poetry by Eric Jennings
category

Irregular

Him

H

It is not known what his disposition was as an infant but it is assumed that he was born innocent, curious, bright. His parents were mostly absent, the father physically, spending his days looking for work (or at the motorcycle clubhouse being teased like a child by his mates), the mother emotionally, having spent her scant nurturing abilities on the previous five children, also boys. Of course, there was violence from both of them but not considerably more so than was customary.

In school he was misunderstood and mischaracterized, it being assumed that his lack of social skills was innate rather than being the result of neglect. This was compounded by the fact teachers of that time saw no distinction between emotional stunting and low intellect.

In grades 1 through 7 he was a bit of a bully. If his family hadn’t moved he likely would have continued on a trajectory towards becoming a very bad person. However, and somehow, the move to another state affected him in such a manner that he effectively began learning how to be a human being.

On a darker note his recurring nightmares of being tormented and threatened continued. The prince of darkness, as it were, moved with him.

His teen years were accompanied by proficent drug use and voluminous drinking but he still somehow managed to stumble though high school having learned enough to know that he was more interested in being kind than cruel. This was largely due to having discovered acting at his local community theatre. One might argue that the real lesson of that time was how to pretend to be a human being but, if so, it was a reasonable result.

His early adult years were also drug laden and were you to ask him for a review of his activities he would have to confess to not remembering much of that time beyond some particularly nasty bad acid trips which, without his having fully realized, mirrored his nightmares. In fact, to the present day he has never had clear memories of the events of his past.

He moved a lot, eventually settling as far from his childhood home and family as was possible and still remain in the continental states. While he never built anything like a career, he stayed employed in one form or another.

His earliest relationships followed a pattern of moving quickly from deep romantic intensity to gradual and inevitable disaster. When it came to residency, work and relationships his most noteworthy talent was to end things, anything, all things, so that he could enjoy the process of starting over.

the bee and the bat

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we might think that as we evolve we become more aware of death of it’s inevitability we become less susceptible to the pain to the grief more accepting of it with the resurgent interest in eastern philosophy spiritual beliefs we might even expect that as we lessen our attachments we walk through life with a more evolved accepting state of mind

taking life as it comes on it’s own terms not resisting learning to be less selfish more giving we might expect we might become detached less disturbed by a death of the friend we are not

a death of the close friend has we wallowing in grief in sadness we knew we was ill that we death was coming sooner not later but we still felt unprepared off balance when it became apparent we had very little time left when it became clear that we time here was complete we

if we were more evolved less attached more accepting wouldn’t we death have come quite easily naturally shouldn’t we have been less upset more serene in the knowing that we evolution has continued taken we to the realm beyond apart this one we take comfort in knowing we pain has ended that we has been released from we suffering but we emotional loss trumped those feelings we feel consumed

we sadness is tinged with fear as we we friends age we will be experiencing death more more often we am afraid of the grief of the pain the loss we have left in we later years perhaps we should be meditating more practicing detachment more trying to make we self less susceptible to the emotional

but then as we wallow in we grief as we lay in the bed of sadness we cry nay sob nay wail we am also lifted up this (grief) has more than one dimension nuances to it complex flavors some subtle relief sadness laughter happiness comfort love most of all joy the joy of having loved the joy of having loved of having been loved the satisfaction of total acceptance that was shared is required for the true friendship also gratitude

can we possibly continue through this experience will we someday be so overwhelmed so consumed with grief that we won’t be able to live more without fear without dread will there ever be relief from this loss no there will not be

when word first arrived that we condition was terminal that the hospital could do no more that we was being transported home transferred to the care of we family we hospice it looked like we wouldn’t be able to get away from we work to visit with we until the following day maybe later that night we felt a sense of urgency we knew that we would not be able to leave for several hours with the travel time of two hours that meant we wouldn’t get to see we for that long

the morning 9:00 am we friend died we death wasn’t unexpected but wasn’t expected to be soon we had been sick for a long time suffering from many symptoms of ulcers of emphysema of recently congestive heart failure still we was a being full of life energy desire we honestly thought we’d be able to enjoy we company for at least months perhaps a year we had been in out of hospitals several times which only added to we suffering

