Saturday, July 31, 2010

Always Looking Backwards

The top half of the basement window is lit by the rising sun, while the bottom half is shrouded with thick grass, and what S. used to call "fairy bedding." Celestial gentleness, the world a thought in the mind of God. Mine, too.

Wordless. Less words. But then how would we know what silence means?

Smart ass. You and your brokering intelligence, always chewing at the world as if it matters. And tangled television antennae wire shredded by the lawn mower which hardly works anyway.

This is not a commodity but I do want some money, an amount to be determined later. We are focused too much on hypocrisy as a rationale for ignoring otherwise good arguments. I am not another for example.

Would a mouse pass through just because I want one to for the poem? Or a frail wren in search of stray seeds? Is my heart going to fail today instead of tomorrow and will I know in advance to say goodbye?

Stop sequencing time (she wrote) to which I responded - quite pleasantly I might add - okay fine but explain to me then photographs please. Big ideas go undigested. Washing the bureau, talking about our dead pets, all in a relaxed way, is a good memory, one that we made worth making.

The nineteenth line inevitably comes as both a relief and a temptation. The twentieth meanwhile is almost always looking backwards.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Truth Has A Fierce Burn

Full moon rising well before midnight and at 2 a.m., cresting trees on the western line of the hills. Once blue as dust, now ethereal, still not travelable. The dogs cross the yard and I go inside to make tea.

Sleep these days is fitful, though in a familiar way. As if once I actually did rest. For some reason I think of 91 North, past Burlington, listening to Annie Lenox on the radio, only dimly aware that the future might not be satisfying.

Tea with honey is okay, but I prefer maple syrup - sweeter, darker - like waking up before dawn. When I come back out, tea in hand - the mug from Vermont, your favorite - both dogs are gone and cannot right away be found. Overhead a bat's wings flutter, softly resonant as rain on leaves, and I whistle for them, low and urgent and intent.

I always remember those lines of Jack Gilbert's, how did they go? Something like, The heart never fits the journey - always one ends first. For some reason, I no longer think in terms of lines but rather sentences.

Retrieve a flashlight - the moon is falling, or has fallen - and search the neighbor's yards, the compost, cool hostels at the base of redolent pines. All writing is a recovery effort, a search, but for what? I know the truth has a fierce burn because I always find its ashes.

Forty three years old, alone in the darkness, crying over a lost dog. What else did I think was going to happen?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blown That Way By God

Rain, the village beyond us quiet, everybody inside sewing scarves or else reading the gospels, tracing the lines with their fingers. I tell J. the story of how I once walked the dogs on the beach at Sandwich, low tide, and we came upon a young whale stranded and dying, at which the dogs barked and howled, while I knelt in wet sand by its cloudy eye utterly wordless for two, perhaps three minutes. I cannot play guitar without looking at my fingers, nor write a poem indoors without a window nearby. What, he asks, was I looking for?

Burned coffee, day old bagels dipped in cinnamon with sugar, men with grease on their jeans watching the sun rise and talking quietly around their cigarettes. "I belong out there," I said. Or someone said while waiting by the truck, dreaming of sequins that glistened the way rain does when the light finds it "just so." An empty cafeteria, Blake poems, wondering how it is that anyone can manage a straight line.

Simply put, I do not perceive my life as a linear (if wobbly) narrative but more as bunches of clouds that move rapidly over a patchwork landscape as if blown that way by God. We walked past the church and ended up stopping to talk to the minister who stood outside with a lost expression on his face, as if it had just now occurred to him to doubt everything. E minor played on the third floor in hottest summer, while the ferns decided whether to wilt or go on living, and you ate slices of cantalope and waited to go to the movies. Are you reading this?

Fistfuls of blueberries and a Ruger .22 in his hip pocket in case the bears didn't run. Last of the Tiger Lilies, first of the royal purple bull thistle. A pear tree growing where thirty years ago a fire raged. Or so I say, so inclined.

There was something Joe Strummer said once but I can't remember what. The drama of identity fizzles as you realize how easy it is to simply change your mind. What was it I was worried about, years ago when I used to drink? How we are all human beings, such marvelous lives, and never credit love sufficiently?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Testimony Of Mice

Ten thousand leaves assembling wind. The strange relationship one must develop with honesty. Venus this morning buttressed by rain-makers.

Testimony. Of mice. Dust that falls from the rafters.

