The clouds overhanging the horizon are the color of coal, and…
I’ve got a banjo six feet long
and a red-handled Barlow knife,
so I’ve got the credentials, Mister, to do
the things I do. It takes a lot
of ﬁguring and time to do it.
The barn is just an empty church,
a solemn spirit is inside it.
Something was tied to a rail, because
an iron ring is fastened there—
maybe to suﬀer, I don’t know.
A world of art is in front of you,
not always elegant art,
but art that reveals its passion. I’ve decided
to love the elegant less than I love
the wild, the untamed passionate art.
The blurt and cackle of birds, the look
of a curled-up lower leaf on a tree,
the tree itself from underneath—
the unexpected shadowy shape.
This distance across the hills is something
you can hear, like a voice. It’s space and time
and the sky-domed air and objects and trees,
the shapes of living things, the wonder
of everything, the only art.
Even a world that’s surreal begins
with the world as it is in plain sight
and mystical for being itself.
And what am I to do, to add to it my little portion of being?
Whoever heard of a six-foot banjo?
That’s like playing a man—but playing a man
or a longish woman is something you have
to do if you’re serious about
this art, and I don’t mean poetry,
I mean the larger art of being
alive in the world and suddenly seeing
an iron ring and wondering what
was its use and if it was an art
and if there was suﬀering involved.
I’ve come to believe that art can be
a beautiful, necessary wound,
a piercing of the soul and then,
after a dark time, a joy.