A Fatal Conglomeration of Toxins

Without a filtration system – mechanical and or biological – fish in a tank will die. We have to do certain things, don’t we? Buy toilet paper, fry breakfast sausage in syrup, read to the children when they can’t for themselves. Thus one assumes the mode of cranberries, one adopts a salty way.

Without you I am a block of wood on which somebody has painted eyes. Feathers fall, memories are recalled. We pull the past out of our brains, polish it a little, and call it reason or cause. The filtration system – whether mechanical or biological – enables the inhabitants of the tank to survive what would otherwise be a fatal conglomerations of toxins.

I am saying it is all in how we look at it. The ghosts near the forest rallied a last time, but I threw Jesus in their faces and they gave up with nary a whimper. Or am I remembering the old dog who died approximately one year ago today? Without some method of arranging our memories, we would lose entirely our longing for the present and then what?

Perhaps it is because we transitioned to hunter gatherers? Somebody said hey look that’d be a great place for a village, let’s make babies and hem our stories in on calf skin. On the other hand, there’s Las Vegas. Well, we have to perceive until we accept we don’t have to so . . .

So one wants to mitigate what obscures a natural joy and peace. Transform obstacles to love? We arrive at each moment with the capacity to be born again. If a certain language leaves you cold then go find your own flaming pronoun.

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The Startling Dark of Midnight

The pilgrim landscape dusted with snow. The interior fire can sometimes be gray. One walks all morning and all afternoon just to speak with fellow believers. So I declined to play the part of Macbeth, so what?

Lives are altered by our actions hence the need to choose – to decide – carefully. Eschew lawsuits. At times it behooves the hungry soul not to feed itself but simply to observe the terms of its hunger. Sentences, my love, not lines.

We advanced confidently in the direction of our dreams. Decomposition beckoned, lent its shadow to the project. This is what I do and if you don’t like it leave me alone. Little crescent moon, what did you think would come of the startling dark of midnight?

Oh but then a cup of tea comes. There are always firsts and they are always repeating themselves. In other words, wake up and allow your dream to interpret you. Remember you?

Remember that night on the fire escape, drinking brandy from a thermos and talking about the apocalypse only we knew was coming? Everything that happened is still happening, if you want to see if that way. The other night, out walking, I was aware of him in the distance – his black frock, his ancient pistols – and felt again – faintly – the powerful desire he wields, the yearning to know our experience, the anger at having once chosen otherwise. One hurls oneself from Heaven, one discovers that eternity is simply the longing to make it back.

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The We We Really Aren’t

Nowhere is better than here. One’s life fits into a shoebox which can at last be dropped into the sea. There was a point I wanted to make about the space between waves but . . .

The morning walk abjured in favor of dreams in which Jesus was invited to appear. A simple yes or no would do. Yet the answer, when it arrived, was in the form of an email and only complicated the question’s nature.

Question nature? How often do I return with blood on my palms and mud in my pant seams? There is only death worth talking about and it happened a long time ago.

Raise your hand if the crucifixion appeals to you. Stand if the reflection of broken glass in the driveway is more memorable than a lover’s parting words. Do you believe in pain?

How about grass stains? Suisecki? A one word sentence has a lot of explaining to do.

Yet we kept going, as if into a photograph. We wake from one dream into another and have to choose the one in which we really wake up. What I meant to say before I embarked on the twenty sentences was thank you.

Or yes? Time doesn’t pass so much as the we we really aren’t does.

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Intense Almost Divine Love

Fear on the logging road that tracks the old potato field (next to the frozen pond). Overhead, stars flicker heedlessly. One walks as if into a painting, as if some artist or authority had made this in a state of intense, almost divine, love. Understanding this or that social setting is not critical. We fumble, we make do.

We approach writing a certain way, as a process in which product is not valuable, not saleable. But malleable? Historically, our preference for gold is a function of the fact that it gleams in sunlight and yields readily to heat. We want to measure. We want our treasure.

While later, one assumed the stance of one who wears a frock coat. The past is never not with us. One prefers the abstract to the dense text that often follows. Pull yourself together! My boot strings broke and I cobbled together something else for the long walk that winter morning.

If you can’t make room for your fleas then you can forget about enlightenment. A blanket is helpful against the cold, dust that’s visible in the moonlight can help you recall old friends. I mentioned fear and I’d like to retract it. Retrace it? It passes is all I am saying.

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A Cherished Noun

The notes find themselves. Which is to say that music is there in a way the sentence is not. Oh but then you never write now, do you? Was it something I said? He waited all day for the mail and it never came and it saddened him but there was always tomorrow and what is tomorrow but a comfort?

Or that’s what you told yourself when the closet got too stale. Albany freeways from which the distance beckons in a hazy, in a Saturday, kind of way. Remember eating frozen apple pie and crying about what we had just done? Remember our issues with the upper class? John Ruskin is absolutely not the kind of guy you invite to parties.

People who go to school to study ice sculpture have my vote. Art that grows old and disappears is all yay. Consider that Emily Dickinson asked that her writing without exception be destroyed upon her death. What was it what’s-his-name said? To be a great artist you have to give up everything including the desire to be a great artist?