Your weather vane, my black and white photograph. At the end, he simply enjoyed looking out the window and remembering how much he had loved his brother before they began drinking. A lithium circumstance repeated.

"The intonation that meant or else." We stopped talking to eat the first wild blueberries until softly it began to rain. Tricks the mind plays while meditating can substitute for progress if you don't have a teacher.

Sitting by the pond while beavers work in pre-dawn darkness I weary of effort. My daughter's foot steps, my son's breath. Lincoln's killers are framed forever thanks to all those cameras.

Ask: testify how? On behalf of whom? And to what audience?

He wrote he believed in place of work. And again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fatal Meringue

Thunderheads push like roses, straining the fatal meringue. Dragonflies, squirrel chatter. On the trail where the dog waits, bear scat, shotgun shells, and thirty year old beer cans. Think of soil as an ocean but slower.

The blur of fists a form of nightly meditation. Is lightening ever obscure? One tree is still while another sways like a drunk trying to make it through a doorway. A dream of garden roses blossoming in frames that almost overrun each other.

A heat like billows rising slowly through the corn. A photograph of which I was once proud, and wrote a poem about, which to this day I do not regret having published. The tassels hung limply as if in a painting. A drop of rain on the blueberries made me dream of hurricane lamps.

“You blow up over every little thing.” “You don't have any passion for anything.” “That's it – you're out of here.” “I can't believe he said that to me, that way.”

Crack the window, rain might cool things down. All night behind the garage, wondering is it this storm or another that will finally empty the house. Where yesterday I walked an owl now cries. But all that happened so long ago.

Friday, July 16, 2010

If You Require Impediments Please Choose

From the bathroom window I can hear the ducks eating grass. A clicking sound, a nattering sound. And in the weedy remnants of Tiger Lilies, a cricket. Bees.

The form must change if we are to perceive what is holy. In the basement, the muted rattle of water pipes carrying water out to the garden. Newts visible, familiar totems on unfamiliar trails. Wet dogs the breath of morning prayer.

The one who watches over you never sleeps, never forgets his watch. Is there time then to study the Psalms? Morning over Lake Champlain, always the hungry distance. And always an empty bottle, one in which the wind resides.

Resided? If you believe that time is real, then learn what time is for. The grammar cops hide God. And when the student is ready, the student will disappear.

Or so I thought on the way into the woods this morning, trying mightily not to try so hard. Knowing the zafu is filled with hulled buckwheat is only an impediment if you require impediments. Please choose carefully! He wrote, as always, wishing there was more to say.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Forever The Composition

Maybe rain. Different roads hurt different feet differently. Up the hill, through a stand of pine, into the distance blurred by mist.

Eternity is an electric thread about which we are wound and whose humming thrums in us while sleeping or awake. A single flower – aster perhaps? - by the railroad tracks, limpid in brown shadows cast by trains that will never move again. Detritus.

The yellow bells of the squash plants, bees waking up. On the side of the road, a fox. At night, walkers with flashlights stop to catch up with one another.

Descendant willow trees. The dogs circle back through the pasture, tongues hanging like bacon out the sides of their mouths. A prayer with out beginning or end.

What did she say that about forever? The composition of eternity a matter of nows. Sunflowers struggling in the shadow of squash plant leaves as large as infant elephant ears.

Pissing in the front yard for what seemed an eternity in starlight a thousand years old or more. She was recently divorced and her ex was a minister. We played word games and it passed for enlightenment as it so often does.

Writing when I ought not yields a satisfying result. Have I asked yet may I borrow your shoes?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Interior Appetite Sadness

It would seem that sorrow is not contrary to pleasure.‭ ‬Weeping is a bitter thing and yet it sometimes pleases us.‭ ‬One of two contraries is not the cause of the other.

Now the form or species of a passion or movement is taken from the object or term.‭ ‬A thirsty man seeks more eagerly the pleasure of his drink.‭ ‬In like manner a man merits it when he shrinks not from hardships and straits in order to obtain it.

The mere fact that man mourns for his sins merits the consolation of eternity.‭ ‬Since love is pleasant,‭ ‬both pain and whatever else results from love are pleasant.‭ ‬Accidentally,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬sorrow is mingled with the pleasure of contemplation.

Or vice versa,‭ ‬not essentially but accidentally.‭ ‬The sensible object disagreeing with the normal condition of the organ.‭ ‬The human mind,‭ ‬in contemplation,‭ ‬makes use of sensitive powers.

