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8/22/2014

Charles Wolf, the Man Himself.

Well, he may not be the wheels of my dreams, but hell, there aren't any wheels in my dreams, so who cares. Mostly weirdness in my dreams/nightmares. Never cars. Basically, I've been running around car dealerships since I could walk (probably before), but when it comes to buying them, I could care less what they look like. That's a total lie. Deep down, I'd be stoked to score a 2015 gray Audi S3 with limo tint (not quite released yet) or yeah, a gray/black Audi R8 (rad). Now that would be some fun. Woohoo. Better get a kickass book deal for either of those, ha. That's right. I'd be the girl with no clothes, no furniture, and a souped up car with the most amazing sound system on the planet. For some reason, I have next to nothing in my apartment, and yet the thought of cruising in an Audi R8 at 100mph seems pretty inviting. I swear I really am a woman. Just a very strange one.

I'm already attached to this guy, and it's only been a few hours. Sorry to Edward the Scion, but he was a total loser. Nothing against Scion in general...they're actually great cars; however, our personalities just did not mesh. I kept trying to break up with him, but for some reason, it took forever. Anyway, the new guy's color is "Blue Crush" although, in the light, he definitely appears purple. And my new man's name is Charles Wolf. Enough car talk. Speaking of which, I totally LOVE that radio show "Car Talk." Fuckin' hilarious.

Anyway, finally, I'm getting to my writing update. So I'm still on the fourth revision of THE HOUSE OF ANCHOR, and I chip away at it every single day without fail. That's a lie. I didn't work on it today, because I was on my first roadtrip date with Charles Wolf; however, I love this book more and more as each day goes by. Right now, it's like 370 pages full of rich and juicy hilarity and madness. The progress is truly nothing less than thrilling. Layer upon layer, fully loaded. Cannot wait for people to read it, but I'm taking my time. I want it to be absolutely genius. Indeed, get ready folks. I intend to shake and wake the fuck out of the literary world. And I promise not to use the word "fuck" when querying agents. Although, I may throw a "sheeit" or a "goddamn" or a "prick ass" right on in the letters here and there.

Like I said. Genius. (Yes, I do know how to write a boring, professional query. Sigh.)

Time for a bath. Feeling grateful and excited,
C.A. MacConnell


8/20/2014

Look Again. He's Always There.

Hi there. Worked on a poem today. The title is the first line...people do that sometimes -- combine the two -- and it seemed to fit here. Getting my brain in gear to tackle some more of THE HOUSE OF ANCHOR, which is coming along sweetly, although it's a lot to keep track of. Still, so fun. Got a lot of change coming up. I'm stoked. And a little nervous. :) Man, I've been so goofy with dreamy thinking. It's like I'm 12. I suppose it comes in handy with writing, but in real life, my stupid, longing brain can be a real bear, haha. Oh well, I suppose being a grownup is over-rated as well. Have a beautiful day! Here's the poem:


Look again. He’s always there –

the thinnest man in the sun.
Keeping time,
he throws crumbs
to any bird,
waving wing-like arms,
reaching out
with swollen, slow, red hands.
It’s true, he says.
For as long as I live, for as long
as you live,
I’ll be dusting feathers
from my jacket.

No booze, no spoons, no needles,
no room;
he sings spirituals
to gutter cats and kids,
matching made-up lyrics
to traffic minutes.
When it rains, he sells watches.
No insurance for the buyer,
but ten dollars
is all it takes
to slide one on the wrist.
That’s how Billy made it
through the winter.

C.A. MacConnell

8/17/2014

F'n Rad Birthday Courtship

Around 1:30am last night, right after I turned 40 years old (that's right, amazing, I'm still here!), I woke up for like the tenth time (normal occurrence), and that time I was awoken by some interesting rustling and chirping. At first, I thought it was a mouse. When I investigated (I love to investigate), I realized the sound was coming from my blinds, and when I pulled them back, here's what I found:

I think he/she thought my photograph was a real tree. So this enormous katydid gave me my first birthday wishes. As you can imagine, my cat was very interested in him/her as a snack, so I quickly scooped him/her up (which gave me the royal creeps...imagine the feel of that biggun in your palm) and took the huge fellow/lady outside. Since then, I've found out that katydids are nocturnal, and they sing to each other at night. Yes, that singing is used for courtship. That's right, you got it -- I'm being courted by an insect. On thinking it over, he/she does indeed meet my dating requirements, and I found him/her to be attractive, although he/she may need to hit the gym, but we shall see. I also read this:  "Katydids symbolize evil." But another site said this:  "They mean good luck in Japanese culture." Um, I think I'll choose the "luck" option.

