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FROM MUSCLE SHOALS TO BAKERSFIELD

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FROM MUSCLE SHOALS TO BAKERSFIELD

 

From Muscle Shoals to Bakersfield familiar vagabond spirits I meet

torch of knowing burning through opened eyes

we know what’s it’s like to live on the other side

to exist on the outside looking in

we know why others find comfort dwelling inside another’s’ dream

and why we choose a life

chasing freedom

 

From Tacoma to Portland, Maine

I recognize their kind

essence of life dripping like sweat from the tip of our nose

committing sins as if sins are our daily bread

forgive us father for we have erred time and time again

attaining knowledge from our trials

forgive us father if we have grown so much wiser

than the fearful kind who have faced no trials at all

forgive us father for we have sinned

time and time again

learned from our mistakes and moved on

aware that experience may darken the soul

light dimming with the passing of years

but if we allow wisdom to blossom from failures

there’s a special kind of light that burns

when we conquer our fears

 

From the harsh winters of Fargo to the tropics of Brownsville

we move on down this road with a song in our hearts escaping

these weary travelers disconnected

from mechanisms of society intended to control us

disconnected from those desiring to lord over us

to own us

we cut the puppet strings and paved our own road out of here

this song in our hearts escaping

our severed hearts finding a chorus to hold on to

these vagabond souls singing all the time rejoicing in

Whitman’s Song of the Open Road

Broken Highways ch1

Those who danced were thought insane by those who could not hear the music

Friedrich Nietzsche

 

1.

August, 2011.

 

I’ve fallen off the grid.

 

Forgotten highways and dirt road backstreets are my lifelines. Cow pastures, turkey barns, and asphalt parking lots in old, abandoned towns are my homes. Removed from the white noise of the city Earth’s heartbeat pulsates through the skin, recalibrating an emerging soul. Silently I dance a dance of chaos to the rhythm of a dying sun.

 

From the doorway of a converted school bus parked behind a turkey barn I sit on a step and watch as the sun sinks into the earth. An explosion of colors race across a deepening blue sky, reflected back into the universe from my eyes. Scent of rain hangs heavy in the air as storm clouds retreat in the distance.

 

Engulfed in emptiness I’m all that remains of a congregation that once gathered here for a weekend each month. Voices of ghosts echo inside the head. Closing eyes, a thousand faces stare back but the connection is gone. Energy has ebbed. Love has evaporated. Path fades in a diminishing light.

 

This is my church, my religion, my spiritual awakening. In the distance trees congregate to meditate. Flowers bow heads in prayer. Silhouetted against the horizon, mesas rise up to witness the ceremony. Stars emerge in the east, twinkling brightly with anticipation. Wind carries a sermon and I lean forward to listen. Eyes close and a restless spirit is soothed by the words. Weightlessness consumes the body. Mind is set free to roam the countryside, soaring across land and water, across space and time to a place where the lines of reality are blurred, a place where boundaries and labels can’t exist, into another dimension where limitations are not known. I am but an illusion in the physical world, just another soul trapped inside a host.

 

Everything is a symbol.

 

I am a child of the Earth, born of the elements, grounded in the soil. My soul was born from a seed planted inside this host and took root in the consciousness of the universe. I am the darkness and the light, the rising and setting of the sun and everything in between. My soul has merged with the force that sparks life into everything. I feel all it feels as it fills all of me.

 

Opening eyes, sun is a tiny red orb sinking over the horizon. Lightning from a distant storm illuminates the sky and I pretend it’s a thought passing through God’s mind. Scent of rain remains but storms have passed without releasing a drop. Fields have dried up. Vegetation is scarce. Ground is hard, deeply scarred by cracks. Ponds, creeks, and rivers run dry. The path abruptly disappears into the charred remains of the land. There is nowhere further to go. This is the end and I am but a symbol of something yet to be understood.

 

Everything is a symbol.

 

My name is Jason Powell and I was shoved off the grid.

Broken Sky

It’s not unusual for my works to range over a wide variety of topics. What is unusual is for me to cover such a broad spectrum in a single effort, but that is the point of this poem.

 

broken sky

 

Hit the natural world bathed in mother’s blood and bodily fluids. First thing you feel

is a gloved hand slapping your ass. First lesson learned is that this world exists

to break you

 

Shine a bright light on a spinning mirror ball. Choose an artificial light

from an artificial sun because your family methodology is a prism

bouncing off a wall

 

Take a punch in the mouth from a kid up the block, spit a tooth out. Kid laughs

and says brother, if you wanna survive you’re gonna have to learn to fight.

Lessons learned at age five

 

Witness the mark of the beast branded across our foreheads. Implanted ideologies

burned from the inside out thanks to mommy, daddy, religion, and public school.

Branding iron has been passed to you

 

In the pulpit snaked eyed men are busy crafting life preservers with wizard words.

Salvation or damnation, the choice is yours but beware, these life preservers have

no rope to pull you in

 

Went to the garden to find Mamma a rose but the garden was a desert as vast

as the universe. Flowers I found were withered and dead so she placed them in

a cracked vase in the darkness beside her bed

 

Politicians selling us out in back room deals to machete faced men dancing

pirouettes on corporate cred. Life ain’t worth living if you’re not on the edge

and I got a time bomb ticking inside this head

 

Some think this is sane, this age of men pissing on one another for monetary gain.