Wherefore,‭ ‬properly speaking,‭ ‬there cannot be.‭ ‬There is neither flight,‭ ‬nor is the effect in the appetite.‭ ‬A man takes pleasure in drinking through being troubled with thirst.

Which is of itself is always prior to that which is by reason of another.‭ ‬No sorrow is contrary to that pleasure which is about contemplation.‭ ‬Remedies are made of things.

Whatever is repugnant to the body can be repugnant to the interior appetite.‭ ‬Sadness of the heart is every wound.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Muttering The Requisite Prayer

The Christian capitalists – spiritualists making money – Fox, et al. - of the early twentieth century were onto something yet it led mostly to urbanity, passivity, unrecognizable heirs. First I was delivered from drinking and then from church basements. Why do I think of Daniel when I write this?

Paris France, through which I went on errant trains. The pink skin beneath scabs, the bright red dot of our blood. The Ninety-First Psalm “scientifically understood.”

Watching finches all afternoon by the rear window, while storm clouds gathered and dissipated, and hawks circled high overhead. Who spilled the sourdough starter if not the only man who cooks with it? For days, giants could be heard lumbering through the far pasture threatening to brain the cows, smash the lambs.

I found the hill, found the cross, kept going and ended up lost. Krishnamurti commanded him to go make money or face a permanent dissolution of their mutual bond. Think about that the next time you don't feel like helping anyone.

Three thousand four hundred plus words before breakfast, hours in the garden following a list, and then the afternoon stretches before you an empty palate from which tomorrow's class must somehow be sketched. Brother can you spare some Thyme? Polished rocks on the front stairs return the light to angels.

Baptism ought to entail some risk as birth itself intimates violence. Lucy on the savannah, watching the sun set golden and large, troubled by a recurring dream of discs. They wore those black shoes that made you think of the Depression, hard times, and simply getting through.

He probably wasn't thinking much of anything, just trying not to shake too visibly. Facing tangles, large teeth, muttering the requisite prayer.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Some Divine Confirmation

The sound of wings, a book shelf on which dust moves as if just because. A narrow window with frosted glass, cherry-colored because one does not care to equate light with blood. Late at night the door creaks, and fireflies step through timbered webs of dewy grass on which the dogs hunker, breathing heavily, waiting for rain.

When rain is coming, the wind blows and the maple leaves turn frog-side, and so you have to go home. We fished on the old beaver dam off Scott Road, using for bait the bread that our mothers had used to make ham and mustard sandwiches. Ask why one memory endures over another and then listen.

Or what is the illusion for? S. says that we make our own dreams and populate them according to a hidden yearning for narrative that wouldn't be exposed even if we wanted. We laughed a lot, everything was funny, I remember that.

What longing? What really happened? Did one of us actually say at such an early age, God is blind and the falling rain is proof?

Though it never happened I remember with utter and crystalline clarity lounging on marble stairs out of the sun, the taste of morning olives and tea still in my throat, as a man passed on the street below, one that I was sure I had been executed a week or so earlier. No love without vindication, no vindication without love? Rather, all arguments fail, as all communities are to be gotten beyond, if any mystery is to at last be resolved.

So ask if you feel silly or ashamed at trying to recapture the joy you felt as a child watching dust motes swirl through pillared light in the library. A photograph or a memory or neither and if so then what? I wrote he wrote now.

And held a hand up as if to see it, as if in search of some divine confirmation. Or was it conformation I meant to say?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mortal Drams

A river, distant, the lake it feeds into silver and oblong between blurry hills. Dreams of trout that signify what? Welcomed at last into a community only to find that even community has got to be walked past.

Don't covet certain words like map or elephant or whiskey distillery. Bells in the distance archiving sound. Where the trail turns a badger waits, panting in the heat.

Part of what is lost can be found by studying deer prints in which last night's brief rain remains puddled. Or perhaps the soft crab apples fallen in the ferns. Blue glass held up to the sun which we recently learned will expire like the rest of us but not as fast.

Angels, orders of magnitude. Your New York apartment in which I told a fatal lie, the half-tones of which continue to rumble. Into the bracken!

Working with rakes while the horses all eyeball us expecting the worst. Withdraw fear and you are left with the Kingdom, which is all there ever was anyway. Those who have ears . . .

A return compromised by dreams of beginning. The dragonfly hovers, seeking its mortal drams. The fox trotted alongside the road because it was easier traveling and he had places to go and things to do.