Still alive, feeling wise, wondering how many pieces of bubble gum I can chew at once,
C.A. MacConnell

P.S. One of my biggest heroes of all time, R.H.W. Dillard, just wished me a happy birthday. My day is totally complete.

8/15/2014

All of the God Things

Sitting here wearing an ancient Pearl Jam sweatshirt. I've been a huge fan since the good ol' days, and I admit that I still dress like I did in the nineties. This sweatshirt is old, huge, cozy, and not so warm anymore, but for some strange reason, it always makes me feel safe. Particularly when I get stressed, I like to put on this sucker and wrap up. Contemplating this past week, I feel exhausted, as it has been a toughen, but a lot of people I know have incredibly difficult shit going on, and I'm certainly not feeling sorry for myself at all. Actually, I feel immense gratitude at this moment.

See, here's my theory on humanity:  illness or not, wherever or however you grow up, everyone on this planet seems to be pretty fucking goofy in some way, shape, or form. No offense if you're not goofy, but it's just my hunch. Some choose to harness the strangeness and use it to help others, to change the world, to fill it up, fill it with joy. Some radiate laughter, full hearts, and love. Sure, many, many people have a heavier dose of hardship, and I have no idea why it all gets passed around so randomly, but I do know this for sure:  in so many ways, I am lucky as hell.

Man, the other day, I saw a blind girl walking through the woods. In one hand, she held her cane. In the other hand, she held her elderly mother's hand. That's right -- the blind girl was helping her mother walk. Not the other way around. The humility present in this real, touching image completely overpowered me. I started to see the sun for all of it's awesome beauty. I began to notice the way it hit each leaf around me. I opened, really opened my eyes. Feeling tears, I thought, I am alive. I may have side effects and tough weeks, but I am alive. I am alive to feel love, joy, sadness. I am alive to know touch, pain, and all of the god things. I am so in love with this.

Famous or not, we could all choose to use our talents to inspire others, to help heal those around us, to spread joy. Fame, clothes, makeup, etc, those are all just exteriors. Just like stretched ears and tattoos are. Who cares. Hell, regardless of my body and financial stats, I want to be the kind of person who sees the sun. And I want to be around people who see the truth as well. I may get crabby, but fuck, right here, right now, I see how clear and simple everything is. What was important to me this past week? Love, healing touch, warmth, staying sober, support, being in awe of nature, and being reminded that I don't have to be perfect, that I am here as a human being with imperfections for a reason, that I can use these "flaws" and turn them into gifts. I can scream out hope.

This morning, I gave my time and blood to participate in a research study, so that I can help them find a cure for this bear of an illness that I have. I figured that would be the best way to honor those who have lost their lives to mania and depression -- to give my blood, to help find a cure for those of us who know the darkest of places. From the gutter to Hollywood and everywhere in between -- this touches lives everywhere. No one is immune. No one is special. We are all fighting this together. And so I send out love and hope to all those suffering from any illness. Let us all work toward peace. Let us all feel peace in our hearts. Let us all take our pains and fears and turn them into a way to change the world.

I am a fan. I am a fan of many people, many artistic creations, and many things, but I see us all as pure energy, and our little souls can be amazing when directed with love. Each and every one of us has this gift. I am a fan of this.

And that, to me, is true love.

C.A. MacConnell

8/12/2014

Artist Light

I think you would like this place.

