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Gabrielle Barnett

Come and Gone Between Us i Not for me the dojo nor snow cloud peak ascent, no san francisco shack filled rowdy with jive of hipster bodhisattvas, preaching jazz, zen or the next textual revolution. No North Sierra homestead, hand-built haven carved from the burn zone, holding that line writing alternative space always outside the main frame looking on. ii Missed that live action; got hooked on the replay, lured by word knots conjuring legend, entranced by a well-told facsimile, hope vision cued by nymphs and streamers tied so life-like on the page, seeking a portal to promised land, imagining bohemian escape from nine to five white collar or blue, at the crossroads of dropped out and washed up, drifting and making it some other way in the fissures of rock bottom flashing revelation humble here and now. iii Another generation come and gone between us, me spit out tail end of the birthing boom, contraception and choice both on course to legal, unrest, protest, arrest, uprising coloring pages of childhood, bright stars falling to assassination and overdose, my teeth cut political on the wind down (vietnam, watergate, allende) already winding up to pitch contra central sandinista america, cold-war detente stalled bargaining nuclear ballistic chips, ground missiles poised for engagement as hippies bailed out in droves, wanna bes trailing after the Dead on the cusp of punk breaking new waves while the yuppie blight gentrifying renewal shifted poverty urban edge-ward towards ring road collaring the interstate no go zone beyond reliable transit.

And there was no free lunch ketchup in the veggie tray, starwars in their eyes, cracking down on the welfare moms and deadbeat dads (who, they said, sucked the system dry through lifestyles of dependence no longer on a working man). And they called it recession as if the tide went out, as if a hairline crowned, not the biggest dive since the defining great one. iv Amidst that to venture, to want shelter, to choose a path to need, to dream, to love. v So to sweat in the fields, tending apple, peach and pear, laying pipe, mending fence, thinning by hand. So to toil in the shop reforming wood and steel learning arc weld, chop saw, nail gun, shim. So to return to books studious; even the flame tongue prophet turned professorial sage survivor; the Dianes and Anne still the side-show, lesser known also-rans, alive still writing. Then two Gulf wars, back on the upswing, Berrigans at it again beating metaphysical plowshares, hammering high security like child’s play as bulldozer and feller-buncher, off shore rig and bucket excavator stripped and spilled pumping more and more into the market cheap and fast. vi And so to bake daily bread. To work with the whole grain. To wait for souring of the dough. To knead patient. To watch the slow rise then proof again. To hem and mend, forage and start from seed. To net, bleed and gut, for personal use. To freeze, dry, smoke, pickle, and can. To bond with this land on the cold edge of temperate. To enter the dance. To set words on the page. To call the right names. As if such small things still matter.

Cirque, Vol. 7 No. 1  

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

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