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When You Were So Young

[Note: This was originally published on Tumblr; since I'm actively cross-pollinating now, I'm publishing here.]

You were so young, then. I remember
when I met you, that I could just remember
what it was like to be that young.
I don’t guess you’re quite so young
now; now I only remember remembering.

Of course, I remember you. I think
you’re growing bald a bit, but
of course I don’t care—the scorch marks
of age never quite make you any less
handsome, at least not from my
shifting view.

Time and place—all our places travel with us;
sunbleached paint and dirty baseboards
mark time with their cues of growing decay.
Your eyes are still so bright.

I thought time would make you less timid, but then
I never really understood you, never really
got why you didn’t fight through life, why you
just went limp in the face of everything.
If only someone could carry you.
If only I could carry you.
If only there were something more to do
than watch.

Auden said that time and fevers
burn away—and he’s right;
love is the ash, the residue
of my fevered time; my love for you is
dusty, remote, like a long neglected cabin
at the end of wild, feral trails.

It’s something that I’ve put in a box and
tucked into the back of the hallway closet;
maybe it will soak up the soft scent of the linens.
And I’m sorry I left you behind. I didn’t want to leave you
alone there; I wanted to burn with you.

But now, I’m married.

Cobain would rhyme that with buried—and
he’d be right. But we can both remember before;
we can both remember that I knew you
when you were so young…

Free Stuff! (Chapbook…)

So, I’ve decided to give away free copies of my last printed chapbook, “American Method.” I’ll even mail it, if you live in the continental United States. Details are here on dropBrian.

You’re welcome.

:)

BrianThedellPhotography.com—My Portfolio

While snapBrian has my casual photography efforts, my more serious work is hosted as a portfolio:

Brian Thedell Photography

snapBrian: too good for Instagram, not good enough for SmugMug

My photography portfolio is mostly composition heavy black and white images (often flowers) shot on medium format or 4×5 large format film. They’re gorgeous, but admittedly monotonous. In addition, I have spent the past—well, gosh—seven or eight years doing various photography projects: digital infrared, digital pinhole, film pinhole, digital but with a nice lens (Canon L represent!), digital with a ridiculously expensive lens I had to rent (Zeiss), film in medium format, film in large format, film in classic film cameras, film in 35mm, etc.

Through all this, I have a lot of fun, interesting images. I have a lot of selfies and GPOY, too. Probably hundreds of images, at least a third of which are actually pretty good, if I do say so myself.

So, really awesome images that don’t quite fit in my portfolio, but that would still probably be appreciated by someone out there, will be going to..:

snapBrian, my photography Tumblr blog!

The sort of thing you’d expect at dropBrian

DropBrian is where I put all my online poetry; here is the beginning of a recent poem:

I am from the bow that split the waves of the Atlantic
the force of human will beyond ancient Valhalla—
they pilgrimaged across those waves
for a new God, a new country.

And that note which preceded me,
that sea salt tone that faded, remains as harmony
to the sound of gravel alongside the desert freeway
—for that is where I truly come from:
the taste and smell of dust and tire rubber,
the powder of desert, like sun-bleached soot…
and I am from the faint scent
that draws the wolves
down from the mountain.

Welcome to the new BrianThedell.com

Where did the poetry go? What about Brian’s photography? Why does he need three different Tumblr blogs? WHAT IS GOING ON?

It’s okay. It’s gonna be alright. The poetry has moved to DropBrian; Brian’s official, spiffy SmugMug-run photography portfolio is at Brian Thedell Photography; he’s also got a Tumblr for casual photography at SnapBrian.

But that’s only two Tumblr blogs you say? There is a third, secret Tumblr. Only the righteous and pure of heart ever reach it. If you think you are worthy (and fancy pictures of chubby middle aged men in various stages of undress), go ahead and email me, and I’ll tell you about it…

The Space Between Us

So I found myself asking myself about
what a heart is—the abstract, the thought—
like, a full heart, a broken heart, a regretful heart,
a lonely heart. I want to clamp mine between
my thumb and fingers, I want to see it squish,
bounce back; I want to know its spaces,
the emptiness of its chambers.

I feel like I’ve got nothing left to say to you…

I wonder at the topology of my heart; I wish
it was something I could trace with just one finger,
something tender that I’m expected to touch. But
its size and scope shift seemingly with every hour,
until I finally surrender, and admit I cannot define
my love, cannot understand where it ends and begins.

