Ane Brun, “Words”

Growing up, my room was directly adjacent to the family room in our sprawling single-story Southern California ranch home. Noises traveled through doorways and lingered in the halls of this old house, as did its people. Each night with such suburban regularity the noise of the nightly news watched by my mother in her kitchen cove floated by the feature film on which my father had paused, although he never stayed on any one image long. He reclining on the couch his hard work had purchased, feet on the Ethan Allen coffee table and arm raised high over his head as his suspended hand aimed the t.v. remote towards the cable box with nonchalant purpose.

Me, I was safe inside four walls, two windows and one door as the world revolved around itself outside, storming chaos as it paved its paths and picked its sides. But I knew nothing of this fury yet, even as I wrote nothings in a moleskin that seemed so urgent and so true. No, the things I knew then followed the floorboards of that grey-blue house set just before the foothills where my bare feet navigated each grain of wood as I summoned the courage to find my stride.  With each passing awkward year I wobbled less, noticed more. And while I know not the name of he who put those windows in those walls, I know the man who washed them clear of soot and soil to free his daughter from the task. From that clarity came words: words on paper; words that broke down letters to build stairwells; words that filled apartments with holograms and hopes; words that explained my station to those not unto myself.

Which is to say…if we are each a product of our environment, then I was packaged well. Kept safe and warm with only surface cracks sustained in shipping. So now I stop, I sit to recall the space that gave me words; to remember the rattle of its heater and the groans of its hinges, and capture this memory in characters. Using words to keep it real, architecture forming verse that reminds me of the people inside even if they roam its halls no more. Yes, here I stop…

Bon Iver, “Blood Bank”

Death creates a sense of manic urgency when it invades, when cemeteries cease to be abstractions and become home to ones you love. Every twitch of sinew is weighted with importance. Waste not, regret not for tomorrow is uncertain; It is No longer guaranteed.

This makes you a martyr fallen on the blade of memory. But only you will know and this is the cross that you will bear. To want so desperately to make your name, but stay exactly as you were when he last saw you should he be fumbling in the dark to find his way back home.

This is your darkest secret. It is the steam that holds the air and surrounds you. Because an “I” has meaning only where a “Thou” is granted; where there is no Alter an Ego cannot be.

J. Tillman, “Firstborn”

She realized would never touch the ivory on her mother’s piano again. It, as with all she had known, was fracturing to other places. It had left its place beside the hearth. Far from her reach, Foreign to her sight. Washed clean free of provenance to dwell in a home with no mind for such things.  No longer a gift from her father, who now laid snugly in the ground. No longer there to gather the family ’round.  Another memory gone.

Now just another piece of furniture on which to place a drink.

She Keeps Bees, “Vulture”

Power is curious. Unless continually moving, like a rolling stone, its blood coagulates and forms a crust through which its captive can see but not do, feel but not find.

When Power stagnates, it feeds off the flaneurs, we the ones who are continually underfoot. Ever moving, ever changing what we are and what’s around us, Power watches us until the time is right. Then, swiftly, it descends, jaw clenched tight in anticipation. Hoping. Wanting to transmute to look like us, be like us, obliterate us in physical form.

But to no avail. Because we are the makers of meaning; we are that hallow reference on your tongue; we are the content on a continent flooded with vacancies.

We ARE what it is NOT.