We are not fools, not prophets, not ideal. Falling into love with the velocity of stones!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tears And Burnishing Anger

I held him gratefully even as he stared into the distance and argued with someone I couldn't see. Have I been here before? I have been here before.

Yet each visit seems to require a mode of increasingly unfamiliar and difficult travel. My feet hurt when I walk barefoot up the road, watching the dogs root through dark grasses. And I am always watched over.

He was not held at the end, which was why I held him. Why does it matter so - ensuring that these men do not have to die alone? I only remembered it days later, as if it had been only a dream, a good one.

No photographs anymore. And even the song doesn't remind me of you the way it once did. We have to die sooner or later - what is there to fight?

Imagine that all dreams are only one dream and we are each contained inside it. Young crows fly rough behind their mother as if even wings can make one stumble. How hot it was, how hot is always is.

Listen: many years of bearing witness have led me here. We all believe in God, it is simply a question of how and to what degree. I cried, telling him how much he meant to me.

I made promises that included the word always. How gentle and loving I am, how kind he was in those days of tears and burnishing anger.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Satellites From Moment To Moment

Because some mornings I wake and the sentences are there and want to be moved here. The bear - most likely a male - came out of the bracken and stopped to sniff the air and without thinking I took six steps towards him as if at last some important argument advanced by Thoreau was about to be resolved. I shared a longheld secret, the one about how foxes symbolize death, mine, and in doing so at last saw the silliness - is there a better word? - of attaching meaning to any of God's totems. Time is for waking up, which must happen gently, lest we expire in the process. No sign yet of moose, yet bear scat is found almost everywhere, even beside the road, and yesterday a fox was seen in the compost, rooting for the pork gristle that C. always makes me throw away.

Stopping to study the trail where a week earlier I removed a nugget of clear quartz, bloodying my fingers in the process. Their tumbling black bodies are a joy to me, a moment of absolute truth, a clarity without opposite. A bell heard one time yet whose half tones continue decades later, ever recalling that afternoon in Germany, hungry and tired in a shadowy room above the train station, listening to Rilke and Blake. Fresh vanilla ice cream made with cream from A.'s cows who often stand by the fence and stare patiently at us with their eyes as large as satellites. From moment to moment on the zafu thinking.

First tomatoes and the last of last year's garlic. Dreams of a wild black river, of a teacher encouraging me to take my work more seriously, the two of us drinking hot cowboy coffee while herons rise and fall in the distance. I lazed on a borrowed lawn chair, gazing at clouds overhead, humming the old John Denver songs, not thinking about much of anything at all. Raspberries and blackberries, which we share with Robins, and of course the bears. The older dog is clearly dying, which makes me angry at God, though the dog himself merely walks slower, rights the occasional stumble, and is content to sit in familiar places, his head lifted to the summer breeze.

Poetry as a do-it-yourself balm, sentences as unguents. God is no more capable of anger than a cloud or a falling maple leaf. Frost's Birch trees, beneath which one must pass, form an arch over the old logging road gutted by recent rain. Forget-me-nots, a single patch where the trail loops, affording a clear view of Tanner's Field, the horses nuzzling clover as the sun rises behind them. The bear turned - rolled on its haunches - and went back into the forest.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Same Old Half-Assed Lotus

When you understand the first line may be written well after the last line, then you begin to understand the function of the twenty sentences. When I come to the first old bridge I either cross it or walk beside it in the brook, depending on whether the old dog is with me. On the steps, guilty with moonlight, a fine chunk of quartz dug by hand from the trail while it rained.

I sat in the same old half-assed lotus and watched Venus trace the inevitable arc while everybody slept. Yesterday in dreams it sounded better. A music produced by breath, that spooky resonance.

It is the application of any spiritual principle that matters, not its elucidation. What did T. say the other day - that Buddha gave up a Kingdom and Jesus was poor? The grass grows highest where it is never cut.

To Jesus that morning I said I'll go as far as you'll take me, will that work? Drove home thinking of frozen bologna and why I see so few yellow lilies anymore. The earliest remembered childhood was as if encased in glass, there was a shine to everything.

I write them just because. Or another way to say it is if you have to ask, then you have to ask. I won't answer not because I don't know but because I was never any good at answering and so I just gave up.

One friend was saved at a fair watching chickens, another while studying a fire hydrant through tears. I remember the day I fell in love with the idea of dust behind churches. You are always with me, even more than he.

Yet at the end of the day there is still this fear. Beavers work through the night, soft plashes in moonlight, heedless they are doomed.