Familiar Hurt and Anger

Five a.m. on the back porch with coffee, again. The familiar hurt and anger loosening, floating into the late winter sky, farewell. Threads of snow remaining on the east side of the barn resemble a seahorse if you squint. Later, driving west, mumbling rosary prayers. We who survive the self-imposed brutality but can’t say why play what role in the collective. What would happen if you let Love guide you, where would you be, who would be there with you saying, this place looks good, let’s spend the night. What is helpful, what is not. I remember caring more about Emily Dickinson than now, but now I know what it means to live on the other side of far hills. Rest in peace indeed. First you rehearse, and lifetimes pass, and then you perform, and the one life intensifies, and then you realize the emptiness of both theory and practice, and then what. Rain falling, cardinals calling to one another in tangled flower gardens I refuse to master. This this. The neighbors repair certain fences and the world changes a little. It’s all about relationship but maybe not in the way you think, don’t give up. Brother, tell me again what moonlight means when it fills a tea cup your long-dead – but hardly gone – grandmother owned?

Published
Categorized as Paragraphs

A Form of Homelessness

There is rain and then there is no rain. What passes and what doesn’t. Sitting quietly for hours with coffee in darkness, letting even prayer go. At home with a form of homelessness which I do not recommend. Why yes I will have another slice of pie, thank you.

What kind of a market is the world, really. Outside Boston, a monk rises and prays while remembering the way his mother used to look out the window after his father left for work. Imagine knowing how to help. Imagine helping.

Non-resistance – which is a form of nonviolence – is the solution, if you are still looking. I remember the wind mostly, and the feeling falling that it was neither a mistake nor not-a-mistake, and in any case was not the end. Wind off the harbor, late winter chill. And this: this this.

Wood chips from the neighbor’s ground-up maple floating in puddles at the driveway’s edge. Nobody told me how lonely it would get. Burning deadfall, throwing handfuls of sage on the flames. Who will miss me when I am gone is why most of us never go.

And: early morning chickadee song, and the same old happy confusion.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

The Ones Who Bring the Bread

Think of me as someone you can love I write and instantly wish I hadn’t.

Robins in morning mist where in a day or two or ten a dozen splendid crocuses will appear.

Late but not too late I realize that my body has been masquerading as a missing child trying to convince himself he does not want to be found.

Oh, you want me to tell you another story, well I won’t, story-telling was the whole problem I had to leave you to undo.

Mist in the meadow at the level of the blind Appaloosa’s carpi.

“Easter is coming” I whisper to the forsythia I planted last year near the apple trees.

My mother used broken mirrors as ice in the Christmas villages she labored over every December, little plastic skaters suspended as if frozen over their reflection, which felt like a metaphor for something but what.

You cannot ask a dog to leave.

I’m the guy who doesn’t stay, who can’t stay, it’s a family thing, it’s nothing personal.

As a matter of fact this is my idea of peace, you have something you want to say about it?

Lesson after lesson like a river rising to our hips which can’t seem to stop crashing into one another.

Breathless under the stars, thank you Jesus for giving me so fully and unconditionally this gift of attention.

Rain all night, waking to holiness accordingly.

Knowing how to take a punch and wishing I didn’t but not as much as wishing I’d never thrown one.

Bread for the lost, bread for the hungry, and bread for the ones who bring the bread.

Listen I cannot bear how dark it gets around here, I really need the sinking to end, can you help, please help.

Kegan seeing as a developmental stage, the self asking itself going forward, what shall this self be?

Or else what I wish I’d said, having never learned.

What I learn too late, and then learn is outside time altogether.

This love and only this love.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

Pretending Otherwise

Now I am watching the robins.

The robins come and go on the maple tree outside the south-facing window. Whose idea was it to have sides of the bed? Beads of last night’s rain hang bright against slate gray skies. I’m happy and I wasn’t always but at last the cause for pretending otherwise is over so, you know, thank Christ.

What is so attractive about conflict? Is there within us some inherent need for an enemy in order to live? What are we afraid to learn from the stories of victims?

Two nights ago heavy clouds passed quickly over the crescent moon, one after the other, and my breath grew shallow and quick. Sometimes when I drive my body disappears like mist, as if the world were opening to undo itself. We don’t die but some things do end.

Learning how to read again. Kegan’s note that his book is “not about the doing which a human does” but rather “the doing which a human is,” which, yes.

We talk about the new patio we are together unearthing. Enormous flagstones under weakening hemlocks where once upon a time the chickens lived and died. The world is what is revealed in relationship with what longs for revelation?

Learning how to write again, too.

Forty degrees at five a.m., I visit the horses with shitty coffee in a tin camping mug and we say nothing but stand together quietly as if nothing else mattered but this. The light in which everything – including nothing at all – is plainly visible.

You mutter amen, keep going, et cetera et cetera.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

As If The Heart Were A Library

Standing near the hemlocks near midnight, shivering star-gazing. Names you forget, names you will not, ever.

And begin.

Even empty-handed. Even broken-hearted.

Opening the barn door at five a.m., the scent of skunk pervasive and moist, going slowly to avoid a confrontration. Dogs barking on the far side of the river. Cold breezes stirring flakes of snow across dark ice at the driveway’s edge. This, too, is love.

Gathering baling twine to be recycled. Suddenly there are all these ways of referring to the moon, as if the heart were a library the mind by necessity visits to study its name and function.

An emphasis on shades of blue that feels inspired, cosmic, pertaining to what we mean when we say the word “God” and are appeased.

Sifting sugar to make frosting for Fionnghuala’s birthday cake which, days later, remains only partially-eaten.

Waking early to pray and write, is there any other life.

