Tag Archives: Smoke

Sunset Field (day 2238)

There’s something here
Deep beneath heavy cigar smoke
And calming chatter of birds
Scattered amidst surrounding forest,
Fields ahead.
A woodpecker finds a hidden beetle
And mosquitoes my soft spots
Along this horizon vista
Of melding clouds
Half lift sunset brown
Leaning on golden white,
Half darkening blue
Of midsummer showers
Layered above the strait.
Couples lazily walk soft beach sands
Hand in hand
Creating memories I still have
That I douse in smoke,
Picnic benches of an earlier gaiety
Sit empty like grazing sheep
Full from a full productive day.
Elm trees, tall and proud
Find last bits of gold
Sun, cooling, has to share.
My lungs find air of a new found density
Promising foliage a cool drink
Bringing an air of calm
Beckoning me: surrender
Depth of heavy breath
As I rock my comfort back and forth
To a tune I’ve not yet written
In cigar dust of sunset field.

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXXXXI (day 2045)

(part XXXXXXX)

Sara and Bill were happy to see me
They said they hadn’t had any visitors yet this summer
And had none to expect
They confessed they had been watching a while for me now
Thinking it was about that time
That I’d be showing up,
If I were to be showing up at all
They had news of a few U.S. Army parties
Heading through these parts
Looking for some rogue bandits of some sort
Miners, they said, that had caused quite a stir
In a town about five days ride South East
Early in the Spring
We said we hadn’t seen or heard either of them
It wasn’t the group that Tall Pine and I
Had tracked the year prior that ransacked our home,
It is always a bit unsettling
Knowing that people like that are out there
Maybe watching us as we go about our day
Who knows what they’d do if they stumbled upon our home
Most likely they’d stay right clear
If they know what was best for them
We have a good number of scouts
Always roaming the valley who wouldn’t be
Too friendly to them, also.

We showed Sara the gift of our deer
And she was very happy to accept it
She immediately went to work preparing it
And Moon Cow asked her if she’d like us to set up
A smoke house for them to smoke it with
She said that she had heard of such things
But never seen one set up
And she’d be much obliged if we could show her
That was, of course, if we could put one together
With the little pieces
Of leftover wood that we could find around
We told her that wouldn’t be an issue
That all we needed was a few axes
And we’d be able to make it from a few fresh logs.

We spent the night listening to Bill’s stories
Moon Cow fit in just fine
Being a man of words, too
I think Johnny-Boy enjoyed hearing the stories
Moon Cow shared,
A culture I don’t think he has yet had
Much exposure to,
His life mostly living off the land
As they were now
And in mining towns
Like the one he was born in.

Moon Cow and I slept outside
We made a small fire
To keep ourselves warm through the night
I liked sleeping under the stars most of the time
It’s something that you get used to
And if you have just a few small luxuries
It really can become quite liberating
Traveling so lightly and freely
Especially when you’re carrying
Everything on your back.

part XXXXXXXII

Moon at Midnight – Part XXIII (day 1997)

(part XXII)

The land Mountain Chief had decided to camp at for the winter
Was full of buffalo and other small game
Looking for cover in the trees for the cold season
The flat land wasn’t too nice for them
We teamed up the neighboring camp of Blackfoot
Who’s chief took Mountain Chief’s sister to bed
Seeing all of the riders together
Gave me a chill up and down my spine
But it was beautiful to watch the skilled riders
Chase the buffalo down a buffalo run
Jumping to their deaths
Must have been houndreds of them
To skin and to smoke.

Moon Cow and I set to work at once building as many
Smoke houses as we could
In the fashion that I had first built with him
A few moons ago now
Some of the other people dug giant but shallow holes
Which they then put sticks beneath
Then a makeshift frame structure
That they layered buffalo onto
And on top of this
They lay the hides they had just skinned.

It was a massive undertaking and some days
I would ride up to the top of the cliff
And just look at all the people below working
Imagine how the buffalo had jumped with the stampede
Each day I would do at least three loads of newly smoked meat
Back to the camp we had
Wild Willow had set a home close by
Open air but many hides and blankets to keep us warm
Through the whole night
That we lived in while we were working
It was nice to have her warm body
To sleep next to every night
It was food for my soul.

Every night both of our people
Would get together around a large fire
And celebrate the harvest
The bounty we were all so thankful for
To keep us through the winter
Everybody was happy, laughing, dancing
I would watch Willow and Lily
Dance around with all their sisters
As the drums kept beating into the fresh night air
When she would come find me
She would be covered in a fine layer of sweat
And exhilarated by the night
I would join her at times
Trying to watch the other men
To see how they danced
So I could learn and feel like I belonged more.

When I would wake
There would still be smoke coming from the fires
But more importantly
Smoke would still be inside our smoke houses
That Moon Cow and I had stoked
Before we had gone to our beds
I would add more logs to each one
And when I returned to camp
Willow had special tea for me
With fried buffalo and eggs.

