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I imagine you on your walks in the morning
when you went into the wilderness to pray
and be with your father and I wonder
if you cried alone too.

I wonder what animals you saw when
you went on your walks. I wish I could
see your face as you greeted them.

I wonder if you had trouble too,
trouble deciding what to do,
trouble feeling like it,
trouble knowing what to say,
trouble knowing how to care
for yourself and for other people,
trouble knowing how to use
your time and your life,
trouble remembering
where you came from.

I wonder what it would have been like
to buy a table from you, like the one
I wish I had under my window
over there in the corner, the one
that would hold my records so
I can flip through them without squatting.

What would it be like to hear
you talk about all your tools
and the man who cut the wood
for you and the way you designed
the legs and used your back
and your arms to smooth the surface?

What would it be like to share
a joyful smile with you after
I gave you my money and
you gave me my favorite table?

Today

I am here,
and this is where
you can find me.

I’m not sure
what it’s like over there.
I won’t be until I go.

Maybe you could go with me?
Maybe you’re curious too.

For now though,
I am here.

Oh, another thing.
I am me.

Sometimes I find
I’m still getting used to it.

I don’t get to be anyone else,
even when I really want to be.

But soon I will be someone else.

Don’t think I’m pulling your leg.
The someone will be a new me.

You’re watching it happen,
if you have a little patience
and you keep your eye on me.

I can watch it happen
to you too, if you let me.

Who will we be?

Finding New Zealand

In March 2016, I visited New Zealand on a magnificent adventure. While there, I shot this footage. This film is nine days of scenic stories sampled and woven together.

Locations portrayed include:

  • Arthur’s Pass via KiwiRail’s TranzAlpine route
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Franz Josef Glacier
  • Kaiteriteri Beach
  • Rabbit Island
  • The Interislander Ferry arriving in Wellington from Picton
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Whitianga

The music is The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us! by Sufjan Stevens.

I would like to thank the following people for being on my team and helping me make this trip:

  • Elder Research, who funded me
  • Apple, who make very portable computers and cameras
  • Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and Chaco, who all make sturdy gear
  • Air New Zealand, who loved me enough to include both Batkid Begins and a Daft Punk documentary as in-flight entertainment options
  • The inspiring playful gibbon named Cian from Orana Wildlife Park
  • One zestful, happy train-riding photographer from Maine
  • Apex Car Rentals, whose counter employee in Greymouth recently got matching tattoos with her bestie
  • The bartender at Annie May’s who helped me locate glow worms
  • The Franz Josef Expeditions team, specifically their guide Brett, whose helicopter safety mantra “seat belts, headsets, selfies” applies in far broader situations
  • Marie at the Golden Coast Bed & Breakfast in Greymouth, both of which I desperately needed
  • My logging industry friend from Nelson who taught me about rugby over dinner at Speight’s Ale House
  • Wendy from Arizona, who moved with her husband Chris so they could show their children a new world
  • Kevin and Lois, who are dairy farmers
  • Silicon Valley Samuel, who showed me where to find groceries in Wellington
  • Steve Moore, who has hair and kindly handed me a Sufjan setlist from the stage at the Michael Fowler Centre
  • Patrick from Germany and Lucy from Argentina, with whom I formed a vigilante Tongariro shuttle after the shuttle companies forsook us
  • Matt, Wayne, Stefan, and Grant Ewing and his company Lidgard Sails
  • The Alexander family, who were kind enough to let me and thousands more tour Hobbiton, though I suppose money was involved
  • Zach Martin, who helped me both christen a special bathing suit in Auckland and make an entire pack of green apple soda disappear

The mysterious relationship between the gulls and their small chirping brown tormentors begs further study or at least expert commentary.

What Would Make Apple Music
Fulfill My Wildest Dreams

Dear Apple,

I think you have done some great stuff with Apple Music. I love being able to tell Siri pretty much any song I’d like to hear and then hear it. I love being able to save songs offline on my iPhone so I can listen to them when I’m flying in the sky on planes. And I love that I got to watch a Taylor Swift concert for free with my friends while we were playing Settlers of Catan a few weeks ago.

