RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Friday, September 14

WEEKLY FRYBREAD: bird tribe lessons

I had not planned on posting a weekly frybread this week, partially because I haven’t done much in way of writing this past week but also because if I did do some writing, why just do a stupid blog update instead of working on the 7000 things in my head? Not sure. But then I took a lunch break and escaped the constant buzz of the inside of buildings and computer screens, and had a moment to reflect. A lot of times if I am hungry, I grab some $3 dumplings at the dumpling spot near where I work. They are in all likelihood from big bags of frozen dumplings from the Chinese grocery store, but they are heated and have soy and some rooster pepper sauce of some sort, and I enjoy taking them into the park near my work and kick back and chill on a bench with some dumplings. I have learned to use chopsticks in the past four months by doing just that. It’s a nice day so the easily accessible park areas by campus were pretty crowded, but I’ve also found these gardens tucked in between the main lawn of campus and the hospital expansion that nobody seems to know about. There’s like five of them, with multiple levels to most all five, and usually I sit by this one with a spire, but today I went to the far one in the string as I’d never gone in there. I found a bench completely underneath a scrubby tree, so kicked back with not another soul in sight. I mean, I could hear the dudes scraping and replacing the slate roofs of ancient student housing, but it was cool because my eyesight was full of nothing but greenery and chillage. I really do love these gardens a lot, not sure their history and if they come straight from Mr. Jefferson himself or not, but I’ve contemplated etching haiku or tanka or maybe even full sonnets onto scrap slate or maybe just haiku on railroad spikes and leaving them hidden in these gardens. That will come with time. Anyways, I got a spicy noodle bowl to go with the dumplings today, and was leaning forward eating, so as to not slop sauce all over myself while using chopsticks with noodles, when some small grey bird – bigger than a hummingbird but not nearly as large as the red-breasted robins that have been my spirit guide this year – came floating directly in front of my face, like a foot out. It just hung there, bouncing as it flapped, and I wasn’t quite sure what was going on or what to do. I felt like I should hold my arm out for it, but didn’t. It flew up in the branch above my head, and I noticed another one to my left as well. Then I noticed the three had a pretty good population of birds. This of course was a positive omen to me. Birds have been more prominent in my psychic space this year, which would seem odd considering my birth-given middle name is Raven and my familial unit’s street name is Bird Tribe. (Remind me to show you my rhinestone Bird Tribe overalls at some point; I only wear them on the most special of occasions.) But starting around February, I became very aware of the red-breasted robins that seemed to be following or guarding my path most days. It was weird actually, to where if I didn’t see one it freaked me out. I still don’t know shit about bird species, and have no desire to be one of those O.C.D. bird watcher types, but this floating bird before my face was a good omen. I get caught up in what I haven’t done too often, how I have all these books and stories and ideas in various stages of outline but very few completed. Mostly this is because I use the internet and the internet is full of writers. I would dare say four out of every five people on the internet consider themselves writers. I read some bar graph defense of some dude dissing free form poetry the other day which talked about how if there were far more writers, you have this flow of quality where the majority of it is half-assed and mediocre, but with so much input, your final high-quality output is a higher level as well. That may be true, but there has to be some way to find that, because mostly what I see is shitty writing, or self-important people always self-hyping themselves. One of my biggest difficulties with finishing the Football Metaphysics book was having to then tell people, constantly, that it existed. I hate this aspect of writing because I see “writers” doing it all the time for lackluster crap. I’m not just talking e-publishing wannabes either; I see well-respected writers with major book company deals who are busy talking up some really mediocre and barely thought out crap. I don’t want to be that. I won’t be that. Thus, sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to get work done, because I fear I’m part of that industry. But having the bird float in my face while I ate a spicy noodle just drove home my whole Bird Tribe reality. I am a dude who uses words, because it is how my mind works. But I am probably more of a poet-philosopher than actual writer, even though if you asked me I’d say poetry was stupid (for the most part). I enjoy language and the way certain words roll together, and mostly it is like freestyling to me, and the key is to attune the mind to being more receptive to unleashing the freestyles that are always there. Now that I’m to a point where I have long stories and novels and projects laid out, it becomes an issue of fine-tuning these mental wanderings to be incorporated into larger projects. That’s not really that difficult, but it can be tedious, and the more tedious it gets the more it reminds me of all the assholes. Here’s the thing though – my oldest kid, who is 13, has already finished one novel, and is starting another. In fact, she just started a blog and put up her first post the other day. She is already on a path of creativity far ahead of where I was at age 13. And I was pretty intensely creative when compared to the other kids my age back then. My second child is a natural director of large theatrical efforts, and a natural born dancer, and overall creative mind as well, but with the spirit of a healer. She will take care of people at some point, I know, whether that be as a simple nurse or in some complicated self-help/self-realization way. She is still young, so it will have to show itself to her. And the youngest is only four but has this strange unseen world where she communicates with the bees, and knew their leader was named Melissa (which it is, according to Greek mythology) without anyone even explaining to her that bees could have leaders. And all of this with my lovely ol’ lady, who is an artist and plant healer and probably the only woman who could be as much of a creative anarchist as me and yet still wholesome as fuck, in a sort of weird twisted urban degenerate in the middle of the country sort of way. We both come from broken families. There’s no need to get into the specifics or use anything from then as an excuse for now. But we’ve built together this Bird Tribe family of creative chaos. And yes, I do not think us perfect, and know there are broken things about us as well. But we are at the most less broken than what we were born into, and at least broken in new ways that are less corrosive for personal happiness. Our children are enabled to express themselves easier than we were, and that is progression. Ultimately, when my ol’ lady talks about her plant work, or I talk about writing, it becomes clear we don’t give a fuck about money. I mean, we do. Ideally, I’d be able to work from home and still afford the electric bill. Ideally, we’d be able to financially enable ourselves to more deeply explore our personal arts. But that’s not necessarily the world we got born into either. And all you can do is live where you was born, and make the best of it. So though I don’t have book deals like I sometimes have felt I should have gotten, when others who made lesser zines got book deals when that was a thing, or people who wrote lesser blogs got deals as that was a thing, I know that what I’m doing is what I’m supposed to be doing. If I write it at a slow boil, so be it. I mean, I am competing against mortality, but should not be against any outside notion of what being a writer means. Fuck most writers. And my children are already percolating, getting their slow boil going a lot earlier than me or my wife did. It’s pretty important to be part of that as well. So yeah, I don’t know what the fuck I was deciding to say by deciding to do a weekly frybread, other than maybe: writers sucks, birds are awesome, and though there’s no money in it what we are doing is what we are supposed to be doing. We might want to do more of it, but we don’t need to kill ourselves in the struggle to do it, or accidentally blow out our creative fires sucking on poisoned thinking. Bird Tribe motherfucker, floating right in front of your face, and sitting in the trees all around you. I don’t need to call your attention to it, you can look if you want to. If you don’t, so be it; it’s still happening.

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