what it feels like . . .

I was trying to explain poetry to someone who is trying to understand . . .

THIS . . . THIS . . .

I wanted to see where beauty comes from

without you in the world, hauling my heart

across sixty acres of northeast meadow,

my pockets filling with flowers.

Then I remembered,

it’s you I miss in the brightness

and body of every living name:

rattlebox, yarrow, wild vetch.

You are the green wonder of June,

root and quasar, the thirst for salt.

When I finally understand that people fail

at love, what is left but cinquefoil, thistle,

the paper wings of the dragonfly

aeroplaning the soul with a sudden blue hilarity?

If I get the story right, desire is continuous,

equatorial. There is still so much

I want to know: what you believe

can never be removed from us,

what you dreamed on Walnut Street

in the unanswerable dark of your childhood,

learning pleasure on your own.

Tell me our story: are we impetuous,

are we kind to each other, do we surrender

to what the mind cannot think past?

Where is the evidence I will learn

to be good at loving?

The black dog orbits the horseshoe pond

for treefrogs in their plangent emergencies.

There are violet hills,

there is the covenant of duskbirds.

The moon comes over the mountain

like a big peach, and I want to tell you

what I couldn’t say the night we rushed

North, how I love the seriousness of your fingers

and the way you go into yourself,

calling my half-name like a secret.

I stand between taproot and treespire.

Here is the compass rose

to help me live through this.

Here are twelve ways of knowing

what blooms even in the blindness

of such longing. Yellow oxeye,

viper’s bugloss with its set of pink arms

pleading do not forget me.

We hunger for eloquence.

We measure the isopleths.

I am visiting my life with reckless plenitude.

The air is fragrant with tiny strawberries.

Fireflies turn on their electric wills:

an effulgence. Let me come back

whole, let me remember how to touch you

before it is too late.

– Stacie Cassarino, SUMMER SOLSTICE

The Book of Gabriel

According to her tattoo, the waitress is sinful. The eggs . . she asked me How do I want them?

Actually, the order was put in a long time ago. Life brings what it will, and on that day, it was serving me breakfast with Walter Gabriel Trachsler XIII in a small diner near the Missouri River bottoms of downtown Kansas City. The band he was traveling with played nearby last night, so “he’s with the band” sortuv; more accurately, he’s with the bus.

In fact, the first time I saw him, he was squatting beside an idling band bus drying his long wet black hair in the warm air flowing from as its AC-vents. This will forever remain on my top three “Most Memorable Meetings” list . . . and I’m still waiting for the other two entries.

We hadn’t finished the first cup of coffee before I switched from calling him “Walter” to the far-more appropriate “Gabriel” after hearing the story of his remarkable name. His chronicles from what he’s doing now (spending months on the road driving some band on its tour) to what he did back when he was the rock star cover lot of crucial, incredulous insider-randomania. Since forming his own metal hair band, The Rotting Corpse, in 1985 (with John Perez) he’s performed as musician and mechanic all over the world.

Stories abound . . . Gabriel is the repository of an entire epoch of cultural history with an “I alone survived to tell the tale” sense of duty to the genre.

There are lots of character sketches and sidebars along the way—especially from his childhood. It is understood that he was a challenging kid to a single mom, but the story of how she sent him on a one-way trip in the cargo-hold of a military plane to his even more rascally father (who lived somewhere on a boat near Puerto Rico) deserves to be a movie. I’d never heard “motherfucker” as a term of endearment before, but most of Gabriel’s stories sound like that and are full of lots of things a small-town midwestern girl wouldn’t have heard before.

I was rapt.

You are a book, G, you get that, right?

 He’s laughing nowadays, possibly with relief. Everything that can go wrong is something he’s seen before . . . been there, fixed that. Mostly.

There’s nothing he can’t fix if it’s not human, and there have been police-radioed breaking-news notable exceptions in the latter category.

For those, he’s put pen to paper and written his heart out. Over the years, I’ve saved his missives for the day he’s ready to serious about the great book of his own life. That’s how we’re connected and I don’t let him forget it, because the Muse won’t let me forget it.

There are a lot of people from the past fully present in Gabriel, grateful for his friendship and loyalty and integrity. They’re all crowded around the breakfast table of his birthday today in person or in legend cuz “it’s another fuckin party!” . . . (dis)ORDERS-UP!

Yes, it’s just eggs, but so were we all once . . . then broken, and made a certain way. Gabriel holds this all inside with a raucous reverence and a powerful, gentle love.

Happy Birthday, Walter Gabriel, from Leeanne/Liana.