Four Miles of Sky (You and I) Flying

Joni Mitchell singing ’bout blue and thats all you could see really. Blue.
I was driving so I didn’t look down but
I imagined the road, the big concrete feet holding us up.
All of it made down river somewhere called tongue point.
Everything all caught up in my chest and Joni crooning, helping me to make something
different.

Im better talking after I wait a minute. Clearer, calmer,
apt to let the sky sooth that sharp twist of words over my tongue.
Better, but often not patient enough for it.
Taking the bridge into the sky that day on top of all that
deep green and steady rush below,
I let your hand on my chest steady me into flight.
I offered you the same.

We’ve been here ever since,
Daytime and sun-drenched, hand-holding, sweaty behind the knees.
Later cold-nosed under blankets in the night, softest clutching I’ve ever.

You always telling me where you are going,
even though I won’t remember. Even though I know
you’ll always come home to me.

Every bridge arching and aching for our crossing.
Every mile one that I want to take with you.

Sunset on the A-M Bridge.

Sunset on the Astoria-Megler Bridge.

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30 Letters: More from last November

More from the vault. Two letters. Two different days. From the same room. We are still so good. Notes in the morning, notes in our sleep. All the ways to say we are full of joy. Its still so good to love and be loved. Every moment. 

hi.
 
i’m hanging out in the cafe at elliott bay bookstore, and you’ve just stepped away for a second to go to the restroom, after we were just probably the cutest/most disgusting two humans in here: laptops side to side, cuddling during brunch, talking closely. 
 
i just called you a creeper and you just said, “takes one to know one.”
it’s only been two days together and i’m so balanced and so filled up by being by your side, so complimented, so completed. i can’t wait to spend another few days here, then our trip together. to have 11 inseparable days. yes. 
 
hey, let’s go grocery shopping and hold hands and be goofy and in love. let’s stare at each other from across a room crowded with friends, let’s sniff each others’ shoulders in public and kiss. let’s sleep naked and wake up in a tunnel of warmth under the covers. 
 
i’m obsessed with you.
 
Another, several days later: 
 
My Love,
 
Its very early in the morning and I am sitting at the desk in my room writing to you. You are just a few feet away sleeping soundly and I can hear your soft breath just above the sounds of the keyboard. It was all i could do to get up this morning, to wrench myself away from your warm, sleeping skin and into this computer. There is some minor crisis happening with a client, so I’m glad I listened to my alarm but so so sad not to be continuing to sleep soundly next to you. I am so glad you are here. Every time. I feel this immediate sense of world is right with you, and am overjoyed to wake each morning with your body wrapped around mine in an answer to my, ‘are you there?’ with a resounding and beautiful, ‘yes.’
 
I cannot wait to kiss you good morning, to make you tea and hold your hand, to talk and laugh and learn from you and with you. You are my one. 
 
I love you.
 
 
Lover's locks.

Lover’s locks.

#4

There was that time in the cab, nearly kicked out. Something about our credit cards, or the way our voices burned too bright, something about your charm kept our seats. We stopped at every intersection, but just barely made the turns, holding on to each other and cackling til’ we almost puked. Spent too much money on cocktails and imagined bar fights. The bartender hugged us on our way out. The night like a medium weight blanket, air still and salt smelling.

Your family was my family and my arms were your arms and I don’t know when you’re working anymore, so am not sure when to call. Which is a shitty way to say I can’t remember the way your car smells anymore, am always cooking and never bringing the wine, have lost track of which Murder She Wrote episodes I’ve already seen.

That conversation in the italian place, some crinkled corners of eyes, a promise of new into the world. A promise to figure it out. I’m still here and all of these words are stand in’s for stories we’ve yet to tell, voices breaking over sunset after sunset.

Your heart was my heart was your heart.

(c)RRG

(c)RRG

#3

Since moving here I’m nothing but honeyed with promise. Shut
away from my failings like a thicket of blackberry blush. Your
cheeks on my chest, your sweet sweaty hope on my tongue. I can
smell you, hair stuck to forehead and pumping each gear of
those hundred mile legs. Just a few whispers north of my
stumble, shake, and steady.

