Tom McCubbin Mar 2016

The other night when it was foggy on the coast, we went indoors.
Mendocino has not changed since we first camped here in the 60s.
The Point Arena lighthouse strobes through the density of that darkness.
I sat at the wooden kitchen table with my volume of Rexroth.
The new twisty bulb over me gave off a pale light.
I had something in mind to tell you about, but I forgot to say it.
That full moon rose over the rain-fattened Garcia River.
Don't the different testaments on our shelf back home need a new addition?
A Now Testament, with new chapters always coming along.
The experience of our full evenings becoming subheadings.
Our early days held a war to worry about.
We are far removed from the sorrowful explosions.
The new ways of dying don't excite me much.
Torn holes of hatred in the earth expand,
while older ones smolder in our memory.
Life could be filled with goodness.
Maybe goodness is life and it is all that simple.
What is not good is not life.
Yesterday we went around the outer edge
of that poor farm town.
We sat in that small church with all the vaqueros,
while the baby behind us cried and cried.
I knew what she might be crying about.
The place we were staying, out in the country, so far from it all.
And lonely.
Your voice hushed when I thought about writing these lines.
I didn't say anything that might make you wish to be silent.
The moon, soon buried in that mist blowing in off the sea.
Everything here so slow and dark.
It happened this way before.
Even though it is a different form of darkness and loneliness,
it is still here now.
A few more years might make it go away.
but that would no longer be now.

Mendocino
Tom McCubbin Sep 2015

All day I do nothing.
My waving arms and pulsing brain
keep me empty.
What uselessness, me.

Before dark, when cool air rushes
from the bay, I water my garden.

Monday I covered chard seeds
in a dark prayer blanket.
What can tiny stone-like
objects do in the sea
of black fertility, but hide
cold, invalid, and scornful.
Maybe they can dream and
forget this earthly destiny.

All night I toss covers,
as if African hills have twisted
and lifted the
valleys between them.
Is anything worth my awakening?

At dawn I see marvelous unfurlings
conquered darkness
while I slept!

This poem is about sleep and awakening to new creations. The reference to "Africa", for example, signifies where a new man awoke long ago from out of the wrinkles of the old. What we sleep on grows within us in the darkness, much like seeds planted and covered in prayer.
Tom McCubbin Sep 2015

The method of my stance has not
come with such easy majesty.
My friends can see when I lean.

The boundary between my life spirit
and those living outside
my boundary have merged
discreetly more than once.

My underneath scrapes
the surface of muddy ponds
while my latest haircut
invites a sky of golden drizzle.

I might enjoy calling
this day over, as in done with,
were it not that the stars
swinging over my ears
await their glistening.

Living creates character. Our friends know this about us. We give up some of our individuality and gain some from others. We have a low and a high nature. Though we think we have completely developed, the upper nature says there is more...
Tom McCubbin Sep 2015

The splinter colors
draw me.
I would like to cuddle
with their invisible sources.
Black no longer means to
me the kicking open
of mother's womb.

The old bodiless existence
from which my essence poured
has filled its minute's worth
of purpose.

I have strength to shun
any painful return.
I am free.

New moments slip
easily between my smallest
dappled places,
and a loved guide determines
my best steps.

(From Genesis 1: 3-5)
Tom McCubbin Sep 2015

I come like a seed-star
to this place
where I have no thought
and my feet are bound.

I want to know
where I live--
where my ancient
people ask me to settle.

I see an old neighborhood
with no street signs;
an elusive community
of two hailing my arrival,
and then leaving me.

I wonder if my new legs
can carry me
to the overlooking hills,
or do I wait for the years
when understanding grows?

We are born into a world we do not understand, are nurtured until our parents leave us, and then left alone to look for our own reason for being.
Tom McCubbin Sep 2015

What do I know about what has been taken from me?
It is dangerous any more at this age to sleep for very long,
as I may awake not even recognizing myself.

Some part of me leaves without my permission,
departs into its own journey each night--
perhaps into the stars.
What is left open in the empty space
where I have been ribbed and robbed?
It appears as a widening of flesh
that seems to resist closing,
a sacred wound from on high places,
carved with a determined and prosperous hand.

What returns to me?
How it arrives
is the same amount of mystery that was taken.

I see someone beside me,
outside of me,
who requests that we be added to each other--
a blend that only much deep sleep can provide.

This has come to me for help;
to help with what I once thought I needed
and for what I knew had been taken from me.
Now it is apart from me and stands beside me,
I awake with the pain of a blessed departure
that has stirred inside of me.

From Genesis 2: 20-22
Tom McCubbin Jul 2015

The usefulness of memory–
a password-protected entrance
into the excavation of a
life already lived. The cognition
of bones successfully used,
of gray cells compelled to race
in the laps of modern progress.

True stories of people aged
and edging off the earth,
and the rubbing away of surface
piles of resourceful, life-giving dirt–
a quick trade for cubed
live stacking in steel skies.
This is how my memories feel to me.

My banks of memory do not
easily hold all that successfully
instant recollection. Sometimes
only electrical storms fire up
any noteworthy activity in my
archived destiny. Then
come days could so easily
be erased.

We are losing our human capability for memory as electronic memory replaces and blends with it. So much about poetry comes from memory. Keep yours protected.
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