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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

Heretic

mesopotamia ruins

Rising sun come

rise with me

shatter this darkness that consumes

darkness consuming everything

I’m an infant learning to see

but your  intensity scorches the skin of my earth

so I learn to blink

open eyes close

absorb what I can

touch you in small doses

preserve an infantile mind

when you grow weak

my earth dies

I am an infant

deaf dumb and blind

struggling to comprehend your mysteries

grunting something unintelligible to explain what I’ve seen

I am the wilderness

grazing for food on the great grasslands

picking berries from a bush, digging for edible roots

chasing rabbits into a hole

sharp stone in one hand raised high

ready to strike a blow

I’ve learned to kill to survive

and killing bothers me none

for if I die

this illusion comes undone

I am a shaft of light

finding my way through dense forests

picking fruit from a low hanging branch

learning to climb

higher and higher on this tree of humanity

when apples are sparse a hallucinogenic mushroom will do

mushrooms cracking open my sky

infinity pours out

grunting syllables into a void separating a future on hold

I am the storm

blackened bellies rolling across a desperate sky

dripping tears and spewing fire

grassland ignites

capture fire and never let it die

for the sun again grows weak and I’ve begun to notice

rhythm of the sun as it ebbs and flows

days grow longer and days grow shorter

days grow warmer and days grow colder

cycles measured and recorded

rhythmic cycles of the sun repeating over and over

I am awakening

and I’ve begun to notice

I have no clothes to wear or shoes on the feet

and maybe I should fashion some

soon as I learn how to sew

grunt in repetition and point at a thing

others echoing conformity

birth a language and communication breaks down

You are a dream

in sleep so many strange visions

witnessed your disemboweled remains strewn across the savanna

heard the final screams

as the wild pack feasted on your meat before vultures came

picking bones clean

sometimes in restless sleep I see you walking back to me

whole, resurrected

soothing, comforting, loving, angry, threatening, acting strangely

and I cannot understand when the dead return

where they come from or where they go

in the vacuum of comprehension religions are born

I am an artist

painting visions on a cave wall

bury the dead

leave a loved one’s belongings in the grave

appease appease appease appease appease

appease these fears

irrational fears spawned by things I can’t understand

sacrificial lambs never scream when so easily programmed

not to scream when blood stains my earth

create a language to describe the mysteries I perceive

congregate in mud huts for protection and security

We are one

Ur Olmec Nile Valley Sanxingdui and Norte Chico

paint our visions on cave walls for future generations to see

stand on a ziggurat and give praise to the sun and moon

name celestial bodies creeping across an ebony sky that governs

nothing

pray for appeasement from soulless elements giving rise

to everything

in absence of gods science emerges

architectural achievements piercing the sky

bronze tools forged in high heat increasing productivity

paint pottery with symbols of the ruling deity

construct canals from rivers delivering water to the fields

supplement grace of gods with practical gifts of technology

We are God

Mesopotamian men invented gods and strove to become gods

inventing weaponry to slay their enemies

so much blood sacrificed for gods so silent

gods never uttering a word

gods never ordering a man into battle

men rallying around silent gods because someone suggested they should

butchering other men for gods never seen or heard

superstitious myths strike fear into the hearts of the populace

superstitious myths spun from mouths of men imagining themselves god

reserve schooling for children of the kings

chain the masses to ignorance and terror of cosmic proportions

for any act of rebellion will be dealt severe repercussions

from vengeful gods seeking destruction

so many silent gods rising and falling through Time

invisible gods never uttering a word

This is how the few learned they could control the many

force us into an obedient life of servitude

by carefully choosing their illusions

the few lulled the many into an eight thousand year delusion

and someday when the sun finally rises

when the sun comes and shatters our darkness

blindness will be stripped away

and we shall awaken

when lightning strikes our Earth

the heretic shall awaken

capture fire

and never let it die

Children of the Hive (birth)

