Dissolving in the Gentle Flow

What if loss were actually possible, if the hungry really did want for food? As long ago one lingered near the old fire pond, watching heron stalk the shallows for frogs.

If you listen you can hear the sea was a lie, wasn’t it. Writing poems in crayon with my non-dominant hand, yes in fact it has come to this, why do you ask.

The lonely insomniac writes yet another sentence from the campy void to which his worship has led him. Later the basement will flood, snakes will writhe and die, and we will intensify our study of regret.

No stars, no moon but still clearly sky. One lays a long time in the darkness longing to be touched, eventually feels their body calcify and turn to dust and then the cosmos.

Wind coming down the valley and the river rising past the pasture. I had a dream, now I have a cup of coffee.

I remember sitting alone with my father as he died, wishing it was already over. The Man without Shoes coveted shoes, the problem was never shoes or their absence but rather covetousness, now can we begin?

I remember the last time I saw the Beast, how sad he looked, how heavy was – how heavy always is – the self-selected burden. Have you tried John Denver songs, John Denver songs are nice.

Imagine opening your arms to the world, imagine laying no condition on who can meet you in that well-lit circle. A long drive into the city where too many people I love have died.

The envelope has no other function than to travel bearing a message. The parabolic enterprise a mind indulges.

Watching her sleep, losing all sense of time and space, the whole culture dissolving in the gentle flow of air through her body. Nobody says “amen” anymore, nobody looks for the angels.

Categorized as Sentences

Neither Moonlight Nor Habit

Brought up short by something clear and still. Frost on the back stairs, no stars in the sky. Remember hiking Skinner Mountain six or seven times a week? Remember how little room there was in your heart for others, only the dog and you as far away as possible?

Making moves to sleep on the couch, but not sleeping on the couch, that grace. Daughters unfurling a near-frozen hose to water the horses. Projects I meant to close out before Christmas, which now will linger at least through the appearance of daffodils and tulips. Imagine at my age wanting to dance.

Finding my people at an empty warehouse in Dalton, bonfires and cheap beer, a capella version of “Cum On Feel the Noize,” a kind of reckless disregard for formality, bent solely on speaking the truth, beauty but man do you have to look for it.

Born again to begin again the difficult trip to Boston.

The night passes so quickly now, time becoming a hollow container, then not even that. The house creaking as long ago the pine trees creaked, deep in the forest with the dogs, neither moonlight nor habit to guide me. You write a poem and it makes certain women respond in certain ways and that too must be let go, that too must be given to the fire.

Christmas carols, warm cider, the prayers of the poor for the wealthy. This performance of yours is named frustration, said Jesus, i.e., you’re trying too hard as a form of not really trying at all. Mist rising out of hills which lived once in Emily Dickinson’s gaze, it’s a wonder I get off my knees at all around here.

Let’s try something new, she said, and just like that the whole game of fooling around was eclipsed by one that would not deny death. The river distant and the sky blue. I’m not worried so much as worrisome, and upon the distinction rests everything holy.

Categorized as Sentences

Proof of Violets

The insomniac dreams of an enormous puzzle that is entirely black with a single white piece, and wakes wondering who would want to make it and why. Reflecting lately on the role religion has played in the formation of my capacity to ask and answer questions including, specifically, what to ask and what to pretend you don’t need to ask. Behind the feeling is a belief about the world, maybe give attention to that?

Walking where in winter the only proof of violets is memory.

Snow falls as we cut down a Christmas tree, the forest mostly otherwise quiet, everybody laughing at the hammer I brought, which I brought to be funny, so that’s good. Hot tea with honey, difficult conversations we force others to participate in, even just be witness to, as if there were no other way. The stone patio behind the barn will have to wait, the earth frozen and harder to move, and one’s sense of imperative going to rust.

Moonlight on frost, may I never forget to be grateful. We are caught in a web woven in no small part by capitalism, are you interested in the alternative? Angels appear, always prismatic. After sex, a kind of desert that one longs to cross but knows there is no coming back, and so lingers a long time in Village of Familiar Intimacy. Remind me again what is karma.

Going to back to Kapleau, getting the language clear, in order to get the practice right. Everybody knows that good intentions are useless, adjust your interior accordingly. Friday afternoon whiskey, I didn’t think you were a sippin’ man, I became one by necessity, time abides no less of me.

Disclosures for which, contra Ecclesiastes, there is no season.

Faking sleep so as not to have to talk. Walking circles in bright sunlight, no longer interested in where the dialogue goes, being bent now on something past that, which does not yield to language, nor the illusion of the personal.

Letting go of rhyme and rhythm. Who dug the first grave, better yet, who went back to ask the earth what next?