Think short, kid fingers
burning in the snow.
I shiver, tasting ice
cream. Near lonely
old men, scattered
on benches, tattooed boys
pull at wide-stretched
ears. One of them --
the smallest, a half-
finished painting --
looks like you.
Gaunt and tired,
he's buried inside
a yellowish glow.
May you melt down
from his ink sleeve,
becoming solid.
How I want to walk
with you, step on the heels
of your shoes. Alone
feels right in this artist
light. Shadowy and soft,
it turns all scars to life.
The spoon breaks free,
getting caught in my curls,
and I feel almost pretty.

I think you would like this place.

C.A. MacConnell

8/11/2014

Rooftop Grip


She’s still up there, scratching
at the gutter. Rooftop, one bird
builds a circular home. Searching
for the last addition – the elusive,
perfect twig -- she takes hold
of the thinner, pulling it free,
biting it tight. This ending rests
crooked in her beak. She’ll make
this one work.

C.A. MacConnell

8/10/2014

F'n Rad Cover Letter

Dear Employer person to whom it may concern & staff:

Whaddup, employer man or woman or really smart kid right out of college, it's your special day, you lucky bastards! I heard you all there are badass. How's it goin? I feel great! Not really, I feel like shit today, but most of the time I feel awesome. I mean, yesterday sucked balls, and the day before was an asskicker, but I’m about to read up on my meditation books and get my serenity on, because those birds are out there getting laid and driving me crazy, so I need to chill and make some toast with crunchy peanut butter or maybe jelly I don’t have peanut butter, but before I do all that, I’d like to introduce myself to you. Hi! I really love your company, and I think I would be a great asset! Whatever it is that you specialize in -- arts and crafts or auto repair or rides that send you to hell and back to Jesus, I am the perfect, overqualified person for the job. If you're Jewish or Unitarian or whatever, sorry about the Jesus reference. I mean, I think you might go to Hell, but that's up to you.

Now, my old boss was a superdeluxe prick, but now I'm absolutely ready for fresh experiences! First off, I would really like to check the net for cheap flights for my first vacation time, so let me know when that’ll be, so I can start planning. Thanx. So I used to work on over at Dragon Ballz Car Wash, which isn’t on my res, but that’s because I haven’t revised it recently. Sorry about that. Anyway, just wanted you to know that in case there’s a gap or something. They were all total crazed beasts there, so that’s why I left. I’m sure you understand. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where everyone else needs help, and that's okay, but you know when it's time to leave. They all needed serious therapy, so I had to move on and grow. I made sure to give my two seconds notice.

In addition, I am very artsy, and yet I am very grounded, like a cross between a cloud and a rock, and I thank you in advance for your hard consideration. Man, let me tell you, yesterday I ate this bigass frozen burrito, and it really tore up my stomach, but I was a trooper, and I totally did some work anyhow. Now this example may be somewhat nasty, but it proves yet again how driven I am. That’s just one example of how hardworking and conscientious I always strive to be. Another example is this: last week, I decided I needed to blow off work and go for a road trip, which was so much fun! I bought so many snacks and drank so much caffeine, I thought my head might pop off. I think it did for a second, but then it popped back on. Anyway, before I left that morning, I made sure to call my employer and let him/her know I didn’t feel well, and I put on a sad voice, and I told him/her that I wouldn’t be there, but that I was so sorry I was crying. I could've just not called and not showed, but I am always thinking about others’ needs first. Touch is key.

Actually, I haven’t left my apartment in about seven months, but when I do, I am totally going to hug somebody. Maybe even slip them some tongue, who knows. Just an example of how I am one to always think about options. I am so open. I am also 100% honest, like if you asked me right now how I was feeling, I would tell you straight up that I am so bored I feel like punching somebody in the face.

Here’s yet another example of how I am in the workplace…yesterday, I don’t know why, but the mail didn’t come, and instead of acting pissed, I said a few mantras and prayed for my mail to come in the future. Then I ordered three pairs of striped tube socks and some green Vans just to make sure my mail will come. I’m not worried because it was all on clearance. Just another obvious sign that I am conscientious and always concerned about budgeting. I would do the same for you. I would order multiple items on the Internet for you all day long.

