Archive for ‘prose’

Falling into an Open Sky

I drop my sleeping bag at my feet.

A brief cloud of brown dust hovers above my shoes, falling gently on the laces.

I peer up through the canopy of treetops that sway in a wild wind. The sun beats the bark with golden light. A single cloud blazes against cobalt, searching for a friend or a lover (or both) before the sun burns away its guts.

I drag the sleeping bag to an opening in the firmament that shoulders its way through the dancing trees.

I walk back to my truck and drop the tailgate and sit, legs dangling just above dead pine needles and fallen pine cones. I light up a cigarette and breathe in fresh air and tobacco and I smile, facing the sun as it warms my skin.

I start swinging my legs, blowing smoke as the truck groans under the shifting weight. I pat the palm of my hand on the hot metal of the truck, saying quietly, “Thank you, my friend.”

My trusty metal steed with oil for blood.

A heart of explosive fire that carries me out of the frenzied city clamor with its cracked sidewalks and blacktop streets that almost melt the soles of your shoes.

My companion with its rusted-out muffler that growls and yells like some angry chimera climbing the steep mountain passes that serpentine into the deep jaws of saw-tooth mountains looming like titans in the open sky.

A breeze bounces off my bare arms. My long hair becomes airborne. I smoke a bowl, and the forest begins to sing to me—has been singing to me since I arrived.

I only just now notice the small birds with red-tipped wings jumping from branch to branch. Singing and fucking like the rest of us fools.

I smell the earth as it sticks to my teeth and tongue.

The sun slides beneath a single peak, a gargantuan tooth of the planet capped with snow. And the sky burns bright with clouds turning pink then purple then orange, then it all vanishes, swallowed up by the darkness beyond.

I smoke another bowl and crawl into my sleeping bag, wrapping myself against the growing night. On my back, the muted stars burn high above, silhouetted by the outlines of tress like obsidian stencils still dancing in the wind.

I stare into all that darkness without blinking.

And soon the gaping distance of that black dome looks back at me. I shake my head and pull my arms out of the sleeping bag and claw at the dirt, pine needles digging into my palms.

Then I let go and fall into that infinite sky painted black. I fall from this planet of too many people and too many cigarette butts and so much loss that the weight would crush mountains into powder.

I rub my eyes, pine needles still sticking to my hands then falling back to their dead friends. They, like me, like the pine cones, are forever bound to this ground.

I sit up and lean against a tree, smoke another bowl, and listen to the wind wrestle with the trees.

 

© Mike Yost

A Boy and His Horse

I bought the truck from some guy up in Greeley. Cash in hand. The owner wore a white cowboy hat and held a firm handshake. Mid-sized truck with a toolbox in the bed. Manual transmission. 4X4. Exactly what I wanted. I named the truck Cthulhu.

Cthulhu is a bit old. Over 200,000 miles. The air conditioner doesn’t work. His frame groans when driving over ditches, though he never complains about his aching bones.

Cthulhu is a bit beat up. Massive dents like the surface of the moon. A door handle that broke off long ago. Claw marks along the side from a massive tree on a narrow road that was more rocks than road.

But Cthulhu has heart, grit, and fortitude. He attacks each mountain pass with the loud growl from a rusting muffler. He jerks the steering wheel out of my hand, driving us off onto a dirt road—any dusty path that’s far away from hot asphalt.

I bounce around in the cab of the truck with a broad smile as we ricochet across washboard roads walled by trees and steep cliffs. The windows are cranked all the way down, and I can smell earth. Radio off. Wild wind whirling about the cabin with dust that swirls and burns bright in the sunlight.

We rest inside a thick nest of evergreens, split apart by a babbling stream that rolls down distant hills. Cthulhu sits covered in dust—and he smiles, having escaped the heat and chaos of crowded city streets. I lay down nearby in the shade of aspens that shake in the breeze.

I wonder if those vagabonds who wandered through the Rocky Mountains with only their horse felt the same way. A silly notion perhaps. The fondness of a steed with oil for blood. A steel horse with a heart of fire named Cthulhu.

I close my eyes, and we listen to the serpentine wind glide through the treetops.

© Mike Yost

Loss and Meanness

Loss and Meanness

 

 

 

 

 

Loss and meanness

They are what fill
this world

Though, a few beautiful, tender moments do thrive
Though, not all of us bare witness

Moments flung into our path, spinning out sharp colors that cut the eye
Moments flung out as stars, swimming across the deep surface of a yawning midnight sky
burning against all that inky, boundless black that greedily consumes the light

Moments separated by vastness itself
and burning alone—
in sight of one another,
but void of their warmth
Drifting in a black ocean with tongues of fire that lick obsidian waves

All this loss and meanness

They push against the skin
against the shoulders
shove us into the earth

Soil broken apart beneath bare feet
the lungs fill with dust as we breathe in
as we reach out

Fingers stretched wide apart
grasping at a cluster of nearby flowers
palming petals just to smell their profound fragrance

And only a few,
So very few,

Brush with fingertips those blooms that burn bright violet
and shake without concern in the arms of a warm breeze

 

© Mike Yost

 

 

A Cavern in the Heart

There’s a cavern in my heart

Carved out by the biting knife of lost loves

Splintered futures

Echoes of nights falling asleep beside him

Sheets and legs tangled in hope and contentment

Those warm moments now fading, ever so slowly

Slinking into the deep corners of my skull

Lost in the company of frozen shadows

 

Yet . . .

 

I breathe, slowly, inside this vast emptiness

The burden of forging hope

Now held tightly in my weary hands

The crack of a hammer against stony walls

Deafens the cold surrounding me

As loud sparks illuminate meaningful experiences forgot:

 

Watching the moon burn a white crater into the night sky

Swimming in the roar and ferocity of a live concert

A hug from a close friend

 

These images painted on rocky, damp surfaces like pictographs

Flash out of the darkness with each crack of the hammer

The sealed entrance now a pile of inert and fractured rocks

 

Faint whispers float on the shoulders of air anew

Beckoning me

Into the blinding sun, or

Into a blinding storm, or

Into a blinding, moonless night

 

My bare, cracked feet stumble over shattered stones

Carrying me forward

I find myself under a boundless canopy of timeless stars

Looking up into the depths of black infinity with a faint smile

I breathe, slowly, inside this vast emptiness

 

© Mike Yost