Since moving here I am anything but movies alone, more like
April rain, perfumed. More verse than riddle.
You’ve offered me trowel, said,

“This fertile part, that’s ours.
That’s the way our names sound together.”

Since moving here I am everything if not heavy breathing and sprint, no longer
a crawling season, heating up to overflowing and

ready.

Every liter of the root of us blooming.

(c) David A. Pike (dreamboat)

(c) David A. Pike (dreamboat)

The Tiny Turtle: A Small Story for a Sweet Friend

This little guy.

So, once upon a time there was a vast and beautiful ocean. The ocean was so wide and so deep the it reached out and touched the sky. At this time the earth was young and all of what would become land was underneath the water waiting to be born.

Underneath the tide it was quiet and the water was warm. The ocean was full of life, and colonies of animals lived safely and happily swimming. They were full of color and breathed easily and blew bubbles and things were just the way they were supposed to be. There were an infinite amount of creatures, and they did not keep to themselves, but rather preferred to frolic and play together.

The smallest and most timid of these was the baby turtle, and though he was not the only turtle in the ocean, he was the most shy. All of the other creatures said his shell was the most handsome thing they’d ever seen and when they told him, he hid inside it, blushing his shell into a pure rose color.

The tiny turtle liked to spend his days slowly sauntering along the soft ocean bed smiling at the flounder and yellow tang, and nibbling on tall green grass and pebbles (because everyone in the ocean was a vegetarian). One day, as he wandered he came across a magical looking horse with a nose like a trumpet who seemed very upset. The turtle tried not to turn away and hide for he knew it was the best thing to be able to comfort another creature in a time of need.

Stuffy

The tiny turtle approached the horse slowly and asked in a whisper what was the matter.

“I cant get my trumpet to blow!” she said in a groggy sad tone.

“Oh my!” said the turtle “what happened?

“Well, I was swimming at the very bottom of this cave, and the water around me was soo very cold, that I felt like I couldn’t even move my hooves anymore, I was very frightened. My mother told me never to go that deep, but I wanted to prove that I was brave and so I did!”

The turtle was startled by this story. He had never though to go into the caves, much preferring the warm green water around the rest of the colony, because even though he was shy, he loved hearing the happy sounds of other creatures playing and laughing together.

The horse went on, “It was beautiful and scary in the cave, and I just kept getting colder the deeper I went, and I thought I could see a beautiful silver light so I swam just a little further. I could see some bubbles and more light and then… a great flash of lightning burst forth and flew past my flanks!”

At this declaration both the turtle and the horse shook with fear, even hearing something this unexpected was almost too much for the little urchins. “…” Go on!” said the turtle, hoping desperately the end to this story was happier than the beginning.

“After the lightning, I saw it!”

“IT WHAT!?” Screamed the turtle and snapped his head inside his shell at the sound of his own voice, it was so loud.

“Why, an Eel!! The biggest, most silvery Eel you ever did see!”

Both the turtle and the horse began to laugh at this. Eels weren’t scary at all! Though rare, and mysterious, they were much loved creatures in the colony, because they were so beautiful and always won all the races for their long bodied speed.

The tiny turtle’s tummy ached from all the giggling they did, and when they finally calmed down, he asked “Well! what did the Eel do?!”

Bossy pants

“Well, he flicked his tale at me in a wave, and said that I should swim back up or I’d catch a cold in the deep water!! It turns out he was right. By the time I got up here, I could feel my trumpet filling with snot, and now I cannot practice any songs. My mother is going to be so upset with me, and I don’t know what to do!”

“Oh gosh, horse. This is terrible! You play such pretty tunes, they will surely be missed on the floor. What can we do? hmmm”

The turtle thought and thought, and as he did, he began to slowly pace (almost invisible to any other eye) and tiny bubbles of concentration floated up and out of the corners of his shell. The horse looked solemnly at the coral plants sprouting out of the side of a boulder and sighed.