It was a lot of work
But methodical
Which I enjoyed
I definitely wasn’t as skilled as the others
At cutting and skinning
But I was good, and fairly quick
And my good knife definitely helped me
Some of the others used modified axes
That seemed to work fairly good
It was a city for those long days
Bustling with people here and there
Trading and helping
And I met many relatives
Ever curious who the white man was with Willow
It was clear that she was loved by many
And I could also see a few jealous Blackfoot
Looking at me, dressed in a mix of leather and cotton clothes
Wondering what I had that they didn’t
But Willow had told me this is just their way
That she had turned down some widowed elders
After Lily’s father had passed,
Content to help her brother and care for Lily
I wondered which ones.

part XXIV

Moon at Midnight – Part XV (day 1989)

part XIV

I woke up to two angry voices outside my tent
Slowly my eyes adjusted to where I was
And what I was in
I noticed there was a second bed spread inside my teepee
That looked like it had been slept in
In the center, a small fire was burning
With a wrought iron pot starting to steam
I had hoped that tea was on to boil
I reached my bag and pulled out a piece of jerky
And snacked on that as I watched the fire jump.

Shortly after the voices died down
Moon Cow came inside and smiled at me
Saying: “Man Who Sleeps Long”
I smiled, offered him some jerky, and said it had been a long night
He agreed
He asked me if I had understood the conversation last night
And I told him that for the most part it was lost to me
I remembered that every so often
During the evening
Moon Cow had nicely leaned in to describe just enough
For me to understand what the conversation was about.

I stepped outside to relieve myself
And sitting cross-legged just outside the door
Was a young girl with long braids
Who had been waiting for me to come out
Since before daybreak
I could see all of this in her eyes
As they danced when I appeared
I didn’t quite know what to do
Or how to communicate with this cute little creature
So I grabbed a little scrap of leather
Clarinet had shaped into a heart
And gave me as we said our goodbyes,
And handed it to her,
When she understood what she had
She immediately ran away.

I watched as Moon Cow carefully dried his hands
In the fire that was burning
I can only guess he had already refreshed himself
In the creek that rolled close by
He said I was in luck
Handing me an egg and an ear of corn
“Not quite like Amy’s kitchen, is it?”
I tried to balance the hot egg in my hands
While pealing it.

Now the little girl reappeared
Looking into the teepee cautiously
Then taking three quick steps to me
With something in her hand
That she laid beside me on the bed I sat on
And quickly running back out the door,
Moon Cow told me it was his sister’s daughter
And it was his sister who he was arguing with this morning
Who was trying to tell her daughter
Not to sit outside and that I was danger.

“What now?” I asked Mountain Chief
After he summoned me into his teepee
“You run.” He said matter-of-factly
Looking very sternly at me
I stood there, not really understanding what he meant
Still with Moon Cow’s niece’s little arrow
She had given me in my hand,
Trying not to recall some horror stories
That had circulated far and wide
Of some Blackfoot torture methods.

After what seemed like a very intense two minutes
Mountain Chief broke into hysterical laughter
Along with everybody else that had gathered
Inside of the teepee
I didn’t quite understand
But he put his arm around my shoulder
And walked me a few steps away
Seated me on a mount of skins
And passing me a pipe to smoke
And a bowl of burdock tea,
I had been judged and passed.

part XVI

Moon at Midnight – Part VII (day 1981)

(part VI)

When I started to see evidence of inhabitants
I kept myself at alert
But didn’t bring myself to alarm
For such an action could spook many a hermit
Approaching with hands showing and a smile
Is the smartest thing for a lone traveler to do
Perhaps even a little hop in ones gait
Would also go a long way.

No matter how far into a forest one is
It always seems like you’re trespassing
When you come upon another’s stacks of wood
Or a half empty can of something useful
Signs of a job half finished
My orderly mind always puts things in rows,
Stacks necessities where they should be,
And generally avoids losing tools to the seasons
So rather forgetful humans
Always give me confused thoughts
On the one hand they could be so clumsy
They have not a care in the world
But chances are out here
Such an action would lead a man to sure death
Starving a winter away
Without a care in the world
So my senses tell me to be wary
Of a man and his crooked smile

Much to my surprise
A woman was the first one to see me walking up
She stood from the porch and yelled:
“Hello there friend,
What brings you this way?”
No more kind words could a human expect
When they’ve seen nothing but squirrels
And bluejays for ten days
And just as I was about to answer
A man of about fourty two emerged
From the side of the house
Carrying a shovel in his hand
He stopped a few paces from the steps
And rested his arm on his shovel
As the two of them watched me walk up
“Amy, can you put a cup of tea on to boil?”

When I walked up to him
I could hear inside Amy talking to a child
Telling it to be kind to the stranger
“Frank,” he said, holding his hand out to me
“Joe McDunn,” I replied loud enough so Amy could hear
Getting shook so thoroughly
I was happy to get my hand back
Still connected to my arm
He slapped me on the back with a big smile
And invited me up to his balcony
Where he had a cluster of chairs
For watching the field I had just come through.