Hey, I am so good with computers. Yesterday, I uploaded like 400 pictures to my Facebook and Twitter, and then I put captions on every single one. They are so arty, and you should really check them out, so I'll include a link. I could do that for you too if you want. I also know how to check email and I’m pretty good with turning my computer on and off. If you’re not into computers, I am really good at writing by hand as well. Also, I know calligraphy. The American version, not the Japanese one.

Well, I hope we can hang out. I have like 15 different styles of resumes -- one on a yellow legal pad with stickers, one made of a collage of magazine letters like a creepy ransom note (so spooky, I love the theme. I even dripped some ketchup on it as a special effect), and one I drew out with fluorescent puffy pens. Also, there’s the one that I made solely out of little plastic googly eyes. That’s my favorite, for sure. Took me like a fuckin' year to glue all those goddamn eyes on the construction paper. I am committed.

Anyway, I gotta go put on my helmet. I always wear a helmet. Otherwise, I feel like I won’t be protected from the evil forces that come around sometimes. That can be a real bear. I'm the perfect worker for you. I have serious stamina. Enough from me, I'll leave you to make your hard decision making. Let me know if you'd like to see one of my resumes. I'm pretty busy, but I'll wait to hear. I have to piss like a racehorse.

Anonymous Job Seeker
(enclosures)

-- C.A. MacConnell

8/08/2014

The Vapor Zone

Howdy. Just working on this piece today, and then starting in on my book revisions. Getting a little late start, but it's all good. Hope you are well and happy! I was meditating today and saw a zebra. :)

The Vapor Zone

Who are you. I heard you singing.
Come with me and remember the time
when you and I knew there was life
inside cardboard boxes. Those homes
were lined. Blankets on the in, plastic
on the out. We knew coin collecting,
the art of saving dirty dimes. We knew
street playing, selling, begging, barely
making it. Gum was stuck to the sewer
grates. We knew muddy, gray beds --
wet back hostel porches, our slippery,
urban forest. Who are you? I heard you.
We met on the top steps. Leaning back
against the chipped green door, we shook,
and you wouldn't let go. Everywhere,
starving, wasted musicians rolled Drums,
inhaling, exhaling, inhaling. No rain
the day we stole Lucky's Nightwatch,
swallowing easily, importing hell to vein,
resting by the Space Needle fountain,
strumming our song -- skinny criminal
to recluse. You showed me your jailhouse
tattoo, praying for removal. Your piano
fingers crawled to move. Nothing else
about you was gorgeous. Evenings,
you were fast and jerky. Mornings,
you were slow, shaky, slow. Taking turns,
we cleaned clothes by the Five Point,
scanning the screens, watching for thieves.
We were all kids. Your girl barely had tits.
We were all in the vapor zone – smoky,
heartbroken, lost, and sick, smothered
in smog, dodging bird shit. No apologies.
You were a slick, black and blue, one-way,
straight shot. You were the sharpest thief,
an untouchable brother. Who are you?
You were the coolest, smoothest, loaded
bullet.

C.A. MacConnell

8/07/2014

F'n Rad New Bachelorette

I would like to be the next "Bachelorette" and change it up a little. Instead of wearing ball gowns and heels, I'll wear overalls or ancient sweat pants, men's Hanes T-shirts, and sneakers. Instead of makeup, I'll have bushy eyebrows and use nothing but the shiniest lotion available. I'll make sure that my face is so shiny that it blinds the camera men and women, and I'll be sure to eat a shitload of chocolate so I have some bigass whiteheads and/or blackheads. Also, I will continuously apologize profusely when my dates may be interrupted by my frequent trips to the bathroom, thanks to the meds.

On each of my dates, I will repeatedly explain the spiritual significance of all my tattoos, as well as explain why I have ten holes in my ears, two in my nose, and two in my navel, all still there, but absent of jewelry. Also, I will go into great detail about each and every scar that I have. I will also explain that despite my small chest, I am indeed a woman, although I am open to suggestions, because I am not a dick.

In the talent area, I will show my dates how I can win at the stuffed animal claw machine game, as well as play a mean kazoo. I can also drink about five Pepsi Max 24oz sodas in a row, then walk five miles without shaking. If you add one coffee, I may need my date to buy me a cookie or Pop Tart.