But I am writing to let you know what Apple Music desperately lacks. I am writing because I would really like for Apple Music to be even greater soon than it is today.

Right now, I can’t trust Apple Music to manage all my music. I want to be able to, but I can’t. The main reason I can’t is Apple Music doesn’t know how to tend to the live music I have in my library.

Sufjan Stevens is one of the best songwriters we have living today. I saw him live two nights in a row last year. Both his lyrics and his music are poignant and touching. I have all his albums in my music library, and on top of his albums, I have live bootlegs I downloaded off the internet. The bootlegs are amazing because for many of his songs, the live versions essentially amount to remixes and re-imaginings of his already great music.

But if I merge my music into iCloud Music Library and sync my live Sufjan tracks into the cloud, once I download them on my iPhone, I discover sadly they have almost all transformed into studio versions.

You guys already know this, but it seems like Apple Music is identifying songs based on their title and artist, rather than on what really makes them unique, which is how they sound. What would make Apple Music hands down the only music service I need would be matching songs based on some sort of audio fingerprint.

You can probably tell by this point that I love music very deeply, just like Steve did. I hope the Apple Music team continues to do great work so that the service can become even better for people like me.

Thank you for reading all this. I hope you guys are having a great day over there in Cupertino.

Warmly and gratefully,
Doogie Proffitt
Charlottesville, VA

PS If you’re interested in reading even more Apple Music feedback from me, you can read a humorous tweet storm I wrote a while back. I can’t currently find an easy way to link to a tweet storm, so the best I can do is to tell you that it starts with this tweet.

On Homes

A home is a very personal place. My home is where I sleep, trusting its walls and the community around me with my safety. My home is where I bathe, removing all my clothing so I can see and clean every part of me. And my home is where I eat many of my meals, often with people I trust as my friends.

So when I set out to build a home for my writing, I knew it would be a personal place. The poems I have published here crawled out from the deep reaches of my soul and experience. I hope your encounter with them has brought you into a depth, the sort of depth that raises you once you have left it.

But there’s more to life than bathing, and there’s more to writing than poetry. As such, today I’m posting a letter I wrote to a company I’ve followed with interest for more than a decade concerning a subject that’s captivated me even longer. It’s not poetry. Or you know what, maybe it is. It’s a new family member in this home.

To the Lovers
Who Sat Next to Me
as from Boston
I Flew Away

Thank you for sharing with me
the news of your entire life,
your honeymoon in the lands
of Skyline and Blue Ridge
where many times I have walked,
your son’s interest in software
and the work he finds along
that central river Charles,
your other middle-aged son,
his romantic hiking partner
and steady friend and the way
that global web brought them near,
your nearly fifty-three years
as a kindly wedded couple,
your wife’s love of but one
strong beverage known
colloquially as the piña colada,
your husband’s sly glee
to lead you by the hand to a
Caribbean island to drink them,
and the paradox of your knowing
“nothing about romance”
as you approach from the air
your awaiting honeymoon suite.

I will safely tuck your lovely,
short, hovering brown hair and
your well-seated gray mustache
with joy and wonder into
the photo album my mind keeps.

A Return

After a perhaps well-deserved break I started back on Labor Day when The Living Place turned one year old, I have returned.

I’m not going to guarantee a certain schedule this time. But I’ve discovered lately myself over-supplied with life and narratives, and, well, they must live somewhere. The alternative would be tragic.

It’s good to be back. I’ve been missing the visits your eyes have paid my verbal home.

One Year of Labor

Tomorrow The Living Place turns one.

If you’ve been following since the start, you’ve read 56 poems.

If you’ve read any poems, I am grateful. We have connected in a way I would never have expected, and I hope you received some of the love I have invested here.

I hope to continue to grow this place. If visiting it has meant something to you, please share with someone you love.

Sight

The plane beside is all I see,
with doubts and fears and
grim reprise.

The cone ahead has seldom been,
though oft I’ve wished its form to be.
I’ve longed within to fill it full of
love, perfection, wizardry.

The line behind I feel I’ve lost,
its puppet shows and apple trees
and jungle gyms and spelling bees.

Perhaps it lingers still to glean
in each new day a sight yet seen.

