Stone Hearted (from Prompt 19)

The feeling was scratched

on our weakened bark

Drip drop of a hell I never wanted to be a part of.

Yes, it came back to us this night. Of all nights.

The night of fog and clearing roads

Losing my favorite pebble

thrown around when it felt at times

jagged, sometimes,

or when it stole the warmth from my hands

and now the wet leaves

blue on my shoulders

ecstatic at my refusal to stay

constant as I challenge my direction

and the timpani between my eyes

and the heartbeat of the sluggish

curled up in your heart

where they have festered

all this time in your stead.

My skin imitates the moss in your head

where they last saw you

calm, still, in the forest

I almost relived your path

The crunching leaves

The limbs hopped

The hope limber still

Until the path spit us out

into thicket

Hard brush and rain ever constant

But I ran into the dark

heavied by the water

guessing for lights unseen

looking for paths unmarked

but in your stead

I found the precipice

j

Grieta (from Prompt 18)

At Rise: Mauricio hiding in a hole in the desert, behind the brush.

Mauricio: Sometimes, it’s easier this way. Whether to enjoy my sand head buried in darkness. Whether I accept my blind eyes as they make believe that I’m no longer here. I pray that here has become there. Is it okay to think this way? Is it okay to regret this? In the sand, I camouflage myself along the wedges of dirt and sage. I blend as a praying mantis in the soil.

I am a large mantid. Mantids, I think that is the scientific name. Not so easy to hide sometimes.

In Arenal, we would sit at night and the glow of the volcano would make its way to us. We never felt the heat, but we believed we did. A phantom comfort when there wasn’t much to eat. As human beings, it is easy to aspire to the impossible. It is an insult to keep your thoughts and dreams as low to the ground as your shoes. A friend of a friend of a friend says he can get you through the border on a cold night in Juarez. Then second cousin Martin will come from Odessa to drive you in his pick up like dusty luggage left in the sun. He’s legal, he can get by okay. All you have to do is get to El Paso.

Jacinto, my Papa, went first, with the family savings, and he left on the back of Manolito’s maroon minivan at dawn on the second of October. He never knew hugs or his way around one, but he tried that day. He wrapped his arms around me much too tightly and said that he would send for me. His tone flat and distant as if he had already taken off for the United States days ago. El Norte called and he answered. He swam the gutters of six borders and I heard his voice once again. For months, we wondered if he had enough to eat along the way, or if his shoes were holding on, or if he drowned in the big river. My mother was so proud she found his shoes at the flea market two weeks before he left. Barely used boots fit for a long hike at just ten colones! She smiled toothlessly, hiding her sorrow. For years she held that pain of distance and finally he sent for Mama and my sister, to join him in this place called Wichita. So far up North I think you can wave hello to the elves in the winter time. They found their way and that was seven years ago. And I waited in the house with two rooms by the big tree where the tall grass begins. With Abuela Mariella.

She is gone too, you know? She left not long ago.

In the tall grass, there was a praying mantis that would sit still at the sight of me. And we had a staring contest every day after school. I thought it looked me closely and waited for me to make my move to destroy it. But it never flinched. Maybe it didn’t know any better, and hoped the closer the danger, the closer the food. It is a dumb insect after all…

Did you mean to send for me too, Papa? Did you expect me to walk this path like you did? Did you want me to do this on my own?

He hides behind the brush again as headlights approach.

Sometimes, it’s easier this way.

Lights Out.

Noteworthy 8.16.19

Hello Void,

Yes, I’m talking to you, that elusive folks in this realm where our digital thoughts and media and memories go float until someone stumbles into them. At first, the notion of calling the internet a Void is to deem it a dark and cold place, but I don’t think that, really. I go back and forth, but mostly, my overall opinion is that the internet is a place where the positive connections will outweigh the negative. This is why I’m here, taking the time to share a few links and things, in hopes that it will spark something to us back to our creative ways.

  1. My wife gifted me a couple of books for our anniversary and I couldn’t be happier to get started on them. I just wrapped up Austin Kleon’s superb reference for artists Steal Like an Artist. If you need a kick up the rear to get going, this is as good as it’s going to get. What a playful, inspiring read!
  2. I love comedians. I love them as practitioners, bohemians, and all of their flawed, weird hilarity. Here’s an interesting conversation between Ricky Gervais and Sam Harris, discussing the nature of all things comedy, social media, and the state of the world.
  3. I’ve shared this before, but it makes my heart soar. My brother-in-law introduced us to this Shakey Graves song when our son was a baby, and I recall playing it on those late nights when scant sleep and long days turned life upside down. My baby would dance and sway back and forth clumsily and gift us a smile. And nothing made me smile a deep smile of pride from my bones and belly and heart than that little memory.

