Fox Banquet: the path
you start out & soon know that you are lost you know you cannot go back because there was no trail you followed you were running blind mostly & looking behind you for pursuers & ahead to define what you pursued now lost, you begin to look in a wide-angle way at the hang & bent of limbs & tangle, how gullies shadow-carve light & the host of evidence surrounding you a path responds to attention through glowing attraction: taking care with each thing, you sense where what belongs & for whom & the story of the forest begins to really shine you go into the livingness of it moving aside deadfall, pruning suckerbrush, prickerflare & pineweb you slow to read the stickglisten slimestories & insodoing more story limns the understory of mosssoft & humustuft there is an invitation to elegance embossed in all bodies a fox sees this from just inside— careworn mask witness to your devotion to the path & the increased singing of the path & your lightening dusk dance in gathering dark as you give yourself freely a way
Fox Banquet: memory
for fox shitting is high-class calligraphy it speaks to the origins of things gut-level systems thinking they are in direct contact with the billions of cells in all the right muscles in that sweet script-making endzone: the anus fox remembers one time . . . fox remembers all the times . . . disintegration of the cursive mementos is part of the bone & tail piece: slouching shoulders on what were taut lines, then the mycelium fur emerges— so much like a baby fox’s first whiskers— then the work of a life essentially disappears fox remembers doing it on a picnic table in the capital & the time through a dog door on the Confederate welcome mat fox are releasing as much as they can for all of us, all the time fox brush their teeth with neem fox wash their socks in moonlight but fox never wipe their asses they are clean as clams— with a far better memory for who laid down what where & when why things happen is why we are trying to clean up our shit
Fox Banquet: grasses
on the way there was grass lots of grass & all manner of things upon it including me & there were herds of others & hosts of others living on the herds tens of billions hosted on tens of thousands herding grasses taught the first people to count rasping rattling & nestling one another in youth & in death grass plucks a string so to speak slipping a zero-ring upon an abacus within an umbel thus counting like stars turning on the sky dial vision dazzles with growth & decay though in some places no one counts— counting isn’t done— which is a good thing, sometimes, but there are also no grasses there which is a sadness to try to imagine especially when you’re on the way passing sailor grins betwixt & between you & anticipation of the reunion is what you’ve been counting on your whole herded & hosted tepid & toasted creaking & coasted milquetoast & boasted hopelessly grass-filled life
To view the original line breaks, these poems are best read from your desktop.
Qayyum Johnson worked for the post office while a carpenter’s apprentice after being a farmer for twelve years in a Zen temple on traditional Coast Miwok earth. His writing has appeared in the Inverness Almanac and The New Farmer’s Almanac. Since 2018 he has been a director of the Art Monastery where he conducts studies in regenerative imagining, attention/intention and the art of giving up self-cherishing.