Categorized as Sentences

The Errand List Again

The insomniac lives up to his name – asleep at eight, awake at eleven, the long journey through night into another day. You bet I remember stained glass, you bet I remember crayons, you bet I remember the Face of Christ, the last time I allowed myself to look upon it. Even shitty instant coffee is welcome in the country of the forgiven, pull up a chair and tell me how you take it. Passing around the errand list again. Songs rising and falling in familiar forms, spells that keep us half asleep, dull to the silence which is the Mother watching over us. One learns to say no, one volunteers at the interior disco, cleaning up messes left by the spiritually casual. Fried mushrooms on days-old bread with tomatoes. The man who writes until supper-time doesn’t have much to say at supper-time, adapt accordingly. The Divine Child beckoned and I became obedient, that’s it, that’s what happened. What are the stories women agree are tellable, why do the ones with wolves in them have wolves in them, how do we learn to live with want. Your prayer and my prayer are like snakes who share a meadow without ever meeting, does that help? We begin where we end and you and me, we never end.

Categorized as Paragraphs

In the Valley of Second Chances

Night falls. Brake lights. The meteor my throat became. What have you thrown away that you wish you could regather, call home?

Men who bring to the river what they are ready to let go of forever.

Waking early again, making coffee in the darkness by feel, then sitting quietly listening to the house creak. December: this December.

The interior catalog of tragedy I have been curating since childhood, and the ongoing addiction to crisis, and the willingness to see clearly the whole of it and ask, Jack Gilbert-like, now what? The poorly-fed soul hungers only for relationship.

Half moon in the morning sky, we are here in this specific way. What ontology is implied by atoms and quarks, can you say? What most people miss (what I missed until about two weeks ago) is that Christ became Jesus, not the other way around.

The river out back, the stars overhead, our little homestead ablaze with love in the Valley of Second Chances.

With what will you never argue?

Limping between shadows of wintry maple trees. Remember whistling? Oh just letting go of comfort, the way all the women I love have taught me.

Garish Christmas decorations, everybody resisting the call to be reborn interiorly. Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen, and I don’t know theirs either so we’re equal, is that the answer?

Categorized as Sentences

Building a Religion

The man who cannot sleep takes his coffee to the dark porch – cold wind, lost moon – and listens to the neighbor’s wind chimes. Wanting to die is not a crime, and we are all tired. Hollow goldenrod waving in winterish breezes. A life premised on trick questions is what kind of error.

Who said never mind.

Imagine no cause for blame anywhere in the system. I remember in Ireland realizing that I would not become enlightened and it was okay, it was more than okay. Horses in the shallows of a sea I lived mostly on the other side of. A barn owl just misses me traveling home and my relief lasts well into the night. Neither gift nor allowance nor penalty.

When as a child the spiritual emphasis shifted without warning to the supernatural – angels and demons, ghosts and astral travel – and what interior landscape was effaced accordingly. Who wants the story explained yet again. Surfacing is a form of unknowing, rise.

Working one’s way through the psyche, undoing this block, elevating that image, basically building a religion. There are lots of ways to communicate, language is only one. Onions hanging in twined bags in the hayloft. Pray when you light the candle, pray when you blow it out.

Autonomy ends. We dreamed we could possess the cause for joy and look what happened. Low clouds, temperatures dropping.

Categorized as Sentences

Lonely in the Other’s Embrace

Waking early, savoring the warmth of Chrisoula beside me, the house silent and still. Touching you gently to ask what’s possible, then making love quietly, everything familiar, snow falling in a forest no human has ever visited. As earlier, lighting a single Advent candle, the weight of war felt like anvils on our shoulders, yet the possibility of peace was pervasive and convincing, yet many complexities prevented its application. What do I wear in your dreams, is it vulpine, is it lovely, is it easy to take off. Walking away from the family demon dance party in order to pray and star-gaze alone, as befits a man married to a woman who designs and builds monasteries for those who cannot help but be lonely in the other’s embrace. Rereading the nativity stories, allowing myself to be politicized again, allowing myself a childhood again. Halfway up the mountain stopping, trying to remember the beginning, how I ended up here, what is the point of the summit again, et cetera. Bittersweet chickadees initiating divorce proceedings in western Massachusetts, everybody’s taking sides. Nobody knows the trouble I’m in, nobody buys me a coffee.

Categorized as Paragraphs

Used for Whatever Grace

Misreadings. Floor lamps unplugged for days. We light the first Advent candle, listen to the kids talk about romance as a construct, eat homefries and eggs. Get right with imperialism, then come talk to me about forty days and nights. Your projection of Jesus emphasizing the undoing of religion means you’re getting closer to Christ. As earlier the sound of rain between the house and barn was hymnlike to such a pure degree my chest became a cavern of ice. Imagine the end of all constraint. In certain slants of light, one lingers a long time, allowing themselves to be used for whatever grace the world requires next. All night drinking coffee, buffeted by holy winds, so that at dawn what remains could not dream if it wanted. Rest with me, daughter of Eli. Yoke me to the fearsome angel’s tread.

