Made out as a Mill

“…Have ye not known, ye fools, that have made the present a prison,
That thirst can remember water and hunger remember bread?…”
-From “Mediaevalism” by G.K. Chesterton
~~~

The grist in the matter:
either
the granite will
roll in this mill with
the chaff flying into the hopper alongside the stuff that won’t choke
us; or
that stone wheel will
smell
it
all
out with each granule
a cause for a file, and the children go
hungry.

Bellies
rumble, bloodshed inevitable,
everyone standing half-upright or close
enough for
the doctor
to clear them for
harvest or indoor work.
Hereafter,
do we
weep or wait?

Better:
who made
this a mill?
So I go
to the library
reading through page after fading page
of the tomes on my breaks
offering up the closed throat
and my stomach’s persistent groan.

-bnt

A Society of Three Bowls (Part V of V)

V: A Bowl of Incense

“Lovers must not, like usurers, live for themselves alone. They must finally turn from their gaze at one another back toward the community. If they had only themselves to consider, lovers would not need to marry, but they must think of others and of other things.”
Wendell Berry

1
My mother
studied hard to teach
the next few generations
horticulture. Marching at her station,
taut and guarding, pioneering, better in her grades than any of her peers,
she unbeknownst to her had steered herself to meet
my father.
My father
had a dream
to own a business
meanwhile waiting tables.
I happened, and instead he: brought the checks;
took less rest; played with me when he was able;
fought my mother.

“Behold,” we’ve told ourselves, “the levers and the magic graph”-
no different, we could add and always don’t, than those of half
of Canaan’s multi-levered silo cult (those noble fools who
had the decency at least
to plainly
speak
of grains and reproductive needs).

Oh sing, if you are so inclined, the anthem we’ve provided you,
of carving out your own life for yourself. You’d join a litany
of voices who precede you – those who sing, succeed,
then starve into the ocean.
Meanwhile all this solid world is made of half-caught motions,
blooms in unintended harvests, finds its present destiny
in me and you.

2
Grains and vegetables are on the move again-
half-lost in rising maybe, but to teach their children
they’ve aligned themselves in tightly-regimented squadrons.
You might have missed it: after Age
of French Crow came
the Great Reseeding – slowly and discreetly – when
our souls remembered they had tastes.

Amidst the smell
of old books, do your best: expel
the notion those who use the crook call “nature.”
Use your proven, most elaborate of forks
to stave it off. Please, make your
case against the grove life; fruits and vegetables will seed as well
behind your neighbor’s porch.

3
For this handful of minutes eternity rests in the shade,
in the light and the shade. Yesterday
the trees made for Tree, tomorrow
more water arrived to its consecrating – to-day, to know,
to be.

The Lord has built the builder’s house today; later
comes the labor. Grass spread under the chair legs, up
it the daddy long legs, rising. A billion
souls before me in the grove shade, but
today You gave this place for me to sit. The billion-
and-second soul arises after; it’s then to pray
for that soul; today
isn’t joy of surprising; today
is to be.

Five bowls and fourteen breaths. A puff of smoke.
Tobacco shown its purpose. Smoke
asserting, then curling, into sunlight
through the leaves shine,
tree to make the Tree, the water from Your side
to make this tree be,
Glory Be…

 

-bnt

A Society of Three Bowls (Part IV of V)

IV: A Bowl of Darkness

“…but late at night the feelings swim to the surface…”
Régine Chassagne

1
Asherah might have spoken up, but now
removed I can’t tell. Seems it could be winter.
Sure my boots bear out the sighs of stagnant rivers.
Stench like winter. Is it?
winter? Aurelia out of town, where did
she keep her bones? How
does she do it?

Still I could refuse belief. In
actions are my new beginnings, so you’ll have to prove it.

Boat ashore and that root earth only in dreams,
one needs no sleep
in blazing shadows of the sodium lamp,
the streets
afloat with life and highs and light we
make, and will it now and
will it ever dreamily
collapse?

2
(A knife’s width
and the split
end
of the matter:
two beginnings offered
in two ends.

On the one hand
end of no end; this new nature taking from the old land
springtimes birthing summers, but then autumn breaks
some newer springtime; Asherah summoned, reemployed
and looser-handed for it; old and new Aurelias, bones thrown, no voids;
only the same pain
over and over, a dull blow breaking the same veins;
everlasting night washed out by lights that stay.

On other hand
the end, embraced;
a sigh of rest; unphotographed repentance.
Season of the phone call to your parents.
Falling asleep and
waking to a new spring
not of your own making.
Muscles stretching
to the real hand.

Bluntly said, the crops and harvests do
not need you.
It goes the other way: to be you
does not mean to be your own.
To be you means to
burrow
roots. You
are not you
until you know who
holds you.)

