Sing Me the Song
after John Lyon
When the exiled pioneers stared at the Salt Lake Valley, they drank clean air. A sky framed by Nature’s Bulwark presumed their own. They slept in the open next to trees in the crux of the canyon, and night came. An armistice with ground, as each fire began to smell less and less like Buffalo chips. Crowded by the grid system, I search for a street where I am not spied on by a steeple. Imperfect Zion sleeping in Pioneer Park.
Nor the Sound of pollution voice is heard?
I am the visitor, welcome on the back row with handshake full of grease brought again to sacrament meeting. Ceiling fans spin backward the longer I stare. Hymnodic. I remember as a kid, a deacon, I once put Sprite in the cups for sacrament’s water. Nursery tastes like blessings.
But where shall we find this fairy vale
Where the naked are clothed and the hungry fed
The savior said to me, “Love will give you strength.” A car doesn’t stop as I cross
to the homeless shelter, and the sun turns sunset into beauty every evening, blood-red
inversion fear like the phosphate slag back home. The pioneers had too many calluses to fear rocks, ropes, and bricks of marble for their temples. Remember me for my coarseness and carnality.
Assembling the Happy Place for Meditation
Little shacks of pine needles hide under the trees
from decay and embody eternal salvation.
Salvaging products for peace
in nature after each wind storm. The breakdown.
Recreate building blocks, the Lego Mania
nature builds every second
to release a fresh new hoard of green.
Fresh, green leaves to open stoma
and let in light and oxygen and fall
and get turned into dirt and food
sought by caterpillars. Gold flecks of sun
travel along the skim of the river.
The animals of this monument know each other
on a first-name basis. The trees sway
in a rhythm of a slow, hum-drum
kaleidoscope wind. I find myself in
this forest in deep meditation to the river
of this “happy place.” What is so unhappy?
But it reshapes into a winter garden—
into a sun room for light. Welcome Home! It will say
when I just lie there and decay underneath a pine tree—
a little bungalow to die in, but it is just for smell.
My mother’s happy place, instead, is her floating
on a camping air-mattress drifting over Bear Lake.
Mine, party laughter eaten by wind. Smoke fenced by lightless backyards
in the center of the block. A canyon beyond the other yards.
The floor of the canyon unlike the happy place
unlike condominium astroturf, humid, jungle-like, noisy.
I block the wind with lilac trees draped with mossy tinsel.
During my planar isolation, grief is outside—
a version of how mausoleums protect grief from time.
But the outside is limited to Becket Endgame windowpanes.
Meditate without distraction, paintings or windows? Nature
always there, in the darkness of closed eyes.
Suddenly, the outside will become a waterfall for salmon to jump over
for sound. Another fountain for crawdads to dive under.
The key will be under the astroturf placemat when
you get there. Follow the path of pine needles.
Jeff Pearson is a graduate of the University of Idaho’s MFA Program, and he’s a past resident of Idaho State Hospital South. In 2017 he won Permafrost’s New Alchemy Prize for ‘User Review of Medications.’ His chapbooks include: Sick Bed and Locations Services, which can be found on his website. He is the former Managing Editor for Blood Orange Review and current Poetry Editor for 5×5 Lit Mag. He tweets at @legoverleg