It is possible to be in error, I have gazed into the mind which errs, I have seen the root of the problem, I am living the inquiry which resolves it.

Wind wracking the house, electricity out, winter tapping the bones in me with ice.

More Dylan please, more Dickinson. More waking early to talk in the kitchen over tea about what is broken and can be healed and what is broken and will never be.

Holding hands in bed for a moment, reminders we are not alone, will never be again. Oh Christ let me treasure only what is treasurable.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

That Widening Cosmic Maw

Pillared clouds where the river emerges out of wintering hills. Everything cold grows colder.

Broken furniture scattered along the sidewalk. Every window in the old church a block away broken and dark.

Everything dark grows darker.

Snow squalling, wind splitting the air into shrieks only I can hear. Chrisoula’s purple jacket down by the horses moving as if there were a body in it.

You reach your unworthiness, your self-hatred, and discover in the darkness there a willingness to murder, maim and make war. Imagine if all the pain in the world were real.

Crows on the lilac bush, too damn close to the house. Sophia reminds me that witches do not go quietly, adjust your expectations of what happened – and will happen yet – accordingly.

Sleeping on the couch again, drinking black coffee in the barn again. You call it a love song, she said, I call it a defensive screed against the vulnerability true love requires and which you are perpetually and apparently inherently incapable of managing.

Who is against us, who is not.

Jack Gilbert’s shitty last poems, the first edition of A Course in Miracles. Sitting in the dark with Emily Dickinson, that vast hunger and unrepentant anger, that widening cosmic maw. So this is what it means to be scared.

Everything slows down but don’t call it stillness, that’s somebody else’s job. The Judge laughs at the sentences you write in His prison, He doesn’t know your name, He doesn’t care you have a family.

Corpses rising from a field of graves arguing you are given to be claimed.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

Nothing to Pursue

The moon was perfect the other day at six a.m. hovering just above the southeastern horizon, chalk-colored and sharp. How slowly one can – and does – make tea! Ice flowers melting slowly as the sun rises, innocence clarifying what is always innocent. And Jack, the blind Appaloosa, last of the locally-famous Back Acres herd, crying out before dawn, and me – old and tired and slowing down – ambling through snow with arms full of hay to feed him. Answered prayer, opened heart. The aesthetic at last settled, leaving nothing to pursue, alleluia alleluia. One does miss the forest, there amidst the trees. Remembering what is next, forgetting what is gone.

Published
Categorized as Paragraphs

A Little Dot

We talk about justice as the afternoon lengthens. Make coffee and sit by the radiator. Sunlight decanting across the side yard, juncos passing like little pilgrims. Ron died last week and I cried when I found out. It has to do with hunger, it has to do with knowing what to do with fire. The first time I saw Jupiter was the beginning of the long search for whatever order prevails after God vacates the Heavens. I played Gretel for twenty years before tiring. “It’s better this way.” Or else it doesn’t matter. In Boston I stepped out of a fourteenth story window and lingered on unseasonally warm winds like a discarded napkin. It’s always Lent in my heart. “You got lucky” – how many times have I heard a doctor say that in my life? Later we fold laundry together, and later yet I sit quietly by while she knits. Pretending to write, pretending to read. Stars whirling through the unexplored cosmos, and Jesus a little dot in the distance going away.

Published
Categorized as Paragraphs

Written in the Dust

In August a bobcat crossed the backyard and I told nobody.

I bought my first birdfeeder in college, hung it outside the fourth story dorm window to everyone’s amusement, and one afternoon wrote these lines: “there are wars at my window / and the smaller birds starve.”

Snow flurries in cold sunlight, may I never forget to be grateful.

Something hurt in me, something lost.

Something concerned but unsure of how to express concern.

It’s February, just above freezing, Chrisoula hangs laundry off the back porch line, and I sit with coffee in the dining room writing and rewriting sentences with a casualness befitting a Child of God who knows their Father in Heaven loves them.

A longing for the dance floor and what comes after the dance, even now.

In October we traveled to the ocean and admitted we did not know what love was, but that we did not believe it was possible to learn with anyone else, and so we would continue into a country beyond marriage.

It has to do with the fear of death, which is a fascination with death, which is a form of arrogance in the face of God, who we really do fear.

It rains a lot here and there isn’t much to say.

My father in his grave, his mother in her grave, the storm that ruined them both settling in what for now we will call “my heart.”

Time passing in a dream.

The backyard birch tree passing in a dream.

The dream itself passing but not “in a dream.”

I never wanted to join a coven, only ensure that those who did were allowed.

Trust me, you wouldn’t like it here.

Behind the church, what is written in the dust there.

Published
Categorized as Sentences

Intersecting with Other Spirals

It’s Boston that undoes me. Stepping out a fourteenth-story window into a maelstrom facing the harbor. There are no saviors where we go to work out our salvation, only wooden tables with heavy puzzles on them, and hurricane lamps made of blown glass. Even followers have to lay down their defenses, remove their shoes, et cetera.

Standing on the back porch listening to the river. Do you remember when the sunlight was everywhere?

Watching her talk, her head turning to her right, forgetting to listen again, imagining an old story retelling itself to itself, the spiral of us intersecting with other spirals. What works, what doesn’t and what really doesn’t work.

What questions are you ready to answer and what questions will you never in a thousand years consider answering.

Stones at the bottom of the river.

Living in a future for which I did not plan. Scriptural necessities foregone. In her throat, a specifically Christian hymn arises. Abide where, and how, and with whom. You want explanations and justifications, what can anyone say that will satisfy you, you who are never satisfied? Wind blows here, wind blows there. After the marriage, a love that does not call attention to itself, nor otherwise ask for a name.

After the storm, moonlight.

Published
Categorized as Sentences