Instead of rock climbing and roses, there will be trips to the local quickie mart and walks to visit my friend Argo the dog. Instead of that vacation in Barbados, we'll go see Conan and/or hit a strip joint wearing our pajamas, and if we get lucky backstage, the date may be extended for a few weeks.

When I choose my lucky mate, instead of the proposal and such, I will reward my date by making the lucky bastard take at least three showers and undergo a thorough physical exam on camera. We will then skip the wedding and go straight to the honeymoon -- a road trip with no plan at all. No map, no GPS, no directions. Two duffel bags, some cash, a station wagon, a U-Haul, and a cooler full of caffeine and Mom-made peanut butter and honey sammiches.

Fuck all this princess gaga. Make it real. I think this would be a hit, just sayin,

C.A. MacConnell

8/06/2014

F'n Rad Dating Criteria


My roommate Buzz just handed me this story about a woman and her child being mauled by cheetahs. So what baffles me is this -- her husband caught it on camera. Now, I don't know about you, but if I were being mauled by a cheetah, and my husband were there, I would like to think that he'd put down his camera and save my ass, just saying. I mean, I know that getting a good story and good shot are important things and all, but if a cheetah were chewing my head, I would hope my husband wouldn’t be worried about the close-up.

Now, recently I posted my new dating criteria on Twitter. I have decided to add something to the list. My list used to be very long and detailed. Over time, I have edited it quite a bit, because I don't want to rule anything out or seem prejudiced. Here's my list:

My New Dating Criteria:
1. You must not eat an entire batch of hash brownies before you pick me up. Also, please do not pick me up in a car you took on a test drive and/or a stolen car.
2. You must buy me Frosted Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Pop Tarts any time I want.
3. You must take baths.
4. You must be flexible.
5. If the lighting is good, and you really want the shot of me being mauled by a cheetah, go ahead, but before it gets too bloody, please put the camera down and call 911.

C.A. MacConnell

8/05/2014

Blues, Moon: Music, an Extension of Life

Arthur Miller, Aleck “Big Boy” Crudup, Barbecue Bob, Big Joe Turner, Big Mama Thornton -- just a few names that come to mind. And there are so many more innovators who have touched me. Without knowing them, I consider them my friends. I listen to them, spend time with them, allow their stories to melt into mine. Any time of the day or night will do. And Bessie Smith, yes. I love the old, old Blues. It is the raw sound that gets me -- the gut-level feel, the rhythm, the deep and complex heart of it all. It bleeds out a certain desperate energy that stands the test of time, making a definite mark that can change the world through this: one soulfully rich creation.

These people lived and breathed music that came straight from their lives, and the sometimes gravelly, imperfect nature of it is perfection to me. Some recordings that I have are hard to hear, back yard albums, and I can almost imagine the scene -- the house, the rocking chair, the porch, the chipped paint, the pot luck, the lonely dog. Strangely, these rough, spontaneous songs both soothe me and call out to me, hitting me right smack in my chest's center. Many may sound familiar, as they have been redone so many times over the years, and yet they always have a primitive, wild, fresh feel. I believe there is genius in the green simplicity of these scattered songs and voices. Full of fierce intensity and charm, they put me right in the moment. Back then, people joined in, whoever was there. They were in it together.

I can almost see the smiles.

I believe that life is best here -- inside spontaneous, soulful gatherings. Downtown Roanoke, I used to frequent a tiny dive called The Full Moon CafĂ©. There, love was quick and wild. Tuesdays, the band Radar Rose led an open mic, and it often turned into a drum circle that lasted late into the night, sometimes early morning, and the crowds always spilled off into the square. The Full Moon, although it was grimy as hell, was one of the richest music venues I’ve ever experienced. Picture hippies with necks full of hemp, punks with Mohawks, kids with ink and pierced-up faces, homeless people, wealthy businessmen, college students, people from the mountains, people from the valleys, working men and women, skaters, misfits, and thugs. Everywhere, tattered plaid shirts and homemade jewelry. And the most interesting part about it was that we all hung out together. If people weren’t playing music, they drank, smoked, kissed, danced, and the scene was always absolutely random, but somehow, on any given Tuesday, it always proved to work out just right.

