Their Eyes Beyond
I drive myself crazy
to pierce the veil
How the mind might
be used to fold and tear
the fabric of perception
that one might peek through
to the world beyond
Consider our limitations,
how few colors and frequencies
the mind can endure
Dare we open our arms
to what we can
only hope to comprehend?
To that which is,
and will be?
Before you, before I,
Before the first pair of eyes
before a mind wondered;
What waits for us there?
Or, perhaps more
While watching ink dry on the contract for my third collection of poems, I realized how much life fits into these pages. It feels much longer than it’s been since my last offering.
I’m grateful to my publisher, @tara_caribou, for her continued support, guidance, and honesty. There’s no better feeling than knowing those you collaborate with want what’s best for you and your work.
I’m also grateful to those of you who continue to support my endeavors. Your kind words, encouragement, and inspiration are a gift.
There’s much work to be done, but this feels like a moment worth remembering.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Book 3 – Spring 2023.
I’ve officially handed in the manuscript for Book 3.
There’s still work to be done, but I’m thrilled to officially be on the road to release and anxious to share the work with you.
Keep an eye on this space. I’ll be switching up my efforts to spread the word and giving sneak peeks and updates as they become available.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about this book as I haven’t nearly enough.
As I wrote the poems that would become Real Big American Zen, I knew the book would be a tough sell. The idea for the cover featuring my masked face would rub some the wrong way; the title would cause some to assume (wrongly) that the writing would lean to one side of the political aisle or the other, and it would stand as a reminder of a year that most of us would rather forget.
I also felt in my bones that it would be, in some way, disingenuous for me to try and steer the work in a different direction; This was the world I was inhabiting; these were the decisions my family and I faced; this was the feeling of my country and the world teetering on the edge of the unknown and unthinkable.
Fast forward to May of this year, my publisher and I are putting the final product together; we’ve managed to incorporate some of my artwork and photography into the book, and though I’m thrilled with our work, I’d come to realize that significant change was needed in my personal life.
In the two years since my father had passed, I hadn’t been treating myself very well. My mental and physical health had gotten away from me, and I was relying heavily on alcohol to suppress the sadness and rage I felt inside. I knew that significant changes were needed, and there was no time to waste.
Now here we are in late September, and I’m proud to say that I feel I’ve regained some control. I feel happier and healthier than I have in years, and though I’m still learning how to steer my creativity with a clear mind, I know the next chapter will be an exciting one.
One of the casualties of these changes was the promotional efforts for Real Big American Zen. I’m going to attempt righting the ship and shining whatever light I can on this collection of poetry, of which I’m still so proud. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll be sharing pieces from the book, perhaps some readings, as well as my Recent Abstractions series.
If you haven’t purchased a copy, I hope you’ll consider doing so. If you’ve bought and read the book, I hope you’ll consider leaving reviews at Amazon and Goodreads or anywhere else you like.
Today marks the release of my second collection of poetry, Real Big American Zen, and I wanted to share some thoughts and this sweet picture of my beautiful girls captured by their Momma, Kenzie White.
Sending this collection into the world feels almost cathartic. When I reflect on the impossibly long year that inspired the pieces, my mind immediately snaps back to the uncertainty, the empty store shelves, how my children kept me anchored and focused.
I never set out to write a collection of poems about the headlines of 2020. Still, I was interested in capturing a snapshot of being a parent, a partner, a citizen hoping that the chance of a peaceful life had not vanished.
I hope these pages, these poems, serve you in whatever capacity you need. They’re yours now. Pain, humor, reflection, uncertainty, it’s all there – patting the empty seat and looking at you.
Hello friends! I’ve got for you today, a new free verse poem, fresh from the mind to the screen. I hope you enjoy it!
Choke on thoughts of hands
and know that I have come to despise
these cheap displays of passion.
On the endless backroad
of my numbered days
I speed screaming into the mouth
of the beast that swallows my years.
Every wrong turn
I feel I've been
As some of you know, this space is primarily for sharing my poetry and other creative endeavors; however, I will occasionally share my thoughts on works and artists that have enriched my life, hoping the work sparks something in you.
“He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.”McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006
If someone were to describe the basic plot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, it would likely leave most people uninspired and unlikely to look into the book for themselves.
In 2021, the idea of another story about the struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic setting is yawn-worthy at best, and how could you possibly blame someone for such a response? The market is beyond oversaturated, with thousands of titles born of the concept. Though there may be the occasional winner, for my money, The Road stands alone as the work closest to perfection.
We join the central protagonist, simply known as The Man, and his son, The Boy on The Road, pushing a shopping cart containing all their worldly positions down a stretch of desolate highway somewhere in America. The sky is gray with ash, the trees dead and falling, wildlife, like most of humanity, virtually wiped out. A full explanation is never offered as to how or why the world came to be this way, which only furthered my curiosity for the story.
We’re quick to learn that the state of the world and the many challenges and dangers encountered by The Boy and The Man are secondary to their father and son relationship. It struck me as powerful in 2006 when I first read the novel, and in 2021, now a father of two, I find it devastatingly beautiful.
“He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke.”McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006
The exchanges between The Man and The Boy are simple, real, and perhaps the most underrated aspect of this book. The dialogue between a father and son facing impossible odds. The emotional investment of the reader comes quickly, the story rooting itself in the mind, the heart.
McCarthy’s use of language is masterful. Using as little punctuation as possible, his words find the page with an authority known only to a select few. All at once, beautiful and disturbing. Moments of extreme violence followed by a brief reprieve from the nightmarish landscape to be reminded of the beauty of a child’s curiosity and how we parents try to explain the world’s cruelty without crushing their wonder.
If you’re looking for not only a new read but an experience, I cannot recommend The Road enough. This is a book that will stay with you for years to come. You’ll revisit it when you’ve felt removed enough from the cold grip of its world, and you’ll hold every book that follows to a higher standard.
“People were always getting ready for tomorrow. I didn’t believe in that. Tomorrow wasn’t getting ready for them. It didn’t even know they were there.”McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. New York: Vintage Books, 2006
A short, newer free verse poem that arrived fully realized while driving my daughters to school. I hope you enjoy it!
I live not for risk
or adrenal rush
not for company men
or brass rings
I live for the song
For that perfect line
of a poem
where the muse rips
open the box of mystery
like a Christmas morning gift,
raises it to me smiling and says:
For you, the world
Another recently unearthed free verse poem, written a few months after my father’s passing. I was inspired to write about the comfort we find in art during times of uncertainty and pain. I’m happy it’s found a place.
You’ve been the ghost
in the seat next to me
for more miles
than I can count.
Your voice rises
from the speakers
the road ahead,
to make yourself known
I could use the company.
We’ve never had much use
so let’s fill the air
with a song once more
and build a fire
by the roadside.
I’ll stretch this body out
and turn my eyes
to the western stars.
This free verse piece was written around the same time as the bulk of the poems that make up my debut book, The Year that Stole the Light Away. I stumbled onto it this morning, and after seeing it with fresh eyes, I thought it would be nice to give it a home. A piece about the child that lives in us all: I hope you enjoy it.
She remembers me from years ago,
but I can’t say the same.
She says her mind is troubled.
She tells me her mother ran off
with her stepfather.
They’re traveling the country in an RV.
She tells me she deserved more
when her father died.
Now that bastard gets it all!
She leaps from her chair
and loudly re-enacts an argument,
jabbing her finger into a phantom chest.
Her eyes fill with tears,
and at sixty years old, a lost child
cries out for her mother.