Saturday, June 15, 2019

Our Ancient Pages

Our Ancient Pages~ L'assemblage by Michael Douglas Jones  ©2019

   I was born of this earth, born of this soil, as you were born, and there comes a time when we long to return to our first home, where we once walked the long line of follow thy father, yet we find that the border is closed; we are no longer welcome, our clothes, our skin, our name, has changed. The marksmen walk behind the long line of eastern pine, their rifle barrels catch and throw the shine of midday sun, and they watch the dead line. In the length of a lifetime, I longed to cross the border, I walked just this side of the dead line, my father's blood oiled pistol in my waistcoat, ready for the fight, my fear, forgotten in the fatigue of age, but there was a wisdom that stopped me. I remembered the pages, so I turn south, moving back beyond the tree line, to sit upon the split oak until dayend, to wait for the moonless road, when I will return to my ancient home, to the earth, to the soil of my birth.

 Tucked inside a pocket of my soul coat, deep behind my weary heart, I carry the ancient pages; fragments mostly, of stories told across the oakwood smoke of low winter fires, from fathers to sons, from nursing mothers to every baby born. The heroes, whose small deeds grew like sown seeds through the generations, whose names were changed by each new ruling religion; heroes, whose love grew into compassion and invention which appeared to be magic, which begat faith, which was written into law, which forced war, which drew blood, drew borders, until love stole across the lines of limit to find itself in the face of another whose speech was foreign, but whose coat pocket contained the same ancient pages.

   Tucked inside our soul coats, deep behind our hearts, we, each and all, carry our ancient pages, and cross borders, until there are no more borders, and we are all the same; born of this soil.


Friday, April 12, 2019


Monocacy ~ L'assemblage by Michael Douglas Jones  ©2019

I am becoming more and more aware of time; the days, the months, now years spent away from home. Soon, I will turn twenty-four, but I feel as tired and worn as a hobbled greybeard, as though my life has passed; I should be home. I should have lived life, as it was promised. While this war has dragged on and on, approaching its fourth year, there are so many opportunities I have missed. I should have lived a quiet life, instead of riding with the firebrands. I should have watched the red-winged blackbird near the river run, instead of watching red blood turn black on the banks of the Monocacy River. I should have shared an ale at the tavern with my friends, not buried them there. I should have farmed with my brothers, instead of fighting my other brothers from the northern states. I should have lived by now.

By now, I should have taken on my role as adult, to take care of my mother and father, as they cared for me. I should have built my own home, a small cottage down near the Wilderness Run, where I could listen to cool deep waters of spring freshet. By now, I should have married, and danced many a Virginia Reel in the parlor with my dearest Marianna. I should have started a family; the tiny tickle of babies laughing should have filled my rooms, filled my heart.

I should have built a red bank barn and raised a fine stable of Morgan horses by now. In the three years that I have lost, I should have planted and harvested, planted and harvested, and then, planted once more. I should have seen the seasons, the spring growing, the winter resting; all that, I should have lived it.

My list of should could go on and on, but I should not dwell upon it. I will have my time to live that life of simple treasures; I will take note and honor every moment. It is a time that hundreds of thousands of boys will now never have; hundreds of thousands buried far from the life they should have lived.

I should live; I could have died.


Monday, March 25, 2019


Freshet ~ L'assemblage by Michael Douglas Jones  ©2019

I am spent; you may not see me in my winter rest, thirty steps down the bank, off the burnt hill road, beyond the long line of scrub pines, where the split-rail remnants trail off, but there I am, blending back into the breath of soft soil. My last companion is a wake of vultures, the black angels of carrion come. I am the ribcage in the cornfield.

I know I had more to give, had I walked with you; I was held back by my doubts, not in you, but in me. On every road, I turned off before reaching the ridge. This day, my will is too weak to return to the road, so I rest here until spring.

Try as I might, when I return, I won’t remember this; the days will grow longer; I will walk these roads with you again, and one day, we will reach the ridge.