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Down at St. Mary’s First Presbyterian Sinai Methodist Baptist Hospital

a child is born

Aleene Junko Wang Onur Hassan David Kimiyo Yesenia Vladimir

Miguel Andrei Abner Lissette Sema Ron Hormisdas Souzan Jorge

born in these government dispensaries harvesting fresh humans

for corporate consumption from heavily seeded urban fields

embryos encased for nine months in complexes of sheetrock pods

infants bursting forth from darkened wombs

Li Damica Choko Kseniya Corradeo Ahmad Neylan Camara Zackery

Callie Hana John Vander Tariq Jenna Khalil Zhang Seymour Rocco

sprouts bursting forth from seeds

twisting and turning

inching toward that life giving light of illumination

fed artificial light of artificial things destroying

the unaware

these blooms of factories

Jomo Tamiko Mogens Shalom Zerrin Peter Rudo Nuncio Salama

Alaire Jilt Sofia Curtis Ignazio Taillefer Anouk Zeki Helida Tryne

organic components grown on the human vine

replacement cogs in a machine

factors of production

blooms clinging to the vine in winds of a perpetual storm

just another flower in a seed farm

whose sole purpose is to labor and consume

cultivated to serve

the purposes of corporate harvesters

cycles of time repeating

again and again throughout history

this workforce herd in constant breeding

birthing a future workforce

Stepan Zohreh Elizabeth Rada Darice Gabrielle Kristina

Masao Chen Victoria Jesus Dai Aida Orazia Teresa Maria

cities are corporate farms harvesting a crop

plumbers bricklayers and framers

preserving the foundations of slaves

Lia Juan Gao Tamie Archa Akemi Basia Neal Orli Paki Skye

Adia Kya Govert Eshe Steven Rei Zola Eli Huang Marta Joost

truck drivers dock workers and railroad engineers

transporting consumables to keep the slaves fed

professors bible school and public school teachers

subliminally instilling fatalistic programming into our heads

work work work until you’re dead!

and every hospital is the Alpha and Omega

the beginning and the end

birthing cities

over and over again

communal cornerstones towering over the populace

watching her children live and die

silently standing by

as her children live out their lives

Eabroni Irina Tallis James Yildiz Aleah Zainabu Elena Wu Nasim

Kahraman Tian Emanuelle Yu Michael Elma Naoko Akar Boris Joel

lost in the struggle to define themselves

falsely seeking false light

and when they’ve reached the end

there’s a hospital at the expiration of every lifeline

taking her children in again

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.

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

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

Vagabond

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He might be Woody Guthrie or Jack Kerouac

riding boxcars or on the road searching for a soul

Tom and his blood clan Joad

crossing the desert searching for work

any job will do

you can spot his hopelessness by that mangy, tattered look

You’ve seen him at highway rest stops and dive hotels

he’s the hitchhiker you didn’t pick up

the reason you avoid truck stops

He’s the graffiti on the side of a boxcar passing in the rain

fresh footsteps in new fallen snow

the one that looks like Jesus combing the beach

he reminds of freedom and he’s the reason you dream of leaving

When times become tight he finds solace in a bone orchard

dreaming of companions lost

taking refuge under the cover of the moon

a silver beam for a blanket pulled over weary head

When road stake runs low

he never wavers from following the code

 

I’m a vagabond on the roll

trekking far and wide, seeking anything I can find

to heal this fractured soul

On a black river of disconnection an asphalt ribbon carries me

from Smokey Mountains to Denver, seeking sanctuary

across red desert sands where grains are fused like glass

reflecting back this flight as destiny slips through my hands

When storms come and I’m seeking higher ground

winding through mountain passes where shamans dwell

I’ll shed my load in temples where secrets of ancients can be found

Possible futures I see

silhouetted against a perpetually moving horizon

and this driving thirst has been whetted

this thirst to push on, find answers that lay beyond

Destination unknown

this vagabond rides into a tangerine sky

so many days on the run

too many days I’ve spent

chasing the sun

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)