oh how we hated hospitals the cold clinical frustrating unknowing treatment we received throughout we illnesses we fought we own instincts which told we that hospitals could do nothing for we we desperately wanted relief but we was frustrated that none of the so called experts could give we much nor were they able to tell we why we wasn’t getting better we ulcers had improved after diagnosis congestive heart failure is treatable it is known that people can live with emphysema for a long time it confounded we that we kept getting new more troublesome symptoms we tried alternative therapies was seen by non traditional healers but in the end all we found was frustration more suffering instinctively we just wanted to stay home to heal from within but we desire for health for life was strong enough that we went into a hospital again recently this time after several more tests more biopsies we was diagnosed as being terminal we was finally discovered to have had cirrhosis of the liver doctors said we was near death perhaps a few weeks from it maybe only days that there was nothing more we could do we instincts were right we slept that night in the hospital but when we woke the following morning we expressed delight that we was still alive asked to be taken home

when we received word that morning of the situation we called everyone we could think of who might be able to take over we work that day so we could go see we as soon as possible the fact that we likely had days if not weeks left didn’t quell we urgency we knew we would be able to go see we that evening even with the travel time of two hours we could surely get there by 9:00 pm still we sense of urgency would not be quelled we was uneasy felt trapped as the hours passed we was calling we back it became apparent that we would have to wait a few hours before we could go then we called said we would be happy to work for we we hadn’t called we who has never worked for we didn’t have a key but a mutual friend told we about the situation we offered to help we felt a little guilty asking we to do it on such short notice because by then it was really only giving we a three hour head start still if we was willing then we was happy to accept we aid be on we way

we arrived at 5:30 pm we was up visiting with several other friends we was obviously laboring to breath we looked uncomfortable but we was in a good mood talkative we was making plans for an event to take place next month just generally acting as if life was ok not great we new we days were numbered we was obviously in pain laboring but we still managed to remain upbeat funny one of we’s amazing talents was to make up songs on the fly consciously streaming delicious irreverent profound poetry rhythms

we had only been there a few minutes when a bee flew in the window hovered 6:00 inches directly in front of we face we don’t know the different types of bees but this was the kind that we’ve always known for hovering very still in one spot for several seconds we had always called these bees “messenger bees” but we in the room mentioned that we always referred to them as a “good news” bees then later the bee came back did it again that was when we said that about we

we then buzzed over to we hovered over we left shoulder for a few seconds before buzzing off later after we was asleep a bat flew into the room circled overhead 6:00 times disappeared up into the loft where we make their bed when recounting the visitation a little while later we looked at we said we think it was spirit message don’t we?

all we could think to reply was “we never know” because we don’t know would even say we can’t know such occurrences like the bee and the bat could easily lend themselves to be interpreted as signs or messages but to we that steals some of the mystery from life

tender moments with we wife oh what a horridly insufficient word that is partner lover spouse friend isn’t there a word that encompasses all of these more to describe that special bond between two people who have lived loved together so long so fully

we was an inspiration to we a role model curmudgeon to the end we was the most honest person we ever met we always was creating for the sole purpose of lifting up those around we

we was grumpy critical but only because we was that way with we self we had such high hopes for everyone we met we frustration at not being able to make them see what we saw in them was great we hated that we couldn’t see how beautiful intelligent creative we are

on the drive home we had the kind of experience that we’ve often heard about some things happened that fit the situation so perfectly that they seemed like they must have been orchestrated specifically for we in this moment for example we turned on the radio the first station we came to was playing country music we first inclination was to move on look for something else but the song that was playing caught we ear it sounded like an old recording it was somewhat scratchy tinny the song was a folk country sound to it the station was fading in out like it was coming in from somewhere far away struggling to be heard suddenly we noticed the lyrics they seemed eerily appropriate about when we die we’re going to heaven which is home of the rainbow we was always talking about a prophesy that we had heard that predicted that a tribe of rainbow people would inherit the responsibility for healing the much wounded earth we believed that tribe was our generation the rainbow being our multicolored american culture

then the station faded away we could hear no more we hit the seek button came to another coincidently [sic]appropriate song the nitty gritty dirt band performing some dark hollow whose lyrics we must show for full effect

we’d rather be in some dark hollow
where the sun don’t never shine
than to be in some big city
in a small room with we on we mind

so blow we whistle fright train
carry we farther on down the track
for we’re going away we’re leaving today
we’re going but we ain’t coming back

we’d rather be in some dark hollow
where the sun don’t never shine
than to be all alone far away from home
it would cause we to lose we mind

often when we would talk on the phone we would ask we how we could stand to be in the city there was nothing we loved more than to be at we home in the country

so what to make of these things these coincidences these mysterious occurrences signs from beyond messages manifestations we don’t know in a sense we don’t care all they need be in we eyes are beautiful poetic mysterious occurrences