I kind of like sharing three things. It’s short and sweet, and I’m all about saving time. Madd and I will get to podcasting this weekend, hangout with our dear friends who are here from out of town, and of course, the quest to write the latest project is underway. Using Austin Kleon’s calendar advice, I’m going to continue working on my short stories, as well as the children’s play due at the end of September for the Casper Children’s Theater. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s Friday, and burnout is our refrain as we welcome the weekend. Take care of yourself. I’ll try too.

j

OKA 22 – Now Podcasting from the Basement!

Happy Wednesday! OKA brings you today:

The marvel and wonder that is Wyoming’s musical gem and best kept secret, The Oyster Ridge Music Festival. Great fun, outstanding talent from across the country, and the kindest people you’ve ever met, all in Kemmerer, WY!

Next up, we cover Andrew Yang, who is currently challenging for the Democratic nomination, as well as the fervor of his#yanggang. If you’d like to know more about the candidate, check out his JRE interview in which he concisely lays out his agenda just as he wants to. Sounds like a nice guy!

Lastly, we come to the realization that J’s sister, Brenda, has great TV recommendations. She made us watch Queer Eye and now we can’t stop. Yes, it’s still reality television, but let’s talk about what it has to say!

Have a good week, friends.

J&M

Noteworthy 8.10.19

Hello folks,

I have been trying to get this out for the last few days and I finally made it to the blog! Get to your recliner, relax, and enjoy some of the latest web findings to get us back to our creativity!

  1. We lost Toni Morrison this week. In her honor, let’s take a look at this superb advice on failure.
  2. Elliott Smith’s birthday was on August 6th. A light we lost much too soon but will leave behind some incomparable songs. I leave you with one of my favorite moments captured on video: Elliot as the first guest on the ill-fated Jon Brion Show, what a timeless artifact for us to enjoy now. Thank you Elliott.
  3. This week in Mississippi, an image of a little girl broke my heart. Hundreds of illegal immigrants now detained, have no idea what is to happen to their children or who will care for them. I saw my child in that photo and I simply could not bear it anymore. May our children never know this trauma and suffering this helpless little girl is going through. I never thought I would see this cruelty in our country. We cannot continue to do this. We are better than this.
  4. Yes it’s been a shitty week, but for the time being, let’s bask in the wholesome awesomeness that is Gullermo being a badass mentor for all of us.

Please take care of yourselves tonight. Embraced your loved ones. Be well, friends.

j

If you don’t feel so good about this entire week, just enjoy your cumbia! Happy Weekend!

OKA Episode 21: Back at it!

We’re back at it again folks, dayjob exhaustion has delayed the release of some of our episodes and that just bums me out! Alas, here we have a great conversation Maddie and I had before taking off for the music festival. I’m actually quite proud of myself: As we evaluate where we can focus our attention and energy in our lives, Maddie and I concluded that we need to let the podcast breathe and not over edit each episode into the ground. While I have the hardest time letting go of the edit, I have to practice restraint and tonight, I am pleased to report I did the least amount of cuts I’ve ever done on this podcast. We cram a lot of good stuff in a short amount of time and it turned out to be a fun episode. Come join us!

Much love,

J & M

Mote and Light (from Prompt 16)

A void of sun, floating in this shineless cavern

holding on to the grip as I held to the notion you would return

to find me

to relieve and relive

the cool spring of our friendship

upon which we lifted

and hovered weightless

at one point in time, ascending

upward and nearing an illumination

that felt like you

and I cherished that hope as a yard void of insects

A continued affliction

that makes your smaller

to mean less

and meaningless

until the limbs

over-extended and distant

from the teasing invitation

so close to memory and artery

now fancies itself artillery

threatening the mote

thinning

weightless

suspended


Poetry and whatever else comes to mind based on my #icprompts on Instagram!

j

Noteworthy 8.2.19

Hi there! Here’s a few awesome links to wind down this hectic week:

  1. I caught this one long ago when I was in one of my editing late nights, so I thought I would share this now. This is a lovely conversation between George Saunders and Jeff Tweedy that inspires like no other. It made me want to pick up a pen and start unraveling story. Great wisdom from two masters.
  2. The Working Songwriter is a podcast from musician Joe Pug. I had the great pleasure of seeing him live at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival and he just blew me away. His craft and presence as he delivered such beautiful songs left a good dent in my heart. A truly memorable time was had! I’ll be checking the backlog of his podcast episodes, in which he interviews fellow songwriters and discuss the craft of songwriting.
  3. Regarding the Steppenwolf revival of True West, the most influential play of my playwriting life. I would have killed to see this play in the flesh on that Chicago stage in 1982.
  4. This year, working on getting my poetry back on track has been a priority. Starting with the basics as I get to know how I can work in the medium and what I can do to get better, and more resilient. Here’s a little recap I found of Pablo Neruda I liked.

And I leave you with a great tune that hit VH1 when I was growing up, obsessed with music videos. Also, a 90s RDJ starring in a peculiar, one shot video. Have a great weekend, friends.

j