 

-bnt

A Society of Three Bowls (Part III of V)

III: A Bowl of Blood

“Summer in the city / I’m so lonely, lonely, lonely.”
Regina Spektor

1
Ripe, full-bodied, firm peel, underneath the sweetest
and the coolest fruit: my patience, paid off. Pressed
to fullness, bulging like a pregnant pause: the still air
for the entrance. Season previous bequeathed the process-
first the first sprout, then the upward dividends, and now this harvest:
from the gym equipment into summer’s black dress
cool and sweet! the shimmer when I entered,
when I moved the air into the party!
All the boys were gasping on that first night, “Who is she.
and wishing they could breathe at least or drink beside me.

2
Patience, hard work in the preparation only for the garden parties-
all the best were rooftop garden parties. Only
cold fruit for those parties, never the raw stuff. We
saved the raw stuff for some off-work in the midweek
or some other season. Even
at the garden parties men would seem to listen
and the women there befriended
other girls. Amidst remained
a table hewn of granite where the bravest
dice clicked. Even at our midweek parties. Rocking ships. And who
complained about crops. Who.

Passing ships, the masts. What semaphores.
We’d tumble down in joy before
the dawn the stairs we’d climbed the night before.

3
We met one night at a garden party, you and me,
on a night most beautiful for cryogenic fruit. We
got the romantic stoppers in the bottles of our lives right.

Cautious, cautious weeks of wind confirmed it. To and fro. This night,
said friends one night, is ripe to start the freezing Rite.
Aurelia gathered up the chicken
bones she needed, and Lord Goodwin, sage; and when
they nodded once we conjured up our lives right
as we wanted them,
began foundation there and then,

forever in romantic arms,
forever in our arms.

I kept
my rhododendron, and we bought more pets.

 

-bnt

 

A Society of Three Bowls (Part II of V)

II: A Bowl of Sores

“Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, et secretiore indigentia oderam me minus indigentem.”
St. Augustine

1
Before my first remembering stands a void.
A block of ice this universe wide
was all before, what me (if any) only product of a cold one’s eyes
subjecting who knows what to stasis, what was not a ploy
so as to suit that other. Instead I
sing of what I
know of being,
of beginning.

In the beginning came the first breeze. It slipped
between dead branches. It moved
amid the thirsty grasses. The
scent of moist bark
wafted back upon me, and so it was I knew I’d summoned
up the right life. I unpacked the first bag; I’d embarked
into my life’s beginning.

2
In our beginning those of us assembled stirred the ice.
We each in our own cavern woke to find we’d hibernated to the time
at hand. We knew – they told us, and we knew – the season had arrived.
“Go” (it came to us) “and find
the right life
for you.”

On whose
authority was it told us crops remain the heart
of civilized society? And what are
crops? these days?
You cannot raise
such crops in stable country.
“Seek the city.”

Before my first remembered memory was
the void,
before my action,
no beginning.

3
Spring in the city comes to mean buds – hesitant at first
and then assured. Birth in-town means death
to all the flotsam of whatever last life. “Do not rest
your head too long upon your new-earned laurels; thirst
requires of you renewed and yet renewed bets.”

Before my memory is
the void;
before my action,
no beginning
of me. My action, my beginning.
My action is beginning.

In our city they’ve constructed all the right poles. Bide
your liberation while you still can. Give and take can find
and choose for you
the choicest fruits.

I
would buy
one day a rhododendron and eventually
a puppy.

 

-bnt

A Society of Three Bowls (Part I of V)

‘Homo sapiens,’ ‘homo faber’…yes, but, first of all, ‘homo adorans.'”
Alexander Schmemann

I: A Bowl of Fire

“For in that city there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”
Evelyn Waugh

1
We make the air, and I remember when our city’s breeze first greeted me.
Spring had calculated out the warmth the summer would deliver:
warm air waking cold earth, light wind washing us forever.
Sudden coolness. Boat in fog. We
fall into some fiery season and the red leaf
evergreen now dying. Cold winds. So it’s time to ask
of Asherah the season. Cooling earth. We
ought to talk it over, love, again. We need
to think of making children,
where we’ll move, and where we’ll have
to raise them.

2
Our winds, they scatter these days, yours and mine. The to and fro. Now
when windows creak we ease around the harvest, loud
through portholes, quiet in the recess.
We become the ice block. If I’m honest
I can say I want a John Wayne. You
were good enough for spring and summer; you
become a stranger to
me. Who
could say
when we had hashed our freezing rite
the life that pours out now’s not quite
what we had chosen?
What an everlasting pain.

3
I think that Asherah speaks up, love. Consult your friends.
Aurelia’s bones
have told me. Doctor Phonebook chanted overtones
of necessary liberation – all eight syllables. Perhaps our harvest ends
right as it should. I think we may, I think we might
have found the next stage of our lives.

 

-bnt