“I’ve got it!” exclaimed the turtle. “We just need to go visit my cousin the hermit crab. He can surely help you find a way to heal your trumpet!”

So the turtle and the horse set out to swim to the hermit crab, who liked to hang out near the sea cucumbers (who smelled particularly heavenly) and ask for his assistance. The turtle knew they would probably be scolded for disturbing the crab’s afternoon nap, but he couldn’t help feeling proud that he might be able to help his new friend. Sure enough, when they reached the edge of the cucumber garden, they found cousin crab, blowing sleepy bubbles toward the sunlit afternoon sky. The turtle softly jostled the crabs shell and very quietly mumbled, “cousin crab, wake up. we need your help. please!”

The hermit crab snorted and shimmied and spun around in a circle with a loud grunt and bellowed “WHO’S THERE?!”

Crabby

It’s just me, exclaimed the turtle from inside his shell. So sorry to www wake you. I…we need your help!”

“Well, out with it then! I’ve only got a few more decades to rest my shell. haha!”

The turtle and the hose shakily recounted the story, as the crab listened closely and nodded at all the right times.

Well, this is a simple enough fix, little one and you’ve come to the right place! You see, the slime these slippery smelling cucumbers make is the perfect cure for what ails you, and here we are near a surplus of the stuff! All we have to do is scoop some off of this mighty bolder and rub a little on your snout. You’ll be right as rain in just a few hours!”

“Ohh! thank you so much cousin crab! You are the best!”

At that the crab smeared a dollop of cucumber slime on the horse’s trumpet, and the horse coughed and sputtered and cried, “That certainly does not taste as good as it smells!” The three laughed heartily and patted each others shoulders.

The horse thanked both the turtle and the crab, and invited them to a concert that very evening where he would (hopefully) be playing a brand new song, and off he went to rest until it was time to face his mother.

The tiny turtle beamed golden and grinning, having helped someone in need and made a brand new friend. He felt less and less with each of these revelations, like hiding in his shell. It seemed that spending time with other creatures and not just near them could be even more rewarding than he’d ever imagined! The turtle was so glad to be helpful and tired from all the laughing and adventuring that he fell into a deep and sweet sleep curled up near the crab’s shell in the cucumber garden right then!

When the turtle work up, he had just enough time to wipe the sleepiness from his eyes and begin to amble toward the concert. along the way, instead of blushing and hiding when a stranger or friend swam by, the tiny turtle waved his stubby turtle paw and smiled up, saying “See you at the show!” He really was enjoying this new confidence and was excited to see his new friend performing.

the concert was beautiful, and the whole ocean floor cheered and cheered for all of the horses, crabs, blow fish and the sword fish (on trombone). Each new song was better than the last and everyone agreed that the horse sounded better than ever! at the end of the show everyone bowed and the horse turned to face her audience and asked everyone to stay just a moment longer for she had one thing to say.

“Earlier today I was very sick, and not sure I could play these tunes for you, and I had no idea what I was going to do until the tiniest turtle in the sea stopped by to help me. He listened and laughed and did not shy away from a friend in need, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am so very proud to know you, tiny turtle and I am excited to be friends for life with such a handsome and smart creature as you!”

The turtles shell did turn rosy, but he kept his head held high and smiled bigger than anyone had ever seen. He was ready to be seen and participate now more than ever!

It just goes to show you what a little kindness and an open ear can do for a bashful little turtle in the big, beautiful world.

Winning.

The End.