Reckless, yet I never saw a fight. What if the world were this way? Utterly spontaneous, yet peaceful. Places like this, songs like this, they scream out peace. Music, a part of breath, motion, the struggle for existence. There is an awesome presence buried within these honest words and notes. As it was in the old Blues, music can become an extension of life, when the words and melody come straight from the musician’s journey, the vein of it.

C.A. MacConnell

P.S. The perfect job for me:  TV or film Editor. I could rock that shit out.

8/04/2014

Under the Covers


Near Short Vine, we found a place.
Chillin' at some McMillan dive,
we were the cool kids. We knew
that the heat would never come on.
The puppy was sick, and the cat
was gone. Me, drunk, him, high,
we shivered together, no more
than shaky, sick sticks. No dinner,
no loveseat, no bed, no furniture
at all -- only two thin, gray blankets,
and the bare, black floor. Everywhere,
burns. Everywhere, the room moved
with roaches. We tried getting off
just to stay warm. A mess of tattoos,
scars, ripped tie dyes, and lips, cold
sweat came and vanished. Cheeks
sank in, our sleepy hollow. Reckless,
hungry, when he gave up, I threw up.
Bones to bones, we hurt, hugging
lightly, and love wasn't working,
but it was still on the brain. Better,
I half-slept. Inspired, he stood tall,
writing on the wall with fluorescent
paints, yelling at the ceiling, calling it
Mother. Big-eyed, he raised his right
arm, holding up the neon yellow pen,
shrugging and saying, Sister, if you leave,
I just might kill myself.
The puppy
was sick, and the cat was gone.

C.A. MacConnell

8/03/2014

Warrior. My Own Tribe. Notes on My Books.



I certainly earned these two tattoos, as well as seven more. Buy Griffin Farm.  :) Speaking of my book, many people have asked me how much of my debut novel comes from my own history and life experience. Sometimes when they ask me, they speak in low, tentative tones. Or they write with short, concerned sentences. Aye, frightened. Ha, other people seem oddly drawn to me. Some express incredible gratitude. Interesting indeed. It's been a strange journey for me. Lovely, difficult at times, magnificent, and deep.

Anyway, my answer about the content is this:  as a whole work, it is indeed fiction. Of course, here and there, elements of true life experience creep on in. I believe this always happens in fiction; real life leaks into the work. Now, when I make that statement, I mean that stories are inspired by people, thoughts, events, images, tales, etc, as they happen in real time. Later, for me, when writing, these sparks of inspiration turn into something else -- something completely from my imagination. Actually, I realize that the writing is better when I distance myself.

So with this in mind, my sophomore book, THE HOUSE OF ANCHOR, will be quite different -- more complex in language and points of view, and it strays further from my experience, delving more into my imagination, but I intend to hang on to the raw emotional pull. My goal is to create a clear, intriguing story with artistic, sometimes amusing language, combining those elements with characters that continue to tug at the reader's heart.

I've done a lot more research for this one, and I continue to do so. It's lovely to watch it unfold. Each day, I work at expanding my craft. I work damn hard at it, and I continue to develop as a writer every moment. Rad.

I've decided I'm starting my own tribe. Not sure what to call it yet, but man, I feel grateful, blessed, and strong.

Love,
C.A. MacConnell

8/01/2014

Where Do You Think We Go?

Happy August! It's 5am, and I couldn't sleep (as always), so I decided to work on this piece. I think it's interesting...hope you like it. Hey, smile! If you're not smiling, you could always watch Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago pulverize each other for about an hour straight, and that'll make you grateful or at least make you want to start doing Crossfit. I always thought there should be ROCKY VII:  ZOMBIE ROCKY:  Adrian comes back to life, and she and Rocky battle it out in Divorce Court. Now that would be a fucking brutal battle. And of course, he'd spend an hour nursing his trademark droopy bloody eye. I'd love to get some makeup and go to work looking like that. Hells yeah. I fucking still love those movies, no lie. Now for the essay. Enjoy. C.A.

