. a muddy pond, a muddled tongue in mouth’s cavernous bay.

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