The Mona Lisa’s Legs (or) beginning of Exercise #47

Eight acts of rebellion:
1. Blond haired blue eyed birth
2. Surviving careening sled ending in ditch
3. Touching the cactus and escaping unstuck
4. Staying astride that plastic bucking bull
5. Remaining in the woods until dawn
6. Sipping your beer when you weren’t looking
7. Getting up over and over and over again
8. Sitting on the roof, howling

Eight things I’ve stolen:
1. A Donald duck pez dispenser
2. Office supplies: Pens, paper, copies, hours of time not working.
3. Your number one best lover ever spot
4. The loudest cry/shout.
5. 267 buttermilk pancakes
6. Clean moon cooled air and pine tree needles.
7. About 6,000 cups of coffee
8. Any delusions you had about keeping me

Eight things that were taken from me:
1. My lungs, heart, arms
2. My ability to run
3. My self worth/confidence
4. The way I felt safe
5. The will to stop
6. Your mile long legs draped over mine
7. How to cook for two
8. How to find your hips

Eight things I’ve given away:
1. My ears
2. About 900 cigarettes
3. My winter gloves
4. So many stories
5. My bed
6. My sanity
7. The last piece of pie
8. All the covers on a cold night

Eight things I deserve:
1. An infinite amount of chances
2. The sweet smell of mesquite
3. Somewhere quiet
4. Thunderstorms
5. Your hand in mine and sleeping
6. An aching belly full of laughter
7. To be listened to
8. To be forgiven

This is a free write based on Rachel McKibbens exercise #47.

Good Timing

I was chatting with a friend the other day and reflecting about what poor timing I have. Seemingly, I always show up a little too early or a little too late for my life. Of course, thinking about life this way is a bit …depressing. My friend said, “What about when you’ve had good timing?”

“I keep a list,” as a reminder of when my timing has been good. For the most part this has been a list in my head, harder and harder to recall as the years go by. Today I am resigning to start writing down and reflecting on these moments as a way to remind myself, that I am not destined to ‘miss the boat’ all the time.

Good. Timing.

– That week where I scored the last table on the patio at The Twilight on a perfect, sunny Thursday afternoon and then got to laugh with friends for hours.

– Sitting on the steps in a friends back yard last weekend laughing and talking smack in the waning Sunday sunshine.

I am a big fan of lists in general (duh). I have a few in my wallet, post its all over my computer monitor at work, on my refrigerator, on the chalk board in my kitchen, lists in the form of poems, practical and impracticable, tangible and intangible. A friend of mine actually has a tattoo on her forearm that says “To Do: 1.__________ 2.__________.” I love it.

I don’t use goodreads or even have a very substantial netflix cue, but am pretty much married to my googlereader. Although, I’m (of course) the type to print out a good article/recipe, etc and magnet it to my fridge door. I know, hard copy. I can feel your collective cringing. Herein, is

A list of lists:
1. Bands to listen to and Books to read
2. Things I would like to learn/see/do
3. How to Calm. Down.
4. People I should call
5. Write about
6. Where the $ goes
7. What I love about you (all of you)
8. New recipes to cook
9. Songs with Clapping
10. Places where I get lost

Now on to the doing and being…

Johnny Cash's to-do list (No, really)

Prompted

>
This afternoon I started working on a new writing exercise from the amazing Rachel Mckibbens. Rachel is one of the best writers I’ve ever read/seen and also, is a brilliant teacher. She comes up with these incredible writing exercises and whenever I need a inspirational leg-up, her blog is one of the first places I visit.


I’m also a big fan of lists, lists of things to write about, poems in the form of lists, grocery lists, lists of ways to be a better friend, cook, son, terrarium maker. So of course, this particular exercise is like heaven. You can read about it here. The table I’ve been plucking away is over there on the right. I can’t wait to see what comes out of it, and Rachel ain’t kidding when she says that part-two can be a stumper.

Another exercise I love to do is this one (the idea for this comes from Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down The Bones). I recently taught this exercise to a couple classrooms full of high school kids, and it was amazing, to watch them eek some pieces out of their new collections of words.

Here’s my interpretation, give it a go!

Take out a sheet of paper and fold it in half, hot dog style. Place it on the table so the crease is on your right. Now, write down a list of ten (or twenty!) Nouns. Any ole’ nouns’ll do, even proper ones (in fact, I have found these can be pretty darn interesting. See: Florida).

