The Next One

comments 38
Course Ideas / Poetry

Hafiz came along
and asked what
I was doing
up there in that tree
with soot all over my face
and my hair in greasy knots,
my feet scratched, blistered and bleeding,
my wick burned down to the sputtering last,
my eyes wild and leering,
and talking to myself in curses and run-ons
about trying one last time
to impregnate the sky
with the signal flare seed
of the holy calvary I required.

The snarling, yipping wolves
skulking around the base
of the tree showed no sign of tiring.

I put the last flare into the gun,
whispering an impromptu litany
of sacred incantations and
humble beseechings,
proposed terms and conditions
and sacrificial boundaries.
For example,
the house and car. Take them.
The paintings, too.  Fine.
If at all possible, I should like to keep
that bottle of 1921 Bordeaux.
It’s such a small thing, really.

Unexpectedly, the crown of the tree
caught fire.  The crackling heat
was extremely unnerving
and I grit my teeth in heroic fashion.

I need a miracle, Hafiz! I shouted,
momentarily squinting down
through the smoke
in his direction for emphasis.
Do you hear me!?

I hear you, he said,
a little nonchalant for my present liking.
But don’t you think it may be best
to let this last one run its course
before we ask for the next?

Whatever.

I looked around,
wondering if I could throw myself
across the gap to the next tree.

A flash of neon pink whizzed by.

Was that a frisbee!??

I watched myself watch
a wolf pup whimper with delight
and dash forth from an explosion of pine needles
to stalk the whirling, lazily-arced disc.
What was this!?

I turned back to the scene below me.
Hafiz was petting the damned alpha male,
who was resting on his haunches,
eyes narrowed with pleasure,
his tongue lolling out
the side of his fang-toothed jaws
in limp satisfaction of a job well done.

Hey, Hafiz! I shouted.
Is this one almost over?

What do you say?
Wanna’ come down?
I booked these guys all night
if you want to shoot that last flare.
Or we could call it.

I thought about it.
Ashes from the burning tree
were stinging my face and arms.
Yeah.  I reckon so.
I started looking for a foothold below me.
I tried to lower myself down towards it,
but I was just shaking.
I got hit in the chest by this wave,
by how real it had all felt,
by how close I’d come.
All that running for my life,
stumbling through the trees
like a ghost bleeding out
into the air behind me,
a perfect trail they could follow.
Being hunted night and day with no relief.
Wading the ice cold river.
Shivering, huddled, and nothing to eat.
Carried somehow, by the space around me.
All alone.
Pulled taut.
Broken down into fragments,
a gangly collection of whispers and needs.

I coalesced to a point, locked eyes with that wolf.
In the fire above me, I could hear the singers.
In the wolves’ eyes, I could see the dancing flames.
In my tears, the return of eternity to my chest.
Life is a ceremony with the strangest ending.
Whatever happened packs up and moves out of town.
The circus ground is left barren and quiet.
You’re caught in Love’s bag,
held by a power so great you can’t comprehend it,
just so very relieved to be there once again,
with nothing left but the glory of who you are.

38 Comments

  1. Wow, what a magical ride of emotion and description Michael. You’ve taken us to the hell of fear and back home to love with a vivid tour. Seems to fit nicely with our conversation about feeling broken and returning to love and wholeness. I’m glad you’ve found home and love. I still wander a lot. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, Brad. Ideas can take form from one site to the next, one post to the next. It is interesting to observe. And we all wander. Thankfully it just happens to be the case that home is the very field in which we wander… Thanks for taking the tour! 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how that neon pink frisbee cuts through the gap… and shifts our attention to the wolf pup – full of life, and the joy of it. This poem is filled with ‘the unexpected.’ Except for Hafiz: a given, where even Hafiz caters to the Alpha male wolf. It’s also a sobering view, too, of the celebration of life.. letting each miracle run its course…. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Ka… I got a surge of adrenaline writing about that wolf pup. You ever have that? An image or feeling comes, and you focalize around it with your whole being trying to find the words, and WHAM! it floods your whole body? The wolf pup was like that… 🙂

      These pieces often begin with a single line or idea, and then my wordiness takes over. You honed right in on the seed kernel of this one– the irony of our asking for miracles from within miracles… How readily the nightmares dissolve when the willingness to see newly dawns… I’m grateful you pulled that out.

