TEARING DOWN THE WHEELCHAIR RAMP
Tearing down the wheelchair ramp,
I find little wounds,
Little impalings on nails that run
So many different ways
And splinters from the cross-bracing.
We dismantle the servant of a season.
Crowbars the way to go—better leverage.
Hammers are good for reversing spikes.
Friends stop by to help.
Men work side by side
Wordlessly, well, at least not complete sentnences.
Too much to be said.
Man’s work in the cold, blue, sky, sun, breeze,
Dirt where the 4X4’s were sunk so deep.
Destruction requires so little planning or arguing.
We pass around beers after. Beer is bread.
We thank each other.
I offer the wood carefully stacked in the garage
For projects that don’t require new wood,
That need wood with memories,
Wood with nail holes.
Brooks McDaniel — 1989
A Buddha in Oshkosh “bibs,”
A Rinzai lion,
You yelled fools awake
Or melted pretense
In the flame of your attention.
Small animals and children
Could settle down
Or, dance in the circle of your compassion.
In the sanctuary of your truck,
Nieces and nephews knew belonging.
“The True Man of No Title,”
You always knew who you were
And what you were doing
Even when you died peacefully in your sleep.
There was no need to say much
Surround by so much light
When everyone else had eyes, too.
Patriarch with folding-chair throne
You’d preside over trail rides.
Head pastor of the pasture
Moving from flock to flock,
When you died,
The grandfather oak in the pasture
Went down in the wind.
There are birds in the breeze.
The squirrels play in the trees.
Your silence and your laughter
Life is good time.
An O2 bottle on my belt, catheter on my leg,
A half-dozen chemicals to keep my blood in solution,
A suction on the wall and a wheel chair to roll
When I get tired.
All these are mine and then some,
But I had to see the fields once again.
I had to smell them in the evening
When the corn is tall and we need rain,
And when the mist is heavy in the low spots
And a golden June moon is watching.
I had to feel the way a cold October
Wind comes across the furrows,
And the stubble waves its rustling handkerchiefs
Vibrating in the wind.
I had to hear the wind in the tall stalks once more
And smell the cattle in the pasture,
To feel the heat and see the flies on their backs
And watch the dust rise as they run at my approach,
Jerking their heads away from me.
I had to know the country in my body once again,
Over gravel roads in the truck.
I had to hear the crickets again late at night
And tractors working with running lights.
I had to see the fireflies and yard lights in the distance.
And hear the grandchildren giggling on the porch or running breathless through sweaty summer evenings,
Noisily guzzling glasses of water and gulps of air, thirsty for both at once, having to learn to take turns.
Life is so daily. We’re so slow
To realize the steady rhythmic was of experience over us and within.
If it were not for the amber trap of memory,
Storing gold in all my cells, I’d savor nothing, save nothing—just go through it like a dumb beast.
Now I see it and hear it and smell it again in my mind. I know that only when one is weary of this, is it time to move on.
I had to filter all this through the sweet density of my body one more time before I go.
So, let me sit awhile and look.
I’m not quite done.
I MAY BE OLDER THAN CHARLIE WATTS BUT MY REFLEXES ARE GOOD
Bolting across the road
Midst talk of the Stones and Johnny Winter.
His fur silver as moonlight.
Fast as “Jumping Jack Flash,”
My right foot finds the brake
Like a double-time bass drum pedal.
His companion waits to my left
Like a sixteen-inch crash cymbal.
Sixty-nine and sober,
Glad I am glued to the road
Letting the chat
Blow passed like drifting snow.
The car slows and Mr. Coyote
Lopes across the field
On his way
To a live nativity