After you’ve got your list, turn the sheet of paper over so the spine of the page is now on your left. Try to forget every noun you’ve just written down. Now, write a list of verbs. Again, any verbs will do. Ms. Goldberg suggests that if you want a challenge, to try thinking of an occupation and using only verbs that describe that occupation. Like, for example, a chef: Saute, chop, sweat, broil, strain, etc.

After you’ve made both lists, unfold the page and check out what you’ve got. Woah! So many random words, right? Go ahead and take those nouns and verbs and link em’ up in a sentence. try two or three sets at first.

Examples: Nouns: Morning, Poem, Phone Line, teeth
Verbs: Screech, Cough, Sob, Scream.

Makes:
I cough phone lines into the morning.
She sobbed teeth screeching poems.

Take it a step further and use more than one set of verb/noun per sentence. Use all the verbs and nouns you’ve listed in a sentence (or two!). Pick your favorite one (shoot, pick the simplest one, the most unexpected one, the one you loathe, even). Flip the paper over, and write that gem of a sentence at the top. Now use that as a prompt and write from it for 10 minutes.

I recommended not going more than 10 minutes your first time out. You’re sticking your toes in here and feeling around for some pebbles at the bottom of your artistic heart. Ten minutes takes you in there, but not for so long that your toes go numb. However, if you’ve really got a rhythm going, why not? There aren’t really a whole lot of rules here. Which is just another reason to love writing. You can also disregard everything I’ve said and just do whatever you want! Please, do whatever you want.

As for this giant table of words and I, we’ve got a hot date for a 10 minute session real soon.

Shame(less)

>

It smells like bacon in my office. While I’m absolutely not complaining (I love bacon), I am confused about where its coming from.

I’m listening to Pandora and trying to get some work done this afternoon, but its a rough one.I went to bed at 9:30 last night, hoping (in my old man way) that this would mean I got a good nights sleep and would be bright eyed and bushy tailed today. No dice.

Today I’m thinking a lot about writing, and expectations. Meaning, I need to write and make sure my expectations are reasonable when I sit down to do it. You see, like many writers I have this thing about sitting down to the act of writing with unclear or outlandish expectations. Forcing myself into panic mode, because I am expecting to always write something perfect and amazing without any effort. Then, when a bunch of (totally reasonably mediocre) writing comes out, or worse yet, nothing at all, I feel like I’m suddenly in the middle of a big nasty fight with my writing. I want to scream, “I hate you!” at my paper (or computer screen) and cross my arms over my chest like a small insolent child. I have literally done exactly this (shh!) on occasion. When I used to teach writing, I had this whole strategy around how to avoid this pattern of expectation and shame, and now, I’m having trouble a) applying it for myself and b) remembering what those things are at all.

Herein, a list. Which is actually a strategy I frequently use to get the (creative) juices flowing.


What can I (we) do as writers to avoid feeling shamed when we are doing (writing); A list.

+ Set up a time limit for ‘going in there.’ Give myself permission to write for 20 minutes only, 10 minutes only, 5 minutes only. Especially if something I’m thinking about/feeling is heavy.

+ Commit to a schedule. An hour a day in the evening, or whatever.

+ Let myself write something completely stupid and silly and appreciate it because it gets my pen moving. Use it as an introduction into writing headier stuff.

+ Take breaks if I need them.

+ Learn how to treat myself with kid gloves when I’m working around something sensitive.

+ Keep an open dialogue with other writers/friends in my community about shame/writing.

+ Oh yeah, that community thing, where did it go? Get one of those again.

+ Stay in therapy. I feel like everyone (especially artists) should be in (some form of) therapy as much as possible.

Anyone have anything to add? Obviously this is just the beginning of the list. But, I would love to hear from anyone about things that they would add/thoughts on this subject, etc.

(Also, Apparently the bacon smell was my coworker eating a hot pocket. Who knew?)