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Michael,
        That’s a good question! While I don’t have an immediate answer, I sure do like ‘sitting with it.’ Yes, I’d say, YES!, it has happened. I want to tell you that the Radiohead song “Everything in its right place,” has been creeping around in the back(?) of my head. As a matter of fact, 2 days ago, it showed up in the Netflix movie I watched called, “WAKE UP.” Here’s to nightmares dissolving….and whatever may be, comes… and goes…
        Love right back to you always,
        Ka

        Liked by 1 person

  3. footloosedon says

    Me too – Wow, what a glorious summary of the highs and low and mysteries of a life in a human body, and the return home to the essence of being.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Don! Well, I may have embellished a bit… 🙂 Life is crazy like that, isn’t it!? There’s those of us who are the understatements of the century– glum, ho-hum, nothing much to see here… Then there are those who wear it all on their sleeve. I’m kind of a hybrid I think. You can’t tell from looking at me sometimes, but yeah… I’m freaking out over here… 🙂

      Michael

      Like

    • Important question, that, Hariod. Why yes, it turned out Hafiz had already taken it of his own accord. For the cast party afterwards. Also, the frisbee did not last long in the hands of those wolves. They are not very keen on the game of fetch being a recursive event…

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m afraid you’ve exposed my lack of knowledge of this particular subject, my friend… Though perhaps there are certain powers out there with regards to the rejuvenation of spirits that render the vintage somewhat of a moot parameter… 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

        • No need to explain, Hariod. Quite the contrary, actually. I didn’t interpret it as showing off at all, for I much enjoy discovering these tidbits of personality. Somehow, all these nuances of our acquired tastes and proclivities and interests that have waxed and perhaps waned again, do matter. Not in the ultimate sense, perhaps, but in the sense that these threads remain woven into the fabric of who we are… They are in there… We carry them… They may no longer be used as the buttresses to a false identity, but freed from such pasts they lend considerable innocent color to the holy quilt of our living…

          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderfully expressed sentiments Michael, and I do so agree with them. A friend of mine is a Master of Wine – there are only 322 of them in the world – and it was they who introduced me to really fine wine (Claret in particular) some 35 years ago. I can no longer afford such luxuries, yet the production of fine wine remains a subject that interests me. I have spent many happy days driving around the Napa Valley in your country, visiting small wineries and talking with viticulturists.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very interesting, Hariod. I’ve never been out to Napa. I think the closest I’ve come is a trip over the Golden Gate to Muir Woods. I’ve enjoyed that part of the country very much when I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit. Wine making is definitely interesting and like most any agrarian business requires mastery of such a wide variety of skills. My wife’s ex has set up a biodynamic vineyard in Australia that seems to be getting some good reviews and I have fond memories of lending some assistance with the mathematics of fermentation chemistry when is was yet an academic exercise…

          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

  4. This has got to be one of the most amazing pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I wish I had the descriptive powers that you do so that I could better connect my thoughts with the core of something I’ve read, but I think a comment of mine would just end up as a big mushy pile of metaphor that has detracted heavily from the point in the end. Very simply though, it is so incredibly gripping and engaging. Like the others have said, it’s such a wild ride! What a story! I enjoy your angle on the way life works so very much. Almost a little enviously so lol. You have a way with injecting your wit so seamlessly in with the ultimate and more serious point of the story that is just so masterful to me. It all just takes you by the heart from the first line and keeps you there until the very end. And then you want to read it again to take in a new layer in the aesthetic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Darryl. I greatly appreciate your feedback here, sir! But I must say, as one who has at times bemoaned his own style– like too much dilly-dallying in description and not even of whatever it is real writers do– you have absolutely no justification for the envy. It just slows us down, anyway… I celebrate your expressions as much as you do these here! You’re a smooth, polished writer and your work flows…

      I don’t know if this qualifies as magick or not, but here goes: I welcome you to the world of confident, connected, powerful, liberated, occasionally misspelled and never second-guessed Self-expression. (Yes Hariod, that capitalized ‘S’ was for you.)

