(Circa October 2019)
By Scott Thomas Outlar
And maybe your brakes will fail at fifty miles per hour while speeding straight down a hill, and maybe your life will even flash before your eyes, but maybe you'll begin slowing down naturally while going up the next hill and be able to swing into the nearest shopping lot before sliding safely into a parking spot. Maybe even coming to a stop perfectly between the lines. Maybe every breath in your lungs is precious. Maybe you should keep that in mind at all times. Yes, fall is my favorite season. A sentimental feeling of nostalgia permeates the atmosphere. The air tastes more promising and full of potential. Memories bring smiles. The future glows with infinite light. The cool wind heralds change. Recollections arise like echoes from a past that sings in high spirit. The future glows with infinite white light. What an amazing time to be alive. Thankfulness. Patience. Discernment. Peace. La la la.
I stay in my own lane, mostly. And wish the best for everyone else cruising along in theirs. Especially during car crash fevers. Enthusiastically at festivals and ceremonial sessions designed for freaking out. We are all islands unto ourselves, but we are charted and counted upon the same map. Surely the continents have been divided and torn apart enough already. I have my reasons. As do we all. So what's all the hubbub, bub? It seems likely that everything will work out for the best. It always has before. That's how we got here to begin with. After all, it's no easy trick surviving a world that sports sharp teeth and a Cheshire smile. Candidly, I say to thee, I even beseech: life is but a blink, a flash, a snap, a wink, yet still we dare to fall asleep and dream. O reverie, lucid and lingering long in spirit. O slap of wind, cold and stinging with the sweetest sound of autumn's awakened hum. And there is time enough ahead for all the challenges of this continually evolving existence to be addressed, but there is time enough right now to live this simple day in peace.
The hardest drug I ever kicked was fake food. Oranges were one antidote. Water served as another angle of remedy. And the rain will fall in every location upon the earth, but it is the cup of perception from which we drink that sometimes quenches thirst. Wisdom sipped from this well or that, but some are clean and others not. Certain music was orchestrated specifically to be experienced during peak daylight hours. Pale midnight eyes hold no sway through the chorus when the tongue of high noon lashes loud with its song. And artificial incandescence might help to pull off half the trick on occasion, but the purest notes can only be activated by the sun. So what's with all the shade? And that which loves must also burn.
I've heard tell that enlightenment comes as a crack in the foundation. I certainly wouldn't know about such an experience. Consciousness has a story of its own, but it told me that its lips are sealed. And I always believed every word of it, no matter the iffy look in those eyes. But I also knew that everyone was playing the same game with different rules. And I heard them say that when you awaken, you'll be sorely vexed at the disturbance of dreams but then must make a choice whether to remain lucid or beg the light to go away. Hint, hint: it never does. It's a mad, deafening highway, and there is not a single space designed to serve as a hiding spot.
I have met seven each from all thirteen sides of the war. Some of them were sweeter than others by degree, but down to the last they all had their reasons to curse and shake sticks. Righteous with their stones and sabers. But I, too, have run my mouth afoul at times, missed the mark, and perhaps even wallowed in the undertow of my own woeful wrongs. But so what? It's all part of the process when making peace with your conscience. We grow up, dust off, move on, correct course, and make right. Signed, stamped, and delivered to the doorstep of karma. There are two scales that measure the balance between order and chaos in this world, but there is only one power great enough to judge the truth of your heart.
If life itself is art, every breath becomes a poem, and the exhale is a snapshot capturing each new moment as it manifests into form. And if you have a palette in your heart designed to paint, you better start slinging color on the canvass while the urge remains strong. And if the process of life seemingly has a plan all its own, you best learn to dance so you can remain steady on your feet when the path takes sudden, sometimes unexpected turns. For what you knew in one age will return in time when trekking around another bend up ahead, but what you were before is no longer relevant today. Wisdom and truth are, indeed, eternal and constant, but the mind and body must continually evolve and be renewed at every new stage of development. System upgrades take place in the realm of consciousness, and there is nothing artificial about that sort of organic intelligence. Well, what I mean to say with all of that, I suppose, is that autumn has arrived. No real segue there, but that's cool. This is truly a season for taking stock of life, and for being thankful, grateful, and appreciative for what is most important. On a personal note, I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health, my work, and all the great moments that lie ahead for the rest of the year.