Until that day, I am the last deep snow melting into a warming soil ready to receive new seed. On that day, you shall see me as the revival of rivers in the floods of spring freshet.


Monday, March 11, 2019

To Raise the Rising Moon

To Raise the Rising Moon ~ L'assemblage. ©MichaelDouglasJones 2019

    Raising the rising moon begins early, before the heat of sun holds it down. Commerce, with its attendant travelers, moves about the day, not noticing nature’s rising and receding, not noticing the receiving and returning rhythm of breath. It is not until the full moon rises into the night lighthouse that the weary ones, the waking ones, stop and watch for just a moment, to take in the wonder of the rising.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Books We Carry

The Books We Carry ~ L'assemblage ©MichaelDouglasJones 2019

Often, in the last days of our winter fever, we look back at the crooked path we’ve worn in the ending season, using that same past to plan the future.

Weighted down, but ready, we bring our bricks and baggage to pave a perfectly patterned road ahead. Then, as always, the earth shifts, cracks occur, and we start to stumble; yearly, wearily living along another winding path. Shift happens on this planet, we can’t plan it away. We can make scenarios, make contingencies, but we can’t make sure. There is simply no way to chart the changes that come along in a decade, so finally this year, I’m leaving my bricks behind, while I wander a bit. I still have much of my baggage, but I feel lighter already.

I still have the books I carry, in my head, in my heart; the books I wrote, the books I remembered, the books with my scribble in the margins; that is who I truly am. I am as you are, we are of the ancients. We are of the now, and the forevernow. These are the books we carry; this is who we are. We are the waking; taking our first full breath. We are the words we whisper when we turn the page.

Breathing in, we are the blending of all books, the scribbling pencil points, the overwhelmed annalists listening for the silence between crow caws and motorcars.

Breathing out, we are this that cannot be named.

Breathing in, we are the gathering of grace; the last scribes in the retinue, tallying the miracles, illuminating manuscripts of unseen symphonies from early morning mockingbirds.

Breathing out, we are this that cannot be named.

Breathing in, we are all that ever was. Breathing out, we are all that ever will be.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

To Measure The Moon

To Measure the Moon ~ L'assemblage ©MichaelDouglasJones 2019

Breaking day sun slips through the thornapple branches in jagged cuts of light and night. I rise with its pain, and listen, but Courage does not call out commands, or curse from atop the porch step to the chattel below; she will not wait for reinforcements. Courage whispers, and walks toward the plank road where the work will be done. She does not ask to be Courage, as I do; she takes the task at hand and handles it now, so I walk behind her fo a time, in the early morning, as the fog lifts beyond the tree line. We are tasked this day to measure the moon, at the ridgetop, a full day’s journey, and the many that stay behind say it cannot be measured, it is beyond our scope, and the demons on the ridge are many. Courage wears the scars and creases of those demons, so I will walk behind her awhile, and ask to be Courage for this one day.

I wear my father’s butternut overcoat, and deep inside the left pocket is the Colt pistol that he turned on himself, in the war before this war. I carry the weight of that Colt, the weight of that coat, the wet wool heavy on my scars and shoulders, and every morning, I reach into its worn pocket, moving my fingers across the blood and oil polished pistol grip, knowing that I am on his path; knowing that his way was thick with thorns and tangled honeysuckle vines, with deep mud, and deeper madness, and I ask to be Courage for this one day.

Courage is quiet, and walks with a steady step through the tall grass, even as the grade steepens near the slip rail, a full furlong before the plank road, where the work will be done. I fall behind in the high noon sun, my heavy boots caked with the drying mud of years lost, trudging the circling path of thorn and vine. By late afternoon, Courage is a shrinking silhouette on the west ridge, and I am remembering the cool shade of the hawthorn and the thick sweet scent of honeysuckle, its taste on my lips, so I sit for awhile to consider my direction for tomorrow, and move the pistol to my right pocket.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Lace of Life

Lace of Life ~ L'assemblage by Michael Douglas Jones  ©2019

This lace of life
forever hides
as much as it reveals.