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Ellen. You’re connected to the Source, too! You are, indeed. I’m glad you enjoyed the humor especially, knowing life hasn’t been a continuous sea of bliss of late. Though I take no credit for the jokes. The only time I have wit is when I write, and that’s because someone is whispering in my ear… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Rajana. I was looking up Bangalore, a city I know nothing about. It was overwhelming, beautiful and frightening all at once! There are so many of us two-leggeds on this planet. It is so amazing to think of you on the other side of the world, one of billions, right here… Thanks for reading… Thanks for shrinking the world into simple connection…

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Michael
    “Life is a ceremony with the strangest ending.
    Whatever happened packs up and moves out of town.
    The circus ground is left barren and quiet.”
    This one sums it up for me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too, Tiramit. Kind of weird, isn’t it? You get all hot and bothered about something, then suddenly it’s an abandoned lot. It’s all over. You’re the same but different. Something happened, but you can’t remember exactly what it was. The breath is a constant…

      Michael

      Like

  6. The roller coaster of life in one neat package – from heaven to hell and back again all without ever leaving town. Thanks for the glorious ride Michael. Felt good 🙂
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes! A whole life in less than a thousand words! Ha! I’m glad it felt good… I’m glad we both had fun with this one! When we weren’t running for our life or being burnt to a crisp… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This brought to mind the expression that if a tree falls and no one is there, does it make a sound. Yes, it does, life makes noise, your tree didn’t fall, but I heard the sound of the pink frisbee (for some strange reason I thought it was a pink popsicle, but I digress and need to get my vision checked) and the whisper of a miracle – of life – a sometime bittersweet melancholy, but like the sound of trembling aspens, it is the sound of being present and alive in that moment and thank you for allowing me into your moment. Peace, Harlon

    Liked by 2 people

    • A beautiful comment, Harlon. Being present, “like the sound of trembling aspens”… Thank you for sharing this moment with me. Yes, life can be sometimes a bittersweet melancholy… but presence holds it all together… I think you read the somber part of this one. The way “being chased” drives us into the deepest parts of ourselves for refuge. There’s healing there, and something glowing that will never go out…

      Also, I kinda’ like the pink popsicle angle, to be honest. That would be out of the blue. You’re burning to death surrounded by wolves, and a raspberry dreamsicle goes whizzing by… Scooby Doo starts winding up, running in place and going nowhere to the cyclical beat of that genius percussionist.

      Peace, my friend–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Diwata, thank you for this note. It is nice to know the tide of inner feelings rises within us to a common moon. I am savoring the power and kindredness of your writing… 🙂

      Michael

      Like

  8. I want to be a neon pink frisbee.

    This one is hysterical with profound depth, incorporating all my favorites; fire and wolves and bordeaux (seems like your have a nice one…)and now, pink frisbees.
    When you write everything gets a whole lot funnier, and a whole lot less serious, yet more serious at the same time. I am glad that Hafiz and Jesus have chosen to hang with you. The glorious three musketeers! Or perhaps there is only one musketeer up in a tree, trading in his musket for a cosmic potato launcher or a frisbee whizzer. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Andrea,

      Being a neon pink frisbee would be good. A fierce profession. I think you are this already, and a great deal more…

      Yes, there is a quantum superposition of musketeers here, and a cunning ensemble of projectile-flingers at the ready. Writing turns us into doorways and all manner of wayward wanderers and saints are prone to drift across the threshold. I’ve latched onto a couple, but I think they’re just proxies for the whole thing. It’s true, nonetheless, that particular tones of being resonate within the unique geometries of our own hearts. I am please to be able to share with you this peculiar ringing sound that comes out of me…

      Hope you have a dazzling Floridian weekend-
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “stumbling through the trees like a ghost bleeding out into the air behind me,”…. Wonderful read Michael.. And…”Life is a ceremony with the strangest ending.”…. It certainly is never Dull when ever I come here 🙂 Love it x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Brad has pointed out on more than one occasion the lack of discipline with regards to the wanderings of my imagination… It seems to be where the closest approximation of “who I am” is to be found, at least in terms of writing it down. I thank you very much for providing the witnessing presence that gives it all life…

      Michael

      Like

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