Concrete foundations erode and crack with age so I’ll slip through a crevice and

make my escape

 

See the cracked rainbow in the sky? Romantics lament about better times but romantics

got it wrong. Those halcyon days are a lie and down in the streets poets die,

shredded by the debris of a broken sky

Hippie Child pt1

I accidently penned this next poem while attempting to say something completely different under the same title. Somewhere between the inspiration for the original version and my fingers hitting the keys on the keyboard this new version exploded into my head and onto the computer screen. Not certain how it got there or where it came from but here it is anyway.

I should also point out that I have nothing against hippies. I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of being a hippie myself. This poem is about my lack of political party affiliation. I always vote, but I’m tired of having to choose between the lesser of two evils. Our elected public servants should be so much more than that.

 

HIPPIE CHILD

 

Refuse to dance with the left

refuse to dance with the right

I won’t hug a tree or get down on my knees

and succumb to your ideology

try as you might I’ll never fight your fight

got a mind of my own and maybe it’s slightly blown

but I’m going to think for myself

so put your philosophies on a shelf

go program someone else

 

Corporate political religious cults

everywhere I look

thinking you speak for me is such an insult

empty promises bait the hook

homicide and suicide on the rise

your words are human pesticide leading to our demise

I look at you and you at me and what do you think you see?

another hippie child needing to be set free

 

Dance with the left, dance with the right

but I’ll never dance with you because of all those things you do

souls bought and sold by shadowy figures behind closed doors

in backroom deals where good intentions fall to the floor

 

In homes across America children need a meal

banks foreclose on families because Dad lost his job at the factory

so shareholders could earn another penny on the dollar

in the streets grown men wonder why they bother

 

You can look at me and I don’t care what you think you see

because your hippie child I’ll never be

peace, love, and fuck you

your hippie child I’ll never be

Damaged

 

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I was born a blank slate, the byproduct of the proletarian class

birthed into a superstitious clan, the socially awkward kind

Saints on the wall and ghosts in the machine to explain away

things they could not understand, holding on to empty dreams

and addicting medications to soften damaged minds

We are the vehicles broken down on the side of the road

vehicles to carry the load

vehicles improperly maintained

not enough fuel in our tanks to deliver us where we want to go

We are desperate dogs sleeping beneath park benches in need of awakening

with razor sharp teeth capable of ripping

flesh from bone

caged animals never biting the hand that feeds

We are replaceable cogs in a machine that keeps rolling

disposable people eking out an existence in a disposable world

nothing of substance in our lives, nothing to connect to

and when knowledge is spawned through grief

only the damaged grow aware

Cello Heart

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My heart is a cello tuned in perfect fifths

take your bow and gently caress these heartstrings

coax from me dark emotions once latent

deep mournful sounds of an artic caribou searching

frozen woods for a lost lover no longer earth bound

with your bow play my heart, scratch this soul

evoke images of ruinous times

swirling grey smoke of smoldering dreams

crumbling brick on scorched black terrain

on my cello heart play the lonely song of a sperm whale

searching for companionship in deepest seas

play the tears of an orphaned child in some foreign land

hopelessness of a junkie lost in a roach infested dive

hot needle piercing the vein

with your expert bow play this cello heart

tithe my allegiance to your cause

tithe my time to the cause

tithe my pay to the cause

tithe my blood to the cause

tithe my tithes to the cause

play this cello heart

In Bloom

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Blood in the soil

blood of ancients spilt long ago

blood seeping

seeping through Time

roots of vines piercing

piercing Time

roots absorbing

blood of the line

infantile roots feeding

from toxic pools

vines producing

thorns, small and sharp

sharp like a knife

piercing

slicing

razor sharp thorns

protecting

defending the vine

preserving blood of the line

razor sharp thorns

protecting

Children in bloom

Worker’s Prayer

Kneel down at the corporate altar

pray for economic strength

record profits

a healthy stock market

wait for the riches to trickle down

Cry and scream

at the corporate wailing wall

beg manufactures not to leave

move factories to foreign lands

no no no

please don’t take away

high paying jobs and financial security

our carrot on a stick

that keeps us pushing forward

craving education

pushing us harder to achieve

comfort for our families

We will frequent your temples

five days a week, if given the opportunity

eight hours a day, more if you request

whatever it takes to ensure your success

try to be something greater

shed blood sweat and tears

sell our souls

sacrifice our lives

to serve your purpose

This blood stained altar erected just for you

we’ve adorned with tax abatements

loopholes

and off shore banks

so you can protect your wealth

met your demands

so we all might prosper

only to discover

that the only thing trickling down

is your shit

In The End

 

In the end

if my hands and heart are scarred

then know I’ve fared well

for each scar is a memory, a medal of honor

for challenges defeated, every battle won

In the end I will not be pure

pure like mountain streams born of snowmelt

for purity is a lack of experience

and I am the stream when it makes the delta

a thousand miles from home

depositing my silt into the ocean of the universe

(from The Evolution of Disconnect)