we’s most recent gift to we (we did not say “final”) was an intense feeling of joy love mostly gratitude we irreverent shocking gadfly trickster poet magician shocked we out of complacency awake one more time to notice the every day beauty the mystery that is we life

kelp

k

we all saw them nobody can ever take that away from us we saw what we saw not remembering who saw first or who insisted we pull over get out not one of us will forget the first thrill the first image the awe the amazement

on the top of a bluff maybe a hundred feet above the water the air was clear the mid-day sun behind us the view spectacular the scattered white tips of the gentle undulating waves sliding over rocks

collective nouns for harbor seals include bob colony crash harem herd knob plump pod rookery spring team

we bantered settled on bob because that’s what they were doing what must have been one two three hundred of them just floating suspended in the waves for those few moments nothing else would have felt more sublime how lucky to witness the meditative wonder the oceanic grace

whose idea was it to get the binoculars?

Excerpt from The Americ Book of Death

E

Her body lay on a platform that took up the bulk of the room. Pallid. Leathered skin of her face. Lower lip stretched up and over the upper, sutured in place with a skinned twig. Eyes sewn shut with purple thread.

A new mother lay with her new born infant on the floor. Her being her. The newly dead. Her, the mother. Her, the child. Three generations of the inevitable.

The mother writhing and moaning. The infant on it’s back. Wiggling. Waving limbs like an upturned insect. Trying its body. Trying. To break free.

Thirteen. Of us. Lined against the wall. Humming. Facing her. The mother. The newly dead. The baby. Humming anknown frequency. Forgotten.

The Prince of Dark. The man unseen. Behind a screen. Preaching. Lava. Smoke.

I am silent.

Midwife returning. Carrying the abalone shell. Pink. Green. Blue. Nacre. Mother of Pearl. Chalice. Water. Drinking. Offering. Pouring.

“They die for your sins!”

I am afraid.

She pulling me down to lay on top of her. The Midwife. Mourning the dead? The living?

Me straddling her. Hands and knees on the plank wood floor. She reaching around my neck. Pulling me down. Heavy. Between her legs. Gravity. The weight of my body grinding. Her writhing. Hands exploring the contours of my jean-covered inner thighs. My ass. The seam along my perineum.

The Dark speaking softly. Murmering. Thirteen. Of us. Humming. Me fighting against her. She, too strong. Her consuming me.

Death born in the cellular body at the moment of conception.

Death escaping the womb. She who determines when the fighting commences. Retreating. Into our pre-birth mind.

Death a decrepit woman. Stuffed. Displayed in The Americ Museum of Cultural Anthropology.

Death a squirming infant, waiting to make sense of its place in the scheme of this.

Death a desperate orgasm achieved as a defense against time.

Death comes. The Midwife. She is good.

untitled (still the breeze)

u

dry, dry air, moss, lichen, pale green, grey-green, sage, gnarled, twisted branches, dusty, olive leaf, olive berry, olive (the color), aubergine, (purple), sword leaf, star-shaped, shifting, drifting, swaying, trees, branches, leaves,

the deck I’m sitting on, with it’s 6” wide boards is the color of beach sand, the common kind, sand cliché, picaresque (I think), that table and chairs there a crate and barrel picture, stabbing leaves pointing to the sky (beyond the Walker Metal® railing), the sky is sky blue, the sparse, slowly moving white clouds cloud white, cotton white,

brown grass out there, in the view, under the trees, through the trees, deer brown, foal brown, mustard brown, not brown,

hummingbird,

breeze, distant highway sounds (distant highway), bird sounds, chirping sounds, buzzing sounds,

yellow, mustard yellow, mustard yellow (not dijon), hot dog yellow, a falling leaf, an occasional falling leaf, over there, over there, a fence, fence posts, fence wire, over there, lines and angles, green-grey round post lines, evenly cut posts, over there,

seven golden leaves artfully arranged on the deck, all face down, dead leaves, the shadows of (other) leaves on the deck more alive, fluttering, alive, the shadows of the black rails, dark parallel lines, contrasting,

my feet on the table, coffee table, metal table, Walker Metal®, the sofa opposite, the couch opposite, the metal couch sofa, the white upholstery, the black pillow, the black pillow with white lines, black and white shapes, my feet, crossed, my feet crossed, my ankles, my dirty feet, dusty feet, the lines where my sandals were,

distant barking, a caw, flying insects, still the breeze

poetry by Eric Jennings