Rain & wind & a black crow on the wire (mischievously dropping an acorn from above as I walk by) & a turkey vulture perched atop the roof & a great blue heron wading in the creek water underneath the bridge in the woods at the park. That's my general perception of the settings here in Georgia the past couple of days. At least the little spot where I tend to tread. It all seems like signs of things getting awfully flighty, or, even better, lofty. Lord, I love the season of autumn! Cool & crisp & clean in the lungs with fresh air from the pines. Utterly divine. Amen.
Measured out as equal shots of tragedy and ecstatic joy. A little cocktail for your sober eyes. A squeeze of lemon in your elixir of life. So don't tell me about sacrifices. I gave it all away just to have this conversation. Well, I woke up an hour or so later this morning than has been usual during the past few months. A shock to the system as sun poured through the blinds. I'm very much a creature of habit. Set in stone in certain ways, drifting carefree with the wind in others. Rigid and will-nilly in equal measure. Or whatever the balance might be. 50/50 or 83/17. Split the difference. Call for the cards to be turned. All in, regardless. So, anyway, I was lying in bed, calm, breathing deeply and contentedly, beginning to download the day's adjusted schedule, letting the neurons gear up for ignition... Then I grabbed the iPad to hop on the internet. Inevitably, quickly, and apparently unavoidably, I grew annoyed by one thing or another when it came to the concerns of this world. What a bummer because I'd been dreaming earlier of flying and spinning around in all sorts of aerial acrobatics. It was pretty awesome. And that's the type of high intensity energy that should carry momentum for a long spell. Or at least until the head hits pillow again to wander in subconscious shenanigans. Alas. The gentle ease of a day's naturally unfolding rhythm was sadly interrupted, stressed, and a rush of adrenaline was sent flooding through the blood. What a drag, dude. Honestly, by the point, I was less annoyed by the original concern as I was annoyed at the absurdity of being annoyed by anything to begin with. That's one hell of an implosive, self-sustaining loop to become swirled up in. So throw open the hatch and escape. Lesson being: never check the news first thing in the morning. For God's sake. But that which feeds on fire will grow starved after the flames die out and all that remains in the pit is ash. And all the wonders of the glorified phoenix are naught but myth in any heavy mind weighed down by the dense vibration of fear. So I'm betting that the best option is to be brave and beg the bur to leave a mark wherever it bites. Because I never met a happy ending that wasn't born from some great wound. Scars spread wide and scattered upon the sand are soon washed away by a cleansing tide, but remember, there is always a bit of salt in the salve offered by nature's waves. Hell, even being healthy can hurt a little. And that's the way the die are cast, the cookie crumbles, and the milk spills. Because it's true that pigs (& horses & dogs & cats & probably even hamsters at this point) have been granted passenger tickets aboard airplanes. It's a weird, wild, wonderful world, and not just on the farm.
There is a difference between praying earnestly from the soul and reciting dead mantras. And there is a difference between the fires from which you flee and those you beg to be ignited. And there is a difference between all the pages stained with ink and a contract sealed with blood. And there is a subtle difference between a bleeding heart and complete detachment. And. &. And. & ad infinitum.
And there is a difference between what you intended to say with measured compassion and what truth slipped from your tongue when least expected. OK, I've had my fun. If that's what you call it. Time to get serious. But even that seems laughable.
The leaves finally decided to begin their annual transformation during the past few days. The initial lick of yellow, a kiss of orange, the subtlest wink of red. The process hasn't exactly been in a rush thus far this season. The weather is having an interesting time making up its mind. A little hestitation after entering autumn. But you couldn't exactly call it chilly feet since the issue at hand is over the fact that warmth has led to short sleeves still being in high fashion this deep into the cycle. Though I'm sure there are cold snap spells casting their frigid vibes elsewhere in the world already. I speak only on what I know, of course, and that information is focused right here in this particular spot. A dot. One island on the map. One ship in the sea. Charting a course toward connection. Those prettiest of hues are starting to snap, crackle and pop, and I'm eagerly anticipating the full spectrum of explosion. It's growing nearer. Must be nigh. Shades of neon amber. Indigo & violet. So now we've talked about the weather. I guess we ought to move on to more meaty subjects. How about religion and politics? Those topics are always considered risk-free options, right? You bet! well, maybe next time, anyway...
Scott Thomas Outlar lives and writes in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. He guest-edited the Hope Anthology of Poetry from Culture Cult Press as well as the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. He has been a weekly contributor at Dissident Voice for the past seven years. Selections of his poetry have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Dutch, French, Hindi, Italian, Kurdish, Malayalam, Persian, Serbian, and Spanish. His seventh book, 'Evermore', was written along with coauthor Mihaela Melnic and released in 2021. More about Scott's work can be found at