“I saw your smoke from the crest
On the far side of the valley
And just moments later I was face to face
With a moose twice the size of your house here!
Can you imagine that
I bet you’ve got a full salt barrel or two
Don’t you Frank?”

It surprised me how much Frank was smiling
I had clearly found some hospitable hosts for the night
The tea Amy brought out to us
Which she sat and drank, too
Was flavored much better then
Any cup I had found in any town I’d been
I noticed their garden
Which I could only guess was what
Frank had been minding when I walked up
And as I sat in one of their rocking chairs
Also smiling away to myself
I began to learn about Amy & Frank.

day VIII

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Moon at Midnight – Part V (day 1979)

(part IV)

The waning gibbous that night
Had nothing impeding it’s projection
Into the palm of my hands
I sat for a long time watching
It’s shadows across the meadow
I recognized how colours, now dull
Made for an entirely different landscape
I understood new energies
That floated about in midnight glow.

I feared reaching out, touching tufts of grass
That set aside momentary worries
I feared moving should it startle
What slumbered in the vicinity
I feared making a sound
For it should surely echo for ages
Like smoke signals at daybreak
I feared breathing to vigorously
Should my heartbeat change the hour
To a warmer beat.

I sat cross-legged
With my blanket closely wrapped around me
Slowly hunching over into my sleepy legs
That wanted to sit aright, erect
But my slowing thoughts calmed by thy moon
Let me feel comfort in falling backwards
Into the fur covered ground mat
That awaited my simple slumber
Assurance guided me there
When I reached for my nearby pack
An unreasonable yet simple reassurance.

I awoke with the same comfort I had fallen asleep with
Yet yearned for more time with that powerful moon
Watching the fire curl around its victim
Provided some of this amazement
And as life slowly flooded back into my body
I accepted the passing evening’s mystery
With an abundance of life all around me
Eager for my wandering pathway
To lightly pass through, eager eye open to all
Eager heart open to adventure
The journey was in every moment,
Not to be held for singular moments.

With the familiar motion
I swung my pack comfortably upon my back
With momentary shifting
Aimed to soothe each grumbling bump
Night’s slumber had produced
That, once assembled,
Found me beyond
What I had previously called my home,
Once again upon this road
Through magnificent giants,
Expansive ferns, soft mosses,
Sprouting mushrooms, drooping lichen,
And countless birds singing me hither.

part VI

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Moon at Midnight – Part II (day 1976)

(part I)

I woke to complete silence
Yet my knees screamed louder the murder
When I shifted them from slumber
Half crosslegged I had fallen backwards
Into sleep that left smoke trails
Through my dreams.
My nose was hiding itself from the cold
I looked searchingly at the fire
I could feel wasn’t even hopeful.

My pack was close enough
So I knew where matches were
But kindling rested beside my axe
Yet to be shorn from its whole
So were the tea bags that would slowly ooze life
Back into my cold frame
Easily forgetting the eyes of last night’s terror.

I made it a habit not to look back
When I walked away from yesterday’s camp
You don’t need that to remember what’s already known
Like folded socks in the side of my pack
I was well kempt and had a full bottle of water
And the industrious chipmunk
Was happy to see me go
Understood by the sounds of his chatter
That followed me along a path
I was making with my compass pointing East.

My first few steps always remembered
What yesterday so easily forgot
So I stopped and untied my shoe
To clip my nails that were growing healthy
It’s much nicer to put on warm socks
Then cold and wet socks of the first light of morning
And my pack jingled merrily
As I swung it back on.

Scanning the vastness was hard to comprehend
What had alarmed me so easily
The night before,
What creatures our dark mind magically creates,
And now looking back at me was salal so thick
No ghost could sneak through
And my heart reminded my mind
To believe in thy safety one thousand times again.

Slowly my breath found it’s groove
Steadily flowing with each footstep
My packs new bumps settled itself softly
And the world began to expose itself to me
With every step a new angle
A new tree fallen sideways
A slug neatly stepped over
An unidentified toadstool
A river softly gurgling somewhere in the distance
An obstacle I’d have to traverse.

part III

20160214-shawnigan-lake-ned-tobin-11

My Poor Lily (day 1852)

Where is my calling?
Have I baked it away with smoke
Resting aimlessly slobby
And ignoring the obvious answers
With clearly obnoxious results
And a banter of insults
That leaves dizzying spells
To wilt away my poor lily?

Knuckle Symbol (day 1836)

Took me on a ride along
To which I was tied tight
Had a symbol on my knuckle
A human rights violation.
As air began to choke,
And smoke thickened over water
And my cement buzzed along
Towards a dotted line.

Sheets in Pages (day 1747)

I could write your pages onto sheets of my unkempt bed
Slowly cycling the in-seam with the hem,
And rolling each corner up like a cigarette to smoke slowly
Because love here is so thick it’s impassable;
Between eyes of surrender and a heart of
I’m never letting go.
So I blot my pen into deep white sensories
Circumnavigating each prior night’s creases – expertly –
Until my final stroke has been felt and embraced
As if it were written upon thy own lined back.

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