Paragraphs : Francis

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I am born to die . I write an endless country . It is the year 2015 and until yesterday I had followed that summer day of 1983 , the day when love found me , into a muggy silence . A silence like the poems of Ahmed Matar , banned by the Muslim world , seeking freedom and looking for the promised land , throats covered by thorns . That morning , the man I was married too , returning from his 60 hour a week night job , walked in the side door as usual , fell into the bed I had just risen from where dreams lingered and my babies whimpering still echoed , erasing both , and me , with his rancid body odor of sour milk . I opened all the windows , shutting the bedroom door . ” You are a God of seeing ” ( Genesis 16:13 ) . Nineteen eighty three , it was the year a terrible storm cut short a free concert in New York Cities Central Park , the same year Kiss appeared on MTV unmasked and the year of amazingly beautiful light flashes seen on Jupiters’ moon , Io .  I sat on the front stoop listening to the birds first chirpings when he walked towards me , a stranger , a neighbor from around the corner who I had never spoken too , walking smooth like flowing black lava escaping , something rupturing my senses , something quenching an awareness of the famine  of my married days , days of pulsing flames laid bare by visions of the Mermaid Cafe near the Caves of Matala , Crete that I only saw on the pages of the National Geographic . And so it was , it was this day , this certain day after the rains when he approached that I suddenly inhaled the wind thru the giant Oak tree in our front yard on Jefferson Street , the 800 block that had been my entire world . He sat on the warm brick as my little boys splashed in the walkway puddle . In peering at the sky out of shyness , I caught a glimpse of the treasure hunter holding open the sky of majestic language where Solomon sprinkles both saints and sinners with hyssop . And in that single moment , it all began . Beginning with a lonely abduction from unhappiness into shame , soundlessly along the fog line , the white line painted on the outside edge of the freeway where morning stars sing without a care for the darkness of night . The mist of August summing up the whole world . I heard the Oracle of Delphi , ” know thy self ” as a turbaned man sitting outside Hotel Kahn drinks dark tea from across the divide . I could hear the sound of seeds falling into the rabbits cage and my father asking , ” don’t we have to eat , we didn’t die yet “. The fish in Lake Michigan slumber , the Ojibwa arrow spins , smoking immense thru the landscape . It is a moving world . The wind feels insane flying my hair as he looks at me , ” hi , I know your Francie , my friend told me …I’m William “. The antennae on the nearest tower receives and transmits from Voyager 1 , ” there is never any going back “. My silence of 32 years has been drunk on the memory , wanting mercy . And in this waiting , my story begins as my own soul drifts into my view . I ask , how could it possibly help to plant a lie in the middle of my life ? If someone loves you so much you really like how they smell . I saw the flaming sky soon to burn my spirit to transformation but not before wrath , destruction and sorrow pierced its weeping wound into a strange birth . I write a death march down these pages , a long , lone dark black line .

” oh let the sun beat down upon my face

stars to fill my dream

i am a traveler of both time and space

to be where I have been ”

Robert Plant , Led Zeppelin : ” Kashmir ”

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Credits : first two photos by Denise Thomasin Photography

end photo by David Talley Photography

Paragraphs : William

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She pulled chimes in me . It could have been anyone , but it wasn’t , it was her , my destination unknown until then of which nothing can be said . She sang to me from a heart graced with eternal deserts , of gazelles , of souls complete , running towards the borderline of Mecca . She was the silence of a colorful arid flower , the silence of sandstorms . She was older , still breast feeding her baby , not yet divorced when I sent her letters from the Gulf War . ” Come she is your soul , let’s go to bed together , mount my bed and mix the magic , the work of love will breed trust between us “. ( Ulysses ) . She was my lover for three months , my illicit lover before I flew over the Persian Gulf . Changing my name , embracing Allah , leaving her behind she expanded awareness , not always hearing what I wrote but always hearing what I meant . She would never do me harm . She lied about me for those few months . I felt her shame , a shame so soundless . She wasn’t always open with me , not really open with anyone , soundless as if appearing in the frame of a camera held high above , looking down . No one understood us together , different ethnic races , me a black man and much younger . But then no one saw her sit in the bathtub with her thin arms wrapped around her knees the way I did . And when the night caught its breath at the window , she reminded me of a wandering albatross drifting out to sea with no control over direction or fate . While I drove my tank on the outskirts of Kuwait City , the desert birds , soundlessly standing on the cracks of Highway 8 , brought her back to me . On the coffin of war , rumbling faint , rumbling continuous , rumbling loud I lost my mind and on the flight back to the United States , I saw her image in someone else’s goggles peering back at me . I asked for tea , the copper lid shining like burning oil fields and the tea pouring to a thundering symphony with drums triumphant , strings mournful . What happened to Francis , my beloved ? Only the Most High could foretell . ” You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it . Heaven will take you back ” …

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Last quote from ” The Reader ”

Bridge to Detour

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her soft lovely body

lays on blushing horizon

touching her as if

she were about to disappear

look , the bright moon

afraid of its own emptiness

the evening choking

over Whitefish Bay

two hundred miles of open waters

Lake Superiors graveyard

silver ships beyond the seas

no snow , no rain

no heat , only lands

refreshed by balmy breeze .

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her soft lovely body

crossing over the bridge

east to Amsterdam , west

to Wamaia , north to Canada

south to Patagonia

looking for a tent show

in Point de la Batture

unable to yell

from Bay Mills outlook

where below the muskrat

comes up dead , his paws

closed tight

holding a little earth

for the Great Spirit to

make a new world .

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her soft lovely body

sitting in the bathtub

arms wrapped around her knees

noone understanding

the future twisting the window crank of

broken dances or

the bizaar site

of the undertaker

riding upon a coffin

on the Great North Lake

emerging from thick fog white

or that jellyfish drifting purple

from across the Red Sea

out of place

like the boy appearing from the hole

in the knotty pine ceiling .

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her soft lovely body

sings to berry laden bushes

he drops fruit

onto her opened night gown

staining blood

the stripped pine looking

like human skin

see the nail making

a stain in that tree

she has dirt under her nails

the freighter passes by

the osprey fish , windmills turn

a man with a day old beard drives by

drinking from a thermos .

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see the grass growing in cracks

of deserted highway

did we trade wonder for reason

in the last moment .

let it be , let it be

her soft lovely body

gazing from Menominee Ridge

her soft lovely body

like a bud , like a bud

caught upon the erecting steel

of Mackinaw Bridge .

credits : Mackinaw Bridge photos by Dale De Vries Photography

Upper Michigan waterfalls by Daniel Cook