Or something like that. We are perhaps doomed by our incessant hankering for repetition. Rankled by imitation? All afternoon I wrote and sang and you were right there in my mind. Like a cherished noun before which verbs fall weeping.

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Both Visible and Hidden Patterns

One recalls Jesus while studying the art of floral arrangement. A wind that recalls hills, a howl that carries in a way train whistles never do. Snowy fields facilitate memory, especially in the moonlight. You give and give and there is no end to your giving.

The dog sits by the window mulling. Curled up into the shape of a button, weaving himself like a thread into our lives. What is family really? We shed our maneuvers, we surrendered our strategies.

We meditated with coffee, waiting for everyone else to wake up. You have to engage, you have to risk conflict. Solve problems? A fish rises and falls in the current, indifferent to its environment.

More plastic flowers! A tire swing nobody has used since 1949. We are not what we use but rather that to which we aspire. Rhyme leads to the center of nowhere which is why we keep using it.

A king begs forgiveness, a mendicant preacher gives up and gets married and lives in a little cottage, happy for many years. You have to alter both visible and hidden patterns. To follow him to is submit to renewal, moment by moment. Heaven destabilizes which is how you know it’s real.

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The Maneuvers of Extraordinary Men

Shall I allow for the maneuvers of extraordinary men? Pay the rain for when it blesses my field? Dross will do, when gold is unavailable.

There is no such thing as unavoidable complicity. We are called to love, not to overthrow rotten systems. Beware the lure of the big picture!

I await the mail as I have for decades. He came down from the mountain bearing arrows, a strange – an almost crazed – look in his eyes. One sentence follows another like a lesson in reliance.

Fragments, all of you! The dance grew violent and thus one abjured all art. What are calories but tiny funeral bells?

Many questions that together comprise an answer. The farm implements gleamed in the moonlight and in the distance a few deer could be heard tearing frozen leaves from the bracken. It’s a nice enough world if you can tame your expectations.

Blame the infestations? Time passed, the dead turned over, and soon enough came the enlightenment. I shall want for nothing when I am in Heaven but until then, more chocolate cake please!

Ah, but I cannot really ask for that, not that way. You call me away from shifts that are mandated by ambition.

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Narrow and Dim

Like a dog twisting in folds of the blanket, anxious to get out in the snow, I continue to think in terms of what I don’t have. There are always consequences. And jewelry. One can look lovely while feeling lonely. Deeply – even dangerously – lonely.

Is it all a narrative, all a story? We characterize ourselves but what are we really? The shoe fell of the ship and sank quickly into the gray sea. Later, a dream of empty bottles, mermaids bobbing where the waves rose and fell. We are all part of whatever it is, without exception.

Mothers who drive buses. Horses who canter to the field’s far edge then stop and stare as if thinking. Our capacity for selling never ceases yet our wares change from year to year. The truth is we can grow accustomed to anything. Like, say, dogs.

The row of books one hasn’t read grows longer by the year too. The stage on which we prance grows narrow and dim. Dancers remember us in drunken moments. We are all part of it, this thing I call God. He means the part of the brain where language is not language yet but only sound, maybe only the idea of sound.

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Splinters of Eternity

One morning, after several hours of prayer, I went to the window and saw a crow resting on a tree limb dusted with snow. As one teacher wrote of Jesus, his back was always turned to me. Yet what else are we called to do but follow? The road is many and the few upon it narrow. Well, sometimes it’s better not to speak.

Yet upon waking – and following a few scattered minutes of prayer – a sense of joyful peace descended on me and I felt as if it was time to stride into Babylon with plans for a new society. I am going to run for political office, just like my Daddy. It’s fun to eat figs with criminals and cavort with the generally unrepentant. The world is what you make it, my friend. Sally forth!

Yet on the docks – faced with a ticket for the ship that would crush every iceberg in its path – I hesitated, remembering the words of Saint Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. What I am saying is that words fail me but who cares. A morning of snow, and birds who keep their distance making a different choice. I sat quietly with the dog who farted as she slept. We are here to open the shutters of guilt, we are here to illuminate splinters of eternity.

Hey, are you in the mood for some salted flakes of salmon? Faced with metaphysical improbabilities I could only say I know I am. Mountains in the distance, boots shrugging onto our feet. What is movement but an embrace of what might happen? Christ is the position we assume in love.

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You Think But Woe

In a dark hour I was marooned. The howls woke me after just a few minutes sleep. Wherever light was, wherever truth was, that’s where I was thinking about writing about truth. There are no exceptions to the possibility of getting burned on the way in. The road is easier to find than you think but woe to the one who finds it and just ambles.

Let me say it another way. Let me have my tea and drink it as well. The organist stumbled coming out of the choir loft and her daughter had a sudden idea for a hymn. Let’s go to the record store and get ourselves a date. This poem (that prom?) must include a cornet.

A hornet stole my wedding ring. There’s disillusionment at work, a proposition bound to failure. We marched all day until we reached the temple only to find that it was closed for renovations. A war can’t begin if the other side stays home. Hearts pour forth their wisdom, angels fall to their knees.

Some people are harder to please than others. We studied the shore line, intent on finding the perfect stone. So I’m not the prize catch I once was (said the Tuna with his hand-carved cane). We begin (and end) where everyone else does. Your dulcet voice, your bloodied knuckles.

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