Categorized as Paragraphs

Entirely Capable of Happiness

The storm in which I become tired of storms and rise above or drop below into the cave where I find myself entirely capable of happiness and peace with you.

The kids out bowling, early dark, we fill the kitchen with old hurts, deep questions about gender and power, and a new willingness to meet one another as partners on the Road to Emmaus (e.g., Emmaus never happened, Emmaus always happens).

Mist rolling up from the river, melting snow, nothing left to gather in the gardens, therefore growing still enough at dawn in order to hear crows waking up in the hills.

Hurting her, not meaning to, making amends, beginning again.

What is lost, what is found, what can be neither lost nor found, et cetera.

The fantasy of the Heath Fair, holding hands with you on the midway, sharing something small but beautiful with you, will I know this peace before the body goes dark, no I will not, because it’s a fantasy and all fantasies are a defense against the truth.

Names she murmurs in her sleep, promises she can no longer make while awake, and the man softening unto all of the love in the cosmos through this shared bed of forgiveness.

What is grace.

I am angry at God, no you’re scared of God, stop playing word games, that’s not why you were given the gift.

Shivering pumping gas in Dalton, staring across the street at the decrepit Shamrock Motel, wondering how I managed to not end up there, or somewhere like it, and knowing there is still time.

The invitation and the acceptance are one.

Another level of ego, another cycle of life and death, another chance to make love to a Buddhist, ha ha.

Chickadees hopping through the maple tree outside the bedroom window, may I never forget to be grateful.

Waking up in the middle of a family demon dance party, finding my way to the exit (e.g., existence), the night outside lovely and quiet, full of stars and the love of Christ, and forest paths beckoning, as if escape were actually possible.

Becoming unfollowable thusly.

At last understanding it’s a vulpine not an ursine poetics.

Jasper saying brother if the depths are unmanageable then come back to the surface, all God’s trophies are for participation, not winning or losing or going deeper than anyone else.

This evolving relationship with suffering at last understood as a problem of projection, to which I know – and can actually apply – the solution (i.e., become defenseless).

My daughters coming in after chores arguing the pros and cons of first-person narrative in romantic stories, I hope I live long enough to learn what they think about time.

Thanks Emily, I’m going to turn back now, there’s a little cottage off the trail at the last turn and a woman there I want to bake bread with, tell stories about the stars to, and rest beside as the light grows dim.

Categorized as Sentences

Without Pronouncements

Moon shadows which I love but have not explored.

Dreams of illicit sex integrated into a nondual spiritual practice at last let go because they are grounded in confused ideas of consent.

Seeking borders.

You come back to Sylvia Plath after years away and your heart is softer and your mind clearer and so you care less about the great poems and the psychic courage and just wish she could’ve been happier and lived.

Chicken salad with sauerkraut and pickles eaten standing up while my son gossips about his co-workers, making all of us laugh.

The corner of the vast canvas in which red – which is not precisely blood but more like the artist considering the possibility it might be blood – predominates.

What is beauty, what is grace.

You do not use your eyes to see, at last I understand what this means.

What are answers.

Snow floats over tufts of frozen grass out back, bolts of orange light at dawn rising off far hills, I have become a man who gently turns each dream to the undoing of dreams, which includes now the willingness to do it without pronouncements.

Spencer-Brown carrying on about angels, yet another casualty of the arrogant psychotherapy of the late fifties, early sixties.

After the heart breaks, and after you are forced to deny it is broken, and after you translate that denial into something “healthy” or “necessary,” and after you realize that you were kidding yourself, and after you can’t forgive yourself, and after even the idea of forgiveness is emptied of meaning, and after you stop asking the chickadees and crows to save you, that’s when it happens.

Everyone around here waiting on women to save them, women around here tired of the confused gazes and focus and just getting on with it

Altering the aesthetic.

Struggling with names and the drama that necessitates renaming.

Forget about oneness, forget about God, just know thyself.

No I don’t read the Stoics, too many people who read the Stoics want me to read the Stoics, and when I say no I don’t want to read the Stoics, I’ve got enough to read, I’m good thanks, they want to argue about it, like their path is only valid if I walk it with them, and I don’t trust that energy anymore, that’s just the same old confusion.

Where in Vermont we would pull to the side of the road to pick Black-eyed Susans.

Seeing the mother and the Mother more clearly.

Holiness does not admit partiality, good for holiness.

Categorized as Sentences