Where Do You Think We Go?

I’m wondering about the afterlife. Sometimes I think we morph into energy and become stars, birds, snakes, lions, wolves, hawks, air, or clouds, depending on what we need. Or rocks, horses, pumas. Or maybe we’ve been stars before, and now we’re in the people phase. Other times, I think we become new people who choose another body, that we become reborn to learn some more.

In my deepest moments, I think that our souls go somewhere else, perhaps continuing on in another state of being (that’s assuming we learned what we were supposed to learn while we were here). I like that one the best. And sometimes I think that we all move on into another state of being, regardless of what happened here on earth. If I had my choice, I'd like to see Mimi and my bay horse again, maybe ride around, chill in some field somewhere. Indeed, maybe we go where we choose to go; that is, whatever we believe on earth someday comes to fruition in death...now there's a profound thought for you -- the idea of fiction ultimately becoming real.

What about when we meet people, and it feels like we’ve met them before? The strange coincidences, the soul connections? What about our animals, and the way they are drawn to us, sometimes even coming out of nowhere, like strays in an alley? I have a hard time believing that this is the only time around, and I have a hard time believing that everything is completely random. There are so many moments in my life that have been shockingly timely, all seeming to push me in a certain direction, if I am open to it. I have a hard time believing that it’s all meaningless, all chance, like a dart board.

As beautiful as it is, love is an absolute mystery. So is music and any great art. The way musical notes work together, the way colors blend or contrast, the way stories and scenes weave and circle back, the way poems bleed out what's hidden between the lines -- it's all mysterious and divine. Shakespeare nailed it best I think. He knew this:  creation is an absolute mystery. As much as we study these great works, these creative truths, the ultimate beauty of life still rests within the mystery.

All I know is this: it often feels like something pulls me in a certain direction, and if I am open, honest, and willing, I can see the route to becoming a better person, or at least try to do the next right thing. When I was little, I had a hunch I'd end up in the mountains of Virginia one day. Sure enough, I ended up there for six years for school. Deep down, I've always known I would end up back in the mountains, and I've also felt that I would return west -- to the desert, to the coast. Yep, I've had this feeling for a long time. I believe that many of these hunches and daydreams are absolutely real -- not the ones I feel on the surface, the quick thoughts, but rather, the ache I feel deep down, the secret, quiet visions. I believe that God lives within the quiet.

Even though I led a crazed, reckless life at one time, I’ve always had this feeling that I would somehow stick it out and make it, someday ending up an old woman with long, white hair. When meditating, I’ve sometimes seen visions of myself like this – older, smiling behind a large desk, still typing away, wearing cool sneakers. Content, but focused. And then the vision goes like this – a man comes to the office door, smiling quietly. He’s been traveling again, and he's home early, surprising me, still holding his suitcase. He drops his luggage, and he opens his arms, coming toward my desk chair, and I laugh, surprised he’s home. I’ve seen this vision many times. And in it, I am calm.

So I don’t know where we go when we die, but I’ve had visions about certain things, and they have come true. I’d like to think that my heart and soul have a say in this mysterious, cosmic surprise.

C.A. MacConnell

7/31/2014

Kindling

Sweating, I admit
I use the blade.
In the charred, graffiti tree,
I carve out
our initials.
Twigs pile on a skinny
mountain, the smoking,
runaway train,
the sweaty hand,
the hot date vapor, times
one. I see your silver smoke,
your almost-fire,
never landing to burn.
I catch a flash;
you are safe
inside a clear pane
of thick or thin glass,
and I know that you live
inside a child-made,
forest fire, and I know
that you are the one,
curious, rebel, the blue flame,
the apparition soon to fall
from some ceiling,
turning crimson.
I see you smolder,
ghostly, spreading joker.
Nothing scorching for miles,
but there’s always another way
to describe this heat.
Welcome to nature’s
burning bandage.
When sticks and stones
make sparks, I’ll give you
the kindling,
and the knife.

C.A. MacConnell
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