For Myself

Though you may often forget,
it is of utmost importance
for your daily happiness
and satisfaction that
you remember you are
but one man who lives in
but one place and in
but one moment of time,
in which you have been
given the gift of making
a single choice at once.

Black-Capped
Chickadee

You flutter by the trunk
just to greet me with
your kind little beak.

In a moment you’ve risen
to a branch, a small dark
king in your green castle.

I am running late already,
but I will tarry in my steps
to stay with you longer,
my friend since I was a boy.

Nestled

I come to you stifled,
searching for an end to my sadness,
asking why, and not just once.

You listen to all my questions;
your eyes tell me you really are.
You invite me to sit on your lap
and hug me until I fall asleep.
When I awake, you smile at me
and I find myself free
because you know why and
somehow that is enough for now.

The Artist

The handcuffs were
no match for me.
From shackles too,
I’ve set me free.

In barrels they
submerged me deep;
I reemerged
without a peep.

Their prison bars
had bound me in,
but I bypassed
them on a whim.

That jacket too
with its long sleeves,
I wear with whimsy
in the breeze.

On burning ropes
high in the air
you’ll find me losing
not one hair.

Each scene in turn
outdoes the last,
compelling visions
from my past

to disappear
in puffs of smoke
lest my conceit
at hand they choke.

Then all at once
you’ll see no face.
A search will tell
I’ve left the place.

Though you send
parties searching wide,
you will not find me
where I hide.

You’ll call me foolish,
even mad.
“Why would he give
up all he had?”

But later then,
to prove I’ve won,
you’ll recognize
what craft I’ve done.

For who has ever
worked an act
as thorough as
my latest fact?

Perhaps you’ll
raise me up in fame.
Escape has always
been my game.

Gaining Control

When working, think as if you are in a box.
Today, you will need to make this object,
whether physical or virtual,
end up in this place and in this state.
This will not necessarily matter to someone else.
You will keep your job because you
smile at the people who pay you.

Your goal is to stay alive for another day.
This implies food and drink,
preferably all ground up into one mixture.
They all go to the same place, after all.

Time is just a number.
There is no need to do anything more
special today than you did yesterday.

Don’t try to do anything too ambitious,
because then you might fail.
When given the option to stay
here or go there, only go there
if there resides in the past.

Perform tasks, but only the tasks
that are absolutely necessary, and the
ones that you already know you can do.

That with which you do not come into contact
cannot hurt you. This includes your own self.

Create a perfect world, and then inhabit it.
Do this in a way that nobody else can observe.

Treat all scenarios in which
you find yourself as unrelated.

The word life refers to the condition when
a person has red fluid moving through their
body pumped by an organ in their chest.
Any other connotations do not exist.

Soon

The moon looked at me
from far away in the sky.
Against the dark,
all I saw was a sliver.
He was all but gone,
only a bare crescent.

I looked at the moon,
more closely this time.
Within his curve,
I saw shadowy glory.
Soon enough full
he will shine again.

A Midnight
Prayer

Thank you I have
made it to my bed,
for I know many
places I could
have also made it.

A Goal

I want to make
a million dollars
that I can smile about,
because the people
who gave it to me
smiled as they did.

Park

When I was younger
we would drive this road
until we reached the base
of the mountains. We would
hike trails of brown dirt
woven through with roots and rock,
laughing. Finding entry to
a cold stream was fresh relief
on those hot days.

Today I drive this same road
but find a new climb, one sprouted
inside me. It bends me toward
the ground with no relent. I grow
familiar with mounds of ants
and marvel how they still move
so quickly. I do not yet know
what awaits me at the top,
and I wonder when I will reach it.
Screaming, I know I am still alive.

Here

The bright blue rope extends
to the burly tree before me.
Its trunk has trunks.
A squirrel bounds to my left
and I hear opposite the distant
yelps of a shaggy dog.
The shag I imagine.
The wind rouses the branches
for a moment and pushes a cloud
between the sun and me.
There are other places
I could be and a buffet of
worries at my disposal,
but for now I get to be here.

Collapse

I had life organized,
each person, each place,
all in their own little boxes,
the way I liked them.

Then the boxes melted.