I feel like you’ve got something you forgot to say to me…

My heart holds everything that I’ve had to abandon. It
bears witness to everything I forget, everything I want
to forget, and every memory faulty with time, with
indecision. It remembers exactly where and how
I let you go. And I can pinpoint the break, not necessarily
in my heart, but in us—the tear in the space between us,
that final separateness that I endure because I love you.

And you don’t really have to say anything…

Good Morning

Sometime overnight the bedroom windows fogged—
the pillows sucked in the faintest scent of sweat, and
the slats that form the floor have chilled, but like the
fog, the morning’s embrace will evaporate soon.

I am happy to sort and wash your shirts and
fetch a second glass while I get up for water;
I’m content to nod my head when ignoring you, and
I’m happy to not ignore you overmuch.

Hold me until the air around us breathes,
hold me until the air conditioner loses its bite;
I journeyed through the desert afternoon
to arrive like a Magi to your evening arms.

And something else is like our bedroom, someplace
else echoes the landscape of us—grass on rolling hills,
Mission Trails Park; you appear to me in darkness like a
wandering grey wolf that stalks the well-worn paths at night.

When I met you I was a wildfire, I charred
the hillside; I burn still, something thick
and black clings to me, I swelter and crackle
through each of these long lonely afternoons.

But let’s forget about who I am or was, forget about your
matted fur and bloody teeth—here we make our bed between
the embers and the wolf tracks, the pillows and the floor;
at night in sleep we become each other, like a fogged window
becoming opaque.

Dawn Horizons

Fringed in purple as the sun creeps up
behind them, the hills seal off
the horizon, their texture
abraids the sky in the rough relief of
trees and boulders; deep-cut grooves
wind within the bushes…

The morning wind bites as it cools
and I imagine myself a snake in dirt
as I survey the mountainscape—
as if I could see the cold as surely
as I could feel it, could see
precious heat bleed and fade into the morning
like blood soaking through a bandage.

Engulf, blanket—not quite the right
words to describe what the morning fog
does within the air—
fields along this valley transform
into oceans of mist and even a dog
wondering the sidewalk seems as alien
as a glowing angler fish deep beneath the ocean…

The world in these deep California valleys
renews itself, each morning a subtle phoenix
that ascends from the mist and streaking daybreak…
I know a secret, too, and I’ll share it, though
the Spanish priests knew it, too:
this is a sacred place,
this whole of Southern California,
for beyond our dreams and freeways
is mystery within mystery,
with the California sunlight
as crisp as a cut on the tip of your finger…

Refugees. Saints.
And to witness every morning in silence
is to recite a common prayer
that this is the final place
—just before cliff-face and ocean—
that America has one last promised land
that arises anew each morning
within the misty valleys, the fog-swept beaches…

Traffic lights tick on along the streets,
the freeway entrances slowly build to a hum
eventually, but still
in the still of the dawn
they don’t feel out of place—
the notion that I could race across the valley
like a lost seagull or a local God
remains as common as putting one foot
in front of the other…

And as the sun rises on a tile floor in a Spanish mission,
as the freeway lanes bleach and brighten in daylight,
and as the mist fades into the faintest taste in the air,
I know each daybreak affirms
our transcendence…

The Opening Of A Blossom

The opening of a blossom
reminds me of birth and death
but—all at once!—the strange
transformation of aging balances
between the budding and
the fading; the flower spent
its youth already, yet it remains
full of promise; the blossom
peaks out, hints at itself
with a swirled petal, an
unfurled leaf that cups
the edge of a blossom tenderly,
like how a lover would hold a face
between his anxious hands…

I imagine a great bell
in two dimensions, a graph
of life and death itself, with
the edges held in place by the
bloom and by its reverse, the anti-bloom:
the final contraction of petal against petal
into the blossom’s drying death-bed.

And these are my favorite flowers:
budding or drying, full of life or
full of death but still
full of beauty either way.
It’s like the beginning and ending of a song;
it’s like a grandson on his grandmother’s lap;
it’s like early Spring and late Summer—
a single season pure, filled with only either
promise or memory, and the full bosom
of hope and regret.

In fact, I think I wish
I could order bouquets just like that:
filled with blooming and fading
with the young rose tight and supple
and the dried rose ravished and graceful;
I hope that when I die
I remain just a wilted form,
an echo of every decade of my life
nestled deep within my leathery petals…